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.

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BibleTech:2009

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 BibleTechConference.com.

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!

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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.

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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…

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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 @ http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pedagogytechnology/

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 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pedagogytechnology/. 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.

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