Friday, November 24, 2017

#SBL2017 HyperNT – A new interactive database for the New Testament, Early Christian Literature and its reception history

In the “SBL Digital Humanities in Biblical, Early Jewish, and
Christian Studies Section,” I was able to hear Jörg Röder (Universität Basel) present “HyperNT – A new interactive database for the New Testament, Early Christian Literature and its reception history.” As the picture above of one of his slides show, the goal is to draw together a specific Greek text with translations and texts and media of its reception linked with a wide range of contributors. He noted how this project is similar to HyperHamlet which provides a large database of the use of quotes from Hamlet and which is crowdsourced for its content. Nothing I can point to online for now, but this is an interesting and ambitious project.
Technorati Tags:

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

#SBL2017 - Most unexpected book title at SBL-AAR

Well, would you? #SBL2017

MorphGNT, James Tauber, #SBL2017 - Linking Lexical Resources for Biblical Greek

I returned from the annual Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Boston yesterday, and I want to post some of my experiences there. I had some institutional stuff to attend to, so I didn't get to as many sessions as I would have liked, and I didn't even make it all the way through the exhibit hall.
I did make it to James Tauber's session on "Linking Lexical Resources for Biblical Greek" in the SBL Global Education and Research Technology Section. Tauber has done pioneering work on the web, and he and Ulrik Sandborg-Petersen are behind MorphGNT.
In this session, he described the issues behind the schemes, such as Strongs or Goodrick-Kohlenberger, used to tag Greek (or Hebrew) lemmas. There are problems in actually identifying some lemmas and how certain forms are related (ὁράω and εἶδον?). As more resources become available for integrating texts, translations, lexicons, etc., a better system is needed for identifying words and allowing for their use in existing resources.
As the above photo from his presentation shows, someone may identify δέω (#1 meaning either "tie" or "need") as a lemma and δεῖ (the impersonal "it is necessary" = #2) as a separate form. Someone else may want to distinguish the two meanings of δέω, and those could be assigned as #3 and #4 but still be linked in the new system under #1. Further, someone else may choose to include δεῖ #2 under the root #4, so then a new number can be assigned (#5) which links those two.
This way of creating new number assignments as necessary does allow for existing numbering schemes to be preserved and integrated, and it also allows for further granularization and linking as necessary. Clearly there's a lot of work to be done to make this viable, but it does show a way through the categorization issues.
More info HERE.
UPDATE: Tauber has now posted slides/audio of his presentation HERE.

BibleGateway App now with free downloadable NRSV

BibleGateway has updated their app (for iPad, Android, and Fire), and they now have made the New Revised Standard Version and a number of its parallel editions available as a free download. The app is nice, and to have the NRSV available offline makes it standout from other apps. If the NRSV is your preferred study version, and you would like it available offline and for free, this is what you want!

Greenlee's Concise Exegetical Grammar of NT Greek - Free Download

Apparently this may have been around for some time, but I just found it. J. Harold Greenlee's A Concise Exegetical Grammar of NT Greek is available as a free download from Asbury Seminary. It's available as a PDF, ebook, or for Kindle. Recommended!
HT: John Linebarger on the Anglican Biblical and Theological Languages Forum Facebook group.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mark 3.22-26: An Exercise in Greek Conditionals

I am teaching an online Greek class and trying to develop exercises that put the grammatical concepts into actual practice. Below is a link to a PowerPoint exercise that walks you through the fascinating collection of Greek conditional statements in Mark 3.22-26.
BTW, the colorful nature of the text is due to the morphological coding system I use. I have a resource packet with different colored pages, and I share morphological coding schemes for the Bible software that matches those colors. (Accordance, BibleWorks, Logos) Indicative is gold, Subjunctives are pink, Infinitives are green, Imperatives are red, etc. So, when you see a gold indicative verb, you know to look on the gold indicative sheet for guides on translation.
HERE is the link to the PowerPoint. Let me know what you think!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bible Study Resources Guide

Kevin Woodruff has posted an updated (and relocated) Bible Study Resources Guide. It's a good page to bookmark!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Best Free Bible Resources: Online Sites and Downloadable Apps/Programs

I have previously commented on some of the main free and trial versions of Bible software available. I have now compiled an updated and more extensive list of the free Bible resources with which I am familiar. Some of these are capable of original language Hebrew and Greek work, but they are primarily oriented to English Bibles. (Some do feature an extensive collection of non-English Bibles.) Most of them offer basic search features, and some offer a variety of supporting resources. I like those that allow for viewing texts in parallel. If you know even a little Hebrew or Greek, the ones with sympathetic highlighting (Bible Web App, Lumina Bible) are especially helpful.

Online Bible Resource Sites
BibleGateway: There are too many English (and it does include the NRSV), non-English, Greek, and Hebrew versions to list. If you want to compare English versions, you can see a verse in every version they offer with a single click. There are quite a few linked resources, but many need you to subscribe for $4 USD/month.

Bible Web App: This site provides the ESV, KJV, NASB, NETi, OEB, and WEB English versions. The Hebrew OT is based on Westminster Leningrad Codex (WLC), and the Greek NT is that of the SBL GNT. It offer two versions in parallel, so you can compare two English versions, but it is most helpful if you choose the WLC or the SBL GNT and pair it with the NETi, because it provides ‘sympathetic highlighting’ where a word in one version is highlighted in the other as you put your mouse over it. The NETi includes all it’s fine annotations. Clicking on a Hebrew or Greek word will give you lexical information and also parsing for the Greek

BibleHub: Among the English versions included in this site are the NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, KJV, HCSB, NET, JPS (1917), Douay-Rheims, and ERV. It also includes Hebrew, and a collection of older Greek texts along with the SBL GNT. The greatest asset of this site is the integration of so many resources: an excellent collection of site maps, commentaries, lexicons, interlinear, parallel texts, and links to other sites.

FaithLife Study Bible: This site provides a broad collection of very helpful resources. Among the English versions are the Douay-Rheims, ESV,  KJV, NASB, NCV,  NLT, GNT, HCSB, KJV, LEB, Message, NET, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV. There are a number of non-English language Bibles, the Vulgate, and a number of Greek texts including Textus Receptus and SBL GNT. (Oddly, no Hebrew text is offered.) In addition to the abundance of English versions, a key attraction to this site is the FaithLife Study Bible itself with its excellent Infographics, maps, photos and videos, dictionaries, and other resources. (Logos is part of the FaithLife family)

Lumina Bible: The primary English version to use here is the NET with its notes, but it also includes the ESV, HCSB, ISV, KJV, Message, and NASB. If you use the Parallel feature, it displays the NET, NIV, NASB, ESV, NLT, Message, BBE, NKJV, NRSV, and KJV. Using the NET alongside the Hebrew or Greek, you get sympathetic highlighting and lexical information and also parsing for the Greek. There is also a library of articles and maps.

YouVersion: The primary attraction of this site is the abundance of Bibles it offers, both English (e.g., CEB, CEV, CJB, ESV, GNB, HCSB, KJV, LEB, Message, NAB, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NKJV, NLT, ) and nearly countless non-English ones. For Greek, it includes SBL GNT and Textus Receptus, and the Westminster Leningrad for the Hebrew. Two texts can be set in parallel.

My Recommendations:
If your main goal is to compare English versions, BibleGateway is your best option. YouVersion offers many more versions, but you can only compare two at a time. If you have some knowledge of Greek and/or Hebrew, I like the Lumina Bible best with its sympathetic highlighting. If you want more study tools, BibleHub and FaithLife Study Bible are good choices.

Free Downloadable Bible Apps and Programs
The following downloadable programs usually offer more versatility and features than the online sites but will not include as many English versions as the online sites offer.

Accordance Lite: It includes the ESV and KJV with Strong’s and some other texts and resources to get you started. Features are limited, but it gives a good idea of what Accordance can do. Windows or Mac capable.

e-Sword: The basic installation includes the KJV with Strong’s and its related lexicon along with a few other resources. Once installed, there are many other free Bibles and resources that can be added. Windows and Mac.

Faithlife Study Bible: This app, available for just about every platform, features the very helpful study Bible along with many resources as in the online site described above.

Logos 7 Basic: Logos offers a free Basic version that includes some very helpful resources. In addition to the KJV, they include their own Lexham English Bible and a number of good resources, most notably, the Faithlife Study Bible notes and the Lexham Bible Dictionary. For Windows and Mac.

Logos 7 Academic Basic: You need to verify that you are a student, faculty, or staff member of an educational institution to receive this offer, but if you qualify this is an excellent starter package. It includes, among other resources, tagged Hebrew Bible and abridged BDB lexicon; Greek LXX with lexicon and the Lexham English LXX; SBL GNT and Abbot-Smith lexicon of the NT; Lexham English Bible, dictionary, and textual notes; FaithLife Study Bible, and more.

Olive Tree: This free Bible app is available for Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, and Android. Once you get the app, check out the free resources. It includes SBL GNT and Hebrew Westminster Leningrad. For English, it includes many of the usual versions (KJV,  NKJV, ESV, limited versions of HCSB and NET, Douay-Rheims, Tanakh 1917), but it does also offer the NIV. A number of useful study tools can also be added.

YouVersion: This app, available for just about every platform, includes over 1000 Bible versions. It is similar to its online version described above.

The Word: The Word is one of the first I recommend to people wanting a free program, since it is rather full featured program. It includes Greek / Hebrew. You can always buy some modules, e.g., NRSV, to expand its versatility. Among many non-English versions, free English versions include: Douay-Rheims, ERV, ESV, HCSB, KJV, Tanakh 1917, NET (but with limited notes), LEB. For Greek: LXX, SBL GNT, and other Greek text. For Hebrew: a tagged Hebrew Bible.  Only runs on Windows or under Mac emulation.

WORDsearch 11: WORDsearch offers a free basic version. There are more than enough resources to get you started, and they have a large collection of resources for purchase to expand your work. For Windows and Mac.

My Recommendations:
If you want to study and read the most English versions, then YouVersion is best. If you want more study tools and resources, I recommend that you look first at The Word, e-Sword, and Logos 7 Basic. If you are connected with an educational institution, then your best bet is to get Logos 7 Basic and then pick up Logos 7 Academic Basic. Some of these programs are expandable for a cost or have full-featured upgrades, so you may want to check out trial versions of Accordance, BibleWorks, Logos, and WORDsearch.

Bible Apps for Portable Devices
See my summary HERE.

Did I miss your favorite site or app? Please let us know in the comments!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Matthew 10.34: "Do not suppose that I came to *?* peace on earth...

Here's a bit of an exegetical exercise that gives me opportunity both to outline how one might go about solving a Greek textual question and also how to employ Bible software to answer it. This became much longer than intended, so if you just want my conclusion to the question posed at the start, skip to the summary at the end.

The Gospel reading in church this morning included Matthew 10.34, and I was following along in the Greek on my phone. (Logos app) It's one of the 'harder' sayings of Jesus, since it stands in such contrast to "Blessed are the peacemakers" of Matthew 5.19:
Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν.
Do not suppose that I came to _____ peace on earth. I did not come to ____ peace but a sword.
I had never noticed it before, but the verb I left blank in my translation is βάλλω. That seemed odd to me, since the word usually has a more vigorous force of throwing, casting, or sending. The usual translation in English versions of "bring peace" seems a weak translation of the verb. What exactly is going on in the Greek here, and how might one go about figuring the implications? Here are some things one could do:
  1. Check other translations and see if anyone else has struggled with the verb. (I.e., check both a range of translations and any text footnotes.)
    • If one wants to be thorough, one might also check non-English versions. The Latin Vulgate is often worth consulting.
    • Another interesting version to check is the Syriac Peshitta which might highlight issues in the underlying Aramaic.
  2. Is "bring peace" a common English idiom? Or is it 'biblisch'?  (One way to try to determine this is to do a Google search on the particular word or phrase. Are most of the results citations from the biblical text? One can also try running a Google Ngram search which can sometimes provide insight about a word or phrase's use over time.)
  3. Check the range of meanings of the verb βάλλω. (I.e, consult lexicons, especially one like BDAG.)
  4. Since this is a synoptic text, is there a parallel in one of the other gospels? If so, does it have the same wording?
  5. Are there other instances where εἰρήνη is the object of βάλλω? (Running a search like this might also highlight instances when the NT is citing or alluding to a phrase from the LXX.)
  6. More broadly, how does Greek usually talk about peace / εἰρήνη when it is the object of a verb? I.e., what verbs are used that take εἰρήνη as an object? (Here is where syntactical searches can be particularly helpful.)
  7. Finally, one can always consult commentaries to see how other scholars have worked with the issue. When dealing with translation matters, I especially like to check the United Bible Society's series of Translator's Handbooks
Accomplishing any of these tasks is incredibly easier using a computer and Bible software (as compared to back in the day when we pulled out Nestle-Aland, Moulton-Geden, BGAD, Hatch-Redpath...). Tasks 1-4 are fairly easily accomplished with most Bible software. Tasks 5 and 6 require a bit more sophistication. Task 8 is limited more by the resources one has (and the money one has spent) but can be accomplished more easily if access is through Bible software.

I have and use nearly a complete collection of BibleWorks (BW) resources in addition to their very full standard package. I have a Gold level collection of Logos resources to which I've added many secondary resources over the years. I now also am starting to use Accordance's Greek and Hebrew Discoverer collection which is good set of resources for seminarians but for which I would need to add quite a few other works to bring it up to the level of resources I have in BibleWorks or Logos.

SO... using my available resources, how did I address the tasks, and what did I discover?
  1. Translations: Each program offers a variety of English translations (and more can always be purchased), but BibleWorks includes the most with its base package. Whatever is used, it's quickly apparent that almost all English versions use "bring peace." BUT:
    • The KJV and Douay-Rheims (which is translating the Vulgate) both use "send peace." I.e., they are treating the βάλλω literally. (And the Vulgate does use a form of mitto which is also a literal translation of βάλλω.)
    • Not surprisingly, the literal-minded New American Standard adds a footnote indicating, "Lit cast." The New English Translation (NET)--another version I ask my students to consult--also adds a footnote: Grk "cast." For βάλλω (ballo) in the sense of causing a state or condition, see L&N 13.14. The L&N is a reference to the Louw-Nida lexicon, another very helpful resource.
    • BTW, the Syriac uses דארמא which is also a literal translation of βάλλω.
  2. Is "bring peace" an English idiom? A Google search shows that it is used in many secular contexts. (E.g., the president says, "I can bring peace to the Middle East...")  The biblical references do show up early in the lists, so perhaps this is an instance where the biblical phrasing has entered the mainstream language. (Though in this case, it would not be coming from the KJV.)
  3. Lexical meaning of βάλλω: I have Louw-Nida in all my packages, and I have BDAG in BW and Logos. As indicated in the NET Bible note, L&N 13.14 refers to "causing a state or condition," but Matthew 10.34 is the only instance cited for this meaning. As for BDAG, both my BW and Logos provide the necessary info, but Logos does have a more attractive presentation and has hover-over popups for abbreviations used. As a 4th option for βάλλω, like L&N, it offers "to bring about a change in state or condition." BDAG, however, offers some supporting parallels, specifically from Josephus (Ant. 1.98 where Noah prays after the flood that God would not again ὀργὴν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν βαλεῖν = cast wrath upon the earth), from the Gospel of James 7.3 (where God 'cast/showed' favor upon Mary - χάριν ἐπʼ αὐτήν), and Revelation 2.4 (where Balak 'casts/places' a stumbling block before people). I find the Josephus and GospJms ones most interesting, because they both use the preposition ἐπι in the clause as in Mt 10.34. While this lexical work does provide some context for Mt 10.34, I'm still not sure it fully explains the force of the verb. If anything, perhaps something like, "I did not come to cause peace on earth..." would be a better translation.
  4. Synoptic parallel? Any of BW, Logos, or Accordance can quickly call up synoptic parallels. Interestingly, Luke 12.51 records:
    - δοκεῖτε ὅτι εἰρήνην παρεγενόμην δοῦναι ἐν τῇ γῇ; οὐχί, λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀλλ᾽ ἢ διαμερισμόν.
    - Do you think that I arrived to give peace in the earth/land? No, I tell you, but rather division."
    The English versions vary in using give, grant, or bring peace. In any case, as we shall see shortly, using δίδωμι is a more common verb used to describe how peace does or does not come. It also highlights that Matthew's use of βάλλω is indeed peculiar.
  5. Other instances where εἰρήνη is the object of βάλλω? The brute force method of addressing this question with Bible software is to run a search of all instances of βάλλω where εἰρήνη is in the accusative case. This one is easy since Matthew 10.34 is the only instance.
  6.  More broadly, how does Greek usually talk about peace / εἰρήνη when it is the object of a verb? This is a more difficult search.
    • Using BW, I need to use the straightforward method of any verb with the accusative of ειρηνη which looks like this when searching the morphological database (BGM):
      .*@v* ειρηνη@να*
      This searches both the LXX and NT, and I get 653 hits in 114 verses, and almost all of them are false hits since εἰρήνη is not necessarily the object of βάλλω. It is no fun trying to work through all those hits. BW does not include a syntactical database, but the next best thing is their Key Word in Context (KWIC) tool. Right-click on εἰρήνη and choose the KWIC option, and a customizable table appears. Based on the lemma εἰρήνη, one can find out how frequently other words within X words appear before and after it. To get closest to the results I want, I chose 5 words on either side. Further (using an undocumented feature I discovered), one can use the morphological text of the LXX and NT (=BGM) but define an inflected form of the lemma, in this instance, ειρηνη@na* to find only the accusative forms. This certainly does not provide conclusive results since it's only looking at proximity of 5 words and not grammatical relationships. It does show, however, with just a bit of checking, that ποιέω / make peace is a common expression. The next most common is δίδωμι / give peace which is the expression used in Luke 12.51. It would still take some time to work through the KWIC table, but it would give a good background... and also confirm the uniqueness of βάλλω εἰρήνην.
    •  A much better way of finding the answer to my question is to use syntactically tagged text like I have in Logos and run a clause search looking for any verb accompanied by an object clause that has the lemma εἰρήνη. I will have to run two searches--one for the LXX and one for the NT--but the search terms are easy to construct:
      verb-lemma:ANY  object-lemma:εἰρήνη
      Logos offers ways to view both the verses or an analysis of the texts. With the latter, I can specify how to organize the analysis and choosing Verb Lemma gives me the results I want to see. Again, I would want to confirm everything, but a cursory look shows that the data is pretty good. I now get 23 results in the LXX and 29 results in the NT. The most common verbs that control ειρηνη as an object are (LXX + NT):
      • ποιεω (9+2) 11
      • διδωμι (2+3) 5
      • ἐχω (1+3) 4
      • διωκω (0+3) 3
      • βαλλω (0+2) 2 < and these are the two instances in Mt 10.34
      • γινωσκω (0+2) 2
      • εὐαγγελιζω (0+2) 2
    • I don't have the Accordance syntactical database, and it looks like they only have it available for the NT and the Hebrew OT but not the LXX. (If an Accordance user with that resource has it and wants to report here on the results, I'd appreciate it.)
  7. Commentaries? Scholars struggle to explain the saying in light of Jesus' promotion of peace elsewhere in the gospels. The UBS Translator's Handbook on Matthew did point me to the 1995 Anchor Bible commentary on Matthew by Albright and Mann who translate Matthew 10.34 as:
    Do not think that I have come to impose peace on earth by force; I have come neither to impose peace, nor yet to make war. I have come to divide..."
    This translation is taking the βαλλω seriously, but unfortunately they support their translation by appealing to a reconstructed Aramaic original (which is not reflected in the Syriac) and a oral confusion of a "neither ... nor" construction in the Aramaic which resulted in the faulty Greek rendering of ἀλλα / but in a "not this... but this" construction.
SUMMARY: So where does this all leave us? I think the work has shown that "bring peace" is a rather innocuous way of rendering βαλεῖν εἰρήνην. Further, we have demonstrated that it is indeed a unique phrase. Rather than "bring peace," I think a better rendering might be something like "impose peace" or "cause peace" or "force peace." Such a rendering might open some further reflection on how peace does come about. Rather than Jesus simply saying that he did not come to "bring peace," perhaps it is a recognition that he cannot impose or force peace on earth. While I think that is a more broadly defensible statement, it does not totally solve the tension of this statement with "Blessed are the peacemakers."  Further, it is demonstrably true that confessing faith in Jesus did indeed cause divisions in the families of early believers. Still, the way I understand the gospel, Christians are called to be peacemakers, regardless of whether that peace is welcomed or not. (Cf. Matthew 10.13!) There is also a distinction that can be made of peace within the believing community that is different from peace on earth. (Cf. Luke 2.14; John 14.27 and 16.33!) That is, Jesus truly did not come to impose peace on earth, but he did come to establish a peaceable kingdom that serves as a light to the world.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Athens, Greece now in 3D on Google Earth and GE Quiz Maker

There are a number of locations in Google Earth that have received a photo-realistic 3D treatment. Athens recently was given such a treatment. Very nice! You can use the classic desktop version or view it on Chrome in the new Google Earth app. (The screenshot above is from the desktop version.)
As I noted in April, Google is discontinuing support for the desktop version, but the web app still does not have all the capabilities of the desktop version. For example, in the desktop version, you can view 3D reconstructions (not 3D imagery) like this view of Jerusalem.
So if you have not yet done so, get the desktop version.
HT: Google Earth blog

Speaking of Google Earth, you may want to try out the GE Quiz Maker that allows you to create geographic quizzes and fly you around the world. Links on that page will get you to a sample quiz and to the template you can use to create your own quizzes.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Roman Road system portrayed as a subway map

Here's a clever representation of the Roman Road system portrayed in the style of a subway map by Sasha Trubetskoy. It's based on the state of the Roman Empire ca. 125 CE, and he notes:
Creating this required far more research than I had expected—there is not a single consistent source that was particularly good for this. Huge shoutout to: Stanford’s ORBIS model, The Pelagios Project, and the Antonine Itinerary.
That's a great use of those online mapping resources! (You will certainly want to check out both the ORBIS for ancient travel planning and the Pelagios site for a very detailed map.) He had to make a number of compromises, and he did not include sea routes, but it still provides a fun and helpful overview. (The map supplied on the site is quite large, but Trubetskoy can send a more detailed version via a Paypal link.)

I'm mindful of the many limitations that a stylized map like this entails, but as a New Testament scholar, I do have a few quibbles.
  • I'm among those who do not think that the Via Maris referred to the Egypt-Damascus route which is better known as the Great Trunk Road. (Cf. the edits I made to the Via Maris entry on Wikipedia under "Name and Controversy.") Trubetskoy does include a note about the naming in her comments.
  • Technically, Jerusalem was not renamed Aelia Capitolina until 135 CE or so by Hadrian.
  • Pergamum sort of appears on the map as a coastal city though it was ~15 miles / 25 km inland.
  • I believe that Antigonia / Alexandria Troas was an important seaport worth including.
  • I think "Via Cappadociensis" is one of the names he created. At least part of it is what was the ancient Persian Royal Road.
  • No room on the map for Neapolis or Philippi...
  • Thessalonica is displayed quite far inland rather than as a port city.
Again, those are minor quibbles considering the format and limitations of what he intended to accomplish. Quite a fun rendering worth checking out!

HT: Tim Bahula who HTs Open Culture

Bible Mapper Video Tutorials

Bible Mapper 5 remains the only Bible mapping program with which I am familiar that allows users to create their own, copyright free, high-resolution maps. As David P. Barrett, author of the program and also of the maps in the excellent Crossway ESV Bible Atlas, notes:
Bible Mapper is the ideal tool for researching and creating maps of the biblical world. Virtually every known location and geographic feature in the Bible can be displayed and fully customized quickly and easily, making it a snap to create stunning maps adapted to your particular needs.
Version 3 is free to download and is fully functional. To get the improvements in version 5, the cost is $37, though you can download and try it for free (just not save any maps you create).

Some time ago I made some introductory video tutorials, but it was back in the day of WMV files. It was pointed out to me that those don't play well on a Mac, so I've just uploaded them all to YouTube. There are 7 short videos in all you can check out here:
Bible Mapper YouTube Video Tutorials Playlist

If you do purchase Bible Mapper 5, Barrett does provide email support, but you may also want to check out the user wiki I created here.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Bible Study Resources Listing (Kevin Woodruff)

Kevin Woodruff of Bryan College has shared a long, linked list of Bible Study Resources on this page. It covers Bibles, Theology, Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedias, Online Study Bibles, Research Assistance, Ancient Texts, Graphics, Bible Atlases, and very much more. In addition to links to active web sites, there are hundreds of links to Bible-related resources on Check out his page and bookmark it! Thanks to Kevin for sharing!
UPDATE: As Woodruff notes in the comments, the page has been relocated and updated and reorganized. I changed the link in the post. (The old page is still out on here.)Thanks, Kevin!

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.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Free e-book: Passover as Jesus Knew It
With Passover coming soon, you may be interested in this e-book, Passover as Jesus Knew It. Published in 2014, The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) offers it for free (email needed to get on ASOR list) as a 15 page e-book. Articles include:
  • "Jesus' Passover" by James F. Strange
  • "Passover as Jesus Knew It" by Helen K. Bond
  • "The Last Passover of Jesus" by James H. Charlesworth
  • "The Passover and Jesus" by Adela Yarbo Collins
  • "Did Jesus Celebrate Passover in Sepphoris" by Eric M. Meyers
HERE is the link, but you may also wish to check out the other free e-books they offer with compilations of articles from the ASOR journal, The Ancient Near East Today.