Mount of Mercies

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Alan Bunning
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Joined: June 5th, 2011, 7:31 am

Mount of Mercies

Post by Alan Bunning » February 17th, 2019, 9:07 am

I am almost done with my latest project which has taken 7-months to both parse and assign context-sensitive glosses for every manuscript (over 1.5 million words) in the CNTR database ( One issue I have to finalize is how to assign lexemes (and thereby the associated meaning) to homophones. I see three main approaches of how to handle this (of which I had previously posted about here ( ... =11&t=3724).

1. Always parse the word according to its classical spelling.

I ruled this one out because it unnecessarily creates nonsense readings, and since the words are phonetic equivalents, there is no one to say what the correct spelling would be, or that any scribe had to follow that.

2. Always parse the word according to its customary translation.

This would have made my job much easier, but there is no way to know what was in the mind of a scribe; particularly those who would vary the spelling of the same word in the same verse! Were they thus trying to indicate a different meaning in those cases? Again, with κενοσ/καινοσ in 2Pet. 3:13 and Rev. 21:1, it creates a doctrinal issue for theologians to argue about (that I won’t go into here), so who am I to decide that for everyone.

3. Always parse the word according to its classical spelling, but if that meaning does not make sense, then go with its customary translation.

This is the one I have chosen to go with for now, because it brings forth variant readings when they could make sense, but no more than that. This approach would take care of the κενοσ/καινοσ problem alluded to in the previous post quite nicely, being decided on a case by case basis as proposed by Jonathan Robie:
Jonathan Robie wrote:
June 7th, 2016, 9:54 am
I suspect you have to do this on a case-by-case basis. When two possible interpretations are reasonable, you have to allow for them both. When it's clearly just a spelling variation that does not affect meaning, you don't.
What I don’t like about this approach, is that it is somewhat subjective at times in regards to “what makes sense”, but I can’t think of a better way to handle it. And it occasionally lends itself to possibly cause nonsense as well. So for example, we have the pair ελαιοσ (olive) and ελεοσ (mercy) and those meanings are different enough that it is usually quite easy to make a determination. But when I come to the “Mount of Olives” in Mark 11:1 (and in other verses as well), and if I follow my own set of rules, then I would also show the “Mount of Mercies” for two of the manuscripts (GA 01 and GA 032). That could make sense, but does it make sense? Was the mountain also ever known as the “Mount of Mercies”? Or should it make sense now because two scribes might be indicating that it makes sense?

How would you handle that? I am still willing to rethink this problem if someone can suggest a better way to handle these things.
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