17 December 2008

New Essential Research Tools

The key to research is taking notes and being able to find them again.
This used to be done on 5x3 library cards. Now it is best done on the web.
A former flatmate kept his PhD notes in two large trash sacks in a wardrobe.
To find a reference, he'd pour them on the floor, rummage, then stuff them back.
I don't think he ever completed. My system was better - I used a cardboard box.

With computers and the internet we can do much better.

Our aim should be maximum time for reading, thinking and creative writing,
with automatic facilities for searching, creating bibliographies and backups,
and minimum time for writing and filing notes on what you've read.
Utopia? Not any more.

With the following free software you can:
* access your work on any computer, and write it at the same time as a colleague
* never lose your work - automatically save to the internet every few seconds
* never ruin your work - previous versions of a document are always available
* add library catalog entries to your bibliography automatically, in your chosen style
* attach notes to a book or article which you can search and find later
* copy web pages or articles or documents which you can search later
* search videos from many sources (like YouTube) and save them (increasingly important!)
* copy pages from online books and save them as searchable documents
* save photocopies online and search them as though they were text documents

1) Zotero: Bibliography creation, note storage, document search, and more.
2) Google Docs: Word processing on the web with automatic archive and backup.
3) Evernote: Store photocopies and online books as searchable text.
4) FLV Converter: Search multiple sites for videos and save a copy.

1) Zotero: Bibliography creation, note storage, document search, and more.

Bibliography creation software has been around for some time in many forms,
eg. Endnote, Endnote Web, BibTex, Bookends and many others - and now Zotero.
They create footnotes and bibliography, in the style required by a publisher,
from a database of references; and they help you build up that database;
ie it copies a reference and turns it into any format you need.

Zotero is free, and in my opinion better - and perhaps Endnote agrees,
because they are suing Zotero for enabling Endnote users to migrate to Zotero.

What Zotero does for you:
* fills in a Bibliography database for you directly from a web library catalogue
- eg from TynCat.com or Library of Congress or even Amazon
* saves notes you write about a book, or other independent notes
* links to or saves copies of text documents, PDFs, and webpages
* organises references and documents by tags and collections
- things can go in more than one collection or have more than one tag
* exports references in over 500 styles of different publishers & journals
* also finds documents and references by searching for words used anywhere

In version 1.5 (expected soon) you will be able to sync your data online,
so your research material and references will be available where-ever you are.

Hints on using Zotero

* First install Firefox 3 then go to Zotero and click on "Download"
When Firefox re-starts, click on (bottom right) to open and close Zotero

* Watch the the Zotero tutorials then try a compliant catalog such as TynCat

* Click on in the address bar to add a single book, or to choose from multiple books
or click on on the Zotero bar to save a copy of the current web page.

* You can automatically download PDFs of articles in JSTOR etc (if you have access)
- in Preferences:General, tick "Automatically attach.."

* You can automatically index PDFs - in Preferences:Search, click on "Check for installer" for Xpdf. (this only works with PDFs containing text, and not images of pages - but see Evernote below)

* Add copies of your previous work so that it is indexed and searchable.

- save your document as PDF or as HTM (ie click on "Save as.." and set the Type as HTM or Webpage)
- click on then "Store copy of file" and click on your PDF or HTM file (Doc files aren't indexed yet).

* Chicago Styles are pre-installed. To add SBL style, click on Preferences: Export: Get additional styles.

2) Google Docs: Word processing on the web with automatic archive and backup.

Google Docs started life as Writely, which was bought up and developed as an online word processor to form part of Google's bid to rival Microsoft office.

Google Docs is superb for writing drafts, but you still need a 'proper' word processor for the final printout, because it does not have tools for the finer points of formatting.

Google Docs now includes all the features that most people use in a word processer:
- footnotes, spell check in multiple languages, tables, headers & footers, tables of contents, comments, bookmarks, images with text wrap, page numbers and basic styles.
- unicode right-to-left Hebrew works OK but isn't perfect. Accented Greek works well.

Google Docs lacks some wordprocessing features which are often neglected, but very useful:
- macros, tracking, custom tabs, borders, outlining, drawing tools, and pictures behind text

Some necessary formatting features are entirely missing, and are unlikely to be added:
- fonts (other than the few supplied), line-spacing, formatted footnotes and complex styles.
- printer settings and styles are limited, especially re footnotes and margins
Some very useful features in Google Docs are not found in normal word processors:
* copies are saved automatically online - not on your hard drive which will die one day
* older versions are saved continuously - so you can rescue something you deleted last month.
* two people can work on the same text simultaneously, or you can keep it open on two computers (click on "Share" and write in their email address to give someone shared access).
* you can publish to the web, or save as a Word document, or send as an email, in two clicks.
* you can work on it anywhere, on any online computer - even a hotel lobby computer.

What happens if the internet goes down? You can carry on writing, but you can't save, so copy+paste into Word (or equivalent) till your connection resumes.

You can make a local backup (File: Download) if you are feeling paranoid, but the internet copy is almost certainly more secure than your hard drive.

Hints for using Google Docs

* First open a GMail account and sign in. (free, and very useful)
At the top left of your mail page, click on "Documents", then on "New" and "Document"

* "Print settings" include margins, page numbers and hide comments.
Click on "Print.." to create a PDF file - though this doesn't show footnotes properly.
Use "Print as web page" to print with proper footnotes (though the Settings don't apply).

* For Greek or Hebrew use Unicode as in Word. I recommend the free Tyndale Unicode.
All the supplied fonts work on the web, but not when you Download as a Word file, so change the Greek and Hebrew in Word to Cardo (or another academic font)

* To resurrect old copies of a document, click on "File", "Revision history".
For very old copies, click on "Revisions 0-" in the bottom-right.

* Use Styles for titles and sub-headings, because these are needed for the Table of Contents, both in Google Docs and later when you Download the document to Word.

* To make text wrap round pictures, use "Insert" "Picture", choose the image file, then click on "More image options" and tick "Wrap text".

3) Evernote: Store photocopies and online books as searchable text.

Making notes is often more time consuming than reading, but without notes it can be impossible to find where you read something.

One solution is to scan what you read, then OCR it (ie put it through Optical Character Recognition software) so you have a searchable text.

But this is time-consuming, because OCR is imprecise (esp when the page has Greek or Hebrew!) so you need to spend time editing to make it readable.

Online books (eg Books.Google or Amazon) are even more difficult than real books because you can't print out the pages so you have to type all your notes.

The solution is EverNote - which automatically performs OCR on pages, so it can search your pages, but it always shows you the original copy of the page.
You can upload 40MB of scans per month and store them for ever, for free.
Screen-grabs from online books can be added and also searched.
Texts can be organised by folders and tags, by which you can limit a search.

Although it can't recognise Greek & Hebrew, it always shows the original scan, so you see real Greek - unlike a normal OCR where you just see gibberish Greek.

Now: Where did I read about "laws of nature" with regard to homosexuality? It was somewhere in Philo. I think it was when I researched Infanticide. Evernote found it: I searched for "law" within my photocopies about Infanticide:

Hints for using Evernote:
* Start by opening a free account at www.EverNote.com.
* Go to Download for a "desktop" version for your Mac or PC.
This isn't necessary but some features are much faster than the web version.

* Searches are fuzzy - I searched for "law" and it found "laws".

* OCR accuracy depends on the scan - 200 dpi (dots/inch) in greyscale work well.
300 dpi is better, but you can only save 40MB per month without paying.
(200 dpi greyscale lets you upload about 100 pages per month)

* Add scans on the web by clicking on "New" then "Attach file"
or email it (click on Settings to find the Incoming email address for your account)
or open the desktop version, click on "New Note", and drag the file(s) into the note.
(I find the last method the easiest)

* When the desktop version is running, it synchronises with the online documents.
Searching and displaying documents is almost instantaneous on this version.

* OCR is automatic, but not fast. So upload it then do something else.
OCR only works on bmp, jpg, gif & png - not on tiff or pdf (at present)
For PDF scans of books, extract the images with PDF2IMG and upload them as JPGs.

* To save a page from an online book, run the desktop version and press the "PrtSc" key
(near the top right on most keyboards - or Shift-Comm-4 on the Mac, I think)
then enlarge the box on the screen to select the grab, and press Enter
EverNote will OCR it so you can search the English (but not Greek etc)

For OCR on your desktop, use whatever software comes free with your scanner.
If you don't have any, the free software from http://www.simpleocr.com/ works well for books, but not for complex layouts with multiple columns, like magazines.
Don't pay for expensive software - 'better' software only improves the layout (ie pictures and correct formatting) without being much better at text accuracy.

4) Free FLV Converter: Search multiple sites for videos and save copies.

Videos are an increasingly important form of communication for scholarship.
You don't need special software to watch - just go to YouTube and similar sites.
Free FLV Converter searches 18 of the most important video sites at once, and saves videos onto your computer or iPod in a form you can project or even edit.

A search for "Lecture Bible Manuscripts" finds 288 videos (only 20 of them on YouTube), eg:
- Bart Erhman's Stanford Lecture - an academic lecture on his recent controvertial book
- Ahmed Deedat on "Muhammed in the Bible" (he finds Hebrew words sounding like the name)
- Pfander Films lively talk about the Qur'anic command to read the Bible, which implies the thousands of Bible MSS written before the Qur'an were 'uncorrupted'.
- Barthelemy on the Dead Sea Scrolls (in person! - in French)

Hints for using Free FLV Converter
* First get it and install it - I recommend Download.com where software is virus tested and searchable. (Here is something similar for Mac users).

* While installing, untick the usual offers of a toolbar. The Tyndale Toolbar has everything you need.

* Permanently turn off 'adult' sites, by clicking on "Site", "All adult" then "Remove adult websites".

* To save a video to your Desktop, highlight it and click "Download" (bottom left). Then wait a bit.

* The default format (ie AVI etc) is OK for playing and editing in most software

* For other settings, click on "Tube Downloader" (top row) then pick "Format" (iPod etc), pick quality in "Preset", and pick an "Output path", but don't change other settings unless you know what you are doing

You can project videos on a data projector in classes, or even in your room with a hand-sized projector linked to your laptop or iPod!

I expect that, like me, you are horrified by the poor content of most videos, but for good or ill, this is the communication medium of the present, so we should make sure that good material is added to the internet.

I've had a go at making a series of videos on my "Divorce & Remarriage" research. The sound quality is poor, but it is interesting, thanks to editing by PlaymoBible.
See, eg, my brief tour of some ancient manuscripts in Tyndale Library:

05 November 2008

The Future of the Book

The inventor of the book was probably a Christian because all the
earliest codexes contain Christian writings. Too poor to buy large pieces
of papyrus or leather scrolls, they joined together lots of small scraps
of papyrus to create a 'codex’ and wrote on both sides to maximise space.

Will our generation see the demise of the book? This has been predicted
as often as the ‘paperless office’. It may happen soon – but not yet.
Microsoft has dropped out of the electronic library business
while Google has recently had a surprise success (see below).

1) Handheld devices are good, but not good enough – yet.
2) Google has the legal go-ahead to scan everything – almost.
3) Copyright law gives power to paper – for now.
4) How to read books online – now.

1) Handheld devices are good, but not good enough – yet.

Most phones, iPods and pocket computers can display electronic books.
But no-one reads books on them, because the screens are too tiring.
Two technologies are still needed: better ePaper and better batteries.

ePaper aims to be like real paper – it reflects light instead of
transmitting it. This makes it much easier on the eye when reading for a long time.

Page-turning is slow, and pages are grey&black only (colour is coming
‘soon’), but no power is needed to maintain a page, so battery life is very long.

There are a few ePaper readers already on the market, especially:

Sony Reader PRS - details at Wikipedia and at Sony
You can buy books from Sony (not many), or display free PDF books.
It can read word processing docs if you save them as RTF,
though you need to turn to landscape to read full-width A4 or Letter size documents.

Amazon Kindle - details at Wikipedia and Amazon
You can buy books from Amazon (not many at present, but growing),
and a free email service converts your documents to the Kindle format.
Its Whispernet wireless connection gives access to new books,
and rudimentary web browsing & email, but only in USA cities.

Opinion: The screens are fairly grey, so it is like reading a cheap paperback with small print. Zooming in helps, but those over 45 will want to read this in good light.
The wireless feature is good, and it may ultimately become a 3G phone+PDA+netbook.

In the mean time, buy a device which already does all this, with a bright screen, – eg the LG X110 (reviews here and here). Many others like this will follow.

2) Google has the legal go-ahead to scan everything – almost.

Google’s plan to scan everything, including copyrighted works, landed them in court.
They have now settled with the Author’s Guild, by agreeing to set up (and pay for) a Book Rights Registry where copyright owners can agree or decline to have their works searchable on Google Books. At present Google shows only a few lines from in-copyright books which it searches, but with this agreement they can show a whole page, and offer to print the
page for a small payment, 2/3 of which goes to the owner.

At present, Google can scan all non-copyright books, and agreed books from the 20,000 publishers who have signed up with them so far. By this new agreement they will be able to scan, search and display extracts from:

  • any in-print book (4% of all titles) - if the publisher opts in
  • any out-of-copyright book (20% of all titles, mainly pre-1923)
  • any out-of-print book (76% of all titles) - if the owner doesn't opt out
This is wonderful news for scholars, because it releases the vast number of books which are not in print and cannot be printed because no-one knows who owns the copyright.

But, this doesn’t mean we can read whole books. There will be as-yet unspecified limits.
(More on the numbers, the Google_settlement and misgivings.)

3) Copyright law gives power to paper – for now.

Copyright law for books is now simplified and relatively unified.
The USA and Europe give automatic copyright to any writing after 1950 till 70 years after the death of the author (or 95 years if their employer owns it). Any book published before 1.Jan.1923 is out-of-copyright by default. Between these two dates is a grey area occupied partly by books whose copyright has been asserted, and by so-called orphaned books whose copyright ownership is uncertain.

No-one can offer full copies of books on the web unless they have permission from the copyright owner or they are out-of-copyright. This excludes the vast majority of books, which can only be read in their entirety on paper (if you can find a copy). So physical libraries are going to continue to be important for researchers for the foreseeable future.

4) How to read books online – now.

The best starting place for finding Biblical Studies books online is TynCat.com which provides automatic links to online versions at Google and Amazon.

Amazon.com provides “Search Inside” facilities for a very large number of in-print books.
TynCat identifies the books which they put online (or are in the process of putting on line) by adding an picture of the book on the left, and clicks you straight to the online copy.

Tips: Amazon may ask you for your credit card, but that is only to make sure you could pay for a copy if you wanted to buy it. The preview doesn’t cost anything.
When Amazon stops you reading after 3 pages, pick a word on that page, search for it, then carry on reading.

Books.Google.com gives access to the largest selection of out-of-print books and a surprising number of books which are in print. They are said to have scanned 7 million books! Don’t be put off by “Limited Preview” because this often means that 90% of the book is available, though there is likely to be a limit to how much you can read in one day. The missing 10% is critical for a novel, but for textbooks, the Google copy often saves a trip to a library.

Prediction: Amazon sells more books than any bookshop because it
lets customers see so much of the goods before buying. Google Books will
take over as the default way of looking things up in books, because they
are so easy to search. This will result in more books being used, and
more revenue to publishers than even Amazon has created. And probably,
more books will be sold because, ultimately, we are materialistic and we
like to own tangible things.

Tip for publishers: Make printed books which look and feel nice,
and throw in a free electronic copy to read on the train.

Some other useful online book sources, especially for out-of-copyright books:
Bible & Church History:

  • Bible-Researcher.com – careful selection of books and articles by subject
  • ABZU Ancient Near East catalogue (incl websites) - incl. academic Biblical Studies
  • BiblicalStudies.org – well organised books & articles in Biblical Studies & Theology
  • CCEL - Christian Classics Ethereal Library – from the Fathers onward, in English
  • Project_Wittenberg – mainly Lutheran & Reformation historical works
When we had a power cut at Tyndale House, people wandered about with nothing to do, even though almost every Biblical Studies book worth reading was on the shelves.
The end of the book is nigh.

08 August 2008

Searching Ancient Greek Literature

The bread and butter of New Testament studies is finding out how a word is used elsewhere. Usually this means looking it up in a good lexicon, but a real scholar does a word search. This has recently got a whole lot easier. TLG and Perseus are still the best sources, but now there are new ways to use them, including instant lexical help which isn't restricted to the speed of the web. Whether you want to do word searches throughout all Greek literature, or you just want to quickly look up a Greek word now and then, read on.I also want your help adding to the ultimate list of 5000 early Greek texts and translations.

1) TLG - 'All' of Greek literature, in Greek
2) Perseus - the earliest Greek literature, with English
3) Electronic lexicons for Greek - quicker and better than paper
4) Diogenese - the key to reading untranslated Greek
5) Fonts - the easiest Unicode for Mac & PC
6) Finding translations on the web

1) TLG - 'All' of Greek literature. In Greek.

TLG - ie Thesaurus Linguae Graecae contains 'all' of Greek literature by thousands of authors, including 122 from the 1st C AD and 167 from the 2nd C AD. It contains all Greek literature from earliest times till AD 600, and most literature up to 1450. It is still growing, though I fear it will never catch up with itself. As far as Biblical Studies and early church history is concerned, it is complete.

Tyndale House used one of the original Ibycus computers built especially for TLG, with right-to-left Hebrew on the screen together with Greek and English. It was purpose-built and extremely fast, even by today's standards. Then it was converted to CDs for other computers, with a variety of software, before it moved to the web where it has its own fairly good & fast search engine. But now things are getting faster again, in some ways, thanks to Diogenes (see below).See more history.

TLG is not free, but most institutions with Classics or Bible departments subscribe online. If you aren't near one, an individual licence is about $100 pa.

Hints for using the online TLG:

At the opening screen, start by clicking on "Institution" or "Individual" (middle left)
Use the Unicode fonts. These work without installing and copy & paste into your documents.
To search for a word: Click on "Full Corpus.. Advanced"
Before you search, highlight the centuries you want (click on the first, hold Shift, and click on the last), and tick "varia" because this includes the Septuagint, then click on "Search", then "Search All".
Click on the typewriter symbol to type Greek letters.
Type the word and click on "Word Index".
Tick the verbal forms you want and click on "Selected Words".
Select "Tufts" in "Perseus links" (top left) to get morphology and lexicons (this is now much faster)
If the lexicon lookup isn't fast enough, use Diogenes instead (see below)

2) Perseus - the earliest Greek literature, with English.

Perseus specialises in ancient Greek sources and is not as complete as TLG, but it covers all the main texts, and most of them have English translations available. It also includes papyri, which are NOT covered by TLG (but searching is broken at present).

It is hosted at various sites, the best of which is Tufts who now have a new version 4. If you want to host your own, you can download the texts and programs, but you'll need a good Java programmer to install them, and a fast server to host them.

The Perseus Site has many hard-to-find treasures - - use the Tyndale map
If Tufts University is down, try a mirror: USA: Chicago (1), Germany, Berlin (2) or UK, Oxford (3)

To search all Greek literature, use TLG (see above) - Perseus is not best for this. To read a text or search a particular work, use Perseus, or Diogenes (see below)

Hints for using online Perseus

Find your text in the list, open it, then hold Shift and click on "English", then resize the windows so you have the Greek and English both visible (see below)
Click on a Greek word for morphology & lexicon, and put that window to the side.
Click "Configure display" (at top) and select "Unicode with pre-combined accents"

3) Electronic lexicons for Greek - quicker and better than paper

Electronic lexicons are now MUCH faster than English ones, both for looking up and searching. For Greek literature, the best lexicon is Liddell, Scott and Jones, 9th ed, which you can search at:
  • 2LetterLookup.com - click on 2 Greek letters then pick your word. Uses ZHubert & Perseus

  • Perseus - type in the start of the word without accents and "h" for harsh breathing, eg "huos"

  • Diogenes (see below) which installs the whole lexicon onto your hard drive for instant access

  • the Tyndale Toolbar which gives instant access to these and many other lexicons on PC & Macs

4) Diogenes - the key to reading untranslated Greek

Diogenes is a free program for PC & Macs which reads TLG and other texts in Beta code. This will also read the PHI7 CD containing the Duke Databank of Papyri and Greek inscriptions. There have been and are many other programs which do this but Diogenes has one great advantage - it now includes the full LSJ Greek lexicon as part of the installation, for instant lookups, plus Perseus' Greek morphology (and Latin facilities for the PHI5 CD of Latin inscriptions). You can use the Lexicon and morphology facilities without the data CDs.

The big problem is how to get hold of the TLG and PHI7 CDs. TLG themselves used to supply them, and they might still do so, but most subscriptions are now online. There are now extra texts available online, but they are later and of little interest to Biblical scholars. So far as I know, you can legally continue to use the old CDs so long as you have an online subscription.

If you have access to the CDs, AND you have an online subscription to TLG, do the following:
  • copy the CDs into folders on your network, making them read--only and prevent copying

  • tell users to click on 'Settings' in Diogenes and paste in the network addresses for the 3 CDs (see the instructions for the electronic facilities available at Tyndale House, under "TLG")
Of course, you could just come to Tyndale House and use the facilities here!

Hints for using Diogenes

Download Diogenes for Mac (instructions) or for PC (instructions).
Click on "Edit: Preferences" - set "How to present Perseus data" to "Pop up"
Set "Greek Input" to Unicode (see Fonts below) or BETA transliteration
Change to Unicode when typing a Greek word, otherwise it will look up Latin words.

You don't need the CDs to use the Lexicon or morphology parsing. If you have the CDs, searching for a word is slower than online, but reading is faster, because the words are linked to instant parsing and full lexicon help, and any reference you click on in the lexicon takes you to the full text of that example.

5) Fonts - the easiest Unicode for Mac & PC

All of the above work best with Unicode fonts. Your computer already has rudimentary Unicode Greek but lacks accents and breathing.

Install the Tyndale Unicode Kit - free, easy, fully configurable, and now with added help. This gives you the wonderful Cardo font, with academic Greek, Hebrew and Transliteration.

For the best web experience, set your browser to Cardo.
eg for IE7: Press Alt; Tools; Options; Fonts; Latin based = Cardo
or for Firefox: Tools; Options; Content; Default font = Cardo

6) Finding translations on the web

Even when Diogenes gives you instant morphology and lexical help, an unknown Greek text is difficult to read. The key to faster working is to find a good translation to guide you. The following are good lists of online translations:
  • Perseus - a wide variety of translated texts, with Greek originals too

  • Greek Authors on the Web - collects links from all over. Some are dead.

  • Internet Classics Archive - a well-organised collection.

  • TLG - I've created a list from TLG of all 5079 Greek texts up to 4th C CE, with links to 451 online translations, which includes 16% of all texts before 2nd C CE.

Please help to grow this list!

There are lots more texts 'out there' which aren't listed, and Google is the best help for finding them. Hint: Search for proper names which occur in the text, or rare words. If you find that a link to a translation no longer goes anywhere, don't panic. Paste the link into the WayBackMachine at Archive.org and it is often there.

When you find one please tell me which text it is on the list, and I'll add it.

22 April 2008

Maps & Geography in Biblical Studies

Satellites surround the earth, and Google Earth can zoom in to individual houses.
Bible maps have now been adapted to take advantage of this amazing facility,
especially the Bible Geocoding project which links 800 places and 10,000 photos.

Traditional maps are still very important, especially for explaining specific events.
And photographs bring the places alive, especially when linked to a map.
You can even download the BibleMapper and create your own, though to make
professional looking maps, I recommend the Accordance Bible Atlas.

There is now no excuse to teach or preach without pictures and maps.

1) Interactive maps & GoogleEarth
2) Traditional maps & powerpoint maps
3) Photos of places & archaeology

1) Interactive maps & GoogleEarth

If you haven't tried GoogleEarth, download it and expand your horizons.
The satellite images are often good enough to identify the car outside your house,
but remember, these images are several months old, so don't jump to conclusions.
GoogleMaps look similar, but needs no download and there is not so much control.

Two projects have made very good use of these facilities (and more are coming)

Satelite Maps - NExT Bible
12 3D-looking satellite maps with 250 Bible places linked to dictionary entries and to GoogleMaps

Bible Geocoding - OpenBible.info
GoogleMap links and ready-made satellite photos of all the places named in the Bible
maps for each Bible chapter and and 800 place names linked to 10,000 photos and Bible refs

Tip: In GoogleMaps, hover over "Satellite" and tick "show labels",
then click on the "MyMaps" tab and tick "Photos from Panoramio"

Even more amazing is the mixing of traditional maps and GoogleEarth at
Ancient Jerusalem map overlays for Google Earth - OpenBible.info
To use this you need to install GoogleEarth (the "preview" doesn't work well)

Tip: After installing GoogleEarth, here and click on "Open".
In "Places" click on "+" next to "Ancient" or "Modern" and tick one map.
Zoom in (hover over top right of map for the controls)

Then vary the transparency (the slider is in "Places")

Map Development & Research Tool - BibleMapper.com
Software with templates to create maps with your own annotations. Free registration.

Movie Maps - 90sec flash movies from MapsOfWar.com
Imperial History of the Middle East - empires changing since 3000 BC
History of Religions - birth and growth of religions since 3000 BC

Interactive Map of the Holy Land - BearPort.org
A downloadable program linking a photo and description to about
150 places on a satellite map (useful if you have an intermittent web connection)

2) Traditional maps & powerpoint maps

Teaching maps - eBibleTeacher.com
50 simple but good-looking maps with large text for OT, NT

Maps & Charts Documenting the Expansion of Christianity - Yale University
300 historical maps and charts from atlases and the Yale University Map Collection

Historical & Cultural Atlas - Oregon University
30 clear maps for historical background of surrounding countries

Clickable map of ancient Palestine - Bible-History.com
Basic information is displayed at the top when you click on a place-name.

Students' maps of the Greek & Roman World - AWMC
50 maps collected by the producers of the wonderful Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman world (which, unfortunately, is not available on the web, even as a subscription site. A great pity!).

Place Names of the Greek & Roman world - AWMC
600 places with links to articles or websites. It is also worth checking their Pleiades ancient place names project, which is slowly growing, and will be a wonderful resource.

Historical Maps of the Middle East - Univisity of Texas
60 high resolution scans of mostly early 20th C maps (plus modern CIA maps of the Middle East)

Maps of the Roman Empire - LacusCurtius
Detailed older maps with Roman place names linked to Pliny's Natural History.
Not finished yet, but it will be a wonderful resource when it is.

Ancient Maps of Jerusalem - University of Southern Maine
30 mostly 12th C - 19th C, as high-resolution scans with useful commentary.

Jerusalem in Old Maps - Israel Ministry
14 maps in a chronological survey with useful commentary. Small images.

Many other maps collected by PreceptAustin.org
Lists of individual maps or small collections on various websites

3) Photos of places & archaeology

Holy Land Photos
2900 photos listed by site, with very useful descriptions

Pictorial Library of Bible Lands - BiblePlaces.com
6000 photos well organised with very helpful descriptions. Free 400px previews.

Archaeological sites in the Middle East - Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
1200 photos of archaeological sites labelled merely with a place name.

Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Sites - Emory University
500 photos of archaeological remains, labelled by place and objects.

Historical sites in the Holy Land - BibleWalks.com
200 locations with photographic essays. Good preparation for a visit.
Guide to Ephesus - Kusadasi.biz

Iron-Age Archaeology sites in Israel - eBibleTools
7 sites each with many photos and some videos.

Hint. If you aren't using many pictures, wait till the latter half of your teaching,
and then wake them up with a map and some photos.

06 March 2008

Tyndale Toolbar for Bibles, languages, bibliography & news

Time is too short to keep opening programs or hunting for web pages for simple things
like looking up a Bible text or finding bibliography.

So I wrote the Tyndale Toolbar to save time. It works in Firefox on PC & Mac, and in IE on PCs.
It isn't the prettiest toolbar on the planet, but for Biblical scholars it is the most useful.

Speaking of pretty things, are you artistic? I'm announcing a webpage design competition.

Technical expertise is NOT needed. You need an eye for what looks good (see below).

1) Tyndale Toolbar: Translation tools
2) Tyndale Toolbar: Bibliography tools
3) Tyndale Toolbar: Bible lookup tools
4) Tyndale Toolbar: Links to the best of the web
5) Tyndale Notices: News, Opportunities, Questions, Events
6) Tyndale Toolbar: Gadgets

7) Webpage Design competition

1) Tyndale Toolbar: Translation tools

A set of tools to translate Greek, Hebrew and other ancient languages, plus some modern ones.
Type in plain ascii or Unicode (download Unicode for your computer here) or just copy & paste.
The 2LetterLookup links just need the first 2 letters, then you can pick from a list.
The Perseus lookups automatically trawl round the mirror sites till it finds one which is awake.

2) Tyndale Toolbar: Bibliography tools

Find books and articles on subjects you are researching.
Online copies are often available through TynCat which links straight to
Amazon online books, or GoogleBooks (which are now surprisingly good).
Articles are found through Tubingen's fantastic IxTheo, which is almost
as good as ATLA, and better, for some things.

3) Tyndale Toolbar: Bible lookup tools

Quick lookup for passages in the top English translations or original languages.
The Hebrew is the Westminster Leningrad (ie a BHS without the typos)
and the Greek is the same as NA27 & UBS4, with Rahlf's LXX.
If the translation you want isn't here, look in the next tool.

4) Tyndale Toolbar: Links and News

Links to the best on the web, including 70+ English translations online!
Lots of other resources for scholars, teachers and preachers.
Some of the links go to pages of selected links to even more wonderful sites.

5) Tyndale Toolbar: Links and News

This notice board is where we can share news with other scholars.
If you hear about or organise an interesting conference or event, tell others here.
Do you know about a bursary or scholarship or Sabbatical or research opportunity?
Have you heard about a worthwhile opening, or are you looking for good staff?
Share what you know here, with fellow Biblical Studies and Theology scholars.

Just send an email to TyndaleNotices@Gmail.com

6) Tyndale Toolbar: Gadgets

I've included one gadget for you - an email checker. It keeps an eye on several accounts
and clicking on one logs you straight into the web account without needing a password.

There are lots more gadgets here for you to play with. Some are fun. Some are useful.

Don't worry about running out of room - the gadgets drop off the end and show up
when you click on the double-arrows.

7) Webpage Design competition

You are probably familiar with Tyndale's webpages. Informative but not inspiring.
At least, that's what I'm told. I'm not good at this visual stuff. So I need your help.
If you produce an inspired design, you could be on every page ("page design by....).
It might be the start of a new career!

Simply copy the page at http://www.TyndaleHouse.com/library.htm and redesign it.

So get out your Photoshop or whatever program makes you feel the most creative,
or even Word or Publisher if you wish, and send me a mock up of the web page.
You don't need to produce any code or stylesheets or working menus. I'll do that.
Your contribution is the design - the colors, layout, font, graphics, menu position etc
Please include colours for Hover over and Visited links (if these are different).

Send your entry to me, attached to a reply email. Closing date: May 1st.
The best will go on show and the winner will be famous.

I will be one of the judges, so let me tell you what I like and don't like:

I like usability
e.g. having a full menu always available so you can go anywhere from anywhere
(many websites send you to the home page or obscure part of the page to find the full menu)

I like clarity
e.g. using a plain background which doesn't interfere with reading the text, and using fonts which can be rescaled by the user (using the menu View: Text size)
(many sites use CSS with fixed font sizes so you have to zoom the whole page)

I like easily updated pages
Personally, I hand-craft html, php & MySQL, but most people prefer WYSIWYG.
Unfortunately CMS (Content Management Systems) are often too limiting, so if you propose one, make sure it is very flexible - ie you can add code easily and put anything anywhere. GooglePages are a good compromise, so I integrate these into the site for pages which other people need to update - e.g. staff pages. See mine at http://www.TyndaleHouse.com/Staff/Instone-Brewer/
So the design has to allow for this kind of integration of pages within a frame.

Actually, most of this doesn't apply to your design. I'm just getting it off my chest.
So let your imagination go! And show me what you've come up with.
Don't worry about the technical side of things. If it looks good, we can probably find a way to make it work. Attach it to an email to me.

See the proposed designs here.

19 February 2008

Qur'an, Arabic and Islamic theology

At Tyndale House we regularly have Christian scholars who are researching Islam,
and occasionally Islamic scholars who are studying the Bible.

A few years ago we welcomed a delegation from the Cairo's Al-Azhar University.
The Qur'anic commentary on the Gospels we presented to them is now online.
Most Muslims have a great reverence for the Bible and this was a treasured gift.

The following links aim for mutual understanding without weakness or compromise
from either side. They represent a robust attempt to study the Bible and Islam
whilst seeking to spread enlightenment rather than offence.

In this area where unbiased facts are rare, Wikipedia has set a wonderful example.
The many articles marked as "disputed neutrality" or "locked due to vandalism"
indicate the difficulties behind this success and the ongoing struggle for balance.

1) Arabic language
2) Qur'an & Hadith
3) Islamic Beliefs and Practice
4) Apologetics

1) Arabic Language

Complete 8-Volume Lane's Arabic Lexicon
Tyndale House is proud to announce the free online publication of an indexed
version of this complete lexicon, with easy-to-use features such as magnification,
and tabbed page lookup, in co-operation with studyquran.org who provided the scans.

The Memoirs of Lane in the lexicon are fascinating, even if you aren't interested in Arabic.
During his voyage to Alexandria as a teenager to learn Arabic, they hit a ferocious storm,
and the useless crew didn't know how to navigate. "The captain entreated Lane to take the
helm. Fortunately navigation had formed part of his mathematical studies, but he was little
more than a boy .... and he had to be lashed to the wheel or he would be washed overboard."

2LetterLookup with Arabic
Click on the first two letters of a root to find all possible words in the Qur'an
A quick lookup dictionary with links to full text lexicons.
Also works for Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Akkadian

Learn Arabic -
links to introductions, grammars, and Arabic conjugator etc.

2) Qur'an

A Rough translation (no translation is accurate) by Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Muhsin Khan
Three main English translations - (Yusuf Ali, Pickthal, Shakir) one paragraph at a time
Sixteen English translations - one line at a time, with the Arabic in transliteration
Interlinear Arabic-English
word-for-word translation with Arabic as graphics

Topical Index - alphabetic subject index with links to the the Multiple Translations
Topical Index to Arabic & English - same index, but full Arabic graphics slows it a little.

Word searches in English, with proximity searches and boolean searches
Word and Root searches in Arabic - including searches of Arabic by English meaning

Hadith - ie sayings or actions of Muhammad (and sometimes of his first companions)

Wiki introduction to the Hadith and a defense of the collections
English translations of Bukhari and Muslim (the two most authoritative Hadith)

Search Bukhari and Muslim in English, with results from both.

Islamic texts on Computers

Holy Qur'an Viewer includes Arabic in Unicode, English translation,
commentary, glossary, searching, and even images of manuscripts.

Palm for use with with the free BiblePlus program:
Arabic Qur'an (free) and transliterated Qur'an and Arabic Bible
English Qur'an (free) incl. Yusuf Ali, Pickthall, Shakir, Khalifa

Qur'an (Arabic & English $25) or more features ($30) or Arabic only (free)
Hadith: Sahih Bukhari (Arabic only, free)

3) Islamic Beliefs and Practice

General Muslim beliefs (links to Islamic sites)
Websites by Muslim women

History of the Shia-Suni split - from its origins to the attempt at unity by al-Azhar University
Wiki articles on Shia Islam and Suni Islam - good unbiased introductions.

Shiite beliefs
- Ayatollah Sistani's answers to question on everything
from how to dress during prayer, to the minimum length of a temporary marriage.

Sharia law - based on Qur'an and Hadith, but with much geographical variation
Hanbali is the most conservative school. It is used in Saudi Arabia and some states in Northern Nigeria.
Hanafi is the most liberal school, and is relatively open to modern ideas.
Maliki is based on the practices of the people of Medina during Muhammad's lifetime.
Shafi`i is a conservative school emphasizing the opinions of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad.
Twelvers are the basis of Shiite law, as used in Iraq and Iran.

4) Apologetics between Muslims and Christians
The following sites are, of course, biased - but are usually helpful.

Useful sites from a Muslim perspective:
- a detailed dialogue (with lots of references and facts), eg "Was Jesus crucified?"
- a list of misconceptions (aimed mainly at young people) eg "Why Do I Wear Hijab?"
- miracles of Islam (stories from the past) eg "Prophet Noah's Ark", "Jinns and Angels"
- Islamic Awareness esp. regarding the Bible and New Testament manuscripts

Useful sites from a Christian perspective:
- Bible and Qur'an stories - a selection of stories with the two versions compared
- Bible and Qur'an theology - proof texts from both for a wide variety of doctrines.
- Origins of the Koran - a scholarly work on the textual history of the modern Qur'an

11 January 2008

Unicode Fonts Unite Biblical Studies

In the bad old days you had to worry about Greek and Hebrew fonts.
Now everyone is using Unicode. Well... everyone who wants to communicate.
Unicode means everyone can read what you write, on a PC, Mac or web browser,
in Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, complext transliteration, or even English,
Hebrew is formatted right-to-left, and wraps at the end of lines properly.
And things continue to get easier.

1) Unicode Installation Easier
2) Unicode Bibles and Unicode on your Bible Software
3) Converting old fonts to Unicode
4) Unicode TLG, with INSTANT lexicon lookup
5) Unicode Bible on Palms and other PDAs
6) Help, I've got an old computer!

1) Unicode Installation Easier

The Tyndale Unicode kit is a free and easy way to install Greek & Hebrew Unicode
for PC and Mac. Documents you write can be swapped between any computers.
It includes keyboards for Greek, Hebrew and transliterration, and the Cardo font.

If you prefer another font (eg SBL or SIL fonts) you can simply substitute them,
because Unicode fonts are interchangeable (so long as they contain the language!).

I've created new full instructions for WinXP & Vista but you don't really need them. It's easy.
The Mac installation always always was easy, and the PC installation is now easier than that.

The keyboards work intuitively, though read the help for adding accents and pointing.
When you've tried it once, you'll remember it easily, but there is a summary chart anyway.
You should soon be touch-typing Hebrew and Greek. If you are already used to another layout,
I've included instructions for changing the keyboard layout so that you can make it as you want.

Unicode knows where it is going. Greek goes left to right and Hebrew goes right to left.
And when Hebrew flows over a line, it wraps properly, putting the later words on the next line.
Word on the Mac can't do proper right-to-left, but there are solutions.

Another wonderful thing about a good Unicode font is that it knows where to put things.
So a shewa centers itself under narrow and wide characters, and raises itself in a final Kaph.
Though that only works for proper academic fonts like Cardo, SBL, SIL, TITUS and Code2000.
(the Hebrew and Greek in Times New Roman and Arial doesn't do pointing properly).

So remember to change the font to Cardo when you start writing Hebrew or Greek.
You could simply use Cardo for everything. It has Greek, Hebrew, English
and all the symbols you need for transliteration, as well as rare Latin numbers etc.

All the normal Masoratic pointing and punctuation is included in the Tyndale kit,
though some of the very rare markings are missing. If you really want them
(perhaps you want to typeset the Leningrad Codex?) then you need Linguist Fonts.

For other languages (Coptic, Ethiopic, Ugaritic, Syriac) use the Logos program Shibboleth
which comes with embedded fonts and is free! (thanks Mark).


2) Unicode Bibles and Unicode on your Bible software

No-one wants to type lots of Hebrew and Greek if it is just a quote from the Bible.

All the major Bible software now exports Greek & Hebrew in Unicode.
Accordance, BibleWorks and Libronix all have settings to copy and paste Unicode.

Tyndale House provides Word documents of the Bible in Unicode.
Copy them onto your computer and then copy and paste whatever you need.

There are also some online Bibles from which you can copy and paste Unicode text,
the best of which is probably The Sword with parallel Greek, Hebrew & English.

Even easier is Michael Stead's InsertBible tool for Word on a PC. Just type the reference
and it writes the text in Greek, Hebrew plus English, in columns or paragraphs.
It works in Word 2003 & 2007 on a PC, and it is free.


3) Converting old fonts to Unicode

Converting a few quotes from the Bible is easy - see the previous section.
And if you have a few extra bits, just type them. It won't take long.

If you have lots to convert, use a font converter.
For Word on PCs, the converter from Galaxie works very well and is now free.
(you should also install the fonts which it uses during conversion. They are also useful for viewing the NExT Bible).
It converts a whole document at once, and works with most fonts
(Bwgkl, Bwhebb, SPIonic, SPTiberian, Graeca/II, Hebraica/II, SuperGreek, SuperHebrew, Alexandria, Koine, Gideon, Mounce, SymbolGreekP, WinGreek, SGreek, SHebrew, Tecknia).
It converts them first to Galaxie Greek or Hebrew, and then to Galaxie Unicode .
You then do a Find+Replace for "Galaxie Unicode Greek" and replace with "Cardo"

For Macs, you can use the converters from Linguist which works with their fonts.
The free Greek Transcoder (instructions here) works with Word 2004 for many Greek fonts (thanks Danny)
Or you can load your Word documents into a PC and use the free Galaxie converter.

If your documents aren't in Word format, save them as Word format, convert them in Word, and save them in your favourite format again. But if you are using WordPerfect, I doubt this will ever be upgraded to read proper Unicode - sorry!.


4) Unicode TLG, with INSTANT lexicon lookup

Diogenes is the free software which makes TLG & PHI useable on your computer. If you think these are just irrelevant TLAs (three-letter-acronymns), read on.
The TLG is the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae: a dataset of virtually all ancient Greek texts.
The PHI collection includes the Duke databank of papyri - virtually everything published up to the 90's, plus many inscriptions. Together they make a NT scholars dreams come true.

Diogenes is wonderful software for searching these texts on PC or Mac.
It isn't fantastically fast at searching, but it has INSTANT lexical help for every word.
When you install this, you also install a full Liddel-Scott-Jones 9th ed lexicon.
It is worth downloading just for the lexicon.

When typing a word into Diogenes, you need Unicode, so install the Tyndale kit first.


5) Unicode Bible on Palms and other PDAs

The clever guys at Olive Tree Bible Software have upgraded PDAs to Unicode.
I didn't believe it till I saw it - a humble Palm with Unicode Hebrew!
Their Bible software was already superior by having so much gramatical tagging.
Unicode is a free upgrade for existing customers.
And now they have searchable Qumran texts in Unicode Hebrew.

For speed I still prefer the free BiblePlus on the Palm, but for style and details,
Olive Tree takes some beating.


6) Help, I've I've got an old computer!

Unicode really only works properly if you have Windows XP and up, or Mac OS X.
Use the Tyndale Font Kit for legacy computers. It is almost as easy as Unicode,
but it isn't future-proof.

You also need Word 2000 or higher on a PC, though on a Mac Hebrew has some problems.
If you can't afford Word (or if you have a Mac) use OpenOffice (NeoOffice on a Mac).
This is free, and arguably just as good as Microsoft Office, but it doesn't have the advertising budget.

File this information away, because soon you will need Unicode.

18 December 2007

The future of communication

Tyndale Tech tries to keep you up to date with electronic resources for Biblical Studies.
I've now moved it to a blog-style site where you can add your comments on the issues.
All the old posts are there, and new ones will be posted there as well as appearing in email.
This means you can add your wisdom on the various topics to share with other scholars.
It also means you can hear about new posts using RSS as well as or instead of emails.

Previous posts have been quite good at predicting the future.

I predicted:
* an important new search engine called "Google" (when it was still just a funny word)
* viruses will be used for advertising (when they were still mostly used for malicious pranks)
* laptops will be made with flash memory instead of hard drives (they are appearing now)
* everyone will carry a pocket computer (when phones were still just for phoning)
* Unicode fonts will take over publishing (when hardly anyone had heard of Unicode)
* Perseus has important hidden treasures (when it was known merely as a picture collection)

Some of the oldest posts are still very useful.

* Indexing a book automatically - I've just used it again for my latest volume.
* Using styles and macros to save time in word processing
* Installing free original-language Bibles and translations on a Palm
* Finding the treasures among all the trash on the web

Some warnings I gave:

* I warned against Word XP (an unstable dead end. Word 2003 is much better)
* I warned against Word on a Mac (they STILL haven't made Hebrew work properly!)
* I warned against Word Perfect (without unicode, all its wonderful features are useless)
* I warned against investing in the dollar (no, not really - but I wish I had)

My next warning: Email is dying (though I hope I am wrong)

* Email now looks like postal letters did a few decades ago
* Remember the excitement you first had when an email arrived for you?
* now a huge percentage of email is spam, and most real emails are business related
* it is like the old days when paper post was full of adverts and business letters

The mext generation have abandoned email for newer ways of communicating

Blogs (originally Web Logs) are diary-style dated entries posted (mostly) in public
* they can be used as ways to stay in touch with a group of family and friends
* some have become spectacularly successful news or gossip columns, rivalling newspapers
* readers can often add comments, which can be moderated, allowing limited interactively
* they are now often used as an easy way to write web pages with pictures and links
* the posts are permanent (until the owner deletes them) so they are a true part of the web
* RSS feeds help people keep up with a large number of blogs by collecting changes

Instant messaging is a way to 'chat' online. Messages are transmitted instantaneously,
* these messages are private and they are wiped when you log off (though Google is changing that)
* different sites are deaf to each other - you have to sign up with MSN, Yahoo, Google or AOL
and then you can talk to any individual or groups you choose, but only on that platform.
* to talk to them all, use meebo or digg - you hear everyone, but they still can't hear each other.
Social Networking is a way to share friends and make new connections 'safely' online
* they tend to be based round communities such as schools (Bebo) colleges (Facebook), professionals (LinkedIn), over 50's (Sagezone) or general (Flickr, MySpace etc)
* individuals share a great deal about themselves because more details gains them more 'friends'
* these pages are permanent, and it is worrying how much people reveal about themselves in them

Personally I still prefer emails.

* they are private (unlike blogs), and produce permanent searchable copies (unlike chats)
* and they allow me to reply when convenient to me, giving me time to think, and to live a bit
* and they are not kept at Archive.org (where anyone can see deleted web pages and blogs)

But the future is phones

Phones now have operating systems more powerful than the computers which took men to the moon
* the fact that we use this amazing computing power for photos and crazy ringtones merely shows that
increases in the intelligence of phones has not been matched by the intelligence of phone users.
* we can send email as a speech file attachment rather than as text using Speak-a-Message (free)
* now you can listen to your text emails with a realistic artificial voice phonecall using VoMail
* and you can speak a reply on your phone which is then sent as a text email - use Vemail.
* our phones will soon have enough power for voice recognition, so these functions will be built-in
* voice phones will be as small as hearing aids and, like them, will only come out when we sleep

Personally I will be avoiding some of these technological revolutions
* I carry a WiFi Palm for picking up email, but I do not carry a phone
* I read emails, and reply after thinking for a moment. I don't chat online or post my life on a blog.
* perhaps I'm a luddite, or perhaps I am someone who has seen the future and knows better.

15 November 2007

Transporting theology from Academia to the Pew

I've recently had a brush with notoriety. It wasn't completely nice.
Being criticized for what you didn't say is difficult to respond to.

Still, it resulted in an interview in Time magazine about my research on divorce,
and my research was, for a while, the most 'popular' story on Yahoo News.
Hopefully more people will read my work than they would have done otherwise,
though more people will also dismiss it, because they think they know what it says.

This experience has made me think about publicity and how to get noticed.
The web has now made publicity and publishing truly democratic,
so here is a guide to how I used the internet and what I would recommend now.

1) Publish on the internet while you are writing.
2) Get people interested
3) Publish an academic book on paper
4) Collaborate on a 'popular' version
5) Publicize the popular version
6) Communicate with pictures

1) Publish on the internet while you are writing

I wrote my book on divorce in several drafts.
The first was for my friends and family, and it was terrible.
The second was published on the web, chapter by chapter, and then edited.
The web version wasn't very well written, but it was very well read,
because search engines love text which changes and which has a wide vocabulary.
It meant that people were interacting with my ideas before
the first book came out, which created a head of steam for it.

Creating a web site is now very easy by using GooglePages.
- create a free Google account, and sign in, then click on Page Creator
- now you have a home page which you can edit like a simple word processor
- pictures, links, layouts, etc are very easy to add and change
- if you wish, you can add simple html and javascript programming
- you can chose when to publish, and can edit pages at any time

Or, use a Blog and publish each chapter or a sub-section as a post
- create a free Google account, and sign in, then click on Blogger
- there are others, but Blogger is easy to use and has powerful facilities
You probably want to make this look like a book rather than a diary so:
- in the Template, remove the "Blog Archive" which lists posts by dates
- instead, add "Labels" as a list, and use these as your section headings
A very good feature of blogs is that you can invite feedback.
- this is valuable both as encouragement and to help you see
what people don't understand, or to find out want to know more about.

2) Get people interested

I like to stay at home, so I work mainly on the web, but if you like to get out,
you might concentrate more on public speaking and going to conferences.

Offer papers at conferences and to journals
- when you find interesting topic within your subject, write it up as a paper
- this means tangential topics which don't really fit into the book are still useful
- and you can refer to conclusions from your papers in the book

Get permission to publish papers on the web as soon as possible
- some journals demand a year or two before you publish it
- many journals allow immediate publication on a personal website
- though most journals do not like papers on the web before they publish them

Build up an email list of people interested in your work
- invite people to email for irregular updates on your work
- or set up a Google Group or Yahoo Group which provide facilities for sharing

Don't put your main email address on a web page - it'll get spammed
- if you know javascript, you can protect it (like we do on the Tyndale site)
- or create a free Google address and make a filter to copy email to your main address
- then, when spammers find this address, create another Google address

3) Publish an academic book on paper

For credibility, a traditional publisher is still essential,
but it is becoming increasingly possible to do this yourself.

Use the tips from previous Tyndale Techs to save yourself time
- tips on writing multi-chapter documents with Styles, Contents, etc are here
- instructions for quickly creating semi-automatic indexes are here
- resources for Greek & Hebrew Unicode fonts are here

You can print and sell a 'real' book at publishers like www.Lulu.com
- they help you create a PDF document of your whole book and design a cover
- they provide free webspace, an online shop, and publish on demand
- their printing is remarkably cheap and produces real published books
- you can set the price at the printing cost or above (and you keep the profits)
- you can allow free download of a PDF eBook, or you can make a profit on that too

Publicize your book.
- even if you use a traditional publisher, they expect you to help with publicity
- make a list of as many journals as you can think of for sending review copies
- write some blurb both for them and for your website (and don't be modest)
- if you self-publish, offer review copies as widely as possible (the cost is worth it)

4) Collaborate on a 'popular' version

Most scholars can't write easily readable prose, but they think that they can.
Communication is a difficult skill, and people who think it is easy don't know much about it.
You can test your writing for readability here - it calculates the Gunning-Fog index

The trick is (apparently - I'm not much good at it either) to know your audience.
I found that the only way I could do this is to pretend I was writing a sermon.
This meant I wrote with lots of illustrations and less complicated language.
But then I swallowed my pride and let someone else turn it into prose.
She rewrote almost all of it, and even moved whole paragraphs or cut them out. Painful !
The 'popular' book which resulted was wonderful - as easy to digest as chocolate.

How do you find a collaborator? Ask your contact list for help.
- ask for proof readers (you need them too) and offer them a chapter each
- pick those who make the most dramatic changes, then ask someone else if the changes are good
- if you find a good editor, you must be prepared to trust them when they change your work!

To collaborate, use the Tracking function in Word
- double-click on "TRK" in the bottom bar, or click on Tools: Track changes
- now, when you or your editor make changes, they are highlighted and reversible
- use the Reviewing tools found by clicking on "View", "Toolbars", "Reviewing"
- email the documents to and fro, and keep old copies to make you more adventurous
(you probably won't refer to the old copies, but having them gives you courage to make bigger changes)

Or use the collaborative tools in GoogleDocs
- create a free Google account, and sign in, then click on "Docs"
- upload a Word document or create a new document which lives on the web
- click on "Share" to allow both you and your editor to change the same document
- it has a built-in rollback so you can rescue an older version if necessary

5) Publicize the popular version

You can wait for publishers to do this, but most are not much good at it,
though IVP USA were great, getting me radio interviews and other publicity.

Visit blog sites and join in, pointing to your stuff when relevant
- this is time consuming, and admittedly I have done little of this
- although your text soon disappears from the blog front page, search engines will continue to find it

Send press releases to any newspaper or news agency which has an email address
- provide a page of prose & facts from which they can put together a story without much editing
- include "quotes" from yourself so they can pretend they interviewed you
- include contact details and web links in case they want to do research or check facts

Offer articles to magazines and newspapers
- hopefully they will come to you, but don't be shy. They're always looking for copy.
- make sure you read them from your detractors' point of view, to make them unambiguous
(that's where I've fallen down, so that detractors were able to exaggerate what I didn't mean)

Admittedly I haven't followed my own advice about publicizing. I should have, but I'm lazy.

6) Communicate with pictures

The world is full of pictures, and they can help you communicate complex ideas.

Provide some talk or sermon outlines with pictures for powerpoint presentations
- see an example at VisualSermons.co.uk

Put pictures on your blog site or web site
- I asked my daughter to find pictures on the web and get permission from the artists
- she found an artists' community with wonderful pictures, and most artists were
keen to have their work used for a good cause if it included a link back to their site.
- see examples at DivorceRemarriage.com

01 August 2007

The Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible

This is review of a single product, though I mention rival products at the end.
Overall conclusion: give away your paper BHS + NA27 and buy this.
An extraordinary conclusion for someone who doesn't like Libronix,
but this is an extraordinary product which is more usable than the paper versions.

This email is a cut-down version of the full review with missing portions marked.
The full review has more details and a large number of screenshots.

1) What is included?
2) Installing and Quick Tour (only in full review...)
3) Searching by a multitude of methods (only in full review...)
4) Overall Usefulness: much better than paper
5) Should I buy this? (what about BibleWorks & Accordance?)

1) What is included? (can be misleading)
The Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible is an electronic version of the most fundamental documents in Biblical Scholarship – the main texts of the Hebrew and Greek Bible with their critical apparatus. This tool demonstrates that these resources are much easier to use as an electronic publication than on paper. The Logos edition has some rough edges, partly due to the data produced by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft on which this is based, and I look forward to a future version which will be even more usable.
There are two versions of SESB - the one supplied by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, which can be bought in a variety of places for about $325 (for USA customers and for outside USA), and a cut-down edition for about $160 (USA only).
More details in the full review...

Resources unlocked in the full collection are:
Basic Greek & Hebrew dictionaries
Specialist search method (to augment normal Libronix ones)
Bible Translations (AV, NIV, NRSV and some non-English ones)
Ancient Texts & Editions:
Greek NT – Nestle-Aland 27th ed. & UBS 4th rev. ed with both Apparatuses
Greek OT – Rahlfs
Hebrew OT – BHS & the 1st 2 vols of Quinta, both with Apparatuses
Metzger's Commentary on the Greek NT
Gospel of Thomas in Coptic, Greek & English
(The cut-down version does not include Quinta, UBS NT, NA's tagging,
Gospel of Thomas, Metzger or modern Bible translations)
More details in the full review...

People who buy this package mainly want the original-language texts:

BHS – Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
The text is tagged but only with simple morphology and lexical roots, so this is the only information which appears when you hover over words. Surprisingly this does not include simple English meanings, though double-clicking on the word takes you to the correct position in the simple OT English dictionary.
The contents of the Apparatus appears when you hover over a textual marker, but unlike the NT you can't click on it to fix it. Instead the whole apparatus opens in a separate window at the correct place. In this Apparatus you can hover over all the inscrutable abbreviations and get a full explanation. For example, hover over "C" and you find it refers to "fragmentum codicis Hebraici in geniza Cairensi repertum" whereas "c" refers to "cum". This is both wonderful and frustrating – why are they still in Latin? Their reverence for the printed text has stopped them from being creative in the programming.

LXX – Rahlf's text
The text is tagged so that hovering over a word displays the Gramcord morphological information. Surprisingly the lexical root is not shown, nor any English meaning, though double-clicking on a word takes you to the entry in Lust's dictionary.
The Apparatus of Rahlfs is not present. Why not? It isn't the best apparatus (by choice, one would use the Göttingen edition where available and the Cambridge edition where it isn't) but nevertheless, if there is nothing else available, Rahlf's apparatus is still useful.

BHQ – Biblia Hebraica Quinta
The text is not tagged, so hovering over words or double clicking on them does nothing. Why wasn't the tagging of the BHS applied to this? – the texts are essentially identical because they are both transcriptions of the Leningrad codex.
The Apparatus abbreviations are explained when you hover over them, as with the other Apparatuses. In addition, the superb Quinta commentary is revealed when you hover over the large "+" signs. This commentary is what makes the new Quinta so much more useful than the BHS, and it is wonderful to see it integrated in such a useful way.

NA27 – Nestle Aland Greek NT, 27th edition
The text is tagged with Gramcord morphology, though no lexical roots are displayed in the hover-over. Double-clicking on a word opens the basic NT dictionary.
The Apparatus can be seen if you hover over an abbreviation in the text. When you click on it, the Apparatus opens in a separate window. Hovering over an abbreviation in that window reveals the full information about each manuscript. For example, hovering over "D" tells you that it is "ms. nr. *D 05 saec. V bibliotheca Cambridge, Univ. Libr., Nn. 2. 41 cont. ea (vac. Mt 1,1-20; 6,20-9,2; ….." (extending to a list of all the passages covered). The explanation is lifted straight out of the printed edition, but a fuller version without abbreviations might have been better for the electronic edition.

UBS4 – United Bible Society Greek NT, 4th revised ed.
The text is not tagged so hovering over a word tells you nothing, though double-clicking on a word takes you to the Perseus internet site which gives a morphological analysis and links to Liddell & Scott (you need a live internet connection for this). Hovering over a verse number shows the cross references.
It is difficult to see why the NA morphology couldn't have been used for the UBS text, given that the text is virtually identical to the NA27 text (except for a little punctuation, some capitalisation and perhaps a couple of spellings).
The Apparatus is viewed by hovering over the abbreviations in the text, and if you click, the hover-over becomes fixed so that you can hover over abbreviations in the note. For example, hover over "D" and you find it is "Uncial Manuscript: D 05, Contents: Gospels & Acts, Location: Cambridge: Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Date: V" (compare the rather more inscrutable version in NA above).

Metzger's Commentary on the variants in the Greek NT
This is, in some ways, a supplement to the UBS text. It would have been nice to have direct links to it from the Greek text. You can imitate this by opening both resources and clicking on the "Links" symbol (looks like a chain link) and selecting "Set A" in both. They will now scroll together.
Unlike the NA27, Quinta or BHS you cannot open the Apparatus as a separate document, so it is difficult to search (though see Searching below for a solution).
See screenshots of each in the full review...

2) Installing and Quick Tour
This section is only in the full review...

3) Searching by a multitude of methods
There is a bewildering number of searches available.
Basic search
Bible search
Bible Speed Search
Morphological Bible Search
SESB Lemma Search
Fuzzy Search
Advanced Search
Word Study resource search
Field Searching
See details in the full review...

4) Overall Usefulness: much better than paper
Using these resources in electronic form makes me wonder if I will ever want to use the paper versions again. First the obvious – it is easier to zoom in on tiny details like pointing; information like morphology, roots or meaning appear by hovering or clicking; and the text can be searched in a variety of ways. All this is wonderful, though none of this is new, and sometimes it is done better by other programs, many of which are free
(see www.TyndaleHouse.com/BibleSoftware.htm)

What is new in SESB is the ability to search the Apparatus. You can, for example, find all the Tiqqune sopherim by searching for "Tiq soph" in the footnotes of BHS. These are the emendations that the rabbis recorded as having been made to the original text for the sake of preserving God's honour. For example the original Hebrew of Gen.18.22 read that the Lord stood before Abraham, but this might be misinterpreted as the stance of a servant so the text was changed. The BHS apparatus refers to such changes in 14 instances.

What makes SESB so useable is the ability to understand the apparatus without needing to memorise all the arcane abbreviations. Remembering that codex B is 4th C Vaticanus and D is 5th C Bezae is easy compared to trying to remember that "28" refers to an 11th C Minuscule or that Hilary is a mid 4th C Father, or that "Diatessaronarm" refers to the Armenian translation within Ephraem's commentary for passages where it differs from the Syriac original. The linking between them and the text is also very useful, because there is no need to constantly take one's eye off the text to try and identify the relevant note. At last, the Apparatus is usable.
See more details in the full review...

5) Overall Usefulness: much better than paper

At present Bible Works does not have their own version of SESB (though it includes tagged texts of BHS, NA27 and LXX). Accordance sells the "Mac Studienbibel CD-ROM, Stuttgart Original Language Collection" which is the rough equivalent of a cut-down SESB v.1 – ie they have untagged BHS and NA27 with their Apparatus, and Rahlf's LXX, but they do not have any Quinta or UBS. Perhaps they will add Quinta, but they will probably not add UBS because they already sell a more detailed apparatus which is based on the UBS4 apparatus (CNTTS – the Center for New Testament Studies NT Critical Apparatus).

If you are a Mac user running Accordance you will probably want to buy their similarly priced package which has the most important of these texts. You could, of course, buy the PC emulator Parallels and a copy of Windows and run Logos on an Intel Mac (I've seen it done, and it works well). But anyone who has got used to Mac and Accordance is likely to find the transition to Windows and Logos filled with frustration and disappointment. (I'm a PC fan personally, but I recognise that Mac & Accordance users smile more often than I do). Logos is working hard at making a comparable product for the Mac. The amount of time this is taking shows how serious they are, and how complex the task is.

If you are a PC user, this decision is a no-brainer. Sell your paper BHS, NA27 & UBS4, and buy this package. You don't need to stop using BibleWorks but you will soon want to have both open. BibleWorks integrates itself well with Libronix and with internet resources via the built-in Link Manager.
See more details in the full review...


01 June 2007

Backup, backup and again I say backup

The little known saying of Paul, "Backup, backup and again I say backup"
is something which every Biblical Scholar (and everyone else) should heed.
A book will survive 1000 years or more with benign neglect in a dry place,
but a hard drive will function inside a computer for only 3 - 10 years.
A floppy disc will fade, a CD will scratch, and even flash memory will die.
So whatever we want to keep, we have to keep on backing up.

1) Backup onto what?
2) Backup software (free or cheap)
3) How to make your work last forever.

1) Backup onto what?
Backup onto something which is normally separate from your computer.
A Tyndale scholar had his laptop and backups stolen from his car 3 months before
submission. His only other backup was 5 months old. Could this happen to you?

Good choices:
DVDs, Flash memory, portable drives, internet spaces

DVDs are already old technology but they will last some time yet, mainly because of movies.
Like paper, they survive well with benign neglect. They don't fade or crack (though early ones did)
Unlike other media, they should survive the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear bomb.
Warnings: Don't leave recordable CDs in the sun, and don't buy non-branded DVDs or CDs

Flash memory (aka USB stick, SD card etc) lasts a long time.
No one knows how long in practice (yet) but some come with a 10-year guarantee.
This is the memory of the future. Mini computers are being built with flash memory
instead of a hard drive - they are smaller, with longer battery life and more reliable.
My prediction: SD cards (or Mini SDs) will be the next 'floppy' to replace CDs.
My tip: Buy " Ultra II SD Plus" cards - an SD card which has a click-out for USB slots.
You can use it as a tiny USB memory stick, and also put it in your SD camera, PDA
or MP3 player, so it is easy to swap files without any leads.

Portable drives can hold much more than flash memory (at present).
So if your data includes lots of pictures or music, or you want to copy your whole drive,
you need a portable drive. If you have a desktop computer, you can add a permanent
drive inside, but remember it will be stolen or burned along with the original,
so make a separate backup of your data.
My tip: Buy a drive which is powered through the USB slot,
so you don't have another cumbersome power supply.

Internet space means that you don't have to worry about re-copying your backups.
Someone else will do it. Several firms will sell you space with easy backup software
Carbonite is cheap and forget-about-it automatic. MediaMax gives 25G backup free.
You can also email files to yourself - Google provides 2G space and others are following this lead.
Or you can use a GMail account as backup space using software like GSpace
My tip: You can own more than one GMail account, so register another just for backup.

2) Backup software (free or cheap)

Backing up can be done in two main ways: Copy the data, or Clone the drive.
If you have spent ages setting up your computer exactly as you want it, clone it.
If the data is more important (ie the documents, photos etc), just copy the data.
If you want to preserve older copies of documents, use incremental backup.
If you work on more than one computer, you need to backup with synchronisation to
make sure that both computers keep in step and that you always work on the latest version.

Copy the data:
Copy everything in My Documents (plus the Desktop if you are untidy like me and often leave
things there). You should check that all your programs are leaving documents there - email is
often a culprit, so you may need to find your email folder.
If you have limited room (on a small memory stick) you can buy a bigger stick or copy less.
The common culprits for full memory sticks are photos, music, and email spam attachments.
You can just copy your email texts and leave the attachments in Eudora (though not in Outlook).
Or, you could get a portable drive.

Clone the drive:
A "clone" is an exact copy of the drive. This is harder to make than in the old days
when you just copied the files. Now software is moulded to the machine when it is installed,
and many files can't be copied while the operating system is running. Nevertheless, some
programs have found ways round this (see below).
Macs can be booted from an external clone, but Windows will not allow this (supposedly for security
reasons), so you have to either install your clone in the machine, or clone it again to your new computer.

If you are really clever you will make a RAID mirror, which makes a constant fail-safe clone,
by writing the data onto two identical hard drives. Follow the instructions here.
I used to use command-line batch files instead of backup programs, but life is too short.
OS X and Windows have free backup software which is good, but there is room for improvement.

Here are the programs I recommend as being easy, powerful and mostly cheap or free.
Retrospect is perhaps the best - it copies and makes increments, but it is expensive
and can be confusing, and there is now a cheap and easy-to-use alternative:
SuperDuper, despite its cutesie name, is a very powerful tool.
Even the free version can make a complete bootable clone of a drive, as well as normal backups.
The $28 version can incrementally add to a clone, so you always have an exact copy.
There are many backup programs for the PC - here is a good partial list. These are my favourites:
BackPack Professional copies, compresses, writes to DVD etc, with schedule - FREE (for personal use)
SyncBack synchronises so you can carry backups between two computers, eg at home and at work.
This remarkable software synchronises by data or content, over networks and FTP, and all for FREE!
Either synchronise over the internet by FTP or synchronise via a memory stick.
It can also backup automatically in the background on a schedule, copying only the files you have changed.
The $30 version copies files even when open, and keeps previous copies (up to a limit you set) and works faster.
Katchall Archive keeps a copy every time you save a file. At any time you can right-click on a
file and ask for an earlier copy. You can set a limit to the number of copies, though texts take
up very little room because only the changes are saved, and they are highly compressed.
Ever discovered you accidentally deleted a footnote a month ago? This would have saved it.
No longer free, but your documents are worth $30.
XXClone makes a bootable clone. FREE for personal use - for $40 it updates incrementally.
Tip: To make sure your emails are safe, create another email account and use a filter to copy every email to it.

3) How to make your work last forever.
Floppy disks and hard drives are magnetic, so they gradually leak their data. Long before
this happens, the mechanism goes out of fashion. I remember Don Carson writing the first
Gramcord morphological NT and saving it on a state-of-the art double-8" floppy drives.
I showed my daughters one of those floppies and they laughed at me derisively,
as if I was claiming that we all used to wear meter-long clown's shoes.

All present-day media formats will pass away, but your documents need to remain forever.
The secret to eternal life for documents is the internet. Make several copies in various sites,
and let other people help themselves to copies so your work is preserved also by others.
If you really think you can make money out of it, publish it as a book at www.LuLu.com
(it can be sold as an eBook, or as a paper book - you fix the price and keep the profit).
Virtually the whole internet is being archived at present (see www.Archive.org) so even if your site
disappears, your document will survive. One day an internet archaeologist will find your work.

If you follow all the above advice, you will feel paranoid and safe both at the same time.
And one day your work may make you famous - probably after you are dead, because you are so ahead of your time.

01 May 2007

Lexicons for Biblical Studies

Lexicons are at the heart of Biblical Studies, but usually we neglect them because
they're cumbersome to use, and anyway our Bible software tells us what the word means.
But without a real lexicon we miss so much - the nuance, context, and possible meanings.
So I decided to make real lexicons easier to use. I've put them at http://www.2letterlookup.com/
These lexicons require no typing - just click on two letters and pick the word from a short list.

1) Lexicons at TyndaleArchive.com - quicker than paper books
2) 2LetterLookup - lexicons for Biblical languages
3) Other useful lexicons & dictionaries on the web

1) Lexicons at TyndaleArchive.com - quicker than paper books
Scanned books are starting to accumulate at Google, Archive.org and Amazon
(the easiest way to find these is still Tyncat.com (see the previous TTech).

There are some useful lexicons among them, but they are hard to use.
Printed lexicons are also hard to use - there's too much hunting for pages.
So I designed a properly indexed eBook which finds the page in a couple of clicks.
See http://www.tyndalearchive.com/where the following titles are available:

Jastrow's Rabbinic Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary
- probably the best all-round dictionary for rabbinic literature

Gesenius' Biblical Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary
- not as good as some modern successors, but it easy to use because it is organised more by words as they occur, rather than by strict three-letter roots.

Crum's Coptic Dictionary - there aren't many Coptic dictionaries and I think this is still the best.

Payne-Smith's Syriac Dictionary
- still the standard work. I've added a Hebrew index for those who aren't familiar with Syriac font.

Wilson's Englishman's Hebrew Dictionary
- good for answering "What other Hebrew word might the author have used?"

I'm particularly proud of the Magnify Box which makes the pages easier to read than
the paper version. I use these all the time, even though I have the books on my shelf.
If you have a slow connection, the CDs can be purchased cheaply (details soon).
The CD pages display almost instantaneously, and zooming is as smooth as a video camera.

2) 2LetterLookup - lexicons for Biblical languages
2LetterLookup.com gives easy access to the key ancient languages for Biblical Studies.
- Hebrew/Aramaic
- Greek (OT & NT)
- Latin
- Syriac
- Coptic
- Akkadian

You only need to click on the two first letters of a word, on the displayed font.
This takes you to a list of possible words with simple meanings

Clicking on them takes you to the full text of the following real lexicons:
Full & Middle Liddell & Scott: Greek-English Lexicon
Gesenius: Hebrew & Chaldee (ie Aramaic) Lexicon
Jastrow: Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud & Midrashic Literature
W.E. Crum Coptic Dictionary
Payne-Smith: Compendious Syriac Dictionary
Wilson: Englishman's Hebrew Dictionary
Thayer: Greek Lexicon with verse vocabulary lists
Sahedic Coptic Dictionary (at CopticChurch)
Akkadian Dictionary (at The Hittite Grammar Homepage)

Weak Hebrew verbs (where a letter of the root is missing in some forms)
are particularly difficult to look up in a lexicon because of all the possibilities.
The 2LetterLookup automatically tries out all possibilities and lists the likely verbs.
Coptic and Syriac lexicons can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the fonts.
The 2LetterLookup adds the equivalent Greek and Hebrew fonts respectively,
so that Biblical Scholars have a quick insight into Coptic and Syriac.

You can also type in an English word to find all the definitions including that word.
This reverse lookup is valuable for exploring semantic domains and synonyms.
Some of the facilities of 2LetterLookup are provided by linking to other websites.

3) Other useful lexicons & dictionaries on the web

Milingo modern Hebrew dictionary (finds English, or pointed or unpointed Unicode Hebrew)
Don't be put off by the Hebrew interface. Just type in the box and press Enter.
Gives straightforward answers in English & pointed Hebrew, very quickly.
Historical Dictionary of the Hebrew Language (subscription site)
Virtually all classical Hebrew literature (incl. Qumran texts) linked to dictionary & morphological analysis.
Semantics of Ancient Hebrew Database (in development)
Detailed bibliography and careful scholarship.

Aramaic Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (needs fonts)
Difficult to use but full entries make it worth it.
Sokoloff's Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic
A little cumbersome to use, but worth it. This appears to be the full text.

Kalós (a free downloadable program for PCs & Macs)
25,000 definitions and morphological analysis.
Perseus Greek Morphology analysis
Analyses the word as it occurs in the text, not just the lemmas.
Demetrios - Database of Septuagint Greek (in development)
Scholarly articles on words (very little as yet)

Lewis & Short Latin Dictionary (hosted at Perseus)
Whitaker Words (free program for Macs & PCs)
Very fast dictionary with some morphology.
Perseus Latin Morphological Analysis
Analyses the word as it occurs in the text, not just the lemmas.

Other ancient languages:
Chicago Demotic Dictionary (incomplete)
Chicago Hittite Dictionary (only vols from P onwards)
Hittite Lexicon (on The Hittite Grammar Homepage)
Hieroglyph Dictionary
Old Babylonian Akkadian (provisional dictionary)
Sumerian Word List

English & modern languages:
Search 992 Online English Dictionaries at Once!
- 19 of them know the word "bodacious" (one of the better words invented by Americans).
Full Oxford English Dictionary (subscription)
Knows the word 'bodacious' but misunderstands it. The editors don't get out much.
Travlang's Translating Dictionaries - 35 modern languages
Useful for simple terms. It hasn't heard of 'bodacious' or 'eschatology'
and it can't translate 'capricious' into French though it can translate it into German!
YourDictionary - a seeming endless list of modern language dictionaries.
ForeignWord - a framed link to 275 online dictionaries. Neat.
The best dictionaries for the main 'theological' languages are probably:
German - knows 'bodacious' and 'eschatology'
Spanish - knows 'eschatology' but not 'bodacious'
French - a wiki project, which knows both 'bodacious' and 'eschatology'
Italian - knows 'eschatology' and 'bodacious'. Needs free registration.

01 April 2007

Biblical fonts and Mac woes - a solution.

The good news for everyone is that Unicode has solved all our font problems.
The bad news for Mac users is that Hebrew doesn't work properly in Word.
The really good news is that NeoOffice now works as well as Word, with Hebrew, for free!

Macintosh or PC for Biblical Studies?
Macs had a head start in Biblical Studies, because they could display Greek & Hebrew.
Actually, right-to-left Hebrew was already on the humble PCW thanks to a program I wrote.
But that's history, because the Mac and even the PC caught up.
The one thing which still makes the Mac stand out for Biblical Studies is Accordance.
Despite this, for several years I have been unable to recommend a Mac
for Biblical scholars because of the problems with Hebrew.
This is just about to get worse, though a solution is available (see below).

Update for PC users
By now most PC users have discovered how easy Hebrew & Greek has become.
Anyone with Windows XP and Word 2003 or better can use Unicode fonts, which
solve all the problems of compatibility, correct placement of pointing, and right-to-left.
If you haven't yet discovered all this, download the free Tyndale Unicode Kit
To insert Bible texts in Unicode, I recommend the free InsertBible tool
or download the free Unicode Greek & Hebrew Bibles as Word documents
from Tyndale House. Or export as Unicode from the latest BibleWorks. or Logos
It is easy to convert old fonts to Unicode a word or phrase at a time, free on the web, though
if you have a lot to convert, the Word-based conversion tool with Galaxie fonts works well.

Update to Unicode for Macs
Fonts on the Mac get better and better - here's the nerdy details. Except Unicode Hebrew.
When the whole world goes Unicode, any non-Unicode Greek & Hebrew will be unreadable.
Unicode fonts are wonderful - they all share the same coding, and they are intelligent.
Each Unicode font can have multiple languages - English, Greek, Hebrew etc.
So if you change to a different font, you don't mess up your Hebrew and Greek
(assuming you use an academic font with pointed Hebrew and accented Greek).
Mac OS X is fully Unicode compliant, so a lot of software uses Unicode already.
Browsers can read Unicode web sites, and Accordance exports Unicode perfectly.
Or you can copy & paste Unicode Bible texts from sites like CrossWire

The Mac version of the Tyndale Unicode Kit comes with Cardo Greek & Hebrew font
and the Mac now has the best keyboard editor (free from SIL).

Converting from old fonts to Unicode is free on the web though not perfect.
Linguist sells converters for their non-Unicode fonts, including Hebrew and Greek.
(for a 20% reduction, type "TyndaleTech referral" in the special instructions of their Order Form)

So what's the problem? Mac Word 2004 does not support Hebrew Unicode properly.
In Word 2004 Greek Unicode works fine, but Hebrew pointing and right-to-left gets messed up.
Things are worse with the new Intel Mac, on which Hebrew keyboards don't work in Word 2004
(though hopefully this will get fixed in OS updates). Will the next Word upgrade fix the mess?

Update to Office 2008 (but look before you leap)
Microsoft have made a whole new suite for OS X, See the official announcement at Microsoft
The new Word has a new format - OpenXML format. Eventually I think this will become
the standard format for all documents, like the DOC format has almost become.
BUT I haven't heard anything about whether it works properly with Hebrew.
I advise you do not upgrade to Word 2008, till you hear that right-to-left pointed Hebrew works.

Or, use free NeoOffice instead
NeoOffice is a Mac version of Open Office, which does everything MS Office does,
and more - because it can write pointed right-to-left Unicode Hebrew.
It costs nothing, so there is nothing to stop you trying it. Yes, it is FREE!
Or, use LaTeX - see help here.

PCs and other computers can use Open Office, which is virtually the same, and free.
You can open and save in many formats, including the native Word DOC format.
You can write or paste beautiful Hebrew, which you can then open in Word 2004
(but don't try editing the Hebrew in Mac Word 2004 - this has unpredictable results).
And NeoOffice even reads and writes in the new OpenXML format of Word X,
so you can pretend your document was written in Word X, if you wish.
One downside: Endnote doesn't work with NeoOffice or OpenOffice (yet).
I have recently found a few problems with pointed Hebrew, so if you are serious
about Hebrew, you might want to investigate Mellel which is capable of perfection.
Even if you continue with Word, I recommend you install NeoOffice or Mellel
to produce your Hebrew, then paste it into your Word document.
(Note: use "Copy without formatting" in Mellel).

Recommended step-by-step for Mac users
1) Download and install the Tyndale Unicode Kit and NeoOffice. Total cost: zero.
2) In Accordance: Set your Preferences for export of Greek & Hebrew
- put a check in the Unicode export box. Then select the text you want and Copy it.
Or, at Crosswire, highlight and copy the text in Unicode Greek or Hebrew
3) Paste the text into NeoOffice. Then select it and change the font to Cardo.
(This was installed with the Tyndale kit. Or use another academic Unicode font)
If you miss out this step, you sometimes get backwards Hebrew when the file is saved.
4) Save as a .doc file. You can now open it in Word. Or copy and paste into a Word document.
5) Don't try to edit it within Word - it is liable to mess up. Sometimes pointing doesn't look
quite right on the screen, but it should print OK in Word. Try printing something to make sure.
Have a go at writing in NeoOffice. You'll probably get used to it and might even prefer it to Word.

Finally, if you are a Mac fan and you want to feel good, see this review which says that
Mac OS X is much better than the new Windows Vista. But you already knew that :) .

01 January 2007

Searching for academic research on the web

Google is surprisingly useful even for academic research, but even
Google Scholar fails to find most of the important material.
The specialist databases are the key - and this is how to find them.

1) Finding articles and archives
2) Finding books and theses
3) Use the new IE7 Searchbox

1) Finding articles and archives
ATLA - the American Theological Library Association database is still the best source for English Biblical Studies and Theology, indexing books and about 500 journals, some back as far as 1949. If you or your institution can't afford it, the following are very good, and free.
Index theologicus (IxTheo) (Tübingen library).
Indexes 600 journals including many non-English titles not included in ATLA.
This has recently become a free online service being previously a subscription CD.
See also THEOLDI Bibliographic Database (Insbruck library) and BiBIL Biblical Bibliography (Lausanne library)
Some other databases which cover specialist areas very well:
GNOMON for Classics
AIGYPTOS for Egyptology
RAMBI for Jewish Studies
Orion for Dead Sea Scrolls
Reading the articles
Tyndale House has collected the links for academic Biblical Studies & Theology
including 138 academic journals with full online content, many of them free
and links to another 127 journals as well as information about the 400 titles we shelve.
We offer a photocopy service for any periodicals and books we hold.
Directory of Open Access Journals
This attempts to lists all journals with free internet access in all academic subjects.
Tyndale is better for Biblical Studies and Theology, but it has 2500 titles in other subjects!
OAIster collects the information which other databases forgot.
Indexes collections of documents, pictures, and archives from a huge number of sources.
If you need the private letters of an historic missionary, you should look here.

2) Finding books and theses
TynCat - the Tyndale Catalogue
If it is here, it is worth reading. If it isn't, quick links to other libraries will find it for you.
Records are formatted for pasting straight into your footnotes or bibliography.
The links to online reviews and online copies can save you days.
TynCat also has direct links to:
Library of Congress Catalogue - biggest English-language library catalogue in the world.
COPAC - 24 UK academic libraries in one searchable database, plus The British Library
For older publications:
English Short Title Catalogue - details of virtually every pre-1800 English publications
Early English Books Online - whole-book scans of a large proportion of the pre-1800 titles
(this needs a university link)

Finding a library
LibDex Libraries Index - geographical index of libraries
WorldCat - finds the nearest library which has the book you are looking for
Theses & Dissertations
The full texts of theses are only available from subscription sites
though often the titles and abstracts can be searched for free.
UMI / ProQuest has collected theses from the USA and some other countries.
See also African Theses British Theses French Theses

3) Use the new IE7 Searchbox
If you use Windows, your Internet Explorer has probably updated itself to v.7
One of its nicest features is the searchbox which you can set to whichever
search engine you like, or have a long drop-down list from which to select.

You can add anything you want - click on the down-arrow, then on
"Find more providers". On the right you can "create your own".

For really useful searches, paste the following into URL and Name,
then click on "Install" and on "Add Provider"
URL: http://www.ixtheo.de/cgi-bin/ixtheo/allegroeng.pl?db=ixtheo&var2=TIT&item2=TEST
Name: Title Words in Articles
This will search the Tübingen library for articles with these words in the title in
* 600 journals in Biblical Studies and Theology in major languages
* 500 multi-author works (including Festschriften) per year

URL: http://www.TynCat.com/bookbar.htm?&Title=TEST&Loc=USA&Site=TynCat
Name: Title Words in Books
This will search the Tyndale library for books with these words in the title, and also
provide buttons to:
* search other libraries for these title words
* find the cheapest price among 1000+ vendors for this book
* look for reviews of the book,
* look for online versions of the book
Hint: Don't type in the whole title - only a couple of significant words.

01 November 2006

Finding the right web Bible tool for the job.

NET Bible have raised the standard for web Bible tools with their NeXt Bible.
It does almost everything you want, and fast. Of course it can't touch the big boys
like Accordance, BibleWorks, Logos etc, but unlike them, it is free.
There are other free web Bible tools which do some things better than NeXt.
Here are the best of the best, so you can find the right tool for your next study.

The NeXt Bible is probably now the best tool for most general Bible study
* NET Bible with full notes, plus the major commercial Bibles (incl. NIV, NKJV, NLT)
* Basic lexicon & concordance within easy reach
* Proper Greek & Hebrew fonts with easy installation tool
This is a new tool with a few problems, but it looks like it will go very far.

The Sword is the best tool for comparing original texts and translations
* almost every free Bible and many commercial Bibles can be selected in parallel
* Greek & English Bibles tagged to for parsing and simple lexicons (incl. LXX, NA27, NASV)
* tagged words link to a concordance search based on the original Hebrew or Greek
* click on a word to highlight every word derived from the same Greek or Hebrew original

The BlueLetter Bible is the tool for doing quick lexical studies
* easy access to full lexicon entries in Thayer and Gesenius with a brief preview
* no font problems because it uses multiple images and scans - surprisingly fast
* useful concordance search based on Greek & Hebrew.

ZHubert is the best tool for Greek lexicon analysis [currently being rebuilt]
* links to full Liddel & Scott and shorter lexicons, with bar charts for NT usage.
* readable hover details (better than interlinear)
* displays a chosen verse in a scan of Sinaiticus
* complex searches, eg noun A with verb B as aorist participle. (Not yet friendly enough).

Laparola is the best tool for NT Greek variants and textual criticism
* All the data from Nestle-Aland & United Bible Societies editions, and more.
* You can arrange sources chronologically, by text type or by type of manuscript
* Quotations and Allusions from the Fathers can be usually be read in context
* You can even find all variants in one manuscript and compare them with another manuscript
Note: ZHubert presents the same data in a prettier form, though with less flexibility.

For the specialist Biblical Scholars:
The Tanak verse analyser displays the structure of Massoretic punctuation diagramatically.
Tyndale Unicode Bibles - Greek and Hebrew texts as Word docs which you can copy and paste.
(this needs Unicode fonts - get a free fonts with Tyndale installer and keyboard)
Links to all English Bibles on the web - for those who can't get enough translations.
Links to facsililies and editions on the web, in Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Latin etc.

01 September 2006

Time-saving tools for writing

I'm just about to start the third volume in my TRENT series, so my thoughts are
partly on how to save time in the writing process. Here are my best tips.
The best bit comes first - if you do nothing else, get the InsertBible tool.

1) InsertBible tool
2) Pen Scanner
3) Summary and Bibliography
4) Speed tips for Word

1) InsertBible tool

Michael Stead unveiled a wonderful new tool at the Tyndale Fellowship conference.
It inserts a Bible verse or passage into a Word document in several versions:
* ESV (including footnotes in curly brackets) & RSV
* MT (corrected BHS, plain, or pointed or with full Masoretic markings)
* NA27 (same as NA26 and UBS3/4)
* Translitteration of MT & NA27 Hebrew and Greek (with full accents etc)
* LXX (Rhalf's, I guess, but Quinta looks as if it will be very similar)
* Vulgate (well, why not? Useful for historians if no-one else).
* Inserts as a series of paragraphs, or as a table
* Versification to match the versions used.
This works well in Word 2003, but struggles elsewhere, even though theoretically
it should be OK in all versions of Word (we've heard that from MS before!).
The Settings allow you to pick the fonts to use. I recommend you get Cardo and
use that for them all - it is a Unicode font which has Hebrew, Greek, transliteration,
and looks good for English too. Get it as part of the free Tyndale Unicode kit
at http://www.tyndalehouse.com/Fonts.htm
He is offering this to the academic community FREE, and has negotiated free access
for us with the various copyright holders. All we have to do is send a signed fax
which we can printout from his website at http://stead.streetlinemedia.com/
This is a no-brainer if you use Word 2003on a PC. Do it now
(though it is a 12Mb download, so make sure you are on a fast connection).
If you use Word on a Mac, just keep badgering MS to bring out a version which works properly with Unicode.

2) Pen Scanner
When I read library books, I highlight key phrases with a pen.
Before you call the Librarian, I'd better add that I use a pen scanner.
Just draw it over a sentence and the words are ready for your computer.
Note: they only works for European fonts, not for Greek & Hebrew.

There are several pen-scanners available.
Some only work when connected to a computer which runs the software
eg C -Pen 20, Iris Pen
Some work away from the computer (much more convenient), though you
can also link to a computer and insert directly into a document,
eg C-Pen 600, C-Pen 800, Wizcom Elite or InfoScan
For some reason, Amazon appears to be the best place to buy these. Search for "Pen scanner"
I recommend the C-Pen 600 or 800 (http://www.cpen.com/) - pricey and hard to find, but worth it.
The Optical Character Recognition software is very fast and accurate.
You can add dictionaries, eg German, to give you instant translations for a word you scan
Note: I find the batteries drain, so I flip up one end of the batteries when not in use.
If you want to scan lots of text, you need a flatbed scanner. I recently saw someone using
the wonderful HP ScanJet 4670, which is like a piece of glass you place on top of a book.
Much faster than constantly turning the book over in order to turn to the next page.

3) Summary and Bibliography
You were probably told this at Junior school: Write summaries of what you read.
And add page numbers - you know how much time this would have saved in the past.
I use an endless Word file - easy to search and copy and edit.
I include full bibliographic details in a "Heading 2" style (click on Style in the Formatting toolbar)
- then I can search the bibliography separately from the summaries
(eg click on "Find" - "More" - "Format" - "Style" - "Heading 2")
- or I can view just the bibliography data
(eg click on "View" - "Outline", then click on "2" in the outlining toolbar which appears)
I use Heading 1 for subject areas, so I can display only the entries in a particular subject.
Or you could put your summary in your Endnote database, if you find that quicker.
If Endnote slows down your computer, try adding extra memory.

4) Speed tips for Word
Use abbreviations which automatically expand as you type
eg when you are writing an article about the eschatological banquet,
set up an abbreviation ".et" which automatically expands when you write it:
1) type "eschatological banquet" and highlight it
2) click on "Tools" then on "Auto-correct" and type ".eb" in the Replace box
3) click on "Add" then "OK" and try it out - just type ".eb" then hit the spacebar
Note: The abbreviations are case-sensitive, so ".EB" can abbreviate something different
The abbreviations don't have to start with a dot, but this works better for various reasons.
Use Styles. They are powerful and necessary for book-long projects.
- turn on the Style area so you can see what you are doing
(click on "Tools", "Options", "View" and type "0.5" in the "Style Area Width")
- to format or create a style, double-click on the name in the left-hand Style Area.
- Click on "View" - "Normal" to see the style area, or "View" - "Print" to hide it
- assign a style for chapter headings and paragraph headings, paragraphs & quotes,
- apply them rigorously and try to avoid adding other formatting
Use exact line spacing
- exact line spacing for footnotes fixes a bug in Word97 which reappears if someone
accidentally opens and edits your document in Word97. So best to do it for all documents.
Footnotes can appear on the wrong page or flow wrongly without this fix.
- to do this, double-click on "Footnote" in the "Style Area" (see previous note)
then click on "Modify", "Format", "Paragraph". Select "Line spacing"="Exactly"
- exact spacing also prevents Hebrew or Greek fonts making a wide line when they are used,
so exact spacing is useful for the main text as well.
Use Unicode fonts for Greek & Hebrew - this will future-proof your work
- get the free Tyndale Unicode kit at http://www.tyndalehouse.com/Fonts.htm
Use formatting in Find and Replace- to find all Italics: click on "Find" and press Ctrl-I.
- to find all Arial font, click on "Find", "More", "Format", "Font" and type "Arial"
Use Tracking and Compare Document for editing
- click on "Tools", "Track changes" to mark changes as you make them
- another person can quickly find them, and accept or reject them.
- if tracking has not been used, to compare an edited text with the original,
click on "Tools", "Compare" and find the other document.
(Note: it is best to use a copy of your document when comparing with another)
Indexing - follow the instructions at http://www.tyndalehouse.com/TTech/TTech006.htm
Use Tables instead of columns, then make the lines invisible
- tables give you much more freedom for formatting and editing

01 May 2006

Bibles in English and ancient-languages on the web

We now have so many Bibles on the web it can take a long time to find the best.
I have hunted out all the versions available, and made a link for each one with the
best facilities for searching and study (such as links to lexicons & parsing).
I made this list while revamping the Tyndale links for Biblical Studies
and while writing a new page summarising Bible Software.
My most exciting discovery was La Parola's wonderful Greek NT with the
major Greek editions, variants, lexicons, allusions and MS comparisons.

1) English Translations on the Web
2) Original-Language Bibles
3) Web sites for Bible Study
4) Original-Language Texts to download as Word documents

1) English Translations on the Web

21st Century King James Version
A Conservative Version
American Standard Version
Amplified Bible
Analytical-Literal Translation NT
The Apostles' Bible (OT)
The Bible in Basic English
Bible in Worldwide English NT
Bishop's Bible (1568)
Brit Chadasha NT (Orthodox Jewish)
The Common Edition NT
The Complete Jewish Bible
Coverdale Bible (1535)
Contemporary English Version
Daniel Mace NT (1729)
Darby Translation
Disciples NT translated from Aramaic
Douay-Rheims American Edition
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision
Easy-to-Read Version
English Jubilee 2000 Bible
English Majority Text Version NT
English Standard Version
Geneva Bible (1587)
GOD'S WORD translation
Good News Translation
Great Bible (1540) (subscription)
Hebrew Names Version
Holman Christian Standard Bible
J B Phillip's NT
Jewish Publication Society 1917 version
International Standard Version
King James Version (modern edition)
King James Bible (1611)
Klingon Language Version of the World English Bible
Literal Translation Version (Green)
The Living Oracles NT
The Message
Matthew's Bible (1549) (subscription)
Modern King James Version (Green's Translation)
Modern Literal Version
Montgomery NT
New American Bible
New English Transation (NET Bible, with full notes)
New American Standard
New Century Version
New English Bible (subscription)
New International Reader’s Version
New International Version
New International Version (UK)
New King James Version
New Life Version
New Living Translation
New Revised Standard
The People's NT by B. W. Johnson (1891)
Revised King James NT
Revised Standard Version
Richard Challoner Bible (1750-52) (subscription)
Rotherham's Bible (=Emphasized Bible)
Sawyer NT (1858) (subscription)
Third Millennium Bible
Today's English Version (=Good News)
Today's New International Version
Twentieth Century NT
Tyndale Bible (1525/1530)
Websters Bible
Wesley NT (1755)
West Saxon Gospels (990) (1175) (subscription)
Weymouth NT
World English Bible
World English Bible (latest version)
Worldwide English NT
Wycliffe NT
Wycliffe Bible (1395)
Young's Literal Translation
Other languages here and here and here

What's the easiest to read?
The Message. This is an intelligently prepared paraphrase which sometimes gets to the meaning better than a word-for-word or even a dynamic equivalent translation. This web version is linked to handy commentaries.

What's the most useful?
The New American Standard. This modern word-for-word translation is usefully tagged for the underlying Hebrew and Greek. Click on a word for a simple lexicon.

What's the strangest?
The Klingon translation based on fictional language of the battle-loving Klingons on Star Trek. Fans have created a 'real' language and done a word-by-word replacement. It is interesting to see which words do not exist in Klingon (so they remain in English) - words like 'forgiveness' and 'grace'.

What's the most valuable?
The William Tyndale translation. It can be claimed that Tyndale influenced the English language more than Shakespeare, with memorable phrases like Let there be light" and "the powers that be". A million copies of his New Testament were printed but only two complete copies survived Henry VIII's wrath, and they are now worth millions.

What's Missing from this list?
- Tyndale House holds more than 100 English translations, thanks to Duane Duff.

2) Original-Language Bibles

Hebrew Old Testament
Scholars mainly use the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS) which is based on the Leningrad Codex (aka St Petersburg Codex). When this text was digitised by the Westminster Hebrew Institute, they took the opportunity to 'correct' the BHS to follow the Leningrad codex more faithfully. The BHS is important for the critical apparatus, though it is now being supplanted by the Quinta which is also based on the Leningrad Codex. The Aleppo Codex is older and often considered superior (though there are not many differences with the Leningrad Codex) but almost all the Pentateuch has been lost.

Aleppo Codex:
Facsimile of original. Downloadable text.
Searchable text: (unpointed, linked to lexicon & grammar, with parallel English)
Leningrad Codex (Westminster ed):
Facsimile of original (nowhere on the web). Downloadable text.
Searchable text: (pointed, linked to lexicon & grammar, with parallel English) (Massoretic structure) (search in Unicode)

Greek New Testament
Thousands of ancient copies of the New Testament have survived. This enviable situation (which is unparalleled in other ancient literature) has enabled scholars to study copying errors in detail. Three main types of text have resulted from these studies, though their differences are minor.
The Textus Receptus is based on the first edition of the Greek text prepared by Erasmus, before the earliest manuscripts had been discovered. It forms the basis of the earliest English Bibles, notably the King James Bible. It is still used by many because it contains the long reading of 1 John 5.7 which is first found in a Greek manuscript penned a short time before Erasmus published his edition - it was said to have been prepared especially for this purpose!
Most scholars use the Nestle-Alund or United Bible Society text which gives preference to the oldest manuscripts (mainly Vaticanus B and Sinaiticus) and to the papyri from the first three centuries. Decisions about which reading was original is based on which one was most likely to cause scribes to produce the others. The latest editions (NA27 / UBS3) have identical texts with different critical apparatus. The text has remained unchanged since NA26 & UBS3 and will remain unchanged in the next editions. This is very similar to earlier editions by Westcott & Hort, Tischendorf and Weiss, who all followed the same guidelines.
Some scholars use the Majority Text which gives more-or-less equal weight to a much wider number of manuscripts up to about 1500. Decisions about which reading was original is based mainly on the largest number of manuscripts which contain that reading.

Original Manuscripts:
Major Codexes: Sinaiticus, Vaticanus B, Bezae, Alexandrinus. (only Bezea is freely available on the web)
Papyri, minuscules etc: (complete list) (images & discussion of many)
Editions from multiple manuscripts:
Textus Receptus unaccented, searchable, linked to lexicon & grammar, linked to parallel English
Tischendorf's 8th Ed unaccented, searchable, with parallel English
Westcott & Hort: unaccented with NA27 variants, searchable, linked to lexicon & grammar, with linked parallel English
accented, searchable, linked to lexicon & grammar, with parallel English
accented, searchable, linked to full L&S lexicon
NA27/UBS3 unaccented, searchable, linked to lexicon & grammar
accented, searchable, linked to lexicon & grammar
Majority Text unaccented, searchable, linked to lexicon & grammar, with parallel English
Variants NA26 with variants marked
interactive apparatus (incomplete)
Nestle-Alund new 'full' apparatus (incomplete)
5 parallel eds
textual commentary
list of variants
All of the above: major eds with allusions, variants, linked to grammar and very good lexicons - scholar's heaven!

Ancient Translations - originals & English translations
OT Greek Translation (Septuagint, LXX):
Original manuscripts: Facsimiles - (ID="any" Password = "any")
Rahlf's Text: unaccented, searchable, linked to lexicon & grammar, with parallel English)
Ecclesiastical Greek: download interlinear in pdfs
Translation by Brenton: English, searchable Revised

OT Aramaic Paraphrase (Tragums):
All Targums in Aramaic: pointed or translitterated
Pentateuch trans by Etheridge: Ps-Jonathan & Onkelos: English only
Psalms & Megillot trans by E M Cook and others: English only

OT & NT Syriac Translation (Peshitta):
OT: transliterated or unpointed, linked to lexicon
NT: unpointed, searchable, with parallel English
pointed with interlinear English
transliterated or unpointed, linked to lexicon
Syraic & Hebrew font, with interlinear English
NT trans by Murdoch: English with parallel Syriac English only
NT trans by Etheridge: English only
OT trans by Lamsa: English only

OT & NT Latin Translation (Old Latin & Vulgate)
Vulgate searchable, with parallel English proximity searches

3) Web sites for Bible Study
A pick of the best:

The Sword online is becoming the best Bible on the web. Its Web 2 programming gives almost-instant pop-up lexicons and parsing. eg see OT in parallel Greek, Hebrew & English LXX & MT or NT in parallel Greek & English with linked parsing
BlueLetter Bible - OT & NT, very good links incl. full Thayer and Gesenius lexicons
StudyLight - Hebrew BHS, LXX, NA26, linked to lexicons, with English. Fast.
Greek NT with Variants - multiple Greek editions & MSS, with variants, linked to very good lexical aids.
ZHubert - Greek parsing and vocab of LXX and NT, which is sooo easy on the eye. [currently being rebuilt]
Perseus Greek NT - W&H ed. with links to superb lexicons & grammatical analysis. (If down, try Chicago, Berlin, Oxford)
BibleBrowser - nice multi-version concordance, and lexicons linked to Hebrew & Greek. Useful layout.
OliveTree Bibles - search Greek & Hebrew, eg seach for hilasmos
NT Gateway All-in-One: gives easy access to lots of Bible versions and translations on various sites

4) Original-Language Texts to download as Word documents
Hebrew OT with vowels
BHS corrected to the Leningrad Codex
Greek LXX with accents
Based on Rahlfs text
Greek-Hebrew LXX & MT in parallel
A Unicode version of Tov's electronic edition
Greek NT with accents (NA27/UBS4 family)
(UBS3, UBS4, NA26, NA27, and the coming NA28 all use the same text, though UBS & NA use slightly different orthography)

01 April 2006

Translation software: free or cheap

Translation software is normally free or expensive, though it is coming down in price,
and I've found a very special limited offer (see below). At Tyndale I've linked our scanner
software to open a translation package automatically when a page is saved. It reads
your German book for you almost as easily as a dishwasher cleans your crockery. Well,
not quite - you still have to read the translation, and the English isn't always very good.

I put various translation tools to the test. I picked the best from the web
(there's lots of similar sites out there, but there are only a few different engines)
and one commercial program (which I picked because it was cheap).

I tested them with John 1.1-14 from Luther's Bible. A difficult passage, you'll agree.
For a quick comparison, just look at v.14 of each version.
On the whole I liked their rendition better than most English versions, because
"the Word became meat" has the shock value which John was trying to convey.
You will notice that the inferior programs don't manage to translate "ward" in v.14 as "became".
None of them produce good English, but it is good enough for you to find your way around.

Here is the RSV (to remind you what the software is aiming to produce):
1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2: He was in the beginning with God;
3: all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
4: In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7: He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.
8: He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
9: The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.
10: He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.
11: He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.
12: But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God;
13: who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

Here is Luther's version:
1. Im Anfang war das Wort, und das Wort war bei Gott, und Gott war das Wort.
2. Dasselbe war im Anfang bei Gott.
3. Alle Dinge sind durch dasselbe gemacht, und ohne dasselbe ist nichts gemacht, was gemacht ist.
4. In ihm war das Leben, und das Leben war das Licht der Menschen.
5. Und das Licht scheint in der Finsternis, und die Finsternis hat's nicht ergriffen.
6. Es war ein Mensch, von Gott gesandt, der hieß Johannes.
7. Der kam zum Zeugnis, um von dem Licht zu zeugen, damit sie alle durch ihn glaubten.
8. Er war nicht das Licht, sondern er sollte zeugen von dem Licht.
9. Das war das wahre Licht, das alle Menschen erleuchtet, die in diese Welt kommen.
10. Er war in der Welt, und die Welt ist durch ihn gemacht; aber die Welt erkannte ihn nicht.
11. Er kam in sein Eigentum; und die Seinen nahmen ihn nicht auf.
12. Wie viele ihn aber aufnahmen, denen gab er Macht, Gottes Kinder zu werden, denen, die an seinen Namen glauben,
13. die nicht aus dem Blut noch aus dem Willen des Fleisches noch aus dem Willen eines Mannes, sondern von Gott geboren sind.
14. Und das Wort ward Fleisch und wohnte unter uns, und wir sahen seine Herrlichkeit, eine Herrlichkeit als des eingeborenen Sohnes vom Vater, voller Gnade und Wahrheit.

Here is Google's translation of Luther - http://www.google.com/language_tools
1. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and God was the word.
2. The same was in the beginning with God.
3. All things are made by the same, and without the same nothing is made, what is made.
4. In it was the life, and the life was the light of humans.
5. And the light shines in the darkness, and those darkness hat's did not seize.
6. Humans, by God, were sent were called Johannes.
7. That came to the certification, in order to witness from the light to, so that they believed all by it.
8. It was not the light, but it should witness from the light.
9. That was the true light, which illuminates all humans, who come into this world.
10. It was in the world, and the world is made by it; but the world did not recognize it.
11 He came into his property; and the its did not take up it.
12. Like many however accepted it, to those gave he power to become God of children those, which believed in its names,
13. not from the blood still from the will of the meat still from the will of a man, but are born of God.
14. And the word ward meat * and lived among us, and we saw its glory, a glory as the native of son of the father, full grace and truth.

Here is Babel Fish's translation - http://babelfish.altavista.com/
1 in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and God was the word.
2 the same was in the beginning with God.
3 all things is made by the same, and without the same nothing is made, what is made.
4 in it was the life, and the life was the light of humans.
5 and the light seems in the darkness, and those darkness hat's did not seize.
6 humans, by God, were sent were called Johannes.
7 came to the certification, in order to witness from the light to, so that they believed all by it.
8 it was not the light, but it should witness from the light.
9 that was the true light, which illuminates all humans, who come into this world.
10 it was in the world, and the world is made by it; but the world did not recognize it.
11 it came into his property; and the its did not take up it.
12 like many however accepted it, gave to those he power to become God of children those, which believed in its names,
13 not from the blood still from the will of the meat still from the will of a man, but of God is born.
14 and the word ward meat * and lived among us, and we saw its glory, a glory as the native of son of the father, full grace and truth.

Here is Free Translation's translation - http://freetranslation.com/
1. In the beginning, the word was, and the word was with God, and God was the word.
2. The Same was in the beginning with God.
3. All things are made through the same, and without the same, is nothing made, what is made.
4. In it, the life was, and the life was the light of the persons.
5. And the light does not seem seized in the darkness, and the darkness it.
6. a person was sent It, of God, was named that Johannes.
7. that came showed to the testimony, around of the light to so that they believed all through it.
8. It the light was not, but rather it should showed of the light.
9. the true light that all persons illuminates was that, who come into this world.
10. It was in the world, and the world is not made through it; but the world recognized it.
11. It did not arise into its property; and that his took it.
12. Like many of it however received, gave born are which it power to become God of children, which that believe in its name,
13th that not out of the blood yet out of the will of the meat yet out of the will of a man, but rather by God.
14. And the word meat became* and lived under us, and we saw its glory, a glory as the innate son of the father, full grace and truth.

If you want to try these and others all at once, go to http://translation.langenberg.com/

Here is the translation of Luther by Tr@nslation Plus
1. The word was in the beginning, and the word was with God, and God was the word.
2. The same was in the beginning with God.
3. All things are through the same done, and nothing done, which is done, is without the same. *
4. The life was in him/it, and the life was the light of the people.
5. And the light seems in the darkness, and the darkness didn't seize it.
6. It was Johannes a human being, sent by God, that was called.
7. He/it got the certificate, in order to testify to the light, so that they all believed through him/it.
8. He/it was not should testify to the light the light but he/it.
9. That was the true light, that all people illuminate, that come into this world.
10. He/it was in the world, and the world is done through him/it; however the world didn't recognize him/it.
11. He/it came into his/its property; and this his/its didn't pick up him/it.
12. How however, many picked up him/it that gave he/it power, to become God's children, that that believes at his/its name
13. this not from the blood still from the will of the meat still from a man's will but from God born is.
14. And the word became meat * and lived confidentially, and we saw his/its glory, a glory as the innate son of the father, full of mercy and truth.

My conclusion:
FreeTranslation.com is the best of the freebies
. It has a limit of about 750 words at a time.
Google is very fast and almost as good and appears to have no limit (or a very large one).
Tr@nslation Plus is often a little better and has no word limit though it can be slow and it isn't free.
It translates to and from French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese
It has some extra features which web versions don't have such as
* it can analyze text - provides word-by-word breakdown
* it maintains formatting of the original with save as DOC or RTF
* it has a lookup dictionary with basic morphological information
* you can add vocabulary to the dictionary (if you have the patience)

Serif is selling Tr@nslation Plus for PC for £40
There are lots of other programs for sale for PCs.
For details by someone who understands the needs of Biblical scholars, see
http://www.bmsoftware.com/translation/ (includes Hebrew translation software)
For Macs things are more expensive. I haven't tried any of the following:
Easy Translator http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/home_learning/easytranslatorformacosx.html - FREE
NeuroTran - http://www.tranexp.com/mac/ about $150 per language
Reverso Pro http://www.worldlanguage.com/Products/100232.htm $400

My advice:
For occasional translation, use the free programs on the web.
If you have books and articles to read, buy a scanner and a translation program.
If you are writing a business letter or a love letter, don't rely on translation software.

01 March 2006

Free Scholarly Texts for your Palm

I feel lost without my Palm. I can survive without its diary, word processor,
reminders and most of the books, but the Bibles are indispensable.
It is so much faster to look up a Hebrew word or find a text on a Palm
than to open up a book or a laptop program. I use BiblePlus which also has
extra-biblical books, linked lexicons and parallel windows.
And the price couldn't be better: Free.

Like many free programs, the best utilities are dispersed all over the web.
So I have collected my favorites together into a Tyndale Kit for BiblePlus on Palms.
Of course you need a Palm. And if you don't have one, I suggest that
you get one with Palm OS5 and an SD card slot (for extra memory).

1) Why you need BiblePlus on a Palm, and what else you might use
2) The models of Palm available, and some guide prices to aim for
3) Instructions for downloading and installing BiblePlus software
4) More texts to download

1) Why you need BiblePlus on a Palm
BiblePlus is a must for Biblical Studies
* lots of scholarly Bibles & tools - all FREE. Not always the best, but very good.
* English translations: ESV, RSV, WEB (modernized ASV) and lots more.
* Hebrew BHS texts with pointed Hebrew & number-linking to lexicons
* Greek LXX NA27/USB3 with accents, parsing & number-linking to lexicons
* Aramaic Targums (Neofiti, Ps.Jon. & Onkelos) and English translations.
* Syriac NT (& English) in easy-to-read Hebrew font and English translation.
* Josephus in English & Greek, (Loeb & traditional refs) and Philo (English)
* Early Church Fathers (English); Nag Hammadi texts (English)
* Commentaries and other books, both scholarly & devotional

You can see two translations at once, eg Greek LXX with English LXX,
or Greek Josephus with English translation, or Hebrew OT with LXX.
You can also search, keep bookmarks, and append notes to passages.
The modules are tricky to find on the web, and the fonts are almost impossible to
match with the texts, but I've done all the work for you - see below.
If you don't have enough tools in the Tyndale Kit, sign up for free membership
at Chan's wonderful site at http://www.thechan.com/ and get some more.
Read a full review of BiblePlus at http://www.bsreview.org/bplus.htm

If you find this free software inadequate, there are lots of packages you can buy.
See the summary of Palm software for Christians at
I recommend OliveTree. And look out for Bible With You (it is becoming very good)
See this comparative review of BiblePlus and other Palm Bible software

2) The models of Palm available

Should you get a Palm or Pocket PC?
* BiblePlus is only available for Palms though other (costly) software works on both.
* Palms are cheaper, becasue the operating system is more efficient
(so it doesn't need such a powerful processor and the battery can last longer)
* Pocket PCs do have built-in compatibility with Work and Excel, but
"Documents To Go" (bundled with many Palms) has arguably better compatibility
with Word & Excel, and Wordsmith even shows TTF Greek & Hebrew fonts.
(These programs are also available on the Pocket PC)
* Palms are being made by a decreasing number of manufacturers,
so they may eventually disappear. But that's what they said about the Mac
* Palms (except Sony) use SD cards - put your camera SD in it and you can see
your photos on a large bright screen. (Some Pocket PCs also have SD).
See a detailed comparison of Palm v PocketPC

Which Palm should I buy? (show this to your loved one before your birthday)
Requirements to get the best out of BiblePlus
- hi res screen - ie 320x320 or the larger 320x480, rather than the old 160x160
- expandable memory - ie an SD slot, to hold all those Bibles & Commentaries
(128 MB should be plenty - each Bible is only about 3 MB)
- OS5 - ie the latest Palm operating system, necessary for the latest software
(if you don't have all these, use the earlier versions of BiblePlus.
See the previous notes at http://www.tyndalehouse.com/TTech/TTech021.htm

The following Palms have all these features, in approximate order of ordinary to special:
The guide prices were the cheapest on Froogle.com and Froogle.co.uk in March 2006.
Most are cheaper in the US, some are cheaper in the UK. I don't know why.
Normal size screen:
Palm Tungsten C: $330 £120
Palm Tungsten T & T2 : $230 £150
Palm Tungsten E2: $160 £120
Normal size screen plus a camera:
Palm Zire 71: $130 £130
Palm Zire 72: $230 £170
Extra 50% screen size:
Palm Tungsten T3: $400 £180
Palm Tungsten T5: $330 £250
Extra 50% screen size plus WiFi:
Palm Tungsten TX: $300 £200
Normal size screen plus a phone (unlocked - use a cheap pay-as-you-go sim card):
Handspring Treo 650: $500 £400
Some of these models are now discontinued and are often available
very cheaply on eBay, sometimes new with guarantees.
Sony Palms have wonderful features, but can be difficult to find outside Japan.

I recommend those models which have non-volatile memory
(so you don't lose unsaved data if the battery dies)
- ie the Tungsten E2, T5, TX and Treo 650.
Print out this section and give it to someone who loves you very much
a week before your birthday.

3) Downloading and installing BiblePlus software
As well as these Instructions see the list of sources and licence notes

To install the BiblePlus modules:
1) Start up Palm Quick Install- either from Start: Programs: Palm
- or click on Install in Palm Desktop
(or on a Mac, find the 'Send to Handheld' icon)
The programs and modules are in zip folders which open automatically in Win'XP
If you can't open zip folders, get a free expander for Mac or PC from Stuffit
2) Download and double-click on Program_Fonts.zip
- click on 'extract all files' at the top left
- click Next, Next, tick 'Show Extracted Files', and Finish.
- highlight all the files and drag them to the 'Handheld'
area of the Palm Install window.
3) Download and Right-click on Bibles.zip
- click on 'extract all'
- click Next, Next, tick 'Show Extracted Files', and Finish.
- highlight all the files and drag them to the 'Expansion Card' area
or, if this doesn't exist for your palm, to the 'Handheld'
- this is a total of about 19Mb. If you don't have much room,
choose which ones you want from list of sources
4) If you want the Lexicons, repeat no.2 for LexiconPrograms.zip,
and repeat no.3 for Lexicons.zip.
5) If you want more than just Bibles, repeat no. 3 for
Commentaries.zip (just a coupld of scholarly ones)
Extra-Biblical.zip (Philo, Josephus, Nag Hammadi etc)
6) Synchronise your palm.
7) Run the new Bible+ program
8) Enable the fonts:
- go to menu Options: Skins & Plugins
- the top box should contain:
PB Greek 21
If they are in the bottom box, highlight them and click 'Enable'
If others are in the top box, highlight them and click 'Disable'
These three fonts work well together. You can try other mixtures.
Don't enable too many at once, because they can conflict with each other.
9) Enable the cross references
- go to menu: Options: Preferences: Navigation
- tick 'Enable Cross References'
10) Enable the lexicons
- start PPI, select RoadLingua as the program to look up, and click Save.
- start Plucker. Go to the menu Options: Preferences: Lookup. Select "Look up in PPI."
- tick "Word lookup always active". Now you can tap on a word to look it up
- start BiblePlus. Click on menu: Options: Preferences: Interface,
and tick "Double Tap PPI"

Using the Bibles & Lexicons:
To see cross-references, double-click on the verse number.
To see the Greek & Hebrew parsing & vocab numbers (in BHS+, LXX and WH+)
use the menu View: Toggle footnotes, or type Command-n (ie forward-slash - n)
To use the lexicons tap on a Hebrew or Greek number (in BHS+, LXX and WH+)
or on a Latin word in the Vulgate.
If RoadLingua opens in the wrong dictionary, change it.
Click on "Hide" to return to BiblePlus.
Further instructions in the BiblePlus Manual
and for the lexicons in the RoadLinguaManual

4) More texts to download
McLean - esp. for Islamic and extrabiblical texts, as well as many Bibles
Sudbury BC - esp. for Hebrew fonts in various sizes
Joseph Park - the first to produce original-language Bibles
Chan - a vast collection of everything
Darlack - esp. for Philo in Greek & a converter for Hebrew texts
NTCS - for Targums
Mechon - for Jewish texts, incl. the whole of Maimonides' Mishnah Torah
Chumash - Torah + Rashi's commentary.

01 February 2006

You too can read the Syriac Bible

One of the first translations of the Bible was the Syriac, which makes it very important
for textual criticism and early Church history.
Don’t be put off by the Syriac script – it is the Hebrew alphabet written in a different way.
Here is Matt.1.1 in Syriac, converted into Hebrew characters:

The "de-" prefix means "of", and a final aleph is the definite article, as in Aramaic.
diliduth is equivalent to toledoth, "generations", which divides up Genesis at 2.4, 5.1, 10.1 etc.
Now you can read it:
Kathava [‘the writing’, as in ketiv & qire] diLidutheh [‘of generations’] deYeshu‘a meshicha [‘of Yeshua the Messiah’] bareh deDavid bareh deAbraham.[‘son of David, son of Abraham’].
You can read Syriac! – well, at least you can find your way around.

To help you further, I have added a Hebrew index to a scholarly Syriac lexicon
and put the whole lexicon on the web at http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/PayneSmith/

1) Syraic Peshitta & English Translations
2) Learn Syriac and learn about the Peshitta
3) Lexicons and lookup dictionaries for Syriac

1) Syraic Peshitta & English Translations

English translations
Lamsa’s translation of OT & NT Peshitta:
Murdock’s translation of NT Peshitta:
Etheridge translation of NT Peshitta:
A new translation of OT & NT by the Nazaraean Church of Jerusalem
http://www.catholicospatriarch.org/eastern_collexion/ (not yet complete)
(see http://www.nasrani-patriarchate.org/eng/ to find out about this church)
Syriac Text
Syriac NT in beautiful unicode font, to read on the web
Syriac New Testament to download, with fonts,
in 2 different Syriac font types (Serto, Estrangelo) and in Unicode.
Interlinear Syriac - English Gospels & Acts
Syriac text with lexical and parsing help
Syriac OT - the BTR text (ie Milan MS) as published by Brill.
OT at http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/Peshitta.notice.html - sign the agreement with your email address
NT at http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/cgi-bin/show.browsedialects.cgi?R1=6 - with various extra-biblical Syriac texts.
Most browsers can view these in Unicode, or use the fonts at http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/fonts/fontinfo.html
Syriac in a Hebrew fontNT Peshitta in pointed Hebrew square script
or download for your Palm at http://www.wjsp.net/pb_prim.html
Interlinear English & Syriac Peshitta NT with Hebrew square script
http://peshitta.info/gospel/matthew_1.htm - used to be at http://www.ultimasurf.net/bible/aramaic/
Only the start of the translation is available. It will be complete in a few months - worth waiting for.

2) Learn Syriac and learn about the Peshitta
Teach yourself Assyrian ( ancient and 'modern' Syriac) http://www.assyrianlanguage.com/
- 160 lessons, from the alphabet to complex verbal conjugations.
History of the Syriac OT & NT – according to the Syriac Orthodox Church.
Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies - with useful academic articles
eBeth Arké: The Syriac Digital Library - http://www.bethmardutho.org/ebetharke/
- not much available, except news of paper publications

What is the Syriac useful for?
a) Read someone who thinks the Syriac is more important than the Greek NT - http://www.aramaicpeshitta.com/
b) The Syriac Orthodox Church still uses the Peshitta. They argue that this is closest to the Aramaic spoken by Jesus. See http://sor.cua.edu/Bible/index.html
c) Syriac is important for textual criticism, being a very early translation
see P.J.Williams’ useful book: Early Syriac Translation Technique and the Textual Criticism of the Greek Gospels (Gorgias Press, Piscataway NJ, 2004)
– review at http://syrcom.cua.edu/Hugoye/Vol8No2/HV8N2PRJoosten.html
Discussions of Syriac readings occur frequently in the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog at

3) Lexicons and lookup dictionaries for Syriac

Downloadable Syriac lookup dictionaries:
Syriac Digital Library Project Dictionary
based on SEDRA text files (see http://syrcom.cua.edu/Projects/Complete.html)
Download it from http://www.bethmardutho.org/support/syriacdict/download/
Syriac Lexicon and Parser for the New Testament
Download from http://www.universalist.worldonline.co.uk/syriac/
Dolabanis Syriac translation toolbar
A toolbar you can add to Internet Explorer – right-click on a word to translate it.
Download from http://dolabani.noturo.com/default.aspx?page=tools&lang=eng
Requires .NET 1.1 (.NET 2 via Automatic Update won’t do get .NET 1.1 from
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=262D25E3-F589-4842-8157-034D1E7CF3A3&displaylang=en )
It has a small dictionary, and doesn’t work as easily as described – unless I’ve missed something.

Web lookup dictionaries & lexicons
Lookup English or Syriac at http://www.peshitta.org/lexicon/
Payne Smith Syriac full lexicon with Hebrew font equivalents to make it easy to use
(many thanks to Dan Gurtner who typed in the Hebrew)