New Co-blogger

I’ve decided to experiment with the whole concept of team blogging. Consequently, Ken Ristau will become co-blogger from now on, until further notice. I want to welcome him onboard, and look forward to his insights on the Bible software field.

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PC Study Bible 4.2

PC Study Bible has been recently updated to version 4.2. Apart from a streamlined interface, the program now supports global searches, and also includes a pop-up preview feature for Scripture or topical references. Another welcome addition is the ability to save study desktops for later retrieval. See a full listing of what’s new here. Given the large amount of titles already available for PC Study Bible, this was a much-needed upgrade.

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Greek Concordance

Yesterday, a first year Greek student requested some advice on B-Greek about an “exhaustive Greek concordance.”

In chapter 1 of his Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study, Frederick W. Danker deals with the different types of concordances. He says that “an ‘exhaustive’ concordance is one that lists passages in sequence under a headword[, without classifying under the various original terms], and in some way accounts for every occurrence of a word in the translation.” (p.1) The words I’ve put in square brackets would not be applicable to a Greek concordance for obvious reasons. The rest, however, would be fine (maybe using “version” instead of “translation”, if you want to get really picky).

Now back to the question at hand. The best exhaustive Greek concordance currently available is most certainly a computer-generated one. Many people still think of a computer as a kind of glorified typewriter. Likewise, picking up on the same metaphor, we might think of Bible software, first and foremost, as a glorified concordance. Bible software is much more than that, to be sure. But at its heart lies a powerful electronic concordance.

Most advanced Bible programs will let you build your own custom made concordance in English, Greek, or Hebrew, tailored to your specific needs and tastes. The output is generally as “exhaustive” and detailed as you want. Besides, you are not limited to single word searches (as is usually the case with printed concordances). You can, in fact, look for different combinations of words, specific grammatical constructions, and almost anything else you may want to come up with. Once you try it, you’ll most likely not wish to go back to using printed concordances anymore (except, perhaps, for cross-checking purposes).

Danker’s chapter is a great primer on the use of concordances. In fact, all of his book is well worth reading. So let me finish with one of my favorite quotes from page 17 of the 1993 edition:

For workers in the original languages, the use of concordances can prove to be a departure for an exciting new interpreter’s world. Shaking off the shackles of debilitating dependence on commentaries is akin to a revival experience. In a lexicon a word is like a friend in a coffin. A concordance restores her to life (…) The lexicographer considers the way a word is used and takes snapshots from various angles. A concordance helps one do what the lexicographer does but permits its user to look anew at the evidence.”

If for no other reason, that would be enough of an excuse to get and use some good Bible software, don’t you think?

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Team Blogs Anyone?

A recent blog entry by Torrey Seland, in which he opens up the possibility of having other people contribute on a regular basis on his Philo of Alexandria Blog, reminded me of an idea I have been toying with for some time now.

As all bibliobloggers (sorry, can’t remember who coined the term…) know, Blogger makes it very easy to set up a “team blog”, where more than one person can actually post. I think Torrey’s blog is one of the very few where I’ve seen a co-blogger (Kåre Fuglseth), but theoretically it’s a very good idea, and I’m a bit surprised by the fact that this avenue has not been generally explored by the majority of us.

In my particular case, when I launched Bible Software Review and this blog, I was well aware I would have to start all by myself. But that was only meant to be the initial phase. I do hope to get other people involved in the project in due course. But let’s face it, it’s not easy. I have occasionally approached prospective reviewers, but I haven’t seen any lasting fruit yet.

In general, comments like “I’m taking a break”, “Blogging will be light for the next…”, “I’m too busy at the moment”, and others of that nature appear quite frequently in our weblogs. The reason for it is quite simple: Blogging is demanding, and most bloggers are very busy people. We don’t do it because we don’t have any better things to do. We do what we do because we are convinced that it needs to be done. It is definitely a service, whether large or small, significant or irrelevant, is for others to judge, but a service/ministry nonetheless. I wonder if there could be a place where some of us/you could work synergically. A “team blog” where people from different backgrounds, countries, areas of expertise, and time zones could contribute periodically. This would not mean dropping the current blogs or adding more pressure to the existing workload. Come to think of it, it might help avoid some duplicity, elicit more discussion on certain subjects, increment the number of helpful links and cross-links, appeal to a wider readership, and so on. Utopia or paradigm shift? Probably more the former than the latter at this point in time, but you never know…

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Interesting Teaching Projects

Michael M. Homan, co-author of The Bible for Dummies and professor of Theology at Xavier University of Louisiana is involved in a couple of interesting teaching projects that I think are worth mentioning here.

The first one is BibleDudes. The stated purpose of this colorful and informative website is:

…to better educate people about the best selling, most influential, but often read, least understood book ever written: the Bible. We also wanted to convey our enthusiasm for the incredible and amazing academic
discipline of biblical studies.

Note that some of the sections are still under construction, but what’s available looks very nice. It’s a very attractive presentation (cartoons and all!) with solid content.

The second project has to do with blogging. He runs his own teaching blog, and, besides, students of his course Theology 1120: Introduction to Biblical Studies participate in a blogging project under the motto Pedablogically Improving the World One Theology Student at a Time… Michael shares his teaching philosophy here. Very stimulating and highly recommended. Check it out if you can!

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