Thursday, November 13, 2014

HarperOne Special Ebook Offer: 20 Religion Classics for $2.99 Each!

This is simply a pretty good deal for some very interesting books by the likes of John Dominic Crossan, Richard Elliott Friedman, Bart D. Ehrman, N.T. Wright, Richard Hays, Amy-Jill Levine, and others. Note that these are ebooks, and you can obtain them through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, or Google Play. HERE is the link.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Greek New Testament Vocabulary Lists

In preparation for teaching biblical Greek again this fall, I am once again thinking about the vocabulary I am asking my students to memorize. Since my students will eventually be getting Bible software, the first argument I need to make is why bother memorize any Greek vocab at all. My response is that we need a foundational vocabulary simply to talk about the more significant matters of Greek grammar. Additionally, vocabulary memorization gives me an opportunity to talk about Greek words and their range of meaning and usage. (E.g., what is the distinction between ουρανός in the singular and plural? OR What does ἀμήν mean? What is its Hebrew background? How is treated in the LXX? What is distinctive about John's use of it?) Additionally again, even when we start using Bible software, having a basic vocabulary will make one so much more efficient in the use of the software and even in just knowing which word to put the mouse over!

So, how much vocabulary do we need to know? According to a number of studies, a person needs to know 95% of the words in order to deduce the meaning of the others from the context. (Cf. here and here.) In the Greek New Testament, there are 5400 lexical forms which are used 138,020 times. (BTW, I'm using BibleWorks9's edition of NA27 and the Wordlist Manager for my word statistics. I suspect there are differences depending on the program and text you use.) It doesn't really mean that a person needs to know 5130 (5400 x .95) lexical forms. That's a good thing since there are about 1934 hapax legomenon (i.e., words used only once) in the Greek NT. Rather, a person would want to know about 131,119 (138,020 x .95) words according to their instances in the GNT. This would require a person to know every word that occurs 6 or more times and a bunch of the ones used 5 times in the GNT. That is, one would need to know about 1700 of the 5400 lexical forms. That's way to many for my students to memorize in a semester.

Let's start from the top instead. I like to tell my students that if they know the Greek article along with καί and δέ, they know about 23% of the words in the GNT! Some other stats which provide specifics to the chart at the top of this post.
  • The 10 most common words cover nearly 38% of the GNT
  • The 18 words used 1000 or more times cover over 44% of the GNT.
  • To know 50% of the words in the GNT, you need to know the 27 most common ones.
  • The 37 words used 500 or more times cover over 54% of the GNT.
  • The 100 most common words cover over 66% of the GNT.
  • The 200 most common words cover just about 75% of the GNT.
  • The 311 words use 50 or more times cover almost 80% of the GNT.
There are certainly other factors which could complicate these stats. Most notably, if you know a word root, you can often determine related lexemes. Again, knowing the prepositions and knowing some verbs, the addition of prepositional prefixes is an easy matter.

So what have I decided to do? Given our limited time, given that we are not aiming to speak or write compositions in Greek, and given that we will be using Bible software, I'm going for the 311 words used 50 or more times in the GNT. Students will be asked to learn 30+ words each weeks for 10 weeks. The vocab quizzes will consist of 10 words each and are multiple choice. Students need to get at least 7 of the 10 correct, and they have 3 chances to take the quiz. I'm also going to make life easier for the students by taking the frequency list and sorting it alphabetically. That way, they will have a mix of common and less common words each week.

I've created my own lists of Greek lexical forms ordered either according to frequency or alphabetically. I've added my own glosses which in many cases provide a bit more information than the typical, minimal glosses. If you would like to use these files which are DOCX files you can get them here:
I'd be interested to hear what vocabulary memorization requirements others of you have.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Survey of the Lands of the Bible - Free MOOC

Interested in the lands of the Bible? Do you enjoy history or maps or archaeology? Planning a trip to any of the lands that are part of biblical history?

I would like to invite anyone who is interested to participate in a free, online course I am offering, “Survey of the Lands of the Bible.” It is being offered as a MOOC (= Massive Open Online Course) starting in September, 2014 through Gettysburg Seminary where I teach. Students are able to participate as much or little as they wish. There is no cost, and buying the course textbook is optional. I believe that the course provides not only a geographical overview, but it also serves as a good Bible history survey that informs the modern situation. Students cannot receive credit for the course from the seminary, but it is a great learning opportunity.

The course will be conducted in English, but I’m hoping for an international audience.

There really are no costs and no risks to register for the course. There is more information HERE.
You can also check this PDF course brochure available HERE.

If you have any questions, please let me know. I hope to see some of you online!

Playing with Powerpoint, Greek, and Video
I'm figuring out the best ways to create short (but perhaps up to 20 minute) videos using PowerPoint. I've started using Microsoft's Office Mix, but I'm still practicing with it. It does allow me to record videos with inset webcam video of myself plus narration plus annotations.

Another option in Office 365 (and Office 2013, I believe) is to create a PowerPoint, rehearse the timings and add narrations, then use File > Export and save it as a video. Here is a 54 second one with a little music and some animations. If you know some Greek, you may actually think it's a bit humorous!

Click here or on the graphic above: Ἔρχομαι and πίνω

I've also used programs like Camtasia for screen recordings. It's more work to use this, but the results are a bit more polished. In any case, see what you think, and let me know if you have other ways for producing videos like this. Thanks.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Logos 5 Lutheran Gold Review Part 2

Logos 5 Lutheran Gold Review Part 2

In Part 1 of my review, I surveyed the resources available in Logos 5 Lutheran Gold. In this Part 2, I will look at how the resources are implemented within the program.

A great strength of Logos is its capabilities as a library management system. With the integration of and hyperlinking between biblical texts and references, a person has a fast and powerful way of studying the Bible and conducting research.

Starting with a biblical text

One of the most often cited passages for summarizing a Lutheran perspective is Ephesians 2.8-9. (And verse 10 should also really be included!)  So if I go to Ephesians 2.8, right click, and choose Reference and then Passage Guide, I get the following.

All those headings can be expanded, but of interest here is the Commentaries which include these from the Lutheran Gold collection:
  • Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament, Ephesians and Galatians (1985)
  • The Lutheran Commentary, Annotations on the Epistles of Paul to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (1896)
  • Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Ephesians (~1870? - more info on Lange's here)
Once you've opened the commentary you want, it's easy to link the commentary window with the biblical text window so that they scroll together.

Biblical cross-referencing within a resource

As with all Logos secondary resources, wherever there is a reference to a biblical passage, one simply needs to hover the cursor over that reference in order for it to appear in a popup.

Searching for biblical references within a resource

As just noted, since the resources have had all the biblical references tagged, it also means that one can search any resource for any particular passage. Here you can see where I've used a Basic search for Ephesians 2.8 in the Book of Concord and obtained 8 hits.

One can search one's entire library of resources (with all the resources I have, I get 2402 results in 1918 articles in 448 resources) or a sub-library = a collection. Collections can be very helpful. In the graphic below you can see where I used Tools > Collections and then typed in Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament and named the resource ACNT. Searching this collection, I get 19 results in 14 articles for Ephesiasn 2.8.

Further, having created this ACNT collection, I can now click on the Library icon, click on Prioritize, search for ACNT, right click on the list of books and choose to prioritize this series. I moved this one rather high on my list, so now when I use the Passage Guide (cf. above), the ACNT commentaries will be among the first to appear.

Starting with a topic

Regardless of whether a word is found in a biblical text or some other resource, if one wants to do further research on that word/topic, simply right-click on it, and then choose Power Lookup, Bible Word Study, or Topic Guide. Any of these tools will provide access to the host of resources in Logos.
It is also possible to use a Basic search and choose a resource (or collection or entire library) and search for the word / topic that way. (580 instances of "grace" in the Book of Concord.)

As another example, Lutherans are often known for affirming sola scriptura, sola gratia, and sola fides (Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone). A Basic search in my entire library for "sola gratia luther" returns 4096 results in 126 articles in 53 resources, almost all of which are found in the resources in the Logos 5 Lutheran Gold.

Other features of Logos 5

All the other usual features of Logos 5 work with the Lutheran Gold version. Not only is it available for either Win or Mac, I also want to highlight that one's purchase of a Logos 5 library entitles one to use it on two computers (not at the same time) and also makes it available on a variety of other platforms. In particular, free apps can be downloaded for iPhone/iPad, Android, or Kindle Fire devices. One can also access resources on the web at (cf. graphic below) though there is not nearly as much functionality.


Logos has done a fine job of  packaging Lutheran resources and implementing them in Logos 5 Lutheran Gold. For a Lutheran interested in building a library of Lutheran primary and secondary resources that will integrate with biblical study, it is an excellent choice. As mentioned in Part 1 of my review, the collection lacks Luther's Works, but there are numerous other Lutheran-oriented resources that make this an attractive option. If one is more interested in just working with the biblical texts, it might be worthwhile to look at Accordance or BibleWorks or Logos' own Biblical Languages library. With Logos one could always then add any other Lutheran resources, but the Logos 5 Lutheran Gold provides considerable value in the resources it does include.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Logos 5 Lutheran Gold Review - Part 1

Logos 5 Lutheran Gold Review
Part 1

I have long used Logos Bible software and have reviewed versions and aspects of it in the past. I have primarily used it for original language study of the Bible and to gain access to the numerous resources available for Bible study. The latest version, Logos 5--with its collection of new datasets, additional resources, and deeper integration of reverse interlinears--is an outstanding program. (Cf. my 3-part review of Logos 5 Gold.Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) I also appreciate being able to use my Logos resources not only my Win7 desktop computer but also on the web and on my Android smartphone. (Comments here.)

As a Lutheran (ELCA) myself and a teacher at a Lutheran seminary, I was pleased to be asked to review the Logos 5 Lutheran Gold collection. I will briefly note some of the aspects of Logos 5 for biblical study, but the focus of this review will be on the specifically Lutheran resources and their use within the program.

The Logos site describes the Logos 5 Lutheran Gold collection thus:
A Bible study powerhouse: Lutheran Gold comes with all of Logos 5’s advanced tools, including the Timeline, Bible Sense Lexicon, Sermon Starter Guide, and everything from the lower base packages. Plus, you’ll get a huge library of 752 resources worth over $18,000 in print. These include key titles, like Bible-history commentaries on the Old and New Testament, the 19-volume Continental Commentary Series, the Liddell and Scott Greek–English Lexicon, and over 30 additional volumes on the life and influence of Martin Luther.
This package is specifically designed for the Lutheran tradition—it combines smart Bible study tools with a world-class library of Lutheran resources, making it perfect for anyone wanting to go deeper into Lutheran studies.
In this first part of my review, I am mainly focusing on the resources available in Logos 5 Lutheran Gold. In a subsequent part, I will review the implementation of the resources in the Logos program.

Standard and Lutheran Gold Collections: Resources Comparison

Logos offers a variety of Bible software collections: Starter, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Portfolio, and Biblical Languages. Within the last year or so, Logos has also offered specialized 'families' oriented to various denominations or backgrounds: Español, Anglican, Reformed, Seventh Day Adventist, and Roman Catholic (labeled as Verbum). The Lutheran collection is one of these family offerings, and for now is offered only in a Starter, Bronze, Silver, or Gold level.

This history of Lutheranism in the United States is rather complicated, but today there are three primary branches which have supporting publishing houses whose works are included in the Lutheran Gold library.
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and (Augsburg) Fortress Press
  • Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and Concordia Publishing House
  • Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and Northwestern Publishing House
Works from Fortress Press are especially featured in the Lutheran Gold collection, but I suspect this is the result of publishing agreements and available digital versions rather than any denominational bias. What Logos has done is modify their standard Gold library by omitting some resources and adding ones with a Lutheran background.
Logos 5 Lutheran Gold lists for $1550 before any discounts (faculty, student, occasional sales...) According to Logos and as noted already, it has 752 resources with a print value of $18,000. The standard (non-Lutheran specific) Gold collection also lists for $1550 and has 1076 resources with a print value of $21,000. How many of the resources are actually valuable to you, however, is a different matter.

So what do you get or not in Lutheran Gold as compared to the standard Gold collection? (Note: I am comparing the standard and Lutheran Gold collections as of 2014.07, but resources do sometimes change.)
  • All the Logos Datasets, Maps, Photos, Media, Parallel Passages and Harmonies are the same or nearly so.
  • Among "Ancient Texts and Morphologies," you get Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia in the standard but not the Lutheran. Neither offers Nestle-Aland, but in both, you will still have plenty of reliable Hebrew and Greek texts to do original language work. There are similar and sufficient "Original Language Grammars and Tools" and "Original Language Lexicons and Word Studies" in both standard and Lutheran Gold to conduct further study.
  • The only real texts of note lacking among "Ancient Texts in Translation" in the Lutheran Gold are Josephus and Philo and the Nag Hammadi Library in English.
  • There are plenty of the most used English Bible versions (and Interlinears) in standard or Lutheran Gold, and the only ones that I consult missing in the Lutheran package (though available for purchase separately) are the Good News Translation and Peterson's The Message.
  • Among "Bible Introductions and Surveys," both standard and Lutheran Gold include resources like the Faithlife Study Bible, Ryrie's Guide, and the Holman Bible Handbook, none of which are Lutheran in background, however. A better option would have been to include The Lutheran Study Bible (Concordia).
  • Though there are fewer resources in the Lutheran Gold "Bible Reference" category, it includes more than enough useful ones (I especially like the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary) and adds The Lutheran Cyclopedia. Among the resources that Logos labels as "Biblical Studies," the Lutheran collection is, I believe, far superior and is a notable highlight. It includes three books by N.T. Wright (published by SPCK), and others by Helmut Koester (the valuable Cites of Paul and Paul and His World), Malherbe, Theissen, and Zetterholm (all by Fortress). Among Bible Commentaries offered, both include a number of old series, and both have the very useful United Bible Society OT and NT Handbook Series. The standard Gold offers relatively recent series like the Holman NT  Commentary, New American Commentary, and Black's NT Commentary. The Lutheran Gold offers fewer commentary series, but the ones included from Lutheran publishers are quite good, most notably the Continental Commentary Series and the Augsburg Commentary on the NT.
  • Among "Bible History and Culture," both include The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land and New Manners and Customs of the Bible, but where the standard offers The Context of Scripture, the Lutheran Gold includes Schürer's History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ and The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition.
  • In the "Church History / Church Fathers" categories, the Lutheran collection actually offers more, including a number of specifically Lutheran resources, noting in particular Gritsch's A History of Lutheranism.
  • In the "Theology" category, there are far more resources in the Lutheran Gold, and most of them have a Lutheran connection.
  • The Lutheran Gold does not offer resources in the categories of "Counseling," "Ministry," or "Devotionals and Spiritual Formation," but I think it was reasonable to omit these since they do not have specifically Lutheran focus. There are also far fewer resources in the "Preaching and Teaching" category, but the Lutheran Gold does significantly include the 13 volumes of the Fortress Press Homiletics Collection
  •  Lectionaries: The lectionary tools are very helpful for identifying and accumulating the Scripture readings for any particular week. Christian Worship (WELS) and Lutheran Service Book (LCMS) one- and three- year lectionaries are included as well as the three-year and daily readings of the Revised Common Lectionary (used by most ELCA and many other mainline denominations). I know of quite a number of (Lutheran) congregations that are using the four-year Narrative Lectionary, and I encourage Logos to add this schedule to their resources.
  •  Liturgy, Hymns and Prayer Books are unique to Lutheran Gold. There are ten volumes with publishing dates between 1715 and 1921 and hence primarily valuable simply as historical documents.

Logos 5 Lutheran Starter, Bronze, Silver, or Gold?

For comparison sake, I also looked at the other Lutheran collections, and Logos makes it easy for you to make your own comparison. Prices listed are before any available discounts.
  • Starter: 195 resources, $295
  • Bronze: 368 resources, $630
  • Silver: 506 resources, $1000
  • Gold: 752 resources, $1550
The Starter library really is limited and doesn't even really take full advantage of the basic Logos 5 program. It does include The Book of Concord, but it does not appear to be a great value to me. Stepping up to the Bronze level does provide for much more thorough biblical studies and biblical reference works in addition to more Lutheran works. Silver mainly provides more biblical tools, early Church, and biblical studies resources, though notably Bonhoeffer's Works are added. Moving up to Gold notably adds the Continental Commentary Series, the UBS Handbooks, the Fortress Press Homiletical Collection, and the Select Studies in Martin Luther's Life and Influence (29 vols.). If I were starting with nothing, I would at least want the Bronze level, but there are good reasons and value to step up to Silver or Gold. If you already own a Logos product, they do take into account resources you already own, so it is worth checking the personalized prices.

SUMMARY: Logos 5 Lutheran Gold Resources

With Logos 5 Lutheran Gold, Logos has assembled a commendable set of resources for conducting biblical study (in both the original languages as well as English) supplemented by a collection of Lutheran resources. Books from Fortress Press are particularly well represented. The resources in the Biblical Studies, Bible Commentaries, Bible History and Culture, and Preaching and Teaching groups are particularly strong. The Theology group does include many excellent resources from a Lutheran theological perspective, but the lack of Luther's Works is notable.

For a more detailed listing of the resources with additional comments, consult this page I have posted.
In the next part of my review, I will see how these resources are implemented in the program overall.

UPDATE: Part 2 of my review is now posted.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Quick Notes: BibleWorks Mac Update and Logos Free Book for April 2014

Just a couple quick notes...

BibleWorks: BibleWorks has just announced an update of their Mac installer. According to their announcement, the update provides:

  • Clearer screen text
  • Touchpad scrolling supported
  • Numerous visual fixes
  • OS X Mavericks support
  • Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Japanese, & more Bible version display
  • Faster performance
Want to update your existing BibleWorks 9 Mac installation? Follow these instructions.

I can report that I have a number of students running BW on a Mac, and things have gone smoothly for the most part.

Logos:  The free book for the month of April 2014 is Steve Moyise's Jesus and Scripture. Moyise is a very good scholar, and his books are worth reading. This is a fairly new (2011) book and sells for $12-20 on Amazon, so if you have Logos, get this book now.