Sunday, June 17, 2018


My Twitter and Facebook friends are missing out on the day to day drama of this reading project. So here's a summary.

As of July 1, we will have passed the transient milestone, 811 done 118 to go. A similar palindrome occurs every 99 chapters in a sequential romp through 929 chapters.

I do not know how many errors there are in what I have done, but I know this. I have made changes to over 792 chapters so far this month when considered a word at a time. These may be a change in gloss or a change in stem, usually simplifying the resulting glossary, or a change in the semantic domain to which I have assigned this word.  A semantic domain is a bit like a chart of accounts in the sense that it characterizes a word. Some words are content and some are container.

Grammar is the container of a language. In this case grammatical words constitute over 25% of the puzzle pieces. That is just over 75,800 words in the Hebrew canon. Names constitute another 12% about 36,800 words. I don't fully know the answer until I finish. But it's probably close given that we are about 85% complete.

Besides these two, Grammar and Names, I have divided the rest into (totally subjective) broad categories: Promise, Trouble, Creation, Culture, and Engagement, 5 broad categories for the content of the Bible.

It is not time for a complete report on my findings. I am still pondering how I will do that. I have experimented with the glossary lists at my other blog. It is incomplete and incoherent at present. My problem is reducing a dynamic interactive coherent environment that I work in using a database to a series of flat files with hyperlinks. And make it interesting!

These categories are subdivided - so Grammar includes:
  • Particles (13K), 
  • Prepositions (25K), 
  • Pronouns - stand-alone (14K) excluding the enclitic (since the enclitic is part of another word - and these counts are for words - the smallest division of the puzzle that one can pick up at one time. I have kept the prepositional enclitics, ך ב ל as stems to allow for the times when all components of the word are the sticky bits and there is effectively no stem.)
  • Questions (1,675 - excluding enclitic ה),
  • Exists (977 - excluding enclitic שׁ),
  • Modifiers (5,951), and
  • Negatives (6,352).
Names I have subdivided into Persons (15K), People (1,718), Mountains (32), Months (26), Locations (8,777), God (10K), Feasts (70), Sticks (4), and Rivers (309). And I thought I was keeping it simple! (I was going to do male, female, monarchs, prophets, etc but I abandoned such detail quickly as requiring too much maintenance and yielding too little benefit.)

The broad benefit is to isolate anomalous glosses that seem out of place, to raise questions of derivation, related senses, and so on.

The five content categories are discretely divided - all without named overlap. A given stem can fall into several categories but only one at a time. I will spare you the details but their subdivisions are between 15 and 22 each. This gives me a division of the puzzle into 111 classes of word (at present), each class on its own quite amenable to analysis. For a puzzle with over 300,000 pieces, any one of which can have multiple possible sides to it, this extra imposition on the whole gives me a lever to find anomalous readings from my work over the past 5 years.

Another analogue (besides puzzle) for the effort is the marathon. Something has moved me to stick with this until it is done, whatever that means. It may be my own character or it may be the character of my upbringing both distant and near in time, or it may be the character of the information in the text that has been loved, hated, used and abused over the centuries, by church and state alike (as we have recently seen). My running of this marathon is in its last laps and I appear to have had a kick available to me the past 6 months.
Chapters of the Bible posted 4 Q 2014 to 2 Q 2018
You can see the kick in this graph, but - I do note that there are obstacles in these final laps. At times one has to go back and repeat a lap. Sometimes I look at a guess the computer offers to me, and I say, Good grief. Where did I get that from? I have several tools that allow me to see individual words and words in their context so I can find the spot and check my rationale and do some corrections if needed.

Anyone who wants can help. Put suggestions for individual words and phrases in a comment if you like.