Thursday, November 19, 2020

Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory.

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Cambridge, November 19 - An innovative approach to analysis of ancient documents has led at least one researcher to the hypothesis that numerous deviations in Scripture from the expected forms of words stem not from copyist errors, as commonly assumed, but from software similar in function to modern text media that automatically changes words or phrases to match its preconceived idea of the writer's intent, using an algorithm that on occasion results not in the intended words, but a distortion of them.

Oxford University Professor of Semitic Languages Edward Hargreaves suggests in a forthcoming article that various Biblical textual phenomena fit neatly into a framework that parallels the "Autocorrect" function of numerous text-based communication platforms, and that ages of scholarship and polemics on the subject of Biblical textual integrity have therefore largely been a waste of time.

"Our team looked at thousands of so-called textual anomalies in the Hebrew Scriptures," the professor explained in an interview. "The most common of these were the k'ri vs. k'tiv variety, in which the traditional enunciation of a word differs from its spelling in the text; others involve the 'hapax legomenon,' a word or root that appears only once in the entire corpus, and which, quite often, leaves the reader at a loss regarding its true meaning, because of a lack of comparative instances from which to understand it. Still others involve apparent discrepancies between manuscripts of the same text, or between different occurrences of the same phrases or verses in disparate parts of the Bible."

"We've found that upwards of 95% of these occurrences can be explained by Autocorrect," he continued. "The does not mean that many indeed occurred through that phenomenon, but that they are consistent with such a process. Among the exceptions, for example, are terms that various traditions have of specifically reading a word differently from its appearance, for purposes of euphemism, but with acknowledgement that the actual text is different. A good instance of this is the Jewish practice of refraining from the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, one of the most common names for the divinity, instead using a less-common one. That one alone accounts for the bulk of the exceptions to what I've taken to calling the 'Autocorrect Hypothesis.' But for the most part Autocorrect helps to explain anomalies that scholars have debated basically forever."

As for the few cases that do not fit into the hypothesis, Professor Hargreaves insisted he does not give a flying duck.

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