Friday, March 27, 2020

Ancient Theaters, Amphitheaters, Stadiums, and Odeons in Turkey

I love maps like this! (Found this map on Twitter.) It locates on a Google map all the Ancient Theaters, Amphitheaters, Stadiums, and Odeons in Turkey. I also do not tire of seeing as many of these sites as I can.
If I were to quibble at all about the map, I think a distinction can be made between a stadium / stadion and a hippodrome, the former for footraces, the latter for horse and chariot. Technically, I think it's a hippodrome in Istanbul (Byzantium) that is near the Blue Mosque. The stadium at Aphrodisias is so huge that I can imagine horses there, but it doesn't seem to have the starting posts or center spine as hippodromes would. For those who have traveled to Israel or Jordan, there are fine examples of hippodromes at Caesarea Maritima and Gerasa (where races are still held for tourists). Of course the most famous hippodromes is probably the Circus Maximus in Rome. (On a personal note, I have fulfilled one of my bucket list items of running at all four stadiums of the Panhellenic Games cycle: Olympia, Delphi, Isthmia, and Nemea.)
As for theaters, the one in Ephesus is one of the largest in the ancient world, capable of holding up to 25,000 spectators. The one in Aspendos is one of the best preserved. The one in Pergamum is the steepest. There is a full list of Roman theaters in Wikipedia. I suppose that can be someone's project to map all those along with the list of ancient Greek theaters!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Smithsonian releases 2.8 million+ images that can be used for free


This appears to be a new announcement, and here is the article I stumbled across on Twitter:
The Smithsonian has released more than 2.8 million images you can use for free - Included are images from all 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo (Altogether, the Smithsonian site says 16 million records and 4.2 million images, audio, and video.) What's really helpful is that the collection is listed with a Creative Commons Zero license, making them free of any republishing restrictions.
As you can imagine, with that many images/resources, it will require some serious searching to find something that you want. Use the starting search page which will provide suggestions once you start typing in a term (cf. above) to get you to the results page which will allow you to start refining the search.
 As this screenshot shows, you can start using inclusion/exclusion terms based on type, place, media, etc. (On this search for Jerusalem, note the line of red characters indicating what I've added and removed. I had to remove -topic:"Dicotyledonae," because there were over 200 images of this particular plant recorded from Jerusalem.) Note that results not only include images, but a variety of media. E.g., a search on "Jesus" included a link to the Smithsonian Channel and this video on "The Science behind Crucifixion" with the famous ankle bone with the nail of the crucified man.
There is plenty of Bible-related artwork, and I did come across some interesting old photographs from the early 1900s. HERE is a stereoscopic one from Corinth in 1903 of the Temple of Apollo. (You're likely to get better results more quickly using BiblePlace's "Historic Views of the Holy Land," however!)
If you find something really interesting, please let me know!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

St. Catherine Monastery Icons Now Available Online

http://vrc.princeton.edu/sinai/files/original/6451/0154.jpg
The ~iconic~ images from St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai have now been digitized and made available online. HERE is the article with more info. HERE is the Princeton site that is hosting the images. The site notes:
This website displays all the color transparencies and color slides in the possession of the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton. The online images are limited to a size of 1024 pixels. These images are available to download and use for teaching and scholarly purposes.
There are 1294 images, and they can be browsed by tag or searched.

BTW, the center image crop at the top is the oldest and one of the more famous images of Christ Pantokrator from the 6th century. Quite a few years ago, I was puzzled by the sort of side-eye Jesus had in the drawing, so I did a little image manipulation to mirror the two sides of his face. It highlights that Jesus is being depicted both as Savior and Judge. I've since discovered that I'm certainly not the only nor first to recognize this, but if someone has a link to the 'rules' of iconography that detail this aspect, please share. Also, at least in the crude way I composed the two images, it sure looks like a dove on the neck of Jesus on the left and a lion on the one on the right. Is that my imagination, or is that also a part of the iconographer's intent?

Monday, January 27, 2020

Mapping Time

"The Temple of Time" (1846) by Emma Willard — Source (Cartography Associates: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0).
I came across this fascinating article about the 19th century educator, Emma Willard, and her concept of mapping time: "Emma Willard's Maps of Time" by Susan Schulten. Schulten "explores the pioneering work of Emma Willard (1787–1870), a leading feminist educator whose innovative maps of time laid the groundwork for the charts and graphics of today."
The article is worth reading, and Willard's mappings of time are remarkable. Consider "The Temple of Time" pictured above. (Click HERE to see it with full magnification possible, and you really do need to zoom in to see all the detail.) It's interesting enough that history is organized by Statesmen, Philosophers, Discoverers, Theologians (in the center position of prominence!), Poets, Painters, and Warriors. Also note, however, the way history is viewed. As Schulten writes, "Emma Willard sought to invest chronology with a sense of perspective, presenting the biblical Creation as the apex of a triangle that then flowed forward in time and space toward the viewer." While creation is the apex, there still is the sense that the further back in time things are, the less prominent they are in present memory.
Detail from "Picture of Nations; or Perspective Sketch of the Course of Empire" (1836) by Emma Willard — Source (Cartography Associates: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0).
Consider this picture of nations (HERE for the zoomable view) which provides a perspective on the rise and fall of empires not from a geographical view but from a understanding of connectedness. There is further interpretation provided by highlighting key events. E.g., that white star in the middle right represents the birth of Jesus. Compare that to the kind of timeline that is typical for today, such as this one from the Accordance Timeline module.
While checking out Willard's representations, I found that she did also create some actual maps. E.g., check out the series of maps of "BC 1921 - Christian Era" showing what looks like progressive revelation. All the depictions are on the David Rumsey Map Collection. From an interesting technical aspect, there is also Willard's "World" map, but choose to use the Georeferencer option to set a background layer (click on the globe in upper left) with adjustable opacity of the foreground map. If you sign in, you can also get access to a 3D option. Great mapping fun!

Understanding New Testament Greek grammar for Accordance

I am happy to report that my Understanding New Testament Greek grammar has just been released as a module for Accordance. (2020.01.27) You can read my full description on the announcement page.
TLDR: Due to changing seminary requirements, I have needed to teach Greek in a single semester for a few years now. It's impossible to teach anyone to read Greek in that time, so I teach students how to understand Greek grammar, syntax, and lexical possibilities. The only way to do this is to use Bible software. I've developed a visual way of color coding the text that links to the grammar. E.g., you see something in gold (which means an indicative verb), and you look for the gold section in the grammar to see the range of translating indicatives.
I hope you will check it out! For now, it's a quick download into Accordance, and it's on sale!
If you just want to see how the highlighting works without buying the grammar, HERE is the highlight file. After unzipping, put the HLT file in your Accordance Files\Highlights subdirectory, and it will appear as an option in Accordance when you open the Highlighting tool.

BiblePlaces.com celebrates 20 years!

BiblePlaces.com by Todd Bolen is one of the premier sites on the web for finding photos of biblical places. The photo collections are outstanding and include ones that are organized based on historical views, regional groups, and books of the Bible. In his latest newsletter he describes the 20 year history of this web site and the work he's done. It's a fun read, and if you go all the way through, he shares a "Galilee: Then and Now" set for free. It's in the PowerPoint format that he's been using to organize photos and include the information and biblical links needed to make sense of the pictures. You can see more of his pictures and helpful overviews of Bible places by checking out the SITES.
While at BiblePlaces, also check out his blog with weekly updates of info related to the Bible, archaeology, mapping, museums, and more. Better yet, just sign up for his newsletter!
Congratulations to Todd Bolen and the others at BiblePlaces for 20 years!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Hoplite Polytonic Greek Keyboard for iOS and Android

The Hoplite Polytonic Greek Keyboard facilitates typing polytonic Greek diacritics. On iOS and Android, the Hoplite Keyboard can be installed as an alternate keyboard system-wide and used in any application. On Mac, Windows, and Linux the Hoplite Keyboard can be used as a LibreOffice extension: type base letters with the Greek keyboard provided by your operating system and toggle on/off diacritics with the Hoplite Keyboard's hot keys.
I have used the Keyman Galaxie Greek/Hebrew (Mnemonic) Keyboard for my Greek and Hebrew typing, but it looks like this Hoplite program is a good option if Keyman is not doing what you need. Like Keyman, Hoplite is also free.
Features:
  • One key per diacritic
  • Add diacritics after typing the vowel
  • Add diacritics in any order
  • Toggle diacritics on/off
  • Breathings, accents, subscripts, macrons, breves, diaereses: no problem! (If font supports it)
  • Choose precomposed, precomposed with private use area, or combining-only Unicode modes.
HT: Anglican Biblical and Theological Languages Forum on FB

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

More biblical text visualizations

I love these kind of visualizations. How helpful are they? I'm not sure, but they do provide a big picture perspective of relationships between the biblical texts. I'm pulling this from this thread on Twitter.
The first is by Cody Kingham who writes:

Formulaic Language in the Pentateuch
In reading through the Pentateuch, I've noticed that several sections contain a lot of repetition. This formulaic language seems to serve as a way of organizing and carefully structuring segments of text. In this notebook, we will visualize this phenomenon in the Pentateuch with a heatmap. A heatmap is a graph which visualizes integers as "temperatures". The lower a value, the "cooler" it is, and vice versa. The colors blue and red are used to represent cold and hot values. 
Also in that Twitter thread, Camil Staps writes:
Here is a similar project of mine: on the internet, which verses are frequently mentioned together? There's quite some noise, but nevertheless you can see the popularity of Gen 1-11, Ps & Isa, vs. e.g. Est & Lam. Also note the synoptic parallels in Kgs/Chr and Mt/Mk/Lk!
The darker red square in the lower right is the NT. In the upper left of that square is a slightly darker red that indicates relationship between the Gospels.
Thanks to Kingham and Staps for sharing these!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Religious apps with sinful permissions

I just came across this October 2019 article on C|NET whose lead is: "Religious apps with sinful permissions requests are more common than you think: Christian Android apps account for hundreds of millions of downloads on the Google Play Store -- and too many are data devils"
I will acknowledge that I've naively assumed that the Bible apps I use are not problematic, but it's worth checking out the permissions your Bible app requests. If you're like me, you usually just click through those things.
The article highlights problems with some King James Bible apps and especially notes issues with apps connected to the Christian Broadcasting Network, Christian Mingle and Christian Matrimony, Cold Case Christianity, and the Bible Verses App from SpringTech. (This last is identified basically as a browser hijacker.) I haven't used any of those apps, but there is a long section on the YouVersion Bible app which I do use and have on my phone now. Apparently they have been reducing the number of permissions it requires, but I just went and looked on the Google Play store for what's going on with the Android version. Here's what it says:
YouVersion
This app has access to:
Contacts
  • find accounts on the device
  • read your contacts
Wi-Fi connection information
  • view Wi-Fi connections
Identity
  • find accounts on the device
  • read your own contact card
Location
  • approximate location (network-based)
  • precise location (GPS and network-based)
Photos/Media/Files
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
Storage
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
Camera
  • take pictures and videos
Other
  • receive data from Internet
  • run at startup
  • prevent device from sleeping
  • connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
  • allow Wi-Fi Multicast reception
  • view network connections
  • use accounts on the device
  • control vibration
  • read Google service configuration
  • full network access
Someone else who knows better than I do can comment about which of those permissions are really necessary. I'm wary that it has access to my contacts, accounts, wifi, location, and hooks into Google. This got me to check the other Bible apps I regularly use.

Logos
This app has access to:
Contacts
  • find accounts on the device
Identity
  • add or remove accounts
  • find accounts on the device
Location
  • precise location (GPS and network-based)
Photos/Media/Files
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
Storage
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
Other
  • receive data from Internet
  • create accounts and set passwords
  • read Google service configuration
  • use accounts on the device
  • view network connections
  • full network access
  • prevent device from sleeping
That's not much different from YouVersion's permissions.

Accordance:
This app has access to:
Photos/Media/Files
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
Storage
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
Other
  • view network connections
  • full network access.
Accordance certainly is the least invasive as far as permissions are concerned. Again, someone else may be able to confirm what permissions an app needs, so these may all be perfectly acceptable. On the other hand, you may want to go into your App settings and turn off some off some of the permissions such as location sharing.