At last!

Yesterday, Sunday 29 August 2010, at 3:21pm, I finally completed my work in compiling and checking all the citations of ancients texts in the apparatuses of James Charlesworth’s Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volumes, in prepration for the publication of a full index to the OTP, co-authored with Charlesworth. I had started on 16 September 2007, according to my notes, so it took almost three years. I’ve compiled 66 handwritten pages of corrections, and my notes and the index raw data have filled two and a half lab books (of quarter-inch gridline paper, my favorite for the smaller lines; the corrigenda are on 8.5×11, quarter-inch gridline paper, as well).

My process was this, for each page:
1.) If the page is of introductory material, read it closely and carefully, checking every citation to an ancient work in an edition of that ancient work.
2.) On the pages of translations:
a.) check the sources noted in the marginal citations
b.) check the sources noted in the footnotes
3.) When a mismatch occurs, figure it out:
a.) mix the numbers around a bit, assuming it’s a typo (often the case)
b.) otherwise, find the most likely edition used by the translator/annotator and check it for a variant versification (this was the case in a number of instances)
c.) search an online (usually TLG) text for one or more key words of the verse in the translation, and see where that leads (this happened quite a bit, too)
d.) If none are found, then note the parallel as unfindable and omit it from the index as a too-badly garbled mistake (there are very few of these, probably fewer than ten).

Having access to the best available online resources through the University of California, and to its library resources (including interlibrary loan) made the completion of this project possible in the relatively short time it has taken. No one could have done this without such resources.

Yes, I checked every single reference, whether to the books in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, the Deuterocanonical books, the Pseudepigrapha/Apocrypha (OT or NT), classical texts, and Rabbinic texts. That pretty well covers the range of things which will be included in the full index. All references to the works included in the OTP volumes themselves have been adjusted to the versification used in those volumes. Others have been adjusted to the NRSV (for those books included in it) or to the Rahlfs Septuagint (where applicable). I did have the NETS from almost the beginning of this project, and considered using it as the LXX reference, but it follows the Göttingen Septuaginta versification, which differs in places from Rahlfs, which is still the most commonly available and cited LXX text. So, I stuck with Rahlfs where these differ. That may change, of course. Classical texts follow the Loeb Classical Library versification generally. I also used the magnificent TLG regularly. This typically includes texts with the Loeb numbering. Where they differ, I followed whichever had the more structure. For the Rabbinic corpus, I’ve included not simply the standard page+recto/verso indication, but the outline indicators included in Neusner’s translations, as these will help readers to find exactly the point in question. Not many texts are still limited to simply page numbers in an edition, but this was the case with those works included in the Bet ha-Midrash collection, and a handful of others.

Now comes the typing. Ugh. Then I’ll have to proof it all against my handwritten notes. This is probably a couple of months of work in itself. But it’s exciting, all the same.

My next OTP-related project will also be published with Charlesworth as co-author: scanning and proofing all the translations, and then producing a full concordance to the translations included in the OTP, along with referring entries (“See also A,B,C.”) for common names in their various versions throughout all the texts. That will take about a minute a page in scanning time (I’ve timed it!) totalling roughly 30 hours scanning, and then a few minutes per page in proofreading (which, unlike the indexing/checking, I’ll be able to do anywhere, so I won’t have to be tied to the computer and surrounded by reference books at hand). Running the prepared text through the concordancing software takes only seconds. Preparing the text is what takes time and what matters. One thing I do is run a flat word list of a text being concordanced and then read through the entire list, noting anomalies of spelling and hyphenation and such, and then correcting the text. A few rounds of that results in a relatively perfect text. And in that process, I do expect to find further errors in the translations themselves (I’ve already noted some during the indexing project). So, by the end of my two projects, all of the text of the OTP, from the top to the bottom of every page, will have received close examination and correction where necessary. I expect this concordancing project to take only a few months, like just the rest of this year.

Before the OTP scanning, etc, I intend to finish up the blind entries (which are already well underway) for an otherwise complete concordance to the NETS (which incorporates corrections to the NETS translation provided by Pietersma). “Blind entries” are those like “Abraham, see Abraam.” The NRSV is the source of the first, and the usage in NETS is the second. This will assist users greatly. As this one is so far advanced, I figure it’ll be best to just get it done and out of the way.

So, that was fun! And is fun! And will be fun! I’m having fun!


11 thoughts on “At last!”

  1. Thank you, Justin! There were times, to be sure, when I would rather have faced the Nemean lion!

    Some of the more detailed pages took hours to get through. I would do perhaps one page a night in those cases, spending four or five hours checking all the references. Very interesting, but also occasionally discouraging due to the amount of time it took. But I’m very happy to have made it through while maintaining a consistent focus on doing the work properly and exhaustively.

  2. Congratulations! I’m sure this will be an indispensable resource for every scholar’s library. I can’t believe that you did all this work without typing! I was kicking around the idea of getting some composition notebooks today (I was at Staples) for taking handwritten notes but in the end I decided against it because typing is soooo much easier!

    Out of curiosity, if you were to convert the references to the Göttingen Septuaginta versification in the future, how much of an undertaking would that be?

    1. Thank you, Nick! I initially started out typing the list, but found that that was actually slower, awkwardly (and rather slowly) switching between screens and all that on my old computer. If I had a fast computer with a huge screen like I do now, I might’ve been typing all the way through, but that was still in my future. It was much faster to write it all down.

      Thinking about it, I don’t think it would be too tough to do a comparison table. In NETS, where the versification differs between Rahlfs and Göttingen, numbers appear in parentheses. Of course, the Götting LXX isn’t even complete yet. So there wouldn’t be as much, but still, that’d take some attentive work. So when are you starting it? Hmm? I take that “you” in your question as a pronoun for the hypothetical Everyman, and not for me, as in Kevin. I say you go for it!

  3. Kevin, does this mean that new and revised editions of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volumes is in the works? I was going to purchase these volume as my Christmas gift to myself. Should I wait? Let me know.


    1. Peter, you should indulge yourself this Christmas and buy them. I imagine that it will be a number of years before a new edition is published. And the first edition is still very useful, though some of the translations are much better than others, and some have been entirely superseded (like the 1Enoch translation, which is now found in G. Nickelsburg’s much better version, available in a sweet little paperback!). I just saw the great price that the paperback OTP is selling for: just over forty bucks for both volumes on Amazon. Amazing! That’s less than the price of just one of the hardcovers, nowadays.

  4. ok you twisted my arm I’m going to buy it. I also saw the paperback editions and will probably get them. Thanks Kevin.


    1. Thanks, Aaron! It’s coming along. Typing all of this up is a real chore, but I can’t even give that to someone else to do because my editorial scrawl is understood only by me.

      I may post the corrigenda online, if Charlesworth thinks it’s a good idea.

      I’ve also still got a few items here and there to check. I’ll have to spend some library time on that. Most of those are Judaica. That primitive “page verso|recto” reference system is just annoying, particularly when a citation is wrong and I have to read through pages and pages of irrelevant (but divertingly interesting!) material to maybe find the parallel being sought. And I also want to insert Neusner’s section/paragraph versification for precise references. So I’ll be looking through all his translations to pull those together.

      So, while the major portion of the work is done, I’m still not actually done. That’ll probably be a few more weeks or a couple months in the future, when everything is all typed up nice and pretty!

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