Yesterday, Mark Barnes uploaded a video in which he reproduced the same steps using Logos 5. He then went on offering yet more options, including his preferred method: the Power Lookup feature.
I’d like to add to this interesting comparison by showing you in the following video how to look up a Greek word in multiple lexicons using the Search All feature in Accordance 10. In Accordance, too, there is more than one way to do it (TIMTOWTDI).
Note also that, as Rick Brannan rightly points out in the comments, the Bible Word Study guide in Logos 5 now includes a Root section. This means that you can right-click on a word and choose to run this very helpful automated tool and it will display all the roots for you.
Generally speaking, Bible software is fun. But it gets even better when we come down from the abstract to the mundane, to the nitty-gritty. Who hasn’t had the experience of trying to remember the particular wording of a Bible verse? A good example of this can be seen in a couple of blog posts I’ve read recently.
It all started when David Lang blogged on how to look for a word in a verse in any Bible using Accordance. He talked about locating all the English Bibles that read “endurance” in Hebrews 12:1 (as opposed to the more traditional term “patience”). The question here is twofold: one must be able to search all the available Bibles at once (or the subset of English translations) and also limit the search to a custom range (i.e., Heb 12:1). Accordance, of course, can do both very easily, just as David showed.
Later on, Mark Hoffman explained in his blog how to follow the same process in BibleWorks and Logos. Prompted by a comment, he even added a couple on online solutions to his original post. Not a bad thing to do, particularly when you try to recall the verse while you’re surfing the web.
I don’t know about you, but I find the comparison of the different approaches to the same basic problem very stimulating. There isn’t a right and a wrong way of doing it. They all get the job done. Some programs may be more intuitive, or require less steps, and hence the beauty of comparing the workflow, but at the end of the day they provide the answer to our particular need. Examples like these help us see the usefulness of Bible software. It is a tool meant to make our lives easier.
Incidentally, there are excellent freeware programs that allow us to find a specific word in a verse in any Bible. I just checked with theWord and Bible Analyzer, and both of them offer the ability to search any number of Bible texts and set a custom search range.
Today I want to briefly review two products that set out to make the original languages of the Bible –and the tools that use them– more accessible to the average person who has little or no familiarity with them. In both cases the goal is to improve our exegetical skills, that is, the way we interpret the Scriptures.
Typically, learning Greek and Hebrew has been accomplished using traditional methods, being exposed to lots of grammar rules and memorizing paradigm after paradigm and vocabulary list after vocabulary list. Today Bible software is here to help. The question is whether this help is going to affect only the mechanics of language learning or have far-reaching consequences in the long run. The other issue is if a democratization of the use of Greek and Hebrew tools is a good thing or not.
These products are particularly suited for people who have never before been exposed to the study of Biblical Greek (or Hebrew), and those who once studied it but now want to refresh what they learned.
I recommend adding ESV with Strong’s – ESVS (an extra $39.99) at the very least. Other Accordance modules are recommended in the lectures as optional tools.
An even cheaper alternative is to pay $49.00 for a full year of online access to the video series. The streaming videos and screencasts work very well, and a free preview of the first couple of lessons is also available.
This Biblical Greek Primer or “Baby Greek” is, in fact, the first installment of a three-part series (“Church Greek” and “Functional Greek” will follow) that is roughly going to cover the material contained in Bill Mounce’s Greek for the Rest of Us. Having a copy of the book is not required, but it certainly helps.
Every lesson includes a video lecture and a screencast where the principles outlined are illustrated using Accordance Bible Software.
In Accordance, the link between the English and the Greek is done via Strong’s numbers (in Mounce’s case, Goodrick-Kohlenberger numbering system with cross-reference to Strong’s numbers), and some people are very vocal against the use of these numbers, but that is due to their misuse. Properly used (see Dave Moser’s series of blog articles on How NOT To Use Strong’s Concordance, they are extremely useful. Just keep in mind that Strong’s is a concordance, not a dictionary, and should be used basically as an index to find out the appearances of every root word in its context. In this sense, Mounce’s Dictionary and Expository Dictionary are particularly helpful because they hyperlink the number of occurrences of every word under each entry to actual Accordance searches in the Greek New Testament and the English version, respectively.
Cost. For around $250.00 (or less) one can have access to solid teaching and tools.
Flexibility. Different packages available, as well as streaming online video.
Powerful. Mounce resources have some value-added features available only in Accordance.
If it is Hebrew you are interested in, you are out of luck.
Instructors Dr. Michael Heiser (Hebrew) and Johnny Cisneros (Greek) present a series of videos and screencasts that teach how to work with the original languages using the different tools and resources provided by Logos Bible Software.
The DVDs include a browser-like interface and are fully compatible with PC and Mac, although the screencasts always use the PC version of Logos.
In Logos, the reverse interlinears are what link the English to the original languages. Time and time again we are encouraged to create our own lexicons based on a study of the occurrences of the different lemmas, which are always accessible via the English text. This bypasses the traditional lexicon look-up and focuses on a comprehensive study of the search results. The final stage of the process suggested for word studies includes the use of some standard lexicons that define the word under consideration, rather than simply offering different glosses or English equivalents.
The powerful combination of the Reverse Interlinears and Visual Filters make possible the study of the original texts while working with the English Bibles.
Emphasis on avoiding word study fallacies.
Cost. The series is far too expensive, considering the fact that all the modules have to be bought separately.
No streaming option offered.
Greek and Hebrew are bundled together, which means that it is not possible to get only Greek or only Hebrew.
Both courses follow a very similar approach to word studies, and offer helpful tips on how to use the particular brand of Bible software they use. However, in my opinion, Mounce’s series has the edge if you are interested in Greek only.
I would also like to address the issue of expectations. Marketing language falls very easily into hype, and that can develop all sorts of unrealistic expectations. In my opinion, The Biblical Greek Primer is more down-to-earth and restraint in what it claims to do. On the other hand, Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew with Logos should drastically revise their promotional videos (for an earlier criticism, see D. Miller’s blog). Personally, I consider the assertion “after completing these videos with comprehension you’ll be at the level of a third year Hebrew or Greek student who was trained by traditional methods. All without memorizing anything” to be quite an overstatement, to say the least.
I have taken Greek and Hebrew at degree level (as well as taught a Greek class for lay people at church) and I can assure you that some degree of memorization and quite a bit of hard work are essential. After all, you do have to memorize the Greek or Hebrew alphabet and some pronunciation just to be able to read! Add to that a good number of grammatical terms. Talking of which, in my experience the first single most important problem people face when they try to learn the biblical languages is their poor grasp of English grammar!
Regarding the two questions I raised at the beginning, I do believe Bible software will change the way we approach language learning, but will not supersede what we have known until now. As to the dangers and consequences of knowing “a little Greek or Hebrew”, I have a confession to make. I have sat through some painful sermons lately. I mean, no exposition of the Scriptures. Topical messages loosely backed up with proof texts taken out of context for the most part, motivational speeches, personal experiences and whatnot. Getting acquainted with the biblical languages and the basic pitfalls inherent to shoddy exegesis surely cannot make matters any worse.
I welcome the effort to show how to make use of the powerful tools available in Bible software, and can only hope that it will reverse the current trend to belittle the usefulness of getting to know as much Greek and Hebrew as possible.
Disclaimer: Just for the record, I have NOT received any gratis copy of the products reviewed here.
This is a response to an original video from Michael Hite in which he was showing how to find all the forms of a particular Greek word in the book of James. Seeing the rather convoluted method of searching I thought it would be a good idea to briefly describe how to do it with Accordance by means of a simple root search.
You can watch the video full screen in HD by clicking on the rightmost icon at the bottom.
With the advent of Bible study software tools, the ability to link the English or modern language text to the original Greek and Hebrew has increased exponentially. We now have not only traditional interlinears, where the text follows the order of the original language, but reverse interlinears, where we can read the text of the English Bible and the original language follows that order.
WORDsearch markets a Holman Christian Standard Bible that includes a reverse interlinear.
As shown below, there are many display options available. Original words can be displayed as they appear in the text or according to their dictionary form (with or without English transliteration). There is also an option to hear the pronunciation of the original term (lemma).
Logos 4 offers a number of reverse interlinear English Bibles (ESV, NIV, NASB and NRSV, among others). There are also Hebrew, LXX and Greek interlinears.
It includes the same display options mentioned above, but the NT has an option for displaying Louw-Nida’s Lexicon numbers, which is an excellent addition.
Alternatively, the interlinear can appear at the bottom of the Bible text, rather than inline.
Accordance 9.5 turns any modern Bible tagged with Strong’s numbers (ESV, NIV, NASB, HCSB and KJV, among others –including some in Spanish) or any morphologically tagged text into a dynamic interlinear, capable of displaying all the associated information.
It works seamlessly based on the modules available, and users can choose between a “traditional” and a “reverse” interlinear layout. Besides, syntax information is displayed.
The advantage, in this case, is that any Bible with Strong’s, as well as any tagged Greek NT or Hebrew OT (no LXX currently) can be displayed alongside the regular display fields, and that any customized layout can be saved and retrieved. This allows for an unprecedented flexibility and power.
This screenshot shows a reverse interlinear with four English Bibles, plus the original Greek text and Strong’s numbers.
So, as you can see, there are a number of differences (not so much in the layout but rather in functionality), between the reverse interlinears currently available in the market. At any rate, this is an important tool for those who do not know or aren’t proficient enough in the Biblical languages. The kinds of studies that can be performed with reverse interlinears nowadays are pretty sophisticated.
A new Bible Software Shootout session took place yesterday, at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in San Francisco, CA. I had the opportunity of following the highlights in real time via Twitter, but today you can read a fairly exhaustive analysis by fellow blogger Mark Vitalis Hoffman.
This year the focus was on applying Bible software to the classroom setting. As usual, the contenders were Logos, Accordance and Olive Tree. I was rather surprised to discover that BibleWorks was not included. In fact, last week I tweeted the following: “I wonder why BibleWorks does not participate in Bible shootout 2 at #sblaar. They have some excellent classroom tips! http://bit.ly/vfvNba.”
Should more articles appear on this session, I’ll try to add a link here.
Mark Barnes has posted an excellent review comparing OliveTree BibleReader and Logos for the iPhone/iPod Touch. This is one of the most exciting areas right now for Bible software, and I’m sure it will be even more so when the new iPad is launched. It’s definitely worth a read.