Friday, October 31, 2008

Search Full Text of All SBL Books

I had not noticed this before, and it looks to be a new feature on the SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) web site. It is now possible to search the full text of all SBL books. (If I have discerned correctly, there are over 1100 SBL books.) You do not need to be a SBL member to have access to this tool. Go to the SBL publications page and scroll down to the bottom where you will see this box.

Search the Full Text of all SBL Books

If you have used Google book search, the results will look familiar. I couldn't find any results that were more than limited preview, but this is still a great tool for doing research and finding references in a corpus that is specific to the field of biblical studies.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Google Earth on iPhone / iTouch

I've long admired the achievements of Google Earth, and now it is available to run on an iPhone/iTouch as a free app.

Check out the video, and follow the links from the Google Earth blog post to find out more and get it installed. Now you can check out those biblical sites anytime/anywhere...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Four Most Influential Literary Works...

... that I have read other than the Bible. This is not a technology oriented post, but the question seems to arise regularly about the best things I've ever read. There is plenty of wonderful literature (Lucian, William Blake, Mark Twain, Frederick Buechner, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, John Irving...that list should be some indicator of my tastes), but there are only a few books/articles that have really changed my way of understanding. You will see that the Abraham/Isaac story in Genesis 22 and issues in the life of Jesus have been important dialogue partners for me that have truly shaped my faith and overall perspective. Other than the Bible (and within the Bible, Genesis, Mark, Romans, and Philippians are my 'canon within the canon'), I return to the following works:

  • Erich Auerbach's article "Odysseus' Scar" in Mimesis (online here and a summary here): This essay is somewhat of a challenging read, but Auerbach compares the fully foregrounded, fully explicit narrative of Homer with the "fraught with background," enigmatic nature of Genesis 22. The result: "The Scripture stories do not, like Homer’s, court our favor, they do not flatter us that they may please us and enchant us—they seek to subject us, and if we refuse to be subjected we are rebels." A profound reflection on the way that biblical narrative creates (demands!) a faithful reader.
  • Soren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling: Kierkegaard explores that enigmatic background in the Genesis 22 story described by Auerbach by providing four brief scenarios to fill in the gaps. These serve as a springboard for his subsequent reflections on faith and his descriptions of the "knight of faith," the "move of infinite resignation," and the paradoxical "leap of faith."
  • Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus (also available as a free downloadable PDF ebook here): Schweitzer was not only a remarkable physician and humanitarian, he was also a world-class musician, philosopher, theologian, and biblical scholar. After reading his Quest, one may not agree with Schweitzer's conclusions, but his critique of what often passes as biblical scholarship should humble and caution anyone who wants to makes assertions about the historical Jesus.
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and the chapter on the "Grand Inquisitor" in specific: The heart of this epic novel is the "Grand Inquisitor" chapter which can be pretty much read on its own with a bit of introduction. Since my students never need to read it anytime else in our MDiv curriculum, I make it required reading in my Gospels course as we talk about the temptation of Jesus by the devil and the implications this has for ministry today. There is so much truth here... I think it is a critical reflection piece for those serving in ministry who are so often tempted--usually out of a sense of care and concern--to make the Gospel "manageable."
So, what other classics do you recommend?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gaggle of Search Engines Update

In a previous post, I described a variety of search engines beyond Google. After some more time spent using them and after improvements on some of the sites, here's a quick update using one I kind of like, Searchme.com. (Move the little blue slider to see the other sites.


SearchmeView in searchme: full | lite
Comments after comparing results on a search for "accordance bibleworks logos."
  • One addition to the earlier list: Middlespot provides both a text and thumbnail view of site results, but what is interesting is that it lets you create a "workspace" to store a bunch of sites you want to investigate further. Page rendering is a bit jerky, but it's a decent idea. (Note that a similar effect is available in Searchme using 'stacks' and in Viewzi using the Power Grid view.)
  • Searchme Lite is, as you may guess, a lite version of Searchme that suggests categories as you begin typing your search.
  • As much as I like Searchme, it turns out that your stacks are stored in a Flash cache on your computer, and if you clear your cache... I discovered the issue the wrong way. They report they are working on fixing this problem.
  • Viewzi has added additional views. You now can choose between these views: Web Screenshot (using Yahoo results), Simple Text (using Alexa, Yahoo, Google), Power Grid (using Yahoo, Google), Google Timeline (uses Google and charts by recency), Site Information, 4 Sources (using Ask, Yahoo, Google, MSN), a bunch of photo views, and a number of others oriented to searches for books, music, etc.
  • I am also finding uses for the Firefox plugin, Ubiquity, I described in the previous post. There are some neat things you can do by highlighting text and then activating Ubiquity. Another option I'm using is the Hyperwords addon for Firefox which works via mouse rightclicking.
BOTTOM LINE: I'm still mostly using Google for quick searching. I'm occasionally using Searchme and Viewzi for the additional capabilities they offer such as storing stacks and having multiple views. If I can't find what I want, then I move on to Yahoo or LiveSearch. (If you are searching for online books, however, do check this Online Book Search posting.)
BONUS: With two teenage daughters, we pretty much had to go with an unlimited text messaging plan. If you are not paying for each text message, you really ought to check out the Google SMS service. It is a fantastic way to have weather, movie times, directions, definitions, translations, price checks, etc. available to you on your phone.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fun Tools for Learning Greek

On Nijay K Gupta's blog, he describes a Kuklos Eudaimonias (Wheel of Fortune) game he is using to teach Greek. He also asked for some other such fun tools for teaching Greek. Some suggestions:

If you have other good stuff, share it here or over on Nijay's blog.

*Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Logos Sermon File Addin - Free

As part of Pastor Appreciation Month (i.e., for a limited time), Logos is giving away a free copy of their Sermon File Addin. It is a great way to organize sermons and illustrations by providing integration within Logos and links to any Bible passages cited. Logos states:

The new Sermon File Addin plugs right into Logos Bible Software and provides a way to store, organize and search your sermons and illustrations. As you enter or import your sermons and illustrations, they become a full-fledged Libronix book in your digital library. Your sermons and illustrations show up in Passage Guide. And you can open, browse, search, KeyLink, and mark up the text just like you would any other Logos book!
If you don't have Logos but want to give it a try and see what the Logos program is like, get the free eBible starter from Nelson, set up an account at Logos, and download/unlock the Sermon File Addin. One thing to note that has been a subject of criticism on the Logos newsgroup: when you compile your sermon, the default setting is that it is also published to Logos' database. (See the circled item on the compile screen.)
Regarding this, Logos states:
Select this option in order to submit this sermon to the Logos Sermon Database. Our plan is to make submitted sermons available through a future web service, or an existing online sermon database. By submitting your sermons and illustrations to the online database you grant Logos Research Systems, Inc., and its assigns, a perpetual royalty-free, world-wide license to republish your sermon or illustration. You also create an opportunity for others to benefit from your study and teaching. We will never publish your sermon without attribution.
Hmmm... not so sure I want to grant Logos a "perpetual royalty-free, world-wide license" for my sermons and illustrations...
In any case, it's still a great deal. Thanks, Logos!
(You may need to use the code - PAM2008 - to get it for free.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Books to download: ICC Commentaries

Charles Halton > Charles Savelle at BibleX > Rod Decker at NT Resources
If you follow that chain, you will end up at Decker's NT Resources site where he comments on the older, now-out-of-copyright commentaries in the ICC series available for free download on the Internet Archive. As he notes there, they are dated, but they often have worthwhile comments on grammar and syntax. I concur with his recommendation to download the black/white PDF versions. Decker provides a list of the NT commentaries, so check his site. I provide here a list of the OT ones that I found. There are 2 or 3 links for some of the books, and I am not sure why. They look to be scans of the same book, but files sizes are often different. If someone can confirm they are the same or recommend the scanning sequence that appears to be best, let me know, and I will thin out this list.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

NRSV iPhone App now available

Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) announces that the NRSV is now available as an iPhone app. Cost is $11.99. It comes with 3 devotional books and either with/out the Apocrypha. Read the full announcement, but here are the highlights:

With the NRSV Bible, all of the standard NRSV features are supported including the notes. The app remembers your previous location so you can immediately pick up where you left off. Navigation is easy through the hierarchical table of contents. Scripture references are linked, so you can view the passage in a slide-up window. All books are included in the original install, so you don’t need an Internet connection to use the application.

Coming soon: the ability to download and install books from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, search capabilities, and more. Get it now at a special introductory price, with no charge for upgrades to later editions.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Zotero - Major Feature Updates

More reasons to like Zotero even more as your bibliography management tool as reported on Dan Cohen's blog... As he notes, you can now check out your Zotero library on any web browser including those on iPhone or iPod Touch.
In addition, the Zotero 1.5 SyncPreview 2 now offers a way to sync your library across the web, retrieve metadata from PDFs and more.