The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing

Index structures in early Hebrew Biblical word lists

Preludes to the first Latin concordances

The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing (2001), 22, (4), 178–186.

Abstract

The earliest Hebrew Masoretic Bibles and word lists are analyzed from the perspective of index structure. Masoretic Bibles and word lists may have served as models for the first complete Biblical concordances, which were produced in France, in the Latin language, in the 13th century. The thematic Hebrew Biblical word lists compiled by the Masoretes several centuries earlier contain concordance-like structures - words arranged alphabetically, juxtaposed with the Biblical phrases in which they occur. The Hebrew lists lack numeric locators, but the locations of the phrases in the Bible would have been familiar to learned people. The indexing methods of the Masoretes are not known, but their products contain many structures commonly thought to date from the modern era of information systems, among them word frequency counts, distinction of homographs, positional indexing, truncation, adjacency, and permuted indexes. It is documented that Hebrew Bibles were consulted by the Latin concorders; since Masoretic Bibles had the most accurate text, they were probably the editions consulted. This suggests the likely influence of Masoretic lists on the Latin concorders.

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Author details

Weinberg, Bella Hass