The BiblIndex project is supported by Sources Chrétiennes HiSoMA in Lyon and funded by the French National Research Agency (2011-2015) and the Digital Scientific Library (2015-2016). BiblIndex aims at building an exhaustive online index of biblical quotations and allusions in Early Christian Literature, both Western and Eastern texts, which is meant to eventually cover the whole Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. This is not about a binary and one-way connection between a frozen canonical corpus and a corpus of authors quoting verbatim: more accurately, BiblIndex seeks to give full account of the complex links existing between a corpus of biblical texts –changing collections of fragmented scriptural books which were originally written in various languages and translated early in their history, while still in progress– with a corpus of ancient and medieval authors, who refer to the Bible –while commenting, meditating, translating it– as a fixed entity yet at the same time contribute, through their quotations and spiritual or liturgical reminiscences, to the form and concept of 'the text'. Quotations in ancient authors show these biblical texts in the process of development and reception. Reassembling this hitherto scattered patrimonial treasure, BiblIndex aims at providing a federative tool –as objective as possible– intended for scholars and researchers as well as for a wider audience, in order to help understand the acculturation process of the Bible both in East and West, and to enhance studies in exegesis and history of the biblical text.
Access to data is completely free.

Nothing but references

At present, BiblIndex consists of a comprehensive inventory of biblical quotations and allusions in Early Greek and Latin Christian literature providing bibliographical information about the edition used for each patristic work; it gives no access to the texts themselves. Each entry on the website offers a series of numbers indicating the chapter and verse of the biblical text, its location in the patristic writing and the corresponding page and line numbers in the reference edition. For example, Genesis 1:27 is quoted in Basilius, Asceticon parvum 2, 44, on page 15, line 10 of CSEL 86 (1986). The links between the Bible and patristic texts have been found by scholars who have read carefully and annotated their choices: there is nothing automatic in these data. This data is merely the first step of BiblIndex.

The available corpus

The project is based on the resumption of Biblia Patristica, printed indexes of biblical citations in the writings of Greek and Latin Church Fathers from the first centuries published by a CNRS team, the Centre for Patristics Analysis and Documentation (CADP) in Strasbourg between 1965 and 2000. The CADP entrusted Sources Chrétiennes with its database and further unpublished data.

  • The seven published volumes of Biblia Patristica, along with a supplementary volume for biblical references in Philo of Alexandria, cover the first three centuries, along with part of the fourth:
  • Volume 1, which appeared in 1975, covers the beginnings of extracanonical Christian literature up to Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian.
  • Volume 2 indexes the literature of the third century, apart from Origen, to whom volume 3 is devoted exclusively.
  • Coverage of the fourth century begins with volume 4, which includes the writings of Eusebius of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Epiphanius of Salamis.
  • Volume 5 covers Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Amphilochius of Iconium.
  • Volume 6 turns to the Latin writers Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose of Milan, and the Ambrosiaster.
  • Volume 7 on Didymus the Blind appeared in 2000.

Biblia Patristica, Index des citations et allusions bibliques dans la littérature patristique, Éditions du CNRS : 1. Des origines à Clément d'Alexandrie et à Tertullien , 1975 – 2. Le troisième siècle (Origène excepté), 1977 – 3. Origène, 1980 – 4. Eusèbe de Césarée, Cyrille de Jérusalem, Épiphane de Salamine, 1987 – 5. Basile de Césarée, Grégoire de Nazianze, Grégoire de Nysse, Amphiloque d'Iconium, 1991 – 6. Hilaire de Poitiers, Ambroise de Milan, Ambrosiaster, 1995 – 7. Didyme d'Alexandrie, 2000 – Supplément. Philon d'Alexandrie, 1982.

  • The BiblIndex searchable database and website give access to:

– the inventory of 270,000 entries published in the volumes of Biblia Patristica, which have all been scientifically verified.

– around 100,000 additional references, prepared by the Centre for Patristics Analysis and Documentation for their planned 8th volume, included in the database inherited by Sources Chrétiennes, unchecked but in electronic form: these are already online as well. Works of the following authors had been entered: Athanasius, John Chrysostom, Theodoret of Cyr, Procopius of Gaza, Jerome, Spuria and dubia relating to the authors of the other published volumes.

  • In addition to this material, there are about 500,000 unverified hard-copy references in boxes. These pale listings, handwritten notebooks or sheets, are difficult to decipher and to handle. Over the course of 2011, the BiblIndex team prepared the bibliographical references for the 3,000 works represented in these files and began to type up their biblical occurrences: now (September 2015), around 400,000 are ready to be entered in the database.

Biblical tools: Bibles parser

The new database includes biblical texts written in different ancient languages (Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Syriac) and modern languages (French, English). A multilingual concordance between those Bibles has been created, allowing the user to visualize the biblical text in order to compare it with the quotations found. Precise correspondences between their verses or part-verses, allowing cross searches, were established, manually, by the BiblIndex team.

Patristics tools : inventory of authors and works

A nomenclature for patristics sources, e.g. providing keys to precise lists of authors and works, instituting fixed points of reference and the identification of reliable critical editions and other types of relevant material, has been provided, searchable in the BABEL database.

A prototype geovisualization interface displaying temporal and spatial data on authors and works has been developed for Biblindex by the team STeamer of the Grenoble Informatics Laboratory.

Research about text re-use

A lemmatizer for biblical and patristic ancient Greek and a “pre tagging software prototype” devoted to automatic retrieval of literal but inaccurate quotations of the Septuagint in an ancient Greek corpus sample, which helps the analyst to identify biblical quotations and thus makes the enlargement of the corpus easier, have been developed.

On the 2nd-4th of June 2014, an international workshop took place in Lyon, coorganized by HiSoMA and the GCDH (Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities), devoted to computer aided processing of intertextuality in ancient languages.
The proceedings are being published in the Journal of Data Mining and Digital Humanities. In partnership with the eTrap team (electronic Text Reuse Acquisition Project) of the GCDH, an implementation of Marco Büchler’s TRACER tool customised for the BiblIndex corpus is currently being studied.

A collaborative project

We want to develop a collaborative platform to serve the scientific community, providing a common workspace for both Bible and patristics scholars, constituting workgroups organized by authors or corpus.

In the meantime, any information feedback or simple remark are welcome: please contact biblindex.sc@mom.fr.

This brief account of the origin of the project is necessarily limited in scope: more information on the whole story can be found on our online research notebook on hypotheses.org.