Thursday, September 29, 2011

Perseus in Logos

Logos has been advertising that they are making the Perseus Collections available within Logos... for FREE! But get it quickly. Right now they are taking pre-orders, but once it it ready to go live, they are going to stop taking orders for a while so that they don't get overwhelmed with downloads. I don't recall for sure, but I think it was only 70Mb or so. In any case pre-order until Friday, 30 September 2011.) Be sure to read my comments at the end of this post, but here's some basic info:
The Perseus Collections contain around 1,500 free books focused primarily on Greek and Latin classics, like Aristotle and Plato. They also cover the history, literature, philosophy, and culture of the Greco-Roman world—important contextual sources for biblical scholars. Additionally, they contain other key works of Renaissance literature, and literature from early America.
Of these 'libraries' within the collection, the ones of primary interest to Bible folks are:
This Logos video gives you a good idea of what can be accomplished:

  • It has been possible for some time now to go directly to access the Perseus information at the Perseus Project web site. (And if you haven't been there in a while, it works quite well now compared to the 'glitchiness' of the site in the early days.) Logos itself has for some time provided an external link to the Perseus web site where one can gain access to Liddell-Scott-Jones (even the Great Scott edition). Having the text within Logos, however, is much faster and much handier.
  • Note that this Logos integration only includes the classical texts, not the reference works. If you want the Great Scott you will still have to go online or buy it from Logos. (Also note that the classical references in BDAG are not linked.)
    UPDATE: Dave in the comments notes that the issue of linking to BDAG was addressed in the Logos forum. It's coming eventually!
  • The Greek is all morphologically tagged. If the word is one that occurs in a biblical text (LXX or NT), you will be able to access those lexicons directly.
  • Unless you know the classical work that you want to read, I suspect that the way most people wanting to access the texts when starting from a biblical passage are going to want to: A) Right-click, use lemma, do a Bible Word Study; B) Under the "Textual Searches" category, look for "Classics" usage. C) Click on that Classics to initiate a Word Search - NOTE: When working in the Classics, be sure you are using "Logos Greek Morphology"; D) When your listing of occurrences appears [and it could take a while if there a lot], you will be able to click to call up the text. - NOTE: Here's a little trick. If you click on the "Resource" link, it will bring up the original language text. If you hover your mouse over the "Reference" link, you will be able to see if there is an accompanying English translation. Click on that link to call it up.
  • I don't want to complain about a great, free resource, but one of the more frustrating aspects is trying to find English translations to accompany the Latin or Greek texts. I used the trick in the preceding bullet to show one way of getting at it. You can find English texts directly by creating your own collection, but it's still some work. (And why, for example, are there none of the English translations of Aristophanes?) You still may need to end up going to and searching the Loeb collection or to Project Gutenberg to find some English translations. (For example, Lucian's De Syria dea.)
    UPDATE: Be sure to read Mark Barnes' comment about creating a Perseus collection with parallel resources enabled. That is a great way to find when English translations are available.
All in all, this is really nice, and you can't beat the price! Thank you, Logos! Get it right away, but if you miss the pre-order offer, my understanding is that Logos will offer it again after things settle down.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

BibleWorks9 Texts and English BIbles

I have completed updated listings of the texts in the recently released BibleWorks9. (Here is the previous list for BW8.)

I have compiled in a spreadsheet (what I think is) a complete list of texts for BibleWorks9 that are in Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Greek, Latin, Coptic, or English. I've organized them according to Language, Content, Source (whether they are included in BW9, available for purchase as an Addon Module, or as a downloadable User-Created resource), the Abbreviation for each resource, a Description of the Text, whether there is a Morphologically-paired text or a Translation-paired text, and if there is any other Related text. This resource should be particularly helpful if you are trying to find a resource or if you are trying to recall a resource's abbreviation.

HERE is the XLS spreadsheet you can download. 
  • The first page has things organized largely according to content: OT&LXX, Targums, Intertestamental, Composite OT&NT, Greek NT, Greek NT Manuscripts, NT Peshitta, NT Misc, Latin, Early Christian, Other Jewish, English Versions, Islam, Classical, Doctrinal, and Miscellaneous. (Note that the Greek NT Manuscripts is one of the new features in BW9. Seven manuscripts--Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Bezae, Boernerianus, Washingtonianus, and GA 1141--have been transcribed and appear as regular texts in BW9's browse window. Sinaiticus is even morphologically tagged.)
  • The second page alphabetically organizes the abbreviations used for the resources. 
The benefits of downloading this file are that you can have the listing available offline and can organize things as you wish. The drawback is that you'll have to keep it updated. I have also posted an online version HERE, and I will try to keep it updated. 

HERE is the DOCX file you can download. HERE is an online version of it. I compiled this resource particularly with BibleWorks users in mind, but it may prove helpful to anyone who is working with English Bible versions.This document consists of the following sections.
  • English Bibles included in BW9: The is an alphabetical listing by the abbreviations assigned to all the English Bibles available for BW9. It lists those included with BW9, user-created versions you can download/install, a listing of other important English versions and their online locations so that you can link to them using BW's External Links Editor, and some related English translations (e.g., for NT Peshitta, Targums, apocryphal and pseudepigraphical works, DSS...) In addition, I adapted a helpful list I found online by Bruce Terry which provides an approximate rating of each version from literal (or using formal equivalence) to dynamic or paraphrase. I edited this list and added a few evaluations of my own. The scale used is such that a "1" would be an interlinear Hebrew/Greek to English and a 10 would be a loose paraphrase. (The Cotton Patch Version gets a "10.")
  • The second section takes the alphabetical listing of the first section and puts them into "A Literal to Paraphrase Scale of English Bible Versions."
  • The third section is my listing of "Recommended Versions to Consult and Compare." This is the list I provide to my students. 
For BW users, I have, however, already set up these versions in a logical order and saved it to a file you can download. These texts appear in the program in the order of most literal to most dynamic. For such an ordering, you need to specify a Version Display Order (VDO) file. Save this VDO file in your BibleWorks9/init directory.  In BW, then, you can open the Version Display Order option and choose this Literal2Dyanmic.vdo file.

I hope you will find this useful. Let me know if there are any problems.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Online

This is great! It was announced today that five Dead Sea Scrolls have been published online as part of The Digital Dead Seas Scrolls project.
It’s taken 24 centuries, the work of archaeologists, scholars and historians, and the advent of the Internet to make the Dead Sea Scrolls accessible to anyone in the world. Today, as the new year approaches on the Hebrew calendar, we’re celebrating the launch of the Dead Sea Scrolls online; a project of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem powered by Google technology.

The five scrolls posted for now are: the Great Isaiah Scroll, Temple Scroll, War Scroll,     Community Rule Scroll, and Commentary on the Habakkuk Scroll. Resolution on the images is outstanding with zooming, and navigation is easy. With the default view of the Isaiah Scroll, there are mouse hover highlights indicating the chapter:verse. Clicking on the highlight will bring a popup with an English translation of the Masoretic text. (I.e., it is an English translation of the MT, not of the scroll. A start at comparing the two is provided here. For the Isaiah Scroll, at least, you may want to consult the older Great Isaiah Scroll Directory which has a low-res, bw image, a description of the scroll, and line by line translation.)
[HT: JS & BS]

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Biblical Studies and Technological Tools App for Android

Thanks to AppsGeyser, it's free and fairly easy to create an Android app from web content such as this blog. You can go to this page to download the Biblical Studies and Technological Tools Android app, or, if you prefer, use your Android device to scan this QR code.The app is free too!
[Thanks to ChurchMag for alerting me to AppsGeyser.]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On teaching Koine Greek

On his και τα λοιπα blog, Daniel R. Streett has been running a great series on teaching Greek. 
He's not done yet, but he's been building up an argument for an immersive, oral/aural, 'communicative' approach to learning Greek. His next post will be on how such an approach might be integrated into a typical seminary curriculum. I'm anxious to see what he proposes, because this is where I've been challenged. (I've replied to a couple of his posts, and I'm quoting large parts of my comments here.)

Back in the day when I was learning Greek at seminary (~1980), the Greek requirement was basically 2 years worth with follow-up in required exegetical courses. The result? I would estimate that at least 90% of pastors were no longer using Greek within 5 years of graduation from seminary. Why? They never achieved a level of competence to allow for truly “reading” Greek. In the seminary where I teach now, the Greek requirement has been reduced to about 1 year with follow-up in in required exegetical courses. There is absolutely no way I can teach students to “read” Greek. I have, therefore, had to change my goals. I try to create a foundation of Greek vocabulary and grammar, but I reduce the amount of vocab memory and analysis to a minimum. Instead, I focus on grammatical significance, syntax, using lexical tools, and learning ways of working with the Greek text. This also means, as you might guess, that Bible software becomes very important. I encourage students to use software about 2/3 of the way through the course. This also means that my quizzes and tests (apart from some foundational memory aspects) are usually open resource (i.e., they can use book, notes, software), based on biblical texts, and ask the students to compare English translations and then consult the Greek to analyze what is going on.

That was my early response to Streett's postings, but in his latest post he points out the challenge of using a 'tools' approach and just learning enough Greek to become 'dangerous' with it. He also sets up the admirable goal that we are helping students become biblical scholars, and argues that just learning 'tools' will not accomplish that. I'd like to think I'm doing something different. Here's why:
  1. Given the year of required dedicated Greek course work plus follow up in exegetical classes, we can get deeper into Greek than simply going with a one semester tools course.
  2. Almost all my students are planning to become pastors, not biblical scholars. Yes, I realize that sounds very bad, but the reality is that they want to be able to engage the Bible to support their ministries. They are not doing ministry to support their biblical scholarship. It's simply a matter of priority. They most certainly want to be fully aware of the Bible and to interpret and communicate it faithfully and with integrity, but the ultimate goal is to become a pastor or teacher in the church, not a biblical scholar. Those two things are certainly (and hopefully!) not exclusive, but priorities will dictate where time is spent.
  3. As I think about it, there is probably more than just 'tools' or 'reading' levels of competence. I would be more comfortable defining my approach as something more like 'faithful engagement' with the text, a level somewhere between tools and reading. (I'll say more in a moment.) We should probably also note that there is a 'translator' level beyond the 'reader' one. Students sometimes think they will learn to 'translate' the Greek, but that is a far more complicated task. None of my students (and I will also include myself here) is likely to come up with a better translation than the leading English versions which are products of committees of scholars who know Greek and linguistics better than my students or I.
  4. Given #3, one of the first things my students come to realize, however, is that no translation is perfect. Every translation is making some kind of compromise or is stuck trying not only to render Greek words into English but also to capture a whole culture, context, and tradition of their use.
  5. Because of #4, I have found that one of the best ways for my students to get at the Greek is by looking at a range of English versions. This approach highlights the places where the translation committees were having the most difficulty getting it right, and these are the places where they need to look more closely at the Greek. Here, then, is where the tools start to come in to play. Are the differences the result of text critical issues? Is it a lexical matter? A grammatical matter? The tools will provide the lexical and parsing and analysis and such, but you will still actually need to know some Greek to figure out what a circumstantial participle is, and how it works in Greek, and what difference it makes that it is present and not aorist. At this point, they should also be able to understand what is being said about the Greek text in the more technical commentaries like ones in the NIGTC series. (I don't know that a simple 'tools' approach would achieve this level of competence.)
As I hope you can see, students actually have to learn some Greek in my classes. No, they will not be able to 'translate' nor even 'read' the Greek. They will, however:
  • understand something about how Koine Greek works grammatically, 
  • have a grasp of syntactical features of Greek, 
  • be able to use tools, especially Bible software,
  • know how to make sense of a lexical entry in BDAG (a simple tools approach can't do this either),
  • understand discussions about Greek texts in commentaries or the footnotes of the very helpful NET Bible, and 
  • evaluate the relative merits of English versions. 
All of this can be accomplished in a year. I’d love to think I could use a more ‘communicative’ approach (though we do sing Greek songs, recite the Lord’s Prayer…), but given the time constraints imposed by our curriculum, I am taking an approach that I think (and early feedback is tending to confirm) will allow students to “use” Greek with integrity for the rest of their careers.