Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Michael Heiser, Academic Editor at Logos.
In my last blog post about the new inscriptions databases, I noted that one of the challenges we face at Logos when we create research tools for studying ancient texts in their original script is how such data can be made accessible for users who do not read the ancient languages. A second challenge we have applies to scholars: showing them that the ancient language resources we produce are about more than searching and concording texts.
For many scholars, that is precisely what software is about. I know this because I was one of them when I came to Logos three years ago. At that time I would have been thrilled to have certain ancient texts in any electronic form so I could do the kinds of searching we now see as primitive, like searching through a web page or a PDF document. I had no conception of being able to simultaneously search ancient texts and other books, such as commentaries, dictionaries, and lexica—the sorts of things that Libronix users do routinely. As a scholar, I also had little appreciation for the value of having ancient texts in English transliteration. Once you’re able to read texts in original script, you sort of set aside transliteration as something remedial. In the digital world, that’s a mistake.
In place of a detailed written explanation of these points, I’ve prepared a brief Camtasia video that illustrates them. For those scholars who have never seen Libronix in action, whose electronic research has been limited to online resources, the video will demonstrate rather quickly how much more advanced the capabilities of Libronix are to web pages and PDF files. For experienced Libronix users who work in Hebrew, the use of transliteration in the video may introduce you to something you had not thought possible—being able to search for words across different text corpora (here, Hebrew inscriptions and Ugaritic) with one search.