One of my many passions is computer technology. I really enjoy learning about computers and software, especially how they can help the exegetical task. As you can imagine, I run several Bible software programs, both on my laptop and phone, and I use them frequently. I have several reference tools in each program which get lots of use, and I have even taken to reading books within these platforms, although that transition is proving harder for me than I thought it would. Like many people, in my less cautious moments I tend to regard these programs as infallible. This is a pretty common default stance for most people when they use computers. The joke runs of course, "If it's on the internet, it must be true." Reasoning and personal experience immediately show this to be untrue, but it is still our default stance, and we have to learn to wrestle with this as these tools become more central to our exegetical work. What brought this home to me was a unsettling number of typos I have found in books I have read in the Logos and Accordance software systems. (This is not to say that BibleWorks is perfect, just that I have not read any books straight through on that platform.) I am presently reading the Bible in French this year, and I am using the Nouvelle Edition de Genève 1979 in Accordance. I have found multiple typos in which numbers were inserted into words, appended to words, etc. Fortunately the original text was clear enough, but the presence of so many gives one pause. I am also reading F. F. Bruce's NIGTC commentary on Galatians, and I have found some interesting typos here as well. Here's one line from page 50 where Bruce discusses Galatians 2:20:
When, in Gal. 2:20, he says that’ the live which I now live in the flesh 33 I live by faith 34 in the Son of God’ . . .
I count two errors here. The first is the closing quotation mark on the word "that," which should be an opening quotation mark on the following word "the." The second is the first occurrence of the word "live," which should be the word "life." Here's another line from page 51, just a few paragraphs later:
And Ernst Kösemann, in his Perspectives on Paul . . .
Who in the world is Ernst Kösemann? Of course this is a typo for Ernst Käsemann, which many Bible students will recognize right away, but what if you weren't familiar with this particular biblical scholar? You'd spend an hour looking the library for the non-existent Mr. Kösemann's erudite work, only to find that a typo of one letter wasted your afternoon's study time.
Here's what really drove home this problem: I do not have printed copies of these texts available to me at present to double check where the error actually is, if it is in the printed edition or in the electronic version. My hunch is that these errors exist only in the electronic version, introduced during the scanning and OCR process, but perhaps I'm wrong. Even so, these are errors in the tools I am using for my exegetical work. The fact that they are easily recognizable typos does not help because I only recognize them because I am already familiar with the subject matter. What if a text had a typo or error while discussing subject matter about which I knew nothing? I would not be able to tell there was a typo at all.
The lesson is simple: Use all tools with a grain of salt. Trust, but verify. Just because it's in a software package doesn't mean it's faithful to the original or error free.