Saturday, December 1, 2018

Scan Books into Zotero from Your iPhone or iPad

I've been a long-time fan of Zotero as a free, bibliographic and note-taking tool. It takes just a click to add books, web sites, pdfs and more from the web. (It especially works well with Amazon books.) It allows for note-taking and tagging and attaching other resources. (E.g., I link reviews from the Review of Biblical Literature to a book.) My books can be tagged and organized in my library, and the library is synced in the cloud, so I have access to it from anywhere.

They recently announced an iPhone / iPad app for scanning barcodes on books to get them directly into Zotero. Directions for installing and using the app are HERE. It requires iOS12.

If you don't have an iPhone or iPad, you can go to this web page, enter the ISBN, and save it to your library once you have created your account. Other than using that web page in a browser, there is no good Android option yet.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

New "Art of the Bible" site from has just announced a new "Art of the Bible" site. The project is described here and says:
Art of the Bible is a website I* made to catalog 5,800 freely available historical Christian-themed artworks on Wikipedia. The site primarily focuses on European paintings from the 1400s to the 1800s that, at least in the U.S., should be free from copyright considerations. Arranged into 116 Bible stories, it relies on linked data to populate its database–which means you should be able to use these images for pretty much any purpose.
*I'm presuming the "I" is Stephen Anderson who's been behind most of's stuff like this.
The homepage graphically organizes major biblical events or persons along with subcategories. Clicking on one of the subcategories will bring you to a visual collection of related art. (Cf. the graphic above.) Clicking on one of the images brings you to Wikimedia where more information and downloadable files can be found.

The advantage of this site as compared to a Google or Bing image search is that these are all from Wikimedia, and that means you can be (completely?) sure that the image is free to use.

Check it out!

Friday, November 9, 2018

VizBible Map of Paul's Journeys

I just learned about this fabulous mapping project that is shared by Robert Rouse on the VizBible site. It displays Paul's journeys which can be displayed separately, and the but the really wonderful aspect is that the sites on the route are hyperlinked to a popup that indicates on which journey and which Bible text mentions the site. Further, there is a link to the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire which opens in a new window. From there, you have access to tons of further information from Pleiades, Brill's New Pauly, Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, more maps, articles, etc. Yes, it becomes a rabbit hole from which you may never emerge, but you'll enjoy the journey! It also works well on a smartphone through a browser with pinching to enlarge/shrink and to select a site.
HERE is the Rouse's blog post describing the work he did in creating the map, and while you're on the VizBible site, be sure to check out the other visualizations he's created.
HT: Tim Bahula on Twitter

Accordance offers update with new Text Browser

Accordance has announced a free update to version 12.3. If you have Accordance, you will definitely want to update. Read about all the new features here in the release note. There are lots of nice little touches to make using the program easier (options in a Research tab; many improvements to the web browser including locating Scripture references on a web page that can become text links), but I want to highlight the new Text Browser feature.

Those familiar with BibleWorks know that one of its features was its Browse pane which allowed for the display of a verse or verses as found in a customizable collection of Bible versions. Accordance has now added this feature with its Text Browser. Right-clicking on a passage reference in any text display and choosing "Look Up" now includes the option to choose the Text Browser. It looks like this:
This is a great way to compare original texts and translations, and one has access to all the linked tools including the cross-highlighting and instant details information. The texts to display can be customized easily by creating one's own text group. Note also that the number of verses can be selected from 1-9. There is a "compare" option, but it (quite logically) only compares the first two versions in each language. The Text Browser tab, when opened as noted above, automatically ties it to the originating tab, so it's possible to scroll through the text quite nicely. It's also possible to use CTRL (COMMAND)-C to copy all the displayed versions and paste them into a word document. (I do miss, however, the great control of customizing text exports that was available in BibleWorks which surpasses both Logos and Accordance.)

One tip: The text size of each version can be controlled individually or set in the text display defaults, but if you want to increase or decrease font size of all the texts at the same time, just hold down the ALT key as you click on the aA font size icons.

For more info on the Text Browser, be sure to watch Dr. J's video on the Lighting the Lamp Video Podcast.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Logos 8 Released
Logos just announced the release of Logos 8. I'm looking forward to checking it out when I get a chance, and I will report here when I do. I have a large Logos library already, so I am mainly interested in the new features. Reading through the information on the web site, it appears that this upgrade is especially directed toward pastors and persons interested in theological study. I'm particularly interested to check out the new "Workflows" feature. These look to be addressed to specific interests and promise to be efficient and capable approaches.
More to come...

Monday, August 20, 2018

New Bible Software and Interpretation Blog

Glenn Weaver, a longtime member of the BibleWorks team, has just started a new blog, Bible Software and Interpretation. In explaining the purpose of the blog, regarding Bible software, he writes:
Most writings have been sales pitches, reviews, or blog posts about individual program features. What is lacking is an overview of what software can provide for the interpreter, what are its limitations, and how the use of software affects interpretation and how interpretation is likely to change in the future because of the use of software.
I'm glad to see Glenn sharing his vast experience here. If you're interested enough to be reading my blog, you probably should be interested in reading his! 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Free Intermediate Biblical Greek Reader: Galatians and Related Texts from Nijay K. Gupta and Jonah M. Sandford

Nijay K. Gupta announced that he is sharing for free an Intermediate Biblical Greek Reader: Galatians and Related Texts co-written with Jonah M. Sandford. Actually, the book is the result of an advanced Greek reading class who used Google Docs to collaborate on the writing of the notes. Read about it HERE. From that page you can find the link to the download which is available as PDF, ePub, or Mobi. The text includes helpful syntactical notes, grammatical/morphological notes, lexical notes, and textual notes. Thanks to Gupta and Sandford for sharing this!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Jonathan Robie: "Needed - An Open, Trustworthy, Trusted Greek Text"

Jonathan Robie at presents an important argument about the need for an open, trustworthy, trusted Greek text. He writes:
The Bible is at the heart of digital biblical humanities, and open scholarship depends on an open text that can be used in scholarly publications and translations. For the Greek New Testament, the critical editions that can be used in scholarly publications and most translations are not open. The texts that are open are generally not considered acceptable for scholarly publications or translation. Something's got to give.
While arguing for such a Greek NT text, he notes that for the Hebrew OT there is

HT: James Tauber @jtauber on Twitter

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Media Used for Bible Reading

In my previous post, I noted the Crossway survey on how people read the Bible, but I also noted that they didn't ask what media people use to read it. So I conducted my own survey!
It's a small sample size (21), but I suspect it's fairly accurate considering that the respondents are ones who found the link on a Bible and technology blog. The chart above shows the overall weighted scores. If there is any surprise, it's that hardcopy Bibles are being used as frequently as those reading it on their smartphone.
Here's a more granular view:

Again, it's clear that physical copies of the Bible are as popular media as smartphones. I will confess that I read the Bible almost exclusively on my home computer / work notebook, but when I'm in church I use my Samsung Galaxy Note 5. The only time I use a hardcopy Bible is when I'm preaching and want to have a visible reminder in my hand that the Bible is my reference.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Crossway Survey: How do you read the Bible?

Crossway recently conducted a survey to see how people read their Bible, how often they read, favorite books to read, hardest to comprehend, and study tools people use, etc. Some interesting results, but on the question of "What things do you usually have with you when you read the Bible?", they didn't include any technology aids. (Cf. graphic above.) I know that these days I primarily am reading the Bible on my computer or phone.
So, I've created my own quick, 1-question survey: "What Bible media form do you use?" Thanks for participating!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Via Egnatia - Walking with Paul from Neapolis to Apollonia

I've put together a video that will allow you to walk with Paul and Silas from Neapolis to Apollonia. HERE is the video in which I cover the following.

Acts 16.9-10 recounts Paul's vision while he was in Troas of the "man of Macedonia" asking him to come over to Macedonia. In Acts 16.11-12 it says:
We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. 
After the incident with the slave girl in Philippi that caused such a scene, Paul and Silas leave Philippi, and Acts 17.1 states:
After Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.

What Paul and Silas did, actually, is follow the Via Egnatia (VE) from Neapolis (modern Kavala) to Philippi to Amphipolis to Apollonia. It was the most important west-east roadway in Greece from the 2nd century BCE to the 5th century CE, and even into modern times it has been used as a key travel route over. The VE figures prominently in much of history, especially in terms of troop movements such as occurred with the famous Battle of Philippi in 42 BCE where the forces of Octavius and Antony defeated those of Brutus and Cassius.

Parts of the VE are still visible today, and visitors can walk on the very same path trod by Paul and Silas. In July 2017 I had the opportunity to do some exploring looking around for the VE in the area between Neapolis and Apollonia. I've put together a video that gives some background and identifies aspects of this part of the VE. I don't know how much of the information I share is new or merely speculative, but there are a few things that might encourage you to take a look.
  • If you are planning to visit the area, I give directions on accessing parts of the roadway that still exist between Neapolis and Philippi and at Apollonia.
  • There is an interesting 1st century CE monolith erected by the ancient VE that visitors usually miss since the new highway between Neapolis and Philippi runs south of the ancient VE. (The new highway was marshy land in ancient times.)
  • I was able to 'see' on Google Earth, using the historical imagery feature, remnants of where the VE ran west of Philippi, and it's even possible to 'see' remnants of the fortifications Cassius and Brutus built.
  • I note a couple of structures that were likely gateways or fountains of some kind on the VE west of Philippi.
  • I photographed a site at Apollonia where tradition claims that Paul stopped and preached on his way to Thessaloniki. This site is rarely visited since the new highway runs north of Lake Volvi while the VE ran on the south side.
Thanks are due to the Via Egnatia Foundation which provided some tracking information. If you want to walk the VE yourself, be sure to check them out.

If there are any corrections to my presentation, please let me know!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Review of Crossway ESV Archaeology Study Bible

Crossway ESV Archaeology Study Bible (2018)
Hardcover ($49.99); TruTone ($79.99); Black Leather ($99.99)
2048 pages; 6.5 inches x 9.25 inches

Drawing upon the popularity of Crossway’s own English Standard Version (ESV), an “essentially literal” translation, they have recently published the ESV Archaeology Study Bible. In their description, Crossway says:

The ESV Archaeology Study Bible roots the biblical text in its historical and cultural context, offering readers a framework for better understanding the people, places, and events recorded in Scripture. With editorial oversight from Dr. John Currid (PhD, University of Chicago) and Dr. David Chapman (PhD, University of Cambridge), as well as contributions from a team of field-trained archaeologists, the Archaeology Study Bible assembles a range of modern scholarship—pairing the biblical text with over 2,000 study notes, 400 full-color photographs, 200 maps and diagrams, 200 sidebars, 15 articles, and 4 timelines. These features bring life to the ancient texts, helping readers situate them in their historical context while recognizing the truth that the eternal God became flesh entered human history at a specific time and in a specific place.
I was eager to look at this Bible because I had determined that Crossway’s ESV Bible Atlas was the best atlas available for a class I teach on biblical geography. (Cf. my review and follow the links from HERE.) John Currid was responsible for most of the text in the atlas, and he was the editor for the OT notes and articles of this Bible as well. It turns out that some of the articles (e.g., Currid’s own “What is Archaeology” or the lengthy sidebar on the date of the Exodus) are based on the Atlas. The maps, created by David P. Barrett for the Atlas, are also the ones used in the Bible as are some of the illustrations, though most are on a smaller scale as befits the format. This is all to the good.

While the Atlas provides a chronological progression through biblical history, the advantage of this Archaeology Bible is that it provides all the benefits of a good study Bible (extensive study notes, maps, concordance, glossary) while also supplementing it with photos, descriptions of sites, illustrations (especially the ones of Jerusalem and the Temple at different periods by Leen Ritmeyer), informative sidebars, and inset maps, all of which make it much easier to understand what is going on in the text more fully. These additional resources are particularly helpful with the texts in Acts, Paul, and Revelation for which there are more archaeological remains and artifacts that can be shown. The photos of sites (especially by Todd Bolen, A. D. Riddle, and Mark Wilson) add to the experience of imagining what it was like to be at a site during biblical times.

More generally, the book looks and feels like a well-bound, substantial study Bible. Text is presented in double columns and below it are cross references, the study notes, and frequent sidebars, maps, or illustrations. The paper is thin (which is helpful in reducing size and weight of the book), and there is not objectionable bleed-through. The font is small, especially the cross references, but it is sharp and clear. The supporting articles are particularly helpful, and there are other helpful timelines, charts, and tables.

Theologically, the notes are generally ‘conservative’ but also in conversation with more ‘critical’ claims. E.g., Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is affirmed but with the explanation that Moses could have used earlier materials passed down to him. Whether the creation described in Genesis 1 is to be understood as seven, 24-hour days is not addressed, naturally so since it is not subject to archaeological verification and no specific dating is supplied. (The OT timeline begins with Abraham and Sarah.) The notes do not explicitly discuss whether the Garden of Eden is an actual location or not, but they rightly show on a map where the biblical description is apparently picturing it to be. Regarding the difficult issue of the date of the Exodus, a balanced description of the pros and cons of both an early and late date are given. Was Jonah literally and physically swallowed by a great fish? That question is not addressed, but there are excellent notes about Tarshish, Nineveh, casting of lots, and other ancient parallel accounts. In the New Testament, for example, it is claimed that Matthew wrote in the late 50s or early 60s AD after Mark’s gospel was written. This is much earlier dating than most critical scholarship would grant, but it does not make much difference in terms of the study notes describing the related archaeology and artifacts and customs. I also note that BC and AD are used throughout rather than the academic preference for BCE and CE, though this is also reflecting the book’s anticipated audience.

The closest comparison to the Crossway ESV Archaeology Study Bible of which I am aware is Zondervan's NIV Archaeological Study Bible, but I have not had the opportunity to look at it. There is also the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary series of which I have a few volumes. While there is much more information in those volumes, they lack the convenience of an integrated study Bible. In some cursory checking, it is also clear that Crossway has made some strategic decisions regarding the material used that is sometimes more relevant.

I would look forward to a digital edition of the ESV Archaeology Study Bible, since there are so many times when reference is made to an article or sidebar located elsewhere in the text. E.g., the anointing of Jesus is recounted in Matthew 26.6-13; Mark 14.3-9; Luke 7.36-49; and John 12.1-8. There is a sidebar with a photo of an alabaster jar attached to the Luke text on “Ointments and Unguentaria” to which the other texts refer. Having a clickable link to jump to that sidebar would be more convenient. Hopefully Accordance, Logos, Olive Tree, Wordsearch or the like will look into a digital adaptation.

Bottom line: Whether or not one prefers the ESV or some of the underlying theological perspectives, this is an excellent study Bible that provides the kind of archaeological and historical information I believe are critical for understanding the biblical story.

I received a free copy of the hardcover edition in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.