BibleWorks 9 - The Manuscripts Project IV

Written by Michael Hanel on June 30th, 2011

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Someone posted a question on one of the previous posts. He said,

Obviously, a huge amount of effort has gone into making the new transcriptions. So are they going to be heavily restricted by copyright? Any chance you might post the copyright information for the new transcriptions?

I personally cannot give an answer to this question, which is essentially, will BibleWorks share their transcriptions with others. Based on past practices and their general philosophy, I don’t know why they wouldn’t (for instance, they shared their work on Josephus with Accordance). Beyond that I cannot say anything without any knowledge of the situation. **UPDATE** Michael Bushell, the owner of BibleWorks, left a comment in response. He said,

With regard to the copyright of the BibleWorks transcriptions: they are BibleWorks copyrighted material and will remain so for now, primarily so that a pedigree can be maintained and corrections applied in an orderly way. Our desire is to eventually make them freely available to anyone for any use that is consistent with maintaining the integrity of the transcriptions and preventing them them from becoming sources of monetary gain. But we still have to give some thought to how best to do this. We’ve been too busy of late to think much about it. In the mean time there are no constraints on personal, private use.

Perhaps the following helps gives a better idea of the scope of the project…

Because of the enormity of the task of the manuscripts project, BibleWorks has enlisted a number of scholars in the field. Based on BibleWorks’ information, the Academic Lead for the project is Kent Clarke. Daniel McClellan posted Kent Clarke’s description of the project from his website:

BibleWorks Biblical Manuscript Transcription and Collation Project; General Editor and Academic Project Leader (Fall 2007-Present) of the BibleWorks Manuscript Transcription Project, which seeks to provide over the next four years scholarly-produced transcriptions of approximately two hundred New Testament papyri, uncial, and minuscule manuscripts. These new transcriptions, which will be based upon high quality digital images of the actual manuscripts or their facsimiles, will serve as the foundation for the development of a New Testament Textual Criticism software application. This project will

  1. develop a module that incorporates new technology and processes that more accurately and effectively allow for manuscript transcription and collation;
  2. provide extremely accurate representations of the manuscripts being transcribed;
  3. make the raw transcription data available without charge for personal or academic use;
  4. effectively enable program users to immediately compare, contrast, and fully collate any desired selection—either partial or full text—of these manuscripts;
  5. allow for a broad range of detailed statistical queries relating but not limited to such issues as textual affiliation and congruity of the New Testament manuscript tradition;
  6. link directly to the manuscript transcriptions their corresponding high resolution digital images where publication permissions have been granted;
  7. be “open-ended” in that ongoing transcription and imaging work, as well as the recording of relevant extra-textual features such as sociological and codicological details, can be seamlessly incorporated into the software; and
  8. serve as the groundwork for published volumes containing full transcriptions of each manuscript, as well as complete collations for each book of the New Testament.

One thing that may be particularly interesting to the more advanced user is that not only has BibleWorks provided transcriptions and images, they’ve also provided the tools their people are using to make the transcriptions. In other words, if you can find other images of manuscripts, you could make your own transcriptions that work alongside the ones provided in BibleWorks! Wow!

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