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Accordance 8.0.5 Update

Perhaps I should start by pointing you to the new features in Accordance version 8, the last major release.

Accordance 8.0.5, a point release, provides improved import of HTML files into user tools, and more options for the export of selected text. Some keyboard shortcuts have been changed: option-command-X removes selected verses from the Reference List window, and shift-command-N adds a new folder to the Library window (instead of F). As it’s usually the case with these kinds of releases, a number of obscure bugs have also been corrected. Also, since these updates are incremental, all previously reported bugs since the initial release of version 8 have been fixed.

Version 8.0.5 is available here, and it is a free upgrade to current users of version 8.0.x, whereas the working Accordance demo has also been upgraded to 8.0.5.

BSR Forums Keep Improving

I have added a new video embedding feature to the forums. This way, registered users can illustrate their points by linking to a video hosted in any of the most popular sites currently available online, o even record their own videos, tutorials or whatever and link to them (embed them) in the forum. Thus, it is now very easy to start a video forum thread. Why not register and give it a try? Don’t expect other to start one, head over to the forums and introduce yourself, show us how you use your Bible software or demonstrate some useful feature you’ve discovered. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask away and surely there will be knowledgeable people around who will be able to lend you a hand or, at the very least, they’ll try…

A Collection of Clippings – I

The latest issue of Logos NewsWire announces that the Logos Blog has been revamped. It is easier to navigate, and looks much better. To celebrate this re-launch, Logos is offering a free commentary download — Tyndale’s Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, vol 11 (Matthew and Mark), by David L. Turner and Darrell L. Bock, respectively —,  (only until the whole Pre-Pub series moves into production).  To get your free download, go to this page, add it to your cart and use coupon “CORNERSTONE”. If you are not a Logos user you will need to create a free Logos account first, then download a copy of the latest Libronix engine (free) and finally create a Libronix Customer ID. The unlock and download script will do the rest.

Gonzalo Díaz informs us of the availability of Kalós version 4.13 (for Mac and Windows), which includes an improved look-and-feel, as well as several hundred new entries, covering all NT canonical forms. Here is the full list of improvements.

Danny Zacharias has been keeping busy, developing sets of multimedia Greek flashcards. These NT Vocabulary Expansion Packs, designed for use with Flash! Pro (PC) and iFlash (Mac), are keyed to the following 1st year Greek textbooks: Learn To Read New Testament Greek, A Primer of Biblical Greek, Basics of Biblical Greek and New Testament Greek Primer. See the demo video or these screenshots. He has also made available some free Greek flash animations. You can download them here. They were originally created by Glenn Wooden and he developed them specifically to work with Bill Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek. Hint: Danny embeds them in his Keynote presentations.

Mark G. Vitalis Hoffman reviews a Vulgate-based Bible software called VulSearch 4. Despite being freeware, it has some nice features not always found in commercial programs. It allows users to view and search the Latin Vulgate alongside an English or French Bible.

Finally, webmasters who run websites, blogs or forums which make frequent use of Bible references might be interested to know that Logos has enhanced a nice little script called RefTagger. This free utility is now highly customizeable and makes the full Bible text pop up when you hover over any Bible reference. The currently available versions are NLT, ESV, KJV and NKJV.

Too Much of a Challenge?

Not so long ago I told you about the 30-day challenge of LaRosa Johnson, who works with WORDsearch but nevertheless decided to try Logos Bible software, a competing product, in his leisure time.

Last I know is that LaRosa Johnson is still a WORDsearch employee, but there is no trace of the blog posts I linked to. If you search his blog archives you will not find any of the six entries on the subject. They are gone, vanished. Pure coincidence? Not likely. Logos blog talked about Making the Switch to Logos. I simply called my entry An Interesting Challenge. Was that too much publicity for another company’s software? Who decided to delete those posts and why? I’m now sorry I did not copy them, since they were written under a Creative Commons License.

I’m not talking about a conspiracy theory. God forbid! I don’t even know the man, and my emails to the company he works for have been repeatedly ignored. In fact I congratulated Randy Beck (the owner) in very friendly terms just a month ago, and invited him, yet again, to submit an interview for BSR. Never heard back from him. Does make you think… (please don’t read any kind of hostility into my comment, I’m simply sad).

I wish I were wrong, but I’m afraid LaRosa’s balanced and open-minded comments probably proved too much of a challenge for some people. And this is precisely one of the reasons that gave birth to Bible Software Review. I believe in freedom. I believe we can point out the good things about Bible software packages, learn from them and try to improve things with constructive criticisms and suggestions. I believe we can learn to disagree in a civil and even friendly manner. I believe in diversity. I believe that no matter how much we like our own software, it is plain stupid to think there is no life beyond it. I believe we can learn from one another and help one another. I don’t understand why comparing certain features (let alone writing comparative reviews) makes certain people feel so nervous.

I have been under pressure myself. Unfortunately some folks are more concerned about marketing and PR than they are about reaching excellency in developing tools that will help people study the Scriptures more efficiently. I know it’s difficult to stand for what you think is right, particularly in a highly competitive market, but “a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.”

I am sorry I’ve had to write this post, and would love to stand corrected. That has never been a problem for me. Really, I would be happy to say, “hey I blew it! I got carried away with no reason. I apologize.” I would love to have to delete this entry, but facts are facts, and unless there is some plausible explanation for the “mysterious” disappearance of LaRosa’s original blog entries, I am entitled to voice my opinion.

Update (September 10): Be sure to read the final outcome of this story.

Hebrew Bible Search Engine

Ned Sturzer has developed a new search engine for the Hebrew Bible (Leningrad Codex B19a), called Masorah Engine (please note that the site can only be viewed correctly with Internet Explorer — Neither Firefox nor Safari worked for me).

This engine (requiring Windows XP or better) is able to search for the Hebrew vowel marks (nikudos) and tropes (te’amim) in many different and rather complex ways, so you may want to take a look. There are a number of screen shots available, but no demo version.

Digitization of Greek Codices and More

Over at deinde.org, Danny Zacharias wonders whether Codex Vaticanus will ever be digitized. I really don’t know, but his question reminded me of a very exciting development undertaken by Accordance Bible Software. Now, I know we are not talking about a digitized version of the manuscript itself, but Accordance does include morphologically-tagged editions of parts of the main Greek codices, namely, Vaticanus (the whole NT except for 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon and Revelation), Sinaiticus (NT), Bezae (Matthew, John, Luke, Mark and Acts) and Washingtonensis (Matthew, John, Luke and Mark). All these Uncials, displayed with the proper uncial font, retain most of the features of the actual manuscripts, and can be compared and searched in almost any imaginable way. Notice in the screenshot below that a search for the lexical form πνευμα finds all the occurrences of the term, including those displayed as nomina sacra.

Again, I know this is not what Danny had in mind, but it gave me an excellent excuse to mention what I consider to be a great tool that, in many ways, is much more powerful and flexible than the kind of digitization projects I have already mentioned before. In actual fact, the availability of these electronic editions enable us to go one step further than simply using the current critical texts available in many Bible software packages.

I expect to see more exciting developments in this area in the near future.

More Bible Software for the iPhone

As a follow-up to my previous post on the subject, I found out other Bible software that works on the iPhone (and iPod Touch). Again, I don’t have an iPhone to try these applications, so you are all by yourselves. You can, however, look at the websites, watch the video demos available and draw your own conclusions.

Bible App

BibleXpress

Mantis Bible Study

TouchBible

Sorry I can’t offer much more info at the moment, but this should get you started if you are looking for some Bible software for that particular device. Feel free to share your experience if you have first-hand knowledge using these applications, or if you know of others that could be added to the list. Thanks!

A Collection of Clippings

My list of Bloglines clippings is becoming far too long and unmanageable. I clip things for a variety of reasons. Basically because I want to blog about certain posts I’ve read, or simply because I intend to go back and reread an entry when I have more time. Problem is that I never seem to “have more time,” so the list grows and grows until it defeats its original purpose. I still keep clippings going back to 2004!

In light of all this I’ve decided to post lists of sometimes unrelated bits and pieces that have called my attention. Under the original title of “Collection of Clippings” I will be sharing every now and again links and short news that you may find worth pursuing. I’ll do my best and try to group them around some common themes. Here’s the first installment for you.

One of the things I like to see is how Bible software users actually use these tools as part of their daily devotional, study, research or teaching routine, and also how they manage to find solutions for the cross-platform issues that very frequently arise.

Thomas Keene talks about how to run BibleWorks 7 on Linux with Wine. It sort of runs, if you can live without the toolbar (there are other ways to access the program features and tools) and some pesky problem with the numerous .chm files available (Microsoft compiled HTML help files).

Mark Barnes explains how he prepares a sermon with the help of a custom Logos Bible Software workspace. Don’t miss the couple of screencasts included in the post if you happen to be a Logos user.

Tim Bulkeley shares a screencast he did to show students how to use e-Sword like an English/Hebrew concordance to see how the Hebrew term helper/help in Gen 2:18 (Strong’s number H5828) is used in the Old Testament.

This Accordance forums thread on the default Accordance layout provides many useful ideas on how to organize the program based on different uses and tastes.

There is an excellent series of video tutorials by Michael Heiser on how to use the Andersen-Forbes resources available in Libronix here, here and here. I have been following them with interest, given the potential (and also complexity) of these tools. Update (August 21): Add this one to the list.

Back to the Source — The Movie

ScriptureDirect is not only an exciting new Bible software program, but also an innovative tool. iLumina paved the way for a whole new concept of user interface which brought together different multimedia elements into one single package (a la Encyclopaedia Britannica), but now ScriptureDirect has produced a 27-minute 3D animation movie called Back to the Source, where the term multimedia takes on a whole new meaning.

Rather than simply developing a professional and flashy ad to sell the product (only the last 4 minutes of the movie actually advertize the benefits of using ScriptureDirect), they have created a most interesting short movie explaining in very visual, entertaining and clear (albeit colloquial) language the “four keys” to biblical interpretation. While the plot unravels and Phil Davidson, a private investigator wearing Indiana Jones‘ hat and carrying around Luke Skywalker‘s binoculars, is out on his search for a treasure locked away by four keys, we are exposed to such important concepts as historical and literary context, original language and semantic discourse analysis. Even the typical New Testament exegetical workflow is laid out before us (i.e., divide the passage in smaller units, translate Greek into English, mark the significant meaning indicators, establish the meaning structure, and draw conclusions & make a summary).

This engaging story can be viewed online or downloaded, and it is particularly suited to introduce the work of exegesis to general audiences. I would say it will leave no one indifferent, and if you like Sci-Fi movies you will notice certain influences from titles like Minority Report or The Matrix.

One final comment, if you are a purist or think that exegesis has to be boring in order to remain a truly academic enterprise, don’t watch it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! :-)

Oh, the Joys of a Spam Free Site!

I used to have a lot of spam coming from the older contact form on BSR, the blog and, particularly, the forums. Everyday I would face the prospect of deleting lots and lots of messages and weeding out the valid comments. It got so bad that I decided to closed the forums until I could find a solution. But this is all old hat now!

The spam filter plugin for WordPress (Akismet) takes good care of the blog, whereas the free reCAPTCHA service blocks 100% of the spam bots elsewhere (i.e., site and forums). As a result, I don’t have to waste any time at all sorting messages or activating accounts. It’s a wonderful feeling!

Incidentally, this is one of the main reasons we don’t have a huge amount of registered users at the BSR forums yet. Those who do register are real people with a real interest in Bible software. The other reason, of course, is that we have reopened the forums just recently, and it takes time to build a community of users who get in the habit of “hanging around” and participating in the discussions on a regular basis. So, I do invite you to take a look and register. It won’t take much effort to do it (for humans, that is), and you will have a nice opportunity to interact with other users and Bible software developers. Also, keep in mind that there are some subjects you won’t find here (or, at least, not in much detail), that are dealt at some length in the forums. See this new discussion starter thread as an example.