The biblical scholarship is centered about the richly annotated linguistic database of the ETCBC (Eep Talstra Centre of Bible and Computer) and explores how this database can be used in new directions of biblical research, including discourse analysis, Machine Learning, statistical analysis and computational linguistics. This Team builds on a long and successful tradition of applying digital approaches to studying Hebrew texts since the start of the Werkgroep Informatica Vrije Universiteit (WIVU) in the 1970s. Examples include the recently awarded e-Science Center project “Morphological Parser for Inflectional Languages Using Deep Learning” and the CLARIAH project “PaTraCoSy: Patterns in Translation: Using Colibri Core for the Syriac Bible”. The digital approach takes place in a constant conversation with other approaches that are not necessarily digital, including biblical theology, the study of the ancient versions of the Bible, and Hebrew and Aramaic linguistics.
The inclusion of other texts and traditions investigates the specific needs of research into other linguistic texts, ranging from the vast amount of Hindu and Buddhist literature to patterns on contemporary Christian worship songs, from Aramaic incantation bowls to a network analysis of commentators on the Quran. An example is a project Dhammapada latine, which concerns a Text-Fabric presentation of the Dhammapada, one of the most important texts of Buddhism, and its Latin translation by V. Fausböll.
This not only facilitates the research into these religious sources, but also enkindles a deep methodological discussion as to what all computational approaches have in common. Regardless of language and corpora, how do these relate to the complex interaction of computational calculation and textual interpretation. The basis for this broadening scope was laid in the workshop “Processing Ancient Text Corpora” at the Lorentz Center (February 2020, follow-up meeting February 2021), in which data scientists, computer scientists and scholars from various humanities disciplines came together to discuss common challenges and cooperation opportunities.