User:Dovi/Miqra according to the Mesorah

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About this Edition


About this Edition (English Abstract)[edit]

Miqra according to the Mesorah (מקרא על פי המסורה) is an experimental edition of the Tanakh in digital online format under an open license.[1] It is a reader's edition based on the Aleppo Codex and related manuscripts, and consults the full range of relevant masoretic scholarship.

Three features make this edition of the Tanakh unique:

  1. a free content license,
  2. styling as a reader's edition,
  3. full editorial documentation.

These three unique features of Miqra according to the Mesorah are thoroughly described in the extensive, five-chapter introduction to the edition (Hebrew).

Free Content License[edit]

Unlike most other modern editions of the Tanakh, Miqra according to the Mesorah is made available under a free and open license for public use (CC-BY-SA). This license for a free and open cultural work covers both the text itself and its exhaustive documentation.[2]

There are currently two other important digital versions of the Tanakh online, but neither of them benefits fully from two features: a free license and an accurate, documented text appropriate for reading with cantillation.

  1. The first is Mechon Mamre, which is a very good, accurate online version of the Tanakh according to the mesorah (approximating the Breuer methodology). But it lacks documentation, and it is not available under a free license: You can make limited private use of it without asking for permission and paying a fee, but you cannot reproduce it or improve it (e.g. by posting it on your website together with a translation, commentary, or any other added feature).
  2. The second is the Westminster Leningrad Codex (WLC), a professional academic edition whose creators have graciously made it available with no restrictions. But its text is not entirely appropriate for Jewish use. The WLC is an attempt to create an exact digital representation of one extremely important manuscript, called the Leningrad Codex. However, as a direct result of its goal, it includes that manuscript's thousands of idiosyncrasies and blatant errors. The practical purpose of the WLC is to provide a justifiable base text for bible translators, teachers and scholars, and for that the Leningrad Codex is generally sufficient. But it is insufficient for Jews who want to sing or study the Torah and the Tanakh according to their niqqud and te`amim.[3]

The unique goals of Miqra according to the Mesorah are thoroughly described in chapter one of the full introduction (Hebrew), along with details about how the project developed and its sources of inspiration in scholarship and history.

Reader's Edition (Tiqqun Qorim)[edit]

The most visibly unique element of this new edition is in its style: The text has been formatted appropriately for use as a Tiqqun Qorim, by providing helpful features to the reader that are not always present in the manuscripts and older editions. For instance, when a ta'am is marked in a syllable that is not stressed, a double symbol has been added consistently in the proper place (pashta, zarqa, segol, telisha). Legarmeih and paseq are visibly distinguished. Qamaz qatan has been added in full (alternatives are documented where traditions differ about its application).

The parashah divisions (parashah petuhah and parashah setumah) are indicated visually (not with the letters פ and ס), in way that maximizes their impact on a computer screen or in print, and is consistent with their use in the Aleppo Codex and by Maimonides. Sifrei Emet (the three poetic books Psalms, Proverbs, and Job) appear in an entirely new format (see the full text of Proverbs for example).[4]

The detailed stylistic features of Miqra according to the Mesorah are thoroughly described in chapter two of the full introduction (Hebrew), following a fundamental discussion of Miqra and Tiqqun Korim as broad concepts.

Full Editorial Documentation[edit]

Various editions of the Torah or Tanakh in Hebrew may seem identical to the untrained eye, but the truth is that each and every edition—from Koren to Breuer and from Artscroll to JPS—makes a multitude of small editorial decisions. In most editions these decisions are not transparent, and the student of Torah therefore relies upon the good judgment of the editor.

In Miqra according to the Mesorah, the entire editorial process and the full reasoning behind it are fully described and documented in all of their details. All editing has been done from scratch, and every stylistic alteration or textual decision made regarding every letter, niqqud, and ta`am in the entire Tanakh is documented and its sources or reasons are made transparent.[5]

The textual basis of the text of the Torah is described in chapter chapter three of the full introduction, while the textual basis for the text of Nevi'im and Ketuvim is described in chapter four and chapter five (all in Hebrew).

Technical details and future applications[edit]

Since 2014-2015, the project base has been in a digital spreadsheet file at Google Docs. All of the elements in the biblical text as shown in Wikisource are organized in the file according to type: The text of the verses themselves, the spaces or parashot before each verse, chapter and verse numbers and their associated navigation template, special code for "Song" format, and more. For further technical details about the file and how to use it, see the technical guide to the spreadsheet.

Each biblical book went through a process of verification when it migrated to the spreadsheet file, and was then re-uploaded again to Hebrew Wikisource via a bot (replacing the previous text) and checked manually. The new text was then uploaded a second time in main namespace of Hebrew Wikisource as the current version of biblical chapters with te`amim (cantillation).

The organized basis for the project in the spreadsheet is meant to help enable efficient use of the content for additional purposes (inside and outside of Wikisource). It enables easy and efficient tagging of verses, chapters, and other elements in the text, so that it can be converted into XML format. Anyone who wants to make use of the material can do so according to the Open Content license (with attribution as a link to this page).

Programmers may now work on other applications, both at Hebrew Wikisource and offsite, with an eye towards enhancing usability, such as allowing the user to choose between various options for style, formatting and certain textual details (where there are alternative traditions). These efforts involve coding the text through XML. Other volunteers who want to suggest corrections, add new features, or help improve this edition in any other way are welcome to make contact. Those who want to create derivative versions of it with special capabilities are also entirely welcome.

Applications:

Work on both of these applications contributed to the correction of numerous small errors and helped improve the accuracy of the text.

Contents of the Full Introduction[edit]

All material is in Hebrew (unless otherwise noted):

  1. Navigation and Navigation Symbols
  2. Derivative Editions with just Niqqud or the Letter-Text
  3. List of Templates for Styling and Documentation
  4. List of Sources and Tools
  5. Structure and Content within the Books of Miqra
  6. Enhancing the Targums and Classical Commentaries on Miqra
  7. Miqra as the Source for Blessings and Prayers in the Worship of Israel

Original Announcements in English[edit]

The English-language description of Miqra according to the Mesorah originally appeared as announcements on two websites:

The information on this page is a corrected and updated version of those announcements.

Related projects[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. The first complete draft of the biblical text was finished on erev Shabbat Parashat Ki Teze, 10 Elul 5773; August 16, 2013. Since then it has undergone a thorough process of editing and corrections, and the text itself may now be considered a finished work. The documentation is not yet finished: The introductory chapters are not yet complete, and the textual notes and formatting continue to undergo refinements. Most of this is planned to be completed over the course of 5774.
  2. The attribution required by the free and open license should be implemented by a link to this webpage, which is the project's main page in all languages other than Hebrew. Attribution in Hebrew should be a link to the Hebrew version of this page.
  3. An added indication of its practical purpose is the fact that the WLC omits basic elements of the Leningrad Codex when they are irrelevant to Christian translators and scholars, such as the division of the Torah into weekly readings, and of the Tanakh into sedarim. The parashah divisions (open and closed) are not represented visually, and the "song" formatting is not represented at all. These are all basic elements of the Leningrad Codex, as well as the traditional Jewish division of the Tanakh for public reading, but they are not reproduced in the WLC. The chapter divisions are added instead. Most striking is that the WLC reproduces the base text of the Leningrad Codex but utterly ignores its mesorah, even though that mesorah (and others like it) is crucial for correcting blatant spelling mistakes in hundreds of places. All of this renders the WLC inappropriate for use by traditional Jews.
  4. The new format for Sifrei Emet and the reasoning behind it are discussed in detail here (Hebrew).
  5. The basic method for establishing textual details in this edition is similar to those of Mordechai Breuer and Mikra'ot Gedolot Haketer (Bar-Ilan University Press), both of which are extremely similar to each other: Despite the impression one can get from reading the literature about them, the differences between them are nearly insignificant compared to their similarities. Both of them largely conform to the original conclusions of Israel Yeivin regarding the reconstruction of the Aleppo Codex in its missing parts for niqqud and te`amim, and to the conclusions of Breuer himself for the letter-text. This new edition differs from both Breuer and MGH significantly more than they differ from each other. The most visibly unique feature is in the formatting, which was briefly described above.