BHS, WTT, & L
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
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.
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
> 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
What is needed is an automated byte-by-byte comparision of all these texts.
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
More information about the b-hebrew