SBL Bible Software Shootout
Last Saturday, a Bible Software Shootout session was held at the SBL Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA. Participants were (in order of appearance) Logos, SESB, BibleWorks, Accordance and Olive Tree. If you are like me, you would have loved to attend. Sadly, I couldn’t be there. Still, modern day technology does help us to get the big picture via tweets, blog posts and so on.
So, what happened? Karyn Traphagen compiled a list of tweets by people who attended the session over at Boulders 2 Bits, whereas Rick Mansfield wrote a more comprehensive post on his This Lamp blog, and, more recently, Mike Heiser gave us his take on it. We can expect to read reports by David Lang at the Accordance Blog shortly (it’s here actually), and I heard that the Olive Tree Blog will be carrying info on the session too (right here). At this point I don’t know if we will read anything from BibleWorks.
These were the five challenges each presenter had to address:
1. Give the parsing of a word and its meaning from a standard source.
2. Show all the occurrences of a word in the NT and LXX and show the Hebrew word which corresponds with the Greek in the LXX (if there is a correspondence).
3. Find all the occurrences of oi de in Matthew’s gospel followed by a finite verb within the clause.
4. I want to study a part of speech, e. g., demonstrative pronouns or interjections. How do I get all of the lemmas for that part of speech, get all the occurrences of those lemmas, and the results organized in such a way that I could write an article/monograph on that part of speech from the data?
5. I want to study the inflections of the Hebrew middle weak verb, and I want to see what the range of possible variations is for each of the conjugations (perfect, imperative, etc.) person, number, gender, and stem. This means I need to find all the middle weak verbs, find all their occurrences, and organize them in such a way that the variation of their inflections are immediately apparent. The goal of the data organization would be to allow me to write an article about the variations of the Hebrew middle weak verb.
Everybody seems to agree on the fact that all packages were able to solve the problems posed, except for Olive Tree, (but that is understandable given the current limitations of mobile devices and their OSes in certain areas). It is also acknowledged that it was stimulating to learn about the different solutions adopted by each one of the “contenders.”
And that’s the end of the agreement. If you want to know who won this shootout –where no one got hurt–, you’re out of luck. It depends on who you listen to. I’m always amazed at how sensitive this whole area of Bible software comparative reviews/presentations is. If you read the different comments and reactions to posts here and there you will soon realize that, for the most part, people tend to be rather defensive when exposed to software packages other than the one they are most familiar with, and very few dare to “think outside the box.”
If someone recorded the SBL session on video it would be great to know. Failing that, it would be nice to be able to access the content of each presentation so that everyone could draw his/her own conclusions about the pros and cons of each program. Don’t you think?
Update: Accordance handout can be downloaded from this page. Olive Tree’s presentation can also be downloaded here (PDF file).
Tony Cartledge, who attended the session, blogs on the shootout here.