Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reporting from SBL - Logos

 Hmmm.... I wrote this up a month ago but forgot to "publish" it...

Steve Runge at Logos
Stopped by the Logos display and got a chance to visit with Steve Runge. It's good to hear that his Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament is being well received. (The link is to the book at Amazon, but it is, of course, also available as a digital download at Logos.) I'm introducing bits of it in my intro Greek class, but I want to do more with it. I think it's helpful in making students aware of the nuances of the Greek text and why an author has chosen to express something this way instead of that.

I've been remiss about updating all that's going on with Logos lately. The updates to Logos 4 (I'm now using 4.1 SR-4 - UPDATE 12/22: They have now released 4.2) have fixed some niggling issues and have brought up full capability so that I finally am comfortable to delete my old Libronix/Logos 3 from my system. Logos 4 has turned out to be a very nice update. The speed and interface are much improved. I really like the Biblical Places tool and the quality resources associated with it. I think it's great that my Logos library is synced across the computers I use and even available via the web (and hence even at my fingertips when using my old Dell Axim x51v online). To have it available on mobile platforms is also a nice benefit. Of course, Logos is particularly happy to be shipping their Mac version.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reporting from SBL - Accordance

Accordance Booth at SBL
Trying to find some time to catch up on stuff from SBL last week...

I had a good conversation with David Lang from Accordance at their booth here at SBL. (He's been busy working on and now happily finished with editing the Journal of Biblical Literature volumes to be accessible in Accordance.) I am still running Accordance 8 on a Windows machine using Basilisk, but the big news was the release of Accordance 9 (and now already a 9.1 release). In addition to updating the interface, the most appreciated improvement appears to be the Workspace Zones which "group, organize, and synchronize study texts and tools to maximize efficiency." Accordance has been very good at incorporating original language resources into their libraries (texts and images of codices, Samaritan Targum, DSS resources, etc.), and I am happy to see that they now have the collection of Carta publications available.

Accordance is now also at work at developing a syntactical database of the Greek NT. (Luke and John are available for now. Logos, working with, has already shown the benefit of this kind of database for analyzing the Greek text. Accordance appears to be using a somewhat simpler analysis [and this may well be a good thing...].)

Accordance also has announced an iPhone/iPad app which should be available soon that will allow access to all of one's modules. (Targuman has more to say about it here.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Review of SBL GNT in the Gospels by Wieland Willker

Wieland Willker (WW), who is active on the BibleWorks forum, has published an 8-page PDF "Analysis of the SBL GNT in the Gospels." (I, along with many others, reported on the recently announced and released SBL GNT edited by Michael Holmes here.) 

You will want to read Willker's full analysis, but here are some highlights:

  • "It is good to see this new critical text by Mike Holmes. There are too few today. My opinion is that creating a critical text is the crowning achievement of a textual critic's career."
  • He applauds the lack of single bracketed readings. Decisions are made!
  • With regard to the apparatus, WW states that it "is a stopgap, to produce something better than nothing. It is noting many minutiae, but is omitting many important variants. So the student is not informed on all important textual variants, but only on those that are covered by the base texts."
  • WW notes that Holmes has "some fondness" for the Western text, but there are numerous non-Western readings chosen.
  • Noting that most people are interested in comparing this SBL GNT with the NA27, WW claims that (after disregarding some insignificant variations) "there are 232 differences between SBL and NA in the Gospels. Of these, SBL follows WH about 48% of the time and the Byzantine text about 44%."
  • "What one immediately recognizes is that Holmes is a lectio brevior man... This is the shortest GNT ever!"
  • In my opinion, WW has carefully studied and analyzed the Greek NT, so I respect his evaluation when he says, "Overall I agree more often than not with Holmes' textual choices."
  • "For the future I hope for another version to come out with a "real" apparatus, showing the manuscripts... I also hope that Mike Holmes is writing a commentary on his text."
  • WW includes an Appendix indicating "Agreements between Holmes and Willker against NA."
Thanks to Wieland Willker for posting this analysis and sharing it online.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reporting from SBL - SBL's Bible Odyssey

The SBL announced in their September newsletter:

This August SBL submitted to the National Endowment for the Humanities a grant to build a website for the general public, called Bible Odyssey (the previous working title was World of the Bible). In the past year SBL and an advisory team used an NEH planning grant to develop the site concept and a prototype design. (Stop by our table at the Annual meeting for a preview.)

The site will be a useful undergraduate classroom tool and will offer SBL members a chance to hone their public communication skills. We will hear from NEH about funding in April 2011. 

I got to see and have attached pics of a few pages of this still-very-much-a-prototype project. (It is not yet close to ready to go online, so these are pictures of the screens.)  If you look closely, you can see that it is organized by People, Places, Passages, Themes, Traditions, and Maps.

I am hoping the NEH funding comes through. The resource will be positioned as a high-quality site generated by reputable scholars that will be accessible to a popular audience. You can see that it is highly visual, but it does also maintain a text navigation system. I did encourage them to consider how it might function on mobile platforms where it seems more and more people are working online. I see it as a good resource to refer students and laypersons for quick reference.

Reporting from SBL - OliveTree

Visited with the folks at OliveTree whose BibleReader program resides on my Dell Axim and is the program I use to have the Greek and Hebrew texts in my hand. One thing I've appreciated is that, as I've migrated from an old Palm III back in the day to the Dell Axim running WinMobile 5, I have been able to transfer over the books I have purchased. Check out their support for the various mobile platforms including iPhone, iPad Touch, Blackberry, Android, WindowsMobile, Palm OS, and Symbian. They anticipate providing support for Windows Phone 7. BTW, they do also have the SBL Greek New Testament with apparatus available as a free download.

Reporting from SBL - Blogger and Online Publication Section

Rough notes from the SBL Blogger and Online Publication Section - 2010.11.22
Robert R. Cargill from UCLA presiding
James Davila, University of St. Andrews (Scotland): PaleoJudaica
What Just Happened: The rise of "biblioblogging" in the first decade of the 21st century"
His presentation is available online with links at his blog, PaleoJudaica. This is a really helpful summary and overview of "the rise and development of 'biblioblogging' or blogging devoted to the area of academic biblical studies." His conclusion:
Blogging has found a solid niche in academic biblical studies in the first decade of the twenty-first century. It has enriched the field in numerous ways and its expansion over the decade has been exponential, at least until recently... And all indicators are that biblioblogging will be with biblical studies for a long time to come.
Christian Brady at Penn State, well-known online as the blog author of Targuman and also the online editor for the Newsletter for Targumic and Cognate Studies
Online Biblical Studies: Past, Present, Promise, and Peril
Brady has also posted his presentation online at his blog. His main proposal: "I would like to propose the formation of an SBL sanctioned review committee." Why?
(1) It is a viable business model...
(2) Such an assessment would provide the necessary recognition required of P and T committees and department heads...
(3) Knowing that such a review and subsequent recognition is possibility we would all step up our game...

My institution has been supportive of my explorations in the online world, but I would support this kind of review committee. Some questions were raised:
  • regarding the financial viability
  • would the prospect of knowing online work would be reviewed take the fun out of blogging? I suspect that we would still maintain different types of online writing. A site like Online Critical Pseudepigrapha is in a whole other class whose contribution needs to be properly recognized.
Michael Barber, John Paul the Great Catholic University: The Sacred Page
Weblogs and the Academy: The Benefits and Challenges of Biblioblogging
(He promises to post his presentation later on his blog.) Is it even appropriate (given some of the blog site names) to be considering biblioblogging at SBL? Yes... It does not serve as a replacement of traditional formats, but it is helpful and worthwhile. Reported on a survey of academic librarians and their suspicion of blog writing, especially because of lack of peer review. People who blog are more likely to regard blog writing as having academic value as compared to those who don't blog. (duh!) There appears to be a generational gap, with younger scholars viewing blogs as scholarly publications as compared to older ones (even ones who blog). "Bloggership" as a useful neologism... 3 types of publishing: traditional, blogging w/ scholarly aspirations, other types of blogs. Facilitation of learning through 'edublogs' does seem to be appreciated....
Turning specifically to biblioblogging: note that traditional publishers are now regularly pointing to an author's blog on their book promotions.
Barber related his own positive experience of blogging in the research and development of his recently completed PhD dissertation at Fuller. ("Scot McKnight has claimed that historical Jesus research is dead, but apparently no one has alerted the publishers yet!") Unable to keep up with all publications, the blogosphere did provide keys to important directions and developments. (Especially Bird and Willitts at Euangellion
Even non-academic posts are useful in humanizing us as scholars... Really, must a serious scholar always remain serious and objective? Isn't it truer to display the subjective reality of who we are as scholars? This will not undermine our scholarship but increase honesty and sharing between scholars.
Discussion: What about 'vitriolic blogging'? ~ We would want to treat each other with charity and respect, but online exchanges may able to be more open and honest in a 'rough and tumble' way.
James McGrath, Butler University: Exploring Our Matrix
The Blogging Revolution: New Technologies and their Impact on How We Do Scholarship
Started with question: What is a blog? -- (NOT: Lost + LOLcats + YouTube mashups) but a format for making content available
Blogging = reading + writing + linking + commenting | better: commenting with posts organized by date
Graphic of the circle of "knowledge creation":
Analysis Interpretation ~ Authoring/Presenting/ ~Sharing/Networking ~ Publishing/Dissemination ~ Archiving/Preservation ~ Research/Data Collection 
What does this mean for the future of actually meeting together?
"If everyone is blogging... then no one is blogging." True?Is blogging the future? Need to define future of what? It is here to stay. It won't supplant traditional publishing, but does provide new venue.One of the best things about blogging is that it is encouraging new ways of thinking about and presenting content.
McGrath provided a lively (and often humorous) analysis and defense of the value of scholarly blogging. 
Robert R. Cargill, UCLA: XKV8R
Instruction, Research, and the Future of Online Educational Technologies
Referred to a NYT article on "Digital Keys for Unlocking the Humanities' Riches."
How do the new technologies fundamentally change our instruction? (Ie, not just adapting a traditional class to an online setting.) 
Noted his work with the UCLA Qumran Visualization Project which really could be accomplished only through the use of new technologies. Further, there was no real way to share findings through traditional channels. (Cf. Cargill's Qumran through (Real) Time)
Part of problem is convincing academy to adopt new forms of publication
Motivation for publishing is not based on financial hopes but on considerations for promotion and tenure. 
Academic Prestige still resides in the printed format of books and traditional journals. 
dot coms thrived and established businesses panicked and responded by buying and rebranding dot coms. Traditional newspapers and magazines have lost ground to the online sites.
This year, for first time, Amazon has sold more ebooks than traditional books. The academy is being left behind. Result: "The academy must embrace online publication." Online publication should not just be recognized as acceptable but as preferable.
In the past, institutions valued for their hoarding of 'sacred knowledge.' With the new paradigm shift, value resides in the sharing of knowledge. How can an academic institution increase their value and 'preserve their brand' by being known for their sharing of knowledge rather than the hoarding of it?
The future of online course management systems is the textbook. (Digital textbooks, that is!) 
We need to embrace the digital humanities and overcome the challenges of simply commercial and less reputable alternatives.
For institutions, technological support needs to be understood as an utility like electricity rather than a luxury.

Reporting from SBL - Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies

Rough notes from SBL “Workshop on Interactive Technologies for Teaching and Learning” 2010.11.22

Kelley Coblentz Bautch from St. Edward’s University
“The Hype about Skype: Using Videoconferencing to Enhance Our Teaching”
  • Goal is to bring more voices, including global ones, into the classroom
  • KCB has been experimenting w/ the use of Skype in the classroom, including inviting the author of the required textbook
  • Both session-long and also short Skype sessions (e.g., have an expert provide a top 5 list…)
  • Students appreciate opportunity to interact w/ experts in the field and to hear contrasting views; also personalizes the scholarship behind the texts and technicalities
  • Helps students become aware of how the Bible is received in contexts other than one’s own
  • Skype is free and relatively easy to use (other options include Illuminate or iChat or panopto)
  • There are potential challenges of technology and Internet connection
  • The SBL International Voices … identifies scholars around the world who are willing to participate
  • Students largely found it helpful, especially when used in moderation
Brooke Lester from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
“‘To Those Far and Near’: The Case for ‘Community’ at a Distance”
  • In the academic context, the divide he identifies is not so much a technological one as it a distinction between those who have / not experienced ‘community’ online
  • One frequently encounter skepticism re: the reality of online ‘community,’ but this really is reflecting a very limited perspective
  • Provided links for his web tour HERE
  • Note the fine introduction provided at A Community of Scholarship, Emory’s Candler School of Theology, but note the caricaturization of typical online
  • Pharyngula as an example of community
  • Twitter as another example (eg, follow along at #slb10)
  • ‘Getting over the hump’ in an online class eventually ends up with a mutually supportive group
  • Community, Infed (Informal Education) as an example from the field of sociology; community and communion (profound meeting with an/other); openness, reciprocity, trust
  • What are good ways to assess whether students are or not experiencing community in online classes? I.e., what specific questions can we ask in evaluations which can provide some quantitative data for determing this?
  • Some experiments Lester is inviting other scholars to participate in:
  • 60 day invitation to community by interacting w/ other blogs HERE
  • A wetpaint wiki experiment to discuss the ‘Hendel’ matter HERE
David Howell of Ferrum College
“Using Technology Not to Manage but to Connect Course Teaching and Learning”
Examples of programs he has used in teaching
  • TimeGlider: students completed chronology assignments online here w/ some guided questions (Who is the person? Why is s/he important? Why should I care?)
  • Wordle: E.g., used Wordle to visualize apocalyptic literature texts; also cf. Tagxedo or Word It Out (Another alternative I would recommend is ImageChef)
  • Flickr for creating visual collections (eg., the Four Horsemen) and allow for comments and direct annotation of visuals
  • Google Maps and Google Earth: Create one’s own annotated maps
  • Diigo as a tool for social networking; bookmarking, sharing, tagging, and annotating online resources
Adam L. Porter of Illinois College
“The Power of Zotero for Student Learning”
I’ve been a longtime fan of Zotero, and Porter gave a fine introduction of its use and benefits. Do note that Zotero is in the process of creating Zotero Everywhere which will work in browsers other than Firefox as well as function as a standalone. Again, Zotero is a great bibliographic tool that allows you to accumulate, tag, and annotate resources from both online and local locations. With its integration with Microsoft Word, it provides an excellent way of footnoting papers and generating bibliographies. One thing I'm still hoping we can do is work on developing shared group bibliographies such as this one I've started for the Parables of Jesus. Also note that the SBL style needs to be installed separately and is available on this page.

Nicolai Winther-Nielsen
“Bereshit Basic Biblical Hebrew (3BH): Interactive Technology for Language Learning”
To get an idea of how the 3BH program works, login as a guest HERE. It is an interesting program that makes use of Moodle in the learning process. Winther-Nielsen uses the program in conjunction with Logos software. He also demonstrated Ezer Emdros-based Exercise Tool (3ET) as a self-tutored Bible reading program. Useful approach also involving linguistic analysis in conjunction with SESB in Logos. He also showed possibilities for Persuasive Learning Objects Tools (PLOTs). Consider also how we share and engage globally.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Reporting from SBL - E-Publish or Perish

Here are some rough notes from the E-Publish or Perish seminar at the 2010 SBL meeting.

The session was introduced by Charles Jones of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World who described the 30 or so years of work he has done as a librarian. He’s both encouraged and discouraged by online developments. Check out some of the work Jones has done at Abzu ("Abzu is a guide to networked open access data relevant to the study and public presentation of the Ancient Near East and the Ancient Mediterranean world") and AWOL (Ancient World Online).

Christian Brady at Penn State, well-known online as the blog author of Targuman and also the online editor for the Newsletter for Targumic and Cognate Studies, talked about his experiences as an academic who has been active on the Internet. (He encouraged scholars to participate in as a kind of Facebook for academics.)
He used the example of the iPad app Elements as a ki
nd of engaging instructional resource that we should be imagining for biblically related materials. He recognized the amount of time required for producing online resources. From his experience, publishing with online journals is generally recognized as a valid and tenure-worthy form of publication. Other types of online sharing still face some scrutiny.

Ehud Ben Zvi of the University of Alberta and author of more books and online material than can be summarized spoke next. E-publication of journal articles has become an acceptable commonplace. More problematic is the e-publication of monographs. He sees that it will likely become an acceptable standard, but there are challenges and opportunities. One aspect he emphasized is that knowledge is part of the common good, but what does this mean in terms of open access? He is especially concerned about a global openness that makes the common knowledge available to the 80% of the world that does not have access to it now. To this end, check out the open access project, International Voices in Biblical Studies that specifically addresses this need. This project does not want to assume that the model is simply one of the privileged providing sharing with the needy. Hcnce, there is also an incentive to get scholars from the 80% world to publish as well.

Caroline Vander Stichele of the Universiteit van Amsterdam who has worked with the online journal lectio difficilior (European Electronic Journal for Feminist Exegesis) spoke next and described how she got started in online publishing in 1998. With others, she quickly realized the atractiveness of publishing an online journal: lower costs, global access, and fast and effective publication. Those are all good reasons for why one would start an ejournal, and it also allows us to think of experimental directions we might take in terms of topics, interactions, multilinguality, media, etc. So how does one start an ejournal? Her first step was to obtain institutional support for both financial and technological assistance. Institutional cooperation provides some security for a journal’s longevity and legitimacy while also giving publicity to the institution. The issue of control is a challenge—observing copyrights, protecting from plagiarism—but has been addressed in part by preserving physical copies of the online publications.

Ian Scott of Tyndale University College and Seminary (Ontario) and co-editor with Ken Penner of the Online Critical Pseudepigrapha (OCP) was next. His frustration finding texts prompted him to begin the creation of the site. He wanted, however, not simply to provide the most conveniently available out of copyright texts (oftentimes inferior ones) but to make the best primary texts available. Why would we not publish the best critical editions online with open access? We do want to be aware of the rapid technological changes that even allow us to ask this question. With the advent of the printing press arose all sorts of issues regarding intellectual property, paying for publications, etc. The Internet poses even more significant issues. The primary costs for physical printing are in the actual production of the artifact, not in the writing, editing, and peer review. The OCP shows the kind of possibilities for a dynamic and ‘dense’ document. Still, there are costs. The biggest costs for OCP involve platform and software development. Scott would like for academics to adopt a common platform, and to that end they will soon (next week?) be releasing the Grammateus Reader which will be freely available. The Grammateus Reader is flexible and extensible and once installed (Drupal setup), scholars will be able to upload documents and have them available. They are also planning to develop an online editor that scholars will be able to use without technical training. One major challenge is obtaining permission to print texts held in copyright by publishing houses. The SBL is an example of a positive interaction in that they both identified OCP as a SBL endorsed ‘publisher’ and have provided permissions for copyrighted texts that are therefore being released in both print and online versions.

It was an interesting seminar, and we all are benefiting from the work these participants have done. I am especially excited about Scott's announcement of the forthcoming Grammateus Reader. I have often made good use of the OCP site, and this looks to enhance it even further. Thanks!

Reporting from SBL - CARG

The CARG (Computer Assisted Research Group) session was disappointingly poorly attended today. John Schwandt from talked about his frustrations with inputting polytonic Unicode Greek. Some issues we face:
  • What basic keyboard layout to use: Some of us have the NotaBene or Bible Windows or other system we've long used and don't want to change. Main issues are where to map chi, psi, xi, and upsilon. Schwandt would like to encourage use of the Greek national keyboard. (Personally, I've become pretty accustomed to the layout I learned when using NotaBene and Bible Windows.)
  • A bigger problem is with the application of diacritical marks. The Tyndale kit is nice because it rather easily installs the Cardo font and a Greek polytonic keyboard, but I share Schwant's frustration with that and similar keyboards that require one to type the diacritical marks before typing the character.
  • I find the Logos keyboard to be intuitive, but it does not do a good job of rendering all the correct precombined forms. 
  • Schwandt encouraged the use of his own EZAccent solution. I have not checked it, but another good solution is to use Tavultesoft Keyman. If you just need to type a short section, TypeGreek is the way to go.

Reporting from SBL - BibleWorks

Greetings from the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta! The weather is great here, and it's even better to catch up with friends. Here's a pic of me with Glenn Weaver of BibleWorks. I got a chance to see some of the things that BW has indicated that they've been working on. Nothing definite to report for now, but BW has some exciting projects in the works. 
There are a number of things to report, but I will do them in short snippets. It's been a long day (starting at 4:30am...), so I'll get to them when I can. Another way to keep up with what's been happening here is to follow the twitter feeds.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

SBL Greek New Testament Now Available!

As noted in a number of places, this is great news on the SBLGNT site! I am grateful we have a new critical edition (of sorts) of the GNT. I am grateful that is free. I am grateful that Logos has worked with the SBL to make this possible, that one version of it can be integrated into Logos (cf. below), and other versions of it are or will be available in Logos' iPhone app, at the online site, and as XML and TXT files which means that other Bible software programs will be able to integrate it as well. [UPDATE: As Michael Hanel notes in the comments, it's already been ported to BibleWorks.] I am also grateful that we finally have a critical Greek text like this that is free from the hegemony of the German Bible Society! Yes, I will continue to consult my Nestle-Aland, but now I have a reasonable alternative that will alert me to points of divergences in the Greek text that are worth considering.

You will want to read the introduction to this edition, but basically what the editor Michael Holmes has done is started with the Westcott & Hort  text and compared it to Tregelles' GNT, the reconstructed Greek text upon which was used by the NIV translation committee (edition by Goodrich and Lukaszewski), and the Byzantine text as compiled by Robinson and Pierpont. This approach does give preference to the Alexandrian tradition, but Holmes ultimately makes his own decisions. Holmes is not, therefore, working directly with the Greek manuscripts, but he is looking over the shoulder of these various text critics and editors and trying to make the best sense of all their direct research.

I was able to incorporate the text into my Logos4 program by following the download link, ordering it, and then starting Logos4 which immediately made it available to me. As you can see in the screen capture below, I can have quick access to the easily understandable apparatus (something that cannot necessarily be said of NA apparatus), and I do still have my NA27 at the ready. For example, from this shot of Mark 1.1, you can see that Holmes has chosen as the best reading to omit the υἱοῦ θεοῦ, but the apparatus indicates that he is following Westcott & Hort in doing so but that the inclusion is supported by the other Greek editions.

So head on over to the SBLGNT site, check out the resources there, and download this text in whatever format works best for you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Zotero Everywhere!

I've been a big fan of Zotero, and yesterday (2010.09.22) they announced a new initiative called Zotero Everywhere. Be sure to check the whole announcement, but here's the key part.

Zotero Everywhere is aimed at dramatically increasing the accessibility of Zotero to the widest possible range of users today and in the future. Zotero Everywhere will have two main components: a standalone desktop version of Zotero with full integration into a variety of web browsers and a radically expanded application programming interface (API) to provide web and mobile access to Zotero libraries.

What does this mean and why is it important? Until now, Zotero has been limited to users of Firefox, and it largely works within the Firefox browser. (Remember, though, that Zotero has a plugin that allows easy integration with Microsoft Word or Open Office for easy generation of footnotes and bibliographies.) Now, they are promising integration with Microsoft Internet Explorer, Apple Safari, and Google Chrome. There will also be the standalone version available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

I know that I use Zotero for creating my bibliographies as I work online, but I also use it to annotate entries, link to reviews of a book, link to my own resources, etc. It truly is a great research tool.

Zotero Everywhere is not yet available, and the announcement doesn't indicate when it will be, but this is good news.  
[HT: Dan Cohen]

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Microsoft's Live Labs has come up with a neat way of sharing pics on the web called
Here's an example of Caesarea Maritime aqueduct.

This was a stitched together panorama, so the resolution isn't the greatest, but you get the idea. Use the buttons at the lower right to zoom or go to full screen. You can grab and move the image around. Use your mouse wheel for zooming... also works for capturing full web pages like this:

(Do note that it captures an image of the page. Links do not work.)
It's easy to create your own, so give it a try. For more info, also check HERE.

BibleWorks8 - Setting Search Limits

A student recently asked me how to use BibleWorks8 to search the Old and New Testaments, but to exclude the results from the Apocrypha. If you are searching in English (what?!?), then just use a version that doesn't have the Apocrypha... e.g., NET or NAU.
It's trickier in Greek. That is, we want to search only the books in the LXX that are part of Hebrew Bible canon, along with the NT Greek.The task is complicated by the way that the books of the OT are ordered in the Hebrew, Greek, and English versions. There are a couple ways of accomplishing the task, and if you click the graphic above, it will show you a 2'11" video on how to do so. One of the ways I'll show is setting up a custom search limit. You will need to copy the text below and paste it in to BW8.


If I get a chance, I'll try to show how to do the same in Accordance and Logos unless someone else can pull those together quickly. (I'm not as capable at Accordance, so I'm not sure how to do such a full Bible search with a single command. In Logos, I think it requires setting up a LXX/NT collection using the same morphology.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Open Source Textbooks

There's been a progression of comments regarding the creation of a free, online Old Testament textbook. Here's the latest from Mark Goodacre, and you can track back from that post to AKMA. There is a parallel movement in the kindergarten to high school textbook field as well as described in a recent NY Times article, "$200 Textbook vs. Free. You Do the Math." Scott McNealy (of Sun Microsystems fame) is behind a nonprofit, online hub for free textbooks called Curriki. Some aspects of the discussion are the same, but there are differences as well. The article indicates that McNealy with others "shuns basic math textbooks as bloated monstrosities: their price keeps rising while the core information inside of them stays the same." So, from their perspective and with respect to the kind of textbooks they are interested in having, the information is static. It's the cost of textbooks that is the main problem. 

The discussion about a FOSSOTT (free, open source Old Testament textbook) has highlighted some of its advantages for fostering the possibility of including different viewpoints. I.e., we do not necessarily assume in the biblical studies field that all information is static. Further, as James McGrath has outlined, there are a number of potential different models for rethinking what we want in a 'textbook.' 

In response to the NY Times article, Mark Guzdial at the Computing Education Blog weighs in with some considerations regarding quality (in the process and in the material), innovation (Is it possible in an open source approach? Is the innovation in the approach or the textbook?), and sustainability. He is somewhat skeptical about the whole thing...

Personally, I'm thinking changes are not only needed but are inevitable. With the increase of portable reading devices (which still need to get a bit better to substitute for physical textbooks), I think we are headed to all digital. With Mark Goodacre, I would hope we move to something less "texty" and more open, interactive, connected, and social. (I.e., both teachers and students should be able to do more than 'use' a textbook. They should be able to note disagreement, questions, etc.) I've had something like this in mind on a small scale with my Parables of Jesus site, but it is still in its infancy. In any case, we are able to see a future which offers the possibility for some exciting options in creating more flexible (and hopefully also free or low-cost) 'textbooks.' 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Greek and Hebrew in Google Docs and Windows Live SkyDrive

I've used Google Docs for some time and recently Microsoft placed a version of its Office suite online under the Windows Live SkyDrive banner. One of the important considerations for me is how well they handle Greek and Hebrew. I ran through a number of configurations, and if you want to see how they look, you can check them out HERE along with additional comments. For a simple summary of what works or not, here's what I've been able to determine.
  • It makes a difference whether you use Firefox or Internet Explorer. There are some differences in line spacing, but more important differences are based on how you have your font settings. For my test, I had switched my default Greek font in Firefox to Cardo but had left IE8's Greek default to TimesNewRoman.
    In FF, use Tools - Options - Content tab - Fonts and Colors - Advanced. Choose Greek from the dropdown and choose your desired font.
    In IE8, use Tools - Options - General tab - Fonts - Choose Hebrew or Greek Language script and choose your desired font.
    I still recommend the free Cardo font.
  • Google has acquired rights to Cardo, but it is not yet implemented with a full set of characters to do Greek/English editing.
  • SkyDrive likes to use Microsoft's Calibri font as an English default for composing or editing. Calibri is not available in GDocs, and it uses Arial instead.
  • If you have Greek or Hebrew Unicode keyboards installed, you can type directly in Greek/Hebrew in either SkyDrive or GDocs. It is also possible to copy/paste.
  • Saving my mixed English/Hebrew/Greek file in SkyDrive regularly crashed it (i.e., the SkyDrive tab, not the browser.) It was an easy and quick matter to restart but a bit of a pain nonetheless.
  • Note that the option to open and edit an online document in SkyDrive in MSWord on your computer requires that you be running it in IE8.
  • If you have a Unicode Syriac font installed and a Syriac keyboard, you can compose in Syriac as well. 
  • The only font you can count on for a consistent display of Greek (i.e., all the characters are in that font) is Tahoma.
  • Other fonts may look a bit strange with the font substitutions for accented characters, but the Unicode is accurately preserved. So, when you apply an appropriate Greek Unicode font offline in your local word processor, everything will look fine.
  • Note that some of the Hebrew does not display correctly (e.g.  אֱלֹהִים - the holem takes up its own space), but when used offline and a font like Cardo is applied, it will appear accurately.
  • In GDocs, you can right align text, but it does not allow for right to left orientation. In SkyDrive, you can apply right to left orientation, so, if you are doing a lot of typing in Hebrew, SkyDrive is more helpful.
BOTTOM LINE: You can work in Greek or Hebrew (or Syriac) in either GoogleDocs or Windows Live SkyDrive. I don't see a huge advantage of one over the other. If you want to have multiple persons working on a document at the same time, however, use GDocs. If you are familiar with MSOffice and its editing ribbon, SkyDrive will be very familiar. If you are mainly working in Hebrew, SkyDrive is better.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Adding Bible Search Engines to the Opera Browser

Michael Ballai on his Theologica site describes steps one can take to add Bible search engines to the Opera browser. This provides a quick way to access online Bible resources like the ESV or NET Bible text or link to sites like Bible Study Tools. If you use Opera, check it out!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hebrew Legacy Fonts Converters

Hebrew Legacy Fonts Converters

I have previously tried to list "Greek Legacy Fonts to Unicode Converters." Here are the Hebrew legacy fonts converters of which I am aware. If you know of others, please add a comment, and I will update this post.

Ken Penner's SPTiberian (SBL legacy TrueType) to Unicode (Word macro)

Galaxie BibleScript (Word macro/template)

  • Use the Windows Installer to install Galaxie Greek/Hebrew fonts and Word template
  • Involves a two-step process converting legacy fonts to Galaxie fonts and then to Unicode
  • Hebrew fonts handled: Hebraica/II,
    Bwhebb (BibleWorks), SuperHebrew, SHebrew (Bibloi)
  • Greek fonts handled: Alexandria,
    Koine, Gideon, Mounce, Bwgrkl, SymbolGreekP, Graeca, WinGreek, GraecaII, SuperGreek, Sgreek
SHebrew (from Silver Mountain; used in BibleWindows and Bibloi)

  • Bibloi 8.0 includes a Unicode Type Assistant for SHebrew to Unicode
SIL  (Word template and standalone SILConverters 3.1)

  • This package provides tools through which you can change the encoding, font, and/or script of text in Microsoft Word and other Office documents, XML documents, and SFM text and lexicon documents. It also installs a system-wide repository to manage your encoding converters and transliterators.
  • Among many others, it contains encoding converter map(s) for the following encoding/fonts:

    • SIL Ezra to/from Unicode
    • Hebrew Unicode 4.0 to/from Hebrew Unicode 5.0
Greek and Hebrew Encoding Converter (Ken Penner - online: copy/paste textbox)

  • From: SPTiberian, Linguist HebraicaII, B-Hebrew transliteration, Unicode, SPIonic, Greek BETA, SGreek, LaserGreek, AG, Greek Unicode NFD, Unaccented Greek Unicode, Greek Code Page
  • To: Unicode, Code Page 1255 (Hebrew Windows), SPTiberian, B-Hebrew transliteration, SuperHebrew, Unaccented Greek Unicode, Greek Unicode NFD, Greek BETA, Unaccented B-Greek,
JBLC (paid conversion service for RTF files)

  • Transforms texts with legacy fonts like SuperHebrew, SPIonic, SuperGreek, Bwgrkl, and others to any Unicode font
LaserHebrew Converter
  • $79.95 available for Win or Mac from Linguist's Software
  • LaserHebrew and LaserHebrew II to LaserHebrew in Unicode
  • Note that the Jerusalem font uses the same key mapping as LaserHebrew.
Accordit from Accordance Bible Software (look for it near the bottom of the page)
  • Check AccordIt 2.0 User's Guide
  • Converts LaserHebrew (Linguist's) or Jerusalem (MacBible-Zondervan) to Yehudit (both are non-Unicode)
  • Converts Hebrew to Hebraica II
BibleWorks BWHEBB to Unicode
  • Section 59 on "OLE and DDE" in the BibleWorks8 Help file provides the MSWord macro text to conduct the conversion

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Review of Thomas Naef's Holy Bits: A Guide for Using Computers in Biblical Scholarship

I've just completed a somewhat lengthy review of Thomas Naef's Holy Bits: A Guide for Using Computers in Biblical Scholarship. Instead of posting it all here, you can read/download the PDF. Though it is a review, I actually write more as a dialogue partner with Naef and suggest some alternatives to his suggestions. The title hints at the rather wide range of the topic, so I suspect you will discover some sites or applications of which you are now not aware. If you have other suggestions, leave a comment here or go to the book's site and leave a note for Naef himself.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cambridge University Digitization Project

In case you had not already heard...
Cambridge University Library has announced plans to become a digital library for the world... The first collections to be digitised will be entitled The Foundations of Faith and The Foundations of Science. The goal for both is that they become ‘living libraries’ with the capacity to grow and evolve... The library also holds the world’s largest and most important collection of Jewish Genizah materials, including the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection – 193,000 fragments of manuscripts as significant as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Its Christian holdings include the Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis, one of the most important Greek New Testament manuscripts, the Book of Deer and the Book of Cerne. [ChristianToday]  
Very nice... [HT: TW at ETC]

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Quick Notes: Greek Flashcards and Glo Bible

Danny Zacharias over on Deinde has compiled a great list of Greek flashcard vocabulary options. (Previously discussed here with further info.) So I had to make a link to this Flashcard Scholarship opportunity posted HERE where you have the chance to win $500 by posting a video of you destroying your paper flashcards! (I suspect many students would be happy to do this for free...)

The Washington Post has an article today on: "Glo digital Bible designed to reach a younger generation". It provides some background and describes some applications of it in church settings. Founder of Glo's Immersion Digital, Nelson Saba, is quoted as saying that "it is currently available only for personal computers and laptops, but the intent from its inception was that it would be applicable to mobile devices." (I've posted my own reviews of the Glo Bible HERE and HERE.)

Typing Biblical Hebrew

What are the best ways to type biblical Hebrew? Personally, while I have strong preferences about how my polytonic Greek keyboard is laid out, I haven't typed frequently enough in Hebrew to have clear preferences. For example, 
  • Do you want to use an English keyboard which matches the Hebrew phonetically? Or do you prefer an Israeli keyboard?
  • Should the shift state serve to provide final forms or doubled forms? 
  • Where do the vowel points go? Try to match them with English phonetically? Or put them all on special keys (123...)?
  • Where is the aleph key? (I'm always searching for it if it's not on the "a".) Or the vav/waw? Or the het or tet?
That's only one set of issues related to the keyboards. You also have to consider whether/how Hebrew with its right-to-left typing is handled in your word processor. Or maybe you want to compose all your Hebrew in your Bible software and copy/paste it into your documents. Or do you want a system-wide switch so you can type in Hebrew in your word processor, email, web page...

I'll try to sort out some of the options, but in all cases I will assume that you are wanting to end up with Unicode Hebrew using a font like Cardo or SBL Hebrew. Even if you go with transliteration, you will need some help to get the special characters... I'm also providing screenshots of keyboard layouts where possible so you have a better idea of the layout philosophy of the various options. (Click on the graphics to enlarge them.)

System-wide Hebrew Keyboard
The idea here is that your operating system understands that you want to type in Hebrew and switches to a Hebrew keyboard and a Unicode Hebrew font using right-to-left formatting. (For Windows users, at least, this is going to mean enabling a buried regional parameter to allow the right-to-left typing.) Do note that most English users are not going to want to use an Israeli keyboard but rather one that is laid out for an English keyboard and optimized for biblical Hebrew needs. An advantage in using a Windows system keyboard is that you also can use the onscreen keyboard which is included for free. (It is part of the accessibility options in Windows. For WinXP see here or here and for Win7 see here. [HT: bkMitchell]) What about Macs? I don't have much experience with Macs, but I have noted some solutions below. 


One of the easiest ways to get started typing in Hebrew is to use the Tyndale Unicode Font Kit. It provides clear instructions for installing everything, the fine Cardo font, and an installer. It's available for WinXP, WinVista (& 7, I presume), and Mac. For the Hebrew keyboard, it uses a combination of sound-alike and look-alike positions. (E.g., note that the aleph is on the "x", shin is on the "w", and vowels go with their sound-alikes.) Cf. the graphic above. (A transliteration keyboard is included in the Greek keyboard using the Cardo font and activated by turning on caps lock.)


Another excellent way to type in Hebrew (and other languages) is Tavultesoft's Keyman program. (Pricing is $19 for 2 keyboards. Windows only) Once you have the program, then get Galaxie's BibleScript Greek and Hebrew Keyboard. (Here is a PDF of the installation manual and keyboard layouts.) As you can see in the graphic above, the shift state is used for doubling and most of the vowels are on the shifted number row. It's a bit of a trick finding the final form. A nice feature is that it does include a pop-up keyboard if you need help.


In addition to the fine SBL Hebrew font, SBL also provides Hebrew keyboards. Here is the SIL keyboard manual. It's mainly phonetically based, but the aleph and ayin are on the shifted angle brackets, and you'll find the het on the "x" and the tet on the "v".


SBL also provides a Tiro Hebrew keyboard. Here is the Tiro keyboard manual. It's mainly based on the Israeli standard keyboard, so it is probably not a preferred keyboard for those not familiar with that layout.

Based on a Hebrew keyboard for the Mac, this Hebrew QWERTY keyboard has been made available for Windows. (Link is to a ZIP file. Extract all files and run the .msi file. [HT: Mikhtav]) There a few 'qwirks' to this layout, but it may work for you...

Logos provides a Hebrew keyboard for use in Windows. The placement is  largely phonetic (but the aleph on ") and the shift state is used for finals and for related letters. (E.g., t is tav, and Shift+t is tet. A transliteration keyboard is also available on that page.)

MultiKey by Stefan Hagel is a free program that supports Unicode input in many Windows programs. (I.e., it isn't exactly a system keyboard like the ones listed above.) It includes keyboard tables for Hebrew and 17 other languages using Unicode and 3 older Hebrew keyboard tables. (WL Hebrew, WinGreek Hebrew, BWHEBB) You can customize your keyboards, but it will take some work since it's primarily geared for modern Hebrew. (E.g., I can't find the final forms...) 

Don't like a keyboard layout? Tyndale provides some instructions for changing the layout using SIL's Ukelele program for the Mac or the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator for Windows. Basically these allow you to assign Unicode characters to keystrokes, but matters are complicated with Hebrew (and Greek) because you will want to add vowels and accents and such and have the keyboard reference the proper precombined character. You will probably want to get familiar with BabelMap which is a great free Unicode character mapping program for Windows.

... and for Macs
Cf. the description above.

Here is a good place to start for some basic information on installing and using a Hebrew keyboard. Info is given on how to activate the Keyboard Viewer. Instead of using the standard Hebrew keyboard layout, it is recommended that you use the Hebrew QWERTY keyboard displayed above.

SBL provides Hebrew keyboard Drivers for SIL and Tiro (OS X) Cf. graphics above for these keyboards.


Bill / Ze'ev Clementson provides his own well-considered Hebrew-ZC Keyboard. It's well-considered, because he has tried to incorporate the best of both the SIL and Tiro keyboards as well as frequency of Hebrew character and vowel stats. The keyboard download, installation instructions, and layout diagrams are on that page.

Independent Hebrew Typing Aids
Shibboleth is a great free tool from Logos I have previously mentioned for entering text in 10 languages as well as a transliteration mode. Logos states:
Shibboleth is a tool for typing Unicode text in ancient scripts. It was designed to help people unfamiliar with a script easily enter the correct characters, and then copy text to the clipboard in Unicode or another format.
While a keyboard layout is provided for several scripts, the emphasis is on helping the user recognize and select the proper characters. To that end, user input is shown in both typed and rendered format, with multiple font options, and all of the characters for each script are selectable from a well organized palette on the right side of the application window.
You can enter text using your keyboard or pointing/clicking on the characters you want. This is particularly helpful if you need to include cantillation marks and have trouble remembering where to locate them on a keyboard. Do note that the output is actually in XML, so when you paste your text you will see the XML Hebrew encoding indicators. In a word processing document, you will probably want to delete those. It works great in a web page since you will only see the text, as I am demonstrating here: בּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִם. (In a word processor you would see angle brackets enclosing "he" and "/he" codes.)
Note also that Shibboleth does require Microsoft's .NET Framework 4 Client to run. Also available on the download page are other fonts you can install to use your output in other applications.


Keyman Web is a free, online notepad from Tavultesoft for typing in just about any language and then copy/paste into your document. For Hebrew, you can choose to use the Galaxie Hebrew keyboard described above as part of the Tavultesoft Keyman program. As you can see in the graphic, you can activate an onscreen keyboard. (But it won't show you all the vowels on the shift state.) You can see that the אֱלֹהִים doesn't look correctly spaced, but when you paste it into your word processor, it will be fine.

Here's a clever idea if you are needing to input Hebrew on a web page, and you are not using your own computer. Hebrew Keyboard Bookmarklets from Bill (Ze'ev) Clementson provides your choice of four Hebrew keyboards (Tiro, SIL, QWERTY, or his own ZC--cf. above) that you can activate (using javascript) as a bookmarklet. You are also provided bookmarklets to turn off the Hebrew keyboard and adjust LtR or RtL text direction.


Now only available on Internet Archive, Am ha-Aretz is another notepad type of online app that allows you to type / copy / paste. There is an Internet Explorer version that works well and an "other browser" version that works with Firefox but not very well.

Integrated English-Hebrew Word Processors
Another option is to use a word processor that is designed for scholarly work that requires a variety of  fonts including a mix of left-to-right and right-to-left languages.


Nota Bene Lingua is much more than a word processor, but it is incredibly easy to use for typing in Hebrew and handles mixing typing direction well. It has popup keyboards and smart characters that automatically convert to final forms as you type where appropriate. It uses a largely phonetic layout, but vowels are accessed through using F6 and then selecting the one you want.

DavkaWriter is "the world's most innovative Hebrew / English Word Processor." I personally have never used it, but I have only heard positive comments from people who do. (It appears to be Windows only.)

"Mellel is the leading word processor for Mac OS X designed especially for creative and technical writing, scholars and anyone who wants a reliable word processor." "If right-to-left languages, or languages related to biblical studies are important to your work, Mellel is probably what you need."

Classical Text Editor is "the word-processor for critical editions, commentaries and parallel texts..." Allows for any number of notes and apparatus, bidirectional text. Created by Stefan Hagel. (Cf. MultiKey above) For Windows and Macintosh with emulated Windows.

You can actually do quite well in MSWord using a system keyboard as described above. The graphic shows how I can type in Hebrew mixed in with English and Greek. I have activated the on-screen keyboard (also described above) and am using the Logos Hebrew keyboard which I activated by using the ALT-SHIFT strike to toggle through my available keyboards. (Cf. the "HE" for Hebrew in my system bar at the bottom near the right.)

As indicated in the comments, Nisus Writer Pro (Mac) reportedly does well with right to left fonts and NeoOffice (Mac) is also usable. OpenOffice (Windows, Mac, Linux) is also an excellent choice.

I have no experience with Unitype, but you can buy this program (starting at $150USD) as part of either the standalone Global Writer or Global Office which integrates with MS Word.

Antioch "is a utility which allows you to type classical Greek and Hebrew in Word. It includes fully programmable Greek and Hebrew keyboards, a uniquely simple and flexible system for handling diacritics and vowel points, an elegant font with all necessary characters, and converters for documents in many other formats." It works with all versions of MS Word (including 2010) for Windows. Vowels are on the number row and also on the keypad. It allows for personalization of the characters. Cost is US$50.

Bible Software Editors
If you have one of the major Bible software programs, you can use their built-in editors and then copy/paste into other applications or documents.

Accordance provides a good explanation of font usage in this PDF file. The font used for Hebrew is Yehudit. Keyboard diagrams are provided. Accordance does not actually use Unicode, but it can export Unicode.


BibleWorks has a rather robust editor that allows for typing either in its own BWHEBB font (shown above) or in Unicode. (When using the Unicode Hebrew, it actually uses the Hebrew system keyboard you have installed.) The 'busy' buttonbar shown can be simplified, and the editing works for both the editor and chapter/verse notes entries. The files are actually RTF files, so you could do your work in the editor and then open the file in your word processor.

Logos works entirely with Unicode, so anything you type will use the system keyboard you have installed (cf. the choices above), and you can easily copy/paste text into documents outside Logos in full Unicode beauty.

Well... pulling this info together took way longer than I anticipated, but I am gearing up for a writing project that does involve a lot of Hebrew, and so I wanted to get myself properly situated. For that project, I may try to do everything in Nota Bene. For now, I've been using the Logos Hebrew keyboard in MSWord and also in the BibleWorks editor. When I've gotten frustrated with finding vowels or other markings, I've pulled up Shibboleth. Keyman Web is another quick option, and I am considering whether I should go ahead and buy the Keyman Desktop program, since it really does the best job with polytonic Greek. I've provided graphics of the keyboard layouts, because that really is the most important factor.

At least now you know many of your choices, but I have to suppose I've missed other options out there. Please post a comment on your preferred way of typing Hebrew, and I will try to update this entry. Thanks.