BibleWorks 9 - Manuscripts Project VII

Written by Michael Hanel on July 7th, 2011

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BibleWorks is not an open source program, but it is a program that allows for much more free adaptation than any of the other major Bible software programs. Since I’ve been using BibleWorks (I think that goes back to BibleWorks 5 or 6), I first fell in love with the Version Database Compiler which allows users to make their own Bible translations and import them into BibleWorks. While initially designed for Bible translators, I’ve made ample use of it, adding classical Greek and Latin texts to BibleWorks.

Later when HTML modules linked to BibleWorks were added to the program, BibleWorks allowed users to add their own custom HTML modules to the main program.

In that same vein, BibleWorks has not simply given users access to the manuscripts, BibleWorks 9 actually provides users with the very tools that scholars have been using to make transcriptions from manuscript images! While BibleWorks is continuing on its own to work at transcribing manuscripts, users could actually transcribe the manuscripts all by themselves and then compile and import them into BibleWorks and use them alongside any of the other manuscripts! The tools also make it possible to mark the images with the verse labels that are found in the BibleWorks manuscript images. Admittedly, the number of people who would want to do this is probably rather small, but it’s extraordinary that BibleWorks is sharing the power tools from their arsenal so freely.

Here’s a small glimpse of it in action.

Another companion tool is the Tagging Tool which allows you to morphologically tag your own Greek New Testament. There is no possible way to cover how this tool works in this post, but let’s just say you don’t have to manually enter in every tag. It’s made to help match your text against other morphological texts and fill out the text as completely as possible before letting you check out words that still are problematic. Again, this may not appeal to the common user, but now if you make your own Greek New Testament, it is easier than ever to make a morphology companion to it! The long-range goal here is to make it easy for people to develop public domain texts so that more people can share the Greek texts (but do be careful at first and read the Help files so that you are using public domain morphological databases rather than copyright protected and proprietary ones).

This picture doesn’t quite explain how it all works, but it lets you see how it’s laid out. In the top portion is the text that you wish to tag and in the bottom you can have other Greek morphological versions to compare with as you go.

Both of these tools are extremely powerful. They do take a bit of reading and trial and error to figure out. Most users probably won’t even want to use them, but BibleWorks is releasing them in BibleWorks 9 because they believe that the manuscripts project is not just giving people the final results, but giving them the tools as well so that anyone can become more familiar with the task of textual criticism and the creation of Greek critical texts.

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