Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bible Mapper wiki update

With some help from the creator of Bible Mapper, David Barrett, and from Tim Bulkeley, the Bible Mapper wiki has been updated. I have added two short videos in the Tutorials section that should get you going on how to use the program.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chicago Assyrian Dictionary Online

The Scribal Practices blog brought to my attention that the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago now offers almost all the volumes of the Assyrian Dictionary for free as PDF files. I don't know anything about Assyrian, but for the thousands of readers of this blog who do, now you know. ;-)

13 Bible Software Programs Reviewed

Jerry Foster has posted an extremely comprehensive review of 13 Bible software programs. That link will bring you to the summary table, but clicking on each of the programs he reviews will lead to thorough reviews of each.
Programs he reviewed in order starting with his highest recommended:

  • WORDsearch 8
  • The Word 3
  • SwordSearcher 5
  • Bible Explorer 4
  • Logos 3
  • e-Sword
  • QuickVerse 2008
  • Pradis 6
  • Theophilos 3
  • The SWORD Project
  • Bible Pro 12
  • Online Bible
  • Lightning Study Bible
Note that he indicates that this is his personal evaluation based on his personal needs, namely, "a lay person who is interested in Bible software for personal study and teaching, yet does not have extra time or money." As he observes, therefore, he did not work with Greek or Hebrew tools and did not include BibleWorks7 among the programs tested. If people are interested in commenting on his review, he encourages comments on his blog.

This comprehensive review is quite a significant amount of work! I appreciate his criticisms, and I especially value his comments on interfaces and what he calls "extensibility" (i.e., personalizing the program, adding notes, etc.). The Bible software publishers will do well to review his evaluations. I tend to focus more on software to work with Greek and Hebrew, but this is a great resource for discovering and learning about a number of programs.

Monday, April 28, 2008

More on Unicode Greek/Hebrew and Keyman

In the previous post, I listed some frustrations with Unicode Greek/Hebrew entry in Word2007.

In the responses, Rick Brannan provided a link to his own web page to convert Greek beta code to normalized Unicode. It works similarly to the Unicode Inputter I recommended.

Rod Decker, whose resources on Unicode I have used before, suggested using the old, free version of Tavultesoft Keyman 6.2. I checked with Tavultesoft, and they "no longer support or recommend Keyman 6.2." (You can follow the links on Rod's page to acquire it.) I have now downloaded the 30 day trial of Keyman 7.0 and can report that it works well, but here are a few other items to note:

  • Keyman 6.2 was only free for personal, home use. All other uses require a license to be purchased.
  • I can confirm that I tried out my old Keyman 6.2, and it works just fine in Word2007, but note that I am using WinXP. If you have Vista, you will need to use/buy 7.0.
  • If you get the Keyman Lite package, you only get 2 keyboards. If you want Greek, Hebrew, and (Syriac/Coptic...), you will have to bump up to the $59 Pro version.
  • It's a bit tricky setting up Hebrew as compared to Greek in Keyman 7.0.243 in order to get right-to-left working properly. This is supposed to be fixed in 7.0.245.
  • A nice thing about Keyman is the ability to have onscreen keyboard display. This is really handy to help find all those vowel points and such, ... but it only works if the keyboard installed provides the onscreen display.
  • Rod recommended Manuel Lopez' keyboard layout based on beta code which is the one I used to use and really like, but it does not have the onscreen display.
  • Another keyboard option for Greek and Hebrew is the one provided by Galaxie Software. (Look on this page.) Galaxie now provides this for free, and they do include onscreen displays for both Greek and Hebrew.
  • I can't find it on their website, but Tavultesoft's email response to me said that they offer a discounted price of $15 to students.
Bottom line:
  • To type quickly in Greek or Hebrew in Word2003, I would stick with the Logos keyboards that can be integrated within Windows.
  • If you are using Word2007, then Keyman 7.0 with the Galaxie keyboards looks like the best option.
  • If you want something easy to install and is free but has somewhat awkward Greek entry, you can use the Tyndale setup/keyboards.
(If you have experience with Greek/Hebrew Unicode entry in OpenOffice or on a Mac, please share your recommendations!)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Unicode Greek, Office2007 Update, Logos Shibboleth

(See previous entries on Unicode.)
I have been continuing to try out Microsoft Office 2007, Word2007 in particular, and how one goes about typing in polytonic Greek. Vincent Setterholm of Logos has confirmed to me that there are a number of bugs in Word2007 that make the entry of characters with multiple diacritics difficult. What one really wants is to have such characters correctly rendered using the precomposed forms. E.g., using Unicode, an omega with a circumflex and a iota sub can be rendered with combining diacritics (i.e., three separate elements) or as a precomposed character (namely, the glyph 1FF7 which has all three elements properly displayed). When I use the Logos Greek keyboard which I think is the most intuitive way to enter Greek text, one gets unpredictable results. Logos' free Shibboleth program for entering Greek and quite a few other ancient languages has been updated, but it still stumbles on some of these problems.

Some observations:

  • Pasting text from Logos or BibleWorks works fine. Characters w/ multiple diacritics are properly rendered with the correct precomposed character.
  • I can type in Greek using the Logos keyboard in WordPad, and it looks fine. Pasting the text into Word2007, however, results in the messed up text.
  • The Unicode Greek Inputter does work fine for copy/paste into Word2007.
  • The Tyndale keyboard does work fine. It is, in my opinion, an awkward keyboard, however (diacritics must be entered before typing a vowel) that I dislike using it.
So what to do in the meantime before things get fixed? One can learn and use the Tyndale keyboard or use the Greek Inputter. (I think that Tavultesoft Keyman also works, but it costs USD $19.) I'll probably stay with the Logos keyboard and use the Greek Inputter when needed.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Biblical Mapping Resources et al

David Instone-Brewer has done another fine job of organizing a collection of resources, this time on Maps and Geography in Biblical Studies. Use his listing to supplement the observations I have made on this blog. I will also be using his list to update the catalogue of biblical mapping resources I have compiled here.

Jim Davila on PaleoJudaica brought my attention to a "City of David" website. It is a very well-done website with some fine models, virtualizations, pictures, and timelines. (Note that you need to use IE7, not FireFox, for it to work properly.) I cannot unreservedly recommend the site, because it reflects an exclusively Israeli perspective that is broadly critical of "Arab agitators." I pray for a peace in Jerusalem that is able to include Jews and non-Jews alike.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Another Bible Visualization

Over on the blog, a Bible Sentence Paths visualization has been added to their collection. It is a bit more difficult to make sense of this one, but if you follow the link in the Notes to the Stefanie Posavec visualizations, you can see how the visualization does actually communicate some information about an author's style. The metadata embedded with the visualization (e.g., the red in the visualization are words of God/Jesus) does also give some sense of the focus of a particular book.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bible Mapper wiki

I have recommended and discussed the Bible Mapper program in the past. It is a fine mapping program, and it is free to use. What's more, it can be used to create copyright free maps. The program is provided without support, however. For this reason, I have created a Bible Mapper wiki for users to provide mutual support and advice. Perhaps of even greater help, it can serve as a repository for sharing maps and templates users have created. Check it out and download maps of "The Seven Churches of Revelation" that I have created and see how you can also participate on the wiki.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Content Links

Britannica Webshare is a new service from Encyclopaedia Britannica that allows for free access to full article contents to web publishers, bloggers, and others providing Internet content. It is a great way to offer reliable, background information on a topic. Check out some of these examples:

Noted from Jane's eLearning.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Center for Early African Christianity web site

The Center for Early African Christianity web site is based on the book by Thomas C. Oden, How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity.
It is a nicely done web site with summaries of the book and links to Major Figures, Timelines, Maps, and Research. (via a link from Cyberbrethren)

Logos Blogroll Promotion: Free Logos Books!

Appealing to our desire for more books, Logos is promoting their blog by offering the potential for free Logos books to those who include the Logos blog in their blogroll... something I have done since starting this blog over a year ago. But wait, there's more! By encouraging you to add them to your blogroll, I might even be able to get more books. Read HERE for more info on how you too might get some free Logos books.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New Polyglot Bible in development

I don't think I'm disclosing any top secret project here. Tigran Aivazian of described (on a BibleWorks Forum post) the production of a new polyglot Bible and provided this link to a PDF draft . Here is what Genesis 1.1 looks like:
Note that this polyglot includes the following texts along with numerous textual variants of:

  • Ginsburg/ben-Chayim Hebrew Massoretic text
  • Samaritan Pentateuch
  • Hebrew mss from Qumran
  • Aramaic targum Onkelos
  • Syriac Peshitta
  • Arabic of Saadia Gaon
  • Jerome's Latin Vulgate (and Clementine)
  • Greek LXX with Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion referenced in the apparatus
  • Armenian of Mesrob/Sahak
  • Bohairic version
  • Slavonic version of Cyrill and Methodius
Now, won't that be helpful!

PDA resources

A posting on the BibleWorks forum brought me attention to the HandHeldClassics site by John Jackson. The site is "dedicated to the development and free distribution of ubiquitous tools for the study of ancient language." In particular, he is interested in the Palm OS and provides suggestions and links for the resources he uses.
I used to use Palm devices, and I know that the Palm OS is still alive on Palm devices like the Tungsten and now on a number of smartphones. I switched over to WindowsMobile when I got my Dell Axim X51v which I really like. Unfortunately, Dell has stopped making this handheld and offers no replacement. It appears that the market is moving everything to smartphones, but I don't know if a phone will be able to do and display everything that I do and display on my Axim. Should my Axim die, I will probably look for one on eBay or switch to this recently released HP iPAQ 210.

Zotero: SBL style beta now available

I have reported previously on what a great scholarly, bibliographic resource Zotero is. On his SansBlogue, Tim Bulkeley notes that there is a now a Word / Open Office addin for SBL style foot/endnotes and bibliographies. It is still under development, and so you have to install it manually from the Zotero styles page. I am having some troubles with it in MS Word 2007, namely, when trying to add page numbers. BTW, I am still really mixed in feeling about MS Word 2007 as compared to Word 2003. One thing that particularly irks me is the inability to create my own floating or dockable toolbars. In Word 2003, I set up a Zotero toolbar that I could dock at the bottom of the window for quick access. You can't have such toolbars in Word 2007, so you have to click on the Add-Ins tab and then click on the Zotero icon. You can add them to the "Quick Access" toolbar, but that could get full of a lot of stuff in a hurry. Ultimately I end up assigning the "insert citation" to a keystroke, so it is workable. (And how do you assign actions to a keystroke in Word 2007? Click that button in the top left, then look for the "Word Options" button hidden at the bottom, then "Customize," then keyboards shortcuts "Customize" button, then...) BTW, the SBL site has a handy, downloadable PDF "Student Supplement to the SBL Handbook of Style."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

More on Bible Mapper and other mapping resources

It is always worth checking out what Todd Bolen is doing over at, and it may be worth it to you to subscribe to his every-other-month newsletter. In his latest newsletter, there is some great stuff on Corinth including a PowerPoint you can download and use that uses satellite imagery annotated with the archaeological features.
Todd also gives a nice example of how he uses Bible Mapper to make maps like this one of Turkey. (Here is an earlier posting I made re: Bible Mapper.)
Through a link from BiblePlaces, I also found this incredible listing of mapping resources: Map Sources/GeoHack. If you are interested in mapping, this collection of links will get you to everywhere else on the web. One site I checked and particularly liked is Maps-For-Free. It is not designed for searching for sites, but, in addition to the usual Google satellite imagery, it has some excellent terrain maps (Todd's map shown above is an example of a terrain map) and relief maps (such as the one shown below). Have fun playing around with the various layers and other map types.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pocket Online Bible Review

I have posted a review of the Pocket Online Bible, but it was a bit too involved to post on this blog. HERE is the page where you can read the full review. I will post a shortened summary below.SUMMARY
All in all, Pocket Online Bible is a fine program, and given that it is free, it a good resource. You will want to pay to obtain more Bible versions if you want to make this your primary PDA Bible tool. It really is not intended to be an intensive program for original language study (i.e., it will not replace OliveTree BibleReader as my main PDA program), but there are ways via Strongs to get some idea of the original text. (Original language texts can be added for a fee.) It should most directly be compared with Pocket e-Sword which is also free but offers some important versions for free (e.g. CEV, ESV). The main feature that Pocket Online Bible offers that is not available with Pocket e-Sword is the collection of maps and charts.

Bottom line: If you use Online Bible or e-Sword on your desktop machine, then it makes sense to use the same program on your PDA. e-Sword is the more versatile program, but Pocket Online Bible does include some useful maps and charts.

When I get time, I will provide reviews of the other Bible software I have on my PDA:

Monday, April 7, 2008

UPDATE: Automated Backup and Restore of Logos/Libronix Settings AND RESOURCES

UPDATE from previous post: These new files now include:

  • Backup/restore for Resources
  • Scripts for WinXP/Vista and for Win98/ME
Thank you to David Hooton for allowing me to post these files here! He states:
The attached command scripts enable you to quickly backup and restore your Libronix user data & preferences AND now your Resources. To illustrate, I ran the Backup script on my main computer then did a fresh install on another computer from the 3.0e Media DVD. I immediately ran the Restore script and had a complete working Libronix without any Serial # or Account Management prompts - I only had to tell it where my resources were located!

Instructions for use are provided in the zip file.
Note you need to choose either Windows XP/Vista or Win.
It has also been reported on the newsgroup by Jui Khiang Lim "that it works well on Windows XP Pro under Fusion:Vmware Virtual Machine running on a MacBook with OS X 10.5.2."

UPDATE 2008.07.01: Note that these are the new updated files from Dave Hooton. He writes:
This revision incorporates:-
- a new parameter for User Files in a non-default location.
- the default "Program Files" location in XP/Vista 64.
- improved management of scripts requiring Admin privilege in Vista.
- improved synchronisation of two installations.

More details can be found in the Instructions in each zip file; especially
important if you have Vista.

If you used the previous scripts successfully you do not have to make any
changes to your shortcuts.
FILES UPDATED: 2008.09.12
Right click HERE to download/save the Win98/ME ZIP file.
Right click HERE to download/save the WinXP/Vista ZIP file.
Right click HERE to download a Procedures ZIP file with full instructions on transferring LDLS from one computer to another and another on reinstalling LDLS.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Kalos: Free Greek Dictionary and Morphological Analysis Resource

Thanks to a link from Danny Zacharias on his Deinde blog, I gave the Kalos greek software a try. Here is their description:

Kalós is a free Classic Greek Dictionary, trilingual, with definitions in English, French and Spanish. It contains approximately 25,000 entries

You are welcome to download it, and start enjoying it right away.

Kalós also includes New Testament and koiné vocabulary, including biblical names, which makes it a very useful resource for religion and theology scholars.
It has versions for both Windows and Mac, and you set up language/font preferences the first time you start the program. It is indeed free and fully functional, but to get rid of an occasional nag screen, you can purchase an activation key for US$29.

The dictionary works as you would expect. When you type in the dictionary form of a word (either typing in Greek letters or using Beta code), you can use diacritics or ignore them and specify a part of speech in order to speed up the search. The morphological analysis tool is similarly helpful for entering any form.
Perhaps most helpful is the inflection tool. Using the word you entered in the Dictionary tab, the inflection tab lets you generate tables based on that word and then save the table in PDF, HTML, RTF, CSV, or XLS format.
In addition, it can generate a number of other tables for prepositions, pronouns, conjunctions... (Check the sample tables here.)

It is a classical Greek tool (so you have the option to include dual forms or Doric infinitives), but it includes most Koine Greek vocab including biblical names. All in all, a fine Greek resource you may wish to add to your collection. In another post, I will describe additional ways of creating paradigm charts using other software resources.

Spanish Bible Software Resources

I encouraged my daughter to take Spanish in school, but I confess that I do not know Spanish at all. Still, I'm glad to see Bible software resources being produced for Spanish speakers. Phil Gons at the Logos blog just posted on Spanish resources available in Logos/Libronix. The only other Spanish-based Bible software that I know of are the ones that the American Bible Society produced quite early on, i.e., around 2000. They still have some for sale--and note that they offer a simple Mac program and the Win-based programs are Libronix ones--but it appears that Logos has pretty much superseded them.
If you know of and want to recommend other Spanish-based resources, please add them to the comments here.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

"Bible Mapper" is back... and now free!

I just discovered that the outstanding "Bible Mapper" program is back online. (I had previously posted about it here.) The full version had previously cost $35, but it had become too burdensome for David Barrett to maintain, so he had closed the site down for some time. It is now back in version 3, and it is downloadable for free. David has a heart for ministry, and this program was a great way for Bible translation teams to produce maps that do not have any copyright restrictions. (BTW, this is a big deal.)
Do note that you will need to request a registration key. Also note that there will be little if any technical support, so don't bug David! Remember, you are getting an incredible Bible mapping program for free that produces copyright-clear maps! I really like the editability of the maps, and the attractive maps you can produce. You have a choice of backgrounds and can download additional terrain tiles. You can turn on/off various geographical features and also filter them according to time period. There is an easy click link into Google maps online. It also is great for providing major and minor land routes, something that often is not available on other mapping resources. Thank you, David!

Automated Backup and Restore of Logos/Libronix Settings

UPDATE >>> See newer post with improved scripts.

Thank you to David Hooton for allowing me to post these files here! He states:

The attached command scripts enable you to quickly backup and restore your Libronix settings. To illustrate, I ran the Backup script on my main computer then did a fresh install on another computer from the 3.0e Media DVD. I immediately ran the Restore script and had a complete working Libronix without any Serial # or Account Management prompts - I only had to tell it where my resources were located!

Instructions for use are provided in the zip file.
Note that they will only work on Windows XP and Vista.
Right click HERE to download/save the ZIP file.

Unicode on a Mac

Somehow I lost my RSS feed to Danny Zacharias' Deinde blog, and so I am now catching up. I have commented a number of times on Unicode, but I am only familiar with how it works on a Windows PC. For those wanting to know how to manage Unicode on a Mac, be sure to check out this post on Deinde.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Center for the Study of NT Mss - Albania Expedition

I haven't seen very much posted (here is a bit) regarding the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts expedition to Albania. Go to their home page and download the MSDoc file by Daniel Wallace describing the trip. He describes the technological needs as well as the manuscripts they photographed. There are some interesting comments about the pericope adulterae which sometimes shows up after John 7:52 and the manuscripts they observed. Hey, and there are pictures too!

Blog anniversary...

I started this blog a little over a year ago as an experiment. I wasn't too sure about this whole blogging business back then, but I would say that over the course of just a year, blogging has become a commonplace on the web. It's a format that is here to stay. I suspect, however, that just about as many blogs are dying as new ones are being created. It seems to me that the ones that last will fall into one of three categories:

  • Personal blogs mainly functioning as an online diary without any particular audience (or need for a large audience). I've set up a couple such blogs for my family as a way to share pics and stuff with each other.
  • 'Mega' or 'meta' blogs which have developed large readerships and have now obtained the fame/notoriety/momentum (and perhaps financial support) to make it worthwhile for the author(s). These ones often generate a lot of feedback and discussion from readers.
  • 'Niche' blogs, such as this one, which have a small readership but serve a well-focused purpose or topic. It is always rewarding to get comments from readers, but blogs such as this function more as a way to share information than a place to generate discussion.
It is nice to see that traffic to this blog has steadily increased over the course of a year. I'm averaging about 80 visits/day over the past month. There have been 13,534 total visits from 7,599 unique visitors with 26,738 pageviews since the blog started. Most people are coming via the index page (and over a quarter of the traffic is coming straight from Google, but it appears that many are either following links or are simply subscribed), but for those coming to the site via specific searches, the most popular pages have been the ones on Syriac Tools and Resources and the one on Free, Downloadable Hebrew Grammars. I can always anticipate a bump up in visits when I post about Logos software in response to a discussion on the Logos newsgroups. There is also an increase, though not as large, when posting about BibleWorks with links on the BibleWorks forum. (BTW, all these stats are coming from GoogleAnalytics.)
Other interesting (to me) stats:
  • Over 50% of visitors are using Firefox; 43% using IE
  • Only 2% are using dialup
  • For the 78 of you who have visited this site more than 200 times, bless you!
  • Visitors have come from 118 countries/territories. It is a pretty fascinating list. As one would expect, most are from the USA with the UK and Canada trailing. There is a surprisingly large number of visitors from Italy, Spain, Singapore, and the Philippines.
The future of this blog:
As I'm sure other bloggers can testify, maintaining a blog like this takes a lot of time. If you don't post, it will fade away into obscurity. By being such a specific blog, however, it does mean that a number of visitors will come simply with a new post. I don't need a regular, daily audience.
In fact, a big reason for me to maintain this blog is entirely selfish. It has become a way to help me to remember. I am regularly searching this blog to find links to something I recall posting about. Another semi-selfish reason for this blog is that, as a teacher, I am regularly getting asked questions about a topic or how to use software. It has been much easier simply to point to a blog entry.
I've been more active posting on this blog since January when I started my first real sabbatical. Part of my sabbatical plan was specifically to explore the value of blogging as a teaching resource. I had tried course blogs last fall, but they didn't work the greatest, and for next fall, I'm more likely to try a class wiki approach. Simply as a resource, however, I am pleased with how this blog is functioning.
To increase the value of this blog, I am very happy to include co-authors. Thanks to Tim Bahula (working in Trinidad and Tobago!) for adding a couple posts. I've encouraged my students to think about adding posts as well. When I'm back teaching full-time, I know I won't be able to keep as active, so if you have something to share related to the focus of this blog, please let me know.
At some point, I'm hoping to move this blog to a new domain, Scroll and Screen. It is a problem backing up this blog, but it is more work for now trying to move it all and reset it all using WordPress.
So, thanks to all of you have expressed appreciation for this blog either by reading it or sending regards. I'll keep it going as best as I can.

Westminster Hebrew Syntax - More on diagramming

I have posted a number of times (HERE are all the posts) on diagramming of sentences as related to grammar, syntax, linguistics, discourse, etc. I have done so exclusively looking at the Greek New Testament, and it does appear that most work has been done with the Greek NT. (And keep an eye out for the forthcoming Lexham Discourse Greek NT.)

Poking around the web, however, I did find that at the Groves Center of Westminster Theological Seminary there is work on a Westminster Hebrew Syntax for the Old Testament. Here is an example of what their work looks like. Here is their description of the project:

Each separate sentence in the Hebrew Bible is identified and separated into its component parts (constituent analysis). In order to maximize consistency and objectivity of analysis, the computer is taught to do the analysis by giving it a complex set of grammar rules to use. The resulting database can be used for many different purposes, including Bible translation. For this reason, the Groves Center is partnering with the Asia Bible Society to build a new generation of translator tool, where the computer actually proposes translations to the translator. An essential element of this tool is a “map” between biblical Hebrew syntactic structures and the syntactic structures of the target language – in this case, Mandarin Chinese.
While this will certainly be a helpful tool for OT study, I find it particularly interesting that they are teaching a computer how to analyze the text and that this analysis can then be used to propose a translation in a new language based on syntactic structures.
This is an intriguing, albeit mechanical, approach to translation. I am imagining in the future, however, that this kind of technological could be used to generate personalized translations on the fly. Assuming that grammar rules have been defined and even given further specification according to various parameters in the target language, one could, for example, take an original language biblical text and request that a translation be generated for a speaker of American English at an 8th grade reading level.

In any case, I am looking forward to this Hebrew syntax resource showing up in my Bible software one of these days. According to the web site, they are in the "final phase" as of October 2007.