Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Great, FREE (or great value) resources...

Somewhat off topic in this posting, but there are a bunch of fine resources that may help you as you look for tools to present your biblical insights. Did I mention that they are FREE or quite good values?

  • Don't have PowerPoint but wanting to do presentations, maybe even collaboratively? Check out this post linking to thirteen free online presentation apps.
  • I have posted before about resources for video or screencasting. Here is a post linking to 12 Screencasting Tools For Creating Video Tutorials. Some are free and some commercial. (Strangely, they neglect to mention TechSmith's Camtasia Studio which is a commercial program but quite nice.)
  • Here is a link to a FREE PDF download of Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive: A digital literacy guide for the information age by Mark Briggs. 132 pages that covers the basics for writing online including perspectives on tools and resources, how to report and blog, using audio, podcasting, digital photos, video, and more. It's an easy to read reference.
  • I have found Microsoft's FREE (at least for now in beta) FolderShare to be a very useful program. I've mentioned the FREE LogMeIn program before as a good way to work with other computers across the Internet (including using a PDA to run Logos or BibleWorks off your home computer), but FolderShare works a bit differently. It synchronizes your files across the Internet. I use it between home and school. I work on a file at school on my own system, but it is automatically synchronized on the FolderShare system. When I go to work on that file at home, it is automatically synched with the Internet version, so I always have a single up-to-date file. Where this can also help is that you can grant permission to others you specify to see designated files/folders, so it becomes a way of sharing pics and such. It takes a little bit of setup, but if you are using Logos or BibleWorks on two different systems, it provides a way for you to keep your programs in synch at both locations.
  • If you are a student and able to provide verification of student status (including having an .edu email), Microsoft's The Ultimate Steal is an incredible value. For $59.95, you can purchase Microsoft Ultimate Office 2007 which includes Access™ 2007, Accounting Express 2007, Excel® 2007, InfoPath® 2007, Groove 2007, OneNote® 2007, Outlook® 2007 with Business Contact Manager, PowerPoint® 2007, Publisher 2007, and Word 2007. The offer expires April 30, 2008. This is entirely legitimate and quite a deal.
    (My wife who is finishing a DMin at Drew was able to get one. Do make sure you are a student. If they check on you, and you aren't a verified student, you will have to pay the $679 retail price. BTW, my link to the page is an affiliate link, and if you buy, I get $1! Thanks!)
  • Big finish with the best for last: Again, if you are a student and can provide verification, you are eligible to take advantage of Microsoft's DreamSpark promotion. You can get, for FREE, Visual Studio 2008 or Windows Server Standard 2003 or xna Game Studio 2.0 or Expression Studio. These are professional developer and designer tools, so they might be more than you want to learn how to use, but if you have a web site, getting the Expression Studio might be quite valuable to you. There are a limited number of universities in the USA, UK, Canada, and 8 other countries directly connected to the program for now, but you are able to get the programs by following the directions and going through JourneyEd. (BTW, Expression Studio downloads as an ISO file. What's that? It's a format you need to burn to a CD as an image file. How to do that? Either use the FREE ISORecorder utility that adds right-click functionality in Windows Explorer or get the FREE CDBurnerXP program or the FREE BurnAwareFree Edition program.)
So, that's the truth, and it is FREE!

Logos offers free RefTagger tool

Logos just announced a free new tool called RefTagger. What it does is read a web page, pick out any biblical references it can find and make sense of, and turn those references into links to the text at BibleGateway and, if you choose, to the text in the Logos/Libronix program. For example, Ephesians 2:8-10. All I did was type that passage, and the RefTagger javascript handled it all. I can use standard abbreviations as well: Eph 2:8-10.
To add this feature to this blog, I chose my options on the RefTagger page, copied the code, customized my Blogger page by adding a new page element to the bottom of the page (RefTagger only picks up references that are above it on the page), chose HTML/JavaScript element, and pasted in my code.
If you had already hyperlinked a text to something else, it won't pick that up, but you can still also use the BibleRef coding: John 3:16. The only drawbacks I can see are that it does take a page slightly longer to render and it might be a bit visually distracting to have all those hyperlinks and little "L"s. So, what do you think?

What do you think of using RefTagger on this site? (multiple answers allowed)
It is great to have the link to the BibleGateway text!
I don't really need the link to the BibleGateway text.
It is great to have the link to Logos.
I don't really need the link to Logos.
None of this really matters to me.
Free polls from

Monday, February 25, 2008

Greek Syntax Search using Logos: Article & Prepostional Phrase

Rick Brannan just uploaded an interesting post on the Logos blog in response to the following question posted on the Logos newsgroup:

Someone has commented that there are 484 occurrences of the definite article occurring without a noun introducing a prepositional phrase, such as, "τα επι τοις ουρανοις." I wonder if someone would teach me how to search my GNT (N/A27) to confirm this statement?
(I wanted to reply to Rick on his blog, but I need to include pics, so I will do it here.)
I think the search requested is not quite what Rick ends up with. Rick correctly finds all the instances of articular prepostional phrases.
Rick's results, therefore, include Matthew 5:16: τὸν πατέρα ὑμῶν τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς = "your father in the heavens" where the prepositional phrase modifies "father." The request, however, is for "occurrences of the definite article occurring without a noun introducing a prepositional phrase..." That is, if I understand it correctly, the person wants instances where the article with prepositional phrase is functioning as a substantive and not when it is functioning as an adjectival phrase.
So, to eliminate those, here is the Syntax Search I used in Logos:
First, as I looked at some of the anticipated phrases in OpenText, I noted that the article was always the Head Term. On my search, therefore, note that I define Word 1 as being an article using the morphology selector, but I also checked the box indicating that it "Must be an immediate child of the parent." This choice makes sure that it doesn't turn out to be functioning as an adjective.
Second, rather than trying to define the function of the preposition as Rick does using the Modifier/Relator identification, I simply used the morphology selector again to indicate that it has to be a preposition. (And note that it should not be an immediate child.)
Third, I don't think that I need to worry about word order in this instance. The article will always precede the preposition, and as I long as I don't specify the preposition as an immediate child, it should pick up instance where, e.g., a postpositive particle intervenes. Running the search, I come up with the following:Now, I am a bit suspicious that my 149 results are exactly half of Rick's 298, but you will see that we come up with quite different hits. Actually, however, I only have 147 hits (or less), because I am almost certain that the very first one, Matthew 5:12, reflects a mistake in the OpenText coding as well as Luke 6:42. I say "almost certain," because I am still trying to figure this stuff out. [Those of you who know better, I would appreciate confirmation that the articular prepostional phrases in Matt 5:12 and Luke 6:42 are indeed incorrectly coded and should instead be marked as a relator phrase. BTW, I also ran the search using "modifier=relator" instead of the preposition tag, and I came up with 150 results.]
Bottom line: This is really a powerful way of conducting syntactical searches. I'm not sure that I am confident of my results, however, both because I'm not sure I fully understand the coding and because I think there are errors in the OpenText coding.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More language learning resources

Check out this blog posting by Curt Bonk that references a NYTimes article describing online language learning. In his post, Bonk links to ten online language learning sites (most of them free, at least for a basic level) that serve to connect language learners with native speakers or tutors in a collaborative arrangement. (Try checking FriendsAbroad first for an idea of how it works.) Exchanges can work in a penpal type of arrangement, but it is also possible with some of them to communicate orally using Skype or other recorders. I think this would work out pretty well if you are trying to learn Hebrew or Latin. It doesn't work as well for learning Koine Greek, but learning modern Greek certainly couldn't hurt!
UPDATE (2008.02.25): Just found another language tool through Jane's E-Learning. It is called Learn It Lists. Basically it helps you learn 10 words each day in another language. (For now, the only languages are: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese & Czech.) The neat thing about it is that it can be embedded in MySpace, Facebook, Orkut, or Hi5. I use it as a Google Gadget in my Google home page.

Monday, February 18, 2008

BibleWorks7, Logos3, Searching, Louw-Nida and Data Accuracy

In two previous posts (HERE and HERE) I looked at how you would BibleWorks7 or Logos3 to look for all the verbs in the imperative mood that occur in Louw-Nida domain 25 which deals with attitudes and emotions. It is pretty remarkable to have tools to conduct such searches. In this post I am first going to comment on how such searches are implemented in BW7 and Logos3, and then I will comment on the results that are generated.

As for the ease of use in conducting a search on Louw-Nida domains, both programs are quite easy to use. If, however, you want to do a LN domain search AND use morphological parameters, then BW7 required a somewhat obscure and mult-stepped process of using the Word List Manager to create a list of words, then apply morph coding, then save results as a file, and then open that file in the Graphical Search Engine. Everything is nicely handled in a single dialogue box in Logos3. On the other hand, while it perhaps took me nearly a minute to set up my search in BW7, it took less than 2 seconds for the entire search to run. In Logos3, it took only a few seconds to set up the search, but it took 45 seconds to start returning hits.
As for the results, in BW7 it is important to have your display versions set correctly so that you can see the results highlighted as shown here. If, however, you want to scan the results in English, switching to an English version will, of course, remove all the highlighting.

In Logos, the results appear like this:This is indeed a more attractive and helpful presentation. Not only is the Greek text present with hits highlighted, but by connecting with the NRSV Reverse Interlinear, you can also see the English with the corresponding words highlighted. (Note that one can choose a different display with just the references and English or references, hit word, and English.)
All in all, Logos3 works better in conducting this kind of search.

The search results, however, are only as good as the data, the links between the data, and the searching engine. (Skip to the bottom if you want my bottom line. A lot of picky details ahead...)

As I noted in the first post, even though this search is intended to include the sub-domain of "desire, wish, want," it does not necessarily include everything for which you may be looking. In Philippians, e.g., this search does not return 1.22 where Paul, reflecting on whether he ends up living or dying concludes by saying, "I do not know which I prefer." You would think that "prefer" would be included in that domain #25A of "desire, wish, will...," but in 1.22 the verb used is αιρεω, and in this situation, it has been grouped in domain #30F of "choose, select, prefer." This highlights the first of a number of important issues of which one should be aware when using software to conduct searches.

  • Louw-Nida has some categories that overlap, so a 'complete' search may require surveying more of the Louw-Nida categories.
  • Some of Louw-Nida's decisions regarding to which sub-domain a word is assigned can be questioned.
I conducted searches using BibleWorks7's Greek morphology (BNT/BNM) and Logos3's OpenText Greek morphology, but note that searches could similarly be conducted using BibleWorks7's Friberg morphology (GNT/GNM) or Logos3's Lexham Syntactic Greek NT database with its morphology. (Lexham is not yet complete for the whole NT.) Depending on which one you use, you will end up with four different sets of responses. Comparing the differences, here are some important issues to keep in mind.
  • The accuracy of the morphological coding: One must simply be aware that there are errors. In this particular search, OpenText identifies μεριμνατε as an imperative in Matthew 6.28, but this can't be right. (It does also identify it correctly as an indicative.)
  • Options in morphological coding: We were looking for imperative forms in this search, but using the Friberg morphology in BW7 or the Lexham in Logos3 return 1 Peter 3.14 which the other two do not. Why? Because Friberg and Lexham recognize in Greek that an aorist Greek imperative is not used with a negative and that the aorist subjunctive is used instead. (Note that Friberg actually is better in identifying as the subjunctive functioning as an imperative. Lexham somewhat incorrectly simply identifies it as an imperative.) Does μη with an aorist subjunctive count as an imperative or not? We simply need to be aware of how the morphological systems handle issues like this. (Other examples include
    -- there are quite a few instances where a verb can be taken as either an indicative or an imperative. E.g., ὑπομενετε in Hebrews 12.7 can be either. BW7 offers both possibilities, but Lexham only treats it as an indicative.
    -- the treatment of middle/passive/deponent
    -- whether participles are all lumped together or sorted (as Friberg does) into "participles" and "participles (imperative sense)"
    -- the handling of verbs with both -ω and -ομαι forms.
  • Coordination between datasets: Quite a few discrepancies between the various texts and the hits generated relate to the way the morphological coding hooks into the database. The LN lexicon can assign a word to a number of sub-domains. Sometimes the text made the link to all the sub-domains (and thus picked up false hits) and sometimes it only linked to specific sub-domains (and thus missed the desired hit). E.g., ἀσπαζομαι is regularly used in the imperative in the Pauline letters when he tells the recipients to "greet" others on his behalf. That verb is listed under LN25.130 with the meaning of "be happy about," but it is assigned to LN33.20 when it means "greet." Only the Lexham correctly handled all these instances.
  • Translation choices: As may be expected, when a word has shades of meanings that might cross a number of LN sub-domains, it becomes the choice of those setting up the links between the Greek word and LN as to which one they think is best. E.g., in 2 Corinthians 6.13, Paul encourages the recipients to "open wide your hearts" using the verb πλατυνω. That is a literal rendering, and as such it is assigned to LN 81.17. As an idiom, however, it means something like "show affection for," and there is a specific reference to such a meaning in LN25.53. Only Lexham made the connection to the LN25 listing.
  • As for other discrepancies between the lists of hits, sometimes I could not figure out why one of the texts missed a hit. As far as I could see, the text identified the word as an imperative from LN25, but simply did not find it. (E.g., ἀνεχεσθε is missed in OpenText and Lexham in 2 Cor 11.1. BW7 misses ἀνακυψατε in Luke 21.28.)
So, bottom line:
We are in a position to do far more with the biblical texts than ever was possible back in the day when I was hard-copy editions of BGAD and Moulton & Geden. It is, however, difficult to claim that an exhaustive and complete search has been conducted. There are errors and coding decisions made in the texts that 'hide' some of the results in which we are interested. The interactions between texts, lexicons, and translations is a subjective process that will often 'hide' some of the results we want.
From this simple exercise of searching for imperatives from LN25, I can make two general observations.
  1. It was easier working with Logos to conduct the search, and I think it does a better job of presenting the results.
  2. I was impressed with the Lexham database. It appears that closer attention is being paid to lexical, syntactical, and grammatical niceties. The specificity (i.e., it often makes a choice when options are possible) is usually a good thing, but I did disagree with it at times, so it is not perfect. I will, however, be eager for the Lexham Syntactic GNT text to be completed.

The Bible and Visual Media

Okay, this is a bit off-topic, but part of my interest in biblical studies and technology is the ability that is now within the reach of just about anyone to create visual representations of biblical texts. I am not thinking of 'literal' representations of the text. Rather, I am intrigued by ways that the text is recast so that it re-performs its original impact.
The American Bible Society (ABS) did some fascinating work in this regard in the early-mid 1990s--Out of the Tombs based on Mark 5.1-20, A Father and Two Sons based on Luke 5.11-32, and The Visit based on Luke 1.39-56--but these projects were technological ahead of their time. (And 5-10 years later when the personal technology finally caught up, sadly, they looked a bit dated.) There are some interesting remnants of this work on the web at The New Media Bible which include a video 'representation' of John 20 (starring Jim Caviezal long before his "The Passion of Christ" fame) and an incredibly rich site on The Good Samarit
an with video and much more. Others have continued to pursue this line of biblical 'performance.' Check out The Work of the People: Visual Media for Ministry and 36 Parables for some interesting approaches. All of these projects which I have cited are professionally done, but you can see how, in this YouTube-ization of everything period, it is quite possible for anyone to create a video performance of a text. (Whether it is a good performance...)
These new performances are also available in a variety of non-video graphic formats and have been the subject of considerable study. (Check out the articles posted under the "In Popular Culture" heading at the online Society of Biblical Literature Forum. Especially check the article by Dan Clanton on "The Bible and Graphic Novels.") Here is wher
e the personal technology that is available really becomes effective.
I teach a class on "Experiencing the Gospel of Mark" where we look at variety of critical approaches, but the goal of the class is to create some kind of 'performance' of a passage. Some of the examples I use are Marked by Steve Ross or Manga Messiah. Using software like Comic Book Creator, students can create their own graphic representation. (HERE is a great example Seth Novak did on Luke 7.11-17. It is more fun, of course, that the people are all members of the class.) And this finally brings me to web post at Jane's E-Learning that got me started on this topic. She identifies three free, online comic strip creators:

Take a look and see if you get inspired!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Logos 3: Syntax Search on Louw-Nida Domains with Morphology

In a previous post, I showed how to search for all the words in a particular Louw-Nida domain using the Graphical Search Engine in BibleWorks7. As a follow up, someone asked about searching for a particular morphological feature of the verbs in this domain, and I showed how that is accomplished in BibleWorks7. It takes a number of steps to accomplish.
In response, Rick Brannan posted a neat video on the Logos blog showing how to do this search very easily using the in-development Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament. That looks like it is going to be an excellent resource. But what are you going to do in the meantime? Rick has posted before on using the OpenText Syntax Search in conjunction with Louw-Nida, but I thought I would post a quick video showing how to look for all the verbs in the imperative mood that occur in Louw-Nida domain 25 which deals with attitudes and emotions. Click on the graphic to view the video (2.5Mb with sound, ~2 minutes)
In my next post, I will examine the relative strengths of BibleWorks7 and Logos3 in conducting such a search and compare the results that are generated.
BTW, does anybody know for sure how to pronounce "Louw"? Is it Low? Lou? Lau?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Logos Graphical Query Guide and other Logos Guides

John Norman posted a "Guide to Basic Graphical Queries" on the Logos newsgroup. It's a 6 page DOC file that provides a great way to get started with the graphical queries in Logos. He is part of the Logos Connections of Springfield, VA group, and you can find the file on the group page HERE. (BTW, if the link at the top of the page doesn't work, look for the one in the right margin which does.)
While you are there, you can check some of the other resources that John has been providing for Logos users. This is just a screen shot of the files that you can check out. Thanks, John!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

BibleWorks7 Graphical Search Engine and More!

In an earlier post, I showed how to use the Graphical Search Engine (GSE) in BW7 in conjunction with the Louw-Nida domains to conduct a search. In response to that post, someone asked whether it were possible to not only search for all the words in a domain, but specifically to find all those instances where words in that domain occur in the imperative mood. It can be done! It takes a little extra work, but it is a good opportunity to see how to use the Word List Manager (WLM) in connection with the GSE. Click on the graphic below to open a 5Mb WMV file. The video is less than 3 minutes long. One thing I don't note on the video is that it is possible to edit the list of words generated by the LN domain in the WLM before applying morphological coding and saving.

More on grammar and diagramming

I have posted previously on sentence diagramming (here and here), and still more possibilities have emerged.

Jim McDaniel, as part of a thread on the Logos newsgroup, has given me permission to post a view of how he diagrams using MindManager.

It has some limitations, but Jim has found a way that is helpful to him. As he and other have regularly noted, however, one problem with diagramming is that obscures the original word order. One simple solution I have used (and Robert Pavich on the Logos newsgroup indicates that Bill Mounce does something similar) is simply to set out the text in order, use line breaks to organize, and then indent the text to show various components. Here is the example I used earlier, Mark 6.34:

The idea is to keep subject and verb (which I bolded) to the left and indent subordinate elements. This is a quick way to see that the participle at the start is only providing a circumstance for the primary action.

Mike over at εν εφέσω has been thinking about this stuff a lot, especially from a linguistic perspective. I'm working through quite a few of his posts, but check out this one on "Working through Ephesians 4 Redux" where he deciphers a particular difficult passage, Ephesians 4.16. He offers a couple possibilities, but here is what one of them looks like. (This is a direct link to his site. Click to enlarge.)

This looks rather complicated, but there is good sense to it, and it does preserve word order.

What we may all really be hoping for is something that Steve Runge described recently on the Logos Bible Software Blog where he discusses a work in progress, the Lexham Discourse New Testament and the companion Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. What does it do?

It catalogs and graphically identifies all occurrences of a specific set ofdevices, like backgrounding, that the biblical writers used, but which arelargely invisible without knowledge of Greek.
It will be very interesting to see what this looks like.

BibleWorks7 Graphical Search Engine

On the BibleWorks forum a search matter was raised that could probably be best handled using the Graphical Search Engine (GSE). Coincidentally, the latest BibleWorks7 Classroom Tip focuses on the GSE and details a neat way of finding locations of postpositive particles. One powerful feature of the GSE that is mentioned in the BW7 Help but is not really well demonstrated is how to search using Louw-Nida domains. If you recall, the Louw-Nida Lexicon organizes words into related groups of meanings. In the video example I provide here, I am looking for all the instances of "want, will, wish, desire..." in Philippians. (For a full size version that you can actually see, click here.)

While the use of Louw-Nida domains is quite inclusive--note that it includes nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. in its word groups--it does not necessarily include everything for which you may be looking. In Philippians, e.g., this search does not return 1.22 where Paul, reflecting on whether he ends up living or dying concludes by saying, "I do not know which I prefer." You would think that "prefer" would be included in that domain #25A of "desire, wish, will...," but in 1.22 the verb used is αιρεω, and in this situation, it has been grouped in domain #30F of "choose, select, prefer."

Monday, February 11, 2008

A few more Greek study resources

Catching up on a few things...

I had previously blogged about the GreekBibleStudy site, but I want to mention it again in light of some other recent comments.

  • First, some folks on the BibleWorks forum were looking for a place to do an online Bible study together. I think this would be a good option because of the ability to create one's own notebook as well as to share notebooks with others. (You can see a note I added to my notebook in the screen capture above.)
  • Second, I have blogged about attempts to develop a 'graduated reader' for the Greek NT as a way to help students learn Greek. I had forgotten that this site does just that. It's keyed to Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek, and one can choose which chapters to have reflected in the coding. In the screen capture above, the first column is the NASB (KJV and ASV along with a Chinese and Spanish version are also possible), the second is Tischendorf's text color-coded according to parts of speech, and the third is the Greek graduated reader. Nice. Instead of Mounce, though, I'm looking for a progressively enabled view like this that is simply based on vocabulary.

A new site I found that may be helpful in learning Greek (though there is more interest in modern or classical Greek, and there are pages for just about any other language) is italki. Check out the resources.

Finally, more just to have fun and mark your spot in the cloud, there is Facebook. There is a "Logos Bible Software Users" group you can join, though it has little activity. More fun and a little more active is the "The Only Good Language Is A Dead Language..." group, and I have actually found some good resources through here. You can find them by searching groups.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

More on sentence diagramming and visualizing sentences

I've been gathering feedback from my previous post on sentence diagramming as well as monitoring some comments on the Logos newsgroup. As you might imagine, it appears that people have a variety of approaches to diagramming. Some never do, and some are carefully working their way through the texts. Most people, however, are doing it in their head and perhaps occasionally, if the sentence is complicated, actually writing it out or using one of the pre-diagrammed resources. One issue that recurred is that before you can diagram Greek sentences, you really need to know how to diagram English sentences, and to do that, you need to understand English grammar... and that is sometimes a problem. In my Greek classes, I know that students are eager to jump into the Greek, and I do so as much as possible, but I spend a lot of time near the start and throughout the course teaching English grammar. Actually, I have found it helpful for really all students to first talk about, e.g., participles in English and give examples of all the ways English speakers use them, and then talk about the similar (and other) ways they function in Greek.
One more thing: in that previous post I had reviewed some of the strengths / weaknesses / abilities of the diagramming modules in BibleWorks7 and Logos. Jim McDaniel on the Logos newsgroup suggested another interesting option. He doesn't follow strict diagramming rules but is more interested in seeing the logical structure. To do this he uses a
mind-mapping visualization program, a resource often used in organizing concepts, work flows, prioritizing, etc. He uses MindManager which is a highly regarded and expensive program, but they are other options. A slightly less capable but free, downloadable program is FreeMind. I tried Mark 6.34 as an experiment, and without spending a lot of time, this is the best I could do.
Not so great...
There are some other neat and free online options. You might want to check out MindMeister which looks to be like an online implementation of MindMapper or FreeMi
Finally, I found to be very quick to pick up and even easier to use. Here is Mark 6.34 which I did in just a few minutes.
That's not bad for a quick view of the verse. It would be easy to develop one's own color scheme to make this work even better. It was very easy to move elements around and choose how I wanted to order and subordinate them.
Hmmm... I was just thinking that was a fairly clever way of doing things... and then I thought it looks exactly like something I could easily do in PowerPoint. Here's my 3 minute rendering of Mark 6.34:

That was probably the easiest of the bunch to do, because it was easiest to import and then move around the Greek text. If one committed to this kind of thing, it would probably be a fairly efficient process.
Bottom line: You probably already know how helpful or not diagramming is for you. If I am to use it or ask my students to do so, I would ask them either to use the pre-diagrammed resources or else do simple diagramming which is possible with or good, old PowerPoint.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Bible Visualizations and Text Data Mining has another interesting post on ways of visualizing the Biblical text that links words of the text with photo tags at Flickr. I'm not sure how useful this one is, but it indicates another way we can try to 'see' the text. Perhaps most interesting are those verses for which no one has provided any matching Flickr tags. E.g., one of the blank spots is Nehemiah 10.25 which reads, "Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah." Go figure...
In a similar vein, Dan Cohen on his blog makes the following announcement:

I’m delighted to announce that beginning this summer the Center for History and New Media will undertake a major two-year study of the potential of text-mining tools for historical (and by extension, humanities) scholarship. The project, entitled “Scholarship in the Age of Abundance: Enhancing Historical Research With Text-Mining and Analysis Tools,” has just received generous funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
He also points to the MONK (Metadata Offer New Knowledge) Project. I'm not sure what all this kind of work will produce, but I'm interested enough to follow along for a while.

Teaching and Learning Biblical Languages

I have blogged regularly on the matter of teaching and learning Greek at the seminary level. (Here and here and here and here and here.) John F. Hobbins has recently posted on "Sadistic Approaches to Teaching Biblical Languages" that has generated quite a few comments. Lingamish followed up with his own posting on "Learning Biblical languages is impossible."
Basically, it comes down to some of the same old arguments. Do you have to learn Greek/Hebrew so well that you are fluent? Or do you count on the electronic tools (interlinears, lexicons) that make it possible to work with the text? John makes the helpful distinction between the goals we might set: to have a knowledge of the Language or to be fluent in the language.
I have certainly been working more and more to move from the latter to the former. How do I gauge success in my classes? You can't beat those moments when a student recognizes some interesting grammatical feature, and the light of understanding turns on. I also, however, take it as an important success when students tell me they had fun even learning Greek in my class.
As a way to make language more enjoyable, John suggests that more should be done with something of a conversational approach: learning phrases, songs, etc. I'm not so sure this is the best way. My wife learned Hebrew in this way, and the only thing she remembers is tohu wabohu (from Gen 1.2). I do incorporate a variety of tools to enhance the oral/aural aspects and to have fun in the class--we try to memorize the Lord's Prayer, we sing "Jesus Loves Me/ O Christos me agaph...," etc.--but I still think we have to provide a structure for understanding how the language works. Unfortunately, that often means first learning how English works... So, I am trying to minimize memorization of forms as much as possible and to maximize the use of tools to discover what is interesting about the grammar, syntax, or words.
A good example of how this looks is provided in a Logos blog post by Steve Runge on "Who Cares About Participles? I Do!" I have also used the Matthew 28:19 example to show that "making disciples" is the key part of Jesus' words, and that the "going..., baptizing..., and teaching" are simply ways of enacting it.