New Ways of Searching with Biblindex: some statistical results

Excerpts from the post-refereed, pre-print version of the following article:

Mellerin, L., New Ways of Searching with Biblindex, the online Index of Biblical Quotations in Early Christian Literature, chapter 11, in Claire Clivaz, Andrew Gregory, David Hamidovic (eds.), Digital Humanities in Biblical, Early Jewish and Early Christian Studies, Brill, Leiden 2013, p. 175-192.

Examples of research results which may be obtained with Biblindex.

1. The utility of BIBLINDEX for biblical scholars

1.1. Studying the constitution and history of the canon

Because of the accuracy of its data, BIBLINDEX will make it easier to see
and compare the pre-canonical forms of the Scriptures. Ancient Christianity
did not know a global definitive list of books, and even less a list of
editions or authorized versions. BIBLINDEX can throw light on the spread
of biblical writings in such or such a part of the world to such or such a
period, and thereby highlight the synchronic and diachronic dimensions
of the texts’ transmission.
For instance, the Book of Ruth has always been known as canonical,
but was not very often quoted, and not everywhere. BIBLINDEX shows
that it was used since the third century in Alexandria and Caesarea. The
Antiochene Fathers seem not to refer to it as a canonical work before the
fifth century, when Theodoret of Cyrrhus writes his Commentary on
Ruth. Researchers might have believed that it was excluded from the
canon until four quotations of it were discovered in a work of John
Chrysostom, his Commentary on Matthew, whose authenticity was absolutely
proved. This simple fact is evidence of its inclusion.

Use of the book of Ruth

Another example shows that using BIBLINDEX may open new research
fields. Why do these Antiochene Fathers so rarely quote the Book of
Ecclesiastes, whereas in Alexandria there are hundreds of references?
The three books attributed to Solomon, Proverbs-Song of Solomon-
Ecclesiastes, were not used very much in this area, but the references to
Ecclesiastes are at a particularly low level.

Use of the book of Ruth

1.2. Studying biblical Apocrypha

BIBLINDEX has established the following principle: from the moment we
know that a text was considered biblical by a Church Father at a given
time, the statement of its occurrences in BIBLINDEX is relevant. Our compilation
of biblical referencing systems will therefore include all possible
books quoted in a specific language.
It will thus be easier to study the survival and the diffusion of apocryphal
texts, today lost, such as the books of Pseudo-Ezekiel. If we search
for quotations of Ezekiel 37:7 in Origen, Gregory of Nyssa or Epiphanius
of Salamis, we read a phrase, ‘bone with bone and joint to joint’ (ὀστέον πρὸς ὀστέον καὶ ἁπμονία πρὸς ἁπμονίαν.),
which does not entirely match the well-known Hebraic text: ‘and the
bones came together, bone to its bone’. Besides, these quotations more
closely match a text from the first century before the Christian era, found
in Hebrew in the Dead Sea Scrolls and called Pseudo-Ezekiel. In this
way we can demonstrate that Epiphanius, at the end of the fourth century,
still knew this text and that he probably read it in Greek, just as
Gregory of Nyssa did. So there was a Greek translation of it (See Vianès, L., ‘Vers un texte grec du Pseudo-Ézéchiel? La vision des ossements desséchés’,
in L’Antiquité en ses confins. Mélanges offerts à Benoît Gain. Hors série 16 de Recherches
et Travaux (Grenoble: Université Stendhal-Grenoble 3, 2008), 163–175).
More generally, the influences and the geography of the history of
ideas are better known, in qualitative terms – thanks to the text of the
quotations – as well as in quantitative terms – according to the number of

1.3. The textual criticism of the Bible

And finally, when our textual phase is completed, BIBLINDEX will become
a great tool for the textual criticism of the Bible. The comparative
search for the quotations of the Fathers, often rich in variants and unexpected
readings compared with earlier or modern standard texts, can
contribute to the reconstruction of the original text. Indeed, even though
passed on by late witnesses, quotations found in authors older than most
of the preserved biblical manuscripts allow us to go further back into the
history of the biblical texts.

2. The utility of BIBLINDEX for patristics scholars

The data have to be improved and checked and the corpus has to be enlarged,
but some results can already be obtained. The main fact of bringing
together so much data highlights global patterns of which we were
not necessarily aware before this data was collected. In this paper a total
of some 500,000 references, in texts from the first six centuries, are taken
into account.

2.1. The most quoted texts

48% of the quotations refer to the Old Testament and 52% to the New
Testament, although there are of course many more verses in the former.
Thus we should not overestimate the percentage of New Testament references
by a specific Father.

In the chart above, the number of references to each section of the Old
Testament has been weighted according to the text length of each section.
We can see very clearly that Torah and Psalms are quoted disproportionately;
prophetic texts are very often referenced, but in relation to
their text length this number of references is not as significant as for the
Psalms. Historical texts are very clearly underquoted.
If we go a step further, we see that the Church Fathers’ three favourite
books are the Psalms, Genesis and the book of Isaiah.

As far as the New Testament is concerned, the Gospels and Pauline Epistles are the most
quoted texts, both absolutely and in relation to their text length.

Matthew’s Gospel is overrepresented, whereas Mark is not very often quoted.
This is due to the actual practices of the Fathers, but also from a selection
bias due to the systematic choice of Matthew in the database in
case of identical synoptic parallels.
Use of the book of Ruth
A top ten list of the most quoted verses can also be established. After the
integration of Cyril of Alexandria’s works into the corpus, the first verse
of John’s Gospel is the most quoted by far. We can see the predilection
of the Church Fathers for christological verses: equality between God
and his Son and the reality of the incarnation are the main issues debated
with pagan, Jewish or heretical adversaries. These are not surprising
results, but the establishment of such global comparison points is completely

Use of the book of Ruth

These are not surprising results, but the establishment of such global comparison points is completely new.

TOP 100

JN 1 1 1523
GN 1 26 1304
JN 1 14 1215
JN 14 6 1091
GN 2 7 1087
PH 2 6 597
PH 2 7 876
1 C 1 24 853
COL 1 15 712
GN 3 1 609
HB 1 3 585
EP 6 12 561
1 C 1 30 519
MT 28 19 455
MT 28 19 455
GN 1 27 451
GN 1 1 437
JN 1 29 424
1 C 8 6 393
ES 7 14 391
JN 10 30 364
LC 1 35 354
JN 14 10 350
ML 3 20 344
MT 11 27 341
MT 25 41 341
PR 8 22 330
JN 14 9 328
RM 9 5 318
PH 3 20 317
MT 1 18 312
JN 11 25 312
PH 2 8 310
RM 8 15 303
MT 11 29 303
PS 110 1 299
JN 8 44 293
JN 10 11 283
MT 5 8 282
JN 3 16 281
EX 3 14 281
RM 7 14 279
1 C 10 4 278
TI 3 5 277
MT 1 23 274
MT 5 3 273
HB 10 1 273
MT 3 17 269
MT 16 18 263
GN 1 2 261
1 C 15 53 250
MT 5 17 249
RM 8 29 248
MT 5 44 248
LC 1 34 248
JN 15 26 248
JN 8 12 244
MT 3 16 242
HB 2 14 242
RM 8 3 241
LC 3 23 240
RM 1 3 238
ES 53 7 237
MT 2 1 236
1 C 15 28 235
JN 4 14 233
RM 6 4 231
MT 5 45 231
JN 17 3 229
MT 19 21 228
JN 15 1 228
RM 11 33 224
MT 7 13 219
MT 25 34 217
JN 19 34 216
MT 11 28 210
MT 5 28 209
PH 2 10 208
MT 5 16 207
MT 1 1 205
HB 4 12 201
RM 7 22 200
MT 28 20 199
1 C 15 49 197
1 C 15 24 193
MT 4 2 191
MT 7 14 190
RM 7 23 189
MT 27 51 188
TI 2 13 187
RM 1 25 186
RM 8 17 186
JN 4 24 186
PH 3 21 183
RM 5 14 180
RM 8 9 180
PS 1 1 180
RM 1 20 179
MT 23 37 177
PH 2 9 176
MT 5 22 176
MT 5 5 171
MT 1 20 166
MT 4 1 164
PH 3 13 161
LC 3 22 156
PS 33 6 155
1 C 15 50 149
RM 8 32 147
SP 7 26 143
PS 1 2 140
1 C 15 10 110


2.2. The distortion between the Bible and its patristic reconstruction

Insofar as the text of the patristic quotations will be gradually integrated
into the database, we shall ultimately be able to reconstruct the Bible of a
particular author. One would then be able to compare the Bible of two
authors, or one author’s Bible at different periods of his life.
Studying the use of a specific pericope can also lead to very interesting
results. If we take as an example the opening of John’s Gospel,
which contains the most frequently quoted verse, John 1:1, we have a
sample of more than 6,000 quotations or allusions. Although it is not
exhaustive, we can assume that such a huge corpus may be a representative
sample from the period that we are studying. We can draw a curve
showing the number of references to each verse of this biblical section,
very far from an equal use of each verse. Verses about John (6–8) are far
less quoted than the verses about the Word (whom John identifies with
Jesus): less than 20 references, whereas verse 1 is quoted more than
1,500 times!

2.3. Association of verses

As an instrument of textual comparison and hermeneutics, BIBLINDEX
makes visible thematic relationships, similarities in the grouping of references
and echoes between the authors. Without this tool, such comparisons
could only be perceived with difficulty.
For instance: Augustine identifies the blasphemy against the Holy
Spirit in Matthew 12:31 – ‘Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven
for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be
forgiven.’ – with the unforgivable sin of the First Epistle of John 5:16 –
‘If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin,
you will ask, and God will give life to such a one […] There is a sin that
is mortal; I do not say that you should pray about that’. Is this an original
idea, or did some Fathers associate these two verses before him? We can
find 160 references to these two verses, but only four works which quote
them together and near from each other: the treatise De Pudicitia by
Tertullian, The Commentaries on John and Matthew written by Origen,
and Ambrose’s treatise De Paenitentia. As a matter of fact, Tertullian
and Ambrose are Augustine’s sources on this precise subject.

2.4. Textual criticism in the patristic field

Last but not least, the biblical references provide information about the
history of the texts which quote them. They give us valuable information
about the textual family or the biblical manuscripts to which the author
had access; about the debates on which he was dependent. They supply
him with quotations he does not always verify or reinterpret. These elements
can be deduced from the shape taken by the quotation (i.e. the
biblical variants of which it gives evidence), or from the interpretation
given. The precise form of the text helps to classify texts.
Biblical references may enable to date a work: thus we find in John’s
first Apocryphal Revelation (Tischendorf, C., ‘Apocalypsis Iohannis Apocrypha’, in Apocalypses apocryphae, C.Tischendorf (Leipzig, 1866, repr. Hildesheim, 1966), XVIII–XIX (introduction), 70–94 (Greek text edition).) biblical groups containing typically heterodox
eschatological views, based on which we can guess it was written in
the Byzantine Middle Ages. Isolated or organized together, these are a
classical criterion to authenticate a work. Similarly, a previously unidentified
allusion to the Letter of Jude helps, for example, to remove the
paternity of a text ascribed by some authors to John Chrysostom who, as
an Antiochene, would not quote this biblical book. The links between
two or several texts, not just as far as their authenticity is concerned but
also their literary or doctrinal influence, come out more clearly; it is
particularly true as regards the ‘jungle’ of the anthologies or chains,
exegetical compilations containing many fragmentary, badly attributed
or deformed texts. Duplicates will be spotted by establishing that a particular
fragment comes from a work transmitted and known in another

New texts of Origen : Lorenzo Perrone’s letter about the rediscovery of Origen’s Homilies on the Psalms

Bologna, the 10th of June 2012

 Dear Colleagues and Friends,

 On the 21st of May, a day after the first severe earthquake since centuries began to shake my region, I was asked an expertise on a Greek manuscript of Munich.

Prof. Anna Meschini Pontani, from Padua University, informed me that Dr. Marina Molin Pradel, who is preparing the new catalogue of the Greek manuscripts of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, wished to submit to my attention a discovery she had made on Holy Thursday. While examining the content of Codex Monacensis Graecus 314 (11th-12th century), an anonymous collection of 29 homilies on the Psalms, she discovered that the manuscript included the Greek text of four of the five homilies of Origen on Psalm 36  (H36Ps I-IV). Moreover, she noticed that the list of the other homilies corresponded to a large extent to that presented by Jerome in his Letter 33 to Paula, the most important group being the series of nine homilies on Psalm 77.

I worked hastily in the following weeks to go through the considerable manuscript (371 folios) and check its content. More and more, albeit still provisionally, I have come to the conclusion that we have to do with a lot of lost homilies of Origen. My conviction is supported, among other things, by the exegetical treatment presented by the homilies, the doctrinal elements they preserve, the stylistic features which are typical of the great Alexandrian. In addition, some excerpts of these homilies were already known to us under his name in some catenae fragments edited in PG 17 and the Analecta Sacra of Pitra, especially with regard to Psalm 77.

Only a thorough examination of the texts transmitted by the Codex Monacensis Graecus 314 will permit to extend with reasonable certainty the attribution to Origen of all the remaining homilies or of part of them, besides the Homilies I-IV on Psalm 36.

I have already begun with the transcription of the manuscript and hope to complete it before the end of the summer, in order to make the texts accessible to scholars. Together with my colleagues Chiara Barilli, Antonio Cacciari and Emanuela Prinzivalli I plan to prepare without delay a critical edition of the homilies.

Marina Molin Pradel will present her discovery and offer some samples of the manuscript in the next issue of Adamantius, due to be published before the autumn.

A series of initiatives are planned to announce the discovery of the new texts to the scholarly world and to promote their knowledge and study.

On monday the 11th of June the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek will release a public statement about the discovery.

A seminar will take place at Padua University the 25th of June and a day-conference is planned for the 5th of December in Munich at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.

Together with the colleagues of the Italian Research Group on Origen and the Alexandrian Tradition we plan a conference in Bologna next February, exactly one year after the one devoted to the prospect of a new edition of Origen’s commentaries on the Psalms, in cooperation with the colleagues of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaft.

At the time we were submerged by the snow no less than by the uncomfortable impression of the heavy task still waiting the editors of the catenae fragments. Now, in the middle of renewed quakes, we have been given an unexpected gift that we would like to share with all those who love Origen.

 Lorenzo Perrone       

The photographic reproduction of the entire codex is available HERE.

eTRACES Sponsor Meeting, May 07./08. 2012 (Leipzig)

ABSTRACTS (arranged alphabetically)

Marco Büchler, University of Leipzig : eTRACES/ASV
Since quoting never happens by chance, but always with a positive (agreeing)
or negative (disagreeing) purpose, we propose to use text re-use techniques
for the quantitative generation of text re-use graphs. We also try to identify
“hotly” quoted passages of a work, which are used for scoring an information
retrieval result. This work is based on the Perseus Digital Library.

Mark Hedges, King’s College London : Digital Publication of highly interconnected Manuscripts: the Case of mediaeval Greek and Arabic Gnomologia
The production of digital critical text editions using the TEI standard, and their
publication on the Web, is now a widely-adopted procedure in the digital
humanities community. This talk extends this approach to address the
publication of gnomologia, or anthologies of wise sayings, which formed a
widespread literary genre in many of the mediaeval Mediterranean cultures.
The challenge of these texts arises from the fact that they were rarely copied,
resulting in a highly-interconnected corpus for which this standard approach to
digital publication is insufficient. Focusing on Greek and Arabic collections, we
address this challenge using semantic web techniques to build up an
ecosystem of relationships, and consider a new model of what constitutes an
edition of this material.

Gerhard Lauer, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen : eTRACES/GCDH
The GCDH subproject analyzes text re-use in German literature and is focused
on detecting re-use of the bible. The aim of the project is to show how many
and which types of textual re-use of a set of different bible editions can (and
can’t) be found using the Text-Mining-software. For our test cases the texts are
taken from the, especially the novels. But also any other text
under a creative commons license a user would like to upload could be used.
The results will be provided to the public in a freely accessible web-based
frontend, designed to provide a virtual research environment not only to find
and comment these results, but also to complement them with your own
findings. The talk will present and demonstrate a mock-up of the front end and
discuss problems of a typology of text re-use.

Brigitte Mathiak, GESIS – Leibniz institute for the Social Sciences, Bonn : eTRACES/GESIS
The GESIS part of the eTRACES project is about citation traces in German
social scientific texts. The last year was spent mostly on data cleansing and
the annotation of the texts. For next year, we are planning exciting analysis on
the motivation and sentiment of citations. We are presenting our first
prototype, [histo]Suche, which allows us to do a full text search on the
cleaned documents. Our next use case will be the CitationRecommender that
uses sentiment analysis and citation context to find good additional citation for
an author.

Laurence Mellerin, Institut des Sources Chrétiennes, CNRS, Lyon: Biblindex, Online Index of Biblical Quotations in Early Christian Literature
Biblindex (, a project led by the French Institut
des Sources Chrétiennes with the support of the Peshitta Institute of Leiden
University and the Institut für neutestamentliche Forschung in Münster, aims
at the constitution of an online index of biblical references to be found in
Jewish and Christian literature, as well as in Western and Eastern texts of Late
Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, in order to renew the study of the
interpretation and history of biblical texts.

Ute Pietruschka, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg: In the hunt for lost sayings: Parallels and translation technique in Syriac and Arabic gnomologia
The study of Greek gnomologia is based on the basic assumption that parallels
exist only if we can observe a close correspondence of sayings in wording and
syntax. Dealing with sayings in different languages, however, the researcher
has to decide, whether the passage in question is a parallel or a variant
different from the Vorlage. The analysis of the translation technique is
therefore of particular importance in order to outline the transmission of
collections of sayings in Greek, Syriac, and Arabic.

Andrea Scharnhorst, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam: Digital traces of scholarship – from classical bibliometrics to new tasks for information providers
This talks give a short introduction into bibliometrics – the quantitative study
of scholarly communication – and its more modern forms (webometrics and
altmetrics). It discusses the role of standardization in large-scale data mining
about scientific activities. It addresses problems such as “tracing authors” and
“identifying fields”. The talk closes with discussing the role of information
providers such as archives for a cartography of science and a better navigation
in the scientific landscape.

e-traces website

Digital Humanities Congress 2012, University of Sheffield, 6th – 8th September 2012

Call for Papers
Deadline : 30th april 2012

The University of Sheffield’s Humanities Research Institute with the support of the Network of Expert Centres and Centernet is delighted to announce its Call for Papers for a three-day conference to be held in Sheffield during 6th – 8th September 2012.

The Digital Humanities Congress is a new conference which will be held in Sheffield every two years. Its purpose is to promote the sharing of knowledge, ideas and techniques within the digital humanities.

Digital humanities is understood by Sheffield to mean the use of technology within arts, heritage and humanities research as both a method of inquiry and a means of dissemination. As such, proposals related to all disciplines within the arts, humanities and heritage domains are welcome.

The conference will take place at the University’s new residential conference facility, The Edge.

Keynote Speakers

Professor Andrew Prescott (Head of Department, Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London)
Professor Lorna Hughes (University of Wales Chair in Digital Collections at the National Library of Wales)
Professor Philip Ethington (Professor of History and Political Science, University of Southern California and Co-Director of the USC Center for Transformative Scholarship)

Submitting a Proposal

We welcome proposals on all aspects of the digital humanities. For example, proposals might wish to focus on:

– New knowledge and insights within areas of humanities research which have arisen from the use of digital applications, techniques or methodologies. These proposals might focus on how specific research questions were solved.
– Case studies, best practice and evolving trends concerning the development of research resources, tools, frameworks and environments within the humanities, such as digital editions, mobile applications, virtual worlds, surface computing, web services and GIS.
– Technologies and techniques which bring value to humanities research, such as data mining, crowd-sourcing, linked data, text encoding, digitisation, ontology building, sentiment analysis, augmented reality, 3D visualisation and virtual worlds.
– Standards, best practice and case studies for data creation, data collection, development methodologies, usability testing, preservation, sustainability and accessibility.
– Issues and emerging trends within the technology and the information environment which do or might impact on humanities research. This might concern new technology, social trends, infrastructure, policy, funding, assessing value or pedagogy.

Proposals are welcome from academics, researchers, postgraduate students, professionals from within the cultural, heritage and information sectors, technologists and SMEs. Proposals are welcome from UK and international contributors.

Contributors can propose individual papers or sessions of three or more papers on a related theme.

Proposals for Individual Papers

Proposals for individual papers should include:

– The name of the speaker
– The speaker’s institution
– The title of the paper
– An abstract of approximately 300 words

Individual papers will be to a maximum of 20 minutes duration. Each paper will then be allotted a further 10 minutes for questions.

Proposals for Sessions

Proposals for sessions should include:

– The name of the session organiser and his/her institution
– The names of the individual speakers and their institutions
– The title of the session
– An abstract of approximately 200 words which describes the theme that unifies the session
– The titles of the session papers
– Abstracts for each paper within the session of approximately 300 words

Sessions will consist of three or more papers on a related theme to a maximum of 60 minutes. Each session will then be allotted a further 30 minutes for questions.

Submission Process and Deadline

Proposals should be submitted in Microsoft Word or plain text format to the following email address: adresse email est protégée contre les robots des spammeurs, vous devez activer Javascript pour la voir.

The deadline for submissions is 30th April 2012. All proposers will be notified by 11th May 2012.

Discounted Registration

All successful proposers will be eligible for the early bird registration packages. Early bird registration will end on 31st May 2012.

Discounted full residential package incl. registration and ensuite bed and breakfast accommodation: £230 (full price: £280)
Discounted non-residential package: £119 (full price: £169)
Student full residential package incl. registration and ensuite bed and breakfast accommodation: £200
Student non-residential package: £100


All speakers will be invited to submit their paper for publication in the Humanities Research Institute’s new online journal, Studies in the Digital Humanities.

Further Information

The conference website will provide access to delegate registration as well as further information about the programme and facilities:

For enquiries about submitting a proposal, please contact Michael Pidd: adresse email est protégée contre les robots des spammeurs, vous devez activer Javascript pour la voir.

The Humanities Research Institute is one of the UK’s leading centres for the digital humanities:

The Network of Expert Centres is a collaboration of centres with expertise in digital arts and humanities research and scholarship, including practice-led research:

Centernet is an international network of digital humanities centres:

 Source : Site de l’université.

First Summer School on Christian Apocryphal Literature Strasbourg, France, 24-27 June 2012

The Latin Collection of the Acts of the Apostles (pseudo-Abdias)

The Summer School on Christian Apocryphal Literature, Strasbourg 24-27 June 2012, gives a valuable opportunity to become acquainted with the advances and current directions in research on the Latin Collection of the Acts of Apostles (Virtues Apostolorum) and its reception in artistic production. It will allow students and scholars to interact with the foremost specialists in the field and to work on some unedited materials under their direction in a series of instructional workshops.

Pre-registration can be accessed at: Cost of registration: €100 (including meals). Cost of travel/accommodation is assumed by the participant.

For further details please contact Gabriella Aragione, Faculté de théologie protestante
BP 90020,
9, Place de l’Université,
F-67084 Strasbourg Cedex

More information on the FMRSI blog.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !

Bible cakeBible cake recipe
Take five measures among Solomon’s « sixty cors of meal » (1 K 4, 22), pour yeast « until all of it is leavened » (Mt 13, 33). Mix one measure of smooth « butter » (Ps 55, 21) with one of « curds » served by Yaël « in a lordly bowl » (Jdg 5, 25) ; add six pieces of what the ostrich « leaves to the earth » (Jb 39, 14), then a measure of milk and two of honey from the Land flowing with them (Ex 3, 8). Whip the mixture following Solomon’s advice (Pr 23, 14), and add « two clusters of raisins » given to the Egyptian by David’s servants (1 S 30, 12), two measures of « first-ripe figs » (Na 3, 12) and one of the ripe almonds borne on Aaron’s staff (Nb 17, 8).
As « with all your offerings », add a pinch of salt (Lv 2, 13) and a few teaspoons spices taken in the bags carried by the Queen of Sheba’s camels (1 K 10, 2), accompanied with « sweet cane from a distant land » (Jr 6, 20), ginger and « cinnamon » (Rev 18, 13).
Bake in « a heated oven, whose baker [needs] to stir the fire, from the kneading of the dough until it is leavened » (Hos 7, 4), for as many minutes as years Mahalalel had lived (Gn 5, 15) before « he became the father of Jared », at twice as many degrees as years Enosh was old when « he became the father of Kenan » (Gn 5, 9). Then put into practice Mt 14, 20…

May your appetite for Bible grow in 2012 !

Photo credits :

CALL FOR PAPERS: Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniensis 2012

The Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense

The Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense is an annual international conference on Biblical Studies jointly organised by the theological faculties of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the Université Catholique de Louvain. The meetings take place in the Faculty of Theology at the K.U.Leuven and are alternately dedicated to a topic in Old and in New Testament Studies.

The Colloquium offers a forum and meeting place for research and scholarly discussion in the field of Biblical Studies. As a rule the annual conference focuses on a biblical book or a collection of writings, but it also addresses thematic subjects.

Programme design

10 main papers by invited speakers; languages: French, German or English
4 seminars conducted by invited speakers; languages: Dutch, French, German and English
about 20 short papers, selected from proposals by participants
Topic and programme of the conference in 2012

Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the Scriptures
President: Eibert Tigchelaar
July 26 – 28, 2012

It is possible to register

online: Online Registration
by e-mail (to Prof. Dr. Reimund Bieringer, and
by using the paper registration form in the printed invitation (which can also be printed by clicking here)

History and survey of previous meetings
More information

Prof. Dr. Reimund Bieringer

An Israeli algorithm sheds light on the Bible

Software developed by an Israeli team is giving intriguing new hints about what researchers believe to be the multiple hands that wrote the Bible.

The new software analyzes style and word choices to distinguish parts of a single text written by different authors, and when applied to the Bible its algorithm teased out distinct writerly voices in the holy book.

The program, part of a sub-field of artificial intelligence studies known as authorship attribution, has a range of potential applications _ from helping law enforcement to developing new computer programs for writers. But the Bible provided a tempting test case for the algorithm’s creators….
“We have thus been able to largely recapitulate several centuries of
painstaking manual labor with our automated method,” the Israeli team
announced in a paper presented last week in Portland, Oregon, at the annual
conference of the Association for Computational Linguistics. The team
includes a computer science doctoral student, Navot Akiva, and a father-son
duo: Nachum Dershowitz, a Tel Aviv University computer scientist, and his
son, Idan Dershowitz, a Bible scholar at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Read more :

The conference paper in question is available here:


CosmicRaysdit :

Similar work published in 2008:

Workshop at the 16th International Conference on Patristic Studies (Oxford): Biblical quotations in Patristic Texts

FRIDAY AUGUST 12, East School, Room 6, 4.00 – 6.30.

This workshop aims to enable research teams from different countries, whose work involves the identification and analysis of biblical quotations in Patristic texts, to share experiences and allow the audience to have an open discussion about methodological problems. Both patristic and biblical scholars will take part in this workshop, to consider how common tools could be developed to serve different purposes, such as the history of exegesis or a critical edition of biblical texts.

Laurence Mellerin (Sources Chrétiennes, Lyon): “Biblindex, Online Index of Biblical quotations in
Early Christian literature”

Numerous methodological issues have to be solved during the Biblindex project development, so that an effective XML-TEI schema for both biblical and patristic texts can be built: e.g., how to define the difference between allusion and quotation? How to distinguish and typify the Church Fathers’ ways of introducing and changing the biblical texts? How to decide where a quotation begins and where it ends? Through a few case studies, we’ll present Biblindex solutions and submit them to discussion.

Hugh Houghton (ITSEE, Birmingham): “Patristic Evidence in the New Edition of the Vetus
Latina Iohannes”
The paper is structured into two main parts:

a) the procedures followed
b) questions and textual insights arising from the patristic material for John

Bas ter Haar Romeny (Peshitta Institute, Leiden): “Biblical Quotations in Syriac commentaries”

This paper will first discuss the evidence for various versions of the Old Testament in Syriac exegetical works. In addition to quotations from the Peshitta, which is a second-century translation based on a Hebrew text, one finds references to the recentiores and to “the Greek” and “the Hebrew”. A complicating issue is the fact that references to “the Greek” may refer either to the Syro-Hexapla or to ad hoc renderings of the Greek biblical text of Greek commentaries that have been translated or excerpted.

Second, the significance of the material will be discussed. Quotations from the Fathers should play a role in the constitution of the critical text of the Peshitta, Syro-Hexapla, and Hexapla. This might seem to be self evident, but practical problems have often prevented editors from using the evidence. There are also more reasons why the quotations are important. For instance, they may help us to assign a place and date to a certain text form. In exegetical collections which do not state their sources, they may help to find out the provenance of the material. And last but not least, the role given to the quotations is a major aspect of the exegetical method that needs to be analysed.

The third issue that will be brought up has to do with the practical problems mentioned before: the Peshitta Institute will cooperate with the Biblindex Project and the Hexapla Institute in order to make at least a selection of the material available.

Claudia Wick (Thesaurus linguae latinae, München): “The Language of the Bible in the Thesaurus Linguae

The paper will discuss the procedures followed in ThLL to identify sources and establish the relevance of “VET.LAT” label for a biblical quotation, in a lexicographical way of thinking.

Another short paper:

Dominique Gonnet – The use of the Bible within Athanasius of Alexandria’s Letters to Serapion

My short communication has to be seen as a following of James D. Ernest’s The Bible in Athanasius of Alexandria (Boston-Leiden 2004). In fact, Athanasius of Alexandria’s Letters to Serapion did not belong to the corpus studied in that book. I collaborate to the Biblindex Project  HYPERLINK “” http :// ?lang=en which will be presented as workshop on “Biblical quotations in Patristic Texts” at this Conference. In my communication, I will summarize some conclusions about the use of the Bible in Letters to Serapion : how far do Athanasius knowledge of the Bible go? Does he use τρόποι, following the example of his adversaries? With how many verses did Athanasius answer the few verses quoted by Athanasius adversaries? How does he balance Old and New Testaments? Which place does he give to St. Paul’s writings?

Background: From Biblia Patristica to Biblindex

1. Biblia Patristica (1965-2000)

Hitherto, the only available tool for researching early Christian interpretation of the Bible was Biblia Patristica, a project held in Strasbourg from 1965 to 2000 by a CNRS team, CADP, Centre for Patristics Analysis and Documentation. The objective of the Centre was the production of a comprehensive inventory of all biblical quotations and allusions in ancient Christian literature. Unfortunately, due to lack of a sufficient team, Biblia Patristica had to stop its activity.

Its 7 published volumes already offer printed indexes of biblical quotations and allusions in the  Greek and Latin writings of the Church Fathers in the first three (and part of the fourth) centuries.

Seven volumes have been published, along with a supplementary volume for biblical references in Philo of Alexandria, who served as an exegetical model for many patristic authors.

Volume 1, which appeared in 1975, covers the beginnings of extracanonical Christian literature up to Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian.

Volume 2 indexes the literature of the third century, apart from Origen, to whom volume 3 is devoted exclusively.

Coverage of the fourth century begins with volume 4, which includes the writings of Eusebius of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Epiphanius of Salamis. Volume 5 covers Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Amphilochius of Iconium, and volume 6 turns to the Latin writers Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose of Milan, and the Ambrosiaster.

Volume 7 on Didymus the Blind appeared in 2000.

The first step of Biblindex was to resume the  work of Biblia Patristica.

These volumes published make an inventory of 270.000 references, which have all been scientifically verified. A CD ROM had been prepared, funded by CNRS Editions, which was to have been released with the publication of the 6th paper-format volume. Thanks to the work of Jean Allenbach and André Pautler, former members of the CADP team, Sources Chrétiennes inherited this database in 2006.

2. Archive retrieval by Christian Sources, Biblindex “in the pipeline” (1999-2008)

In November 1999, CADP entrusted Sources Chrétiennes with the first part of its unpublished data, corresponding to 5 boxes of works analysis processed at least partially. These are around 100,000 verified references, which have been computerized. In 2006, again thanks to the work of Jean Allenbach and André Pautler, Sources Chrétiennes inherited the BIPALYON database, containing half of these unpublished data computerized : the 7th volume on Didymus the Blind, the verified and unverified data for the planned 8th volume, never published. It shoul have contained :

  • Athanasius
  •  John Chrysostom
  • Theodoret of Cyr
  • Procopius of Gaza
  • Jerome, and others

+ The spuria and dubia of authors of the other published volumes (Gregory of Nyssa, Epiphanius, Amphiloque, and Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose, Justin).

In 2000, André Pautler entrusted Sources Chrétiennes with the second part of CADP’s data, this time 8 boxes containing printed or handwritten lists of references, untested and not computerized, for which there are no record in any database and even without an inventory list. These new boxes represent around 300,000 references.

As an example, Cyril of Alexandria’s complete verified data are on paper listings in the boxes, but whitout any record in the database. Now we have an inventory list of these archives : very different texts, from different space eras and time areas, are to be found in them. They were analyzed by members of the clergy in the three decades during which the CADP worked, without close coordination.

These data are difficult to operate, because the lists of references are often very difficult to read : pale listings, handwritten notebooks or sheets  which are difficult to decipher. You can see here (nice) examples of these materials.

One example : Jerome

In Biblindex, teams of specialist researchers have been organized for each important author. They are going to resume and complete these data. For example, none of Jerome’s works are included in Biblia Patristica, but most of them have been analysed in Biblindex.

The missing works include:
– Treatises on the Psalms
–  Comments on the Prophets (except Jeremy)
–  Commentary on Ecclesiastes
–  Comments on Matthew
–  Comments on the Pauline Epistles
–  Prefaces and Prologues
–  Lives of Malchus and Hilarion

For works already covered by Biblindex, are to be done data verifications, using a more recent version of the text where applicable. For the others, are to be inventoried in details the works presented in boxes. Works absent from Biblindex have to be entirely treated, according to our “Guidelines”.

Another example : John Chrysostom

There are 43,701 references to John Chrysostom in BIBLINDEX, i.e. more than one tenth of the data transmitted in electronic form by the CADP.

The corpus concerned is primarily the authentic corpus, with exceptions. This does not mean that the pseudo-chrysostomica are illegitimate : they should naturally have their place in Biblindex in due time.

Very few works are missing : the two Letters to Innocent, the Commentary on Job, and of course the still unpublished writings. These gaps will be filled gradually. An important work have already been done at Sources Chrétiennes to precise the titles of these works, which are very difficult to identify precisely.

The data are very reliable, according to a test done on a few works. They have been checked at least once by the CADP. In accordance with the rules of the CADP sticking to references to specific texts, some very slight or very loose allusions have not been reported.

The data were reported mainly from the text of Migne’s Patrologia. However, we must hope that results based on more modern editions would not have been fundamentally different, because in this specific case, to undertake a new comprehensive check would take nearly 30,000 hours of work…

3. Biblindex beta version (2006-2009)

The context in Sources Chrétiennes

From 2003 was developed in Sources Chrétienes an electronic database to inventory ancient authors and their works published or to be published in the series. Parallel to this initiative, 2006, an online scriptural index of Bernard of Clairvaux, on the basis of 12 volumes SC or 13000 Biblical quotations, was made. The completion of this project has helped to identify technical issues and define the means necessary for a larger-scale operation.

From 2006 to 2009, we applied successfully for funding at the Rhône-Alpes Region. We obtained € 19,000, ie 56 days for development and  a few equipment. The House of the Orient and the Mediterranean, Sources Chrétiennes Association, and a few donators on the web site helped us too, so that we could find 4,000 euros more.

Development of Biblindex-beta

We encountered technical and practical difficulties. We had to keep the database structure of the CADP, but we already had our own database. We had no IT engineer in our team, so we worked with vacations, not always precisely at the right moment. We had to let the IT development in abeyance, due to the lack of funding. The result form has not been tested and corrected by Patristicians after the engineer had finished his work. So there remains room for improvement.

Using the web site

First of all, you have to register. Then, you can access to the search form. Here, you have to read the instructions to figure out how things work, because it doesn’t work like you might think.
This form allows you to investigate the corpus by entering one or more biblical references, and to sort the results by ancient authors, works, dates, geographical areas (poles) or Clavis numbers. After selecting your criteria (biblical passage and patristic author/area), you have to hit the plus sign before you go on. As long as you can’t see a dimmed table with the asked choice in it, with a “-” button on its left, allowing to remove the choice, that means it wasn’t taken into account. The results are automatically calculated as you confirm your choices, but the page does not refresh (AJAX technology): the number that appears on the left of the light shows you the number of occurrences. You should therefore expect until the form is available to enter the following informations.

Ex. of biblical settings :

1 Samuel 1, 19-28 + 2,11-3,21 +4,1

= references to Samuel’s birth and life in Silo, without quotations of his mother Anna’s prayer.

After you hit the plus sign, the traffic light turns to green, and the search button is not dimmed anymore. You can load your query.

If the choices were properly validated, and that the “start search” button is staying dimmed, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, that means there are no matches. You can check this point with the counter top right next to the light.

It yields the results. Then you can see the references returned for your query and print them. On the top of the results form, there is a reminder of your search criteria. You have to select “expand all” and see details. The search results are not that easy to scroll through, but it gives you the critical edition along with the passage citation. There are not direct links to the works. Clicking on the an author cited provides a link to additional information and bibliographical help at Sources Chrétiennes

Our IT engineer is currently working to revise and upgrade search functionality and to improve this results form.


–         95% of Biblia Patristica data, published and archived by computer, are available

–         An interface with high « added value »

–         A great users community was created. Users feedbacks have helped us a lot to obtain new fundings : we have chosen to put the site online, although it still had to be deep improved, because we did not know if there really was a need for Biblindex. One of the conclusions we could draw from these feedbacks and registrations was the necessity of this tool

.. and deficiences

However the site developed is only a small step forward along a long path.

–         Gaps in the data:

  • Series of verses are taken into account only by their first and last verses
  • References to unnumbered verses do not appear
  • Septuagint verses with a letter do not appear

–         Search form is not intuitive enough

–         Difficult to sort, export, print results

e.g., the display of results when searching in a single work has to be simplified, to avoid repetition of the work title; full scriptural apparatus for a chosen work must be easy to obtain, the relative proximity of two verses in a work must be seen, etc.

–         It is still impossible to really work together with users, as we don’t have a sufficient collaborative interface.

4. The outlook of Biblindex (2011-…)

Our third applying for funds at the French Research Agency, ANR was at last successful : we obtained € 330,000 to fund 4 years. This time, we work together with four other institutions : two French labs working in data processing, lemmatisation, geovisualisation ; two biblical institutes, the INTF in Münster and the Peshitta Institute in Leiden.

We could recruit two people : an IT engineer, because first and foremost, computer development must be emphazised; and a patristic researcher who has biblical analyses in charge. They started working in February this year.

We will try to change the perspective of Biblia Patristica according to the problems we have pointed out. In Biblindex, Bible parts should be referred to works parts. Biblindex should not only be a tool to produce biblical apparatus, but a tool for matching biblical excerpts with patristical excerpts.

The access to the texts themselves

Until now, as stated above, only numerical references can be searched in Biblindex. The mere fact of knowing that a biblical text exists in a specific area at a specific time, or in another specific text, is already crucial information. Though researchers also need to know what sort of biblical manuscripts or compilation manuscripts the ancient writer was reading, what type of biblical text he quotes, and so forth: all this information can only be found in the details of the text quoted.

An experimental development, on a few texts written in each language we aim to explore, will be led to establish relationships between the index and the text itself.