Friday, June 15, 2018

Accordance adding features to attract BibleWorks users

Accordance has been aggressive in adding features to their program to attract BibleWorks users and make the transition easier. As I noted in an earlier post, they have both a basic and advanced crossover option. They also have a crossgrade policy that allows someone to obtain some resources at a discounted price if they have already purchased them in another program.

Accordance has indeed made it possible to import BibleWorks notes, and I can say that it works quite well. They have also added a "Live Click" feature that reproduces some of the natural functions of BibleWorks in displaying a verse in all versions (or a customized list of versions), displaying all entries for a word in all applicable lexicons, and generating word usage information. Check out this short video for a demonstration of how these look and work in Accordance.

Monday, June 11, 2018

YouVersion now offers NRSV

I've previously reviewed YouVersion as one of the best Bible apps, but they recently announced that they have added the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) to their long list of available English Bible translations. You can read it for free, and it's even downloadable for offline access. Get the app available in a variety of formats (iOS, Android, Voice [!], and online) HERE.

BibleWorks closing down... What should you do?

With the recent announcement that BibleWorks will cease operation on June 15, 2018, a number of my students for whom BibleWorks was our required Bible software program for many years have asked me what to do. There has also been considerable speculation on both the Accordance and Logos forums about options and transition possibilities.

I'll first say that I am counting on BibleWorks running for quite a few more years. Even with upgrades to Windows down the line, there has usually been a legacy program option. (I still can run Win95 programs on Win10!) BW had gotten to a stable release running in VM in Mac, but I'm less confident about its future in the Mac world.

If you are thinking about making a transition, both Accordance and Logos will be happy to help, and both are working on ways to import any notes you've written in BibleWorks into their own programs. What should you do?

As for Accordance, compared to BW, it’s easier to use, less hassle to install on a Mac, and cheaper (for the program/arrangement I got) compared to Logos. BW still has so many more resources in it, and it’s still my preferred way for doing many searches I typically do and conducting a number of other tasks. (For example, neither Accordance nor Logos can generate a listing of passages that I can use in exercises like this one that is just a couple clicks in BW.) 

That said, except for a few odd omissions, Logos is the more advanced program. The difference is cost. What I can get in Accordance for $200 for my students would cost closer to $600 in Logos. (If I tried to match all the resources one got in the standard library with BibleWorks, it would cost many hundreds of dollars more in either Accordance or Logos.) Logos has some really excellent features that make great use of their reverse interlinears, and they have a number of other tools and (interactive) guides that are extremely handy. I.e., you do get what you pay for with either, so it's more a matter of deciding what you really need and can afford. I've ended up going with the Accordance Greek and Hebrew Discoverer as a good entry point. It's a reasonable price for our students with a purchase agreement discount.

But what should current BibleWorks owners do? As I mentioned above, your first option is to stay with BibleWorks. As BW announced,

If you have a valid license for BibleWorks 10 you can continue to use the program as usual. We will, Lord willing, continue to provide compatibility fixes for BibleWorks 10 well into the future. This will ensure that you can continue to use the program for the long term. Compatibility updates will be provided through the normal updater mechanism within the program.

If you want to start transitioning, Accordance offers some crossover options. Their $149 basic package gets you all the basic stuff EXCEPT that they don’t include NA28 or UBS5 Greek texts. That will cost you an extra $60. (I’ve asked them to reconsider that…) At that point, you’re probably better off paying the extra $189 to get the Advance crossover. But now at $340, you might consider looking at their Greek and Hebrew Discoverer package which occasionally is offered on sale for up to 40% off the listed $399 price. If you don’t need Philo, Josephus, or the Ante-, Post- and -Nicene Fathers, then consider this package and adding whatever other English versions you want.

Logos has not officially announced prices, but you can now call to obtain a crossgrade or upgrade for BibleWorks. You can see what resources they offer, but the price is not posted and might vary based on their dynamic pricing policy. They have also posted a helpful video, "How to Use Logos Like a BibleWorks Pro."

I suspect that with BibleWorks closing, it provides better long-term prospects for Accordance and Logos. One always runs a risk with any digital technology, but even books can be lost, burned, or flooded. Only the Word of God endures forever!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Vatican Library makes 15,000 manuscripts available online for free

It was just announced on 30 May 2018: "Vatican Library makes 15,000 manuscripts available online for free" - Read more about the availability HERE. According to that announcement:
Once the tedious process of scanning all the individual pages of each manuscript is complete, the works are compiled and uploaded to their dedicated DigiVatLib website, where they can be viewed by the public. Currently they have about 15,000 of their collection uploaded and ready to view. If they keep pace at 3,000 uploads per year, they should have the whole library of 80,000 manuscripts scanned by 2041.
You can check out what is available at the DigiVatLab site now. Browse or search to see what they have. Here's what Codex Vaticanus (= Bibl. Vat., Vat. gr. 1209) looks like. The view is of Genesis 1.

Another useful resource!
HT: Frances R. Lyons III on FB

Saturday, May 26, 2018

New Syriac Digital Corpus

A new Syriac Digital Corpus was just announced (25 May 2018). James Walters, the General Editor, wrote:
On behalf of the editorial board, I am delighted to announce the publication of a new open-access resource for digitized Syriac texts: the Digital Syriac Corpus:
This project is the fruit of much labor over the past few years. In particular, credit is due to Kristian Heal and David Taylor, who have been collecting these texts in transcribed form. Having now built the infrastructure for display and searching, we will be adding many more texts to the collection in the coming months.

I would also like to draw your attention to the Submissions page, where we are asking for people to contribute to the project in various ways, including a call for new digital editions of Syriac texts to be published in the Corpus.

In the coming weeks, we will also be adding more training resources, both on how to use the Corpus and how to contribute.
The full NT Peshitta is there (Based on the 1905 The New Testament in Syriac edited by G. H. Gwilliam, J. Pinkerton and John Gwynn) along with a number of other Syriac works. The OT Peshitta is not available at this time.

The notable and excellent aspect of this corpus is that the words of the text are hyperlinked to the Sedra resource which means that each word is analyzed and glosses are provided in English and French, all just a click away.
Thanks to those who created and are sharing this resource!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

New ZoteroBib free online bibliography creator

I have been a fan of Zotero in the past, and I encourage all my students to use it if they don't already use bibliography software which allows for note-taking, linking, sharing, and collaboration. It is free and open-source and is available as a standalone for Windows, macOS, and Linux, and there are also 'connectors' which make it even easier to use from Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. What's more, it has word processor plugins (Microsoft Word, LibreOffice) that make for quick citation and footnote and bibliography generation in thousands of possible citation formats, including SBL.

Today Zotero announced ZoteroBib, a spinoff that makes for quick bibliography generation.
ZoteroBib is a free service that helps you build a bibliography instantly from any computer or device, without creating an account or installing any software. It’s brought to you by the team behind Zotero, the powerful open-source research tool recommended by thousands of universities worldwide, so you can trust it to help you seamlessly add sources and produce perfect bibliographies.
I gave it a try and retrieved a variety of resources using author/title search, ISBN, and URLs. Works great. The bibliography is editable, and can be copied out in a variety of formats and options.
I still recommend using the full Zotero, but if you need something quick and easy, check out ZoteroBib.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Biblia Hebraica, Septuagint, Greek NT, Apostolic Fathers Free Android Apps
These are simple but very nice Android apps for reading the Biblia Hebraica, Septuagint, Greek New Testament, and Apostolic Fathers. If you don't already have an app, these look great and provide gloss and parsing info. Each app has specific features, and the most full-featured is the SBLGNT:
- Text: full text of the SBLGNT
- Glosses: quickly displays glosses and parsing for a word by touching it
- Concordance: full concordance displayed by touching any word
- Vocab: keep track of the vocab you need to learn for each chapter. Use the Vocab Wizard to automatically add words based on your reading level.
- Audio: audio playback available for every chapter
- SpeedRead: displays text one word at a time at an adjustable pace to improve your speed reading ability
- Reading Plans: choose a reading plan to track your progress and encourage your reading!
I'm not sure who Matt Robertson is, but he deserves thanks for providing these handy, original language Bible reading apps.
HT: John Linebarger on FB

Monday, April 30, 2018

All public domain Loebs downloadable!

Back in the day, the number of Loeb volumes on one's bookshelf was the real status symbol for grad students. (Also an indication of how much deeper in debt you probably were.) Now many of them are downloadable for free. This list may have been up a while (here?), but it's been updated and made easily downloadable by Ryan Baumann HERE. So much goodness, too little time...
The two Apostolic volumes are there along with 14 volumes of Josephus and 11 volumes of Philo.
HT: James Tauber via Mateusz Fafinski on Twitter

Monday, April 16, 2018

Google "Talk to Books" uses natural language algorithms to answer theological questions

Google recently announced a "Talk to Books" feature which conducts searches at the sentence level rather than the word level.
With Talk to Books, we provide an entirely new way to explore books. You make a statement or ask a question, and the tool finds sentences in books that respond, with no dependence on keyword matching. In a sense you are talking to the books, getting responses which can help you determine if you’re interested in reading them or not.
You ask a question, see the excerpts that the natural language algorithm has identified as matches, and then can choose to see the excerpt in context in the book where it occurs. checked it out and provides some interesting examples. As noted there, you are going to get mixed results, as you might expect, since Google can only search through books it has analyzed. As OpenBible note, the results will often point to books by evangelical publishers who have promoted indexing of their books by Google. I did not find, however, that the excerpts pulled up many old, public domain texts.
Here are some examples I tried:
So, yes, this may have value for a particular type of theological / biblical question. OTOH, when I asked "Which Gospel is the best one?", the first two excerpts pointed to John, but the third pointed to Marcion!
HT: Sean Boisen on Twitter

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

NT Textual Criticism Resources Compared

This is Mark 1.40 in Sinaiticus accessed in BibleWorks 10's manuscript viewer.
The dot over the upsilon of ΓΟΝΥΠΕΤΩΝ is the second corrector's mark showing that the word is not in other mss.
 With the appearance of the new Tyndale House Greek New Testament, and arising from a discussion about a text critical resource in Accordance, I decided to compile a comparison of some of the standard resources for textual criticism looking at texts, apparatus, and commentaries on textual variants. Resources I have available include:

I looked at two interesting variants in Mark 1.40 (did the leper kneel?) and 1.41 (was Jesus moved with compassion or anger?). You can see the document I've linked to see what each offers, but some comments first.
  • I've listed the software program I've used to get my texts, and the implementations vary. The beauty of all of them, however, is the hyperlinking which provides information on the manuscript and its date and more. I'd hate to do in-depth textual criticism without these programs.
  • The Nestle-Aland 28 (NA28) and United Bible Society (UBS5) are the eclectic critical texts with the NA28 trying to offer a fuller listing of variants and the UBS5 focusing only on more significant variants. Each has a slightly different approach to presenting variants.
  • The CNTTS does not offer a recommended text but includes the most full catalog of variants. Any serious work really needs to consult this resource.
  • The Tyndale House GNT is based on the mid-19th century text by Tregelles but with updates based on new texts and greater attention to scribal habits.
  • The SBLGNT is a Greek text, but it is not intended to be a critical edition of Greek mss but rather reflects differences among other editions of the GNT. (Westcott-Hort, Tregelles, NA28, Robinson-Pierpont)
  • The Comprehensive NT only provides notes indicating differences between Alexandrian and Byzantine text families and some of the English versions which reflect each.
  • Metzger's Textual Commentary provided a guide to the UBS editions explaining the committee's choices. Omanson's Textual Guide is a direct descendant that provides fuller explanation and is more accessible to non-specialists. Comfort's NTT&T Commentary also is oriented to a non-specialist.
  • The NET Bible's tc=text critical notes attend to the more significant text variants (though I was surprised that there was not a note to Mark 1.40) and provides a balanced and reason explanation for a preferred reading. For my seminary students, this provides just about all they need to know. When I teach textual criticism, I teach enough so that they can understand and appreciate the NET Bible notes.
  • One helpful online resource is the "Student's Guide" which provides a summary of significant variants.
  • Wieland Willker's "Online Textual Commentary" deserves special recognition. The "commentary discusses the 1500 most important textual variants of the Gospels,
    plus about 500 minor ones, on about 2600 pages." Note! That's just for the Gospels! On the basis of his thorough work, he also includes suggestions for improving NA28. In addition to manuscript evidence, he marshals plenty of other related evidence from parallels and the Patristic literature. Where the others have a paragraph of commentary, he provides pages.
SUMMARY: Take a look at the linked document to see how each of these resources I've listed compares. The NA28 remains as something of a standard, but it is more than most people need. As noted, I recommend the NET Bible's notes for my students as the most accessible to identify significant variants and get a quick commentary about what's going on. For something a bit more thorough and exhaustive, I like Omanson's Textual Guide, especially since he remains in dialog with Metzger. If you're looking at a Gospel text and really want to do more study, be sure to consult Willker's work.
HERE is the PDF you can view.