Progress Involves Some Undoing

17 Nov 2011

Thanks to the input of Travis Brown, Assistant Director at MITH and the programmer working on this project, I am now revisiting the organization of the project and its constituent files. We are now working with a central text, that will be pre-tokenized [broken into discrete and uniquely identified units by word] to which all the witnesses can link. This will result, ultimately, in undoing some of the work already done on the my manuscripts but will generate less redundancy, and more flexibility for collation and output.

Thanks to the input of Trevor Munoz, Associate Director at MITH and an Assistant Dean at McKeldin Libraries, I hope to have a customized ODD file for the project. Again, customizing will mean undoing some work, but progress nonetheless.

For those in the Rabbinic texts biz, here is an issue that I have had to make a compromise/decision on that’s talking about further: what to use as the base text. My decision has been to use the Vilna printed version as it appeared in the Yakhin u-vo’az edition by the Romm press that appeared in the early 1900s. There is a practical reason for this: it is freely and easily available, and largely transcribe already in wikis etc. There are methodological reasons for this as well, though. First, it is likely to be the longest text, making it possible to link to the “pluses” that appear in some recensions but not others. Second, it is the most widely accessed text (even scholars regularly¬† engage with it in its close relation, the edition of Albeck). Finally, it is the one text that, as clearly modern, does not represent a “primary source.” To use a manuscript source (e.g., Kaufmann A60) requires both verifying that text and presuming that it represents an archetypal text (as Y. Kutscher argued).

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