Spatial analysis of new testament textual emendations utilizing confusion distances

Vincent Van Altena*, Jan Krans, Henk Bakker, Balász Dukai, Jantien Stoter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Before the interpretation of any text can start, the original wording of the text itself must be critically established. Conventionally, this is done following qualitative criteria. This article, however, explores the application of spatial analyses to New Testament textual criticism by demonstrating how the Levenshtein edit distance could be adapted to calculate confusion distances for variant readings in New Testament manuscripts, i.e. the possibility that a (combination of) letter(s) is confused by another (combination of) letter(s). Subsequently the outcomes are translated to Euclidian space using classical Multi-Dimensional Scaling, which enables visualisation and spatial analyses (in this case not related to geographical space). The article focuses on the data preparation and algorithm to make the data suitable for spatial analyses, thus providing the New Testament textual critic with new analytical tools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-65
Number of pages22
JournalOpen Theology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • conjectural criticism
  • distant metrics
  • spatial analysis
  • spatialization
  • textual criticism


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