Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bethsaida 2012

This photo book provides a quick overview of the first two weeks of the archaeological dig at Bethsaida this summer. I did it for my own collection, so it features ME!, but there is enough general information to be helpful to others.

I'm well aware that there is some skepticism whether e-Tell actually is Bethsaida. After digging at the site, I think I’m supposed to be a true believer that it is!

Well, I’m not a true believer, but I’m pretty much persuaded. They have determined that there was some kind of lagoon system below e-Tell in the 1st century, so it certainly was accessible to the Sea. I wonder if maybe things were already getting difficult, and it perhaps is not a surprise that the New Testament locates Peter, James, and John in Capernaum rather than their home town of Bethsaida. It would be a lot more convenient. In terms of artifacts, there is much to commend e-Tell (especially as compared to the Araj site for which there is not any excavation evidence yet). We and others before us found Herodian lamps, limestone vessels, and coins that all indicate 1st century BCE/CE Jewish habitation. (We found a silver Cleopatra coin while I was working from late 1st century BCE.) In terms of architecture, they were working in one area that was 1st century CE. What’s missing to confirm identification as the Bethsaida? Well, it still doesn’t look like it was much of a polis. Of course there is still lots to excavate, but no sign of Philip’s tomb which I’m kind of imagining to be at least close to the scale of Herod’s at Herodium. There’s the Temple, but it’s hard to see how it was very impressive as anything in the 1st century. No synagogue found yet either. Still, there is still a lot of the site to be investigated. 

For more info about this dig, check at the official site at the University of Nebraska-Omaha (where Rami Arav teaches) or the semi-official site run by Shai Schwartz.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Greek and Hebrew on Google Drive and Android

 I have been using Google Docs more and more in my classes for students working collaboratively. I also use it for some documents that I want to have available irrespective of what computer I'm using. Google has been transitioning, so now it's all basically part of Google Drive.

One problem in my classroom work, however, is that Google Docs did a lousy job with Greek fonts. I had previously noted that Google had obtained rights to David Perry's great Cardo font, but that it did not include the full font set for Greek. If you used Cardo in MS Word on your local system and then tried to upload it into Google Docs, the Greek was a mess. I'm happy to report that the issue has now been remedied. You may need to do a little extra work to use it in your Google Docs, however. If you don't have Cardo in your Google Docs, here's what you need to do. As you can see in the screen shot below, click on the font drop-down, scroll to the bottom, and click on "Add fonts." This will pop up a screen, and you can search for Cardo and include it in your Google Docs collection. 

All good! Yes! No... As you can see with the graphic at the top of the screen, both Greek and Hebrew look great in Google. Hebrew works right-to-left properly and everything. Greek and Hebrew looks good in both TimesNewRoman and Cardo. You may be wondering why bother with Cardo at all if TimesNewRoman works ok. Depending on a variety of operating system issues, I have simply found Cardo is the best choice, and it includes all the Hebrew, Greek, and text critical characters and more.

Still not all good, however... Google has recently made Google Drive docs editable on your Android and iStuff. Excellent! But here's where the font issue arises again. I can't speak for iPhone/iPad, but on my Android (using a Droid X with 2.3.4), neither TimesNewRoman nor Cardo can display the Greek properly. (Hebrew displays fine, but my Android can't handle right-to-left.) So, what to do? I have just discovered that the Ubuntu font will give you the Greek display that you want as you can see in the graphic at the top.

Great! So now you want to use Ubuntu in documents that you will be sharing on your Google Drive, but... you don't have Ubuntu on your local system. So, here's what you do:
  • Go to the Google Web Fonts page
  • Search for Ubuntu,
  • Click Add to Collection
  • At the bottom of the screen, click on Use
  • On the next screen, click the styles you want to have, then
  • Click on "Download your Collection" (upper right)
  • Go ahead and download, unzip, and install, and you are good to go!
BOTTOM LINE: For docs I'm sharing on Google Drive where I want Greek (and Hebrew) to show up properly I can now use Cardo. If I also want it on my mobile device, use Ubuntu.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Typing Unicode Greek, Hebrew, and more

 Limited Time Tavultesoft Keyman Special Pricing! Details below

I have posted previously about the various options for typing Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, and other biblical languages using Unicode. Here's an update and a link to a good deal on Keyman...
  • The Tyndale Unicode Font Kit is one good option, but I don't really like the way it requires you to type the Greek accents and breathings before you type the vowel. (The Greek Polytonic keyboard that can be installed through the Windows system is similar.) The Hebrew keyboard is different but reasonable. What's nice about this kit is that it has good documentation with installations for various Windows systems as well as Macs. It also helpfully installs the Cardo Unicode font which is great, free font for biblical studies since it includes a full set of Hebrew, Greek, transliteration, and critical marker characters. For my less tech-savvy students, I just have them use this kit.
  • The keyboards offered by Logos are another good option for Windows users and come with helpful installation and layout guides. Keyboards are available for Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic, and also a Transliteration keyboard. If you do a lot of transliterating of Greek or Hebrew, that last one is very helpful as a replacement for the standard US keyboard. (There is, however, a minor issue with the Greek Unicode due to its Beta Code background. E.g., to get an eta with a rough breathing, acute accent, and iota subscript, you need to enter the characters exactly in that order to get a proper combined character made of the four different elements. Using Keyman as I describe below, it doesn't matter which order you use after entering the vowel, and the result is the proper and preferred precomposed character.) The Hebrew keyboard is a bit different, but it can be easily learned. If you regularly type in both Hebrew and Syriac, this is probably the best way to go, because the Syriac keyboard matches the Hebrew as much as possible.
  • Logos does offer the wonderful standalone Shibboleth program which is free. (Windows only) It provides a fully graphical way to type Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Greek, Coptic, Ugaritic, Armenian, South Arabian, Transliteration, Hieroglyphs, Akkadian, Hittite, and Old Persian. It's a copy/paste process, but if you only type infrequently in any of these languages, this is your best option. (The same quirk with Greek Unicode occurs as described in the previous bullet, but the graphical interface guides you to enter the elements in the correct order. You still get the combined instead of the precomposed character.)
  • There are web options for typing Greek. You will want to remember at least one of these, because it doesn't matter what operating system you are using, and if you are not at your own machine, you can go to one of these sites to get the proper Greek you need.You simply type and then use copy/paste to get the text into your document.
    • TypeGreek: TypeGreek does not require Beta Code ordering of diacritic entry and returns the proper precomposed character. The only thing I don't like about this site is that to get keyboard help, when you click on the button, it takes you a different page, and you lose everything you have already entered.
    • Greek Inputter: This one does use Beta Code ordering, but it provides good keyboard help just below the input window.
    • KeymanWeb Notepad: This is a great way to gain access to hundreds of left-to-right language keyboards. It is a type/copy/paste option, but you do have a popup keyboard to help.
    • Keyman Bookmarklet: This is your all-language solution, because you can use any of the hundreds of keyboards in Keyman, including right-to-left languages. The bookmarklet is saved as a bookmark with your browser bookmarks. Regardless of the web page you are on, you can click it and type in your chosen language. Popup keyboard help as well. (More info and an example of how you can embed on a personal web page here. HT: Jim Darlack for reminding me of these last 2 options.) 
  •  Tavultesoft Keyman: The reason for trying to get this post up is that there is a great sale on Keyman only good through 19 September 2012. Keyman is for Windows only, but it really is the most elegant way to type in Greek and Hebrew (and a multitude of other languages). I like the Greek keyboard layout, and it properly creates the precomposed characters. You have the option of having an onscreen keyboard popup when you type which is a great help. (Cf. the graphic at top) It has yet another Hebrew layout which is reasonable enough, and you do have the onscreen keyboard help. Installation is a little more involved than I would like (but it perhaps was due to the other keyboards I had already installed). Keyman kind of comes between you and operating system (unlike the Logos keyboards which become part of it), so if you look at your Greek and Hebrew keyboards in your Regional Language settings, they will say that you are using a US (or whatever your default language is) keyboard. Personally, I set up a macro in MS Word which I then assigned to a hotkey so that when I hit Shift-Alt-G, I activate the Greek keyboard and switch to Cardo font. Hitting that hotkey again toggles me back to English and the default fault. There must be hundreds of keyboards available for languages throughout the world. For Greek and Hebrew, I recommend using the Galaxie BibleScript Mnemonic Keyboards. (If you also type in Syriac, your best bet is the basic Syriac Phonetic keyboard, but it does not exactly match the Hebrew. You might be better off looking at the Logos keyboards.) If you do a lot of typing in Hebrew and Greek this is a great solution. BTW, you can download an evaluation version that's good for 30 days. And, until 19 September 2012 you can get Keyman at a great price that is 70% off. The Light version is only $9 (or $14 for 2 licenses - each system needs its own license), and the Professional version is $25 ($40 for 2 licenses). The most important difference between the Light and Professional is that you are limited to only two keyboards in the Light version. USE THIS LINK to get the discount.
BOTTOM LINE: I bought 2 licenses of Keyman (one for home, one for school system). I use Shibboleth for occasional typing in other biblical languages. I use TypeGreek when I'm not working on one of my own systems.

Monday, September 10, 2012

BibleWorks Installation and Customization

I have just posted a collection of guides with suggestions on installing and customizing BibleWorks 9.
  • The installation guide is intended for a Windows computer. If you are wanting to install BW on a Mac, Matt Day has provided a very helpful guide to make it work in the most effective and economical way. After installation, you can return to Parts 2 and following in my guides for further customization.
  • BibleWorks comes with a collection of excellent How-To videos. Some of my guides overlap with them, but my focus is more on customization and personalization than on use of the program. In customizing, however, you will discover quite a few ways to use the program. Further, my guides are available as DOCX or PDF files or some slideshows if you're the sort who would rather read directions than watch a video.
The incentive to compose these guides is for the seminary students in my Greek and Gospels classes. Please note that many of the suggestions I make in the guides are subjective and are particularly oriented to my intended audience. Still, my suggestions arise from quite a few years of experience with BibleWorks. I hope you find them useful.

HERE is the BibleWorks Installation and Customization Guide

Bible Software Decisions: Accordance, BibleWorks, Logos, et al

It's time again for our incoming students to get their Bible software. At our seminary, students are required basically to have a year of Greek grammar and another year of Greek reading connected with our Gospels and Paul classes. This is still not enough time to expect students to be able simply to pick up a Greek NT and start reading. I am quite aware of the various arguments about how Greek should be taught and the pros/cons of Bible software, but we have decided to make Bible software an integral part of our Greek instruction. As for Hebrew, it is not a requirement, but many of our students do end up taking at least a semester of Hebrew and can follow it up with additional reading courses. For this brief introduction to Hebrew, the software is a critical part of the instruction.

We have "required" students to use Bible software, and we do think it is an excellent investment not only for seminary but for their lifelong ministry, but we are also aware that it can be a significant investment. We encourage students to bring their systems to class so that they can use the software as we go along, but for those who don't have a portable system or who have not purchased the software, we have installed Bible software on quite a few seminary systems to which they have access.

Now, what Bible software should they get? There are some free options which work quite well. I recommend e-Sword, LaParola, or The Word. These are fine programs, but they aren't as fully capable as one of the big three: Accordance, BibleWorks, or Logos. So, which of these should a student get? Ideally, we would all have the same operating system (and same version of said OS) and the same Bible software package (and same version of said software). Up to just a couple years ago, this was impossible because of the Win/Mac divide, but it really wasn't too big of a deal because we had so few Mac users. Today, I'm seeing many more Mac users, so the issue has become more complicated. With some limitations, it has been possible all along to run Accordance on a PC using the Basilisk emulator and to run BibleWorks or Logos on a Mac using one of the Windows emulators. Logos, commendably, was the first to develop both Win and Mac versions. Accordance has recently announced work on a Win version. BibleWorks is cooperating with CrossOver to provide an easy way for it to work on a Mac.

Unfortunately, matters are becoming more complicated since now students are also coming to class with their smartphones, iPads, or Android tablets, and Windows8 tablets are now on the near horizon as well. Logos, commendably again, has been particularly active in providing multi-platform options and is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle, Win, Mac, and also accessible as a web-based resource at Accordance has an app for iPhone and iPad. BibleWorks has already been demonstrated working on a Win8 tablet. UPDATE: And now BibleWorks has made it possible to run it natively (i.e., you don't need Windows) on a Mac.

So, where does this leave our students as we ask them to buy Bible software? As attractive as it would be, we have been reluctant to choose one of them and make it a requirement. Each of these programs has their particular strengths and drawbacks. In practice, what has happened is that we have a few people using Accordance, a few using Logos, but the majority are using BibleWorks. Why? First, part of it is history. About 10 years ago at our seminary, everyone was using Windows and the software the Bible faculty was using was the old Bible Windows. It was a functional program (I couldn't have done my dissertation without it), but for a number of reasons, it was surpassed by other programs. (Actually, Bible Windows is still available, now as Bibloi 8.0, and is a very capable $95 program.) We considered both Logos and BibleWorks, and at that time, BibleWorks was clearly a better program for working directly with the biblical texts and was significantly cheaper as well. The Bible faculty (somewhat reluctantly) made the switch to BibleWorks, and it was also installed on the classroom and campus systems. Today, then, there is simply inertia to stay with a system that we know how to use, has been paid for, and is widely available on campus. Second, it is appealing for students to have BibleWorks when they can see it being used by the instructor in class and follow along on their own systems. I know Logos well enough to show students how to use it. The Accordance users band together and help each other out (and claim that it is intuitive enough not to need any help!). Third, in terms of what we are asking students to be able to do, BibleWorks is the cheapest and really the best 'value.' With student discounts, the full BibleWorks program costs about the same as the Original Languages Collection in Accordance or the Original Languages Library in Logos. Compare what is included in each. For obtaining access to the Hebrew and Greek texts (and associated text critical resources) and a range of English Bible versions along with lexical resources, apocryphal and pseudepigraphal texts, Philo, Joesphus, and early Church texts, BibleWorks is hard to beat. (BTW, I commend Accordance for the new "collections" they offer in Accordance10 rather than the bundles of the previous version which I found to be very confusing.)

Again, I am aware of other factors that go into 'value' (usability, interface, multi-platform support, library management features, inclusion of non-biblical resources, etc.), so that is why we haven't settled on one as the required package. Given the other factors I mention, it does explain why we are mostly running BibleWorks. I'd be interesting in hearing what other institutions have chosen to do.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Android Bible Apps - Relative Speed

I am still working through the Bible apps I have on my Droid X. A common situation for me in using these is when I am in church and wanting to follow along with the lessons being read. I usually like to work in the Greek so I like to have the LXX and a Greek NT handy. One of my frustrations is when the app takes so long to load that I never can catch up with the reader. Even 10 seconds can seem like a long time... Given our liturgy, there is usually enough time between readings that my smartphone turns off, so I need to jump back in to the app. So, I conducted an unscientific test to see how long it takes to:
  • Tap the app to launch it
  • Exit and immediately relaunch the app
  • Switch to a new passage
  • Switch to another version (one that's been previously downloaded)
  • Switch back to the previous version.
I tried to make sure that nothing else was going on with the phone, and I ran the tests twice. The averages do basically confirm how it feels in real practice.

Do note, however, that there are lots of other factors involved that I do not include here.
  • CadreBible and MySword have very nice Parallel or Compare views, and Logos and Olive Tree allow for split screen views if you want multiple versions or languages displayed. For this test, I was just interested in getting to reading a text as quickly as possible. 
  • This test does not take into account how long it takes to navigate to a different version or passage. It's not (usually) a significant addition of time (except for Logos which does not have a recently used list), but some apps have better and faster ways of moving around. 
  • I have these different apps because I use them for different things, and each has different capabilities. Since I have a good Logos library, I tend to use it when I'm needing to do more in-depth work. So, the speed is probably also dependent somewhat on how many resources are included and the capabilities of the program.
  • Laridian's PocketBible is still in pre-release, and I only have a few versions to use with it.
I have my bottom line below, but here are my results. My color coding scheme is rather arbitrary, but it highlights the differences well enough. Green is best, yellow is average, red is slow. (Click on graphic to enlarge)

As you can see, there are significant differences in how fast each app works on my Droid X. As for me, especially for working with Greek, MySword is the clear winner. I don't have as many English versions in MySword, so if I'm wanting to look at the most English versions, I use YouVersion. It, however, does not have a good way to see multiple versions displayed together, and in that case, I'm back to MySword, CadreBible, Olive Tree, or Logos.

As usual, your own experience probably will vary. Updates to the apps are regularly coming which would likely change results. Still, 'speediness' is a factor developers should keep in mind as they work on their apps.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Versions Available in Android Bible Apps

Android Bible Apps Available Versions as of 2012.09.06

 Apps surveyed (with links to install):
I am working toward updated and fuller reviews of the various Bible apps for Android, but in the meantime, I've collated lists of Bible versions that are available in each. Note that my listing is somewhat eclectic in including only English translations I regard as significant along with Greek, Hebrew, and Latin original texts. Each of the apps offers many other texts in other languages that I do not include here. I am also not evaluating the functionality of the app at this time except that I note instances where accented Greek is not displayed properly. Also note that I am highlighting what is available for free in each of the apps, but if you want more and better resources, they can be purchased. You should especially look at the offerings from CadreBible, Logos (and the associated, and Olive Tree.

You can see the full listing of available versions for each app HERE (DOCX / PDF) which also includes prices for additional versions. Otherwise I have summarized my results below. As usual, if  you happen to stumble upon this page a couple years down the line, note that probably everything has changed!


· If you are mainly interested in consulting a variety of useful English translations, YouVersion is clearly the app to use. In addition to all the versions, it also includes access to the NET Bible with all its excellent notes. Some versions—e.g., the NRSV—are only available for purchase or via  a web browser.
If you are interested in looking at Greek texts:
  • For the Septuagint (LXX), MySword is your best choice and even has a version that is parsed and linked to Strong's.
  • The NestleAland or UBS texts are only available for purchase in some of the apps. A good and free alternative is the SBL GNT which was sponsored by Logos. The SBL GNT is available in CadreBible, Logos, MySword, and OliveTree. (I wish I could include YouVersion here, but I cannot get the accented Greek to display properly.)
  • Most apps have some edition of the Textus Receptus or Byzantine text or some other early critical edition (Westcott-Hort or Tischendorf). Among them, your best choice is probably MySword since it also includes Scriveners (1894) parsed and linked with Strong's.
· If you are interested in texts of the Hebrew Bible / OT, the standard BHS text is only available for purchase in a few apps. Some acceptable alternative texts (Aleppo or Leningrad) are available in MySword, CadreBible, and Olive Tree. I'm watching ANDBible to see what comes of their promised Open Scriptures Morphological Hebrew Bible that is linked with Strong's.
· For Latin, some edition of the Vulgate is available in ANDBible, CadreBible, MySword, Logos, Olive Tree, and

Summary of Versions available:


·         NRSV: The NRSV is not available for free in any Android app. The cheapest way to get it is either in Olive Tree or as part of a Logos library.It's also available for CadreBible. If you have web access, you can read the NRSV at, BibleStudyTools, or the Oremus Bible Browser.
·         The NET Bible:  The NET is available with limited notes in many of the apps. It's available for free in YouVersion and at It can be purchased for Olive Tree, Logos, or CadreBible.
·         KJV linked to Strong's: for purchase in CadreBible and Olive Tree
·         Other English versions worth consulting:
o   ANDBible: ESV, Lexham, translations of Peshitto NT
o ESV, Good News, HCSB,Lexham, Message, NASB, NIV, NLT
o   Logos: ESV, Good News, HCSB, Lexham, NASB, NLT
o   MySword: Lexham, LXX Brenton
o   YouVersion: CEB, CEV, ESV, Good News, HCSB, Lexham, Message, NASB, NIV, NLT, TNIV

Greek (with correct display of accented letters)

·         LXX: ANDBible ,CadreBible, MySword
·         LXX Parsed/Strongs: MySword
·         SBLGNT:, CadreBible, Logos, MySword, OliveTree
·         NestleAland: available for purchase in CadreBible, Logos, OliveTree
·         Westcott-Hort: ANDBible, CadreBible, Logos 
·         Some version of Textus Receptus or Byzantine: ANDBible, CadreBible, Logos, Olive Tree, MySword
·         Some Greek NT parsed/Strong's: ANDBible, MySword


·         BHS:  available for purchase in CadreBible, Logos, Olive Tree
·         Other Hebrew Bible (Aleppo and/or Leningrad): ANDBible, MySword, CadreBible, Olive Tree


·         Vulgate: ANDBible, CadreBible, MySword, Logos, Olive Tree,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Accordance 10 is now available

Accordance announced a couple weeks ago that version 10 is now available. 
Be sure to check out the new Accordance 10 video, Dr. J's "First Look" podcast, check out the list of what's new in 10, or take our full-blown tour of Accordance features.
David Lang has been highlighting many of the new features on the Accordance blog. A number of reviews are already available at the top of this page.

Since I am primarily a Windows and Android type of guy, I am even more interested by the other announcment Accordance made that a Windows version will be available in 2013.

Reviving this blog...

It's been a while since I last posted here, but I'm hoping to revive this blog and post regularly. I have a bunch of older stuff that I never finished and published, and there has been plenty of new stuff happening in the Bible and tech sphere.

As for me, I had a very busy spring semester which included teaching two classes on the Parables of Jesus online. That was a learning experience for me...

I spent most of June in Israel. The first two weeks were at Bethsaida as part of an archaeological dig. More on that later, but there is info here and here. I ended up hiking over 150 miles, biking another 70+ miles, and driving 600+ miles. It was a great experience.

Chunks of July and August were spent in Minnesota with family, in Montana teaching at Christikon Bible Camp, and in Yellowstone for an "Ichtheology" conference.

And now, I'm enjoying a sabbatical break for the fall, and that's why I have some time to get this blog going again.