BHS, WTT, & L

Kirk Lowery kelowery at cs.com
Tue Oct 31 21:11:25 EST 2000


On 31 Oct 2000, at 10:44, Don A. Elbourne Jr. wrote:

> I was wondering if someone could clarify a few things for me regarding
> the Hebrew text. 

I probably have most of the pieces to this puzzle.

> I know the BHS is "based" on Codex Leningradensis but is the text
> consistently L throughout, without exception? Or is there any place
> where the editors placed a variant in the text and attest to the L
> reading in the apparatus? 

The difference between the "Kittel" edition (which was a true critical 
edition) and the BHS (1987) is substantial. The BHS biblical text is much 
closer to the Leningrad Codex, although the marginal massora were highly 
edited by Weil. And BHS does not include the massorah gedolah, but only 
references to them, and does not have the non-biblical texts which are 
included in L. I'd rather not try to characterize the differences any more 
precisely without reference to the technical literature, and is probably 
more than you're looking for.  

The electronic version -- in its final form -- reflects as closely as 
possible the 1987 BHS biblical text (consonants, vowels, cantillation) 
only. This version of the text is sometimes known as the CCAT eBHS. This 
is what can be obtained generally on the Internet, such as at the OTA 
archives.

This text was then used as the basis for the Groves-Wheeler Hebrew 
Morphology (MORPH). In the process of this semi-automated parsing, over 
600 deviations from the original CCAT eBHS were made. MORPH includes the 
biblical text as one of the fields of each data record and many of those 
deviations are marked in the raw (ASCII) form of MORPH with a square 
bracket and a number. This "Westminster note" explains various decisions 
which had to be made, one of those being where MORPH's interpretation of L 
at a certain place is different from BHS' and so forth. In addition, there 
are a large number of changes where we have changed the "morphological 
slash" due to a difference in parsing from the original typist.   

Since the first version of MORPH was released, the database has been 
distributed to various individual scholars, cross-checked against other 
databases, and used in nearly every "Bible" software that offers access to 
the original texts. All this usage over a ten year period has generated an 
ever decreasing number of corrections to the consonants and vowels, almost 
always in the direction of L, away from BHS. Since MORPH's biblical text 
did not include the accents, the accents probably have a significant 
number of errors in them. However, even so, MORPH's Hebrew text is not a 
precise representation of L. For example, MORPH follows BHS in the 
vocalization of the parallel passage in Numbers where only the consonants 
stand. So MORPH is somewhere between BHS (1987) and a "diplomatic" 
representation of L.  

I assume -- but do not know -- that the Hebrew text which is displayed in 
programs like GramCORD, Accordance, Logos, BibleWorks, BibleWindows, etc., 
use the Hebrew text found in MORPH.

> The reason I'm asking is because Logos Research Systems has announced
> their plans to place the Leningrad Codex into electronic format. See
> http://www.logos.com/prepub/products/default.asp?pid=11 Apparently they
> will be working with the facsimile edition that came out a couple of
> years ago.
> http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0802837867/zacksbookorama 

We have seen this announcement, too, and have no knowledge of how this 
text was produced. A very interesting question is, did they begin with a 
currently existing electronic copy of the Hebrew Bible and conform it to 
L? And what does "conform" mean? With all the warts and blemishes? With no 
spaces between words?

> I've been working under the assumption that I have the full text of L
> at my disposal with the printed BHS, and the digital WTT. Am I showing
> my ignorance here? 

The only time one knows one has L is when using the facsimile edition of 
L. I would not call BHS L, nor MORPH's Hebrew text L, although they both 
lie along that direction of the spectrum. And then, of course, there are 
the interpretive questions of whether a glyph is simply faded or 
erased.... :-)

> If I'm correct, then what would be the advantage of the new Logos
> edition, if the text would be the same as we already have with BHS/WTT?

This question cannot be answered until we know how the text originated and 
was conformed to L. Further, we need to know how the user will have access 
to the text, is it searchable? if so, how? etc. There will also be an 
electronic version of BHQ, eventually. As the successor of BHS, I know 
that the intent is to follow L even more closely. But how the editors have 
chosen to do this is, of course, yet to be revealed. And there is the 
printed edition of Dotan's Leningradensis (Hendricksen's is doing it, I 
believe). I assume there is an electronic version standing behind the 
printed edition.  

What is needed is an automated byte-by-byte comparision of all these texts.

Blessings,

Kirk
________________________________________________________
Kirk E. Lowery, Ph.D.             Email: KELowery at cs.com
Associate Director                Phone: 215-572-3854
The Westminster Hebrew Institute    Fax: 215-887-5404
Westminster Theological Seminary
P.O. Box 27,009
Philadelphia, PA 19118





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