Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bible Reading Plans for the New Year

If one of your resolutions for the new year is to be more consistent in your Bible reading, there are a few good online/desktop resources to help you in this discipline.

Logos Global Bible Reader: A Logos blog post on this reader states:

This free download from Logos is a powerful desktop application that provides community and accountability in a Bible reading plan.

Once you install Global Bible Reader you sign in with your user account and choose from one of the six reading plans. After you chose a plan (or multiple plans) Global Bible Reader will download six days worth of reading (so you can even read when you’re not online). After you finish the reading for a day, click the Done Reading button and Global Bible Reader will mark the day as completed. In order to make sure you don’t fall behind, you can set up Global Bible Reader to give you a daily reminder to read the day's text. More than just reading yourself, Global Bible Reader plugs you into a community of people who are on the same reading plan as you...
Facebook Bible Reading Group: Wayne Leman reports on this option on the Better Bibles Blog:

Join us in reading and discussing the books of the Bible in 2009! We’re starting with Genesis, and we hope you’ll join us for as many books as you’d like–hopefully all of them.

We’ll be using an edition of the Scriptures called “The Books of The Bible” that the International Bible Society has specially formatted for reading with greater understanding and enjoyment. The text is in a single column, and there are no chapters or verses or section headings.

Those of you who are already members of Facebook can attend the event by going to this Internet address:

YouVersion: From the YouVersionBlog:
Our One-Year Reading Plan will take you through the entire Bible in 2009—just read the selections mapped out for you each day and you'll cover the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice this year. Invite friends to join you in this journey and you'll have built-in accountability along with enhanced learning.

And don’t forget that you can use your mobile phone to read the Bible no matter where you are.
UPDATE: There is an interesting post on the blog on how evenly distributed the amount of daily reading is using different Bible reading plans.

UPDATE: 2009.01.16: Logos also has free Bible reading plan that includes the Deuterocanonical / Apocryphal books.

Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Review of Biblical Studies and Technological Tools: STATS

2008 Biblical Studies and Tech Tools Blog Stats
Some observations on the stats given below:
I'm accumulating these stats as part of my ongoing review to demonstrate the nature and character of my online 'publishing,' but it is also part of my own reflection on the very nature of blogging. I have found that there are only a few factors that really determine how 'popular' a blog is.

  • The more you post, the more visits you get. It makes sense, of course, but it also shows how blogging can become a harsh taskmaster that consumes more and more time.
  • You'll get more traffic by being provocative and argumentative than by being informative. I intend my blog to be more of an informative site, so it won't really ever reach blogdom star status.
  • You'll get more traffic if some other more popular site links to you. I am careful to always link to my sources, and the more dense the network of links, the more traffic.
  • Blog about FREE, downloadable resources to increase traffic!
  • Humor always helps.
  • It's surprising that Italy (4) and Spain (5) are so high on the list of countries with the most visitors to the blog. As far as I can tell, there are a few key sites in these countries dealing with my blog topic, and if they link to my site, I get a bunch of traffic. In any case, I really enjoy seeing the global sharing that is possible with my blog.
Visitors:Traffic Sources:
Keyword Search Terms:
More Blog Stats:
  • 253 posts for the year
  • 18,532 Visitors
  • 33,962 Visits from 147 countries/territories
  • Average increased from about 45 visits per day in January to 125 per day in December
  • 63,255 Pageviews (45,339 Unique views)
  • Highest Technorati rating: 60
  • 289 readers are subscribed to the blog

Most popular posts (and note that some were posts from 2007) other than the index page:
  1. ICC OT Commentaries to download (2006)
  2. Free Online/Downloadable Hebrew Grammar Resources (1094)
  3. Diagramming Greek Sentences (775)
  4. Syriac Tools and Resources (718)
  5. Books You Should Download (406)
  6. Using Digital Mapping Tools: Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim (398)
  7. More on Sentence Diagramming (379)
  8. Bible on a Phone (364)
  9. Get Lost in Jerusalem - Free Interactive Program (340)
  10. Bible Software Reviews (290)
Most popular labels:
  1. Bible software
  2. Bibleworks
  3. Biblical Mapping
  4. Accordance
  5. Logos
  6. Bibleworks modules
  7. Bible photos
  8. Diagramming
  9. Hebrew
  10. e-Sword
I'm planning some additional posts reviewing 2008 and looking ahead to 2009, so stay tuned!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Aramaic and Coptic

I did pull together a listing of online resources for the study of Syriac, but I just don't have time to do the same for Aramaic (of which I know a little) or Coptic (of which I know nothing). But, if you want a start:

Zamzar - Free Online File Conversion

Zamzar is a free online file conversion tool. (Subscriptions are available starting at $7/month to upload larger files, faster conversion, no ads on web page, etc.) It offers quite a range of file type conversions. It will probably be most helpful if you receive one of the new ___X Office2007 files and don't have Office 2007 on your system. It will down convert to the Office 2003 format. Another instance is if you have an OpenOffice document and want to open it in a Microsoft program. One other usage I envision is converting Microsoft Works documents. Finally, it is able to convert some docs to SWF flash formats.

The online site does have popups (which can be blocked) with the free subscription, and you do NOT have to register or login to use the service. You do have to supply an email address which is used to notify you when the file conversion is completed. Otherwise it is a pretty simple step of uploading a doc, choosing the desired outcome format, and submitting.

It took 1-10 minutes to receive notification that the file was ready for viewing or download. There are no ads on the converted file.

The only problem I had is that it frequently returned an "error converting file" message to me. Service is still in beta... In any case, it may be helpful at some point.

Here's an example of converting a PPTX (PowerPoint 2007) file to SWF (Flash).

Biblical Studies Articles on Slate

I don't regularly check out Slate, one of the major online ezines, but it turns out that they have published quite a number of biblically related articles. Check out:

  • Happy Birthday, Dear Yeshua, Happy Birthday to You! - Was Jesus a common name at the beginning of the first century? > Provides a nice explanation of the name of Jesus and its various forms in Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, etc.
  • The Complete Blogging the Bible > Started in 2007, a series of blog posts by an admitted non-expert, Jew as he just starts reading and asking questions about the text
  • Jesus and the Gospel - What Really Happened? > From 2005: a nine-part, online conversation over three days by Alan Segal, Larry Hurtado, and John Kloppenborg considering historicity issues (especially criteria used for evaluation: dissimilarity, multiple attestation, etc.; Kloppenborg uses "not true stories, but stories that are true"), points of historical contact (eg, Baptism and Crucifixion), stories not necessarily historical but reflective of Xn spiritual values (eg, virgin birth or woman caught in adultery story), varieties of Judaism and the place of John the Baptist and Jesus, and more.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Canon Comparison Chart from Logos

Vincent Setterholm of Logos composed a very helpful "Canon Comparison Chart" that was included as part of their recently inaugurated Bible Study Magazine. A version of this chart has been shared online with helpful 'hover over' popups for notes. (Click on the graphic to see the page.)
What's in Your Bible? Find out at

Included are the canons of the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Hebrew Bible, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Syriac, Ethiopian, and Protestant. If you are trying to remember whether the Psalms of Solomon is in someone's Bible or not, here's one good place to look. [HT: Naked Bible]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bibloi 8.0 from Silver Mountain Software

For many years, Bible Windows was the primary program I used for doing my biblical research. It was mainly a one-person operation run by the very capable John Baima. Under pressure from Microsoft (who claimed that every bit of software that had "window" as part of its title was under their control), Bible Windows was renamed Bibloi. I was still using Bibloi 8.0 up until about 6 years ago when I started using the more comprehensive programs from BibleWorks and Logos. I had noted occasionally that Bibloi was still available, but it seemed to have been orphanned. I just received an email from Silver Mountain Software, however, indicating that they have updated the web site and offer immediate downloading as a delivery option, so maybe there is still life in this Bible software.
A few things of note:

  • Its Silver Fonts (SGreek and R/SHebrew) were an early standard for Greek and Hebrew fonts. (Still available as shareware.) It now is fully unicode compliant (using Silver Humana which includes Greek, Hebrew, and Coptic) and comes with a converter to go back/forth between the font encodings.
  • It was always fast, both in terms of starting the program and conducting searches.
  • It includes only a few English versions--NRSV, KJV, GWT, and a few others--but it does allow for importing all sorts of other texts from the Unbound Bible or the Online Bible or other beta code or plain text files.
  • It uses the Analytical Greek NT as its base for the NT and links to the related Analytical Lexicon of the GNT as well as Louw-Nida. It was one of the first to link into Internet resources including the Perseus web site. It also provides links into Logos resources. It also does a nice job with its interlinear display.
  • Silver Mountain also sells the Workplace Pack which I believe is still the best way to view and search the TLG and PHI CD-ROMs.
For a solid set of biblical texts and resources that can perform all the basic search and study tasks, Bibloi 8.0 is still a good value at only $95.

Collation and Evaluation of OT Apocrypha Translations

Bob Burns (of Summa Scriptura), in a posting on The Biblicalist on Yahoo groups, has provided a chart to sort out which apocryphal books are available in which of 12 English translations, how they are presented, and which texts they use as their basis. He provides his results as a XML spreadsheet, a MS Excel spreadsheet, or as an image file. (Click on the graphic above.) You should read his whole post to understand his evaluative guidelines, but in general, the translations based on the texts in the blue shaded lines are the best. Translations which include the most texts or more than one if there is an alternative text receive extra points. On this basis, the NETS (the New English Translation of the Septuagint), NRSV, and ESV come out 'best.' There are, of course, other ways these translations could be evaluated, and each of them have historical interest, but this is a helpful table providing a quick overview. Thanks to Bob!
UPDATE (2008.12.26): Note that Bob has now updated the data to include both Brenton's translation of the Septuagint and RH Charles' translations in his OT Apocrypha.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ancient Rome 3D Updated

I had previously posted about Ancient Rome 3D in Google Earth. The Google Earth blog now reports that the 3D modeling has been greatly improved which results in much better viewing and navigation. As he reports:

If you were frustrated with how hard it was to load Ancient Rome when it came out last month, give it a try again. It's still not as simple as the built-in 3D Buildings layer. But, the experience of learning, and seeing, ancient Rome come to life is worth it. The placemark descriptions and links to further information are very educational. And the 3D buildings really help you visualize what it might have been like.
Be sure to check the directions on the Google Earth blog for getting it set up. The terrain layer loads rather quickly, but the first set of buildings took quite a while (10 minutes+) with my good connection. Maybe the server was busy... In any case, these little screen shots show the great detail available, some including interiors. With the Ancient Rome gallery layer enabled, you also have one click access to additional info.
You may also want to visit the Rome Reborn project from which much of the data was derived. Another good site to check is the Virtual Museum of the Ancient Via Flamina. It includes a 386Mb download reconstruction of an ancient village on this Roman road.

Just waiting for reconstructions of ancient Jerusalem, Ephesus, and Athens...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Latin-English Lexicons: WORDS and Perseus and more (including Accordance, BibleWorks, Logos)

If you work with Latin, there are a number of Latin-English lexical resources available, most for free.Whitaker's WORDS has about 39,000 entries and provides analysis and gloss. You can use it online HERE at this NotreDame site. You can download a version (for DOS, Win, Mac, Linux) HERE. Even better, download the WORDS version from that link, then get the Latin Assistant 2.0 from HERE. As the screenshot above shows, it provides a much more user-friendly interface and note that you can enter forms of words and have the morphological data provided as well as the meanings.. [HT: the amazing Pasquale]
Another site to check for an implementation of WORDS is the Classics Technology Center which has both a Latin to English and English to Latin option.Perseus provides both Charlton T. Lewis', An Elementary Latin Dictionary (search page) and the more comprehensive Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary (search page). Perseus has all sorts of ways of linking the Latin to primary texts, as you can see in the graphic, but it can run slow. It is also able to search on forms in addition to the lexical entries.
(UPDATE) The best way to access Lewis and Short (as I should have noted originally since I highlighted it before!) is by using the free
Diogenes program that runs on your computer. It's a 64Mb download that expands to over 500Mb, but it is an excellent resource.
NOTE: Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos allow for hooks into the internet, so you could set up links from Latin texts in those programs into the NotreDame or Perseus sites. If someone knows how to set links or run scripts from the Bible software to either Latin Assistant or Diogenes, that would be very nice.
Note the Latin lexical resources available in a number of Bible software packages (and check this post for links):

  • Accordance offers a morphologically tagged version of the Vulgate along with a simple Latin-English dictionary.
  • Logos includes in a number of its libraries The Dictionary of the Vulgate New Testament by J. M. Harden, but the Latin Vulgate texts in Logos are not morphologically analyzed, so there is no direct link from the Latin to the dictionary. You can link to NotreDame or Perseus mentioned above.
  • BibleWorks has a number of Vulgate and other Latin texts but does not include a lexicon. You will have to link out to NotreDame or Perseus mentioned above. (Or wait for something nice from Pasquale...) UPDATE (2013): BibleWorks9 does include the VULM version which is linked to Whitaker's Words so that any Latin word in a verse has morphological and lexical info available in the analysis window.
  • VulSearch and LaParola both have morphologically tagged Vulgate versions and include Whitaker's Words within the programs.

Mindmapping resources

I have previously blogged about mindmapping resources, but I find that I have not really become comfortable or adept at using it productively. If you are interested in learning more or discovering resources available, there is a great summary and table by Robin Good. He writes:

Here below the set of key basic characteristics that I have utilized to compare these selection tools to draw your own mindmaps, so that you can easily find the best fit for your needs:

  1. Price: Evaluate if you prefer a free service or a more complete solution with additional features.
  2. Software / Web-based: Specifies if you can use the tool inside your browser or you have to download and install a software on your hard-disk.
  3. Platform: Check if you can run the service on your operating system.
  4. Free trial: Indicates if the service allows you to evaluate it for free during a limited period.
  5. Collaborative working: Not all mind mapping services allows you to collaborate in real-time with your teammates. Find the ones that does.
There is also a more extensive list of resources but with less commentary provided by Jane Hart.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

BiblePlaces features annotated satellite photos of Jerusalem

Todd Bolen of and A.D. Riddle have a collection of helpfully annotated Google Earth views of Jerusalem that you can download in PowerPoint format. Valleys, springs, gates, hills, and such are clearly marked to provide a quick orientation to the city. Be sure to subscribe to the BiblePlaces newsletter.

Ancient Scripts

Ancient Scripts: A compendium of world-wide writing systems from prehistory to today is a very helpful site for understanding the development of and relationships between ancient languages and their writing systems. The author, Lawrence Lo, acknowledges that he is not a linguist, but this is a passionate hobby for him. He has done a great job as far as I can tell. Note the sections on writing systems, phonetics, and historical linguistics as well as a journal, game(s), downloads, reference, and a large collection of links. [HT: Scribal Practices]

If you want some actual ancient scripts related to biblical studies to use in your documents, check:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Some things change... some do not (a snapshot of Greek on the web)

While I was looking for something else, I stumbled upon the archives of the B-Greek list which started out in 1992 as the NT-Greek mailing list. Check the 1992-3 thread list and the 1993-4 thread list and the list of subscribers as of 5/5/1992. You'll recognize some of the names: Robert Kraft (UPenn CCAT), John Baima (Silver Mountain BibleWindows>Bibloi; claims to be the only Bible software author lurking on the Internet), Benjamin Wright (NETS project), Larry Hurtado, and others.

Want to know pretty much all the "Software for Theologians" that was available and known in 1994? It's all on three relatively short pages HERE and HERE and HERE.

What were some of the hot topics in 1992-3? Let me try to disambiguate the rather jumbled list:

As you can see, some things change... some do not. Incidentally, I found what must be one of the first instances in the biblical field of what is now a very popular term: disambiguation. (According to Merriam-Webster, however, the term dates all the way back to 1963.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Things to consider when working with the Greek NT

I have studied Greek for long enough now that when I look at a NT text, I can usually pick up most of the 'interesting' aspects of the text or the ones that I recognize will need more investigation. My Greek students, however, are just finishing their required introduction to Greek grammar (two week intensive plus a semester). I have tried to establish a foundation of vocabulary and grammar, but I have also encouraged them to become proficient at using their Bible software to help out with parsing and vocab and such. Even with the software, however, it is not so obvious to my students what is noteworthy in the Greek text.
If one keeps in mind that these students have only had an introduction to Greek grammar for a little more than a semester, how would you go about helping them to 'see' the text and work with it productively? I have decided that the goal is NOT to "translate" the Greek. Committees of scholars who know way more about the Greek than I do have already given us plenty of translations. I have also decided that one of the best ways for my students to see the text is to work with the Greek in conjunction with a range of English versions. If there is something 'interesting' going on in the text, it usually shows up as one looks at a 'literal' translation as compared to a 'functionally equivalent' one or at a translation based on the NA27 as compared to one based on the Textus Receptus. (The little graphic clip above shows the kind of layout I encourage them to use.) Do note also that I am trying to keep things as simple as possible. As I have talked to pastors after some years in ministry, most of them have left their Greek behind because they had forgotten so much vocab and grammar. Bible software can address that problem, but they have also let their Greek go, because it took too much time to 'translate' the text. I want to establish some patterns of study that allow a person to get at the significant issues in a text quickly.
I am trying, therefore, to lay out some guidelines of things to consider when working with the Greek NT that reflect the kind of questions I am intuitively thinking about. Take a look at the PDF of a working guide I've attached, and let me know if you have other suggestions. Thanks!
BTW, if you see a little paper icon in front of that link, you should be able to hover over it and have the PDF pop up without clicking. Once the popup appears, you can enlarge the window.

Hebrew Search Comes to Olive Tree iPhone Bible Reader Beta

Not long ago, I noted that Olive Tree had Greek searching capability for its iPhone Bible Reader, and now This Lamp reports that Hebrew searching is also available. Check the screen shot there.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Print your own public domain book

In an earlier post I noted the large list of books in the public domain related to biblical studies that have been digitized and posted for viewing or download on such sites as Google Books or Internet Archive. Bob Buller (SBL) alerted me to the fact that you can, and in fact are encouraged, to print any of these books via Lulu or other POD (print on demand) providers. I had some issues getting things to work on Lulu (they seem to prefer PDF text rather than PDF images), but is especially designed to work with Google Books and Internet Archive. You can search directly from their front page or enter in the URL of a book you have found. I found that a paperback version of a 150 page book would be about USD $8 and books with 250+ pages would be in the USD $13-20 range (not counting any shipping/handling/tax). If you really want that hardcopy in your hand, this is not a bad way to go.
PublicDomainReprints also has a blog if you want to keep up on latest news. One interesting tidbit I saw there was that the Boston Public Library apparently is the first library to allow scan on demand. Check their list of scannable books, make your request, and it is delivered 5-7 days later in electronic form. The service is even free, but donations are suggested. (And then you can use PublicDomainReprints to get it printed, if you want.) Look for other libraries to start offering this service.

Tyndale Bulletin online & Google now searching magazines

Two journal / magazine items to note:
I just discovered that the Tyndale Bulletin has now posted online the full text of all its articles from volume 1 of 1956 up to 3 years ago. You can get article summaries from 1993 to the present. Check it out HERE. [HT: Bryan's]

Google now is searching magazines! I can't exactly find the list of all the magazines it is digitizing, but it must be an eclectic list. To just search in magazines, use the Advanced Book Search and choose that option. I was trying to think of a biblical term that might have shown up in magazines and tried "ossuary." HERE is what I came up with. Hmmm... not much there in that 1902 Popular Science or the 1994 New York Magazine, but I had hopes for the 1973
New York Magazine link. Snap! It was from an ad listing the sale of an "early Judaic ossuary." I missed my chance for fame and fortune, because just maybe it had some inscription on it... BUT, hey, I hit paydirt with the June 2007 issue of Atlanta. Okay, so maybe it's one more thing I don't have time to read...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Online Books in Biblical Studies: The Official List

Well, maybe not the "official" list, but this is as close as you are going to get. I've posted regularly on books that I or others have found in Google Books or Internet Archive that are worth downloading, but Bob Buller and Danny Zacharias have compiled the most complete list you are going to find. I received permission to be added as an editor, and I added a number of works they hadn't listed and provided something of an outline up front. (BTW, this was the first time I did any significant editing in Google Docs. Maybe it's because this is a big file, but I found it to be a real pain...) In any case, this is the page to bookmark:

Free Books in Biblical Studies and Related Fields
Google Books,, & web-based content

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tools for creating your own web site

A bit off the main focus of this blog, but I regularly get questions about how one goes about setting up a web site and composing the pages. (This question is particularly asked with respect to churches getting set up on the web.) There a few parts that need to be considered.
I've addressed a number of issues on this page: Guides and Guidelines for a Church Web Site. I point to a number of great resources for thinking about and evaluating design. I also have a section on how one goes about getting a site and hosting matters, and I also raise some questions about the purpose and goals of a church web site.
Another matter is that of the software or tool used to actually create the page. I still use FrontPage2003 for basic stuff, but since Microsoft discontinued support for its extensions, I do not recommend it to anyone else. I've tried Microsoft Expression Web and some other tools, but your best bet is to check this excellent list of Web Authoring Tools and HTML Editors. Of the tools listed, some of the free ones will do a more than adequate job for most basic work, and of those, I highly recommend KompoZer. (Which isn't for now listed on that page, but KompoZer replaces and supersedes Nvu for which further development has been stopped.) KompoZer is available for Win, Mac, and Linux. Some additional links:

It is, of course, a big step from a basic web page to one with all sorts of Flash or javascript stuff, but at that point, you are going to need a professional who is likely to be using Dreamweaver and other high end tools.

UPDATE: Well, you learn something every day on the web! Be sure to check out Tim's suggestion about using Wordpress over on SansBlogue. Who knew--other than Tim--that Wordpress has a Sermon Plugin and a mini-social networking tool.

Greek Search on Olive Tree iPhone Bible Reader

This Lamp reports that it is now possible to conduct searches in Greek on the beta of the Olive Tree iPhone Bible Reader. Check out the screen capture. Hebrew searching is still to come...

Place Based Computing, Pleiades, and other mapping stuff

William J. Turkel has been active in the field of "Digital History." One aspect of his work that has caught my attention is "Place-Based Computing." He is not really working with biblical history at all, but read how he describes his work, and think of how it might apply to work in locations associated with biblical events.

The convergence of handheld computing devices and GPS receivers makes it possible to augment any place with layers of digital information. This is place-based computing. It has the potential to radically change the way that we experience places and understand the past.

All of our research projects start from the premise that places are archives, and that by studying places it is possible to reconstruct past events. Some of this work is archival in a traditional sense, and builds on work in microhistory, the history of science and environmental history. Some is methodological, aimed at developing new techniques for extracting information from representations of places or from places themselves. Some is public history, designed to be presented to the public in the places that are being interpreted.
Quoting from the work of Schuyler Erle, Rich Gibson and Jo Walsh in Mapping Hacks: Tips and Tools for Electronic Cartography (Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly, 2005),
Imagine a world in which we can move about physical places, accessing not only what is stored in our brains but also multiple layers of information that have previously been inaccessible ...

Invisible layers of information that are arguably already implicitly available in the people and objects in a landscape will become visible and explicit. The relationship of physical and virtual objects will become obvious as well. We’ll be able to use a variety of devices to tap into geocoded text, images, media, and maps. Tags will link nearby objects to a universe of commentary on their history, value, safety, and meaning. Suddenly, any point in space will be able to be annotated, and those annotations aggregated.
Now think about what your next trip to Israel, Turkey, or Greece might be like with this kind of information available. I'm guessing we will be accessing such info using cell phones, PDAs, or netbook type devices, but it sounds as if the future will involve something more along the lines of holographic displays that can be toggled on/off. I.e., rather than interacting via a device, we will be able to interface more directly with the environment. The blending/confusion of real/virtual continues...

BTW, I regret that I forget the person's name whom I met at the Boston SBL (who teaches at a college in Wisconsin?), but he had a great idea on leading a trip for students to Turkey. Armed with GPS devices, they would try to locate roads from the biblical period and provide precise data in a field that is rather lacking.

And finally, the Pleiades Project...
... gives scholars, students and enthusiasts worldwide the ability to use, create and share historical geographic information about the Greek and Roman World.
Pleiades is a joint project of the AWMC Ancient World Mapping Center, the Stoa Consortium for Electronic Publication in the Humanities and the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. It brings together a global community of scholars, students and enthusiasts to expand and enhance continually the information originally assembled by the Classical Atlas Project (1988-2000) to support the publication of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (R.J.A. Talbert, ed., Princeton, 2000). Our name, "Pleiades" (the daughters of Atlas in Greek Mythology) reflects both this heritage and the forward-looking goal of collaborative diversification.
If you simply want to check out what is available, start here at the "Places" section. Keep in mind that this is work in progress, so you won't find every location, and it is based with classical and not biblical interests in mind. I found this KML file of all the ancient places in Pleiades which will open in Google Earth, and you will see that that the main work has been done in what is now south central Turkey and northern Libya. It is an ambitious project that is cataloging places, place types (e.g., bridge, temple, spring), names, and time periods. There is bibliographical data provided with references to the Barrington and other atlases, latitude/longitude info, and sometimes a KML link for Google Earth or the inclusion on the page of a Google Map. Here are some biblical locations I checked: Perga in Acts 13:13, Attalea in Acts 14:25, Patara in Acts 21:21, and Myra in Acts 27:4.

There is also some info available on the wiki where work is ongoing, and a little poking around and a few clicks down the line turned up some interesting stuff.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Using digital mapping tools: Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim

Todd Bolen has a neat posting on "The Acoustics of Mounts Gerizim and Ebal." In reference to the account in Joshua 8:30-35, Todd cites an acoustic experiment conducted in 1879 by McGarvey and retold in his book, Lands of the Bible. Based on his description and on the picture provided by Todd, I wanted to see what this would look like in one of the 3D digital tools now available. Above is a screen shot from Google Earth with Ebal on the left and Gerizim on the right, looking east. Below is the same view using HolyLand 3D with contour tinting enabled, and at the bottom is one from Microsoft Virtual Earth.
All three views clearly show the amphitheather-like nature of the location, but GoogleEarth looks to have the most detailed data/imagery.
UPDATE: Be sure to check out Ferrell's Travel Blog with this post on McGarvey's book and the Gerizim/Ebal incident. His post also has a link to McGarvey's Lands of the Bible book entirely online. Thanks!

Friday, December 5, 2008

BibleWorks8 Previews

BibleWorks8 plans to be released before Christmas and at least before the new year. In the meantime, Michael Hanel has been posting a great series of reviews based on a pre-release version. He has described:

  1. New automatic update feature
  2. Bagster’s Daily Light inclusion and integration
  3. Morphologically tagged Greek Pseudepigrapha with new translation by Craig Evans
  4. New Phrase Matching Tool
  5. Expanded cross-referencing resources
  6. New Browse Window Tab in Analysis Window
  7. Inclusion of Greek/Hebrew grammars by Wallace, Waltke-O’Connor and Joüon-Muraoka
  8. MacDonald Greek Textual Transcription
  9. New Context Tab
  10. New Related Verses Tool
  11. Addition of texts from Early Church Fathers series
  12. New resource: Rodkinson translation of the Babylonian Talmud
  13. ERMIE: External Resources Manager
  14. Wordlist Tab in the Analysis Window
BW8 looks to be a very nice upgrade.

Logos for Mac now shipping

Logos is officially now shipping its Mac version.

Firefox Addons for Researching and Organizing

I've found a few Firefox addons that have proven useful.
Sifrei Kodesh: If you know Hebrew, this is a very helpful addon. Aaron Sarna, the author describes it:

Combining the power of Firefox, Google and the Mechon Mamre text library, this extension allows you to search the Hebrew texts of Tana"ch, Mishna, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi, Tosefta and Mishna Torah. You can search as broadly as all of these sources or as specifically as a single book of Tana"ch, a single tractate of Mishna or a single set of Halachot of the Mishnah Torah. The extension includes an onscreen Hebrew keyboard to assist those who do not know the Hebrew keyboard layout and/or do not have Hebrew input support on their machines. (You can use this keyboard to copy and paste Hebrew text into other things also).

This is still in development. There are many more features to come, including morphological search, search term highlighting and find in page. Let me know if you have any other suggestions.
The site describes a bit more, but (for now) it doesn't have the latest version that works under Firefox 3. Get the latest version HERE. After you install it, it wasn't immediately clear to me how to get to it. It is available through the Tools menu, but what I did is right click somewhere on the menu bar of Firefox, select Customize, find the Sifrei Kodesh icon, and drag it to a toolbar.
SimplyBox: This is a handy tool for clipping and organizing. There is a nice video on the site, but basically you draw around whatever part of the screen you want to save. You can then either email it directly through SimplyBox or organize it into 'boxes' that you create. It requires a free account. Instead of the toolbar taking up room, I choose simply to keep it as an icon in my status bar of Firefox and click for it whenever I need it.
Juice: "Juice is an intelligent discovery engine that integrates seamlessly with your browser.
Highlight and move a chunk of text, and Juice directly delivers a set of rich, relevant content to you." Still in beta, but it works fine. The interesting thing here is that you search on a "chunk of text," not just a word or two. It does natural language processing to try to figure out what the text is about and returns results based on it. You can leave it closed, and I set it to open when I drag a block of text over to the side, and then it opens the sidebar. You can choose Google, Yahoo, or LiveSearch as the engine, and results can be bookmarked and
organized. Give it a try on some biblical text! Here I pulled up Mark 4.30-32 from the oremus Bible Browser, highlighted the text, dragged to the side, and the juice sidebar opened. It provides a variety of web results (web, images, news, videos, blogs), and you can see from the images it found that it picked up "mustard" and "Jesus teaching" as key elements.
UPDATE: I have just uninstalled Juice after a couple days. I'll check it again later, but for now, it brought my browser to a crawl. Memory usage jumped from Firefox's usual max of ~250Kb footprint to over 1Mb. Uninstalled Juice and things are back to speed.
UPDATE: In light of a question asked in the comments, the oremus Bible Browser is a standalone, online service. I like it because it offers the NRSV. BUT, the way I usually access it is through my Firefox search box. Check this post, and grab the OpenSearchFox plugin. It adds an "Add OpenSearch plugin" to your menu. Click on any search box on the oremus or any other page, and it automatically adds it to your list of search options.

More books to download, sites to bookmark

Continuing some previous posts on books to download (HERE and HERE and HERE), here are some more recommended books worth downloading:

Some sites you may want to bookmark that either have texts or provide reviews include:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Testing Apture, a blogging enhancement tool

I may end up deleting this post, but I wanted to try a few things with a blogging tool called Apture.

Apture provides the first rich communication platform allowing publishers and bloggers to easily turn flat pages of text into multimedia experiences.
So, let me try a few biblically related items and see what you think.
  • Jerusalem
  • Moses
  • Jesus
  • Gospel of Mark
  • Parables of Jesus
  • Mustard seed
  • Mark 4:30-32
Note that I have only typed the terms above, and after posting this blog, I will use Apture to link additional content.

REPORT: That was pretty easy. Click on (or hover over) any of the titles to see the variety of attached links I created. The only one that didn't really work was the "Mark 4:30-32" one, because I already have RefTagger from Logos active on my blog.
SO, if you want to easily spice up your blog with a variety of linked content, give Apture a try.

UPDATE in light of comments:
  1. You can tell the links that I created using Apture because they have a little book icon in front of them.
  2. I have noticed as well that all the links don't always show up. They do take a moment after the page is loaded, but a couple times now, the Jerusalem, Moses, and Jesus links haven't shown up.
  3. Hovering over the links will cause the popup, but there is a delay so you can pass over the link without necessarily causing the popup. Clicking anywhere outside the popup causes it to disappear.
  4. Clicking on a link in the popup will either generate another popup or open in another tab.
  5. The Apture links do not show up in my RSS reader. I use Google Reader, and I recommend the Firefox addon Better GReader. It allows you to see the actual web page without leaving your reader. Apture links do show up when this is used.
(HT: Robin Good)

Biblioblogger of the Month!

Well, my teenage daughters aren't bragging about it to anyone, but I am honored to report that I am "Biblioblogger of the Month" of December. Thanks to Brandon Wason for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed. You should note the theme of appreciation for the teachers I have had along the way. I am thankful for them and thankful that I have the opportunity to be teaching now myself.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New online search sites for academics

A couple new search sites have emerged that are intended for more serious, academic work. RefSeek is fully functioning, and in searching for biblically related stuff, it does return results one would hope to see and does omit a lot of junk. ReferenceExtract is still in development.

RefSeek (rĕf-sēk) is a web search engine for students and researchers. RefSeek aims to make academic information easily accessible to everyone. RefSeek searches more than one billion documents, including web pages, books, encyclopedias, journals, and newspapers.

Rference Extract (aka RefEx or REX) is envisioned as a web search engine, like Google, Yahoo and MSN. However, unlike other search engines, Reference Extracts will be built for maximum credibility by relying on the expertise and credibility judgments of librarians from around the globe. Users will enter a search term and get results weighted towards sites most often referred to by librarians at institutions such as the Library of Congress, the University of Washington, the State of Maryland, and over 1,400 libraries worldwide. This grant will support planning for Reference Extract and building the foundation necessary to implement it as a large-scale, general user service.
(HT: Dan Cohen)