Web Technology for Septuagint Research

Enhancing the study of the Bible using modern technology.

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I would like to thank all those who have supported us in our endeavour to develop web-based technology to enhance the study of the Bible. I would especially like to thank Dr. Robert Hiebert whose projects have created the impetus for much of what we are developing and whose grants have funded most of the development to date.

Due to a few unforeseen challenges in the creation of complex functionality we are revising our timeline from the end of June to the end of August to have testable versions of the Web Application for Textual and Exegetical Research (WATER), which consists of two primary components and three secondary components—and the complementary/collaborative Greek Online Lexical Database (GOLD). We have been testing and debugging one of the primary components of WATER—the text module—and it should be ready for use by the middle of May. Due to our increased timeline, we are in need of more funding and I have increased our fund raising goal to $21,000.00. Given the support we have received thus far I am confident we will raise the funds needed for this cutting edge endeavour. There is a lot of excitement ahead as different phases of development come to completion and I look forward to having you share in the excitement as I provide updates and the long awaited for videos.

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Background

The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Often designated LXX, for the seventy who translated the Torah, the Septuagint was the primary source that the New Testament writers drew upon.

When examining the ancient manuscripts (for our purposes those that are older than the fifteenth century) that contain the texts that are found in the Bible, one is faced with evaluating and comparing many copies. For some books less than one hundred manuscripts are available but for others more than 1000 copies exist. While the detailed comparison of manuscripts has been accomplished (at least in part) in the past with and without the aid of the computer, only recently has is become feasible to develop dedicated software to both store and edit the data for more enhanced evaluation (including statistical analysis).

In 2005 I began to explore the possibility of designing web-based software to facilitate the work of Dr. Robert Hiebert and his task of creating a critical edition of a Greek text for the foremost series on the Septuagint texts, the Göttingen Septaginta Series. To date the culmination of the work has resulted in the creation of the Web Application for Textual and Exegetical Research (WATER). WATER is a tool that allows for the storing, editing and analysis of all the data entered for a given book as well as making available the ability to write commentary on the text. One important aspect of WATER is its ability to facilitate collaboration on projects as a project administrator can invite others to contribute to the work being done and track the contributions made. In line with the emphasis on collaboration Rob and I are also seeking to design community resources, such as a Greek lexicon, that experts from around the world can contribute to and where information is available for free for those wanting to study the Greek text.

The development of these tools could facilitate and enhance the study of the Septuagint and other biblical and related texts for the foreseeable future. This undertaking requires both the full time work of a development team and the need of hardware and software in order to be successful. While database/web application development is indeed costly, the great benefits to the study of scripture are immeasurable. For this project to flourish we need your financial support.

Thank you for your interest in this project,

Nathaniel Dykstra

Project Updates

  • November has been a month to remember and I want to recognize my developer David for his hard work. Even with having to add a significant database change and a feature request to the mix, we have completed the last function required to make WATER's text module fully usable. The focus of development in December will be to fix some bugs and enhance some features. We will also be working to have ready a prototype of our commentary module and Greek Online Lexical Database (Greek Wikki).

    We have an exciting road ahead!

  • Too much has happened since my last post to include here. We are excited to point you to our new re-designed website at water.twu.ca where you can find out more information. 

    We are working hard to finish the functionality for Phase 1 (text module). We are nearly finished our second to last function and will need another two weeks to finish the remaining function. While this will put us three weeks behind where we wanted to be, I am reminded that WATER is a Google-sized project without their resources. We’re doing rather well for a development team of two but time is not our friend right now.
     

  • It's been a while since I've posted anything about WATER and we've been having quite the adventure trying to get it up and running. I am excited to report that I was able to show a video of a pre-alpha version of WATER in action at a conference of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies at the beginning of June. The response was very positive and encouraging and there are many who are excited at the prospect of using such sophisticated software (their words not mine). We will begin beta testing this week thanks to the incredible efforts of David our computer scientist. I hope to have a video posted soon to show off the incredible software we are creating.

  • I would like to thank all those who have supported us in our endeavour to develop web-based technology to enhance the study of the Bible. I would especially like to thank Dr. Robert Hiebert whose projects have created the impetus for much of what we are developing and whose grants have funded most of the development to date.

    Due to a few unforeseen challenges in the creation of complex functionality we are revising our timeline from the end of June to the end of August to have testable versions of the Web Application for Textual and Exegetical Research (WATER), which consists of two primary components and three secondary components—and the complementary/collaborative Greek Online Lexical Database (GOLD). We have been testing and debugging one of the primary components of WATER—the text module—and it should be ready for use by the middle of May. Due to our increased timeline, we are in need of more funding and I have increased our fund raising goal to $21,000.00. Given the support we have received thus far I am confident we will raise the funds needed for this cutting edge endeavour. There is a lot of excitement ahead as different phases of development come to completion and I look forward to having you share in the excitement as I provide updates and the long awaited for videos.

  • We've been confronted with developing complex functionality that takes weeks instead of the expected days to complete. This is always a humbling experience that offers some great learning opportunities. Because we are doing a lot of bug fixing along with development this is also stretching our timeline for the release of our beta version for text creation/modification—this work will, however, create a much better user experience for testers.

  • The last two weeks have seen a whirlwind of development, from the ability to create and edit phrases, import and display Hebrew and Greek texts, allowing for competing phrases to be entered/selected (gewöhnlich/so in, α/β) as well as many more along with multiple U/I enhancements. There are two features that need to be finished before full testing can begin and we are looking in good shape to have these completed this week.

  • David is working on some pretty cool importing algorithms to get text into the database. If all goes well I should be testing an updated version of WATER tomorrow! In the following week we'll be putting on the finishing touches and preparing the system for full use.

  • I am happy to note that as of Saturday we are again working on WATER and related resources full time thanks to recent financial contributions.

    Though not reflected on the impact website, a donation of $3000.00 has been made and we look forward to the continued support of our many donors.

    Thank you!

  • The Web Application for Textual and Exegetical Research (WATER) is the primary focus of development at this time. Thanks to some significant contributions we have been able to continue our work, but only on a part time basis.

    About a year ago we had to redesign WATER from the ground up to improve security and to allow for multiple users to use the application. This work set us back at least six months and used up most of the available funding. Recently, a database change has required many hours of reworking existing code. The progress we are seeing is exciting and I have recently been testing the new system.

    Right now I need to secure $11,000.00 so we can resume full time work on WATER and have a full version ready for testing before summer. I am looking for people who can become primary contributors by contributing $3,000.00 or more over the next 6 months. This will entitle them to exclusive and unlimited use of WATER.

    I would like to thank Rob Hiebert, Peter Flint, the IOSCS and all those who have made private donations for their support and encouragement concerning the creation of WATER.

    WATER is designed with an eye toward easy note taking on and easy access of any text that one imports (Greek, Hebrew, English etc.). It functions great as a tool for the research of biblical books, allowing ones notes on the text of a book to follow him/her and be developed for the rest of his/her life without the need to consult multiple documents saved in a folder on a computer.

    My sole purpose in creating WATER is to advance biblical studies on the whole and Septuagint scholarship in specific. The creation of WATER will also result in the availability of free Greek resources (Greek Wiki) that will be developed and used by students and scholars the world over and I look forward to the contributions to this resource as well.

  • I don’t think it is too far off the mark to say that what we are in the process of achieving in the development of the Web Application for Textual and Exegentical Research (WATER) is tantamount to the work of Google and other companies involved in cutting-edge web and database development. The only difference is that we have a much smaller budget and fewer personnel to work on it. What we have managed to create thus far, in spite of these limitations, is nothing short of amazing. We have recently upgraded some of the database design in WATER in preparation for its full release for testing and use. We have made some significant changes that will greatly enhance the effectiveness of WATER for working with multiple types of text formats. While some critical editions include the lemma text and one apparatus (which contains the variants readings found in various ancient manuscripts) below the text on each page, other editions such as those published in the Göttingen Septuaginta series and by the Hebrew University Bible Project contain two or more apparatuses. We have now enhanced the WATER database so that many apparatuses can now be managed and each each individual manuscript can be linked to a specific apparatus.

    The scope of this project is so large that it is nearly impossible to outline and create a diagram of the database without having to add to and modify it continually. After having spent two years dedicated to database design, we expect that this last change is one of the last that will be necessary. What remains to be done is to complete the work on the advanced features of WATER that will greatly facilitate the editing of critical texts and their associated apparatuses.

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$19,850 $21,000
94% Complete
RAISED
GOAL
0
days left
12
donations