Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mobilizing the Past for a Digital Future

 Came across this as I'm wandering the web...  According to the publisher's website:
Mobilizing the Past is a collection of 20 articles that explore the use and impact of mobile digital technology in archaeological field practice. The detailed case studies present in this volume range from drones in the Andes to iPads at Pompeii, digital workflows in the American Southwest, and examples of how bespoke, DIY, and commercial software provide solutions and craft novel challenges for field archaeologists. The range of projects and contexts ensures that Mobilizing the Past for a Digital Future is far more than a state-of-the-field manual or technical handbook. Instead, the contributors embrace the growing spirit of critique present in digital archaeology. This critical edge, backed by real projects, systems, and experiences, gives the book lasting value as both a glimpse into present practices as well as the anxieties and enthusiasm associated with the most recent generation of mobile digital tools.
You can buy the book for $20 at Amazon, but why not just download the book or selected chapters for free? Go to the website, where there is a Table of Contents with each downloadable chapter including some supplementary resources. (E.g., videos of presentations.) Nothing specifically biblical, but chapters on Cyprus and Caesarea Maritima. Really remarkable advances in imaging and data collection.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ancient Near Eastern Cross-Cultural Time Line

Here's a fine Ancient Near Eastern Cross-Cultural Time Line from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. It covers Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Levant/Megiddo, Egypt, Nubia, and Persia from 10,000 BCE to 1000 CE. It zooms up well enough to see everything clearly. It's a free download, but, if used in a presentation or publication, please credit "Courtesy of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago."
[HT: BiblePlaces Blog]

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sefaria: A Living Library of Jewish Texts

Thanks to a notice on the BiblePlaces blog, I spent some time looking around the Sefaria site. It is pretty amazing, and it's free. You can see in the graphic above a glimpse of the immense amount of works included on the site that are available in Hebrew and English. (A recent Times of Israel article notes the inclusion of the Steinsaltz Talmud.)

One thing that particularly interests me is that I can view the biblical text in parallel Hebrew and English and have a whole host of "connections" available in a parallel column that mention that verse. Mishnah, Midrash, Talmud, and so much more, even including Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews. According to their stats, almost 94 million words in this library!

There are ways to customize the interface (fonts, language, columns), create your own notes, share in community observations, run searches for most anything, etc. Truly remarkable.  I wish this had been available when I was writing my dissertation on Psalm 22 and the Crucifixion of Jesus where I conducting a history of interpretation including Jewish readings of Psalm 22. Then again, there is so much here, it might have added to my work! 

But wait, there's more! There is also an app available for both Android and iOS.
And... be sure to check out the Visualization and interactive data. I recommend playing with this "Jerusalem" one. References are tagged and sorted by date, location, etc.
In any case, Sefaria is definitely worth checking.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

New Bible Mapper WebViewer!

Web page view showing results of a search for sites in John 2
David P. Barrett, creator of the Bible Mapper program and co-author of the Crossway ESV Bible Atlas, has just released an initial version of the Bible Mapper WebViewer. According to Barrett,
It is intended to be a quick reference tool for Bible geography information, not a way to make maps (there is not a way to save, export, or print a map other than the default tools of your browser). I envision people using it to look up Bible geographical information on the fly, such as on their mobile device at church or Bible study, or on their computer while studying a passage. You can also input a reference like "Joshua 10-12," or pass in a page URL, and it will automatically fetch the text and map all the locations it can discern on it (though it's definitely not 100%).
There are still some glitches in my intial testing. It works well in Chrome on my Android phone and on my desktop computer, but it got hung up in Firefox on my desktop. The interface is very nice and works well on my phone, but zooming in/out requires repeated taps of the + and - icons. Searching for a specific site works very well. Searching for sites mentioned in a specific passage or sites mentioned on a web page works but is not entirely reliable. Including the option to display hi-res tiles did not particularly slow things down, and it's nice to be toggle on/off OT and NT roads. (If you're looking for something more in-depth, check out the Bible geocoding at

Especially for its purpose as an quick reference, particularly for mobile devices, this is a very nice tool, and it's even better that Barrett is providing it for free. Thanks, David Barrett!

The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek - An upgrade to Liddell-Scott-Jones

I'm catching up a bit here, but The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek (published late 2015) looks to be an important and critical addition to Greek lexical resources. (To keep this separate from BDAG=the Baer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich lexicon, I guess we'll have to abbreviate this one to BrillDAG.) I've not looked at it personally yet, but according to Larry Hurtado, this lexicon effectively supercedes the venerable Liddell-Scott-Jones (LSJ) both by going beyond the 2nd century CE to the the 6th century CE and by including more entries from Christian patristic literature. According to the Brill catalog page:
The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek is the English translation of Franco Montanari’s Vocabolario della Lingua Greca. With an established reputation as the most important modern dictionary for Ancient Greek, it brings together 140,000 headwords taken from the literature, papyri, inscriptions and other sources of the archaic period up to the 6th Century CE, and occasionally beyond.The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek is an invaluable companion for the study of Classics and Ancient Greek, for beginning students and advanced scholars alike. Translated and edited under the auspices of The Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC, The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek is based on the completely revised 3rd Italian edition published in 2013 by Loescher Editore, Torino. Features • The principal parts of some 15,000 verbs are listed directly following the entry and its etymology. For each of these forms, the occurrence in the ancient texts has been certified. When found only once, the location is cited. • Nearly all entries include citations from the texts with careful mention of the source. • The dictionary is especially rich in personal names re-checked against the sources for the 3rd Italian edition, and in scientific terms, which have been categorized according to discipline. • Each entry has a clear structure and typography making it easy to navigate.
There is a 28-page preview available, and it certainly is attractively laid out and presented.
A quick survey of some of the entries indicates that there are many more lemmata included as compared to either LSJ or BDAG, but one may still wish to consult those for some citations not included in BrillDAG. Considering that it is from Brill and is 2431 pages long (there is also a 2-volume edition), €99,00 / USD$125.00 seems to be quite a fair price. It's also available as an online resource, but that's going to cost you €1.975,00 / USD $2,590.00 per year!
It will be interesting to see if any of the major Bible software publishers will be able to obtain digital rights to include it within their packages.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Accordance 12 Released

Accordance announced today (2016.11.03) the release of Accordance 12. Just in time for the AAR-SBL meeting! Follow these links for info on the set of new features and enhancements.

One interesting option is a free Accordance Lite version that can be run on Windows or Mac. It contains a set of basic resources, but you can buy almost any individual title from Accordance that will run in this lite version.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Google Noto Fonts: No more tofu

Google is making available a free, family of font faces that are being shared with SIL Open Font License. Google says:
Beautiful and free fonts for all languagesWhen text is rendered by a computer, sometimes characters are displayed as “tofu”. They are little boxes to indicate your device doesn’t have a font to display the text.
Google has been developing a font family called Noto, which aims to support all languages with a harmonious look and feel. Noto is Google’s answer to tofu. The name noto is to convey the idea that Google’s goal is to see “no more tofu”. Noto has multiple styles and weights, and is freely available to all. 
More background information is available here which notes that "Noto is an open-source family of fonts that supports the display of some 110,000 characters from 800 languages." It also works on Android- and Chrome-based devices.

As it pertains to biblical studies, unfortunately, this probably is not a fully satisfying answer. The Noto Serif font includes Greek and Coptic but not Hebrew. The Noto Sans likewise includes Greek and Coptic but not Hebrew, but there is a separate Noto Sans Hebrew. There are other separate downloads for:
  • Noto Sans Cuneiform
  • Noto Sans Egyptian Hieroglyphs
  • Noto Sans Ethiopic
  • Noto Sans Imperial Aramic
  • Noto Sans Linear B
  • Noto Sans Phoenician
  • Noto Sans Samaritan
  • Noto Sans Syriac: Eastern, Estrangela, Western
  • and more...
 Those extra font families may make Noto an attractive option, but for most of my work, I'm still using the free Cardo font, the SBL BibLit font (which is a combination of the SBL Hebrew and SBL Greek), or even the Times New Roman (TNR) which can handle almost all Greek and Hebrew needs. (TNR does include critical apparatus markers, but it must substitute for the fraktur characters for the Majority Text and Septuagint and papyrus.)

I find the fonts to be attractive enough, though their clarity is more striking than their elegance. (SBL Lit and TNR are more attractive, in my opinion.) Here's a comparative sample I've created. (Click to enlarge.)
Download the Noto fonts HERE. Even if you don't use the Noto fonts, I'm guessing that you at leaste learned that the little blank character boxes is called tofu.

Monday, August 1, 2016

New Ministry Tech Articles: Olive Tree Bible Study 6 for Mac

It's always worth checking on what Kevin Purcell is covering in Ministry Tech. This month he has a positive review of Olive Tree's Bible Study 6 for Mac. Olive Tree has been around since at least 2000 and have consistently upgraded there software into a highly capable system. The app is actually available for Windows, Android, iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, and Mac. The app is free, and you can get caught a few free resources to get started including the NIV, ESV, HCSB, NET, and more.

While you're at Ministry Tech, keep scrolling to see Purcell's article on Android Bible apps running on Chromebooks. He includes both hardware recommendations and pointers to the Bible apps.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Luther's Small Catechism / El Catecismo Menor de Lutero free from AugsburgFortress

There's an app for that! AugsburgFortress now has Luther's Small CatechismEl Catecismo Menor de Lutero available as an app for both Android and iOS. It includes the updated translation, and the app offers the choice of either English or Spanish. It's a simple app and attractively presented. A search function is also available. From the website:
Take Luther’s Small Catechism with you wherever you go. Written 500 years ago by the reformer Martin Luther, these basic questions and answers on Christian faith continue to be a guide and companion for children, youth, and adults today.
Read and search all the content of the classic “pocket editions” of Luther’s Small Catechism and El Catecismo Menor de Lutero:
  • The Ten Commandments
  • The Apostles’ Creed
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
  • Confession
  • The Sacrament of the Altar
  • Morning and Evening Blessings
  • Blessings at Meals  
There is an in-app upgrade to the "Study Edition" for USD$1.99 that provides more notes, illustrations, introduction, and more content.
HERE is the Android app on GooglePlay.
HERE is the iOS app on iTunes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Free BibleWorks Workshop - January 16, 2016
This free event was just announced. It looks like a great opportunity.
Virginia Beach Theological Seminary will be hosting a free BibleWorks workshop for area pastors, scholars, and students on Saturday, January 16, 2016 from 9am-4pm. The workshop will also be video live streamed for those who are unable to attend the workshop on campus.
HERE is the registration link and more info.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Survey of the Lands of the Bible free online course

I am happy to announce that I am once again offering a "Survey of the Lands of the Bible" MOOC through Gettysburg Seminary. A MOOC is a "massive, open, online course," and it is offered for free. It runs on a weekly schedule beginning in September and is finished before Christmas. People can do as much or as little as they want in the class. Some buy the textbook, follow along weekly, and join in the discussions. Some just watch the videos I post. Some just drop by every once in a while. Some people just work on their own, but there were also a number of churches where adult Bible Study classes used the course for their fall curriculum. Last fall I had 230 people in the course including 32 from outside the United States.

For more information on the course and enrolling, check this web page. If you just want to check out the course brochure: 2015 Bible Lands MOOC.

I hope to see you online in the course!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fonts and Keyboards for Biblical Languages... again

Our seminary is getting new systems for the faculty! (Dell Venue Pro 8) That's great, but it also means we are revisiting what we are doing with fonts and keyboards for working with the biblical languages. I wrote about this matter back in September 2012, and since then, some things have changed and some not. So, this post will be an update of that one with additional info.


The font situation is clear for us. We moved to Unicode a few years ago, and at that time David Perry's free Cardo font was really the best choice. It's kind of a 'big' font (the characters are wider than usual and have a high x-height), so it works well in projection. Beginning students like it because it is easy to read. Cardo is now in release 1.04. It's also nice because it contains Hebrew, Greek, and every transliteration character and text critical mark. Further, Google obtained the rights to Cardo, so it transfers nicely back/forth from Google Docs. Cardo looks rather chunky in printed form, however, especially when used with a typical serif font like Times New Roman. Here's where we can thank the Society of Biblical Literature and the groups that supported the creation of high-quality Greek and Hebrew Unicode fonts. There is a SBL Hebrew and a SBL Greek, but we are just installing the combined font set known as SBL BibLit. It's a beautiful font that looks great in print.
SUMMARY: We are installing both Cardo and SBL BibLit on all our systems. I'll still use Cardo for projection, but I use SBL BibLit in printed resources.


The situation is better but still not ideal.
  • What I have been doing the last few years is have my students use the Tyndale Unicode Font Kit. It's free. There are installers for various flavors of Windows and for Macs. It installs the Cardo font automatically and handles the right-to-left enabling as part of the installation too. That's all wonderful! I could live with the Hebrew keyboard, but I do not like the Greek keyboard it installs because it requires typing accents and breathings before you type the vowel, and accents and breathings require a variety of CTRL-ALT-Shift combinations.
  • For myself, therefore, I have used the superior Tavultesoft Keyman progam. I bought licenses of their Desktop 8 Light version, and they work very well for me. I like the Greek layout for accents better, it allows for accents and breathings after you type the vowel, and it has 'smart' final forms for both Greek (ς) and Hebrew (ך  ם  ן  ף ץ). Until just last October 2014, Keyman cost at least $20 for their light version, and students weren’t going to pay for that when Tyndale was free. As of October 2014, however, Tavultesoft released the light version of Keyman Desktop 9 for free. This version even shows an onscreen keyboard if you want it. Once the program is installed, you load a keyboard. The Galaxie BibleScript Mnemonic is the one you want, and it includes both Hebrew and Greek. The free version only allows for two keyboards to loaded (in addition to the native language), so if you want to type Syriac, Coptic, or Hieroglyphic, you either need to buy the Pro version or dis/enable keyboards.
  • How big of a difference is there between the Tyndale and Keyman keyboards?
    •  I've noted some of the Greek differences above, and you can see them in practice in the examples below.
    • The Hebrew keyboards are very different as you can see in my examples below. The main thing is that Tyndale puts the vowels on English vowel letters, and Keyman puts them all on the number row. Keyman also puts all letters w/ dagesh in the uppercase and has ‘smart’ final forms. Tyndale has a keystroke for adding dagesh, and the final forms are all on the uppercase.
    • Tyndale has a printable keyboard layout chart, but I like Keyman because it has a popup keyboard available.
  • There are other options for typing in biblical languages, and they might do the trick if you don't have large amounts of text to write.
    • There are online tools for small bits of writing. Try the Unicode Classical Greek Inputter. Even better, check out the KeymanWeb for Greek or KeymanWeb for Hebrew and Hieroglyphic and hundreds of other languages. They use the Galaxie keyboards described above, and the keyboard is displayed.
    • If you don't use the biblical languages often enough to remember where all the accents and special characters are, check out Logos’ Shibboleth program. It’s free, and it has 15 language sets: Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic, Arabic, Ethiopic,Coptic, Ugaritic, Armenian, South Arabian, Transliteration, Hieroglyphs, Akkadian, Hittite, Old Persian. It’s great because it displays all the characters, and it’s Unicode. (But it isn’t optimal Unicode since it still uses some combining characters rather than the preferred precomposed ones.) 
SUMMARY: I will probably have my students use the Tyndale Unicode Font Kit. It's easy to use, and it does Windows and Mac. Keyman is only for Windows (and iPhone, iPad, and Android). For students who are more confident with their computer skills and are using Windows, I'll suggest Keyman as an option.