# Sunday, August 22, 2004

I spent Saturday night and Sunday afternoon hacking out a quick little tool to help in looking up references to the Apostolic Fathers, in Greek and English. It's all done on the server, so it should work in both IE and FireFox. At least, it seems to work fine on both platforms in my scant testing.

As I study the Pastoral Epistles, I plan on citing the Apostolic Fathers frequently and even building cross-reference indexes between the PE and the Apostolic Fathers. When that happens, I want some way to allow users to click on a reference and see the relevant text.

That, and I find the material interesting, as you can tell from previous quotations and interaction with them on this blog.

With that, here is some information on my little tool. I don't really have a name for it yet beyond Apostolic Fathers Lookup. Obviously I'm a programmer* and not a marketer.

Lookup Methods


I've got a lookup form up on my home page. It should be rather self explanatory. I'd imagine that this would be the least convienent way to use the tool, though.


The lookup currently supports two variables:

  • af: This is the reference you want to look up. It's just a string. It consists of the document name (several abbreviations are supported), chapter reference, a colon or full-stop to indicate the chapter/verse break, and the verse reference (or range). Verses are optional, you could feed it only the document name and chapter.
  • lang: This is the language of the target text. Currently only 'en' (English) and 'el' (Greek) are supported. If no language is specified, the default is English. In some sections Greek text is lacking (e.g. Polycarp 12). In these situations, Latin is supplied instead of Greek.

Essentially, you're using an URL to specify a reference and language to look up. The ASP page takes in this information and serves back the proper reference in the specified language.

So if one wanted to look up 2 Clement 3.1-2, he would do the following:

This would open a page with the desired text in English. If Greek is preferred, simply add the language:


Are you familiar with bookmarklets? These are easy ways to put short programs in your browser's Links menu. Drag the link hotspot and drop it on your Links toolbar. Then, to use it (well ... at least for the below Bookmarklets) simply highlight the reference on the web page you're reading then push the Bookmarklet button. The text will be looked up automatically. If nothing is highlighted, a text box will pop up where you can type in the reference.

You may drag the below links to your links toolbar if you'd like to experiment in looking up citations in this way.

I know these work on IE 6, I haven't tried FireFox. More information on Bookmarklets is available at Bookmarklets.com.

Other Methods

Many blogging engines allow the author to enter macros. The software I use (dasBlog) calls them content filters. They're ways to mark something in the text and then run a short transform on what you marked on the server, before it is served to the user. For instance, I have a content filter that allows me to enter $esv (1Ti 3:15-17). My content filter then changes this into a link that will hit the online ESV so readers of my blog can click on Bible references to read as I cite them.

Actually, this is a secondary reason I wrote this little lookup tool, but it's the primary reason I did it when I did it (it seemed like it would be fun to write). I figured the tool would make it easy to add links to blog posts so readers can easily look things up, or make it easy for me to look things up and then copy/paste them directly into the body of the blog post as I want to. YMMV.


The following documents are available through this lookup tool:

  • First Clement
  • Second Clement
  • Ignatius to the Ephesians
  • Ignatius to the Magnesians
  • Ignatius to the Trallians
  • Ignatius to the Romans
  • Ignatius to the Philadelphians
  • Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans
  • Ignatius to Polycarp
  • Polycarp to the Philippians
  • Didache
  • Epistle of Barnabas
  • Martyrdom of Polycarp
  • Epistle to Diognetus

Shepherd of Hermas

The Shepherd of Hermas is not organized as nicely as the rest of the documents contained within the Apostolic Fathers corpus. Everything else is structured by the standard book/chapter/verse structure. However, Hermas is not. One would need either several ugly hacks or a hard-to-use naming system in order to use Hermas in the current structure. If/when I support it, I want to do it properly. So, Hermas is not included, and it may never be. The reasons are purely technical, don't read too much into what I think about Hermas due to its lack of inclusion in this tool.


Some books have short prologues of either a sentence or paragraph. These are now chapter 0 of the respective books. So, if you're looking for the prologue to 1 Clement, you want to look up 1Cl 0 or 1Cl 0.1.


Several abbreviations are supported. See the names XML file for a full list. Yeah, this is a bit geeky, but you should be able to make sense of it. If I'm missing any obvious ones, feel free to email me so I can add them. The email link is at the bottom of the right-hand column.


Underneath, everything is in XML and UTF-8. The Greek has been normalized according to form KC normalization. This simply means that where possible, the Greek assumes that fonts have combined characters. So, instead of an alpha, followed by a smooth breathing mark; there is one character — alpha with smooth breathing mark. My preferred Greek font is Gentium; so I've set that as primary. Alternates are Palatino Linotype, then Arial Unicode MS. English and Latin text both use Palatino Linotype, and Latin is italicised.

Out-Of-Range requests

Book names, chapters, and verses are validated. You won't crash anything if you send invalid data, and you'll get a message suggesting where you made your mistake. Note that if invalid verses are specified, one still gets data back, but each verse without data has a short message instead.

Text Editions

As is the case with so many useful older books these days, I found the texts served up by this lookup tool on the internet. I actually retrieved them last year (2003). They had their genesis amongst BibleWorks users who started with the CCAT edition of Lightfoot's Apostolic Fathers.** (Please note that these files are not being used for commercial use, so I'm well within the CCAT guidelines and, as I recall, the preferences of the BibleWorks folks who apparently did some editing on the files.) The files contained references to James M. Darlack (English and Greek), Richard Allen Stauch (Greek), and Ricardo Román (Greek). They should be thanked for their work (thanks, guys!). The files are internally dated as having last been edited in June of 2003.

The English is that of Lightfoot/Harmer, but the Greek is a little confusing. I'd assumed the Greek was that of Lightfoot/Harmer as well, but it isn't. I've checked certain spots of the Greek against the Lightfoot/Harmer volume and noted differences that lead me to believe the text is more reflective of Kirsopp Lake's Greek. I suppose it could have started with the edition of Lake from the Oxford Text Archive and folks added accents and breathings (no small task). Note that CCEL also has an edition of Lake, but it appears to be from a completely different source. I guess I'm saying that I don't really know where the Greek text came from, but I'm guessing it reflects Lake's edition more than any other.

Usage / Citation

Please note that this particular implementation isn't intended for scholarly rigor. If you're citing the Apostolic Fathers in a paper or something, by all means, verify with a printed edition. Or, better, purchase a modern edition (both Holmes' edition and Ehrman's edition are excellent) or check them out from your library and use them. This lookup tool is rather intended to help one quickly look up citations to the Apostolic Fathers in Greek or English as they need them when browsing the web, blogs, newsgroups, etc.

File Availablility

The files are XML with UTF8 encoding. I have one file per chapter. If for some reason you're interested in them, please contact me.

* Well, not really a programmer, but that's the easiest way to describe what it is that I do for a living.

** This is kind of awkward as I am employed by Logos Bible Software. My personal use of these files should not be construed as commercial interest in them by my employer. My use is purely expedient — I wanted to do this, and these were the easiest public domain files with accents and breathing marks that I could transform into something I could use in this context.

Post Author: Rico
Sunday, August 22, 2004 5:28:47 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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