Technical Concerns associated with the ENTTC Web Site

It was my original hope that the Encyclopedia of New Testament Textual Criticism will someday be a book (probably electronic, in PDF form, but organized as a book). Once it exists in that form, there will be no question of formatting. At present, however, the Encyclopedia exists only as a web site. What's more, the site was initially formatted for use on the Internet as it was circa 1996.

This raised serious concerns. Space limitations meant that documents had to be done in basic HTML, and that graphics had to be kept small and few in number. This made it difficult, e.g., to properly present Greek text. I have begun to modernize the articles -- but the update is partial, because there is so much to do! And I am forced to retain the low-res graphics in most cases, because I no longer have the contacts which supplied the original versions.

As a result, there are a number of compromises in the presentation of the data on this site. This document describes these compromises, and offers advice for overcoming them. Many of these concerns are much less relevant now than in the past (who still uses Mosaic or Internet Explorer 4.0?), but I leave them here just in case.

Fonts: Representing Greek text online

It is an unfortunate fact that there is no standard for representing Greek using the ASCII character set. Although most Greek fonts agree that the letter Q represents θ, there is no agreement, e.g., on whether X or C should represent ξ and χ (or vice versa). Nor is there any standard for the placement of accents and breathings.

Since this site was begun, the online community has largely settled on Unicode as a way to represent Greek -- and, what's more, browsers generally support the use of HTML entities for individual Greek letters. But most of the Greek text was done before this standard was widely implemented. For new material, I am trying to use HTML entities for Greek. As I rework articles, I am gradually replacing short sections of Greek text with entities, and longer ones with unicode. But it will doubtless be many years before I get to all of them. In any case, entities don't have accents and breathings. As a result, most Greek on this site is presented without accents and breathings. In addition, terminal sigmas may not be differentiated from internal sigmas.

Within that limitation, the attempt has been made to display Greek as Greek. The newly revised material should be no problem. The older material still uses font calls. Depending on whether ξ/χ is needed, either three or four fonts are used. The preferred font is Apple's Symbol font (chosen because, unlike the other Greek fonts I've seen, it can actually be read on-screen). The next choices are Koine and KoineRegular. If circumstances permit, the Scholars Press SPIonic font may also be used.

The following list will let you see which fonts you have installed. If you have a font installed, John 1:1 will show in Greek. If the text is all in Roman type, you do not have that font. Note that you do not need to have all these fonts installed; any one is sufficient (especially if the one is Apple Symbol; if you have that font available but not installed, it is strongly suggested that you do so; there are a few places where Symbol and only Symbol can be used).

If you do not have any of these fonts, or if your version does not display the passage in John correctly, I have created a downloadable "Koine" font which you can install. The upper-case letters are fairly standard uncial forms, and the lower case approximate modern sans serif Greek type. It should be noted, however, that this font is only moderately legible on-screen or in print; this is why Symbol has been preferred. Also, I cannot offer technical support for these fonts; they are as they are and it's up to you to install and use them. Also note that this font contains only upper and lower case characters, plus some useful punctuation -- no numbers, no accents, etc.

Here you can proceed to download the Koine font:

Another font note: This site makes frequent use of italic type. It is therefore strongly suggested that you display it using screen fonts which have true italic types (rather than slanted versions of Roman type). If your browser displays text in Helvetica (the current preferred font), for instance, you really should install the Helvetica Oblique font (available, for instance, with Adobe Type Manager).

Finally, it has sometimes seemed necessary to save files in Adobe Acrobat format. You will need the Adobe Acrobat reader (available at www.adobe.com) or the Acrobat plug-in to read these files.

Images

Space reasons limit the number of images included in the Index. This was especially true in the early days of the site (when I obtained many of the images used). Even such images as are included have been compressed heavily. This means, first, that most images have been reduced in size. In addition, the images are displayed at screen resolution, which is sharply limited. As a result, most images have been retouched to some degree. In addition, some of the images are saved in .GIF format, which limits the colours available. In such cases, the standard web palette has been used, whether appropriate or not. All these facts mean that the images shown here do not exactly match the originals in color, size, or detail. The student is strongly advised to refer to original photographs if there is any doubt about the reading of the images displayed here, and not to trust the colours displayed.

Most portions of the site can be used with graphics turned off. Where possible, ASCII graphics have been used instead of images. There are places where images are necessary -- but these have been kept to a minimum. It should be possible to use this site effectively with any browser that supports tables, whether it is graphical or not. Still, it is recommended that graphics be turned on; the pages at this site are not graphics- intensive, and the large majority of graphics are under 50K.

If you do not want to view the images on this site, it is suggested that you load the following six images manually and cache them. This will allow you to read all the text on these pages without loading images:

In addition, a handful of images (e.g. those on uncial script) assume a particular screen image size. Note that the default used is 72 dots per inch, not 96 dpi as on some Windows systems. That is, if you wish to print these images at actual size, you should set the output resolution to 72 dpi (e.g. for 720 dpi printers) or 75 dpi (for 300, 600, or 1200 dpi laser printers).

Browsers/Required HTML Features

Except for fonts, this site deliberately uses the simplest possible HTML. Java, JavaScript, and advanced tags have generally been avoided. However, it has not been entirely possible to avoid the use of HTML tables. This site can thus be viewed with any browser that allows tables (Navigator, Internet Explorer, recent versions of Lynx), but no effort has been made to accommodate earlier browsers (e.g. Mosaic).

In addition, it is very helpful to use a browser that supports superscript and subscript tags.

Enabling cascading style sheets will also improve the appearance of certain pages. Except in a handful of cases, they are not necessary, but the use of style sheets really helps.

An Aside to Professors/Teachers

I never thought I would have textual criticism classes using this site, but I've had enough comments to indicate that at least a few instructors are using it as a reference. This is wonderful; it's why I put up the site. But it also brings a request. I am getting an ever-increasing number of requests for help. I have a form letter which I distribute in this case, but I ask you to stress to your students that I can't answer their questions. I put my e-mail address on the site only so people can offer suggestions and corrections. Thanks!