ThALES: Thesaurus Antiquorum Lectionariorum Ecclesiae Synagogaeque
In Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, few people knew how to read or write. The common person usually became familiar with texts by hearing them recited or by seeing them represented artistically in liturgical, theatrical and ritual performances. Lectionaries – broadly understood as texts of different genres which inform the liturgical performance of one or more biblical passages – are the key link between the Bible and people, between intellectuals and the uneducated, between theory and praxis and, therefore, between the fields of literary and ritual studies. As such, lectionaries are important not only for scholars of Eastern and Western liturgies, but also for exegetes of the Old and New Testaments as well as for historians researching Jewish – Christian relations. In short, they are essential for any scholar attempting to understand Christianity and Judaism as living religions both in the past and present. This database is a deliberate attempt to bring to the fore the dimensions of liturgical performance and ritual in the study of early Christianity and Judaism, where texts continue to be perceived as falling primarily under the elitist domains of philology, dogma and literature.34 lectionaries with at least one witness of most Jewish and Christian liturgical families (i.e. Roman, Gallican, Mozarabic, Bohairic, Jerusalem (Armenian), Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Yemenite, Saadia Gaon, Mishnah...);
4015 liturgical events;
Users have at their disposition:
You can see some sample queries and screenshots here.
- a very rich search machine (simple or advanced interface) to search for single readings or combinations of readings, or for liturgical events according to a very wide range of parameters.
- a tool to automatically create a synopsis of two or more related lectionaries.
- a tool to automatically reconstruct one or several liturgical calendars for a given year and calendar (e.g. Julian, Jewish, Armenian, Coptic, Islamic) to compare data from different liturgical families.
If you do not see your favorite lectionary, it is quite easy to add it and then to profit from the possibility to compare it with others via the synopsis and the calendar reconstruction tools. The back office has a very rich and powerful interface for complex queries. Don't hesitate to write to us if you wish to join the project or if you would like to suggest new features or corrections.
We are currently working on a tool that will automatically convert versifications of one Bible to another (i.e. Peshitta to LXX).
Our aim is to assemble the vast data contained in all ancient lectionaries, both Jewish and Christian, and make them easily accessible for and conveniently searchable by scholars interested in liturgy, the Wirkungsgeschichte of biblical texts, as well as by historians. We truly believe that publishing materials on the web is the most convenient way to provide free and immediate access to those important texts which form the basis for much of human culture. Publicizing these materials electronically allows anyone with internet access to utilize these texts and enables these materials to reach a broader audience.
Why Is This Database Important and to Whom?
This database will enable biblical scholars to quickly research the ritual Sitz im Leben of scriptural chapters or verses, which is critical for studying the impact of the Bible (the Wirkungsgeschichte). In addition, liturgical experts will be able to compare different reading traditions more easily and comprehensively. Historians as well as patristic and rabbinic scholars can utilize the database for a variety of purposes, such as finding the chronological and liturgical context of a homily or evaluating whether a biblical pericope might have an impact during a particular season of the year. With the help of the database, scholars will also be able to compare the prevalence of a text within the database to the number of extant exegetical treatises, along with carrying out many other statistical queries.