Thursday, October 29, 2009

Searching the B-Greek List

The B-Greek list is a tremendous repository for information about biblical Greek. If the info you want isn't there, join the list, post a question, and you are bound to get an informed answer. According to its self-description:

B-GREEK is a mailing list for scholars and students of Biblical Greek. Our main focus is upon understanding the Greek text of the Bible. Discussion topics include scholarly study of the Greek Bible and related Jewish and Christian Greek texts, tools for beginning and advanced students of Biblical Greek such as textbooks, reference works, bibliography and research tools, and linguistic topics such as morphology, lexicography, syntax, and discourse analysis.
BUT there is a big problem... How does one find information on a passage or word or topic that has already been posted without digging through 1000s of posts in the archives which date back to 1992?

There have been some options posted in the past (Mac B-Greek Search Widget, a bookmarklet, and a Firefox Search plugin which no longer seems to work). So, I made up my own Google custom search... but then I discovered this post with the link to THIS PAGE. That's the page you want because it has a "Search Archive" form that works well. I certainly didn't find a quick link to that page on the B-Greek site, so to save you the work I went through, just bookmark THIS PAGE.

A. T. Robertson's A Grammar of New Testament Greek in Light of Historical Research

A.T. Robertson's A Grammar of New Testament Greek in Light of Historical Research (1919 3rd edition) is something of a classic in Greek grammar that remains important still today. Though unaware of the papyrii discoveries that have happened since 1919, Robertson's work is important for his familiarity with classical Greek and Latin and his awareness of the work of 19th century Greek grammarians. He was also able to draw upon some of the early work of such noted grammarians like Blass, Deissmann, Moulton, and Burton.

A Grammar of New Testament Greek in Light of Historical Research
included in BibleWorks8 and all the references to examples in the NT are cross-linked. It is similarly included in the "Greek Study Group" of Accordance which is part of Scholar's 8 Standard Level and up. It's an $80 or so addon for Logos.

If you don't have these programs and can go without the crosslinking,
A Grammar of New Testament Greek in Light of Historical Research is available at in a variety of formats, but this is the first edition of 1914. A notice on the B-Greek list, however, brings attention to the work of Ted Hildebrandt and Louis Sorenson who have provided very attractive MS Word files of the third edition (doc, docm, and docx) that has Unicode Greek/Hebrew and includes a Table of Contents with internal links. Thanks to them for sharing their work and making this valuable resource available!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ImageChef: Word Mosaic Creator

I've been fascinated by word visualizations, and here is a new one similar to the now popular Wordle. ImageChef allows one to define a shape for the words you supply. The free version is somewhat limited. The Pro version starts at $10 /month. Here's Mark 15.34 where Jesus is citing Ps 22.1. There are some other fun visualizations at the site to check out. [HT: Jane's]

Global Greek... and the Future of Seminary Education

I am teaching an Advanced Greek class in the spring semester of 2010 (end of January - beginning of May). This is intended for students who really have only had a year of Greek and completed Croy's grammar. Here is the course description:

This class will emphasize Greek grammar (using Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics) and its application in translation to improve and supplement one’s understanding of biblical Greek. In addition to selected texts from the New Testament, there may be readings from the Septuagint, early Church Fathers, and other Hellenistic-Jewish texts.
What I would like to do is have my class be interacting with others studying Greek worldwide. I suspect that the act of translating NT Greek into English will not be quite the same for students in the USA as compared to England, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, or South Africa, not to mention those for whom English would be a second language. How about a modern Greek person who is learning English?!
I am envisioning setting a blog or wiki or using Google docs or something like the Greek Bible Study site as a place for conducting collaborative work. (What would also work really well is Google Wave. I did get an invitation [thanks, Don!], but I'm limited for now until more people are on board to share my waves.) I am not proposing any 'official' arrangement between institutions, so individuals are also welcome to join us. I am anticipating that we would work together on translating a weekly passage with special attention to the grammar and to the nuances of how one best translates into English. (Doubtless the literal / dynamic translation issue will be addressed...)
I'm not sure how large of an online group we want, but if there is a lot of interest, we could break into smaller groups. Actually, I'm not sure how this will work at all, but I think it's an experiment worth trying.
If you have some better suggestions, let me know. If you would like to give it a try, indicate it in the comments and provide some way of contacting you. (Ie, disguise your email address. I want to have you post in the comments so that we all have a better idea of the interest in this experiment.) You may also click on the mgvh under Contributors on the right and follow the link to send me an email.
Thanks! Mark

The Future of Seminary Education

Seminaries across North America (and the rest of the world too, I suspect) are facing numerous challenges as they move into the future. There are economic realities to be faced, but there are also major shifts occurring in the nature of education today. I try to pay attention to what is happening in primary education, because those students will be our students in a decade. I fear that pedagogical practices for most seminary programs is looking more and more outdated. We have made the obligatory moves of updating to email and web sites and using PowerPoint and having tech podiums in our classrooms. We have seen the writing on the web and have created more opportunities for online classes. Of course all this has created new challenges of having to learn how to do all this technology stuff in addition to all the academic proficiencies we are expected to have. We are also having to figure out what the move to more and more virtual/online experiences means for being able to support an expensive residential campus.
A lot of the changes we are making seem to me as if we are simply doing things the way we have always done them and merely adding a little digital glitter. We need to be reflecting more broadly--and more pointedly--about the nature of seminary education. We have begun this process at my institution (Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg), but we are having troubles even identifying where we should be starting.
Is it going to continue to be viable to expect our Master of Divinity students to complete a required four year course of instruction which includes one year of internship when it means multiple relocations, accumulation of significant debt, and the prospects of a position where it will be difficult to pay off that debt? How do we respond to the move by other institutions to reduce the degree program to two years post-bachelors or even bundle it with an undergraduate program into a five-year total program? Can we increase our online offerings without reducing the viability of our residential program? Should we be going ahead on our own, or is this the type of thing whereby we should be partnering with other institutions? Do we need to be rethinking our education requirements altogether so that, in their present locations, persons in ministry are students in training? What do church leaders really need to know and what skills should they have one/five/ten years after graduation? Is the future going to be in training professionals or providing ongoing continuing education for laity?
My 'feeling' at this point is that residential institutions are going to need to clearly define their reason for existing. We cannot assume that students will come simply because it was just the thing to do. We are going to have to consider the goal of seminary education in a world that is decreasingly defined by denominations and increasingly shaped by non-Christian perspectives even as it is also becoming more 'spiritual.' We are going to have to define our niche as an institution of higher Christian education. We are going to have to be more sharply focused... Yet, even as we become more particular, I think we also will need to become more globally-aware. I am not talking about preparing more missionaries. I am talking about the need for greater interaction with the global Christian community that already exists.
It is easy for a Christian in the United States to have a pretty limited view. This blog has helped me realize the international scope of those who are interested in biblical studies. Look at all those red dots on the map at the top of this post, even from countries where Christianity is severely limited or even persecuted! How, then, can we focus on our special strengths and at the same time develop a global vision?
So, for lack of a better forum, I am posting here. If you have exemplary practices or ideas, please share them. I also would like to propose one possibility of my own, and I will describe that in the next post.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Greek-English Lexical Resources Ratings Survey RESULTS

The survey on Greek-English Lexical Resources has been online for a week, and there are enough responses to make some observations about the results. (47 total responses as of 2009.10.19)

  • For exegetical work in biblical studies, Bauer, Danker, Arndt & Gingrich's Greek-English Lexicon (BDAG) is the clear favorite. There really is nothing as comprehensive, and it should, therefore, be at the top of the list of resources to be obtained for work in biblical and early Christian Greek texts. As noted in my post on lexicons available in Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos, BDAG is an extra purchase of $150 for each.
  • There is basically a tie for 2nd place between Louw-Nida's Greek-English Lexicon of the NT based on Semantic Domains (LN) and Liddell-Scott's unabridged Greek Lexicon (LSJ). These have very different backgrounds and intents, but I would concur about the importance of both.
    • I commend LN to my students because it oftentimes provides an insightful perspective on how a word or concept might be heard in a different culture and thereby challenges assumptions we make about it. I also use it somewhat like a thesaurus to see what other Greek words might be used to express a concept and then to compare and better understand the nuance of a particular word. Fortunately, LN is standard with nearly all the Bible software packages, but note that it is strictly a NT lexicon.
    • The unabridged LSJ is a classical Greek lexicon, but it is indispensable for understanding the background of non-Christian and Koine usage of a term. The abridged version is of limited help and mainly indicates whether one should consult the full version. (The abridged version is standard in BW8 and most Logos libraries and an extra cost addon in Accordance.) The unabridged version runs about $135, but one can always go to (or link to from BW8 or Logos) the free, online Perseus resource. It is also available as part of the free, standalone Diogenes program.
  • The next three spots received similar scores and include Balz and Schneider's Exegetical Dictionary of the NT (EDNT); Kittel, Friedrich, and Bromiley's Theological Dictionary of NT (TDNT); and Lust, Eynikel, and Hauspie's Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (LEH). As noted in some of the comments, I should have included Muraoka’s Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (GELS), and I suspect it would have rated with this group as well.
    • I have used the EDNT, and it basically is a timesaver in collecting references to a given word, providing some context for their usage, and making some observations. This is the kind of work I would typically do when conducting a quick word study of my own. (The EDNT is available as an extra cost addon for BW8 and Logos.)
    • The TDNT has its drawbacks, but any exhaustive word study probably needs to consult it. I find that I don't check it that often, because I don't have time to read through the oftentimes very lengthy entries! OTOH, for getting a grasp of the background of significant words from a classical, LXX, Judaic, and variety of NT perspectives, this is a great resource. (Only Logos offers the full version and amazingly includes it as part of most of their libraries. The abridged version comes with BW8 and is available for purchase for Accordance.)
    • LEH and GELS are addressing a specific niche providing lexical support for the LXX (as compared to a focus on the NT). Given the importance of the LXX for NT and early Christian authors, these are indeed significant resources. I have used the LEH, and it is useful for a quick comparison to the range of meanings for a word usually given in its NT context. I have not used GELS, but it appears to more of a lexicon than simply a dictionary as LEH is. (For comments on and comparisons of LEH and GELS, see here, here, here, and here. LEH is included with some of the Logos libraries and is available for purchase for Accordance and BW8. I am unaware of any digital edition of GELS.)
  • Spicq's Theological Lexicon of the NT garnered some votes and has received some positive reviews, so its low rating may simply be due to the fact that it is not well known. A similar resource that I included in the second half of the survey should probably also be included here: The New International Dictionary of NT Theology (NIDNTT). I do not have personal experience with either of these, but NIDNTT appears to be a more concise TDNT, and that can be a good thing. (Both Spicq's and the NIDNTT are available for Accordance and Logos.)
  • Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the NT had previously received low, if not negative, reviews, so it's low rating here is no surprise. I suspect the low ratings for Lampe's Patristic Greek Lexicon are partly due its lack of easy availability and its focus on patristic literature.
I will try to comment on the other resources rated in my survey another time, but there are a few things I think are achieved by this survey:
  1. For students doing exegetical work in biblical studies, getting BDAG should be a high priority.
  2. Though I didn't include shorter or condensed lexicons in the survey, I would suggest that one should be available for quick reference prior to checking BDAG. Of the ones most commonly available (Barclay/Newman's UBS, NAS Greek, Gingrich/Danker's Shorter Lexicon of the GNT...), I recommend Friberg's Analytical Lexicon which is included in BW and available for Logos.
  3. The next resources to consult are Louw-Nida or Liddell-Scott. These are either included in the Bible software programs or available free online, so there is no excuse not to consult them.
  4. I would hope that the folks at Accordance, BibleWorks, Logos, and other Bible software creators take note of such a survey and focus their efforts on making the top resources accessible (in terms of how entries are linked to the text), attractive (how clear and readable the entries are, and affordable. (I will also be interested to see the forthcoming Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the NT by Danker and hope to see it in the software programs.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Goodbye to Gideon['s Bibles]?

Goodbye to Gideon?
New digital Bible could hasten decline of bound Scriptures

That's the attention grabbing headline for this online article at Newsweek by Society and Religion editor Lisa Miller. It is a largely positive review of the recently released Glo Bible which I previously described. It's rather interesting to catch the perspective of Bible software from the secular press. In addition to a description of the program that impressed Miller, there is also some interesting info about the people behind Glo: Nelson Saba ("a Brazilian evangelical Christian who was once, before his conversion, a technology vice president at Citibank") and Phil Chen ("a Taiwanese businessman whose family-owned company, HTC").

I will admit that I'm using digital Bibles far more regularly than print ones, and so I suppose she may not be too far off when she says, does convince me that the leather-bound Bible on every household bookshelf may soon—like records and videocassettes and newspapers—be endangered, if not extinct.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Greek-English Lexical Resources Ratings Survey

What are the most important Greek-English lexical resources a biblical scholar should consult?
I realize that this question could be answered in different ways depending on the context, but I am particularly thinking of the typical seminary student or pastor or Bible teacher doing exegetical work in the NT. (As part of their NT work, they are also likely to need to consult the LXX, Philo, Josephus, and other early Christian literature in Greek.) I am recognizing, therefore, that cost also comes in to play somewhat, but by soliciting the general wisdom of all you biblical scholars to rate the most important resources, people should start forming conclusions about which ones they should be aiming to purchase first. In the meantime, they also have a better idea of which resources they should be checking in the library if they don't have them on their computer.

So, PLEASE TAKE THIS BRIEF SURVEY. (This will send you to a SurveyMonkey web page.)
You can see the live results of the survey HERE.

The first question asks you to rate in order the main, comprehensive Greek-English lexicons. (I've listed eight that I could think of, and you are forced to rank them in order.)
The second question asks you to rate some of the specialized lexicons, dictionaries, or other lexical resources.
I have listed 11 such resources, and they represent something of a mixed bag. They can be ranked from "Very important" to "Don't bother." You also can add additional resources I don't have listed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Greek-English Lexicons in Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos

In the previous post, I ran a survey on the importance of Thayer's Lexicon for biblical studies. As I checked today (2009.10.10; 40 votes), 55% indicated it wasn't worth the bother and 28% said it may be helpful but wasn't worth the money. Only 5% put a high value on it, but 13% said it may be more harmful than helpful. SO...
What are the most important Greek-English lexical resources for biblical studies?
To start answering this question, I have constructed a database of the Greek-English lexicons, dictionaries, or related Greek lexical studies available in various packages of Accordance (A8), BibleWorks (BW8), and Logos (L3). You can view my collation in this PDF file or download the XLSX spreadsheet.

Some general observations:

  • The prices I provide are listed retail, but there are discounts available for all of them. (Probably the closest comparison is between BibleWorks and Accordance Standard or Premier and Logos Original Languages.) In general, prices are best for BibleWorks (especially for getting the BDAG + HALOT bundle). Accordance and Logos alternate with respect to the best prices on resources they have in common.
  • Remember that quantity of resources should not be the main factor in determining the quality of the program. One must also calculate the value/usefulness of the various lexical resources as well as the implementation of those resources in the program.
  • Though somewhat subjective, I have assigned the lexical resources to one of three groups.
  1. There are 'full' lexicons which intend to be comprehensive for a specified body of literature. Of these, Louw-Nida is the only one that is usually included. This an excellent lexicon and one well worth having. It will cost you to add BDAG for each program. The unabridged Liddell-Scott is not available for Accordance and is an extra cost for BW and Logos. Do note that the 'Great Scott' is available online at Perseus. BW and Logos can create a right-click accessible external link to this important resource. (One can also download the LS lexicon for free using Diogenes.)
  2. There are shorter lexicons which provide a gloss for a Greek word. Some are abridged or condensed from one of the full lexicons. (e.g., the Gingrich/Danker, the 'Middle Liddell,' or the 'Little Kittel') Some are simply rudimentary dictionaries. It is important to have one of these included in a base package. Of them, I think that the UBS Barclay/Newman or the ones based on Strong's (which simply reflect words used in the KJV or NAS translation) are the least helpful. I personally find the Friberg Analytical Lexicon or the Gingrich/Danker Shorter Lexicon to provide just enough additional information in an entry to alert my students when they should do further investigation.
  3. There are quite a few additional resources that are specialized lexicons, dictionaries, or word studies. I do not have much experience with most of them. I'd be interested in hearing recommendations...
Some observations about each program:

  • I have not used Spicq's Theological Lexicon of the NT which is included in the Premier library. It would appear to be a decent resource, but I'm always a bit cautious about "theological" lexicons.
  • I wish that Accordance included a shorter lexicon (such as Friberg or Gingrich/Danker or even the 'Middle Liddell') in their packages. As noted above, the UBS Barclay/Newman isn't quite sufficient. Unlike BW and Logos, Accordance doesn't include the abridged Liddell-Scott. Louw-Nida at least is included.
  • It seems that a Web Links tool was anticipated so that one could link in to online resources (most importantly Perseus), but I don't see that it has been implemented yet for work on Greek texts.
  • One helpful feature is that you can set up a Tool Set including all the lexicons you want. Highlight the Greek word, click the Tool Set, and entries for that word show up in tabs for each lexicon.
  • BW's greatest asset is its inclusion of Friberg, Gingrich/Danker (a condensed BDAG), and the 'Middle Liddell.' These provide a good start before getting a more comprehensive lexicon.
  • One can choose in BW to have the entries from all available Greek lexicons show up in the Analysis tab when hovering over any Greek word. In the Resource tab, it will indicate whether a specific reference is made to the word in that verse. One can also right click on a Greek word and "Lookup lemma in Lexicon Browser." From this browser one can choose between available lexicons, and the verse reference will be highlighted.
  • BW also makes it very easy to link to resources in many other programs and to online resources. E.g., I have right click links from Greek text to look up the lemma of the word in the EDNT which I have in Logos or to either the form or lemma in Perseus online.
  • The Original Languages Library does get you a nice collection of lexicons: Louw-Nida, the LEH Lexicon of the LXX, 'Middle Liddell,' and UBS. Most significantly, it also includes the unabridged Theological Dictionary of the NT by Kittel et al. (One of the reasons for jumping up to the Gold Library is that it adds Friberg and, more significantly, the Exegetical Dictionary of the NT [EDNT] of Balz/Schneider.)
  • Logos, as one might guess, offers the largest list of additional lexical resources one can buy.
  • Within the program, one can have multiple linked windows open to compare a lemma in any available lexical resource. One can also easily right/left arrow through lexicons (keylinking) in any single window. Right clicking on a Greek word and choosing the lemma also provides one option that links in to Perseus online.
The listing I provide and this blog post are a start at least in noting which lexical resources are available. As far as I know, there is no 'gotta have' lexicon out there that is not available in one of these software packages. (Am I missing something?)

UPDATES 2009.10.12 in light of comments...
  • Spicq's Theological Lexicon of the NT is available for both Accordance and Logos. It receives positive reviews (including Danker). It covers about 625 words, which is significant, but it is not an exhaustive NT lexicon. (HT: Kevin Woodruff)
  • Liddell-Scott-Jones unabridged lexicon ('Great Scott') will be available for Accordance in November 2009. It is the 9th edition of 1940 which is the version available online at Perseus and in the downloadable Diogenes. (HT: Mike Aubrey) The Accordance, Logos, and BibleWorks renditions all include the 1996 Revised Supplement. (And to answer a question in the comments, 'Middle Liddell' is an extra purchase for Accordance.)
  • BibleWorks8 includes the 1965 Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 2nd Edition, edited by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick William Danker. The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Danker will be released in November 2009. (HT: Rod Decker) It would be great if this could be included in the software programs.
In my next post, I plan to start soliciting ratings on which lexical resources you think are the most important.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thayer's Lexicon for Logos

I'm a bit puzzled about Logos' excitement about restarting an effort to add Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. As it says on the Logos product page:

The publication of the revised edition of Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon in 1889 represents a watershed event in nineteenth-century Greek lexicography, and it remains an important tool for students and scholars of the Greek New Testament more than a century after its first appearance.
Okay, my goal is not to criticize Logos, and $25 for a pre-pub price is certainly reasonable, but I'm thinking... Why? I consult Thayer occasionally, but the only reason I do so is because it comes standard with BibleWorks and shows up with all my other lexical resources. (It also is included with most Accordance Scholar libraries.) The best aspect about it is that it includes some helpful information regarding the use of Greek terms in the Septuagint in relation to the underlying Hebrew text. Still... an awful lot has happened in our understanding of Koine Greek since 1889, and if wasn't included, I probably wouldn't bother.
If asked, I guess I would tell my students that it is helpful if used judiciously, but they would be better off saving up their money to get BDAG or the Exegetical Dictionary of the NT.
Am I missing something here? Have I underestimated the value and importance of Thayer?
What do you think?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

glo - Multimedia Bible

This one looks interesting... glo is a new multimedia Bible program. Appears to be geared more to a popular than scholarly audience, but it looks to have some interesting features. Lot of emphasis on visual interaction and visualizations.It's hard to tell, and they don't include it with their advertising, which Bible versions are included. (Hmm....? I do see NIV on the video.) Check out the video:

Note that it is Windows only for now with a planned for release on 15 Oct 2009. (Mac version is promised) It will cost $80 (pre-order for $60; also at CBD), but here's the number that caught my attention: 18Gb. That's how much room it takes on your hard drive. Don't have that much free? They recommend deleting unused files, getting a bigger hard drive, or buying an external drive.
It's produced by Immersion Digital whose CEO was (is?) connected with the iLumina line of interactive and media-oriented Bible software. If they send me a copy, I'll review it here, but if you have more info/experience with it, please chip in. - Melody Search Tool

Somewhat off the focus of this blog, but nonetheless cool...
Over at, part of CCEL (Christian Classics Ethereal Library) project, there is now a "Melody Search Tool." Using a virtual, onscreen keyboard, enter in as much of a tune with as much as the correct rhythm as you can and hit search. It will go through it's database of over 2800 hymns and find the best matches that it can. It's not perfect, and it helps if you can get the rhythm as close as possible, but my little search above did return the song for which I was hunting as the sixth of 533. (TRYGGARE KAN INGEN VARA aka, "Children of the Heavenly Father")