At MIKRA, ancient texts merge with innovative technologies.

 

*"MIKRA" (מִקְרָא, cf. Neh. 8:8) is the Hebrew word referring to Scripture, its reading, as well as to its correct interpretation and application.  As an acrostic, MIKRA stands for the Manuscript Institute for Knowledge, Research, and Application. As a research laboratory, we specialize in the analysis of original language Judeo-Christian texts from ancient to early modern periods. The fields with which our work intersects regularly involve codicology, paleography, calligraphy, textual transmission, philology, biblical studies, digital technologies, and others.

Manuscripts. The manuscripts with which we work with are typically Hebrew and Aramaic religious texts in scroll and codex form, as well as Greek, Latin, and Syriac manuscripts from both Jewish and Christian traditions.  Many of these have special historical and cultural significance connected to world events.  Examples of current projects include an effort to use OCR technology to analyze ancient Greek manuscripts to create a searchable database for catalog and study. In another, we are collaborating with international governmental and ecclesiastical entities for the conservation of the earliest Christian manuscripts on the African continent, in the Ge’ez langauge, and in situ.

Institute. As an institute, we work independently to train young scholars in various disciplines as varied as textual analysis, worldview studies, research languages and more.  As an academic partner, we work with accredited academic institutions (and select others) to provide access to Judeo-Christian religious textual artifacts in instructional environments.  Additionally, we work with a consortium of guardian institutions/organizations for the purpose of conservation and for resource sharing. 

Knowledge.  To promote knowledge sharing, we utilize diverse public and private platforms including public artifact exhibits, classroom instruction, and use of digital resources for data-sharing.  We are currently working on a project to use artificial intelligence (AI) to explore new ways of translating and interpreting very large amounts of data from ancient manuscripts in a variety of languages. Public exhibits have included displays and lectures at college and university campuses, performing arts venues, and governmental facilities.  We also serve as a partner to aid in the placement and curatorship of artifacts with appropriate custodians and assist with museological concerns and development. 

Research.  We work with academics, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, governmental agencies, ecclesiastical entities, to produce useable research documents and cutting edge technologies.  Working with other select research centers, we provide original analysis of artifacts and actively promote responsible curatorship of resources.  We are very concerned to promote cultural heritage preservation and seek partnerships with those combating the illicit trade of antiquities.

Application.  The end goal of our work is applied knowledge.  In addition to the above, we are committed to producing competent handlers of the texts of Scripture, who understand and apply the original meaning of the text with skill and integrity.  This is the essence of mikra.

*The term is commonly used by Jewish commentators as a synonym for Bible, or Tanach, and appears as part of the phrase “peshuto shel Mikra” (פשוטו של מקרא) in reference to the hermeneutical principle of “plain sense of the Bible.” For examples, see Shimon Kasher, Peshuto Shel Mikra: The choice commentaries to the Book of Genesis emphasizing the primary meaning of the scriptures, selected from the early versions of the Bible, Talmudic, Midrashic, and Rabbinic Sources (Jerusalem, IS: Torah Shelema Institute), 1967.  See also Nathaniel Helfgot, Mikra and Meaning: Studies in Bible and Its Interpretation (Jerusalem, IS: Maggid Books), 2012.  Helfgot uses this concept in the rationale of his project when he explains, “The primary, though not exclusive, goal is one of apprehending the plain sense of the text, peshuto shel mikra.” Further, he explains that “This type of study makes consistent use of techniques such as: close reading, patterning, intertextuality, and self-reference in the text, literary echoes, enveloping, development of character, word-plays, parallelism, and chiastic structure, plot development, and a whole host of other literary tools that can be brought to bear on the text of the Tanakh,” xxiv.

For a few works on hermeneutics that we recommend for use, see here.


Integrating technology with antiquities to bring ancient wisdom to a contemporary world
— R. Brian Rickett, Founder and Principal Researcher

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About our founder:

R. Brian Rickett is the CEO and Principal Researcher of the MIKRA Research Laboratory, a limited liability research conservancy engaging in artifact analysis, education, research technologies development, and public exhibition of artifacts.  MIKRA seeks “to bring ancient wisdom to a contemporary world by merging textual artifacts with innovative research technologies." Through MIKRA, Brian has lectured and conducted artifact exhibits emphasizing the scroll and manuscript forms of Judeo-Christian texts in secular and religious university, governmental, performing arts and other venues.

 He also serves as a founding board member and Director of The Artifact Foundation, a non-profit entity promoting the virtues of truth, goodness, and beauty, through global artifact initiatives to cultivate worldwide human flourishing through understanding.  Representing the foundation, he is currently collaborating in a project to conserve some of the World's most important Christian manuscripts in Ethiopia.  

In his academic career, Brian has taught over 50 courses in university and seminary environments emphasizing biblical and theological research languages, and other courses in the various divisions of a traditional theological curriculum.  He appeared as a textual specialist in the March 2019 cinematic documentary film, Patterns of Evidence, has participated in the Oxford Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies summer manuscript workshop, and is formerly a Campus Administrator and Professor of Biblical Studies at a Christian theological seminary.   

Brian has published and contributed to publications in his areas of research, has served several congregations, and currently fills the role of founding Pastor-Teacher of the Bible Church of Beebe, in Beebe, Ark. since 2009.  He has been married to his best friend and MIKRA CFO Janet, since 1993.

For examples of Brian’s course syllabi and academic work, see https://tms.academia.edu/RBrianRickett