Preface to the Spanish Edition of "A Practical Guide to Bible Software" (CLIE, 2000)

R. Prieto & P. Zamora

July 28, 2004

As editors of the Seminary Collection, we are very pleased to introduce the work of Rub�n G�mez to the Spanish-speaking readers, and we would like to thank him for the trust he has placed in us by allowing his book to be included as part of our series.

We can truly say that this is the first work of its kind to be published in Spanish, and that its publication fills an urgent and deeply felt need. In the last few years we have seen a plethora of software programs appear in our countries, but its use has been severely limited due, in fact, to the lack of a guide that could offer some basic and systematic orientation on how to use them effectively. As a matter of fact, a lot of Bible software users have had (and that includes us!) to learn by sheer use and are, therefore, self-taught in the handling of such programs. This necessarily means that whole areas remain in the dark, which in practice leads not only to an underuse of their full potential, but also to a poor quality of the end result. It is now widely acknowledged that an inappropriate use of these applications can even lead to erroneous conclusions in any research or search based on such tools.

Because of that, readers are going to find in their hands a guide that surveys the fundamental issues of computing as it applies to the biblical and theological fields (with a especial emphasis on the biblical side), that also offers basic information on the most widely used programs at the moment. But, most of all, it presents tips on how to make the best possible use of these priceless resources in their practical bearing on exegesis. As one might expect, manuals give information on the features and use of each particular program, but they do not show how to apply such knowledge to biblical exegesis. It is expected that the interpreter will know how to proceed in this area. Nevertheless, we usually find that people who can easily get hold of any of these programs can reach the conclusion that that is all it takes to embark on the adventure of exegesis without further ado. And also the other way round; quite a few able exegetes who know their trade very well do not feel quite as comfortable when it comes to using computer tools, and even tend to forgo their use altogether, which is really detrimental to their task. For these reasons, it was about time that someone with the necessary expertise in both areas, biblical and computer-related, would undertake the task of writing a guide like the one we are offering today. Rub�n G�mez has a wide academic experience in the biblical-exegetical field, and an enviable ability to understand the logic behind computer science and put it in laymen terms. This has allowed him to explore the synthesis between computing and biblical exegesis, and we present this primer, although it will probably not be the last work on the subject. We must insist here that the merits of this book do not lie in that it is better than the manuals provided by the Bible software programs themselves � and that is probable true! � but rather in the fact that it is a guide that has been put together by someone who knows what doing exegesis is and who, therefore, has written it specifically for those readers who are specifically looking for the biblical and exegetical usefulness of Bible software. Moreover, we believe that this work represents a hallmark in Biblical Studies in the Spanish-speaking world, and are convinced that it will contribute to further biblical exegesis in this our cultural milieu.

We have just mentioned a little bit about the academic curriculum of Rub�n G�mez, but now that we talk about our Spanish cultural context, we would like to point out that his biblical and theological training ranges from the purely Anglo-Saxon Protestant world to the Spanish Catholic academe. This is important because, unlike what happens with many authors who only work with a very narrow confessional group in mind, our author deliberately pays attention in his book to programs originating in the English-speaking, Protestant world � nowadays undoubtedly the leading force in the Bible software scene �, as well as those of Catholic origin, so that whoever reads the book will not feel excluded because there is not at least some information pertaining to his or her own context, no matter what his religious background or affiliation may be. In this sense, we are happy to see that Rub�n G�mez has decided to be as inclusive as possible.

On the other hand, we would like to underline an important element in this type of work; namely: the teaching ability shown throughout. The format used by the author in this book is very clear, precise and systematic. Where necessary, he uses illustrations and also boxes with additional information. Besides, the language used is excellent, since Rub�n G�mez has done his best to write in a good literary style, and has also tried to avoid the easy route of falling into computer jargon and Anglicisms. Instead, he has offered computer language in good Spanish, which, in view of the prevalence of English in this field, represents an extra effort. Also, in order to avoid any confusion, he offers the different terms that are sometimes used in Spain and Latin America as translations of the same English original.

We began this brief preface stating how happy we were for the opportunity to publish this book, and for the fact that it has been possible to include it in our collection. The praises noted here do not exclude any shortcomings, which, by definition, all written works have. Nonetheless, we believe that these are rather insignificant when compared with the quality offered, so that the reader will not feel disappointed at all. Furthermore, he or she will surely build up new expectations for a sequel to this work in a future second installment that might deal with more specific and specialized issues, for which a good guide is still sorely missed.

As editors of the Seminary Collection, it is our wish that this new book might attain its main goal, which is simply to render a good service to anyone willing to enter conscientiously into the world of the Bible. In the final analysis, may our Lord make that this thoroughness may lead all students of his Word to faith, hope and love. But above all, love.

Rogelio Prieto & Pedro Zamora
Co-principals of SEUT

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