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Spatial Analysis of New Testament Textual Emendations Utilizing Confusion Distances

Vincent van Altena
  • Corresponding author
  • Faculty of the Built Environment and Architecture, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands; / Faculty of Religion and Theology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; E-mail: v.p.van.altena@vu.nl
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  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Jan Krans / Henk Bakker / Balázs Dukai
  • Faculty of the Built Environment and Architecture, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Jantien Stoter
  • Faculty of the Built Environment and Architecture, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2019-07-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2019-0004


Before the interpretation of any text can start, the original wording of the text itself must be critically established. Conventionally, this is done following qualitative criteria. This article, however, explores the application of spatial analyses to New Testament textual criticism by demonstrating how the Levenshtein edit distance could be adapted to calculate confusion distances for variant readings in New Testament manuscripts, i.e. the possibility that a (combination of) letter(s) is confused by another (combination of) letter(s). Subsequently the outcomes are translated to Euclidian space using classical Multi-Dimensional Scaling, which enables visualisation and spatial analyses (in this case not related to geographical space). The article focuses on the data preparation and algorithm to make the data suitable for spatial analyses, thus providing the New Testament textual critic with new analytical tools.

Keywords: spatialization; distant metrics; textual criticism; conjectural criticism; spatial analysis


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About the article

Received: 2018-12-23

Accepted: 2019-03-11

Published Online: 2019-07-04

Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 44–65, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2019-0004.

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© 2019 Vincent van Altena et al., published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License. BY 4.0

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