Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Unfolding the Earth

Fun with maps! Unfolding the Earth.

I came across this on Twitter by Nico Belmonte who does all sorts of interesting stuff with Data Visualization, Computer Graphics, Computational Design, Mathematical Art and Digital Fabrication.

Lots of options to 'unfold' the earth and see it in various perspectives. Have fun!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Chronologies, Genealogies, Maps: Online Resources from Ian Mladjov

I just discovered this outstanding collection of chronologies, genealogies, and maps by Ian Mladjov. His resources cover most of the ancient world from Europe to Mesopotamia, so many of them are directly related to biblical history. For example:

The resources are of very high quality, and the maps are particularly detailed. You will note that the names on the resources follow standard transliteration practice rather than privileging Latinized and Anglicized versions. It's still easy enough to figure out persons and places.

Here is what Mladjov says about the maps.

The historical maps in this page are for the most part versions of some of the maps I have prepared for teaching purposes in my various courses. The level of detail and accuracy in any one map depends on the author's perceived necessities and priorities, source materials, and personal level of expertise in each particular case. Inevitably, as all too common with historical maps, many of these maps are (or started out) based on pre-existing versions from a variety of sources; I have attempted to investigate and verify points of doubt or discord wherever possible. Occasionally existing maps are revised to reflect additions or corrections, and new maps are added to this page. Given proper attribution, these maps may be used freely for non-commercial educational purposes. 

Note that they are freely available for non-commercial educational use!  

Thanks to Mladjov for sharing these fine resources. (BTW, I'm unable to find out much about the author except that graduate work was/is being done at University of Michigan, and there were teaching positions held at Bowling Green and Drexel.)

Saturday, October 17, 2020

State of the Bible Software Market

Nice report by Lauren Hunter on Church Tech Today. She notes the recent report of HarperCollins splitting off OliveTree (which is somewhat of a matter of returning to its roots). 

I can confirm that in my situation (United Lutheran Seminary), we have gone from encouraging Bible software to requiring it. We are using the Accordance Greek & Hebrew Discover which we can get at an institutional discount, though I still use BibleWorks (!) and Logos for certain tasks. It's always a trick getting everyone up to speed using the software, but I have managed to do so, even in a fully online setting during this pandemic times. 

I'm on the board of 1517 Media (Fortress Press, AugsburgFortress, Broadleaf), and I'm not divulging any secrets by reporting that hardcopy book sales have been remarkably strong for 1517 and similar publishers. (Congregational resources have taken a hit with so many churches no longer meeting physically, however.) Do people getting tired of looking at screens and Zooming all the time and want the comfort of holding a book in their hands? Whatever the case, I know my students will not give up their Bible software once they see how useful it is. And when it's available across many platforms including their phones, it does become not just useful but essential.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Patristic Text Archive now online


The Patristic Text Archive is now online! It's still just in a beta version and available authors is limited (only ten now), but still, this looks to be a great resource to bookmark. Also note that there are limited texts for the authors that are available, e.g., two for Origen and three for Eusebius, but they are not the works that are easily available otherwise. Text are provided in the original Greek (or Latin or Syriac), and some are also available in translation (mainly German). In any case, check it out.

HT: Roger Pearse

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Faithlife / Logos acquires Wordsearch Bible software

This is kind of a big deal... Faithlife / Logos announced that they are acquiring the Wordsearch Bible software. Wordsearch has been around a long time. I did have an account with them and a number of titles that I didn't have in any of my other programs. For users like me who had both programs, Logos is automatically transferring all Wordsearch titles over to Logos for free. (Check the FAQ for details.) Excellent! I'm glad that Wordsearch chose to go this route which both preserves my resources and means I have one less interface to remember how to navigate. LifeWay, Wordsearch's parent company, is still active, and I'm guessing this was a prudent business decision to keep from investing in a product that was competing with the likes of Logos and Accordance. (And it sounds like Accordance plans to reach out in some way to Wordsearch users.)

Update: Check out Darryl Burling's video summary HERE

Update 2: Accordance has now announced a crossover package for Wordsearch users.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Oxford Archaeology Image Database online

It's always nice to have access to vetted photos which can be used for free in educational work. The Oxford Archaeology Image Database does just that for sites and artifacts related to Mesopotamia. Use of the photographs is encouraged with proper attribution. A bit about the site:

The OAID was established in June 2015 by Tim Clayden (Wolfson College, Oxford) with support from the Lorne Thyssen Research Fund for Ancient World Topics. Its initial aim was to preserve and make available to as wide an audience and user group as possible images of archaeological sites recorded on slide film. The concern being that as the slide films age and decay the quality of the images deteriorates. In many cases these images are a unique record of the sites at a particular time and once the slide is lost, so too is the image and the information it contains. More recent events in Iraq and Syria have urged a more pressing need to record and preserve the record of some archaeological sites. For that reason the project has expanded to include images in whatever format they are available.

There is a site list, but you can also search for site for features or artifacts from museums. (E.g., Ishtar or ziggurat or jar)

Now you know.


Saturday, July 18, 2020

Unicode Cuneiform Fonts!

Ok, over the years on this blog I've highlighted the evolution of proprietary to TrueType to Unicode fonts related to biblical studies. For the sake of completeness, here you go for those who need Unicode Cuneiform fonts!
HERE is the link to the info and download page.

HT: Dr. Moudhy Al-Rashid on Twitter who also notes:
If your computer or keyboard make downloading a font impossible, and your cuneiform is too rusty for Cuneify, you can copy and paste signs from free online sources. For example, HERE is a basic and searchable list of Neo-Assyrian cuneiform signs.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Blog to check: J. David Stark | Hone Your Craft, Enrich Your Life - Gospel or gospel?

I've been meaning to promote J. David Stark's blog for some time. Stark is a research professor in the biblical studies field at Faulkner University. Here's how he describes his "Hone Your Craft" blog:
For biblical scholars, “craft honing” includes things like
  • Productivity habits and practices to help you do biblical studies as a skilled “knowledge worker,”
  • Tools and resources to make your life and work in biblical studies easier, more focused, and more fruitful,
  • How to use technology to get what you need done rather than spending hours frustrated over minutiae when you could have invested that time and effort elsewhere, and
  • Strategies for ensuring your life is full both in your work and beyond.
He regularly posts items on resources, writing, and technical skills. For example, his latest one is on a topic that addresses an issue I regularly have to ponder: A Simple Guide to When You Need to Capitalize “Gospel(s)”

Check it out and poke around his blog.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Western Mediterranean: New Volume in Pictorial Library of the Bible Lands Series

BiblePlaces has released a new volume (#20!) on the Western Mediterranean in their Pictorial Library of the Bible Lands series. This one includes sites in Gaul (France) and Hispania (France).
All images are high-resolution jpg files (2400 x 1600). Ideal for projecting in a classroom, viewing on a monitor or printing. Also included on each DVD are pre-made PowerPoint presentations for each region (with photograph annotations), maps for site identification, and an image index.
These have been excellent and well-organized resources with outstanding photography. As for this volume, be sure to read Todd Bolen's description in the June 2020 newsletter HERE. Whether or not Paul ever made it to Spain, the main takeaway is that their are Roman structures built in the same time period as the New Testament that are much better preserved in Gaul and Hispania. You can get a much better idea of what things actually looked like. At the newsletter link, you can find a link to download a PowerPoint with an East/West comparison of similar structures that is very helpful.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Synagogues of Israel Interactive Map

Here's a great use of Google Maps to create an interactive map of synagogues in Israel. Note that filters include Early Roman; Late Roman and/or Byzantine; Un/Excavated; Jewish or Samaritan. It includes all the interesting ones I could think of: Capernaum, Chorazin, Gamla, Migdal, Arbel, Khirbet Kana (Qana), Huqoq... Clicking on the marker will give quick info reflecting the filter categories. You can then use the menu to get a list of the Ancient Synagogues to get further info, bibliography, and pictures. Definitely worth checking out.
HT: Philip Murray on FB, Nerdy Bible Backgrounds and Bible Geography Majors group.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Word & World Issue on Jerusalem

Word & World is published in print and shared freely online by Luther Seminary. It is described as:
A journal of theology whose readers are concerned with Christian ministry in and for the world. A glance at our articles and our issue themes will show how we propose to bring Christian thinking to the questions posed by life in our world today.
The latest Spring 2020 issue focuses on "Jerusalem" from a variety of perspectives. An article I wrote--Jesus and Jerusalem and the "Things That Make for Peace"--is one of the articles. It's a review of all of Jesus' activity in Jerusalem reported by each of the Gospels, especially his final week there. There are certainly uncertainties about some of the details, but I believe it's a helpful overview. It's a free PDF to read, so I hope you check it out. I'm happy to address questions and comments here.

Friday, May 1, 2020

The Ancient Theater Archive

A while ago I shared a nice mapping resource for Ancient Theaters, Amphitheaters, Stadiums, and Odeons in Turkey and provided links for other Greek and Roman theaters.

I stumbled upon another fantastic site, The Ancient Theater Archive, and it has excellent information about Greek and Roman theaters throughout the Roman Empire. The map is clickable to zoom in to areas, and then the sites each have their own page with a considerable amount of detail and history. Here, for example, is the famous Ephesus theater:
There is a link to a architectural plan view, and clicking on More... will give you a thorough description of the theater's history.
Also check out the timeline of theater constructions provided:
And then be sure to look at the Greek and Roman Theatre Specifications table.
Here's the site info so e can be grateful to: © 2003–2019 Thomas G. Hines, Whitman College Department of Theatre (retired).

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Palestine Open Maps - Excellent new mapping resource

Split screen option: Tabgha on left; Capernaum visible on right
Just announced today (2020.04.23) on Twitter is the Palestine Open Maps project. (Do check the Twitter link for a number of videos demonstrating the site's features.)

From the site's description:
Palestine Open Maps is a platform that seeks to combine emerging technologies for mapping and immersive storytelling to:
Open-source and make searchable, for the first time, a uniquely detailed set of historic maps from the period of the British Mandate of Palestine;
Curate layered visual stories that bring to life absent and hidden geographies, in collaboration with data journalists, academic researchers, and civil society groups....

The idea for this platform was inspired by a large collection of 1940s survey maps from the British Mandate of Palestine recently digitized by the Israeli national library. These maps—all now in the public domain—cover the territory at scales of up to 1:20,000, offering a vivid snapshot of a human and natural geography almost unrecognizable on the ground today, with an unparalleled level of physical detail, including population centers, roads, topographic features and property boundaries.

Although the maps were already in the public domain, their usefulness was limited since they comprise hundreds of separate sheets with no easy means to search, navigate or otherwise comprehend. By combining these sheets into seamless layers that can be navigated online, and combining them with other available data sources, such as the 1945 Village Statistics, historic photography, oral histories and present day digital maps and data, this platform seeks to offer an invaluable resource for mapping the transformation in the human geography of historic Palestine over the past 70+ years.
Some things to note:
  • All the maps are public domain. Click on a map location, and you can choose any available maps for that location to download. They go back to the 1876 Palestine Exploration Fund one.
  • The sliding split view is handy to get locations.
  • The satellite imagery used is 2019, apparently from Mapbox. It also includes a street map overlay from 2018.
  • The search feature includes many biblical sites you might want to check, but it's not exhaustive by any means.
  • It's not intended primarily as a biblical resource, but the easy access to historical maps is very helpful.
  • The site is intended as a historical preservation of Arab locations and names before the 1948 establishment of the State of Israel. Another overlay on the site shows Arab locations that were depopulated during that time.
It's definitely worth checking and bookmarking.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Original Bibles: An online collection of old printed Bibles and more

The Original Bibles site intends to give "you Holy Bibles the way they were originally printed." And that they do! It looks like most (all?) the books are coming from Google Books and rendered as individual pages. It's rather clunky since you can't scroll or click to go to the next page but need to use a dropdown box to get to the next page.
OTOH, the value is that someone has collated the Bibles that are available. Search for Greek and choose to look at Erasmus' 1516 Greek NT. Or use the Categories dropdown and pick a language, type of resource, or century. How about the 1524 Second Rabbinic Bible?

Have fun browsing around!

HT: John Linebarger on FB

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Unicode Fonts for Ancient Scripts

In case you are needing a Unicode font for Aegean, Linear A, Cypro-Minoan, Cretan-Hieroglyphs, Aegyptus, EEMusic, Akkadian, Assyrian, Maya, and more, HERE is the place to go. "Free use of UFAS is strictly limited to personal use."

Friday, April 3, 2020

Virtual touring and museum visting while quarantined...

So many fascinating online resources... If you want to do some virtual touring and museum visiting, go to Sketchfab and enter a search term of choice. Try using some biblical cities as a starter. Lots of 3D models like the one of the Temple of Sardis shown above. Istanbul's Rezan Has Museum just added 3000 archaeological artifacts to the collection. Here are some suggestions:
Some of the models have attached annotations to learn more about a specific aspect.

Digital Maps of the Ancient World

Digital Maps of the Ancient World is a new to me website that is accumulating many fine resources. Here is its self-description:
The Digital Maps section is useful for those studying Ancient History and Archaeology, who would like to gain a better understanding of certain sites or where certain events took place. The Pompeii Map is also useful for those studying the Cambridge Latin Course.

The Mythology section is useful for those studying Greek and Latin who would like to understand the mythology behind the translations and those who have an interest in Ancient History.

For those studying Greek and Latin at school, there are dedicated languages sections with resources for grammar and vocabulary for the various UK examination boards, particularly for Common Entrance. The Greek Mythology and the Recommended Reading (Historical Fiction) and Media sections will help with understanding the cultures behind the languages.
From a biblical perspective, the most interesting sections are the Ancient Maps and the Digital Maps. For example, this one on provinces of the Roman Empire with clickable info popouts.
Or the one on ancient battles that includes four sites (Yodfat, Gamla, Beth Horon, Jerusalem) from the first Jewish war.
Lots more to check out, so have fun!

The Qumran Texts Composite Edition from Elisha Qimron - Open Access and Downloadable

The Qumran Texts Composite Edition shared by Elisha Qimron is now open access and downloadable as a free PDF HERE, all 984 pages of it! It does not include the biblical texts, but it looks like most everything else is there. It's all in Hebrew (except for references to other language works), and it's actually 3 volumes combined in a single PDF, so it's a bit hard to navigate. The best way is to download the PDF, and then open the bookmarks column.
I haven't kept up with my Qumran studies, so I don't know if there are issues of which I should be aware about this edition. E.g., how does it compare to the texts in the transcriptions by Abegg or Martinez. (Please indicate as much in the comments.) It's great to have these texts available for free, but for less adept Hebrew readers, it is more helpful to have the tagged texts from Abegg available in Accordance or Logos.
Thanks to Qimron for making this work available, and note that it should be cited as:
Elisha Qimron. (2020). The Qumran Texts: Composite Edition. Zenodo.

And not to neglect Greek and Latin readers, remember that I had previously noted that all the Loeb's in the public domain are available for free download too!

HT to Reed Carlson and IOQS - International Organization for Qumran Studies on Facebook

Friday, March 27, 2020

Ancient Theaters, Amphitheaters, Stadiums, and Odeons in Turkey

I love maps like this! (Found this map on Twitter.) It locates on a Google map all the Ancient Theaters, Amphitheaters, Stadiums, and Odeons in Turkey. I also do not tire of seeing as many of these sites as I can.
If I were to quibble at all about the map, I think a distinction can be made between a stadium / stadion and a hippodrome, the former for footraces, the latter for horse and chariot. Technically, I think it's a hippodrome in Istanbul (Byzantium) that is near the Blue Mosque. The stadium at Aphrodisias is so huge that I can imagine horses there, but it doesn't seem to have the starting posts or center spine as hippodromes would. For those who have traveled to Israel or Jordan, there are fine examples of hippodromes at Caesarea Maritima and Gerasa (where races are still held for tourists). Of course the most famous hippodromes is probably the Circus Maximus in Rome. (On a personal note, I have fulfilled one of my bucket list items of running at all four stadiums of the Panhellenic Games cycle: Olympia, Delphi, Isthmia, and Nemea.)
As for theaters, the one in Ephesus is one of the largest in the ancient world, capable of holding up to 25,000 spectators. The one in Aspendos is one of the best preserved. The one in Pergamum is the steepest. There is a full list of Roman theaters in Wikipedia. I suppose that can be someone's project to map all those along with the list of ancient Greek theaters!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Smithsonian releases 2.8 million+ images that can be used for free

This appears to be a new announcement, and here is the article I stumbled across on Twitter:
The Smithsonian has released more than 2.8 million images you can use for free - Included are images from all 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo (Altogether, the Smithsonian site says 16 million records and 4.2 million images, audio, and video.) What's really helpful is that the collection is listed with a Creative Commons Zero license, making them free of any republishing restrictions.
As you can imagine, with that many images/resources, it will require some serious searching to find something that you want. Use the starting search page which will provide suggestions once you start typing in a term (cf. above) to get you to the results page which will allow you to start refining the search.
 As this screenshot shows, you can start using inclusion/exclusion terms based on type, place, media, etc. (On this search for Jerusalem, note the line of red characters indicating what I've added and removed. I had to remove -topic:"Dicotyledonae," because there were over 200 images of this particular plant recorded from Jerusalem.) Note that results not only include images, but a variety of media. E.g., a search on "Jesus" included a link to the Smithsonian Channel and this video on "The Science behind Crucifixion" with the famous ankle bone with the nail of the crucified man.
There is plenty of Bible-related artwork, and I did come across some interesting old photographs from the early 1900s. HERE is a stereoscopic one from Corinth in 1903 of the Temple of Apollo. (You're likely to get better results more quickly using BiblePlace's "Historic Views of the Holy Land," however!)
If you find something really interesting, please let me know!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

St. Catherine Monastery Icons Now Available Online
The ~iconic~ images from St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai have now been digitized and made available online. HERE is the article with more info. HERE is the Princeton site that is hosting the images. The site notes:
This website displays all the color transparencies and color slides in the possession of the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton. The online images are limited to a size of 1024 pixels. These images are available to download and use for teaching and scholarly purposes.
There are 1294 images, and they can be browsed by tag or searched.

BTW, the center image crop at the top is the oldest and one of the more famous images of Christ Pantokrator from the 6th century. Quite a few years ago, I was puzzled by the sort of side-eye Jesus had in the drawing, so I did a little image manipulation to mirror the two sides of his face. It highlights that Jesus is being depicted both as Savior and Judge. I've since discovered that I'm certainly not the only nor first to recognize this, but if someone has a link to the 'rules' of iconography that detail this aspect, please share. Also, at least in the crude way I composed the two images, it sure looks like a dove on the neck of Jesus on the left and a lion on the one on the right. Is that my imagination, or is that also a part of the iconographer's intent?

Monday, January 27, 2020

Mapping Time

"The Temple of Time" (1846) by Emma Willard — Source (Cartography Associates: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0).
I came across this fascinating article about the 19th century educator, Emma Willard, and her concept of mapping time: "Emma Willard's Maps of Time" by Susan Schulten. Schulten "explores the pioneering work of Emma Willard (1787–1870), a leading feminist educator whose innovative maps of time laid the groundwork for the charts and graphics of today."
The article is worth reading, and Willard's mappings of time are remarkable. Consider "The Temple of Time" pictured above. (Click HERE to see it with full magnification possible, and you really do need to zoom in to see all the detail.) It's interesting enough that history is organized by Statesmen, Philosophers, Discoverers, Theologians (in the center position of prominence!), Poets, Painters, and Warriors. Also note, however, the way history is viewed. As Schulten writes, "Emma Willard sought to invest chronology with a sense of perspective, presenting the biblical Creation as the apex of a triangle that then flowed forward in time and space toward the viewer." While creation is the apex, there still is the sense that the further back in time things are, the less prominent they are in present memory.
Detail from "Picture of Nations; or Perspective Sketch of the Course of Empire" (1836) by Emma Willard — Source (Cartography Associates: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0).
Consider this picture of nations (HERE for the zoomable view) which provides a perspective on the rise and fall of empires not from a geographical view but from a understanding of connectedness. There is further interpretation provided by highlighting key events. E.g., that white star in the middle right represents the birth of Jesus. Compare that to the kind of timeline that is typical for today, such as this one from the Accordance Timeline module.
While checking out Willard's representations, I found that she did also create some actual maps. E.g., check out the series of maps of "BC 1921 - Christian Era" showing what looks like progressive revelation. All the depictions are on the David Rumsey Map Collection. From an interesting technical aspect, there is also Willard's "World" map, but choose to use the Georeferencer option to set a background layer (click on the globe in upper left) with adjustable opacity of the foreground map. If you sign in, you can also get access to a 3D option. Great mapping fun!

Understanding New Testament Greek grammar for Accordance

I am happy to report that my Understanding New Testament Greek grammar has just been released as a module for Accordance. (2020.01.27) You can read my full description on the announcement page.
TLDR: Due to changing seminary requirements, I have needed to teach Greek in a single semester for a few years now. It's impossible to teach anyone to read Greek in that time, so I teach students how to understand Greek grammar, syntax, and lexical possibilities. The only way to do this is to use Bible software. I've developed a visual way of color coding the text that links to the grammar. E.g., you see something in gold (which means an indicative verb), and you look for the gold section in the grammar to see the range of translating indicatives.
I hope you will check it out! For now, it's a quick download into Accordance, and it's on sale!
If you just want to see how the highlighting works without buying the grammar, HERE is the highlight file. After unzipping, put the HLT file in your Accordance Files\Highlights subdirectory, and it will appear as an option in Accordance when you open the Highlighting tool. celebrates 20 years! by Todd Bolen is one of the premier sites on the web for finding photos of biblical places. The photo collections are outstanding and include ones that are organized based on historical views, regional groups, and books of the Bible. In his latest newsletter he describes the 20 year history of this web site and the work he's done. It's a fun read, and if you go all the way through, he shares a "Galilee: Then and Now" set for free. It's in the PowerPoint format that he's been using to organize photos and include the information and biblical links needed to make sense of the pictures. You can see more of his pictures and helpful overviews of Bible places by checking out the SITES.
While at BiblePlaces, also check out his blog with weekly updates of info related to the Bible, archaeology, mapping, museums, and more. Better yet, just sign up for his newsletter!
Congratulations to Todd Bolen and the others at BiblePlaces for 20 years!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Hoplite Polytonic Greek Keyboard for iOS and Android

The Hoplite Polytonic Greek Keyboard facilitates typing polytonic Greek diacritics. On iOS and Android, the Hoplite Keyboard can be installed as an alternate keyboard system-wide and used in any application. On Mac, Windows, and Linux the Hoplite Keyboard can be used as a LibreOffice extension: type base letters with the Greek keyboard provided by your operating system and toggle on/off diacritics with the Hoplite Keyboard's hot keys.
I have used the Keyman Galaxie Greek/Hebrew (Mnemonic) Keyboard for my Greek and Hebrew typing, but it looks like this Hoplite program is a good option if Keyman is not doing what you need. Like Keyman, Hoplite is also free.
  • One key per diacritic
  • Add diacritics after typing the vowel
  • Add diacritics in any order
  • Toggle diacritics on/off
  • Breathings, accents, subscripts, macrons, breves, diaereses: no problem! (If font supports it)
  • Choose precomposed, precomposed with private use area, or combining-only Unicode modes.
HT: Anglican Biblical and Theological Languages Forum on FB

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

More biblical text visualizations

I love these kind of visualizations. How helpful are they? I'm not sure, but they do provide a big picture perspective of relationships between the biblical texts. I'm pulling this from this thread on Twitter.
The first is by Cody Kingham who writes:

Formulaic Language in the Pentateuch
In reading through the Pentateuch, I've noticed that several sections contain a lot of repetition. This formulaic language seems to serve as a way of organizing and carefully structuring segments of text. In this notebook, we will visualize this phenomenon in the Pentateuch with a heatmap. A heatmap is a graph which visualizes integers as "temperatures". The lower a value, the "cooler" it is, and vice versa. The colors blue and red are used to represent cold and hot values. 
Also in that Twitter thread, Camil Staps writes:
Here is a similar project of mine: on the internet, which verses are frequently mentioned together? There's quite some noise, but nevertheless you can see the popularity of Gen 1-11, Ps & Isa, vs. e.g. Est & Lam. Also note the synoptic parallels in Kgs/Chr and Mt/Mk/Lk!
The darker red square in the lower right is the NT. In the upper left of that square is a slightly darker red that indicates relationship between the Gospels.
Thanks to Kingham and Staps for sharing these!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Religious apps with sinful permissions

I just came across this October 2019 article on C|NET whose lead is: "Religious apps with sinful permissions requests are more common than you think: Christian Android apps account for hundreds of millions of downloads on the Google Play Store -- and too many are data devils"
I will acknowledge that I've naively assumed that the Bible apps I use are not problematic, but it's worth checking out the permissions your Bible app requests. If you're like me, you usually just click through those things.
The article highlights problems with some King James Bible apps and especially notes issues with apps connected to the Christian Broadcasting Network, Christian Mingle and Christian Matrimony, Cold Case Christianity, and the Bible Verses App from SpringTech. (This last is identified basically as a browser hijacker.) I haven't used any of those apps, but there is a long section on the YouVersion Bible app which I do use and have on my phone now. Apparently they have been reducing the number of permissions it requires, but I just went and looked on the Google Play store for what's going on with the Android version. Here's what it says:
This app has access to:
  • find accounts on the device
  • read your contacts
Wi-Fi connection information
  • view Wi-Fi connections
  • find accounts on the device
  • read your own contact card
  • approximate location (network-based)
  • precise location (GPS and network-based)
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • take pictures and videos
  • receive data from Internet
  • run at startup
  • prevent device from sleeping
  • connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
  • allow Wi-Fi Multicast reception
  • view network connections
  • use accounts on the device
  • control vibration
  • read Google service configuration
  • full network access
Someone else who knows better than I do can comment about which of those permissions are really necessary. I'm wary that it has access to my contacts, accounts, wifi, location, and hooks into Google. This got me to check the other Bible apps I regularly use.

This app has access to:
  • find accounts on the device
  • add or remove accounts
  • find accounts on the device
  • precise location (GPS and network-based)
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • receive data from Internet
  • create accounts and set passwords
  • read Google service configuration
  • use accounts on the device
  • view network connections
  • full network access
  • prevent device from sleeping
That's not much different from YouVersion's permissions.

This app has access to:
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • view network connections
  • full network access.
Accordance certainly is the least invasive as far as permissions are concerned. Again, someone else may be able to confirm what permissions an app needs, so these may all be perfectly acceptable. On the other hand, you may want to go into your App settings and turn off some off some of the permissions such as location sharing.