Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Instructions for authors of Hypertext Bible Commentary (draft) part 2 ::

The drafty version of part one is below, so if you have not read that please read it first! (No comments on that so far, please do offer comments, I really would be glad of any input you may have at this stage...

1. How the commentaries are organised

The prototype Amos “volume” required numerous articles of the sort found in Bible Dictionaries, and mini word studies for the vocabulary used in the book. However, we hope that the University Bible Dictionary articles will cover most of the need for such articles and will try to get funding for research assistants to prepare the mini-word studies. So this section of the manual will focus on the comment on the biblical text, rather than including also this ancillary material.

1.1. The aims of the commentary

HBC_ aims to equip readers to read/interpret the text. To this end comment should try to provide useful and relevant information about the text and its contexts. The intention is to offer a level of comment that goes beyond what the reader can work out for themselves using Bible software, but to avoid “pushing” one particular interpretative line.

The aim is to provide a similar level of comment to a multi-volume print series. So beginning readers will need technical terms and ideas explained, while biblical scholars will want a justification for a conclusion reached. Thus as well as the basic commentary material two other sorts of lexia will often be needed (for how to handle these different needs see Explanation and justification).

The system will allow readers to seek Bible Dictionary articles for themselves, but sometimes you may want to provide a link in your text to a particular article. Thus you should (usually) not include description of people, locations or widely used concepts (e.g. “Onesimus”, “Megiddo”, “Kingdom of God”) except where some particular detail (not covered in the UBD entry for that term) is needed for your commentary, rather you should link to the entry. (See Signalling links.)

1.2. From Overview to Detail

The commentaries will be organised at more than one level. Most often there will be three levels:

A really short book (like 3 John or Obadiah) might be handled differently with only one or two “layers” of comment. Authors preparing comment on longer books (like Isaiah or Revelation) may need to add another level. Please discuss such needs with the editors.

At each level lexia should start with a list of the units treated at the next level (which can be links, in case your reader was looking for more detailed comment).

1.2.1. Book level comment

This comprises one basic lexia with as many sub lexia (for explanation or justification) as are needed. It should discuss such topics as:

In general this material is likely to be less comprehensive than in a conventional commentary, since some of the traditional material included in the “Introduction” may be linked from lower level lexia.

1.2.2. Comment on the major sections

These lexia are likely to be among the longer units you will write, but should not become too long (be alert for occasions when you should prepare a separate [linked] lexia with some of the material). In this lexia you are likely to describe:

1.2.3. Detail

The lowest level should deal with a single unit. It is likely to treat questions of genre, rhetorical purpose, imagery etc. the list of headings will differ according to the genre of the text, and the commentator’s interests! This is one case where internal links should definitely be used, so that discussion of the elements (e.g. of the wording) can be included under a subheading (e.g. the verse number).

General comment can be organised under headings, it is convenient for readers if (where possible) you use the same list of headings (omitting those not needed). Those I used most often for Amos were:

1.3. Explanation and Justification (see also the “how to” section)

Apart from links to Bible Dictionary articles (whether from the University Bible Dictionary or written specially for your commentary[1]) there are two main types of lexia to which the material you write will link:

· explanations provide readers who lack technical knowledge with the means to understand what you write

· justifications allow readers who are interested to see the reasoning and evidence that supports a conclusion that you simply stated in the lexia you were writing

When signalling a link to another lexia you should identify it as one or the other of these categories. Bible Dictionary entries will provide a third category of link. Users will be able to tell in advance which sort of material a link leads towards, e.g. by a tooltip that reads “explanation” or “justification” or “Bible Dictionary”.

Almost always explanations are aimed at lay or beginning students, while justifications are more likely to be sought by “experts”.

Because you are writing more tersely than for print (see below), as you write you should be thinking about where you need to supply such “explanation” or “justification” lexia. I suggest that you make a new file for these required lexia with a heading and brief reminder of the purpose and note from where the link comes so that later you do not overlook providing this material. (“Explanation” lexia may often be used from more than one location in your commentary, while “justifications” are more likely to refer to one particular locus.)

1.4. Bible Dictionary material

Much of the necessary background information can be found in existing or expected future University Bible Dictionary articles (see the list at *****INSERT URL*** or in articles written at our request) [2] – if so you can link to them. Some more specialised information you will need to supply yourself as an “explanation” (or possibly “justification”) lexia.

The UBD is a separate project, but we have the right to use its articles, and are represented on the editorial panel. Articles will usually be around 1,500 words, we expect the first 100 entries to be complete in 2006. Authors are being recruited upon recommendation, and all entries will be approved following a peer review process.

The University Bible Dictionary (UBD) is a general reference work that makes biblical scholarship accessible online to undergraduate students and general readers. The resource offers original articles on books in the Hebrew Bible, Apocrypha, and New Testament, and on individuals, groups, artifacts, locations, events, and institutions. Articles are concise (no more than 1500 words in length, excluding bibliography); authoritative (subject to peer review and periodic revision); academic (descriptive and historical, not prescriptive and confessional); and introductory (giving an overview and recommending further reading).[3]

[1] When you need an article that does not (currently) exist in the UBD, either we can commission such an article or you can prepare one, these options should be discussed with the editors.

[2] That is, if you think that the current list misses a topic that should be covered in the UBD we can commission an article. If however you need an article with a particular slant or emphasis, or the article is likely only to be needed by your commentary, then you should provide the entry yourself as a lexia.

[3] Cited from the draft “Instructions for contributors” being prepared for the UBD project.

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