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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.


This via the Logos Bible Software blog:

Back in January Logos hosted BibleTech:2008. BibleTech is a conference for people interested in the intersection of the Bible and technology. We were blown away by the result of this conference this year. The presentations were pertinent and timely, and the networking opportunities were absolutely priceless. And BibleTech:2008 participants was nearly unanimous in wanting to make this conference an annual event.

So we’re happy to be announcing BibleTech:2009!

The conference will take place on Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28 in scenic Seattle, WA. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend! We are anticipating a bigger turnout with an even better outcome than last year.

BibleTech is geared for anyone with specialization, or serious interest, in the intersection of Bible study and technology. If you are involved in web design, software development, open source programming, biblical language or Bible study software development-or even if you are simply interested in the latest news from this incredible field and want to meet the people who make it all happen-plan to join us at BibleTech:2009.

We are now accepting proposals for conference presentations. If Bible and technology are your specialties, we invite you to submit a proposal.

We have updated the conference website. For the latest information, including a list of past presenters, visit

To stay informed with all the latest news about BibleTech, sign up for the BibleTech email list. Just , and we’ll get you added.

We hope you’re as excited about BibleTech:2009 as we are. And please help us make this a spectacular event by spreading the word!

As was the case last year, this is an event organized/hosted by Logos Bible Software for all the Bible software industry. So, if you are able to attend or participate, make your plans now!

Conference on The Bible and Computers

Last month (June 16-19), there was an international conference on “The Bible and Computers: Present and Future of a Discipline” held in El Escorial (Madrid). I could not attend, but there is at least someone who was there and has blogged about it.

If someone else who was in attendance would like to share more info on how everything went, I would love to hear from him/her.

About Biblioblogging Session at SBL

I am not at SBL, in fact I am thousands of miles away from Philadelphia. But thanks to fellow bibliobloggers I can get a feel for some of the things that are going on there.

Most bibliobloggers are sharing their thoughts on the various meetings they attend, and I have been particularly interested in their reports on the recent session about biblioblogging. Apparently it went really well, according to AKMA, Mark Goodacre, et al. (sorry folks, I can’t link to everyone who’s blogging on this!)

One thing I find worth noting: now that we have pretty much agreed on the name (bibliobloggers has become the standard), we seem to be facing an identity crisis or sorts. Who can really (and I mean really)
be categorized as a biblioblogger, given the fact that there are as many different styles and outlooks as there are bloggers? There is no easy answer. As a matter of fact, I doubt there is an answer at all. I would dare say, however, even at the risk of contradicting myself, that it has a lot more to do with the ultimate purpose behind blogging than with the actual content or personality of the blogger. I’m not wanting to imply that content is not important. It is. What I do want to suggest is that what turns a blog into a biblioblog and not something else is the motivation and goal one imposes upon himself/herself when it comes to setting up a blog and following a blogging “career”.

Take BSR, for instance. This may surprise some of you, but, truth be told, I couldn’t care less about software per se. It only interests me to the degree that it becomes a useful tool that enables me to pursue my passion: biblical studies (in the broadest sense of the word). That’s precisely the reason why I consider it to be a biblioblog, even though the content itself may sometimes appear to be foreign to the academic study of the Scriptures.

Well, what do you think? Am I way off here, or is this a valid argument in the midst of current discussions about the nature of biblioblogging? I’m interested in your thoughts…

SBL Panel Update

I asked Joe Fleener for an update on the recent SBL Panel Discussion on Exegetical Software in the Classroom held at San Antonio, TX, earlier this month. Here is what he said:

The SBL Panel Discussion on Exegetical Software in Classroom Instruction went very well. It was an official SBL seminar and hence attendees were required to be registered for SBL. I attended the ETS conference leading up to the seminar on Friday and found a significantly high interest among ETS attendees in the subject. There is a growing interest among professors who desire to learn how to use the various software tools more effectively themselves and then to integrate them into their “traditional” classroom instruction.

When it came time for the actual panel discussion there were 75+ people in attendance at the peak. It was a 1 1/2 hour session and people came and went during that time. The numbers were a very good sign of the level of interest, but not real good for open dialog. I think people would have felt more comfortable to discuss and ask questions in a smaller crowd.

I began the session with an introductory presentation. In it I introduced the panel members and gave an overview of the purpose/need for our discussion. This PowerPoint presentation can be found @

Following Dr. Rodney Decker of Baptist Bible Seminary gave a presentation detailing his thoughts on the subject and his use of the exegetical software (Accordance) in preparing classroom work and assignments.

Dr. Rod Whitacre of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry gave a presentation of his use of BibleWorks in the classroom.

Finally Dr. Tom Finley of Talbot Seminary gave a presentation of his use of BibleWorks in his preparation of assignments as well as classroom instruction.

These presentations were followed by an extended Q&A time with each member of the panel responding as needed.

There were several good ideas given. However, at this point the primary outcome was a clarified realization of the need for this kind of discussion and a forum for professors to interact, share ideas and learn from each other. There are a lot of questions. I believe there is a tremendous need for faculty to catch up to the learning styles of
this new generation of students, but there are very few places for faculty of theological institutions to have these discussions.

One place for this online is In addition we are working on a plan to provide opportunities at both ETS and SBL next year. We will keep you posted.

Thank you, Joe, for the summary.

SBL Panel Discussion

This announcement was posted earlier today to the Pedagogy & Technology Group:

Panel Discussion: Exegetical Software in the Classroom
The Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting
Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Room #210A
San Antonio, TX

Friday, November 19, 2004
1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Attendance is free and no registration is necessary. This discussion is an offering of The Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) 2004 Annual Meeting. You must be registered for the SBL annual meeting in order to participate in the discussion. To register for the annual meeting click here.

The purpose and direction of this panel discussion has been set by a group of educators from theological institutions in the Philadelphia area who met in July 2004 to start an on going discussion that would help those involved make more effective use of computer tools in their teaching. If you would like to join those involved in
the July 2004 meeting in an online discussion click here. This online group is also the best place to go with any suggestions or questions you have regarding the SBL panel discussion.

Each member of a panel will give a brief presentation on his/her use of exegetical software as a tool for instruction. This presentation will be followed by moderated questions and answers.

Some questions panelists will discuss include:
1. How do you ensure students are learning Greek or Hebrew and not just the software?
2. Pedagogically, how does your teaching change with a classroom full of laptops?
3. Whose responsibility (e.g. Greek/Hebrew prof, librarian, etc.) is it to teach the students the proper use of these new tools?
4. How can we use the tools to aid in retention of the languages?
5. Can these tools help in non-language courses, and if so, how?
6. How do these tools fit into our “outcome based” educational assessments?
7. What does a sustainable skill set include?

Panel Coordinator:
Joseph Fleener
Director of Library Services
Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary
Lansdale, Pa.

Panel Members:
Rodney J. Decker
Assoc. Professor of New Testament
Baptist Bible Seminary
Clarks Summit, Pa.

Tom Findley
Professor of Old Testament and Semitics
Talbot Seminary
La Mirada, Calif.

Rodney Whitacre
Professor of Biblical Studies
Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry
Sewickley, Pa.

AIBI Report

Tim Bulkeley, who recently attended the 7th congress of the Association Internationale Bible et Informatique is beginning to report on this “colloquium.” I wonder if the presentations are going to be made available either in print or online. At any rate, two of the topics that immediately caught my attention were Ferdinand Poswick’s “The Bible in the civilisation of the electronic writing: an evaluation (1985-2004)”, and D. Noel’s “Literary Approach with Statistical methods.” I hope Tim will let us know more about the panel discussion he was involved in. He’s probably still recovering from jetlag!

Update (July 30): Paul Nikkel was kind enough to leave a comment with a link to an abstract of Ferdinand Poswick’s presentation. He also lets me know that some comments should be posted on deinde shortly. Thanks!

SBL Annual Meeting Program

These are the most interesting events, as far as Bible software is concerned, planned for this year’s SBL
meeting (San Antonio, TX, November 20-23):

Bible Technologies Group
9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Room: Room #212A – San Antonio Convention Center
Robert Hodgson, American Bible Society, Presiding
Patrick Durusau, Society of Biblical Literature, Presiding
Eugene Nida, American Bible Society
The Modern Translator (45 min)
Mike Perez, American Bible Society
Bible Engagement Tools (45 min)
Break (15 min)
Steven Derose, Bible Technologies Group
Introduction to OSIS (45 min)
OSIS Panel Discussion
Steven Derose, Bible Technologies Group, Panelist
Patrick Durusau, Society of Biblical Literature, Panelist
Mike Perez, American Bible Society, Panelist

Biblical Exegetical Software in the Classroom — Integration 101
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Room #210A – San Antonio Convention Center
Joseph M. Fleener, Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary, Presiding
Mark Futato, Reformed Theological Seminary, Panelist (10 min)
Rodney A. Whitacre, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, Panelist (10 min)
Thomas J. Finley, Talbot School of Theology, Panelist (10 min)
Discussion (60 min)

BibleWorks Workshop — Using Its Features and Resources to the Fullest
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room #210A – San Antonio Convention Center

Computer Assisted Research
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room #207 – San Antonio Convention Center
Theme: Digital Hermeneutics
James R. Adair, Jr., Religion and Technology Center, Presiding
Peter C. Patton, University of St. Thomas and Richard A. Wright, Emory University
Discovering and Displaying Structure in Hebrew Poetry (30 min)
George Yaeger, Aster Institute
Development of a Noun Phrase Translation Memory Database for Classical Biblical Hebrew (30 min)
Catherine J. Smith, University of Birmingham and Matthew Brook O’Donnell, University Of Surrey Roehamptom
Evaluating Electronic Synopses: The Current State of Play and Future Directions (30 min)
Ken Penner, McMaster University
Toward a Method of Tagging Hebrew Tense, Aspect, and Mood (30 min)
Business Meeting (30 min)

Computer Assisted Research
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room #207 – San Antonio Convention Center
Theme: Networked Pedagogy
Keith H. Reeves, Azusa Pacific University, Presiding
Alfred Benney, Fairfield University
Designing Techno-pedagogical Strategies for Teaching Religion – Or Not! (30 min)
Julye Bidmead, Miami University (OH) and Deborah A. Appler, Vanderbilt University
Connecting to “Wired” Students: Multimedia, Interactive Approaches to Teaching Biblical Studies (30 min)
Steve Mason, York University (Toronto)
Possibilities of an On-line Commentary: The Case of Flavius Josephus (30 min)
David B. Howell, Ferrum College and Peggy Cowan, Maryville College
Text and Context: Connecting Students with the Historical, Social, and Cultural Realities that Shape the Practice and Texts of Religion (30 min)
Tim Seid, Earlham School of Religion
Digital Quaker Collection: Directing Out-sourced Technology at the Cutting-Edge (30 min)
To look for more information about the program, please go here.

WORDsearch Pastor’s Conference

This just in:

Make plans now to attend the first WORDsearch Pastor’s Conference: Preaching and Teaching To Change Lives. Come ready to be inspired, informed and
instructed. Dress casual and prepare to RELAX in the beautiful resort community of Lago Vista, Texas, nestled on the shores of Lake Travis (…)
Enjoy networking and fellowship with other WORDsearch, Bible Explorer, and Bible Navigator users like yourself, and get an insider’s preview of what’s ahead. WORDsearch software developers and personnel will be on hand to answer your questions and give you personal attention.

The dates are Sept 28 – Oct 1. For more information, click here.