The Juxta R&D team recently did a demo of Juxta Commons at a DH Day conference at NC State University, and one of the attendees brought the site NewsDiffs.org to our attention. It’s a great resource, tracking changes to online, “published” articles from some of the largest media outlets out there. But, while NewsDiffs brings together a bunch of different versions of these online articles, their visualizations are only helpful for two versions at a time.
As an experiment, I took several versions from this example and plugged them into Juxta Commons. When combined in the heat map, the results were truly surprising.
In this example, the newest version (captured on November 6, 2012) is the base witness, with the previous revisions made on the day of the articles release included in the set. Just imagine: readers visiting the New York Times article at 11:15am would have read a very different set of opening paragraphs than those checking in at 11:45am.
The Textual History of the Ethiopic Old Testament Project (THEOT) is an international effort to identify and to trace textual trajectories found in Ethiopian manuscripts that contain books included in the canon of the Hebrew Bible. (The Ethiopian Orthodox church counts a number of other books as part of their canon, but another team is examining those texts.) Although we hope our efforts will eventually lead to full critical editions of each book, the immediate goal is more manageable. By employing profile methods similar to those used in the field of New Testament Textual Criticism we will produce a preliminary textual history based on the collations of 15-70 select readings in 30 carefully chosen manuscripts per book.
Ted Erho, in consultation with the Primary Investigator (PI) assigned to a particular biblical work, selects the manuscripts based on age and significance. All manuscripts predating the 16th century are included by default. A representative sampling of later manuscripts and textual families (when known) populate the remaining number.
I also work with each PI to determine which passages to collate. We look for places where there is clear and significant variation in the Ethiopian tradition as well as in the sources that may have impacted the development of the text such as the Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic, and Arabic versions. Collations of the Ethiopic texts will provide data for mapping out internal developments. Alignment of the subsequently isolated traditions with external versional evidence will establish the source of the original translation and perhaps what foreign influences subsequently affected Ethiopia’s transmission of sacred texts.
Once these elements are set, every selected passage in each manuscript is collated separately by a minimum of two scholars. We then use Juxta to compare the transcriptions. Juxta highlights in blue the areas where the collations disagree, which expedites comparison and final editing. The investigators work through the differences aiming for a consensus on every reading. The end result is a transcription 99.9% pure.
Second, we then collate these “pure” transcriptions of the thirty manuscripts to identify unique readings and family groupings. What once required a tremendous amount of effort is accomplished in mere seconds with Juxta. Relationships between groups of manuscripts are much easier to identify with the graded highlighting scheme employed in Juxta’s “Comparison Set” window. Plus the words and phrases highlighted in the collation window facilitate the isolation of distinct variation units of value for mapping out Ethiopia’s textual history.
(On the off chance that someone will read this who knows Ethiopic, I should note that we create two copies of the final “pure” transcriptions. One version is retained in its original form preserving all of the orthographical variants and scribal idiosyncrasies. These will be used later for publications and further research. The other version is “standardized” through a process that removes a large amount of the numerous orthographic variations, such as the frequent interchange of gutturals, that occur in Ethiopic manuscripts.)
In addition to providing the data we need for our immediate goals, these units will be compiled into a list that will allow scholars in the future to classify quickly the textual affinity of other manuscripts.
We are very grateful to the Juxta team for providing the software and quickly responding to the particular needs of the THEOT Project. We eagerly anticipate using this new web version and the further refinements and development sure to come.
The Textual History of the Ethiopic Old Testament Project
Co-Directors: Steve Delamarter and Curt Niccum
Steering Committee: Jeremy Brown, Aaron Butts, Ted Erho, Martin Heide, Ralph Lee
Juxta v1.6 is now available from the download page!
- Building on Juxta’s existing support for <add>, <del>, <addspan>, and <delspan> tags, Juxta v1.6 now allows you to control the collation of revision sites by accepting or rejecting additions and deletions to the witness text.
- The contents of TEI <note> tags now display in the right column of the Document Panel and are excluded from the text collation.
- Default XML parsing templates are provided for TEI files. As in Juxta v1.4, you can customize these templates or create new ones.
- A new edit window allows you to make changes to a witness text and save the altered version as a new witness.
This development was made possible by the support of the Carolingian Canon Law project at the University of Kentucky.
On July 11-12, 2011, a group of Juxta users and collaborators met at the offices of Performant Software Solutions LLC in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. The group included Abigail Firey of the Carolingian Canon Law Project at the University of Kentucky; Gregor Middell of Universität Würzburg; Ronald Dekker from the Huygen Institute; Jim Smith from the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH); Dana Wheeles and Alex Gil of NINES; and Nick Laiacona and Lou Foster from Performant Software. The group previewed new features available in Juxta 1.6 (including changes to revision site display and TEI note tag support), then worked on planning for Juxta WS 1.0, the Juxta web service now in development.
Abigail Firey and Alex Gil spoke about what the developers of Juxta could learn in general from considering the particular needs of their textual projects. Jim Smith gave a presentation on Corpora Space Architecture. Gregor Middell and Ronald Dekker spoke about their work on CollateX. Gregor talked about using an offset range model of text markup; Ronald spoke about the Gothenburg abstract model for collation. Lou Foster presented the features new to Juxta 1.6. Finally, Gregor, Ronald, Jim, Lou, and Nick put their heads together in hacking sessions to work on offset ranges, the Gothenburg pipeline model, and the Juxta web service.
You can read notes from Juxta Camp on the Juxta wiki.