Friday, August 31, 2007

New Review of Libronix SESB v.2

David Instone-Brewer has just released his latest Tyndale Tech newsletter which features a lengthy and, for the most part, highly positive review of version 2 of the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible. (SESB) I agree with him that most English-language users will be content to save some money and get the reduced Logos edition. I also agree with his conclusion that the SESB is why he now is using both BibleWorks and Logos. It's a beautiful thing to have the critical apparatus so handy...
The only extra comment I would add is that there are ways to do New Testament (not OT, however, like the SESB offers) textual criticism in BibleWorks.

  • Metzger's Textual Commentary is included in BW7 and linked to the text.
  • Pasquale Amicarelli compiled a text criticism module (check the first entry in the thread; it says the link is dead, but it is actually valid) integrated with BW7 that draws upon all his work at It's great.
  • Check out the other Textual Criticism modules posted at the BibleWorks blog. There are some great manuscript resources, but you will especially want to download Wieland Willker's Textual Commentary on the Gospels also compiled by Pasquale.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Some new tools

A couple new items:

  • On the OliveTreeBlog, makers of Bible software for Palm and PPC, they are announcing that they are in beta of converting to Unicode. The Hebrew is first, and it looks great.
  • Brandon Wason on the Novum Testamentum blog wrote about a new website called He didn't notice, but buried in the "Translate" section, it does indicate that the base Greek NT is Tischendorf's. I think it is a fascinating experiment in terms of its color-coding, its 'graduated' display linked to Mounce, its "Translate" page which would probably be quite helpful to beginners working on translating, its ability to link notes to one's translation, the easy way to print to PDF pages, and the capability to "Share" and form private or public study groups. Zhubert's site certainly has quite a few more options and tools, but this appears helpful for beginners.

Library Management Tools

I'm trying to get myself, my library, and my notes organized, so I've been looking at a number of library management tools. There are a number of dedicated programs like Endnote for bibliographic work, and there are integrated programs like Orbis, Ibidem, and IbidPlus which are wonderful to use within the Nota Bene word processing program. (If you are a regular NB user, I'm guessing this is already a no-brainer choice.) For simply creating bibliographic entries in a variety of formats, there is OttoBib.
To organize your library, I've previously mentioned Amazon's
YourMediaLibrary which is a helpful (especially if you buy a lot of stuff from Amazon) but limited organizer. LibraryThing is a much more versatile offering, and I like the way it looks and the social aspects of the site, but it really isn't intended to be a bibliographic tool. While free for 200 book listings, the cost ($10/yr or $25 lifetime) is not prohibitive either. Zach Hubert (of Zhubert > The Resurgence Greek Project fame) has recently released ShelfServant. It is similar to LibraryThing for cataloging, but it doesn't have quite as many extra features. What it does have, however, is an easy way to keep track of books you loan and a one-click export of all your bibliographic data to an Excel spreadsheet file. You could use this to add notes. ShelfServant is free for 100 books with minimal costs to expand your collection.
If you are trying to organize your notes beyond books alone, you are either going to want to use the Nota Bene products I described above, or I think you will want to use
Zotero about which I recently blogged. I'm still learning all the things this program can do, but so far I'm more and more impressed at its capabilities and potentials. (I'm playing around with running it using the portable Firefox off a USB stick, so that I can have it wherever I happen to be working.)
Oh, to buy all those books you want, don't forget the "Book Burro" addin for Firefox I previously described!
Bottom line: If you use NotaBene, Orbis and Ibidem are the way to go. Otherwise, I think Zotero is going to be my tool of choice.
If you have other or favorite research management tools, let me know!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Migne's Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Graeca

Need to find some Greek text out of Migne? Here are a few good places to check.

  • The Religion and Technology site has a complete index of PG. (Just a list of volumes. No texts, though you can buy their DVDs.)
  • In addition to loads of other online links (including PL) to books related to the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity, Mischa Hooker has compiled links to PG volumes available through Google Books. Note that the Google Books version of PG are PDF image files. (You can get "plain text," but you won't be able to read the Greek.)
  • "Roads of Faith - Digital Patrology" is a site that is composed in Greek, but it has a very large collection of the PG volumes organized by periods or alphabetically by author. These are PDF files, but they are actual Unicode text. [UPDATE: 2008.07.06: The Roads of Faith site seems to regularly go offline. Try again later...]
  • UPDATE 2008.07.06: As noted in the Kent (from Logos),Logos Bible Software recently announced work on the first twenty volumes of the Patrologia Cursus Completus, Series Graeca. At this time it is on prepub for $400, and as a Libronix doc, it will have the benefit of being cross-linked with other resources. (E.g., with English translations, but I don't think we should expect it to be morphologically tagged!) There is a nice description of the contents of these 20 volumes on the prepub page, and Rick Brannan provides a full table of contents here in PDF.

Zotero - New research management tool

In an earlier post, I noted some helpful online research tools. I just discovered Zotero which I think surpasses any other research management tools I have seen. It is a free, Firefox extension, but it has some astounding capabilities. You can take notes (both highlighting and sticky notes), export bibliographic data, and create links with online and local resources. Be sure to take the tour to see some of its present and projected capabilities. You will definitely want to check it out.

Monday, August 13, 2007

More biblical mapping stuff

The most recent (August 2007) Christian Computing Magazine provides a glowing review (18 exclamation points!) of Manna Bible Maps. The software is still basically a Win95 program and the current version 5.6 was released in 2001. Todd Bolen of wrote a positive but much more critical review in 2005 that appears to remain accurate except that prices have been reduced. The new CCMag review (here's their earlier 2001 review) simply reflects that the program now can be downloaded and that a person can buy/download individual maps. It also states that "all of Manna’s maps have been recently redrawn to improve their appearance." I have not personally used the program, but I wanted to add it to the list of biblical mapping resources I am accumulating.

Biblical Language Tools on a PDA

There are a number of resources for doing biblical work on a PDA.

  • e-Sword (for Windows) also has a nice Pocket e-Sword version. The program is free, and you can buy such Bible versions as HCSB, Message, NASB, NKJV, and NLT, but you can also get such free versions as ASV, CEV, ESV, Good News, KJV, and more. You can also get a Greek NT, the LXX (free!), and the Vulgate as well as many other language versions. There are also commentaries and dictionaries to buy or for free.
  • In addition to Pocket e-Sword, I also use OliveTree BibleReader software on my Windows Mobile device. (A Dell Axim x51v, now sadly no longer in production.) The software is free, and it is available for a wide variety of devices including WinMobile, Palm, and phones. There is a wide selection of Bibles in original, English, and over 80 foreign languages. OliveTree has been very good about updating the software, and I started using it, because for a long time they were the only one to offer the NRSV. They do have free Greek NTs, but I bought and like the GRAMCORD Lite Greek NT. I also bought the Hebrew Masoretic text, and both the Greek and Hebrew are well implemented. BibleReader has become a platform for an incredible number of Bible study tools: dictionaries, handbooks, lexicons, commentaries, atlases, and other books. Be sure to check out the discounts for buying collections.
  • Laridian and their PocketBible3 is another major player in this market and offers software and Bibles for a similarly wide variety of portable platforms. I have not used it, but it is similar to OliveTree in its kind of offerings.
  • In a post on the BibleWorks Forum, I suggest another way of getting Bible software on a PDA. I really like using LogMeIn for a number of reasons (especially for remote control to troubleshoot problems on computers for others in my extended family), but it actually does allow me to run BibleWorks or Logos right on my PDA.
  • The post mentioned in the previous bullet also generated a link to the free PocketScholar for Windows Mobile devices. (There is also an inexpensive "MiniFlash for PalmOS Devices.") It is basically a Greek/Hebrew vocabulary building program, but it works well.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Louw-Nida Lexicon in BibleWorks7 and Logos

As I've been using both BibleWorks7 and Logos, I've been thinking about the ways I utilize various tools in both. I just finished a rather lengthy review of how the Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains is implemented in both programs. You can view it either as a MSWord DOC or as a web page. I post this in part to help those who might be trying to choose between either program, though in this case, neither has an overwhelming advantage over the other. I also post it as a way to encourage the developers of the programs to consider ways to improve future versions.
[UPDATED in light of comment by Vincent Setterholm]
Here's my bottom line:


BOTH BW7 and Logos

  • Far easier to navigate than hardcopy volumes
  • Interfaces essentially keep both volumes (the indices and the entries) open and available
  • Links to cited biblical texts and other lexicons
  • Ease of searching


  • Closely connected to the biblical verse being viewed, references to Greek words and entries specifically citing that word appear in Resource Summary
  • All references to a passage appear in Resource Summary
  • Program automatically adjusts for typing in Greek for simple searches


  • LN opens as a book within the program and helpfully reproduces the hardcopy’s layout including superscripts and footnotes
  • Can search and gather all references to any word throughout the lexicon
  • Has the English-Greek Index



  • LN opens in separate window not completely integrated with rest of program
  • Entries are a bit harder to read than in Logos
  • Footnotes have all been stripped


  • Need to switch keyboards to type in Greek

Web and media tools for educators

This is a bit off-topic for this blog, but I suspect that it might be of interest to some of you who would even be reading this blog.
Web Page/Site Tools
I have long used FrontPage for my web pages/sites, but lately I have been playing with a trial version of the program that is replacing it, the new Microsoft Expression Web. Where FrontPage tried to make web page/site creation easy, Expression tries to be helpful in dealing with CSS, XML, and data integration. It does a very nice job, and it is indeed much more powerful than FrontPage, but I also think it is much more difficult, especially for someone without much background and who simply wants to create simple and fast pages.
As an alternative, I just discovered eXe at It is free, Open Source, and specifically designed "to assist teachers and academics in the publishing of web content without the need to become proficient in HTML or XML markup." It really is quite simple, partly because it really limits choices. I'll still use FrontPage, but I am going to use eXe to create quizzes and some other things (and then import into FrontPage).
[The only extra issue with eXe is that after creating the pages, you have to FTP them to a web site. I use the free SmartFTP which works great and is pretty much drag and drop.]
Bottom line: If someone wants to start doing web page stuff, Expression probably isn't the best choice. Either use FrontPage or try eXe.
Media Creation
Thanks for the many encouraging words about the OT in NT demo I posted. For that demo, I used PowerPoint and saved and posted it as a PowerPoint show. I linked out to short videos that I created using Windows Media Encoder (WME). Over on the BibleWorks blog, I posted this entry specifying the WME settings I had to figure out to make it work properly. Continuing in that thread, SCSaunders alerted me to Wink. This is really useful "tutorial and presentation creation software." It's free and quite easy to use and generates Flash (SWF) files. It works great for screen captures and appears best for start/stop, step-by-step directions. Adding audio works but makes for large files. It is quite easy, however, to add onscreen comments and cues after you have captured the screens. Try it out.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

OT in NT Exercise demonstrating resources

I just finished an exercise I've created for a class I am teaching this fall on the OT in the NT. I use Matthew 4.4 and its citation of Deuteronomy 8.3 as a reason for helping students ask questions about the texts and discover the resources they need to use. In particular, I include six short videos that feature the use of BibleWorks7. (I hope to do a Logos version sometime...)
I think it is a pretty good demonstration of the kind of work one can do with Bible software, but it also is an attempt to show what is available online and to walk students through the process of accumulating information to make sense of a text and the history of its interpretations.
I posted the exercise as a PowerPoint show, but it includes all the links to the videos and a host of web sites. Here is the start page: OT in the NT Exercise - Matthew 4.4
If something is not working, or if you have other suggestions, I would appreciate hearing about it.

New Reference Search Tool

I just discovered Reference Search: Explicit Searches on Implicit References. This new search engine only works to search references to biblical/early Xn/rabbinic texts. (Check out the Reference List of works it is cataloging.) It will not direct to you online versions of those texts. It will find articles that mention that specific text. One can be as specific (i.e., a verse) or broad (i.e., a whole document) as one wants. The search engine also is so astute that if you are looking for, for example, Mark 6:34, it will also return hits that refer to Mark 6 in general or ones like Mark 6:32-35 that include that verse. (Note that you apparently must use a colon for the ch:verse designation.)
This search engine does not scan the whole web. It returned hits from such sites as:; (including;;;;; A few others may be included, but those were the main ones I noticed.
You will definitely want to check it out.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg

I had been aware for a couple years that The Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg had been published online. This is an invaluable resource displaying incredible familiarity with rabbinic traditions. Unfortunately, this public domain online edition does not include the footnotes and indices of vols 5-7 which are really needed to make full and proper use of the text. There is a search function on the site that helps but not much.
I just discovered, however, that Volume 5 with the footnotes to vols 1-2 has the "Search Inside" feature on Amazon. Similarly, check out Volume 6 (notes to vols 3-4) and Volume 7 (indices).
Amazon appears to be tightening up how many pages you can check out, and it takes a bit of work to find the footnote you want, but in a pinch, this is immensely helpful. Using the search feature with the indices of volume 7 is particularly useful.