Monday, April 20, 2015

BibleWorks 10 Released

I have been beta testing BibleWorks 10 for the last few months. I will get around to a fuller review after the semester ends, but here is my quick take on this release.

BibleWorks 10 is an attractive update to a long-respected program. Existing users will find a fresh but familiar interface that is now customizable and scalable. New users will more easily be able to find their way into the extensive capabilities of the program and hundreds of Bible texts and versions and study aids. Everyone will appreciate the new features and resources including notable ones like English “fuzzy” searching, a BibleViews Picture Library, Danker’s 2009 Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the NT, the Leiden OT Peshitta, and the New English Translation of the Septuagint to name just a very few. New add-on modules available include Crossway’s ESV Bible Atlas and original Hebrew and Greek language packages including the Nestle-Aland 28th with apparatus and morphology. Able to run on both Windows and Macs, BW 10 is a tremendous value in Bible software.

HERE is a full list of what's new.
HERE is a video preview of BW10.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Quick Survey of Bible Apps for Android and iPhone

A Quick Survey of Bible Apps for Android and iPhone

For more detailed study, check into the offerings from Accordance, Laridian, Logos, or Olive Tree. If you already have purchased desktop versions of these programs, then you have access to most of your resources through the apps as well.
There are many free Bible apps from which to choose for both Android and iPhone. Things to keep in mind:

  • Note that some of these are actual apps. Some provide access to web versions optimized for mobile devices. If your mobile device has a web browser, you can, of course, always go to some of the better sites' web pages. Check out the Lumina Bible site!
  • Some of them work by 'streaming' Bible versions to you. That is, you must have access to a data stream, and you won't be able to use that version when you don't have data access. The benefit of this approach is that you can often have access to Bible versions for which you would otherwise need to pay. (E.g., for NRSV)
  • Most of them will allow you to download some Bibles to your device and use them offline or without a data stream. Many are free. Some you will need to purchase. Some common free and useful Bibles include:
    • English: ESV, NET (without full notes), KJV, Lexham (from Logos), LXX Brenton English (an older English translation of the LXX)
    • Hebrew: Westminster Leningrad codex
    • Greek: SBL Greek New Testament (from SBL and Logos), Westcott-Hort, Scrivener, some also offer the Greek LXX
  • Some apps offer a variety of related resources: dictionaries, maps, commentaries, Bible reading plans, etc. One thing to look for are Bible versions that are linked with Strong's. This provides the quick and free way to get some lexical and parsing help. Note that you can find versions in English, Hebrew, and Greek (both LXX and NT) linked to Strong's. Most of them have search capabilities. Some have audio versions.
  • Some of them offer all sorts of options for highlighting, social sharing, and note keeping, and often these can be synced with an online version.
With those things in mind, here are some suggestions.

  • If you have already purchased the program, check into Laridian, Logos, or Olive Tree.
  • Among the free ones I recommend:
    • MySword: This is one of the fastest loading programs, so when I'm in church and want to get to the lesson quickly, I use this one. Lots of free modules including: LXX and an analytical LXX, Brenton's LXX English, NET (no notes), Hebrew Westminster, Lexham, KJV, SBL GNT.
    • YouVersion: Many, many English versions, and many can be downloaded including NET (with notes), CEV, CEB, ESV, Good News, Holman, KJV, Lexham, Message, NIV, NIrV, NLT, etc. Westminster Hebrew, SBL Greek NT; hundreds of other non-English versions.
    • BibleGateway: If you are familiar with the BibleGateway web site, this is an app version of it.
    • Textweek - The Text This Week: Many of you are doubtless familiar with the rich Textweek site. Here's an app that will give access to all its riches.
iPhone / iPad
  • If you have already purchased the program, check into Accordance, Laridian, Logos, or Olive Tree.
  • Among the free versions, I recommend:
    • YouVersion: Many, many English versions, and many can be downloaded including NET (with notes), CEV, CEB, ESV, Good News, Holman, KJV, Lexham, Message, NIV, NIrV, NLT, etc. Westminster Hebrew, SBL Greek NT; hundreds of other non-English versions.
    • BibleGateway: If you are familiar with the BibleGateway web site, this is an app version of it.
    • Lumina Bible Study: This is an app version of the Lumina Bible site.
    • Textweek - The Text This Week: Many of you are doubtless familiar with the rich Textweek site. Here's an app that will give access to all its riches.
    • ESV Bible App: ESV only but does include ESV Global Study Bible for free
These are my recommendations. There are doubtless many more apps out there, and I know less about the iPhone ones. If you have a favorite to recommend, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pontius Pilate by Maier for only 99 cents

This is a worthwhile read of what Maier--a well-known historian with other books on antiquity--calls "documented historical fiction." Only 99 cents on Amazon as a Kindle download. (Only for a limited time?) Click on the graphic to check it out.
<a href="">Pontius Pilate</a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Google Earth Pro is now free!

I have frequently blogged about the value of Google Earth (a free program) for exploring and understanding the biblical lands. Somewhat amazingly, Google has now released Google Earth Pro for free. (It used to be a $399/year upgrade.) While mainly oriented to business users, the Pro version has advanced tools for measuring, creating maps, and producing high resolution videos.
You can get the download HERE and follow the directions on that page.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Logos 6 Bible Software Review - Part 1

[Disclaimer: I received the new Logos 6 Gold from Faithlife (the new parent company of Logos and the related software and online services) as an upgrade to my existing Logos 5 Gold. The only stipulation was that I write a fair and honest review and post it on this blog.]

I have long used Logos Bible software and have reviewed versions and aspects of it in the past. I have primarily used it for original language study of the Bible and to gain access to the numerous primary and secondary resources available for Bible study.

Background, Packages, Upgrades:

In the history of Logos, there was a significant transition from (Libronix) version 3 to (Logos) 4. The transitions from versions 4 to 5 and now from 5 to 6 have been incremental, but in both instances have shown significant enhancements and important resource additions. As has become their practice, Logos 6 is offered in a range of "families": Starter, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Portfolio, and Collector's. These range in price from $295 to $10,800, but there are regular sales (e.g., currently 15% off as I write) and academic discounts available. There are similarly priced tradition-specific packages that have a different collection of resources that include more denomination theological resources than biblical or generic ones. (Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran [HERE is my review of Lutheran Gold], Pentecostal & Charismatic, Reformed, and SDA. Verbum is the analogous package for Roman Catholicism.)

For existing Logos users, there are a number of options for moving to Logos 6.
  • Getting the free engine update: This allows one to keep all existing resources, provides the new interface, but does not add any new datasets, resources, or related features. It will probably be released in February 2015 or so.
  • Crossgrade: A crossgrade assumes you have an existing Logos library, and the price to crossgrade depends on whether you want a "core," "feature," or "extended" crossgrade. The core crossgrade only give you the new Logos 6 tools and media. The feature crossgrade adds the new datasets, and the extended crossgrade adds new resources. A crossgrade can still be somewhat expensive (for my existing Gold library, the cost would have been $124, $175, or $226 after discounts), and in my case, it would have made more sense to upgrade and gain even more resources for a marginally greater expense.
  • Upgrade: A person retains rights to the resources in your existing library, but in upgrading to Logos 6, you have the option of moving up at the same level or to another package like the ones I listed earlier. The Logos website provides tools for comparing what is new in Logos 6 and what would be new for you depending on your upgrade package.
For Logos 6 hardware requirements, check HERE.

Installation and Getting Started

Installation is straightforward and occurred without incident. Upon placing the order for the crossgrade or upgrade, users receive a confirmation email with a download link. This is just a small installer file. Run it, and when Logos starts, it will also begin downloading all the applicable new resources and datasets and updates. Logos takes care of things without user intervention. The main thing is to have a fast Internet connection and allow plenty of time for all the downloads to occur. (In my case, with a good connection and fast computer, it took about 15 minutes, but Logos has had regular download updates ever since.) You also have to allow time for Logos to index its resources. This runs in the background (and can be paused if you want) and can potentially slow down other computer functions. 

If you are already using Logos 4 or 5, you should be able to start using the program right away since the interface is largely unchanged. For those less familiar with Logos, they have quite a few resources for getting you started. For basic training, start HERE and choose your platform (Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad, Kindle Fire, Android). A desktop/laptop device is where Logos best displays its capabilities, and training for that is HERE. There are 28 quickstart videos which will show both old and new users some of the capabilities of the program and how to use them.
I am using Logos6 on a Windows 7 SP1 system with 12GB RAM, Intel i7 at 3.40GHz, and the program running on a SSD drive. I.e., though this system is now 2.5 years old, it is still decently fast. Complicated searches may take a bit to run, but in general the program runs acceptably well without any annoying lag. Logos does suggest some ways to optimize performance that help if you have a slower system.

In Part 2, I will describe some of the new features to Logos6 that I most appreciate.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

HarperOne Special Ebook Offer: 20 Religion Classics for $2.99 Each!

This is simply a pretty good deal for some very interesting books by the likes of John Dominic Crossan, Richard Elliott Friedman, Bart D. Ehrman, N.T. Wright, Richard Hays, Amy-Jill Levine, and others. Note that these are ebooks, and you can obtain them through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, or Google Play. HERE is the link.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Greek New Testament Vocabulary Lists

In preparation for teaching biblical Greek again this fall, I am once again thinking about the vocabulary I am asking my students to memorize. Since my students will eventually be getting Bible software, the first argument I need to make is why bother memorize any Greek vocab at all. My response is that we need a foundational vocabulary simply to talk about the more significant matters of Greek grammar. Additionally, vocabulary memorization gives me an opportunity to talk about Greek words and their range of meaning and usage. (E.g., what is the distinction between ουρανός in the singular and plural? OR What does ἀμήν mean? What is its Hebrew background? How is treated in the LXX? What is distinctive about John's use of it?) Additionally again, even when we start using Bible software, having a basic vocabulary will make one so much more efficient in the use of the software and even in just knowing which word to put the mouse over!

So, how much vocabulary do we need to know? According to a number of studies, a person needs to know 95% of the words in order to deduce the meaning of the others from the context. (Cf. here and here.) In the Greek New Testament, there are 5400 lexical forms which are used 138,020 times. (BTW, I'm using BibleWorks9's edition of NA27 and the Wordlist Manager for my word statistics. I suspect there are differences depending on the program and text you use.) It doesn't really mean that a person needs to know 5130 (5400 x .95) lexical forms. That's a good thing since there are about 1934 hapax legomenon (i.e., words used only once) in the Greek NT. Rather, a person would want to know about 131,119 (138,020 x .95) words according to their instances in the GNT. This would require a person to know every word that occurs 6 or more times and a bunch of the ones used 5 times in the GNT. That is, one would need to know about 1700 of the 5400 lexical forms. That's way to many for my students to memorize in a semester.

Let's start from the top instead. I like to tell my students that if they know the Greek article along with καί and δέ, they know about 23% of the words in the GNT! Some other stats which provide specifics to the chart at the top of this post.
  • The 10 most common words cover nearly 38% of the GNT
  • The 18 words used 1000 or more times cover over 44% of the GNT.
  • To know 50% of the words in the GNT, you need to know the 27 most common ones.
  • The 37 words used 500 or more times cover over 54% of the GNT.
  • The 100 most common words cover over 66% of the GNT.
  • The 200 most common words cover just about 75% of the GNT.
  • The 311 words use 50 or more times cover almost 80% of the GNT.
There are certainly other factors which could complicate these stats. Most notably, if you know a word root, you can often determine related lexemes. Again, knowing the prepositions and knowing some verbs, the addition of prepositional prefixes is an easy matter.

So what have I decided to do? Given our limited time, given that we are not aiming to speak or write compositions in Greek, and given that we will be using Bible software, I'm going for the 311 words used 50 or more times in the GNT. Students will be asked to learn 30+ words each weeks for 10 weeks. The vocab quizzes will consist of 10 words each and are multiple choice. Students need to get at least 7 of the 10 correct, and they have 3 chances to take the quiz. I'm also going to make life easier for the students by taking the frequency list and sorting it alphabetically. That way, they will have a mix of common and less common words each week.

I've created my own lists of Greek lexical forms ordered either according to frequency or alphabetically. I've added my own glosses which in many cases provide a bit more information than the typical, minimal glosses. If you would like to use these files which are DOCX files you can get them here:
I'd be interested to hear what vocabulary memorization requirements others of you have.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Survey of the Lands of the Bible - Free MOOC

Interested in the lands of the Bible? Do you enjoy history or maps or archaeology? Planning a trip to any of the lands that are part of biblical history?

I would like to invite anyone who is interested to participate in a free, online course I am offering, “Survey of the Lands of the Bible.” It is being offered as a MOOC (= Massive Open Online Course) starting in September, 2014 through Gettysburg Seminary where I teach. Students are able to participate as much or little as they wish. There is no cost, and buying the course textbook is optional. I believe that the course provides not only a geographical overview, but it also serves as a good Bible history survey that informs the modern situation. Students cannot receive credit for the course from the seminary, but it is a great learning opportunity.

The course will be conducted in English, but I’m hoping for an international audience.

There really are no costs and no risks to register for the course. There is more information HERE.
You can also check this PDF course brochure available HERE.

If you have any questions, please let me know. I hope to see some of you online!

Playing with Powerpoint, Greek, and Video
I'm figuring out the best ways to create short (but perhaps up to 20 minute) videos using PowerPoint. I've started using Microsoft's Office Mix, but I'm still practicing with it. It does allow me to record videos with inset webcam video of myself plus narration plus annotations.

Another option in Office 365 (and Office 2013, I believe) is to create a PowerPoint, rehearse the timings and add narrations, then use File > Export and save it as a video. Here is a 54 second one with a little music and some animations. If you know some Greek, you may actually think it's a bit humorous!

Click here or on the graphic above: Ἔρχομαι and πίνω

I've also used programs like Camtasia for screen recordings. It's more work to use this, but the results are a bit more polished. In any case, see what you think, and let me know if you have other ways for producing videos like this. Thanks.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Logos 5 Lutheran Gold Review Part 2

Logos 5 Lutheran Gold Review Part 2

In Part 1 of my review, I surveyed the resources available in Logos 5 Lutheran Gold. In this Part 2, I will look at how the resources are implemented within the program.

A great strength of Logos is its capabilities as a library management system. With the integration of and hyperlinking between biblical texts and references, a person has a fast and powerful way of studying the Bible and conducting research.

Starting with a biblical text

One of the most often cited passages for summarizing a Lutheran perspective is Ephesians 2.8-9. (And verse 10 should also really be included!)  So if I go to Ephesians 2.8, right click, and choose Reference and then Passage Guide, I get the following.

All those headings can be expanded, but of interest here is the Commentaries which include these from the Lutheran Gold collection:
  • Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament, Ephesians and Galatians (1985)
  • The Lutheran Commentary, Annotations on the Epistles of Paul to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (1896)
  • Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Ephesians (~1870? - more info on Lange's here)
Once you've opened the commentary you want, it's easy to link the commentary window with the biblical text window so that they scroll together.

Biblical cross-referencing within a resource

As with all Logos secondary resources, wherever there is a reference to a biblical passage, one simply needs to hover the cursor over that reference in order for it to appear in a popup.

Searching for biblical references within a resource

As just noted, since the resources have had all the biblical references tagged, it also means that one can search any resource for any particular passage. Here you can see where I've used a Basic search for Ephesians 2.8 in the Book of Concord and obtained 8 hits.

One can search one's entire library of resources (with all the resources I have, I get 2402 results in 1918 articles in 448 resources) or a sub-library = a collection. Collections can be very helpful. In the graphic below you can see where I used Tools > Collections and then typed in Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament and named the resource ACNT. Searching this collection, I get 19 results in 14 articles for Ephesiasn 2.8.

Further, having created this ACNT collection, I can now click on the Library icon, click on Prioritize, search for ACNT, right click on the list of books and choose to prioritize this series. I moved this one rather high on my list, so now when I use the Passage Guide (cf. above), the ACNT commentaries will be among the first to appear.

Starting with a topic

Regardless of whether a word is found in a biblical text or some other resource, if one wants to do further research on that word/topic, simply right-click on it, and then choose Power Lookup, Bible Word Study, or Topic Guide. Any of these tools will provide access to the host of resources in Logos.
It is also possible to use a Basic search and choose a resource (or collection or entire library) and search for the word / topic that way. (580 instances of "grace" in the Book of Concord.)

As another example, Lutherans are often known for affirming sola scriptura, sola gratia, and sola fides (Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone). A Basic search in my entire library for "sola gratia luther" returns 4096 results in 126 articles in 53 resources, almost all of which are found in the resources in the Logos 5 Lutheran Gold.

Other features of Logos 5

All the other usual features of Logos 5 work with the Lutheran Gold version. Not only is it available for either Win or Mac, I also want to highlight that one's purchase of a Logos 5 library entitles one to use it on two computers (not at the same time) and also makes it available on a variety of other platforms. In particular, free apps can be downloaded for iPhone/iPad, Android, or Kindle Fire devices. One can also access resources on the web at (cf. graphic below) though there is not nearly as much functionality.


Logos has done a fine job of  packaging Lutheran resources and implementing them in Logos 5 Lutheran Gold. For a Lutheran interested in building a library of Lutheran primary and secondary resources that will integrate with biblical study, it is an excellent choice. As mentioned in Part 1 of my review, the collection lacks Luther's Works, but there are numerous other Lutheran-oriented resources that make this an attractive option. If one is more interested in just working with the biblical texts, it might be worthwhile to look at Accordance or BibleWorks or Logos' own Biblical Languages library. With Logos one could always then add any other Lutheran resources, but the Logos 5 Lutheran Gold provides considerable value in the resources it does include.