Thursday, February 21, 2019

Online Bible Reference Taggers Comparison

ESV.org recently announced the availability of their free ESV CrossReference Tool. It gives me an opportunity to compare the three options that are now available. All are free. All work by adding a simple javascript either to a web page, or, if you want to make it available site wide, to a site template. They automatically find Bible references on a web page and generate a popup when hovering over a Bible reference like this: Mark 6.34.
By following the links below, I provide examples of each one's capabilities and provide some commentary.

SUMMARY (Update 2019.03.05 - Thanks to comment by Andley Chang)
  • ESV CrossReference Tool
    • Only links to ESV
    • Does have audio function
    • Provides social media and email linking
  • NETBibleTagger
    • Only links to NET Bible, but...
    •  ... click through links to the outstanding Lumina Bible online site with many additional resources
    • Allows customization of display
    • Also note that there is a NETBible Web Service (API) you can use to create links to Bible texts without using the automatic reference tagging.
  • Faithlife Reftagger
    • Offers option to link to a selection of Bible versions
    • Provides social media linking (but I regularly have trouble making the popup persist long enough to click on the link)
    • Links to the Biblia or Faithlife Study Bible. From these sites you can access many more resources
    • Allows customization of display 
  • BibleGateway Reference Tagging Tool 
    • Offers options to link to most Bible versions (over 60 English Bible versions, Greek (SBLGNT), Hebrew, and uncounted other non-English languages)
    • Links to BibleGateway site for more versions and other resources
    • Option for a Spanish interface link and other customizations
    • Does not recognize period separator for chapter.verse
As you can see, each has some benefits. Since I have a good Logos library, linking to Biblia online provides me access to all my resources. If you want access to non-English language, BibleGateway is the only choice. For most of my purposes, sharing Bible references on a blog like this or online articles I write, I will most often use the NETBible Tagger with BibleGateway as a second choice.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Photo Companion to the Bible ACTS - Review


In addition to his informative blog, Todd Bolen at BiblePlaces.com has been compiling some excellent study resources, the latest of which is the Photo Companion to the Bible volume on Acts. Previous volumes on Ruth, Psalm 23, and the Gospels have been released. The primary creators of the Acts volume are Steven D. Anderson, A.D. Riddle, Christian Locatell, Kris Udd, and Todd Bolen who have provided most of the photos and commentary. According to the introduction:
The Photo Companion to the Bible is an image-rich resource for Bible students, teachers, and researchers. Just as a librarian stocks the shelves with as many relevant materials as possible, so we have tried to provide a broad selection of images. Our goal is that you will find in this “library” whatever it is you are looking for. 
The volume is organized into 28 PowerPoints, one for each chapter of Acts. This makes it convenient to search for images connected to a chapter in Acts. Further, each of the images in the PowerPoint is labeled with a verse number and order sequentially. There is a variety of images included: photographs of sites, artifacts, historic photographs, aerial views, and maps. Where it would be helpful, some photographs are duplicated and include an overlay labeling notable features. (Many images come from BiblePlaces’ Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.) Each slide includes the portion of the verse to which it relates, the chapter:verse reference, and a descriptive caption. In the comments section of the PowerPoint, additional information is provided.
There are over 4000 images in the Acts collection, and the 28 PowerPoints take up about 1.6GB of storage. There are between 65 and 250 slides for each chapter. The maps provided by A.D. Riddle are very nice, and most of the pictures are of high quality. As for permissions, it states, “The purchaser is granted permission to use this work in face-to-face teaching, video-recorded sermons, class notes, church newsletters, and like contexts.” Any other use would require specific permission.

This resource will certainly be useful to anyone teaching or studying Acts and looking for visuals. Whether it is a location (e.g., Capernaum), topic (e.g., Baptism), or reference (e.g., “times or seasons”), there are multiple images that can be used. To have everything organized by specific Bible reference simply makes things much easier to access. Some items are very loosely connected with the text, and there are a few identifications or comments with which I might quibble, but overall this is a fantastic and immensely helpful resource.

The list price is $149, but the introductory sale price is $89 which includes free shipping in the US as well as immediate download. For a sample of what this outstanding collection is like, you can download for free the PowerPoint for Acts 18.

Disclaimer: I provided a couple pictures of a memorial to Paul at Apollonia for which Bolen provided me this volume for free.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

All you wanted to know about the great polyglot Bibles

London Polyglot of 1657

The Newberry Library in Chicago has recently created a website (actually just a page with popups) that provides excellent visuals and descriptions of three of the great polyglot Bibles of the 16th and 17th centuries: the Complutensian (1517), Antwerp (1571), and London (1657). The goal of the site is not to provide access to the texts (you cannot look up passages) but to provide an overview of the layouts of the Bibles. It explains not only what is in each section of a page spread but also why it was included. It's a great way to see what was going on with these "Cathedrals of Print." It reminds me of a few hours I spent back in the day when I was working on my dissertation on Psalm 22 and perused the 1645 Paris Polyglot in the Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale. These Bibles were certainly magnificent publications, and the amount of work required to print them is staggering. We have so much in digital formats these days, and we can be thankful for the much broader access provided, but we can be grateful for the work that preceded it.
HT: John Linebarger in Anglican Biblical and Theological Languages Forum on FB with a HT to Peter Gurry at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog