Saturday, November 21, 2009

West Bank and East Jerusalem Searchable Map

The map described in the article linked above is quite an achievement. It's worth reading the whole article, but here's how it starts:
A team of archaeologists from UCLA, USC, Israel and Palestinian territories has developed the first map detailing Israeli archaeological activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem – much of it never publicly disclosed.

The fully searchable online map, which serves as a window into thousands of years worth of archaeological sites in the Holy Lands, has won the 2009 Open Archaeology Prize from American Schools of Oriental Research, the main organization for archaeologists working in the Middle East.
Use THIS LINK to get to the page with further description and the links to the two versions of the map you can access, both of which use Google Maps. The first is a searchable map as shown above. You can search by period, type of site, or keyword. The other map, shown below, uses KML and opens directly in Google Maps.
There are over 7000 sites indexed, but note that it is limited to the West Bank and East Jerusalem. As you can see in the view below, that does mean you don't have sites along the cost or in the north.
One thing that is particularly commendable about this project is that is was a joint Israeli and Palestinian effort. In fact, "the USC Web site is part of a larger effort to devise a framework for the disposition of the region’s archaeological treasures in the event of a two-state peace agreement."
Check it out.
[HT: PaleoJudaica]

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Encyclopedia Judaica Online

IMPORTANT UPDATE: It was not clear initially on the site, but it turns out that this online edition of Encyclopedia Judaica is only available for members of the Jewish Community Association of Austin. They have now clarified the language on the site and according to their contract are unable to honor requests for the password for others. If anyone does know of a legally available online edition, let me know! (My apologies to the JCAA for the inconvenience who were gracious about the mistake. I have removed the links.)
I don't seem to have found a link to this on any of the usual sites I frequent, so it perhaps may also be helpful to you to bookmark this link for free access to the complete, 22 volumes worth, $2263 at Amazon set, 2nd edition of 2007, Encyclopedia Judaica. (That's the link to the entrance page for the Jewish Community Association of Austin where you will find the acknowledgement to Sharon and Richard Kammerman for this online edition and the password needed to access the site.)

While this encyclopedia covers the whole spectrum of Jewish experience up to the present, there is still a ton of biblical stuff readers of this blog may be interested in checking out. Peruse the hundreds of maps, a 44 page "Land of Israel: Geographical Survey," a 6 page article on "Mikveh," 18 pages on "Aramaic," 6 pages on "Jesus" by David Flusser, and information on
virtually any location in Israel or the Jewish diaspora (e.g., Capernaum with a diagram of the synagogue or Corinth or Dura-Europos). To see the maps and illustrations in full size, you will want to download the PDF files instead of viewing the HTML page. You can have the page read out loud to you (!), but more helpful are the download and Citation Tools to help you get the bibliographic data you need. This is definitely an outstanding online resource you should have bookmarked.

And while I'm mentioning matters Jewish, it gives me an opportunity to highlight again the LiveScribe Pulse Smartpen. They have now opened an app store as described in this article. A lot of the apps are free or inexpensive, but the most expensive one is the $99 Magic Yad.

The Magic Yad (which gets its name from the Hebrew term for the pointer used to keep one's place in the Torah) consists of Torah and haftarah portions printed on the special dot paper. When an aspiring Hebrew learner clicks on a particular word, they can hear how it is supposed to be chanted. They can also record themselves reading the same part and compare the two.
Hey, take notes on articles from Encyclopedia Judaica using the SmartPen!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bible Mapper 4 Released!

Bible Mapper 4 is now available! This is not only an outstanding program but one of only a few programs that allows for full user customization of biblical maps. Furthermore, David has a heart for ministry, and this program has been a great way for Bible translation teams to produce maps that do not have any copyright restrictions. (BTW, this is a big deal.) Cost for the license key is $37.

Back in April of 2008, I reported that the Bible Mapper 3 program had been withdrawn but was subsequently shared for free but without any support or promise of further development. Bible Mapper 3 is still available for free, but it lacks the improved software and will not have any technical support. Bible Mapper 4 also includes
35 pre-made maps (as map templates) from the Bible Mapper Atlas Collection. It can read BM3 files, but BM4 files cannot be read in BM3. David also has indicated to me that:

I've also made a number of improvements and bug fixes to the program (including a much faster/smoother Select Object engine). One of the new features is the inclusion of Palestine Grid 1923 coordinates, which are often used in older academic works. You can't input data based on these coordinates, but you can opt to use this coordinate format in the status bar regarding the cursor location.
I am very happy with the improved Select Object tool, and the Palestine Grid coordinates is a feature that only Accordance's Bible Atlas also offers.

With David's blessing, I set up a Bible Mapper wiki for mutual user support. Some video tutorials were posted and a number of maps are shared on the site. Users of BM3 and BM4 are encouraged to join this wiki.

For a survey of digital resources for biblical mapping, see the resources I've assembled here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Logos 4 Content Comparison to Logos 3

I've been working through some of the new features of Logos4, and I have pulled together a listing of resources that are new to Logos4 that are pertinent for biblical studies research. I am primarily approaching this as a New Testament scholar interested in original language resources and also English translations. I also have a interest in maps and images related to the biblical texts. I teach at a seminary, and my choices reflect my work and the kind of work I anticipate my students needing to be able to do.

I have recommended to my students to start with the Original Languages library, and, if they can afford it, to get the Gold library. Those are the best packages from a biblical studies perspective. My review is somewhat lengthy, so it is best viewed as this PDF file with links. I have listed new resources for each library and provide my subjective comments on their value.
I also provide some evaluations about upgrading your library from Original Languages > Gold > Platinum > Portfolio.

I do especially want to indicate one easily overlooked improvement that Logos has made. (I've been critical of them in the past on this matter, so I need to give credit now.) Rahlf’s Septuagint with Logos Morphology (2 Vols.) is not listed as a new resource, but this is a very important update. The morphological coding in the Logos3 Rahlf's Septuagint had serious problems that rendered it completely unreliable for exegetical work. Some quick checking indicates that the problems have been corrected with this edition using Logos Morphology. [UPDATE in light of Comments: Note that the following texts are in a separate resource, "Septuagint with Logos Morphology (Alternate Texts)": Joshua (text family A), Judges (text family B), Tobit (text family BA), Susanna (Old Greek text family), Daniel (Old Greek text family ), and Bel (Old Greek text family). I suppose the trick is to make a collection so you can search both the standard and alternate texts at the same time.]

If you just want my bottom line, here it is:

CONCLUSIONS – Getting the Logos3 > Logos4 Crossgrade:
Logos 4 is still getting everything together (cf. Missing Features), and this short analysis has a very limited scope of considering only content from a biblical resources perspective. The $70 minimal crossgrade is going to get you a lot of additional functionality, and that alone may be worth the cost (and it does include iPhone access).

  • If you have the Original Languages library, the minimal crossgrade gets you most of what you want.The only substantial additions are the Reverse Interlinears, and those may or may not be useful to you.
  • If you have the Gold library, you do get quite a few additional, excellent resources that will make the true crossgrade very attractive.
BOTTOM LINE: Go to your account in to check what your crossgrade or upgrade prices are and use this listing as a guide for evaluating biblical resources.

Again, here is the PDF file with links.

Revised Common Lectionary for Desktop and Mobile Devices

Many ELCA pastors are accustomed to using the little red book not only for appointments but to check out upcoming texts in the revised common lectionary. As they did last year, AugsburgFortress is making the Revised Common Lectionary texts available for free download for the following platforms. Note that once you get it into Outlook, for example, it will sync up with your WinMobile device or with your Google Calendar. (Click on the graphic to go to the Augsburg Fortress page.)

CPH also offers a similar offering they call the 2010 Pocket Diary. It is basically a public Google Calendar, but they show how to get it into other devices.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Logos 4 Installation Notes

In response to a comment on the previous post, I can provide some information about the installation needs and process of moving from Logos3 to Logos4.

I was running Logos3 Gold Library on a 4 year old, WinXP laptop with 2Gb RAM and 2.16GHz processor. I have the Gold library and ran the upgrade from 3 to 4. Downloads and indexing took a LONG time, by which I mean leaving it run overnight a couple times. The progress reports indicated quite a few gigabytes of data being downloaded and indexed. I don't have exact figures, but the Logos3 installation took up a little less than 4Gb and now Logos4 takes up about 4.3Gb.

The program runs fine with but occasional response delays of a few seconds. On my machine, it doesn't feel 'fast,' but it is quite acceptable and certainly better than L3. Searching is so much faster than L3 thanks to the new indexing procedure. Since I have installed the latest updates, Logos4 has not frozen once on me.

From my experience, at least, Logos 4 works great on an older WinXP machine.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Logos 4 Released

Logos today announced a major release of its Bible software program, Logos 4. (Check out the video on that link and more info here.) I was able to beta test the product, and I will provide more info when I get more time. Just a few things to note for now:

  • It does have a different look and feel. The default start page will make you think of a magazine more than of Bible software. Long time Logos users will need to make some adjustments. In general, and especially for newer users, the user interface is clean, intuitive, and logical. The panel and tab layout does work nicely.
  • The program indexes your library, and so searches are faster. In the beta, indexing took a long time to accomplish...
  • There are quite a few new resources. I'm especially interested in the improved resources in the Biblical Places category, and I will provide a fuller report on those later.
  • Your library is also available via WiFi using an iPhone app. (The app is a free download and also works on the iPod Touch.)
  • Logos3 Gold was superseded by a Platinum version, and now you can also get a Portfolio library ("1550 resources worth more than $31,000.00 in print!"). Price before discounts for Portfolio is $4290. For my seminary students (who can get a 30% discount), I'm still recommending the Original Language Library ($416 list) or Gold Library ($1380 list). Be sure to check the comparison chart. To upgrade from Logos3 Gold to Logos4 Gold is $190 before discounts. (I'm guessing that Logos3 OL to Logos4 OL will be about $100.)
  • A number of resources that one previously had to buy separately are now included in some of the libraries. A special effort has been made to include English-Hebrew and English-Greek reverse interlinears. There are also quite a few interesting new "Maps, Photos, and Media" resources included with nearly every library.
Click on the graphic above to get a sense of the layout and look of Logos 4. This a start, but be sure to check the Logos4 page for more info.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Searching the B-Greek List

The B-Greek list is a tremendous repository for information about biblical Greek. If the info you want isn't there, join the list, post a question, and you are bound to get an informed answer. According to its self-description:

B-GREEK is a mailing list for scholars and students of Biblical Greek. Our main focus is upon understanding the Greek text of the Bible. Discussion topics include scholarly study of the Greek Bible and related Jewish and Christian Greek texts, tools for beginning and advanced students of Biblical Greek such as textbooks, reference works, bibliography and research tools, and linguistic topics such as morphology, lexicography, syntax, and discourse analysis.
BUT there is a big problem... How does one find information on a passage or word or topic that has already been posted without digging through 1000s of posts in the archives which date back to 1992?

There have been some options posted in the past (Mac B-Greek Search Widget, a bookmarklet, and a Firefox Search plugin which no longer seems to work). So, I made up my own Google custom search... but then I discovered this post with the link to THIS PAGE. That's the page you want because it has a "Search Archive" form that works well. I certainly didn't find a quick link to that page on the B-Greek site, so to save you the work I went through, just bookmark THIS PAGE.

A. T. Robertson's A Grammar of New Testament Greek in Light of Historical Research

A.T. Robertson's A Grammar of New Testament Greek in Light of Historical Research (1919 3rd edition) is something of a classic in Greek grammar that remains important still today. Though unaware of the papyrii discoveries that have happened since 1919, Robertson's work is important for his familiarity with classical Greek and Latin and his awareness of the work of 19th century Greek grammarians. He was also able to draw upon some of the early work of such noted grammarians like Blass, Deissmann, Moulton, and Burton.

A Grammar of New Testament Greek in Light of Historical Research
included in BibleWorks8 and all the references to examples in the NT are cross-linked. It is similarly included in the "Greek Study Group" of Accordance which is part of Scholar's 8 Standard Level and up. It's an $80 or so addon for Logos.

If you don't have these programs and can go without the crosslinking,
A Grammar of New Testament Greek in Light of Historical Research is available at in a variety of formats, but this is the first edition of 1914. A notice on the B-Greek list, however, brings attention to the work of Ted Hildebrandt and Louis Sorenson who have provided very attractive MS Word files of the third edition (doc, docm, and docx) that has Unicode Greek/Hebrew and includes a Table of Contents with internal links. Thanks to them for sharing their work and making this valuable resource available!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ImageChef: Word Mosaic Creator

I've been fascinated by word visualizations, and here is a new one similar to the now popular Wordle. ImageChef allows one to define a shape for the words you supply. The free version is somewhat limited. The Pro version starts at $10 /month. Here's Mark 15.34 where Jesus is citing Ps 22.1. There are some other fun visualizations at the site to check out. [HT: Jane's]

Global Greek... and the Future of Seminary Education

I am teaching an Advanced Greek class in the spring semester of 2010 (end of January - beginning of May). This is intended for students who really have only had a year of Greek and completed Croy's grammar. Here is the course description:

This class will emphasize Greek grammar (using Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics) and its application in translation to improve and supplement one’s understanding of biblical Greek. In addition to selected texts from the New Testament, there may be readings from the Septuagint, early Church Fathers, and other Hellenistic-Jewish texts.
What I would like to do is have my class be interacting with others studying Greek worldwide. I suspect that the act of translating NT Greek into English will not be quite the same for students in the USA as compared to England, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, or South Africa, not to mention those for whom English would be a second language. How about a modern Greek person who is learning English?!
I am envisioning setting a blog or wiki or using Google docs or something like the Greek Bible Study site as a place for conducting collaborative work. (What would also work really well is Google Wave. I did get an invitation [thanks, Don!], but I'm limited for now until more people are on board to share my waves.) I am not proposing any 'official' arrangement between institutions, so individuals are also welcome to join us. I am anticipating that we would work together on translating a weekly passage with special attention to the grammar and to the nuances of how one best translates into English. (Doubtless the literal / dynamic translation issue will be addressed...)
I'm not sure how large of an online group we want, but if there is a lot of interest, we could break into smaller groups. Actually, I'm not sure how this will work at all, but I think it's an experiment worth trying.
If you have some better suggestions, let me know. If you would like to give it a try, indicate it in the comments and provide some way of contacting you. (Ie, disguise your email address. I want to have you post in the comments so that we all have a better idea of the interest in this experiment.) You may also click on the mgvh under Contributors on the right and follow the link to send me an email.
Thanks! Mark

The Future of Seminary Education

Seminaries across North America (and the rest of the world too, I suspect) are facing numerous challenges as they move into the future. There are economic realities to be faced, but there are also major shifts occurring in the nature of education today. I try to pay attention to what is happening in primary education, because those students will be our students in a decade. I fear that pedagogical practices for most seminary programs is looking more and more outdated. We have made the obligatory moves of updating to email and web sites and using PowerPoint and having tech podiums in our classrooms. We have seen the writing on the web and have created more opportunities for online classes. Of course all this has created new challenges of having to learn how to do all this technology stuff in addition to all the academic proficiencies we are expected to have. We are also having to figure out what the move to more and more virtual/online experiences means for being able to support an expensive residential campus.
A lot of the changes we are making seem to me as if we are simply doing things the way we have always done them and merely adding a little digital glitter. We need to be reflecting more broadly--and more pointedly--about the nature of seminary education. We have begun this process at my institution (Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg), but we are having troubles even identifying where we should be starting.
Is it going to continue to be viable to expect our Master of Divinity students to complete a required four year course of instruction which includes one year of internship when it means multiple relocations, accumulation of significant debt, and the prospects of a position where it will be difficult to pay off that debt? How do we respond to the move by other institutions to reduce the degree program to two years post-bachelors or even bundle it with an undergraduate program into a five-year total program? Can we increase our online offerings without reducing the viability of our residential program? Should we be going ahead on our own, or is this the type of thing whereby we should be partnering with other institutions? Do we need to be rethinking our education requirements altogether so that, in their present locations, persons in ministry are students in training? What do church leaders really need to know and what skills should they have one/five/ten years after graduation? Is the future going to be in training professionals or providing ongoing continuing education for laity?
My 'feeling' at this point is that residential institutions are going to need to clearly define their reason for existing. We cannot assume that students will come simply because it was just the thing to do. We are going to have to consider the goal of seminary education in a world that is decreasingly defined by denominations and increasingly shaped by non-Christian perspectives even as it is also becoming more 'spiritual.' We are going to have to define our niche as an institution of higher Christian education. We are going to have to be more sharply focused... Yet, even as we become more particular, I think we also will need to become more globally-aware. I am not talking about preparing more missionaries. I am talking about the need for greater interaction with the global Christian community that already exists.
It is easy for a Christian in the United States to have a pretty limited view. This blog has helped me realize the international scope of those who are interested in biblical studies. Look at all those red dots on the map at the top of this post, even from countries where Christianity is severely limited or even persecuted! How, then, can we focus on our special strengths and at the same time develop a global vision?
So, for lack of a better forum, I am posting here. If you have exemplary practices or ideas, please share them. I also would like to propose one possibility of my own, and I will describe that in the next post.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Greek-English Lexical Resources Ratings Survey RESULTS

The survey on Greek-English Lexical Resources has been online for a week, and there are enough responses to make some observations about the results. (47 total responses as of 2009.10.19)

  • For exegetical work in biblical studies, Bauer, Danker, Arndt & Gingrich's Greek-English Lexicon (BDAG) is the clear favorite. There really is nothing as comprehensive, and it should, therefore, be at the top of the list of resources to be obtained for work in biblical and early Christian Greek texts. As noted in my post on lexicons available in Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos, BDAG is an extra purchase of $150 for each.
  • There is basically a tie for 2nd place between Louw-Nida's Greek-English Lexicon of the NT based on Semantic Domains (LN) and Liddell-Scott's unabridged Greek Lexicon (LSJ). These have very different backgrounds and intents, but I would concur about the importance of both.
    • I commend LN to my students because it oftentimes provides an insightful perspective on how a word or concept might be heard in a different culture and thereby challenges assumptions we make about it. I also use it somewhat like a thesaurus to see what other Greek words might be used to express a concept and then to compare and better understand the nuance of a particular word. Fortunately, LN is standard with nearly all the Bible software packages, but note that it is strictly a NT lexicon.
    • The unabridged LSJ is a classical Greek lexicon, but it is indispensable for understanding the background of non-Christian and Koine usage of a term. The abridged version is of limited help and mainly indicates whether one should consult the full version. (The abridged version is standard in BW8 and most Logos libraries and an extra cost addon in Accordance.) The unabridged version runs about $135, but one can always go to (or link to from BW8 or Logos) the free, online Perseus resource. It is also available as part of the free, standalone Diogenes program.
  • The next three spots received similar scores and include Balz and Schneider's Exegetical Dictionary of the NT (EDNT); Kittel, Friedrich, and Bromiley's Theological Dictionary of NT (TDNT); and Lust, Eynikel, and Hauspie's Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (LEH). As noted in some of the comments, I should have included Muraoka’s Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (GELS), and I suspect it would have rated with this group as well.
    • I have used the EDNT, and it basically is a timesaver in collecting references to a given word, providing some context for their usage, and making some observations. This is the kind of work I would typically do when conducting a quick word study of my own. (The EDNT is available as an extra cost addon for BW8 and Logos.)
    • The TDNT has its drawbacks, but any exhaustive word study probably needs to consult it. I find that I don't check it that often, because I don't have time to read through the oftentimes very lengthy entries! OTOH, for getting a grasp of the background of significant words from a classical, LXX, Judaic, and variety of NT perspectives, this is a great resource. (Only Logos offers the full version and amazingly includes it as part of most of their libraries. The abridged version comes with BW8 and is available for purchase for Accordance.)
    • LEH and GELS are addressing a specific niche providing lexical support for the LXX (as compared to a focus on the NT). Given the importance of the LXX for NT and early Christian authors, these are indeed significant resources. I have used the LEH, and it is useful for a quick comparison to the range of meanings for a word usually given in its NT context. I have not used GELS, but it appears to more of a lexicon than simply a dictionary as LEH is. (For comments on and comparisons of LEH and GELS, see here, here, here, and here. LEH is included with some of the Logos libraries and is available for purchase for Accordance and BW8. I am unaware of any digital edition of GELS.)
  • Spicq's Theological Lexicon of the NT garnered some votes and has received some positive reviews, so its low rating may simply be due to the fact that it is not well known. A similar resource that I included in the second half of the survey should probably also be included here: The New International Dictionary of NT Theology (NIDNTT). I do not have personal experience with either of these, but NIDNTT appears to be a more concise TDNT, and that can be a good thing. (Both Spicq's and the NIDNTT are available for Accordance and Logos.)
  • Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the NT had previously received low, if not negative, reviews, so it's low rating here is no surprise. I suspect the low ratings for Lampe's Patristic Greek Lexicon are partly due its lack of easy availability and its focus on patristic literature.
I will try to comment on the other resources rated in my survey another time, but there are a few things I think are achieved by this survey:
  1. For students doing exegetical work in biblical studies, getting BDAG should be a high priority.
  2. Though I didn't include shorter or condensed lexicons in the survey, I would suggest that one should be available for quick reference prior to checking BDAG. Of the ones most commonly available (Barclay/Newman's UBS, NAS Greek, Gingrich/Danker's Shorter Lexicon of the GNT...), I recommend Friberg's Analytical Lexicon which is included in BW and available for Logos.
  3. The next resources to consult are Louw-Nida or Liddell-Scott. These are either included in the Bible software programs or available free online, so there is no excuse not to consult them.
  4. I would hope that the folks at Accordance, BibleWorks, Logos, and other Bible software creators take note of such a survey and focus their efforts on making the top resources accessible (in terms of how entries are linked to the text), attractive (how clear and readable the entries are, and affordable. (I will also be interested to see the forthcoming Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the NT by Danker and hope to see it in the software programs.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Goodbye to Gideon['s Bibles]?

Goodbye to Gideon?
New digital Bible could hasten decline of bound Scriptures

That's the attention grabbing headline for this online article at Newsweek by Society and Religion editor Lisa Miller. It is a largely positive review of the recently released Glo Bible which I previously described. It's rather interesting to catch the perspective of Bible software from the secular press. In addition to a description of the program that impressed Miller, there is also some interesting info about the people behind Glo: Nelson Saba ("a Brazilian evangelical Christian who was once, before his conversion, a technology vice president at Citibank") and Phil Chen ("a Taiwanese businessman whose family-owned company, HTC").

I will admit that I'm using digital Bibles far more regularly than print ones, and so I suppose she may not be too far off when she says, does convince me that the leather-bound Bible on every household bookshelf may soon—like records and videocassettes and newspapers—be endangered, if not extinct.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Greek-English Lexical Resources Ratings Survey

What are the most important Greek-English lexical resources a biblical scholar should consult?
I realize that this question could be answered in different ways depending on the context, but I am particularly thinking of the typical seminary student or pastor or Bible teacher doing exegetical work in the NT. (As part of their NT work, they are also likely to need to consult the LXX, Philo, Josephus, and other early Christian literature in Greek.) I am recognizing, therefore, that cost also comes in to play somewhat, but by soliciting the general wisdom of all you biblical scholars to rate the most important resources, people should start forming conclusions about which ones they should be aiming to purchase first. In the meantime, they also have a better idea of which resources they should be checking in the library if they don't have them on their computer.

So, PLEASE TAKE THIS BRIEF SURVEY. (This will send you to a SurveyMonkey web page.)
You can see the live results of the survey HERE.

The first question asks you to rate in order the main, comprehensive Greek-English lexicons. (I've listed eight that I could think of, and you are forced to rank them in order.)
The second question asks you to rate some of the specialized lexicons, dictionaries, or other lexical resources.
I have listed 11 such resources, and they represent something of a mixed bag. They can be ranked from "Very important" to "Don't bother." You also can add additional resources I don't have listed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Greek-English Lexicons in Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos

In the previous post, I ran a survey on the importance of Thayer's Lexicon for biblical studies. As I checked today (2009.10.10; 40 votes), 55% indicated it wasn't worth the bother and 28% said it may be helpful but wasn't worth the money. Only 5% put a high value on it, but 13% said it may be more harmful than helpful. SO...
What are the most important Greek-English lexical resources for biblical studies?
To start answering this question, I have constructed a database of the Greek-English lexicons, dictionaries, or related Greek lexical studies available in various packages of Accordance (A8), BibleWorks (BW8), and Logos (L3). You can view my collation in this PDF file or download the XLSX spreadsheet.

Some general observations:

  • The prices I provide are listed retail, but there are discounts available for all of them. (Probably the closest comparison is between BibleWorks and Accordance Standard or Premier and Logos Original Languages.) In general, prices are best for BibleWorks (especially for getting the BDAG + HALOT bundle). Accordance and Logos alternate with respect to the best prices on resources they have in common.
  • Remember that quantity of resources should not be the main factor in determining the quality of the program. One must also calculate the value/usefulness of the various lexical resources as well as the implementation of those resources in the program.
  • Though somewhat subjective, I have assigned the lexical resources to one of three groups.
  1. There are 'full' lexicons which intend to be comprehensive for a specified body of literature. Of these, Louw-Nida is the only one that is usually included. This an excellent lexicon and one well worth having. It will cost you to add BDAG for each program. The unabridged Liddell-Scott is not available for Accordance and is an extra cost for BW and Logos. Do note that the 'Great Scott' is available online at Perseus. BW and Logos can create a right-click accessible external link to this important resource. (One can also download the LS lexicon for free using Diogenes.)
  2. There are shorter lexicons which provide a gloss for a Greek word. Some are abridged or condensed from one of the full lexicons. (e.g., the Gingrich/Danker, the 'Middle Liddell,' or the 'Little Kittel') Some are simply rudimentary dictionaries. It is important to have one of these included in a base package. Of them, I think that the UBS Barclay/Newman or the ones based on Strong's (which simply reflect words used in the KJV or NAS translation) are the least helpful. I personally find the Friberg Analytical Lexicon or the Gingrich/Danker Shorter Lexicon to provide just enough additional information in an entry to alert my students when they should do further investigation.
  3. There are quite a few additional resources that are specialized lexicons, dictionaries, or word studies. I do not have much experience with most of them. I'd be interested in hearing recommendations...
Some observations about each program:

  • I have not used Spicq's Theological Lexicon of the NT which is included in the Premier library. It would appear to be a decent resource, but I'm always a bit cautious about "theological" lexicons.
  • I wish that Accordance included a shorter lexicon (such as Friberg or Gingrich/Danker or even the 'Middle Liddell') in their packages. As noted above, the UBS Barclay/Newman isn't quite sufficient. Unlike BW and Logos, Accordance doesn't include the abridged Liddell-Scott. Louw-Nida at least is included.
  • It seems that a Web Links tool was anticipated so that one could link in to online resources (most importantly Perseus), but I don't see that it has been implemented yet for work on Greek texts.
  • One helpful feature is that you can set up a Tool Set including all the lexicons you want. Highlight the Greek word, click the Tool Set, and entries for that word show up in tabs for each lexicon.
  • BW's greatest asset is its inclusion of Friberg, Gingrich/Danker (a condensed BDAG), and the 'Middle Liddell.' These provide a good start before getting a more comprehensive lexicon.
  • One can choose in BW to have the entries from all available Greek lexicons show up in the Analysis tab when hovering over any Greek word. In the Resource tab, it will indicate whether a specific reference is made to the word in that verse. One can also right click on a Greek word and "Lookup lemma in Lexicon Browser." From this browser one can choose between available lexicons, and the verse reference will be highlighted.
  • BW also makes it very easy to link to resources in many other programs and to online resources. E.g., I have right click links from Greek text to look up the lemma of the word in the EDNT which I have in Logos or to either the form or lemma in Perseus online.
  • The Original Languages Library does get you a nice collection of lexicons: Louw-Nida, the LEH Lexicon of the LXX, 'Middle Liddell,' and UBS. Most significantly, it also includes the unabridged Theological Dictionary of the NT by Kittel et al. (One of the reasons for jumping up to the Gold Library is that it adds Friberg and, more significantly, the Exegetical Dictionary of the NT [EDNT] of Balz/Schneider.)
  • Logos, as one might guess, offers the largest list of additional lexical resources one can buy.
  • Within the program, one can have multiple linked windows open to compare a lemma in any available lexical resource. One can also easily right/left arrow through lexicons (keylinking) in any single window. Right clicking on a Greek word and choosing the lemma also provides one option that links in to Perseus online.
The listing I provide and this blog post are a start at least in noting which lexical resources are available. As far as I know, there is no 'gotta have' lexicon out there that is not available in one of these software packages. (Am I missing something?)

UPDATES 2009.10.12 in light of comments...
  • Spicq's Theological Lexicon of the NT is available for both Accordance and Logos. It receives positive reviews (including Danker). It covers about 625 words, which is significant, but it is not an exhaustive NT lexicon. (HT: Kevin Woodruff)
  • Liddell-Scott-Jones unabridged lexicon ('Great Scott') will be available for Accordance in November 2009. It is the 9th edition of 1940 which is the version available online at Perseus and in the downloadable Diogenes. (HT: Mike Aubrey) The Accordance, Logos, and BibleWorks renditions all include the 1996 Revised Supplement. (And to answer a question in the comments, 'Middle Liddell' is an extra purchase for Accordance.)
  • BibleWorks8 includes the 1965 Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 2nd Edition, edited by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick William Danker. The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Danker will be released in November 2009. (HT: Rod Decker) It would be great if this could be included in the software programs.
In my next post, I plan to start soliciting ratings on which lexical resources you think are the most important.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thayer's Lexicon for Logos

I'm a bit puzzled about Logos' excitement about restarting an effort to add Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. As it says on the Logos product page:

The publication of the revised edition of Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon in 1889 represents a watershed event in nineteenth-century Greek lexicography, and it remains an important tool for students and scholars of the Greek New Testament more than a century after its first appearance.
Okay, my goal is not to criticize Logos, and $25 for a pre-pub price is certainly reasonable, but I'm thinking... Why? I consult Thayer occasionally, but the only reason I do so is because it comes standard with BibleWorks and shows up with all my other lexical resources. (It also is included with most Accordance Scholar libraries.) The best aspect about it is that it includes some helpful information regarding the use of Greek terms in the Septuagint in relation to the underlying Hebrew text. Still... an awful lot has happened in our understanding of Koine Greek since 1889, and if wasn't included, I probably wouldn't bother.
If asked, I guess I would tell my students that it is helpful if used judiciously, but they would be better off saving up their money to get BDAG or the Exegetical Dictionary of the NT.
Am I missing something here? Have I underestimated the value and importance of Thayer?
What do you think?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

glo - Multimedia Bible

This one looks interesting... glo is a new multimedia Bible program. Appears to be geared more to a popular than scholarly audience, but it looks to have some interesting features. Lot of emphasis on visual interaction and visualizations.It's hard to tell, and they don't include it with their advertising, which Bible versions are included. (Hmm....? I do see NIV on the video.) Check out the video:

Note that it is Windows only for now with a planned for release on 15 Oct 2009. (Mac version is promised) It will cost $80 (pre-order for $60; also at CBD), but here's the number that caught my attention: 18Gb. That's how much room it takes on your hard drive. Don't have that much free? They recommend deleting unused files, getting a bigger hard drive, or buying an external drive.
It's produced by Immersion Digital whose CEO was (is?) connected with the iLumina line of interactive and media-oriented Bible software. If they send me a copy, I'll review it here, but if you have more info/experience with it, please chip in. - Melody Search Tool

Somewhat off the focus of this blog, but nonetheless cool...
Over at, part of CCEL (Christian Classics Ethereal Library) project, there is now a "Melody Search Tool." Using a virtual, onscreen keyboard, enter in as much of a tune with as much as the correct rhythm as you can and hit search. It will go through it's database of over 2800 hymns and find the best matches that it can. It's not perfect, and it helps if you can get the rhythm as close as possible, but my little search above did return the song for which I was hunting as the sixth of 533. (TRYGGARE KAN INGEN VARA aka, "Children of the Heavenly Father")

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pradis Discontinued

Zondervan announced in an email I received today:

Zondervan is discontinuing its Pradis® line of software. Technical support will continue until June 1, 2010 . Zondervan content can be found on multiple platforms and across many devices from e-book readers such as the Kindle and Sony Reader, to mobile devices such as the iPhone and BlackBerry. In 2010, new software titles will become available for use with Logos Bible Software.
Here's the full news release. (BTW, as part of this deal, if you have $1999.95 sitting around, you can buy 87 Zondervan books on Logos pre-pub. Accordance notes that they have had Zondervan resources already available for some time.)
Can't say that I am surprised that Pradis is closing shop... Pradis sort of occupied a middle ground between the high end products like Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos and the more popular programs like QuickVerse or WORDsearch/BibleExplorer. (QuickVerse appears to continue to develop the product, but I'm wondering how much longer they will survive too.) The only other Bible software programs designed for non-mobile systems that I think will hang on are the free ones like e-Sword, LaParola, The Sword Project, or OnlineBible. (The latter is something of a misnomer, since you do need to download the program.) Laridian appears to be carving out a specific niche by offering software that runs on all sorts of mobile devices as well as a Windows-based PCs, and it allows you to sync up between your various devices. I have to imagine that it is a struggle for companies delivering software for mobile devices (like Laridian and OliveTree) to keep ahead of the changes and support the variety of platforms, but they are delivering products for an expanding market. Unless we all move to the cloud and do all our Bible computing on the web...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Laridian PocketBible for iPhone reviewed on ZDNet and some free titles

Nice to see a biblically-oriented app being reviewed on a secular site like ZDNet. Basically a positive review with 25 images!
And while I'm mentioning Laridian, note that they have 11 "classic titles" that they are now offering for free for a variety of the platforms they support. (Palm, WinMo, WinPC, iPhone)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Google acquires reCAPTCHA to help digitize books

This is good! Google just acquired reCaptcha and will be using it to help improve its book digitization project.

reCaptcha is:

a free CAPTCHA service that helps to digitize books, newspapers and old time radio shows. Check out our paper in Science about it (or read more below).

A CAPTCHA is a program that can tell whether its user is a human or a computer. You've probably seen them — colorful images with distorted text at the bottom of Web registration forms. CAPTCHAs are used by many websites to prevent abuse from "bots," or automated programs usually written to generate spam. No computer program can read distorted text as well as humans can, so bots cannot navigate sites protected by CAPTCHAs.

About 200 million CAPTCHAs are solved by humans around the world every day. In each case, roughly ten seconds of human time are being spent. Individually, that's not a lot of time, but in aggregate these little puzzles consume more than 150,000 hours of work each day. What if we could make positive use of this human effort? reCAPTCHA does exactly that by channeling the effort spent solving CAPTCHAs online into "reading" books.

Well now you should feel a bit better about the time you spend filling in those little boxes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WebCite - Citing web sites for the long run...

Passing along a good reminder by Tim Bulkeley who learned it from Suzanne McCarthy:
We've all probably faced at some time the problem of web pages that have simply disappeared or have been relocated. So what to do if you cited that page and now it's gone? Here is where WebCite is valuable. They state:

WebCite®, a member of the International Internet Preservation Consortium, is an on-demand archiving system for webreferences (cited webpages and websites, or other kinds of Internet-accessible digital objects), which can be used by authors, editors, and publishers of scholarly papers and books, to ensure that cited webmaterial will remain available to readers in the future. If cited webreferences in journal articles, books etc. are not archived, future readers may encounter a "404 File Not Found" error when clicking on a cited URL. Try it! Archive a URL here. It's free and takes only 30 seconds.

A WebCite®-enhanced reference is a reference which contains - in addition to the original live URL (which can and probably will disappear in the future, or its content may change) - a link to an archived copy of the material, exactly as the citing author saw it when he accessed the cited material.

Click HERE to create a WebCite reference to your own material. Just making the web a better place...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Syriac Tools and Resources Updated

I've updated my page of Syriac Tools and Resources. Look for the NEW links. Especially note the Syriac flashcards and all the online repositories of digitized books.

What happened to was a great site for tons of old documents. (E.g., the Ceriani edition of Codex Ambrosiano of the Syriac Peshitta OT) It seems to have disappeared from the web, and I can't even resurrect it on any of the archiving sites (Internet Archive, Google, Gigablast, etc.)
Anyone know what happened to it? Did it move somewhere else?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sorting Unicode Greek in MSWord

I was admiring the wealth of resources at Mark Goodacre's rejuvenated NTGateway, and I came across a nifty Word macro for sorting Unicode Greek on the Computer Software page. The link didn't work, but there was info on contacting its creator, Steven Craig Miller, and he quickly sent me the ZIP file with the macro text and instructions. He also gave me permission to share the file here. He wrote the routine back in 2006, but this is one of those little tools that I seem to need every once in a while, so it's worth highlighting again. (I can also now confirm that the macro runs fine MSWord 2007.)
The problem is that sorting Unicode Greek in MSWord will not return the desired results since it doesn't know how to properly order Greek words with accents and breathing marks. (I'm guessing there must be a correct sorting option in a Greek version of MSWord?) Steven's trick involves using a table with the words to be sorted, duplicating the column, running the macro which strips accents and breathing marks and turns everything into capitals in one column, then running the sort on that column, and finally, deleting the capitalized sorting column. Works great!
Fuller directions are included in a PDF in the ZIP file. The biggest problem, is probably getting the macro set up in MSWord 2007 and then finding that Sort button... (That button shown at the top of this blog entry is on the Home ribbon in the paragraph section. If you have the cursor clicked in the table somewhere, then you can also find it in the Layout tab ribbon.)
Thanks to Steven Craig Miller for sharing this helpful macro! HERE is the file.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My spiffy new Bibliobloggers / SBL Affiliate badge

Check out the Biblioblogger / SBL Affiliate badge in the column on the right. It's a bit of validation that biblioblogging is a worthwhile scholarly endeavor. Thanks to Kent Harold Richards of SBL and Jim West for working this out. As noted on the SBL site:

This partnership will make possible the fostering of biblical scholarship and communication among members of both groups. The affiliation will enable Bibliobloggers to meet and hold sessions in conjunction with the SBL meetings.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars

Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

... The quality of Google's book search will be measured by how well it supports the familiar activity that we have come to think of as "googling," in tribute to the company's specialty: entering in a string of keywords in an effort to locate specific information, like the dates of the Franco-Prussian War. For those purposes, we don't really care about metadata—the whos, whats, wheres, and whens provided by a library catalog. It's enough just to find a chunk of a book that answers our needs and barrel into it sideways.

But we're sometimes interested in finding a book for reasons that have nothing to do with the information it contains, and for those purposes googling is not a very efficient way to search...
The article is worth reading. It highlights some of the pitfalls and errors, especially in terms of dating and categorizing resources, that Google Books is embedding in its metadata while digitizing books. I totally agree... but I also figure that a lot of that stuff would be totally unavailable to me without Google Books. Moral of the story: The thorough scholar will continue to need to be diligent.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Software to decipher ancient documents

BTW, for those of you who may have this blog in your RSS list and have given up hope on seeing any post from here again... Since my last post on July 23, I have sold a house (cleaned, fixed, packed, moved), bought a house (moved in and still unpacking... got the Internet and wireless up right away!), brought our eldest to start college (more packing, moving, etc.), taught a 2+ week-long intensive Greek class, and am struggling to finish up some reports and a publishing project. I've got a whole bunch of stuff backed up, but here was a quick and easy link just to show I still exist. (>>> I blog, therefore I am?)

Excerpts from a Reuters account (and HERE is the full article):

BEERSHEBA, Israel (Reuters) – Researchers in Israel say they have developed a computer program that can decipher previously unreadable ancient texts and possibly lead the way to a Google-like search engine for historical documents.

The program uses a pattern recognition algorithm similar to those law enforcement agencies have adopted to identify and compare fingerprints.

But in this case, the program identifies letters, words and even handwriting styles, saving historians and liturgists hours of sitting and studying each manuscript.

By recognizing such patterns, the computer can recreate with high accuracy portions of texts that faded over time or even those written over by later scribes...
It concludes with this interesting observation:

Uri Ehrlich, an expert in ancient prayer texts who works with Bar-Yosef's team of computer scientists, said that with the help of the program, years of research could be done within a matter of minutes.

"When enough texts have been digitized, it will manage to combine fragments of books that have been scattered all over the world," Ehrlich said.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

BibleWorks: New Aramaic Resources

As reported today on the BibleWorks forum:

We are pleased to announce new Aramaic resources available for BibleWorks 8.

The first new resource is the Introductory Lessons in Aramaic, by Eric D. Reymond. This introductory Aramaic grammar includes exercises, answers to the exercises, and a glossary.

The second new resource is a set of Aramaic Paradigms for Aramaic verbs, produced by Jan Verbruggen. Included in a future update will be the full set of sound files by Jan Verbruggen for each paradigm. The sound files will be posted shortly, after making some adjustments to the updater to install the sound files correctly.

This is a free download for BibleWorks 8 users.

It is available through the BibleWorks 8 updater under Help | BibleWorks on the Internet | Check for updates.
This continues BibleWorks' tradition of providing some new resources for free.

Logos Bible Software on SD Card

You knew that something like this was coming eventually... With the increasing popularity of netbooks, many of which have little storage space and no internal optical drive, the big Bible software programs had to figure out another way of being accessed. There are ways of hooking up a netbook to an external drive or another computer that has an optical drive. (These options from Logos work in general for any program.) Laridian has offered PocketBible for Windows on a USB stick for some time (and it has the advantage of storing your notes on the stick so that they are portable as well).
Logos announced today that you can now directly buy its media on a SD card, a great solution since virtually all netbooks have a built in SD reader. You will still need to buy a base package first (can't this be part of the SD card?), and then you can buy a 2 or 4GB SD card depending on the library you own for $9.95 or $14.95 respectively. Of course you could create your own SD collection of resources and eventually we may all be computing off the cloud, but this is a convenient solution for now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Animated Dead Sea Map

A.D. Riddle (whose mapping skills I have previously highlighted - now archived HERE) and David Parker have posted an animated map of “The Dead Sea: A History of Change” showing its water levels, shorelines, and nearby settlements. According to their description:

This is an animated map of the level of the Dead Sea throughout the late Holocene (3500 BC to present).
Lying along the great Afro-=Arabian Rift, the Dead Sea marks the lowest point on the earth’s surface at 422 m below sea level. Because of its low elevation the Dead Sea collects runoff from an extensive catchment area, and since it is a terminal lake with no outflow, the lake acts as a rain gauge, a good indicator other region’s climate.
To create our map, we have drawn upon the synthetic studies of Frumkin and Beitzel which utilize, among other things, pollen values and the locations of ancient harbors to determine the lake’s size.
A.D. Riddle indicated to me that the map was created in Adobe Flash with the interactivity coded in ActionScript.

It’s a fascinating and helpful depiction that does an excellent job of making better sense of the history in the Dead Sea region. Thanks for sharing this map!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Visual Links to Education Faves

AllMyFaves: Very nice visual display of links to Education favorites. There is also a general page of links and other pages for Canada or the UK, travel, shopping, etc. The links associated with the Religion subcategory are pretty decent
[HT: Downes]

Friday, July 3, 2009

Google Proves: Jesus Is Bigger than the Beatles!

Okay, now that my title got your attention, it's an excuse to point out another Google Labs tool called Google Trends. It allows you to compare up to five terms, and it returns results showing relative frequency in search requests and news articles. Results can be further refined by date and (sub)regions. So, I tried comparing: jesus, beatles, "michael jackson".
As the chart shows (clicking on the chart will bring you to the actual results), Jesus has always been bigger than the Beatles! Michael Jackson (during his trial in 2005 and now with his death reflected in the sharp spike at the latest date) has occasionally outdone Jesus.

As with all statistics, results may not be entirely meaningful and can be easily manipulated. (E.g., in my search above, it doesn't distinguish between Jesus Christ and any person named Jesus.) I was trying to think of some other meaningful searches, however. How about: "old testament" apocrypha "new testament"
As you would expect, the Apocrypha greatly trails either of the Testaments, but perhaps you might not have predicted that the OT and NT would in fact be so close in 'popularity'. Also note in this example that the most popular references are highlighted in news articles. Clicking on the "More news results" option will bring you to the News Archives Timeline where you can refine time periods for your search.

One more example I searched for is: "gospel matthew" "gospel mark" "gospel luke" "gospel john" (Note that I had to do it this way, because if I just did "matthew, mark, luke, john," all the references to John McCain and the presidential elections dwarfed everything else.) Now before looking at the chart, do you have a guess about which Gospel is most popular? (And in this case, I focused my results on just the United States.)
As one might have expected, John is the most 'popular' Gospel. I had thought that I might see some changes in interest related to the changes in focus based on the lectionary cycle, but the results are minimal. Do note in this example the additional data about results related to regions. Nebraska and Rhode Island (go figure?!) were the top spots searching for the Gospels. The relative popularity between the Gospels is also distinctive with Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina showing a distinct preference for John. Rhode Island showed the most balance.
The data can also be exported into a CSV file for further inspection/manipulation in Excel.

In any case, I'm not exactly sure how to make good use of this research tool, but it is interesting. If you come up with something significant, please share it here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Beta Exporter and Silver Humana 2 Font

Some of you may recall Silver Mountain software as one of the early leaders in Bible software with their Bible Windows program which was later renamed as Bibloi and their Silver fonts (SGreek and SHebrew) which were widely used. (I haven't used Bibloi since moving to BibleWorks and Logos, but it remains as a fast and functional program that includes all the most important basic biblical texts, is expandable, and is relatively inexpensive at $95.) They were also known for their Workplace Pack that provided the fastest and easiest ways to access the TLG and PHI CD-ROMs that include "most literary texts written in Greek from Homer to the fall of Byzantium in AD 1453."
I just received notice that Silver Mountain has released a Beta Exporter that takes the TLG/PHI data and turns them into Unicode text. Connected with this is the release of the Silver Humana 2 font which includes all known characters used in that Greek database. I don't know if there is any other more complete Greek Unicode font set.