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SBL Taking Initiatives with Other Organizations to Solve Problems Biblical Studies and Technology

Standards for computer based processing of texts are essential for everyone that uses a digital copy of a translation or ancient language text of the Bible. If future software and texts are going to meet the needs of biblical scholars, it is very important that biblical scholars are heard early and often in the standards making process. The SBL has taken the first steps to bringing the concerns of its members to a variety of standard setting organizations.

Open Scriptural Information Standard (OSIS)

On texts of interest to biblical scholars, Bible societies, publishers and software vendors, the SBL has joined with the American Bible Society to form the Bible Technology Group, the first project of which is the OSIS (Open Scriptural Information Standard) initiative. The OSIS initiative is an international effort to create a common, XML based format for biblical texts. Working groups are underway and a meeting of the Bible Technology Group will be held November 15-16, just prior to the Annual Meeting in Denver. See: for further details.

One of the major standard organizations promoting the use of XML is OASIS. To further its participation in various standard efforts, including continuing its role as a founding member of the XML Topic Map group, the SBL has joined OASIS as a corporate member. This will allow the SBL to take an active role in a number of standards projects that are of interest to biblical scholars. See: for more details.

Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)

The Text Encoding Initiative, better known as TEI, was formed in 1987 to create:

"an international and interdisciplinary standard that helps libraries, museums, publishers, and individual scholars represent all kinds of literary and linguistic texts for online research and teaching, using an encoding scheme that is maximally expressive and minimally obsolescent."

A consortium has been formed to maintain that standard, supervise its conversion into an XML based standard and to begin work on a new version of that standard.

The SBL is a proud member of this new consortium and is pleased to report that Patrick Durusau has been appointed to the Character Set Working group charged with reviewing revisions to the portions of the revised TEI Guidelines that deal with character set issues. Volunteers are currently being sought to assist in the revision process for conversion to an XML based format and the SBL urges all of its members to join in this important effort.

For further details on volunteering, see:,

To get information on your institution joining the TEI Consortium (a very good idea), see:

Citation: Moira Bucciarelli, " Biblical Scholars, Standards and the SBL," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited June 2004]. Online:


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