Kaspars Ozoliņš

Published On


Page Range

pp. 172–222


  • English

Print Length

51 pages

Historical Linguistics and the Biblical Languages

  • Kaspars Ozoliņš (author)
Chapter of: Linguistic Theory and the Biblical Text(pp. 172–222)
This chapter discusses the various ways in which computational linguistics has been applied to biblical languages. It describes the development that started in the 1970s and 1980s with the first at-tempts in text representation and that continued with the creation of morphological and syntactic databases. Till the early twenty-first century most computational linguistic approaches concerned rule-based linguistic analysis, which allowed for a systematic and dis-tributional analysis of biblical corpora. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century statistical approaches and machine learning have entered the field of biblical studies, although most of their ap-plications to the Bible still have an experimental character. Because of the various computational approaches that have emerged in the last decades, computational linguistics is not one single theory, but rather an amalgam of approaches in a rapidly changing field. The relation with other linguistic theories is complex, because the data-bases that are used in the computational analysis of the Bible are each rooted in different linguistic theories. However, the various computational approaches have developed further in ways that are typical of computational corpus linguistics and that go beyond the linguistic theories underlying the annotations in the respective da-tabases. Because of the large amount of data it can handle, compu-tational linguistics provides valuable contributions to well-established fields in the study of the biblical languages, such as or-thography or syntax. In addition, more advanced computational techniques, such as author clustering and text-classification pro-vide new ways to approach long-standing problems such as source-critical questions and genre distinctions. The application of compu-tational linguistics to the biblical languages also touches upon fundamental questions about the interpretation of the Bible, be-cause it blurs the traditional distinction between the sciences, con-ceived of as a mode of scholarship involving calculation and pattern recognition, and the humanities, understood as a hermeneutic and critical mode of scholarship. Key words: Computational linguistics, databases, syntax, trans-parency and reproducibility


Kaspars Ozoliņš

Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Kaspars Ozoliņš (PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, 2016), is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was previously a research associate in Old Testament and the Ancient Near East at Tyndale House, Cambridge.