Zhaba Zhournal
Friday, August 06, 2004 
Pick a prophet, any prophet 
I'm working on Yet Another Bible ProjectTM, for which we're extracting footnotes from the Quark page-layout files of an NIV study bible and converting them to HTML and thence to a proprietary pocket-PC markup. The Bible, as I may have mentioned once or twice before, is long—66 books in the standard Protestant version—and I spent most of the morning doing the HTML conversion for the seventeen prophetic books of the Old Testament, Isaiah through Malachi. And I was just about finished when I realized that whoever had extracted the text from Quark had wound up creating the exact same file for Zechariah and Zephaniah. I.e., it's either Zechariah twice or Zephaniah twice, with different file names. Oy Bozhe. Fortunately they're not very long books—Zephaniah is three chapters, Zechariah is fourteen—so redoing the work on whichever one didn't get done won't take as long as it would for, say, Isaiah (66 chapters—Bible typesetters really dread Isaiah). But still: even if the names do only differ by two out of nine characters, they're still different books; they've even got Haggai between them, for heaven's sake. (Yeah, okay, I didn't notice the problem all morning either; but I was doing a lot of batch work, not actually looking at the text.)

Zechariah and Zephaniah are probably doomed to always be mistaken for each other; like Slovakia and Slovenia, the presidents of which probably hear the other country's national anthem more than their own when they deplane in a foreign country. Maybe those two should just combine national anthems, have the same tune with different words; and when nobody's looking, we can combine those Z-named prophets into the single book of Zechaniah (or Zephariah; flip a coin). Heck, throw some of the other minor prophets in there too: Zephanahum, Haggakkuk, Hoseamos, Joebadiah. I'm pretty sure no one would notice.

Disclaimer: I'm not advocating taking the books out of the Bible (I think you have to be the Pope or start your own religion to do that); just squishing them together to reduce the number of book titles. I have a similar feeling every time I work on a Bible concordance: I don't necessarily wish the Bible had fewer total words, just that it had fewer different ones.

[ at 2:20 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

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