Monday, April 26, 2021

John 15.1-8 Translations and Notes (RCL 5th Sunday of Easter Year B)

Grapes at Greek Orthodox Church, Capernaum, Israel
I continue sharing a comparison of English translations of the Gospel texts for the upcoming Sunday. This coming Sunday (2 May 2021, RCL 5th Sunday of Easter) the text is John 15.1-8. As is common with John, once again a 'spiraling' effect of repetition that does progress to new insights. Some things to keep in mind with this text:
  • What does Jesus mean exactly by "bearing (abundant) fruit"?
  • What is meant by the unfruitful branches being "pruned, trimmed, cleaned up"?
  • What does it mean to "abide in, remain, stay connected with" Jesus?
  • In what way can verse 7 actually be true?

Friday, April 23, 2021

Google Earth in 4D

I've posted before on Google Earth as a resource for biblical mapping and study. They just announced (2021.04) one of the first significant updates in 4 years. Google Earth has long had a 'history' option so that you could check out imagery taken at various times, but now it's been integrated into a smoother browser experience.
In the biggest update to Google Earth since 2017, you can now see our planet in an entirely new dimension — time. With Timelapse in Google Earth, 24 million satellite photos from the past 37 years have been compiled into an interactive 4D experience. Now anyone can watch time unfold and witness nearly four decades of planetary change.

HERE for the full announcement.

The primary goal is to show the dramatic environmental changes that have occurred, but there are some interesting things to check from a biblical perspective. While the detail is not granular enough to focus on, e.g., the excavations at a site, it can make evident macro-level changes from ~1984-2020. Here are a couple I could notice.

  • Water level on the Sea/Lake of Galilee: This will bring you to the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee. What you can notice is the varying water levels. In particular, you can see how the excavations at el-Araj, one of the proposed sites of Bethsaida, is affected by the water level. The 2020 image shows why the site was partially submerged in 2020.

  • Water levels on the Dead Sea near Ein Gedi: It's pretty easy to see the contraction of water levels on the Dead Sea. I'm not sure what the latest situation is at Ein Gedi, but there used to be a nice beach there that I think is now closed. Even the road was closed for a time due to large sinks caused by the lower water level.

The viewer works best in Chrome. There are lots of options for the visualizations, including details, map styles, creating projects, etc. Check it out!

Monday, April 19, 2021

John 10.11-18 Translations and notes (RCL Fourth Sunday of Easter)

Here are some translations, including my own, and notes on the text of John 10.11-18 which are the assigned Gospel reading for the Fourth Sunday of Easter in the Revised Common Lectionary.

HERE is the PDF

While the monologues in the Gospel John often sound repetitious and circular, I describing them as 'spiraling.' It goes round and round, but progress to new insights is being made along the way. Check the color coding I've done at the bottom of the PDF to see what I mean.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Online and Free Bible Study Resources

Online and Free Bible Study Resources  

(updated 2021.04.14 from 2018)
The variety of online Bible study resources continues to change. This is my latest list I share with students. These are all worthwhile resources, and you need to check to see which works best for you and your desired platform. I've starred* ones that you should probably check first. Also remember that for deeper study, you probably want something like Accordance, Logos, or OliveTree, but these free ones will go a long way!

  • ONLINE BIBLE SITES which provide extra helps for English readers to study the underlying Greek and Hebrew
    • *NET Bible: This is a highly recommended choice. It gives you access to the NET Bible notes which I recommend consulting. Use the Hebrew or Greek tab in the right column, and you will see how it highlights the matching English and Greek words. Double-click on a Greek/Hebrew word to get a rudimentary lexicon entry. Click on  an English word in the NET to do an original language word search or open the Parallel tab on the left to see NET, NIV, NASB, ESV, NLT, MSG, NRSV, and KJV together.
    • *STEP Bible from Tyndale (replaces Tyndale Tool Bar): Another outstanding site with both original language and many English version texts (NET, NIV, ESV, KJV…). Like the NET Bible Study Environment, it can highlight matching Greek/Hebrew//English words, and has links to many lexical resources.
    • Excellent site that is very nice for comparing original and translated versions with access to lexical resources. Many English versions including NRSV, NASB, ESV, KJV, NAB, NIV, NLT…
    • Bible Web App: Less full featured, but it’s fast and includes the NET with all notes. Parallel highlighting of Greek/Hebrew//English with Strong’s lexical popups.
  • OTHER ONLINE SITES primarily for English language study
    • *YouVersion: The primary attraction of this site is the abundance of Bibles it offers, both English (e.g., CEB, CEV, CJB, ESV, GNB, HCSB, KJV, LEB, Message, NAB, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV) and nearly countless non-English ones. For Greek, it includes SBL GNT and Textus Receptus, and the Westminster Leningrad for the Hebrew. Two texts can be set in parallel. There are also free apps for Android, iOS, and voice (Amazon Echo and Google Home).
    • *BibleGateway: There are too many English (and it does include the NRSV), non-English, Greek, and Hebrew versions to list. If you want to compare English versions, you can see a verse in every version they offer with a single click. There are quite a few linked resources, but many need you to subscribe for $4 USD/month. If your main interest is in comparing English versions, this is your best option.
    • FaithLife: This is the online site. Many original and modern language versions are available, but the best part is the connection with the FaithLife Study Bible.
    • Bible Hub: A nice collection of resources. The Atlas alone is quite helpful.

  • FREE DOWNLOADABLE PROGRAMS and APPS if you don't already have Accordance, BibleWorks, or Logos
    • *Logos Academic Basic: If you are a student, staff, or faculty person at an educational institution, this should be your first option. A Logos 9 Basic is also available for those outside educational institutions. Logos is also available as an app for Android or iPhone.
    • *The Word: The Word is one of the first I recommend to people wanting a free program, since it is rather full featured program. It includes Greek / Hebrew. You can always buy some modules, e.g., NRSV, to expand its versatility. Among many non-English versions, free English versions include: Douay-Rheims, ERV, ESV, HCSB, KJV, Tanakh 1917, NET (but with limited notes), LEB. For Greek: LXX, SBL GNT, and other Greek text. For Hebrew: a tagged Hebrew Bible.  Only runs on Windows or under Mac emulation.
    • Olive Tree: This free Bible app is available for Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, and Android. Once you get the app, check out the free resources. It includes SBL GNT and Hebrew Westminster Leningrad. For English, it includes many of the usual versions (KJV, NKJV, ESV, limited versions of HCSB and NET, Douay-Rheims, Tanakh 1917), but it does also offer the NIV. A number of useful study tools can also be added.
    • BibleGateway: Similar to the online version described above, the app is available for iPad iPhone, Android, and Kindle.There is also a voice app.
    • e-Sword: The basic installation includes the KJV with Strong’s and its related lexicon along with a few other resources. Once installed, there are many other free Bibles and resources that can be added. Windows and Mac.
    • LaParola: Does a nice job of creating concordance lists and working with text variants (Windows and Linux)
    • FaithLife Study Bible: It's free and available for just about all platforms. It's a Logos product and uses their rather literally translated Lexham Bible. It comes from a conservative perspective, so you need some discernment, but many of its study features, especially the FaithLife Study Bible itself, can be helpful. (E.g., go to Phil 1.1 for The Life of Paul graphic.) 
    • *YouVersion: This app, available for just about every platform, includes over 1000 Bible versions. It is similar to its online version described above.
    • Accordance Lite: This free version has limited resources, but it can give you an idea of the look and feel of the program.
    • Since I have Accordance and Logos, I use their included apps most often on my phone. (I tend to use the Logos app most often on my Android phone.) I’ve noted a number of the programs above which have mobile editions, but for more information on mobile Bible apps, look HERE.
My Recommendations:
If you simply want to study and read the most English versions, then YouVersion is handiest. Also check BibleGateway. If you want more study tools and resources, I recommend that you look first at The Word, e-Sword, and Logos 9 Basic. If you are connected with an educational institution, then your best bet is to get Logos 9 Academic Basic. Some of these programs are expandable for a cost or have full-featured upgrades.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

John 20.19-31 Translation and Commentary (RCL 2nd Sunday of Easter)

The Thomas story in John 20.19-31 occurs in each year of the Revised Common Lectionary since it specifically happens one week after Easter. Here are the kind of notes I have my students work through where they compare English translations as a way of figuring out which questions to ask of the Greek text. I've provided the texts with questions, but I've added my own answers. I've also provided my own translation which I think is one that is faithful to the Greek and reads well orally.