Saturday, April 22, 2017

New Google Earth Web Version Released :(

Rome in Google Earth Web
Google recently announced a new version of a web-based Google Earth. For now, it only runs in the Chrome desktop browser or as an Android app. It won't replace the full desktop version of Google Earth, and it isn't much different than using the Satellite view in Google Maps. It does have some nice features including enhanced 3D imagery in some locations. (e.g., Paris, NYC, or Rome as seen in the graphic.) The user has some control over the display and how much information is visible. When you go to a place, helpful 'cards' will pop up offering more information and interesting sites nearby. 
As noted, it doesn't replace the full downloadable version of Google Earth which apparently is being phased out as an old version, but Google is promising updates to the new version. Use of KML files is only partially implemented, nor are tools like image history, measurements, tours, etc. available. At this point, I do not find this to be a very helpful release. I fear that this may mark the end of the classic version (much like Google did with Panoramio and Picasa), so for now, I'd say grab the download before it's gone. For more info, read HERE and HERE.

Biblical Studies in the Digital Age: Know your MSI from your RTI

Views of an inscription from Amman in flat light > Reflectance Transformation Imaging; diffuse gain > Specular enhancement
There's a free article available at Bible History Daily summarizing an article in the latest Biblical Archaeology Review on "Biblical Studies in the Digital Age." The new imaging technologies like Multspectral Imaging (MSI) and Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) are both making it possible to discern previously hard to discern texts and inscriptions and are also preserving those images to aid in further study. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

BibleWorks 10 Update: Free Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible

BibleWorks is known for its biblical text-centric approach, but both casual and serious readers often appreciate having a quick reference handy for a person, place, or other topics mentioned in the text. In the past, BW10 users could right-click on an English word and look it up in one of the dictionaries included in the base package: Faussett's Bible Dictionary of 1888, Easton's Illustrated Bible Dictionary of 1897, or The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia of 1939. While such works are not useless, they are significantly dated. 

BibleWorks has just announced a free update for BW10 users to add Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (EDB, 2000) to their BW library. Further, they added a new Dictionary tab in the Analysis Window so that as you move your mouse over English text, if there is a matching entry in the dictionary, it will immediately appear. 
Here you can see how the Dictionary tab works as you mouse over a word in an English version text. Do note that the linking is a bit indiscriminate. Mousing over "not" in an English text will bring up the entry for "Not my people"
The EDB is a well respected one-volume dictionary that sells for $40US on Amazon, so it is remarkable that BW is offering it for free to existing BW10 users.

As for the dictionary, it features (from its own description):
  • Nearly 5,000 entries explain every book, person, place, significant event, and distinctive term or expression found in the Bible
  • Written by nearly 600 respected authorities in the field of biblical scholarship
  • Includes 112 informative charts and photos and a 12-page section of color maps
  • Supplementary aids include lists of abbreviations, pronunciation guide, transliteration key, and concise bibliographies to guide further research
  • Entries cover the Deuterocanonicals as well as the Hebrew and New Testament scriptures
  • Based on the New Revised Standard version of the Bible, with attention given to alternate readings in other major translations
HERE is the official BW announcement with further instructions. Users need to update to the latest executable, then download the EDB, then (if necessary) enable the Dictionary tab.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Updates at NT Apocrypha & New Bibliographical System has been a leading online site for Syriac resources, and they just announced two improvements to the site. From their announcement:
First, we are excited to introduce a new page at devoted to the study of the New Testament Apocrypha which can be found at This is a companion page to the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha page we announced several weeks ago. Hundreds of ancient documents have been have been classified over time under the rubric of 'New Testament Apocrypha' (or sometimes 'New Testament Pseudegpigrapha') — not even including the number of works found in the Nag Hammadi codices. These apocyrphal texts were produced over centuries and by diverse communities. The tenuous connections between them, as a genre or corpus, are either their attribution to apostlic authors or, in terms of content, the 'hidden' stories they reveal about Jesus, the Apostles, Mary, and other New Testement figures. These works, ranging from the 2nd century CE (Protoevangelium of James) to the Islamic period (Gospel of the 12 Apostles), represent both the inventiveness of late antique Christian writers and the popularity of such stories among their readers. Originally written for the most part in Greek or Latin, they were soon translated into Syriac, Armenian, Coptic, Georgian, etc., but many original compositions of Christian apocrypha, or variants on older stories, also originated in these languages. Later Syriac writers (such as Mor Jacob of Sarug among others) were not only familiar with the traditions found in these books, but the apocryphal stories inform the exegetical worldview of several different works in Syriac.
We based the page on the masterful research of M. Geerard, *Clavis Apocryphorum Novi Testamenti* (Turnhout: Brepols, 1992). The page provides information about all published resources on New Testament Apocrypha in Syriac, Arabic, and Garshuni. Many of the resources collected by Geerard are available in the public domain. Thus, we have expanded his work by giving hyperlinks directly to the pages of those resources which are publicly available.

We hope that this page will be a valuable resource for those seeking authoritative publications on NT Apocrypha in Syriac and Arabic. Furthermore, we hope that can encourage new research on this rich literary tradition and foster fruitful dialogue between scholars working on Judaism, Biblical Studies, Quranic Studies, and the Syriac and Arabic literary traditions.
Second, we have developed a site-wide Bibliography, which can be found at We are steadily converting all of our pages to this new system. Eventually, all of the individual citations we make throughout the site will have a place in the the site-wide bibliography. The goal is that the user not only has access to important resources on individual pages, but now can also easily access the full bibliographic record for the same important resources. Each bibliographic entry is able
to be recombinable in meaningful ways (e.g. the Works Cited list on the NT Apocrypha page). The site-wide bibliography is able to be searched, filtered, and sorted by multiple keywords. ...
The pages that have been converted to the new system are fully Zotero-aware, as are the individual bibliographical entries in the site-wide bibliography. If you use Zotero, you can now easily “suck down” any of the references we cite into your own Zotero library. Each entry can also be downloaded as a BibTex, RIS, or MARC file type. Several pages already make use of the new bibliographical system ... soon all the pages on the site
will make use of the new system and their citations will be added to the site-wide bibliography.

We think the new Bibliography offers a major new increase in functionality for users of the site. The Bibliography is not designed to replace the immense work done at the Comprehensive Bibliography on Syriac Christianity, but has been built to present all materials cited on As always, we have tried to preserve the immediacy of links to publicly available works available on, which has been a hallmark of the site since the beginning. is a great resource and reference, and these new enhancements only enhance its offering. I'm a big fan of Zotero, and the new Zotero-aware entries are appreciated.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Blended Digital Gospel Harmony of Palm Sunday Account at

Blog article link
Stephen Smith at has posted an interesting proof of concept tool showing what a blended digital gospel harmony might look like. As he notes, gospel harmonies have appeared in print either as parallel accounts (think Aland's Synopsis or Throckmorton's Gospel Parallels) or as blended harmonies of which Tatian's Diatessaron is the earliest known one.

Smith notes the limitations of print harmonies and has produced a digital one that is interactive and gives readers greater clarity regarding where material is being derived. It also lets readers choose to prioritize one gospel if they choose.

In his initial work, Smith shows what the Palm Sunday / Entry into Jerusalem text might look like. The reader has the option of picking one of the four Gospels as the base which is highlighted in red. He notes that it was surprisingly time-consuming to construct a single passage like this, so don't expect a full Gospel any time soon.

I think the most helpful thing about such a tool is that a person can more quickly compare two Gospels and simply note what turns to red or black. One can quickly see that differences, at least in this account, are minimal between Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but switching to John as the base makes a considerable difference.

HERE is the blog article and HERE is a page where you can play with the blended digital Gospel harmony yourself.