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New Add-ons for PC Study Bible

Users of PC Study Bible from BibleSoft will surely welcome two new additions to the growing library of available works: the 3-Volume New Testament Dictionary Collection, which includes some of IVP’s best selling and most renowned dictionaries (Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, and Dictionary of the Later New Testament & Its Developments), and Kittel’s landmark reference work Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (unabridged 10 volume set). A lighter, abridged version of TDNT (known as “Little Kittel”) is also available. Note that these add-ons only work with version 4.

New Release of LDLS

The RC (release candidate) version of the new Libronix Digital Library System 2.1 is available for downloading. Full details of what’s new can be found here. General performance improvements and bug fixes aside, there is a new power tool called “Fuzzy Search”, which means you can type a string of words and the search engine will attempt to predict which terms are relevant (quite handy when you can’t remember the exact phrase, or when you are unsure about the spelling), even though the exact terms searched for may not appear at all in the text. Worthy of mention is also the Compare Pericopes report, which allows you to compare sets of pericopes from different Bible versions.

Menu Placeholders

I have received a number of emails to the effect that the main menu at the top of the home page doesn’t seem to work properly. Let me make clear that it IS working as expected, and that there is nothing wrong with your browser if you happen to click on a menu item and nothing happens. Some items are not “clickable” yet. They are just placeholders, and will become active hyperlinks once the page or section they point to becomes available. It is not “vapor-web”; what you see there – more or less – is going to be posted at some point in time, God willing. I hope it will be sooner than later, but people are busy (and that includes me ;-)) and it will take some time for things to settle a bit. Thanks again for your patience and interest.

[Ed.] Naturally, you won’t see any placeholders now, since the site has been completely revamped.

Web Traffic

One week ago I added a free counter and statistics tracker from Site Meter. It is now set up so that visitors cannot access any of the site reports and charts, but I can assure you that it offers some interesting data. Let me say, right from the start, that I am very pleased by the number of people who drop by. We are not too far from 500 visits in just one week! And that’s not counting the first few days after the web was launched, when I received lots of emails but the counter had not been implemented yet. Besides, I have only placed the tracker in two of the pages so far (home page and weblog). So I’m pretty sure that that figure is in fact a rather conservative estimate. Needless to say how thankful I am to all of you for making this possible. It only comes to show that there really was a need for this kind of endeavor.

Looking at the OS chart I found the following (presumably from today’s traffic):

OS chart.gif

As you can see, most operating systems are represented. However, I am a bit intrigued by the “Unknown 1%”. What system could that be? Would you please stand up? (just kidding, of course).

Well, I want to thank my fellow bloggers (bless them) for kindly placing a few links that point to this weblog and its associated website, and also Google, for the fact that you can type “Bible software review” and the very first hits you will get are, guess what, our website and weblog!

Article and Interview Posted

…But this time it’s not about others, it’s about us!

David Lang has just posted an article/interview about Bible Software Review. You have all the details here: Christian Mac User Launches Bible Software Review Site. Funny thing is that I haven’t even been able to put up the About Us section for the website yet. Now I guess I’ll have to ask CMUG permission to use their article here ;-)) No, seriously, it includes quite a bit of information (even personal info) that you might find interesting. Hope you like it.

Back to Real Business

After a major rewrite of the html code for my Bible Software Review website, I think I can finally say that everything in it should be easily accesible to almost anybody from now on – no matter what screen resolution is used. I could be wrong, of course, since I cannot possibly test it on every single browser, but hey you can always leave a comment if something doesn’t work quite right for you! 😉 So here’s to you viewing pleasure… I appreciate the helpful insights and encouragement received. And in case you wonder, the site uses “liquid” tables rather than “tableless” CSS. I know CSS is the way to go, but I simply cannot afford to spend more time on that. If any of you web-geeks out there want to help with the design, that’s okay. Meanwhile, I’ll stick to the content…

Changes in HTML Coding

Good news for all those who have requested more compatibility with lower screen resolutions! I have changed the html code so that the tables are now “liquid” (see Carlson’s comment).

This means that the website should now be viewable by almost anyone (although it still looks better at 1024 x 768 or above). I have only uploaded the home page so far. Other pages will follow soon. However, I am still experimenting and will gladly receive your feedback on the new look. I learned HTML the old-fashioned way, and I am now trying to decide whether to stick to it (albeit with more flexibility) or step right into Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

Michigan-Claremont Electronic BHS Available Online

This was posted by Christopher V. Kimball to the B-Hebrew list:

A transcription of the Michigan-Claremont electronic text of the BHS Tanach (from the Oxford Text Archive) to XML with Unicode characters is now available It’s viewable by any modern browser, i.e. Netscape 7.1, Mozilla 1.6, Mozilla FireFox 0.8, or Internet Explorer 6.0. A choice of SBL Hebrew or Ezra SIL fonts is available. Font sizes from 100% to 400% of normal are selectable. The texts are in XML format with XMLSchema validation. They may be downloaded for off-line viewing or for machine processing through a ZIP file, of approximately 5 Megabytes. It’s free and can be distributed freely for any non-commercial purpose. Suggestions and corrections are encouraged.

Great resource. Check it out!

Concordance Compiled with the Aid of… Bible Software?

Andreas Köstenberger and Raymond Bouchoc are the authors of the fairly recent The Book Study Concordance of the Greek New Testament (Broadman & Holman, 2003). This is what the blurb of the book says:

A New Bible Study Tool and a New Venue of Academic Research. Aided by breakthroughs in computer technology, The Book Study Concordance of the Greek New Testament has compiled data in a format that has never before been available to Bible students. The result is a collection of twenty-seven concordances listing every word used in the Greek New Testament in alphabetical order book by book. Also provided are word totals, most-frequently-used words, and words set in relation to the New Testament as a whole. This
is an absolutely invaluable new tool for all serious Bible students and for the scholarly community.

This mammoth work (viii/1528 pages) is based on the electronic version of NA27 developed by the Gramcord Institute. In the Preface, the authors state:

The Book Study Concordance of the Greek New Testament for the first time assembles concordances of each of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. The concordance is a fresh effort, though of course standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. The textual base of the present concordance is the electronic version of the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. The roots of the words were matched with their forms based on data developed and provided by the GRAMCORD Institute. In this regard we would like to acknowledge the foundational debt we owe to the previous work of the GRAMCORD Institute. The concordances themselves were generated by our own programs written to generate the concordance listings from the raw GRAMCORD data.

Since Raymond Bouchoc is research scholar for the GRAMCORD Institute, they no doubt had access to the latest version of the tagged database, but I wonder what kind of program is “our own programs”, and why did they not use any of the Bible software packages currently available. Could it be that none of them had the kind of statistical features and flexibility they needed? Here is what H. Van Dyke Parunak had to say about the issue of statistical analysis in his recent review Windows Software for Bible Study (pp. 481-482):

At first glance, it seems natural to plot frequency statistics per chapter, but this approach has several weaknesses. Chapters do not necessarily correspond to the natural discourse units of the text, either in extent (a natural unit may be wider or narrower than a chapter) or in their limits (which may not correspond with those of natural units). The same can be said of fixed width windows that are sometimes used in plots of this sort (for example, plotting occurrences in windows ten verses wide). This mismatch results in a profile that distorts the actual structure of the text. A much better approach is to let the window width change dynamically with the distribution, an algorithm that could be easily implemented by any of these packages. With this refinement, plots such as these become powerful tools for visualizing the structure of texts (…) but these features are not visible with plots at the chapter level. It would be even more useful if software packages provided an option to generate a file containing, not verse references, but the index number of each hit in a search, together with the number of words per verse and per chapter, so that users could directly manipulate distributional information in a package such as Excel or Mathematica. A further refinement would be to let the user define and annotate a number of fields with each hit to capture contextual features (e.g. direct vs. indirect or human vs. divine speech, putative literary source), and provide a simple flat-file database function (sorting and searching) to help the user perform supplementary studies.

Well, if such an algorithm “could be easily implemented by any of these packages”, I wonder why not a single one of them has already done so! Moreover, when I checked some of the stats given in the book against Accordance (which happens to include that particular database and has a pretty good statistical analysis feature) I soon came across a few discrepancies in the numbers. So, I would definitely like to know a little bit more about the tools and methodology followed by Köstenberger and Bouchoc. Their book is a welcome addition to the field of Greek reference tools, but I think some more information is in order if peer-review is to be pursued consistently.