What is involved in editing a critical biblical text for the Editio Critica Maior? The first requirement is to obtain a body of transcription data that is quality controlled. As noted previously, a large number of students at various institutions have contributed to this effort since the spring of 2015. The model being used by the MOTB Greek Paul Project is hierarchical: at each institution a local mentor with expertise in biblical text transmission is invited to oversee students at that institution and manage their learning environment. Students typically receive course credit for their transcription work, either in an established class (such as a New Testament textual criticism course) or as an independent study. A student must have two years of Greek language study to participate in the project, but they may be in undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate programs. As knowledge of Hellenistic Greek is required, most (but certainly not all!) students are in biblical studies or classics programs. MOTB Scholars Initiative provides free textbooks and additional materials to support the local classroom experience.
The MOTB Greek Paul Project team provides the quality control for the transcription data. As the Project Supervisor I answer any student (or mentor) questions that the local mentor cannot field. When transcriptions are complete, our PhD fellows provide the first level of error checking by reconciling pairs of XML-based transcription files. That reconciled file is then checked against images by a second level of quality control. Finally, we can spot-check test passages to add an extra layer of quality assurance.
To date, students in this project have transcribed 140,975 lines of Greek text from the Pastoral Epistles (765,056 words). That is Greek text that is written on 19,848 manuscript pages (16,140 currently published). The majority of students will do their transcription work during a single semester, though some return to continue the work. Without culling repeated students from the count, we have logged work from approximately 157 student semesters. The institutions involved include:
Abilene Christian University Baylor University California Baptist University Calvin College Cambridge University Concordia Seminary Dallas Theological Seminary East Texas Baptist
UniversityLiberty University Louisiana College Mississippi College Multnomah University New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary North Central University Oklahoma Christian University Oral Roberts University
Örebro Theological Seminary Palm Beach Atlantic University Pepperdine University Shepherds Theological Seminary Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Trinity International University Union University University of Northwestern
The MOTB Greek Paul Project offers a unique experience for this group of students, some of whom would not be exposed to this material if the project did not exist. Not only are they exposed to the transmission history of the Greek Bible, but they are contributing to a massive international research activity. No single school has the resources to produce this level of work, but the combined effort is highly productive. What the MOTB Scholars Initiative has done has created a framework for individual scholars and their students to contribute to a large-scale project and then provided funding to support the work. Our hope is that this model might be extended to other ECM projects. When it comes to text-critical research, it seems always to be the case that the harvest is great, but the laborers are few.
— Andrew Smith, Münster