Some Initial Musings on the Workshop at the Lorentz Center

There were a number of major themes that were regularly touched on, including the issue of open source (or at least open access) for data sets and materials for linguistic, text critical, and other forms of analysis, the question of how to integrate the computer technology in the biblical studies classroom, and then the future of linguistic databases (e.g. Hebrew & Greek syntax treebanks).

  1. The open source/open access issue is an interesting one, simply because of the fact that someone needs to pay something for major Greek and Hebrew linguistic projects to move forward. I’m not still not sure how these kinds of large projects can work without funding and most of time that funding is going to come with limitations on the openness of the data. Likewise, those who work on projects on the side without funding (e.g. my own computational Greek project) tend to be less inclined to simply sharing their work because they know all of the effort that went into it. On top of that, there is the simple fact that there are very, very few people that I would trust with my data projects–and most of those people were in attendance at the workshop. My data is my baby. How do I know it will be safe out in the wild? I’m not against sharing it, but it would definitely have to be with the right people for the time being. I don’t know. Perhaps my reluctance has more to do with the (relatively) nascent state of much of my data, which when combined with the fact that I can count on my hands and feet the number of Greek scholars who do the work I do, makes me slightly uncomfortable.
  2. I can’t say much about the teaching question. I have tutored biblical languages individually, but the only teaching I’ve done has been in linguistic classes and the software question is not really an issue. With that said, I would be curious about how others have or have not integrated software and computers into their teaching of Greek and Hebrew. Any comments from the audience?
  3. One of the major thrusts of the third theme centered around how such databases will connect with other sub-fields of biblical studies. And on that front, I’m quite excited to see what happens. I’m not a biblical scholar; I’m a linguist, but there were several exciting projects on the horizon that should be very good should they come into fruition, particularly in conjunction with textual critics (perhaps more on that later). As related to point #1, I would be interested in data sharing on that front.

There is more to come. I’ll be writing up some musing on specific sessions and topics in the coming week or so, but there are a few beginning thoughts.