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.
OpenBible.info 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.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Finding Hebrew words translated by a Greek word in the LXX: Accordance, BibleWorks, Logos

A question arose on the Accordance forum about finding the underlying Hebrew word/s which were rendered with a given Greek word. It got me to thinking about how I would accomplish this task in the major Bible software programs: Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos. For this exercise, I am just going to see what Hebrew words are being rendered with a form of the verb ἱλάσκομαι in the LXX. It's a word that has a range of meaning including "be merciful, propitiate, expiate, make atonement." Cognate forms are important in the NT, since they are used to describe Jesus. (E.g., ἱλαστήριον in Rom 3.25 and ἱλασμός in 1 John 2.2.) In most cases, the software is making use of some edition of Emmanuel Tov's (and Frank Polack's) Parallel Aligned Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Texts of Jewish Scripture. (The only exception might be Logos' Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint.)


I'm still learning Accordance, so others may correct me or suggest a better way, but this is what I think you need to do. 1) Open the LXX; 2) Search for ἱλάσκομαι; 3) Open a new tab with the MT-LXX Parallel; 4) Use the MERGE command to link this tab with the LXX tab. As the graphic above shows, the Greek word is highlighted, but a person would need to go through all the hits and pick out the Hebrew. 
UPDATE: I had initially lamented there was no way to see the Hebrew roots in Accordacnce. Thanks to Joel Brown from Accordance, I need to update this entry, because there is an easy way to see the Hebrew roots underlying the Greek.
The trick is to use the Analysis Pie Chart and choose MTLXX Lex or to use the standard Analysis and customize the display by dragging in the MTLXX Lex category. The results are visible above. Since Accordance can also do Greek root searches, you can get a broader picture of usage quickly. It's also quite easy to copy/paste the results (here displaying part of the root search results):

ἱλάσκομαι (ἵλεως) to be merciful, pardon, be propitious = 12
            אתה סלח = 1
            כפר = 3
            לְ סלח = 1
            נחם = 1
            סלח = 4
            (No direct translation) = 2
ἱλασμός (ἵλεως) propitiation, means of forgiveness = 6
            כִּפֻּרִים = 2
            סְלִיחָה = 1
            (No direct translation) = 3
ἱλαστήριον (ἵλεως) propitiation, place of forgiveness = 28
            הַ כַּפֹּרֶת = 2
            כַּפֹּרֶת = 17
            כַּפְתּוֹר־1 = 1
            עֲזָרָה = 5
            (No direct translation) = 3

This is the ideal way for getting the results desired in the initiating question.
(As an aside, both Accordance and BibleWorks found ἐξιλάσκομαι in Deut 21.8 as a hit for ἱλάσκομαι. That appears to be an incorrect morph tagging that Logos corrects.)
Accordance can perform some other nifty tricks by combining MERGEs in order to see where a specific Hebrew word is translated by a specific Greek word. Cf. David Lang's guide HERE.


BibleWorks has a Parallel Hebrew and LXX module that makes good use of the Tov alignment. After opening the module (using the icon in the button bar or Resources > Parallel Hebrew and LXX), a window opens and one can the select Search > Search for Hebrew-LXX Equivalents (or click on the א=α binocular icon). This opens the smaller window shown in the graphic above, and one can type in either a Hebrew lemma and find all the ways it's translated into Greek or a Greek lemma and find all the Hebrew words it's translating. The results need a bit of checking due to the way Tov had to correlate the Hebrew and Greek. (Mainly it's separating out Hebrew prefixes like ל or ו.) By clicking on any given result, you can see that it calls up the verses where it occurs. I can see the actual Hebrew and Greek texts on top, and I can view lexical information at the bottom. If I want to see an English translation of a result verse, double-clicking will open it up in BW's Browse Window. From my results window, I also have the option of selecting and copying the results, so that I can generate this:
1   ~xn     ilaskomai
4 rpk    ilaskomai
6 xls    ilaskomai

One drawback of BW is that it cannot do Greek root searches, so if I wanted to look at cognate forms of the Greek word, I would need to search each one separately.


Logos offers the powerful options for getting the results I want, and I can get at it in a couple ways. I can start with a simple lemma search of the LXX, and when the results are returned, I can choose the Verses view to compare any number of translations. As shown above, I have my LXX hits highlighted, I've added the Hebrew, and I've also the NRSV which has the sympathetic highlighting. (UPDATE: In the comments, Mark Barnes noted that by choosing the Lexham Hebrew Bible to display, you can also see the Hebrew highlighted.) In that results window, I can also choose the analysis view, and then I get this (and this is only a partial view):
I have chosen to organize the analyis by the Hebrew lemma, and I'm provided with a clear view Greek and Hebrew lemmas and a full analysis of each. That is extremely helpful, but... I cannot find an easy way to copy/paste out the information. Logos does allow root searches, so I could also generate results like this for all cognates.
But there is another way to answer my original question. I can do a lemma search for ilaskomai, right click on one of the results, select the lemma, and then select Bible Word Study. This generates a lot of information, but what I want to see is this:
Here is a clear illustration of the Hebrew words underlying the Greek, and clicking on any one of the segments will display all the places where it occurs. Again, extremely helpful, and I can right-click to copy the graphic, but I dont see any way to generate a simple listing. 
UPDATE: Mark Barnes in the comments noted workarounds for getting the results exported using Excel or using the Bible Word Study. (Read his explanation HERE.) He also noted an even easier way to get the results most quickly. Use the Lexham Analytical Lexicon of the Septugint. It's a simple matter of looking up the word which displays results like this:
There you have it. A few things to note. 
  • When it says the סלה is the word 4x, it actually is referring to the number of verses, not the number of times. (The word occurs twice in 4Kgs (2Kings) 5.18, so it's actually 5x.) 
  • The English Gloss is there because those are instances where the LXX differs from the MT, so there is no underlying Hebrew. 
  • Fine print! If you've been counting, the results displayed miss 2Chron 6.30 which showed up in my other searches. Why? It's a text critical issue. In that verse, Rahlf's edition of the LXX has the word ἱλάσῃ from ἱλάσκομαι. In Swete's edition of the LXX, however, the word is ἰάσῃ, apparently from ἰάομαι. I checked a print copy of Swete, and that's indeed what he has. Is it a typographical error in the print edition? I think the sense is: "You will hear from heaven... and you will heal (instead of expiate) and give to a man according to his ways." I.e, the Lexham Analytical Lexicon apparently is using Swete rather than Rahlf's. Oddly, the Lexham English Septuagint tries to render ἰάσῃ as a name, Jahaziel.


Accordance probably does the best job of addressing the task of finding all the underlying Hebrew words translated by a specific Greek word in the LXX. It also the advantage of being able to do a Greek root search for a broader scope. Logos is a very capable program, and using the Lexham Analytical Lexicon of the Septuagint is the easiest way of all. It also offers the most presentation and hyperlinked options. BibleWorks does accomplish the task in its own way and can generate the list of Hebrew words simply. I certainly don't think a person is going to buy one of these programs simply based on this exercise, but I hope it gives an idea of what each is capable.

To see another example of how to use the MT-LXX parallel to conduct other tasks, you'll want to read this earlier post where I walk through some examples. 

If I've missed some better or easier way to address the originating question, please let me know in the comments.