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Dr. Garry Jost, religious studies faculty, gave presentations on his work in digitizing and analyzing Old Testament manuscripts at conferences in Vienna, Austria and in Hamburg, Germany in July 2014.
At the Society of Biblical Literature International Meeting in Vienna, Dr. Jost presented The Textual Criticism of Ethiopic Obadiah: Issues of Method in the Identification of Families and Their Singular Readings. In Hamburg, he gave a second presentation, The Textual Criticism of Ethiopic Obadiah: a Characterization of the Shared Variants Constituting the Five Families of Manuscripts, at a conference titled Manuscripts and Text, Languages and Contexts: The Transmission of Knowledge in the Horn of Africa.
Dr. Jost's research is part of the Textual History of the Ethiopic Old Testament project, directed by Dr. Steve Delamarter, George Fox University. This project digitizes, transcribes and analyzes manuscripts wrritten in Ge'ez, which is the ancient language of Ethiopia, and the liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The manuscripts date from the 14th through 20th centuries.
Dr. Jost presented procedures for accurate transcription of the manuscripts, as well as the process of manually entering information about textual variants into the database. He explained the computer scripts he wrote to analyze the data, especially the script to generate a dendrogram (a tool from the field of statistics based on hierarchical clustering). He also showed the website he created to display the Ge'ez text. It has a feature that allows the user to hover the mouse over a word, to display a hover tip with lexical information and an English gloss for the word.
Garry Jost is a faculty member in the Department of Graduate Religious Studies. He has worked with manuscripts of the Old Testament book of Obadiah and has recently started working on the Old Testament book of Ruth, together with Dr. Daniel Assefa of the Capuchin Franciscan Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.