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
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. celebrates 20 years! 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.
  • 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:
This app has access to:
  • find accounts on the device
  • read your contacts
Wi-Fi connection information
  • view Wi-Fi connections
  • find accounts on the device
  • read your own contact card
  • approximate location (network-based)
  • precise location (GPS and network-based)
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • take pictures and videos
  • 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.

This app has access to:
  • find accounts on the device
  • add or remove accounts
  • find accounts on the device
  • precise location (GPS and network-based)
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • 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.

This app has access to:
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • 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.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Y'all Version online!

When reading the Greek New Testament, there are separate forms for the second person singular and plural. In English, "you" can be either singular or plural. How can someone who doesn't know Greek tell the difference? Different parts of the world and of the United States have addressed the matter with various colloquial forms of the plural such as "you all" or "y'all." Wouldn't it be nice to have an English version that could help an English reader be aware of the distinction?
To the rescue is the Y'all Version! It's a version of the "Bible Web App (3.0): Online Bible study application with bonus study features for studying Greek and Hebrew" ... Developed by Digital Bible Society with major contributions from John Dyer and Michael Johnson."
As you can see in the graphic above, you (singular) get to choose various forms of the second person plural to highlight or use including "you all," "y'all," "youse guys," "yinz," and more! It may seem a little silly, but it is significant. E.g., in the graphic above is Matthew 20.20-23. James and John's mother asks a favor of Jesus for her boys, but in 20.22, Jesus replies to her using the second person plural, i.e., to James and John, not to their mother.
Check it out!
(Thanks to one of my students, NP, for pointing this out to me.)

Monday, November 25, 2019

OpenText 2.0: A Stratified Annotation for Multi-Layer Searching

I attended an interesting presentation at the 2019 AAR/SBL presented by Ryder Wishart, Francis Pang, and Christopher Land. They described an upcoming release of OpenText 2.0. The OpenText project has been a long running project (1998?) which I have previously commented upon. It's self-description is:
The project is a web-based initiative to develop annotated Greek texts and tools for their analysis. The project aims both to serve, and to collaborate with, the scholarly community. Texts are annotated with various levels of linguistic information, such as text-critical, grammatical, semantic and discourse features.  
In their presentation, they described an upcoming update. Here is their summary:
The upcoming OpenText 2.0 analysis of the GNT is an open annotation derived from data released by the Global Bible Initiative 2016. In addition to various minor modifications to the GBI syntax model, OpenText 2.0 introduces a stratified model that includes explicit distinctions between graphological, morphological, lexico-grammatical, semantic, and discourse-level markup. It also introduces feature annotations beyond just morphological parsing, allowing other units to be queried for meaningful features that have been identified in advance (to give a simple example, the clausal analysis explicitly identifies intransitive and transitive clauses). All of this data, however, is encoded in a single XML document using in-line markup, so that it is intuitive to query using standard XQuery—and even easier with the custom query resources that we are developing. In this presentation, we will present a series of queries that demonstrate the richness of the stratified data, focusing specifically on investigating phenomena that cut across the different annotation layers. We will also show how this markup is useful for teaching Greek by demonstrating a simple web page that allows students to investigate the syntax and semantics of a specific Greek lexeme. For both examples, we will show how the feature annotations facilitate the display of meaningful quantitative information about the relevant search results.
There have been some delays so they were not fully able to show the new tool in action, but the graphic above gives an example of what it will look like. The color bands provide a way to visualize the various semantic elements in the sentence. Using well-defined XML coding, it allows for advanced semantic searches. An example they gave was how OpenText 2.0 makes it possible to discern different types of narrative, e.g., the parables of Jesus are distinguishable from the context.
I'm looking forward to their work becoming available. (Perhaps January 2020, they said?)

Friday, November 22, 2019

Accordance 13 released - A Quick Review

I first started using Accordance 8 in 2008 running it under emulation on a Windows machine. As a Windows person, I ended up using BibleWorks and Logos, but a couple years ago I made Accordance the required program for my Greek students at ULS where I teach. With Accordance 12, we had a full-featured, reasonably priced software tool that worked well on both Windows and Macs. We use Accordance's Greek and Hebrew Discoverer Collection which provides most everything a beginning Bible scholar needs.
With the just released Accordance 13, we have a more full-featured, reasonably priced software tool that works well on both Windows and Macs! Τhe upgrade pricing from version 12 to 13 is very reasonably priced as well. I would describe this as more of an incremental upgrade than a major overhaul, but there are some significant new features, and everything in 13 is easy to use for those familiar with 12. You will want to check Accordance's own description of what's new in version 13, but I want to highlight some new things that I think are especially noteworthy.

  • User Interface: The program does look 'cleaner,' and there are some options for choosing a theme. There is even a dark mode available for macOS (with the options for Windows promised). The icons look fresher, and there is greater consistency in the location of buttons. (I am referring to open/close/maximize buttons, and it is a challenge trying to have consistency give the fundamental differences between the basic Mac and Windows interfaces.) While that is all good, I do find that the themes are all rather light pastels. I would like a theme with greater contrasts. 
  • Tutorials: This is an outstanding new feature. It's a great selling point for a new user to Accordance as well as for experienced users. In general, the way one learns how to use a software program is through trial and error, necessity, or, as a last resort, read the manual or watch a video. The tutorials, however, provide a task-based approach to learning which I believe is more helpful. There are 75 interactive tutorials organized by skill and topics. They range from basic guides to opening books and doing basic searches to advanced work in using specialized commands like MERGE and TEXT with Hebrew and Greek texts. The "Getting Started with Accordance" module is still available, and it has an excellent and well-organized collection of training videos, but I suspect most people will enjoy and profit more from using the step-by-step, interactive tutorials.
  • Live Highlighting: This is a feature I anticipate using when I am teaching and using Accordance. Using the Pen tool, if you draw on the text something approximating an oval, circle, rectangle, line, curve, or line with an arrowhead, the program will automatically convert your drawing into the proper shape. You can use the Eraser tool to remove your markup. Even more useful for me is the Whiteboard feature. It basically 'freezes' the screen and allows you to draw anywhere on the whole screen. It's easy to 'erase' the screen. This will be a helpful teaching tool.
  • Cross-Highlighting for Hebrew - LXX - (Tagged) English texts: This is an incredibly helpful feature when working with OT texts. Hovering over a word in the Hebrew or LXX or any tagged English text (e.g., NRSV, ESV, JPS, KJV, NET 2nd edition just released, NIV) highlights the word in the other two versions. It makes it easy to track where you are and make comparisons. (I don't know whether it would ever be possible, but the next step is to get a tagged version of the New English Translation of the Septuagint.)
An example of running the TEXT command searching for all the ways the NIV and NRSV translate any Greek words related to the δικη root.

  • TEXT Command: This new feature is quite powerful, and I'm still figuring out ways to use it. It allows for a variety of cross-text searches.

    • For example (and one I hope to post about here soon) is to conduct a search in the NRSV of all the times that it translates a Greek word based on the Greek root δικη. (To do so, I would be working with the NRSV as my display text and do a Words search with [GNT28-T +δικη] in the command line.) The reason why something like this is helpful is because it is one way of establishing the lexical range of a word. E.g., δικαιόω is translated variously in the NRSV with "acquitted, free/d, justice, justify/fies/fied, vindicated.
    • As another example, I can search for all the ways the Hebrew word חֶסֶד is translated in the LXX. Something similar can be done using the MT-LXX Parallel resource, but using the TEXT command highlights all the instances in the LXX text.
    • Or, I can search all the instances in the NRSV where the word "faith" occurs within 3 words of either Jesus or Christ in the genitive. (Using: faith <WITHIN 3 Words> [GNT28-T =Ἰησοῦς@ [NOUN genitive]  <OR> =Χριστός@ [NOUN genitive] ] )
    • Or, with this command, I can conduct syntactical searches in an English version, since I can access the Greek behind the English. As an example, I can have highlighted in the NRSV all the times "God" is the object of a preposition using:  [GNT28-T  [PREPOSITION] <FOLLOWED BY> <WITHIN 3 Words> =θεός@ [COMPLEMENT] ]
    • As I first stated, there look to be many ways to use the TEXT command.
    I had highlighted και εγενετο in NA28 and then used the AMPLIFY to CONSTRUCT to generate this search. As you can see, it would be a lot of work to construct that from scratch.

  • AMPLIFY to CONSTRUCT: For more sophisticated searches, this is a great time saver. Highlight some words in a tagged text, right click, choose Construct and then Word/Phrase/Clause/Sentence, and the construct window is automatically created with all the syntactical and lexical features in place. Once that is displayed it's much easier to remove specific elements that are not needed rather than try to create the whole thing from scratch.
  • PDF Import: It has previously been possible to import HTML and text files into Accordance as User Tools. It is now also possible to import PDFs. There are so many papers and works available on the web, and it is great to be able to bring them into Accordance. In many instances biblical reference links can be automatically created or else can be created.  This is nice for bringing in public domain PDFs of older works (e.g., on or the many articles and papers being shared on Academia.
  • Other: There are many other little updates that make the program easier to use and organize. There is more control over installing resources. It's easier to organize one's library of resources. Check out this list of 13 other features in Accordance 13.
  • I don't have time or space here for a full review of the program, but here are some quick notes.
    • The program works well on OS X and Windows. Purchasing the program allows you to get the iOS (iPhone/iPad) or Android apps with access to your resources. (I can confirm that the Android app runs very well.)
    • The support is very good. Within the first two weeks, there have already been two minor updates to the initial 13 release.
    • Accordance has become my primary software tool since I ask my students to use it, but I still use BibleWorks and Logos on a weekly basis depending on the task. I can make some comparisons:
      • BibleWorks is no longer in business, sadly, but the program still runs fine. Neither Accordance nor Logos have the Word List or Verse List manager that I regularly used. BibleWorks had the best way to un/select search results and is the only one capable of generating multiple versions in customized formatting into a Word doc. On the other hand, BibleWorks was always a bit flaky on a Mac, and the interface was really one an old time DOS person could really like. Plus, they were never going to get iOS or Android apps out.
      • In some ways, Accordance 13 is catching up to Logos 8. Logos has had the cross-highlighting for some time now. The interface is nothing special, but I'm quite happy with its functionality. Accordance has an advantage with its new live highlighting, but Logos has the useful Canvas tool for presenting information. Logos' Bible Word Study feature is one I use regularly and it is quite thorough. I find Accordance's Construct searches to be easier to use than Logos' advanced searches, but for most search functions,  the ability to view, sort, and organize search results in Logos is extremely powerful. I like the new Tutorials in Accordance, but Logos offers Workflows to customize walking through a text study. So why don't I require Logos for my students? To be honest, it would cost my students hundreds more to get what is enough for their needs in Logos as compared to Accordance. Both have a wide and different selection of more advanced books and resources to add to their basic collections, and so for myself, I use both programs.
    SUMMARY: For new users, Accordance 13 is an outstanding choice. The program is easy to learn and to use for basic Bible reading and study, and it can grow with you. It is reasonably priced with a good variety of collections to purchase and a wide selection of other resources you can add. For Accordance 12 or earlier users, it is a nice upgrade at a very good price. As a person becomes familiar with the program, it has the advanced research and study tools to accomplish just about any Bible study task.

    Wednesday, November 20, 2019

    NET Bible 2nd edition: Online and now available in Accordance

    I have my students regularly consult the New English Translation = NET Bible. It's not necessarily the best translation, and since it initially arose out of individuals working on books instead of a committee, there is some unevenness across the Bible. Still, it is an excellent translation to consult because of its attention to the Hebrew and Greek texts. Even more importantly, the textual notes that are provided are a great aid to beginning language and Bible students. There are three sets of notes.
    • tc = Text-critical Note: These notes cover most every significant text variant with a good explanation of the issues involved. Important variants receive lengthy comments. (E.g., "God's Son" in Mark 1.1 or the endings of Mark) I give my students a basic introduction to text criticism, but I don't have time, and they don't have the interest to get into the weeds of the NA28. So, I basically tell them just to look at the NET Bible for a tc note, and that's really all they need. The NET does indicate instances where they differ from NA28.
    • tn = Translator's Note: These provide explanations for the translation choices, and they are extremely helpful drawing attention to grammatical, syntactical, or lexical issues in the original language. It includes such things as discussing the function of a genitive or the force of a tense. Alternatives are noted and discussed as well.
    • sn = Study Note: These notes provide some basic commentary on context or historical / cultural matters. They are useful, but sometimes theological bias is expressed.
    The NET Bible was initially conceived as a work in progress, and they recently updated to a second edition. They note the changes from the first edition HERE and summarize:
    The most substantial editing work for this Second Edition centered on the essential task of creating an updated Strong’s Hebrew/Greek to English mapping of the entire translation. This allowed the discovery of discrepancies and inconsistencies as well as creating a collating base for comparing consistency across the entire Bible. We completed many items on our list of initiatives for the Second Edition:
    1. Both OT and NT have updated Strong’s tagged using phrase tagging as well as multiple number tagging.
    2. This detailed Strong’s tagging was used to detect and correct inconsistencies across the OT.
    3. Divine names in the OT have been made more consistent.
    4. Technical terms related to geography, feast names, and the tabernacle have been made more consistent.
    5. References to explicit sexual body parts or sexual acts have been made more euphemistic like it is in the Hebrew and Greek. Sometimes a more transparent translation isn’t always better, such as reading the Christmas story with young children.
    6. Awkward/unidiomatic renderings were revised, and
    7. Hebrew references in footnotes were corrected and standardized.
    8. We did delete about 3300 footnotes which were deemed unnecessary and superfluous such as “δε has not been translated” or “και has not been translated due to differences in Greek and English style.”
    About 3000 verses were changed in the updated translation, and they are all noted on their summary page. The biggest change is the Strong's tagging. You can see it at work at their excellent online site, the Lumina Bible, HERE.

    I am also happy to report that Accordance has just incorporated the new edition with the Strong's tagging and made it available as a free update (for those who owned the 1st NET).

    Thursday, November 14, 2019

    Remembering Tim Bulkeley

    Picture from one of Tim's many web sites
    I saw a notice by Jim Davila on the PaleoJudaica blog that Tim Bulkeley had passed away. I can't find any other details, but Tim was still posting on his blog in August. Davila notes that Tim started his SansBlogue in 2004 which makes Tim one of the earlier and certainly most lasting bloggers.

    I first 'met' Tim through his Amos Hypertext Bible site. This must have been around 2000 or so, and it was one of the first real attempts to create such a resource that included Hebrew and English, commentary, audio, and visuals. The site is still worth consulting.

    I had started a conversation online with Tim regarding the Hypertext Bible project and subsequently had the pleasure of meeting him a couple times at SBL meetings. I found him to be a gracious and friendly person in addition to being such a fine scholar. In addition to the Amos project, he was ahead of the curve in other ways, reflecting on the Bible and technology, the ambitious "5 Minute Bible" video series, organizing the Podbible project (300+ volunteers who read the CEV) in 2006 before podcasts were really a thing, and much more. Check out his homepage for a survey of all he's done.

    I have had occasion to reference the work he was doing numerous times on this blog, enough so that he has his own tag on this blog. Since Tim was one of the pioneers in Bible and technology, especially on the web, I simply wanted to note his contributions and posthumously thank and recognize him. His scholarly work will endure for as long as Internet Archive endures, but Tim was also a Christian pastor, and I trust that he also endures eternally in Christ.

    Friday, September 6, 2019

    ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World

    Paul's First Mission Journey on ORBIS
    I've mentioned ORBIS before, but Chiara Palladino just posted an excellent review of the site. She writes:
    The aim of Orbis is to allow investigation of the concrete conditions of travel in the ancient world, with a particular focus on the 3rd-century Roman route and transportation network. Orbis is a response to the long-standing scholarly debate about visual representations and study of “spatial practice” in the premodern world: traditional mapping approaches fail to convey the complexity of the variables involved in travel practices and provide a flat view of phenomena that are strongly connected with space and movement, such as trade, economic control, and imperialism. Orbis was conceived to respond to the specific question of how travel and transport constraints affected the expansion of the Roman Empire.
    You will want to read the rest of the review and see examples of what sort of insights ORBIS 
    can offer. From a biblical perspective, it can provide a good sense of how long and how expensive travel might have been in New Testament times. You cannot list more than a beginning and endpoint for each journey, but you can keep stringing them together to get the kind of map of Paul's first mission journey I depict above. You will see that not every city is included in the ORBIS database, so it does not include smaller locales like Lystra and Derbe. You also should create a map by right clicking on a site to make it a start or endpoint, since some of the names have changed by the 3rd century CE. (E.g., Antioch of Pisidia is listed as Caesarea of Phrygia.) You do have the options to choose fastest, cheapest, or shortest; set the season which would affect sailing options; choose whether you go by road and/or river/coastal sea/open sea.
    Paul: Neapolis to Thessalonica - Via Egnatia

    In this segment Paul traveled on his second mission journey from Neapolis > Philippi > Amphipolis > Appolonia > Thessalonica, ORBIS correctly picks out the Via Egnatia route. We also learn that such a trip would take 5.8 days to cover 173 kilometers (107 miles). 

    So check out the review, and then play around with ORBIS for yourself.

    Tuesday, August 27, 2019

    Atlas of the Biblical World released!

    I am happy to report that the Atlas of the Biblical World I coauthored with Robert Mullins is now available through Fortress Press and Amazon.
    Based on the latest current scholarship, Atlas of the Biblical World features striking full-color maps and insightful commentary to make the ancient biblical world come alive. The complexities and questions that accompany the responsible study of the ancient world and its intersection with the biblical narrative are addressed through innovative map design and analysis. Sharp commentary that accompanies each map provides factual data, addresses questions of interpretation, and locates the biblical narrative in its wider historical and cultural context, making this particular atlas an ideal introduction for students of biblical studies. The atlas will feature over 60 full-color maps, illuminating commentary, full-color photographs of key historical artifacts, timelines, charts, and an index to the maps and content.
    The official blurb from Fortress is quite glowing (!), but I am very happy to stand behind the content Bob and I have provided. The abundance of quality maps means that there is usually a map on every two-page spread, so that the commentary refers directly to the map at hand. Bob wrote the larger share of the atlas covering OT history. I wrote the chapters beginning with Alexander the Great to the Second Jewish revolt. I also provided most of the cover photos and six others in the book.

    Here is what I wrote in the preface:
    This atlas is intended to serve both as a collection of maps useful for biblical study and as a survey of biblical history. With a subject so vast and with space limited, the authors had to make choices about what to include. It is hoped that what remains is a helpful introduction to the Bible’s people, places, and events. The volume is organized chronologically rather than by the order of biblical books, but it does parallel the biblical narrative and is thoroughly cross-referenced. It should be easy to consult this atlas as one reads the Bible and place the biblical events within the larger history and context of the biblical lands. A Gazetteer is included for convenience in locating sites.
    This atlas provides more than just maps with historical commentary. Geography is important, because it accounts for why things happened where they did. History—based on archaeology and extra-biblical artifacts in addition to the Bible—is important because it clarifies what happened. With better clarity about where and what events in the Bible occurred, we are better able to interpret the biblical story and understand why things happened from the perspective of what God has been doing since the beginning. 
    As for us contributors:
    Dr. Robert Mullins, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Azusa Pacific University and co-leader of an excavation at Abel Beth Maacah, has written chapters 1–45. Mark Vitalis Hoffman, Glatfelter Professor of Biblical Studies at United Lutheran Seminary, and frequent traveler to and photographer of archaeological sites in Israel, has written chapters 46–69. The cartography is the work of Cambridge-based Nick Rowland. Page layout and design has been carried out by, Great Gransden,  Cambridgeshire, while the index and gazetteer have been compiled by Christopher Pipe of Watermark, Cromer.
    At 170 pages, it does not compete with the more comprehensive atlases available and which I have reviewed here and here. (I am still using the Crossway ESV Bible Atlas in my seminary course that surveys biblical geography and history.) It is intended, however, as the kind of atlas one could bring along on a trip to the biblical lands, since it is in a portable size, with good paper stock, and a very durable binding. Using the criteria I set in my own reviews,
    • Approach: It is intended as a Bible-reading companion, but the Gazetteer and Index make it useful for general reference.
    • General Matters: It can be used as a travel companion and is also ideally suited for adult Bible studies. I think it is reasonably priced at $24, and it is also available for Kindle or ebook at $22. 
    • Scope It covers the full biblical story from prehistory to Revelation and the second Jewish revolt in 135 CE. The intertestamental period from Alexander the Great to the Herodians gets special attention, since it is so important for establishing the context of the New Testament. While some atlases have chronological proportionality (and hence the 100 years of the NT period gets only scant attention compared to the 2000+ years of OT history), our atlas has ~35 pages covering the NT.
    • Perspective: Both Mullins and I understand the Bible to be telling a story. We do not need archaeology to 'prove' the Bible, but we also regard the Bible as one important resource for making sense of the archaeological record. We have our opinions, but we reflect the most recent and best scholarship.
    I hope you will check the atlas out, and I'd love to hear any feedback!

    Tuesday, May 14, 2019

    Photo Companion to the Bible: Daniel and Esther

    I had previously reported on the Photo Companion to the Bible: Acts and noted what an outstanding visual resource it is. Todd Bolen at continues to release more resources in this series, the latest of which are the Photo Companion to the Bible: Daniel and another on Esther. Previous volumes on Ruth, Psalm 23, and the Gospels have also been released. The resources come as DVDs, but in the package a link is included to download all the files. Given the disappearance of CD/DVD drives on portable devices these days, distributing the volume on a USB drive would be handier, but the download option is a good workaround.

    Each volume is a collection of PowerPoints with one file per chapter of the book. Each PowerPoint is a collection of slides with clear chapter and verse references labels on the slides. It makes it very easy to go quickly to a particular passage and see what visual resources are available. For presentation purposes, a slide could be directly copied into one's own presentation, but the images can be easily copy/pasted on their own. Each slide has excellent annotations describing what is depicted. There are over 1000 images for Daniel and over 700 for Esther.

    As a typical example of how it all works, the Daniel volume has 12 PowerPoint files for each of the 12 chapters in Daniel. Opening the one for chapter 7, there are 121 slides. There are 7 slides connected to Daniel 7.1 which reads: "In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in bed. Then he wrote down the dream:" The seven slides include images of:

    • Nabonidus Chronicle which mentions Belshazzar
    • Nabonidus cylinder which mentions Belshazzar (cf. image below)
    • Stele of Nabonidus (Belshazzar's father) from Teima
    • Picture of "Daniel St." sign in Jerusalem
    • Clay model of a bed, from Nippur, 2100–2000 BC
    • Model of a wooden folding bed, Egypt, circa 1550–1300 BC
    • Scribe copying Scripture
    Each of the slides includes info about what is depicted, and I've bolded the words in the text and for the images to show why they were included. In a personal study of working through Daniel, these images provide helpful supporting commentary. If I were creating my own presentation or study guide, I doubt that I would use the street sign or the bed images which come from different contexts. The inclusion of peripheral images is typical throughout, and it is better to have them than not, though it does sometimes mean perusing through lots of slides to find the most relevant ones.

    The pictures all are of good quality and include a mixture of artifacts (statues, coins, mosaics, many museum artifacts, etc.), sites, abstracts (e.g., sky, sea), maps, and modern images (animals, plants, signage, etc.). Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the images in these volumes on Daniel and Esther is that Bolen and the other contributors went to Iraq and Iran and obtained these images where the ancient Babylonian and Persian empires were located. These are not the typical tourist sites, and getting such images will likely become more and more difficult. Also note that free lifetime updates are promised. Further, as for permissions to use the images, 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.

    These volumes are a fabulous resource. It is fascinating to peruse them on their own, and it's even better to employ them in conjunction with focused study of the biblical texts.

    Disclosure: I was provided these resources for review but without any expectations of positive review.

    Thursday, April 18, 2019

    Library Extension for Firefox and Chrome (You'll want this!)

    I just discovered Library Extension for Firefox and Chrome, and it really is remarkable. Once you add the extension in either of the those browsers, an icon appears in the toolbar. Click it on to select your available public library and some educational institution ones. If your library system offers it, it will also allow you to connect to Hoopla and OverDrive.

    Then, when you are looking for a book in places like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads or  Audible, Library Extension will automatically include information on its availability.

    For example, I looked up Rasmussen's Zondervan Atlas of the Bible on Amazon, and the page looks like this:
    As you can see, a new box has been added on the right telling me that it is available on Hoopla through my county library system. I click on the link, enter my library credentials, and I can start reading the atlas right away. That's pretty excellent. It even works for audiobooks, e.g.:
    It's not a perfect system. Depending on which edition or version of a book you select, you will get different results. And your public library probably doesn't carry that technical volume on an advanced biblical topic. And sometimes, you really want to just buy the book and have your own copy!

    In any case, this is a handy way to see if your local library has a book you can check out, and sometimes it is even available as an eBook or an audiobook. It's a great way to save some money!
    HT: CNET

    Monday, April 15, 2019

    Designing for Agency in Bible Study

    I didn't make it to this year's BibleTech in Seattle, but Stephen Smith at posted the slides of his presentation. (Find them HERE.) Doubtless he provided more context for the slides, but it's fairly easy to follow his argument. Basically, he looks at Bible software and Bible reading from the perspective of game design which is concerned about agency. I'm greatly simplifying and making some assumptions from the slides, but he points out the importance of Competence, Relatedness, and Autonomy as motivating factors. Bible software marketing tends to promote competence and autonomy. (You can master the Bible on your own with our program!) But that's not what most people are concerned about when looking for something in the Bible. Here's where aspects of creating relationships come into play. (E.g., YouVersion's sharing options.) As Smith states,
    Bible software, in general, supports competence across a narrow audience: mostly male Christians in some kind of leadership role. This narrow focus limits the market for Bible software because it doesn’t support life as lived by most Christians (slide 23)
    Here's where Smith's previous work on a "Franken-Bible" comes into play. (Cf. my blog post here or go to his Adaptive Bible site.) He now has an Expanded Bible site which attempts to bring in Competence (you get to choose among translation options; the text includes sidebar notes with info and links; once you complete a chapter, you're rewarded by it generating an audio version you can listen to), Relatedness (you can share your created translation with others, something that can't easily be done at the Adaptive Bible), and Autonomy (you can do it on your own, and there is no wrong answer to discourage you).

    I'm including a graphic of Smith's annotation of the print version (which is really inferior to the online, interactive version) so you can see how the Expanded Bible site was constructed, but you really just need to go play around at the site.
    Smith, slide 32
    I appreciate the various perspectives that Smith brings to bear on this project. They are certainly worth considering. Thanks to Steve Smith for sharing this!

    Saturday, April 13, 2019

    New KJV Parallel Bible - Textus Receptus vs. Critical Text

    On Thursday 11 April, Mark Ward announced on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog the release of a free, online tool for teaching textual criticism to English speakers: the KJV Parallel Bible. Ward explains:
    The site dedicates one page to each of the 260 chapters of the New Testament. On each of these pages are two columns. The left column is the KJV as it stands in the common 1769 Blayney edition. The right is the KJV as it would be if Peter Williams and Dirk Jongkind could travel back in time and hand the KJV translators an NA28—instead of the mixture of Stephanus (1550) and Beza (1598) the translators in fact employed... The differences between the two KJVs are then highlighted.
    This is more of a thought experiment than a critical tool, but it's a helpful one. As I teach my students, I note that the most likely time when text criticism will arise in the parish is when someone notes that their KJV Bible is not the same as the NRSV or NIV Bible someone else is using. This site clearly highlights such differences, as is visible in the example from Mark 1.2 above.

    With the critical text rendered in the archaic English of the KJV, it's not intended as a translation but as a text that's easy to compare with the KJV. What Ward concludes is that:
    1. What’s really remarkable about Scrivener’s TR and the modern critical Greek text is not how different they are, but how similar they are.
    2. English makes certain patterns in the variants more visible.
         A. “Jesus Christ” and “Christ Jesus” are a common variant pair.
         B. Revelation appears to me to be worse, textually, than other books.
         C. The TR is not so much “longer” as “easier” or “smoother” and therefore longer.
    3. The same thing can be said with different words.

    While you're at the site, be sure to check out the Study Guide and also the fun TR Quiz. Some of the quiz examples can be guessed correctly if you think in terms of making things more understandable and orthodox, but many are indeed inconsequentially different.

    Thanks to Ward and the others who have shared this interesting resource.