Monday, September 20, 2004

Project Watch: NT Transcripts Prototype

One of the most interesting online projects dealing with the Greek New Testament, still under development, is, IMO, the New Testament Transcripts Prototype. This is a brief description of the project taken directly from their website:
New Testament Transcripts features important Greek manuscripts of the New Testament as transcribed by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research at the University of Münster, Westphalia, Germany. The site is being prepared in collaboration with Scholarly Digital Editions (Leicester, UK) and is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Bonn, Germany).
The books currently available are the Four Gospels, 1-3 John, and Jude.

There are some very nice things that make this project stand out. Beyond the welcome addition of a newer and fuller Apparatus, the possibility of reading transcripts of some of the most important manuscripts is quite exciting. Besides, the text is color coded for different purposes, which add to the overall usefulness of the tool. This is all summed up in the following paragraph:
This apparatus is based on the new transcripts. It lists every single variation found in these transcripts. If you click on a manuscript number, you are taken to the transcript of that manuscript. Red color indicates that the letters were supplied by the editors; they are not found in the manuscript. Red numbers indicate the number of characters that would fit in the space available. Underdots indicate that the characters can't be identified with certainty in the manuscript. Green links indicate that corrections have been made to the manuscript. Clicking on green links brings up small windows telling you about alterations by later hands.
The downside is that the Printed Ed. View (NA27) is no longer available, and the same can be said of the fully accented NA27 text and critical apparatus. I do not know if that is simply a temporary situation, but I certainly liked it better the way it used to be displayed before. For comparison purposes, you can check out the older version and reach your own verdict. Also, in my experience (and here your mileage may vary), Safari (Mac OS X) did a much better job at displaying and navigating the site than IE for Windows (IE 6, Win XP Pro).

Whatever the browser you use, you will need to download the TITUS Cyberbit Basic font (available here) in order to properly display the Greek characters and special symbols. The is also an online Guide which, unfortunately doesn't help much, since it applies to the previous version of the Digital Nestle-Aland Prototype (still available here), and needs to be updated.

In conclusion, it's nice to see this online project slowly taking shape. Now I just hope that, after all the rough edges are gone, it will eventually make its way into some of the Bible software programs we all use and like so much. Questions and comments about the NT Transcripts Prototype are welcomed, and there is an email address at the bottom of the homepage where you can send them.