Data and Debora: New Avenues in the Computational Analysis of the Old Testament
How can the rapid developments in Digital Humanities be made fruitful to the study of texts from Antiquity? How can a linguistic database be used in philological, literary and historical studies? How can new approaches (cf. Rens Bod’s “Humanities 2.0”) be combined with the results of a longstanding honourable tradition of scholarly investigation?
This presentation will address these questions from the perspective of Biblical Studies. Since the 1970s the Faculty of Theology of VU University Amsterdam hosts the Werkgroep Informatica Vrije Universiteit (WIVU). Under the direction of Professor Eep Talstra, the WIVU has been involved in the creation of an extremely rich database of the Hebrew Bible, containing linguistic encodings at morpheme, word, phrase, clause, sentence and text levels. Now that the database is almost completed, its potential becomes more and more visible. But the directions to take are not self-evident: how to proceed from linguistic structure to text structure, from the language system to literary design? And how can new methods of digital text comparison, author recognition or visualization be applied? What are the specific challenges when dealing with a corpus with a long and complex history of composition and transmission?
Per 1 September 2012 Wido van Peursen has been appointed Professor of Old Testament at VU University as successor of Eep Talstra. In that function he has also become the director of the WIVU.