If the title to this post hasn't already caused your eyes to glaze over, this post is intended to provide a brief overview of what is happening with biblical encoding systems. This is a really simplified description with all sorts of caveats associated with such generalizations, but this should at least familiarize a biblical scholar with the field of biblical text encoding and equip him/her to name-drop acronyms with the geekiest of them.
We have all become quite accustomed to reading digital versions of texts related to biblical studies, but there is considerable attention being paid to how that text is presented and how it may be enhanced. For viewing on the web (and in some programs), the system used is HTML=HyperText Markup Language. HTML only describes how the data looks on a page: paragraphs, lists, bold, italic, etc. These codes are consistent, are established by a worldwide consortium, and they are important so that different browsers know how to display the data. To make more sophisticated styles and to provide for global (i.e., across a whole web site) changes to styles, HTML is often enhanced with CSS=Cascading Style Sheets.
If HTML is focused on how data is displayed, XML=eXtensible Markup Language is interested in describing the data and indicating what type of data it is. XML can be used within HTML to both describe how the data is displayed and what kind of data it is. While HTML has broadly accepted standards, XML tags can be defined by the content creator. In general terms, you can then combine HTML and XML to come up XHTML.
Here is where it becomes interesting for biblical texts, because XML can help us make all sorts of distinctions about what is going on with a text. What might standardized XML tagging do for scriptural texts? It could be used to indicate
Now, this is all wonderful information that can be embedded within a text that we are able to summon as needed, and there are people doing this work, but there is not as yet an agreed upon standard used by all biblical scholars and publishers. There is a very helpful table and summary by Kahunapule Michael Johnson, but I will summarize the summary to save you some time.
How much of this stuff does a biblical scholar need to know? Probably very little if any. It is, however, worth knowing about it, because it does indicate what sort of possibilities do exist for ways we can enhance digital texts related to biblical studies.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
If the title to this post hasn't already caused your eyes to glaze over, this post is intended to provide a brief overview of what is happening with biblical encoding systems. This is a really simplified description with all sorts of caveats associated with such generalizations, but this should at least familiarize a biblical scholar with the field of biblical text encoding and equip him/her to name-drop acronyms with the geekiest of them.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Shibboleth is a very nice free gift from Logos. As it states on their web site:
Shibboleth is a tool for typing Unicode text in ancient scripts. It was designed to help people unfamiliar with a script easily enter the correct characters, and then copy text to the clipboard in Unicode or another format.I have become fairly adept at typing in Greek using an installed polytonic Greek keyboard, but I often forget where those Hebrew vowel points are on the keyboard or where other special diacritics for Greek or for transliteration are located. Shibboleth will make this job easy. Support is provided for Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Greek, Coptic, Ugaritic, Armenian, South Arabian, and Transliteration. You will, of course, need to have appropriate Unicode fonts, and links are provided on the Logos page.
While a keyboard layout is provided for several scripts, the emphasis is on helping the user recognize and select the proper characters. To that end, user input is shown in both typed and rendered format, with multiple font options, and all of the characters for each script are selectable from a well organized palette on the right side of the application window.
A few things to note:
- Using this link to the Logos page, you need to run/install the program using Internet Explorer. (For some reason, Firefox will not work when you save the file and then try to run it.)
- You will, of course, need to have appropriate Unicode fonts, and links are provided on the Logos page.
- You can either type your text directly (using the keyboard displayed at bottom as a guide) or you can click and choose one letter at a time (by clicking on the keyboard or the letters in the column on the right).
- You will usually want to export text using Unicode, but you can also use escaped or ASCII.
- Output is optimized for HTML, so if you paste into a Word DOC, you will need to strip away some of the coding that precedes and follows your text. No big deal.
UPDATE: 2007.12.28 - Logos has now posted about this tool.
Logos recently announced that it is now offering on Pre-Pub the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint and the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament to accompany the Lexham resources it already has published:Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible, The Lexham Clausal Outlines of the Greek New Testament, and The Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament. ("Pre-pub" means that the item is offered at a reduced price, about 24% off list, as interest is being generated to move it into production.)
I find that I do not use the Clausal Outline of the Greek NT much at all. It helps visual the text somewhat, but it really doesn't offer that much more information than is gained by a simple awareness of the grammatical arrangement of the text. The Syntactic Greek NT, however, is very interesting. (Or at least, it will be. Only Romans, 1 Cor, Hebrews, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, and Rev are available now. Though it has less syntactic analysis, Logos does offer the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek NT which does cover the whole NT.) I can see where Lexham Syntactic Greek NT could be a real help to someone who needs a little help with their Greek. E.g., in 1 Cor 1.2, it is not immediately apparent that ηγιασμενοις is in apposition to εκκλησιᾳ, as the syntax notes make clear.
The two new interlinears being offered, however, complete the work begun with the Hebrew-English one. According to the Logos announcement:
Though these are indeed providing helpful information, I find that I really don't use interlinears much at all. It is not that I am basically opposed to interlinears, it is simply that they seem to me to be more of a print resource than a digital one. I.e., with all the popup help and linked resources in the software, there doesn't seem to be much need for all this information to be displayed. If one didn't know any Hebrew or Greek at all, however, it probably is helpful to scan and find a word more quickly. (The reverse interlinears that Logos offers--ESV for the OT and ESV and NRSV for the NT--might even be more helpful.) English glosses need to be used with caution, but all these resources are linked to more comprehensive lexicons.
Here are the primary features that make both of these Greek-English interlinears special:
- Two Levels of Glossing: Each Greek word has a simple, context-free gloss (i.e., the "Lexical value," what you'd see in a lexicon) and a context-sensitive gloss (or "English Literal Translation").
- Idiom Level: Where the literal translation doesn't convey the force of a passage, the interlinears provide an additional idiomatic translation.
- New Morphology: Several scholars have carefully worked through the morphology and made corrections. They have also added some nuancing to certain categories.
- Notes: There are four different kinds of notes: (1) lexical, (2) text-critical, (3) literary/rhetorical, and (4) LXX compared to the Hebrew (LXX interlinear only).
- Word Order Number: They also include English word order numbering where it is not clear.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
As part of my work with biblical studies and technological tools, I am always keeping an ways I can use and apply the technology in my courses. I've listed some resources previously, but here is a sampling of some of the stuff I check out:
- Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies: Directory of Learning Tools: This is a great place to start. 2039 tools (1452 of them free) are organized and linked. If you thinking of trying something, someone has probably already thought of it, and the link is here.
- iberry.com - The Academic Porthole: ("As the first academic porthole, we describe our site as a small but cheerful window in the side of the Higher Education ship for purposes of illumination and enlightenment.") A somewhat newer site that offers an "Open Courseware Directory and Higher Education Resources."
- Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day: Jane Hart is connected with the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (cf. above), and her blog is a widely linked source for new developments in E-Learning. For example, today (2007.12.20) she links to a very helpful, free PDF download, "162 Tips and Tricks for Working with E-Learning Tools."
- Cool Cat Teacher Blog: Another widely cited blog; mainly works with younger students, but the resources she describes and uses are helpful for all.
- Education Wikis (free): This site/tool is intended for educators wanting to use wikis.
- Teaching with Wikis: A blog posting with some interesting suggestions on using wikis.
- Using Wikis in Education: A directory of a variety of wiki tools.
- Second Life: There are a lot of educators and institutions committing a lot of time and money into this virtual world. I've been playing around in it a bit, and I can see where this might be going, but I don't know that I want to invest my time into it. (BTW, if you want some experience of SL without actually downloading the software and creating your avatar, etc, HERE is a 44 minute video by ABC of Australia that is quite a good intro to Second Life. A bit heavy on the business and sex stuff and a bit short on the educational resources, but it will give you a good idea of the pros/cons of a virtual world.) There are some interesting installations of universities and libraries and online courses, and churches are getting into the act as well.
- circaVie: A site that allows users to create their own free timelines where comments, pics, and video can be arranged.
- Voicethread - Start with an image, doc, or video. Users then respond to that material by leaving voice (using mic or telephone), text, audio, or video comments. It is free, and the idea is that it becomes a collaborative learning space.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
- A Concise Linguistic e-Introduction to Classical Hebrew (Vincent DeCaen, Univ. of Toronto): Appears to be abandoned, and Lessons 2-5 are missing which pretty much disallow a beginner who needs to learn the alphabet...
- The Online Hebrew Tutorial (FoundationStone): Modern / spoken Hebrew
- *[UPDATE] Fred Putnam has published Toward Reading & Understanding Biblical Hebrew, a complete 343 page grammar he has developed over many years of teaching.
This textbook is intended for a university classroom. It is divided into thirty lessons, corresponding to the typical thirty-week academic year. Following the sequence of lessons will provide the average student with a cutting-edge understanding of ancient Hebrew grammar and will enable the student to read both prose passages and less complex poems from biblical and non-biblical texts. Additionally, the textbook introduces the student to the standard Biblical Hebrew lexicon [BDB] and includes an appendix on the Masoretic “accents,” which may be incorporated into the sequence of lessons at whatever point the instructor desires.Thank you to Cook and Holmstedt for sharing this resource which looks to be a competent and reliable guide.
Because of the variety of first-year biblical Hebrew textbooks currently available, it is worth briefly noting what this textbook is not: it is not a reference grammar; it is not meant to be used without supplementation from the instructor; it is not meant for self-study; it is not theologically oriented. What this textbook does not do represents fairly well the character of almost every other available textbook, and thereby indicates that there exists a significant lacuna in the world of Hebrew textbooks. This textbook is intended to fill this hole.
UPDATE: 2008.03.14 - SCSaunders on the BibleWorks forum found a few more resources worth noting.
- *A helpful, well organized PDF Hebrew Verb Chart.
- *Animated Hebrew: Contains quite a few resources for learning Hebrew, including:
- *Davar Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies from the University of Auckland (noted by Tim Bulkeley in the comments) - Great vocabulary tool; sort by Hebrew, English gloss, root, semantic domain, or frequency.
- **CHECK THIS SITE: I had forgotten the list of Hebrew study resources provided by Ralph Klein from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. (From the menu on the left, use "Biblical Studies Misc" > "Hebrew") Quite a few PDF Hebrew Helps files of his own along with links to Vocabulary aids, Lexicons, Grammars, and more.
BTW, for an excellent summary of Hebrew grammars available for purchase, check this post over on Codex.
Monday, December 17, 2007
An earlier post requesting comments on what people want in a mapping resource and how they are using it only generated one comment, but it did also generate a couple of fine postings on other blogs.
- I've expressed my admiration and appreciation for the work being done at OpenBible.info, and the author there posted a comprehensive list of how mapping in Bible software should develop. It is well worth reading, because that person not only has a great perspective on what is possible, but some great ideas about other ways that the maps could be used and integrated with other resources. Thanks!
- Over on the Accordance Blog, David Lang posted on the benefits of using the Accordance Bible Atlas. It does look to be an excellent resource. I see that Accordance can be run rather well on a PC using a free emulator (instructions/links are posted on their site), but the 3D features of the Atlas are not available. I'll have to do more checking on this. In a more recent post, David also demonstrated a good example of how the mapping software might be used in understanding the battle of Gibeon.
- Bonus: The latest OpenBible.info blog entry provided a link to a link of work by "The Glue Society" which depicts an imagined Google Earth view of some biblical events: a God's eye view of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Noah's Ark on Ararat, Parting of the Red Sea (cf. below), and the Crucifixion. Here is the best way to see these fun pics.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
A bit of an experiment here... I don't use any ads to generate revenue on this blog, but there are times when I would like to recommend books, and going through Amazon is an acceptable option for me. I'm trying out a new widget here, and it looks like this:
Hmmm... I find that this experiment really slowed down the loading of this blog page, so I moved it to a separate page.
It's still only a partially developed web site, but for more information on the parables, you might check my site, The Parables of Jesus.
The Bible Study at Christianity.com has updated their web site. It mostly includes the standard, public domain works one can find online, but they are nicely organized here. There is easy access to quite a few English translations of the Bible. One innovation on the site, kind of a Web 2.0 thing, is that there are ways to work in a "My Bible Study" page that allows you to annotate text, and those annotations are preserved for you online. (Free registration is required to do this.) I'm not sure how widely used this will be, but it is a decent implementation of the idea.
My previous post on the Online Yale Course reminded me of another collection of resources that I consult regularly. The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion is a wonderful place, program, and online resource. (As a participant in one of their workshops, I can personally recommend what great service they do and provide.) At their site, they have one page of links for Teaching and Learning Resources on the web. To encourage you to take a look, here are the categories:As you can see, most of these links are focused on pedagogy. They also have a collection of links included with the Internet Guide to Religion. Here is a but a snippet from the site that focuses on Bible related resources. I will also add here the AAR Syllabus Project. I find it very helpful to see what others are doing as I work on constructing my own courses.
While I am at it, here is a very helpful Directory of E-Learning Tools for quizzing and testing, many of which are free.
Yale University just announced the debut of Open Yale Courses that brings a full semester of an undergraduate class online available for free. One of the first seven to be posted is "Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)" with Professor Christine Hayes. There are 24, fifty minute sessions, and each is available as HTML transcript, MP3 audio, or Flash or Quicktime video which works very well. There is also a midterm exam that is posted.
Friday, December 14, 2007
What do you think about Wikipedia? Personally, I tell my students to check it out. I think it can be used with caution and discernment. The articles I've checked related to the Bible and biblical studies have been appropriate. (And just because something is written in a 'real' book doesn't automatically guarantee it is more true or accurate!) The strength and weakness of Wikipedia has been its collaborative nature. Some items may miss the mark or miss altogether, but you also have the potential for a much wider and balanced perspective.
Here comes Google announcing an upcoming competitor to Wikipedia they are calling Knol (short for a "unit of knowledge"). According to the announcement:
The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors. Books have authors' names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors -- but somehow the web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted. We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content.Users will be able to rate articles and add comments but not edit them in the way that Wikipedia works. Authors will have full freedom over their content... including the decision of whether they want to include ads on the page and earn income from it. I'm guessing it will be a bit prestigious to be a Google Knol author anyways, so they should be able to solicit top experts in the field. I am wondering, however, who is making that decision for topics in the field of biblical studies. We shall have to see once Knol goes live.
So is this progress? Maybe. It seems to be similar to Citizendium which has few entries of questionable worth on biblical topics. Stephen Downes says, "It's surprising to see Google ignoring the lesson that created its huge empire in the first places: that many voices, not one expert voice, constitute authority." Well, you can think about that claim too...
Thursday, December 13, 2007
As I have been soliciting suggestions for my upcoming BibleTech08 presentation on Digital Resources for Biblical Mapping, one request was made that a person would like to be able to click on a place on a map and see all the instances where it is mentioned in the Bible. Here are some ways to do just that.
- Using the map module in BibleWorks7, right click on a place name, and then click on that place name in the popup. This causes a search to run in the BW7 main module.
- Using the OpenBible.info Bible Atlas, one can find the information displayed in the graphic above. If you use GoogleEarth and the OpenBible.info downloadable kmz file which contains all the biblical information, then you can fly around in GoogleEarth, click on a place and get the information displayed like this:
- There is a similar downloadable file from the GoogleEarth community that provides information from the ISBE or Eastons when you click on a place name instead of the references.
- A similar online option is to use BibleMap.org. This one works through the biblical text. Clicking on a hyperlinked location name, the place is located on a GoogleMap, and then clicking on that place name will bring open the entry from the ISBE. It looks like this:
If you haven't checked out OpenBible.info, it is well worth a visit. I have referenced them before for their work on Bible Geocoding and Bible Atlas and their Bible Word Locator visualizations, but they have other useful resources as well.
- Overlays for Google Earth: There is a nice collection of ancient and modern map overlays for Jerusalem, and there is another one for biblical Bodies of Water. These overlays are great in Google Earth, because you can control the transparency as well as adjusting direction and changing perspective.
- Photos of Bible Places: Using photos from Flickr that people have geocoded, OpenBible has mashed up a list of biblical places with those photos in that spot. It's a mixed bag of results but still useful.
- Topical Bible is "a web 2.0 topical Bible mashup" that uses the ESV Bible and the Yahoo search resources. If you what to find what the Bible says about a topic, enter a search term, and it will not simply perform a word search, but, by using related words to your search term generated by Yahoo, return a much larger collection of verses. Once these verses appear, however, users have the ability to 'vote' on how helpful they are or not to someone wanting references to this particular topic.
- Bible Book Browser: This is a neat way to visualize the Bible. There is a picture of the whole Bible, and by moving the cursor over a particular book, you move through the various chapter headings derived from the ESV Bible. Click on the chapter, and you are brought to the ESV text.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I am scheduled to present at BibleTech08 on Digital Resources for Biblical Mapping. I have been blogging on this topic for some time, but I am wondering if any of you have suggestions, complaints, recommendations, wishes, etc. pertaining to this subject that I might use to improve my presentation. Please note that I am focusing strictly on biblical (ie, just OT and NT periods) maps and mapping resources that are intended to be used on a computing device (computer, PDA, etc.) either as a software program or part of a program or as a resource on the internet.
I have my opinions..., but I would be interested in hearing from you.
- How are you using digital mapping resources now?
- What would you hope to be able to do with such resources? (projecting them, printing, how are you using in classroom/church/synagogue, etc?)
- What types of maps do you find most helpful? (Or, what makes a map not useful?) Are there some maps that you find yourself using most often?
- Are there features you would like to see/use in a biblical mapping resource, especially given the potential of digital/electronic tools?
To see what I have done so far, the easiest collection of links I have created is here, and here is a summary of that post noting the resources I've been checking.
- So far, I've looked at map resources in Logos, BibleWorks, eSword, and OnlineBible. (This includes both the resources that come with the programs as well as other user-created addons.) I know there is an Atlas module for Accordance, but I have no experience with this one. (Any comments?)
- I've spent a good deal of time looking at GoogleEarth and the user-created biblical resources. (cf. OpenBible.info) I have also been reviewing BibleMap.org and Todd Bolen's BiblePlaces.com. (I'm hoping that Todd will be assisting me. He knows a lot more about the actual geography!)
- I have the HolyLand 3D program, as well as BibleMapper, Interactive Satellite Map of the Holy Land. I have used the older Logos Bible Atlas and the Logos Deluxe Map Set.
- I am aware of but do not have the programs from Carta, Manna, Nelson's 3D Bible Mapbook, Walking in Their Sandals, or iLumina. (Amy comments?)
- I have been compiling lists of online collections of biblical maps (eg NTGateway, StudyLight.org, NET and NeXt Bible maps...)
"Mahalo is a human-powered search engine that creates organized, comprehensive, and spam free search results for the most popular search terms. Our search results only include great links." (Anyone can use the site and its results. Contributing to the collection of links requires a free user account.)
This site was launched in July 2007, and as a user-created database of links that promises to be spam-free and include only the best links, I thought I would do a quick check to see how well it might help in doing research related to biblical studies. The quick answer: not very well.
First, there is not much here (yet, at least) in the biblical field. The first four links to appear on The Bible page are to BibleGateway.com, Audio Bible Online, the Wikipedia article, and Bible.org. There are category groupings for Versions and Translations, Bible History, Bible Blogs & Discussion, Analysis and Interpretation, and then it veers into Bible Fun Stuff, Bible Criticism, and Bible Satire and Humor. Not much you probably don't already know... The page on Jesus places links first to the NET Bible and to Wikipedia. Given the relatively few links, it is a bit surprising to see so much space committed to Jesus of Nazareth in Popular Culture along with Books and Merchandise, Jews for Jesus, Jesus in the Muslim Faith, and Jesus of Nazareth Satire and Humor. Given how little biblical stuff there is on the site, the page on the Dead Sea Scrolls is rather complete..., but the first link is to Wikipedia again. The page also has a brief "Guide Note" with some "Fast Facts," and I was surprised to learn the following:
The scrolls contain text from the Hebrew Bible and are of considerable religious significance, as they are the only known evidence of late Second Temple Jerusalem... The scrolls contain the last words of Joseph, Judah, Levi, Naphtali, and Amram (the father of Moses).Hmmm.... Bottom line: Don't bother with this site for biblical work.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Daniel Wallace of Greek grammar renown has been working on a software program that works with the Nestle apparatus. He describes it thus, "Essentially, it deciphers gothic M almost instantaneously, breaking down the various witnesses of gothic M into text-types and dates, and putting them all in a word document chart." If you are doing NT Textual Criticism and want a visual way of laying out the variants and their witnesses, this is a helpful program. Wallace just sent out an email noting that the PC version had been updated and that a Mac version was now available. Go to NT Textual Criticism for more info. In particular go HERE, and download the Instruction Manual to see what the program can do. The program costs $10 to download and will be going to $12.50 in the new year.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
I have recently been doing some work on the 10 Bridesmaids parable in Matthew 25.1-13. To tell the story, I wanted to use PowerPoint and some simple illustration, but I also wanted to do so free of any copyright issues. So, in addition to using my own translation, I created all the graphics from scratch using an old Serif DrawPlus program. (More info here.) After creating the PPT with all the animations, I wanted to share this on the web. Here are a few examples . (Please forgive the lousy narration and background audio. I was doing this quickly and I threw together the audio using a free music program that is designed to generate copyright free midis. With more time, I would probably use something like "Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying" or "Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers." They are available with clear copyright from a site like the CyberHymnal. Since they come in MIDI, and the programs I will use require WMA or MP3, one then has to convert them using a program like JetAudio.) I tried four [
- BTW: Want to save one of those little videos from Google or YouTube or such? (I have had occasion to need to do so when I've been presenting somewhere without web access.) I've tried a bunch of browser plugins for video downloads, but the best way I have found is to use KeepVid. Simply enter the URL of a page with a video, and it downloads it to your computer. As always, observe proper copyright restrictions.
Friday, December 7, 2007
I'm still trying to figure out exactly how to make best use of this blog. Anyone reading this is probably already also reading the Logos and BibleWorks blogs, but in case you aren't...
- The Logos blog has a great article by Phil Gons on External Linking to Libronix Resources and Reports. He notes the ways you can use these to provide additional information to anyone using Logos, whether it be on a web page or a footnote in a Word DOC. In addition, I am using it to create links in my BibleWorks notes to Anchor Bible Dictionary articles in Logos, since BW7 doesn't have a very good dictionary included. (How to do this? In Logos, use the ALT-CTRL-C shortcut to copy the jump link. In the user notes in BW7, add a link to text in the user or editor notes, and copy the link into the "Link Text" window.)
- And speaking of BW7, Michael Hanel just posted downloadable Hebrew Accent Color and Consonantal Text files.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
A new BW7 classroom tip was recently posted on "Using the BW Maps Module." It provides a concise and helpful overview of this module. (Do note that there is another map module in BW7 that uses the NET Bible maps. Resources > Maps > NET Bible Maps.) I'm working on a more complete review of the BW7 map module, but here are some additional, quick observations:
- It is a very nice mapping program, and it is not too slow. Zooming and panning while using the Satellite Imagery overlay is the slowest. Having used GoogleEarth, I do miss the perspective panning, however. I do also appreciate the ability to use Options > Adjust Color Balance (or click on the red/green/gray icon in menu bar) and work with the colors, including turning it into a grayscale image. It is great to be able to choose between backgrounds: elevation, satellite, land cover.
- One needs to become familiar working with the Overlays/Stacking Order window. I prefer to keep the window open, but then choose Option > Make this window transparent. Keeps it handy but out of the way. (Cf. my graphic above.)
- Note that you can find sites within the map module using Edit > Find or by clicking on the binoculars in the menu bar. Also note that if you are reading a text in BW7, right-clicking on a place name will give the option of "Lookup in BibleWorks Maps." Choosing this will open the map module and let one choose the site.
- Sometime labels seem too big or off the map. I think it must be an issue with zoom and/or chosen overlay.
- Sites can be chosen related to a particular book of the Bible or event or era. One can use the Overlay window menu to toggle on/off sites, but it is perhaps easier and faster to open one of the predefined maps. (Cf. file selection window on graphic above.)
- It is very nice to be able to edit maps and create new overlays and/or sites.
- Note that hovering over a site will give you some information about that site: location, spelling in various versions, etc. Right-clicking on a site will give you its name in some English versions, and clicking on one of those conducts a search returning all the hits back in the base program.
- The program does not interact with a mouse's scroll wheel (which I usually like to use for zooming).
- There is no link between a site and the dictionaries in BW7. (You have to right click on site, click on a version to conduct a search, return to the main program, right click on the site name in the text, and select Lookup in Default Bible dictionary. That said, ISBE, Faussett, and Easton are not the greatest of dictionaries.)
- Another nice feature is the Edit > Copy as vectors/bitmaps feature that allows for defining a rectangular area.
- The map module does not provide the kind of maps that shows, for example, the general locations of the twelve tribes after the conquest shaded in various colors (but there is a "Division of Canaan" map with labels) or the divided kingdom (but see the "Divided Kingdom" map which does have the regions outlined).
- One important element I really miss is the lack of any way to display the ancient roads. This is one feature where even the free to use, unregistered version of the Bible Mapper program is really helpful. (I also think that the maps in Bible Mapper are visually more attractive and clearer in their presentation of geographical information.)
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I've more thoroughly summarized some of these resources here.
Bibliographic Tools (organizing bibliographic data and exporting for use in footnotes and bibliographies)
Research Tools (especially looking for Scripture references in articles)
Other resources to try:
For more details on some of the following listings as well as links to other resources, check this SBL article and this blog posting.
- lingro - This new site includes dictionaries for English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, and Polish (and since it is open content, users can add to the dictionary and also create their own word lists for review), a web viewer, and a file viewer (using your own .txt, .pdf, or.doc files). It works by rendering every word on a page or document as clickable and providing a popup translation of choice. (It is similar to what you can do with the Greek texts on Re:Greek=zhubert.) Google Language Tools provides other ways to deal with translation and includes 14 languages, but this lingra provides a great integration and customizability of resources. For a fuller review of lingra's advantages, check this blog review.
- The Universal Digital Library - This is a new digital collection that includes books that are not available in either GoogleBook or Microsoft LiveBook. (E.g., Robinson's 1915 Paradigms and Exercises in Syriac Grammar is only available here.) There are more than a 1.5 million books now digitized, and it reflects more of a global collection with many books in Chinese, Arabic, Sanskrit, Urdu, etc. For some perspective, there are 2608 English language books in "Religion," 687 returns for "Bible," 527 for "Greek," and 114 for "Hebrew." For books still under copyright, viewing is limited to 20%, but most books are by far older ones. Books are stored in a variety of formats: some are HTML, some are TIFF (a TIFF plugin can be installed, but on my system, QuickTime properly rendered the documents), and some are in DjVu which requires a free, downloadable plugin. For more information, read this article.
I had to do a bunch of typing in Greek today that included text critical symbols, and I found myself needing to keep checking a reference chart I had composed for myself. Here are some helps for you:
- First, check Rodney Decker's NTResources Unicode page and especially note the section on Unicode Input in Word. (It is more easily read if you use the PDF version he provides.)
- You will especially want to note that entering these characters is most easily done with the "ToggleCharacterCode" switch which involves hitting ALT+X right after entering the character code. For example, in MSWord, to get the Majority Text symbol, use the Cardo font, type 1D510 and then immediately hit ALT+X to get the Fraktur M.
- This will pretty much only work with the Cardo Unicode font. (Logos has a LibronixApparatusFont that includes the characters, but it is not a Unicode font, and it is not free for distribution. SBLGreek will also be released someday, but in the beta version, even it does not have all the characters.)
- I regularly use the BabelMap software he mentions.
- For the family symbol, use 0192. (You can also use an italic f in TimesNewRoman.)
- Digamma: 03DD
- Sampi: 03E1 or 03E0
- Stigma: 03DB or 03DA
- Alternate Beta: 03D0
- Alternate Theta: 03D1
- Alternate Capital Upsilon: 03D2
- Koppa: 03D8
- Aleph = Sinaiticus: 2135 (use this in left-to-right text; in Hebrew text use 05D0)
- Broken Vertical Line: 00A6
- Dagger: 2020
- Dotted Cross: 205C
Hope this helps...
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I have previously posted about library management tools, and John Kendall has just pointed me to Steffen Jenkins site where he is providing a free, java-based, apparatus builder based on the SBL Handbook of Style. It also integrates with Nota Bene's Ibidem. It is in beta for now, but it works quite well and offers excellent ways of simplifying bibliographic entry, linking to other resources, and generating footnotes and bibliographies according to the SBL guidelines. It is worth checking out.
BTW, while you are on his page, you will see that he also provides "Yet Another Vocab Tester designed to aid the learning of vocab and grammar, especially for Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek."
Both are fully Unicode compliant.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
- I had previously recommended the FastStone Capture program. Since that posting, the latest version (5.7) has become Shareware instead of Freeware. The clever web surfer will find the last free version (5.3). It is the first tool I use.
- TechSmith's SnagIt is an outstanding screen capture program with lots of extra features. It is able to capture scrolling windows.
- I had previously looked at a variety of lowcost screen/video capture programs. (WME, Wink, Zentation, VCASMO, etc.) It really can't get too much easier than Jing, however, and it is free. Download the program, set up a free account, and record in a variety of ways. You can even store the video online. HERE is an example of a Jing video of a BibleWorks procedure I had demonstrated in class using Parallel Windows and the Text Comparison tool.
- TechSmith's Camtasia Studio screen recording program is another fine product. The first time I tried it, I had no problem capturing a region of the screen along with microphone audio and a webcam feed. Very impressive...
UPDATE2: Here is a post on "Further Investigations into Free Screencast Software." It is noted there that the latest SnagIt is greatly improved. It also provides a comparison of Jing, Camtasia, and CamStudio. Also on that blog are "Quick Tips for Improving Screencasts."
UPDATE3: "Learning to Use Camtasia" online tutorial.
UPDATE4: (2008.02.11) Yet another nice, free screencasting tool: FreeScreenCast
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I'm hoping to be at the SBL in Boston next year, so I'll join the refrain started by Jim West and carried on by Tim Bulkeley hoping that some "biblical studies publisher" will sponsor a bibliobloggers bash. Tim suggests that we link to Jim's initial post and include "biblical studies publisher." I also think the term "Biblioblogger Bash" is rather catchy! Pass it on...
Friday, November 16, 2007
The new CCM has been posted online. The whole magazine is online, but of particular interest:
- A review of WORDsearch 8: Quite a positive review (but CCM is more often enthusiastic than critical...)
- e-Sword Update & Serious Language Tools: Notes some new features in the latest update (7.8.5) which includes Robertson's "Gospel Harmony" (it is really a synopsis tool and not a harmonization of the Gospels) and the availability of some new modules such as a graphics module, Shepherds 1923/6 Historical Atlas. (Also online HERE) There is also a pointer to eStudysource for buying other modules. The article also includes some comments on strengths and features of Pradis and WORDsearch.
- There is an article by Craig Rairdin whom many of you might recognize of the founder/developer of the original QuickVerse. He discusses the development of the STEP platform... and its eventual demise. (I still have a couple STEP documents, and I now use eSword which has a STEP reader. WORDsearch/BibleExplorer also is able to read STEP documents.) It is an interesting article discussing the attractiveness of a common data format, but he describes why it is not likely to happen among Bible software companies.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The Logos Blog recently posted a notice about some new training videos they have posted online. I find these to be well done and quite helpful. They also have been a good way for me to discover more of Logos' capabilities. So, after looking at some of the videos and the Top 20 New Features of Logos 3, I have some observations:
- I had not been aware of the History (Go > History) feature. That is very helpful for tracking my work.
- I've been working with the visual markups. I like how easy the Visual Markup Palettes are to customize. While highlighting text in a variety of ways is great, the main reason I have to use it is to work through Synoptic parallels. One would think, however, that this would work best using one of the Parallel Passages and Harmonies resources like the Aland Synopsis, but markup is not allowed in that resource. That's a problem that I hope Logos addresses.
- The Bibliography tool (Tools > Library Management > Bibliography) is great. I also appreciate that one of the formatting options is the SBL Handbook of Style. I also really like the Remote Library Search (File > New > Remote Library Search). Yes, there are other ways to Google and find books and zotero has become a great tool for me, but this is a nice way to search a variety of national and especially theological libraries and then generate an exportable bibliography.
- I do regularly use the Lectionary Viewer. It's a great way to pull together the texts for an upcoming liturgical day. If you know some XML, it is also very nice to be able to create one's own lectionary schedule. (There is actually a lot one can do in Logos with some XML knowledge, such as the Jackson's Synopsis Tables.) One major problem, however, one that has been lamented on the Logos newsgroup, is that the Lectionary addin does not come with the Original Language Library, and it can't even be purchased as an addin.
- Some things that have sped up my work in Logos: The GO bar (= Quick Navigate Bar: right click on the top tool bar to enable it), the quick Find (CTRL-F in a resources), the Reference Browser (CTRL-R), and the Bible Speed Search.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Though it is not yet posted on their own site, DiscountBIBLE.com is promoting the new version 8 of WORDsearch. You can check out the list of enhancements. It's not really designed for academic/scholarly use (Greek/Hebrew only have limited resources). It is no doubt helpful, especially with its combination of translations and linked resources, but I continue to wonder just how much real good a lot of these software packages actually provide when they bundle so many old, public domain resources. I suspect that because these resources are basically free for them to include, it is attractive to beef up the library with this stuff.
Easton's Bible Dictionary is from 1897, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) was first published in 1915, and the ubiquitous Matthew Henry's Commentary was written in 1708-1710. No doubt Matthew Henry was state of the art in the early 18th century, but I wonder if many readers who find that text online or in these software packages realize how old and outdated it is. Sure, there are still some valid observations that can be learned from these texts, but they really need to be checked against the new discoveries of the last 300 years!
Okay, so I'm fascinated with fonts... Via a comment by Rick Brannan on a posting about fonts by Phil Gons, I just discovered the Greek Font Society site. There a quite a few Greek fonts (TrueType and OpenType, also some MacOS) organized by century, and they are free to download and use. I particularly like the GFS Elpis and the GFS Neohellenic fonts in the 20th/21st century group. They are both full polytonic Greek sets with matching latin sets. Still, despite having all these beautiful Greek fonts, I find myself sticking to Cardo for my Greek and Hebrew, because:
- it's free
- it works well for print and display
- I require my students to download it, so I know they have it and there won't be font glitches
- it includes both Greek and Hebrew (as well as a complete latin set), so it's one less font to mess around with.
Monday, November 12, 2007
I have a Dell Axim x51v (now a discontinued product, sad to say...), and I have it well equipped with a number of biblical study resources. I've used OliveTree Bible Software products on my first Palm Pilot (and they provided for me to upgrade the software and texts for my Axim for free) when they were about the only ones that offered the NRSV on a PDA platform. I also have used their BibleReader for my Hebrew MT and my Gramcord Greek NT with UBS dictionary. As with a number of other such PDA products, the BibleReader is free along with quite a long list of free downloads. Most of them are public domain texts, but there are numerous Bibles (including the NET Bible with some notes, the Vulgate, and some early Greek texts) and other books. They do have occasional posts on their blog, and some recent entries indicate that they are moving to Unicode for the Hebrew MT. Also of note, Josephus and Philo in English are now available as free downloads.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Logos has the "Qumran Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls Database" as a pre-publication offering.
The Logos Qumran Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls Database is the first database of the Qumran biblical scrolls. Features include:Pre-pub pricing is $79.95. Sounds great, but it is still under development, and I'm not sure it will be the first...
Accordance just announced the release of the "Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Manuscripts" which will be available at the SBL meeting in November 2007. (I was alerted to this by the notice on PaleoJudaica.) Manuscripts are presented in both canonical and manuscript order. Price is $150.
Both the Logos and Accordance versions are based on The Discoveries in the Judean Desert transcriptions with updates, so I'm thinking they are pretty much the same.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I've used My Yahoo! as my home page for a couple years now. It's worked well with lots of customizable features. This week, a banner on my page encouraged me to try out the new My Yahoo! Beta. Well, I tried it, and I don't like it. (Less customizable, ugly color choices, obtrusive ads...)
BUT, as I was trying it out, I found I could add a new module called "Bible Study." It creates a new page that looks like this:This is the automatic content that appears, and the various sub-modules are not customizable. (You can only select to show, adjust update frequency, or delete.) It is an 'interesting' collection, to say the least. If you click/enlarge the graphic, you will see that you get:
- ESV: The One Year Bible
- Daily Bible Readings (KJV)
- Bible Study Reflections (Various content from 3-5 months old)
- Pastor Jon's Blog (A little searching discovers that he describes himself thus: "I am the Pastor and church planter of a Bible teaching church in New England [Springfield Calvary Fellowship in MA]. I am also a entrepreneur engaged in a computer based business.")
- Christian Links: Bible (Some more 'interesting' choices...)
- internetmonk.com (Links to their podcasts: this one actually does look interesting to me)
- Christian Blogs (Including links to Joel Osteen' church, "Follow Old Or New Testament," "Was Paul a False Apostle," "Why Are Christians Fat")
UPDATE: I looked at the My Yahoo Bible Study again, and found that there are a few sub-modules that can be edited. There is an integrated RSS reader, and one can choose what subscriptions appear, so that's good. Some of the other automatic links (Christian links and reflections sections) are not editable and reflect those 'interesting' choices.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Logos has announced the pre-pub pricing for the Reading the New Testament Commentary series. (Pre-pub pricing means that you can buy it before it is published at a reduced cost.)
This is one of the better commentary series, but I've not been much of one to buy a whole series. Yes, they look nice on one's bookshelves, but, in addition to the considerable cost of buying a whole set, there is oftentimes so much variety of quality within a series. I do prefer buying the electronic versions of such works (so much for looking good on the bookshelf...), but I am inclined to buy individual volumes. To get a sense of the approaches of various commentary series, I recommend checking out Logos' "Product Guide to Multi-Volume Commentaries." For suggestions on individual volumes, I have posted some lists, including ones compiled by myself and my colleagues here at LTSG.
Here is something entirely silly... ( This is a Word DOC file.)
I use Croy's grammar for teaching Greek, and in Lesson 27 he covers interrogative, indefinite, relative, and indefinite relative pronouns and adjectives. Just for fun, I composed a short dialogue to introduce these forms in the spirit of the old Abbot and Costello "Who's on first..." routine. Anyone (an indefinite pronoun!) is free to use and adapt it as they see fit!
Friday, November 2, 2007
An exceedingly helpful new Classroom Tip entry on the use of the User Notes, Editor, and Report Generator has been posted by the BibleWorks folks.
I have not yet really done much with the note taking features of either BW7 or Logos. From the little I know:
BW7 is helpful in allowing for notes connected either to a chapter or to a verse in addition to a general editor for working on thematic entries. I do like that it has plenty of editing options allowing for customization of formatting and linking to texts and other resources and that all the notes are saved as standard RTF files. (RTF=Rich Text Format is a standard document format that virtually any word processor can handle.) What I don't like is that the polytonic Greek keyboard I use (the Logos one - for more on keyboards, cf. this entry) does not work well. (It doesn't like accent and breathing mark entries. Logos and BW7 not getting along? No, it's a matter of how precomposed and combined characters are handled.) I can work around that issue with cut/paste, but what most bothers me is that there is hardly any visual reminder that I ever made notes on a chapter or verse. Since the editing windows are tabs in the right column, and since I usually am using the Word Analysis or Resource Summary tab, I never notice whether I have taken notes or not. The little "c" or "v" (for chapter or verse) that appears on the tab just is not sufficient for me.
I have used the notetaking feature in Logos even less. It appears to be rather versatile, but maybe with that complexity comes confusion that has generated many requests for improvement on the Logos newsgroup. Without having spent enough time to figure it out and due to my don't-read-the-manual-unless-I-have-to approach, I'm a bit confused about the difference between a "general note" and a "notefile" note, though it appears to be similar to the distinction between the Editor and User Notes in BW7. It is nice to attach the note to all biblical texts or only to one specific one. (I.e., one can choose to have a note show up attached to every version of a biblical text or only to a single one. You select the General or the Notefile attachment and then choose to add to an "Article.") Though opening the note window seems to take a while to be ready for actually typing in notes, I do like that the note is clearly visible as an attachment icon to the text. (But when I changed the name of the default NoteFile1 to something more intelligible to me, then all the attachments disappeared. UPDATE: exiting and restarting the program fixed it.) I like the way that one can organize notes within a note file (sort of like creating an outline structure for the notes), and I also find highlighting of text to be much easier in Logos than BW7. For me, however, a significant problem is that the Logos notes contain enough (XML?) coding so that they cannot be easily edited in standard word processing programs.
BW7 has a built-in way to search all of one's notes to find anything. I cannot find anything like it in Logos, but one could search the Annotations subdirectory or install the user-created Dominotez program which works well.
I have an upcoming project due of providing study and commentary notes to the Gospel of Mark. At this point, I plan to write my notes in BW7 primarily because I can use the RTF files more easily in MSWord.
Anyone have more experience in taking notes in either program, please leave a comment!