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Logos Personal Video Book

Logos has announced the availability of The Greatest Book video series on DVD-ROM.

This is the first “Personal Video Book” to be launched by the company. It’s a full-length digital video that integrates seamlessly into Libronix just like any other book. What’s so special about it is that each video is tagged with topics, Scripture references, and a table of contents. This means, for instance, that the Passage Guide report will find relevant material in videos, just like it does with books, maps and music.

Here’s an excerpt from the product description:

This video series from AVM Presents is highly popular with church teachers and home viewers, as it is aimed at a lay audience. The four videos in The Greatest Book series range in length from 30 to 40 minutes and cover topics related to the history and cultural background of the Bible: archaeological evidences, historical reliability, writing/printing technology, cultural milieu, how to get more from personal study of the Bible, and much more!

Article Watch: Searching for God…

David Lang has written an article entitled Searching for God in Mac Bible Software. A comparison of speed and accuracy.

Although he focuses on Bible software for the Macintosh, the points he makes are equally valid for Windows-based Bible programs. The author looks at two different aspects: speeds and accuracy (hence the subtitle), and says:

I did some comparative searches using each of the currently developed Mac Bible Software applications. The results were somewhat surprising, not only because of the vast difference in search speed among the various Bible programs, but also because of the high degree of variance in what was actually found.

It certainly doesn’t surprise me 😉

These same words could have been spoken by somebody testing different Bible software programs for Windows.

I’ve mentioned before that speed is a very subjective thing. Don’t get me wrong. There are speed differences between applications, and some are very noticeable. But I think H. Van Dyke Parunak’s review article has already addressed this issue quite thoroughly.

I do want to comment, however, on the second aspect. Many people find (when they do in fact find it out) the discrepancies in the results returned by a given search rather bewildering. This is not a platform-specific issue. It has to do with a number of factors. But let’s get the facts first. Even a cursory look at the search for “god” in various Bible packages for Windows will prove revealing. Libronix Digital Library System lists 4717 occurrences (or 4473 using the “nostem” modifier). BibleWorks returns 4444 hits in 3876 verses. Bibloi reports 3638 matches (read verses). Pradis (Zondervan) finds 3876 hits (taking “hit” in the sense of verse where the search term is found). PC Study Bible lists 4444 matches. Lightning Study Bible returns 3877 verses. And I could go on and on… (I chose these ones, in no particular order, because I happened to have them at hand on this computer).

What’s going on here? Are they all wrong? Are some of them wrong while others are right? Believe it or not, the answer is that they are all RIGHT. In other words, all of them accurately return the right results according to the base text included in the package (in this case KJV), the search syntax used, the search routines followed, and the standard output adopted. The problem is that all of these are areas where different programs can (and certainly do!) take widely different approaches.

I will not go into all the details (see David’s article for some of the common explanations that account for the differences). Suffice it to say here that even such popular and extended lectronic texts as the King James Version CAN have typos, that some programs use stemming (LDLS) or double-wildcard searches (Bibloi – but not in this particular instance!) by default, and that default search settings and statistical output vary considerably from one program to another. On top of that we should remember that the meaning of such terms as “hits”, “matches”, “occurrences”, “verses”, etc. is not always consistent.

So, what are we to make out of all this? One of the lessons is, IMO, that we should get to know (and I mean “really know”) the way a program works. The second thing is that we should always double-check our results.

As we have seen, even a seemingly innocent, one-term search like this one can become a real headache if we haven’t done our homework first. So… in the not so familiar rendering of the NET Bible, “The one who has ears had better listen!”

Update (July 30): David has posted a follow-up article (Searching for Jesus in Mac Bible Software) with further clarifications and some corrections.

Changes at www.bible.org

David Austin, permissions director at www.bible.org, has officially requested volunteers to convert the NET Bible into an e-Sword module. This is part of the new move to make available the text and notes of the NET Bible as part of a number of free Bible study programs. However, the Biblical Studies Foundation seems to be rethinking its whole approach to distribution of the NET Bible and other study materials. You can read about it here.

The whole “ministry first” approach seems to be called into question nowadays, due to the fact that the “free-for-all” and “donation” models are not allowing individuals and groups to recoup their sometimes large investments. This is an area where, presumably, there will be a lot of discussion going on in the next few months. In fact, I recently blogged about the “business/ministry dichotomy.”

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!

Book Preface Posted

I have decided to post a translated version of the Preface to the Spanish edition of my book A Practical Guide to Bible Software.

I hold the copyright to the book, so I might make other sections available online in due course. To be honest, I haven’t made my mind up yet as to whether I’ll try to publish it in English or, failing that, post some parts of it online. Either case, it would be a massive task, which would require lots of time (something I’m very short of!). I love writing, and enjoy translating, but I simply hate to translate myself. I really do. Although, come to think of it, it wouldn’t be exactly a translation. It would be more like an updated, revised and – for the most part – rewritten kind of book. Make sense?

Anyway, the original Spanish book was published by CLIE back in 2000 as part of the “Seminary Collection”, a series of books written for biblical and theological students. The preface was done by the two principals of the United Evangelical Seminary of Theology in Madrid (Spain). I thought it would be nice to give you a little hint of the original work’s intent. Hope you enjoy it!

Recent Referral

I must confess I’m not into the habit of checking where visitors come from on a regular basis. However, I just did today, only to find out that David A. Black has mentioned this little corner of cyberspace in his blog. I liked the little teaser he posted, which goes like this (sorry, I couldn’t spot any permanent link):

Not all Bible software is created equal. You can review the latest cybernetic Scripture helps here.

Incidentally, I have read quite a few of his books – some authored and some edited by him -, while still others are on my waiting list (which, I hasten to add, is a rather long one!). Anyway, I’m glad he referred to my site, and I’m also happy I came across his site.

Why .org?

I could have chosen a .com domain, but preferred to use .org instead. I wanted to make sure everybody understands that this is not a commercial site. I am not sponsored by publicity or supported by any Bible software company. And while it is true that I am part of the industry, due to my involvement in different projects, BSR is a truly independent site. I pay for all the expenses (quite a few, actually!), and make no profit whatsoever from this activity. Remember, then, that all the opinions expressed here belong to the different authors who voice them, and should never be taken as official statements from any company in particular. This is the way I started off, and that’s how it’s going to stay for the foreseeable future. I truly believe this is in the best interests of everybody.

Welcome Back!

The move to the new server and domain is almost finished. I’m sorry for the inconveniences this may cause, but in the long run it will be better for all of us. Meanwhile, I would appreciate it if you could update your links, your aggregator subscription or whatever.

New Domain for BSR

Bible Software Review and its weblog will be moving to a new server and domain over the next couple of days or so (maybe less!). Your support since we first started, back in February, and the exciting stuff that’s coming, have led me to make this decision. The new server will be more reliable, and BSR will have its own domain.

Please update your bookmarks and links! The current site and blog will NOT be updated after this post, and will eventually be unreachable in a matter of days. Feel free to publicize these changes by whatever means you deem appropriate. Thank you!

New website: www.bsreview.org

New weblog: www.bsreview.org/blog/

Email address for matters related to the site: webmaster -[at]- bsreview -[dot]- org

Hope to see you all there!

Doing Business or Ministry?

David Lang has written an insightful piece on the dichotomy between “business” and “ministry” in Bible software development. Interestingly enough, he is not the first developer to bring this subject up in recent months (see here). This, in itself, is a good sign, IMO.

David mentions some of the strengths and weaknesses of either model or approach, and my first reaction is always the same: anything that includes the word “Bible” in it is bound to be more than just business. I tend to look at this issue more in terms of striking the right balance than as a real “dichotomy.” To think that “Bible” cannot possibly be associated with the term “business” gives rise to a good number of isconceptions. As he puts it:

To be frank, I’ve seen the ministry label used to justify everything from shoddy workmanship to cut-throat competition to copyright infringement to failure to pay royalties to poor user support to practices which I think border on being deceptive. Thus, it’s not always so easy to conclude that “business” equals bad while “ministry” equals good.

The article also deals with the price of Bible software and the subjective perception of “affordability.”

Finally, there is also one thing I can personally relate to, and that is what the author calls “the challenge of self-definition.” Often times I am asked the question “Why are you not in ministry?” (read pastoral/teaching ministry) and “What do you do for a living instead?” In my experience, I have a much harder time trying to answer the first question, because it is based on a false premise. My answer is simply that I still am in ministry. Ministry of a different sort, but ministry after all!