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Entries in SBL (3)


No Blood Drawn at 2011 SBL Bible Software Shootout

Two years ago, the debates got pretty heated in the blogosphere following the first SBL Bible Software Shootout. I even decided to remove one of my posts from This Lamp because of the bickering, primarily in the comments. Therefore, it's worth noting that this year's Bible Software Shootout was fairly tame and even considerably more collegial.

From the very beginning this second round was purposefully designed to lessen any chance of animosity among proponents of one Bible software package over another. Rather than any overtly competitive theme, this year's challenge centered around how Bible software could be used in the classroom. Titled, "Bible Software Shootout 2: The Revenge of the Teacher," the session was framed in a mostly non-competitive agenda (despite words like shootout and revenge in the title):

Software vendors will showcase their products to demonstrate how their software is used by real teachers in the classroom, in course preparation, and in assignments. The program will explore how the various packages all contribute to the learning environment.

Originally, I was planning to offer detailed description and analysis of the event, but I do not believe I could better the account detailed by Mark Hoffman at the Biblical Studies and Technological Tools website, which I strongly recommend for your reading. 

Three platforms were represented this year: Logos, Accordance, and Olive Tree's BibleReader. BibleWorks opted not to particpate, but I wish they had as I believe they would have performed well in this particular context.

Although the event was less overtly competitive, I could nonetheless offer value judgments if I wanted. However, such opinions tend to upset some people, so I'll keep them to myself (ask me privately if you're extremely curious). However, I will link to Roy Brown's 16-page handout (with screenshots) that serves as his presentation transcript for Accordance. If anyone knows of similar documents for the other presentations, let me know and I'll provide the links to those as well.

Full disclosure: I worked in the Accordance booth during SBL again this year.

Feel free to leave your questions, thoughts, comments and rebuttals below, but if folks get nasty this year, I'm not deleting the post; I'll only delete your comment.


OSNOVA Releases SBL Greek New Testament for Kindle

OSNOVA has released the SBL Greek New Testament for the Kindle, and the price is right: free. Here are some photos:

Above: "Cover" page

Above: Gospel of Matthew


Philippians in the SBLGNT

Since the SBLGNT is from OSNOVA, it has the incredible navigation system known as "Direct Verse Jump 2," developed by Illya Antonenko (look for a profile on OSNOVA and DVJ2 later this week on This Lamp).

To download the SBLGNT from OSNOVA, go here. For directions on how to move the downloaded file to your Kindle, OSNOVA has an easy to follow set of instructions. However, you can also simply send the file to your Kindle's email address (this is what I did), and it will appear on your home screen the next time your Kindle connects to the Internet.

More information:

The SBL Greek New Testament
How to use Direct Verse Jump 2

As always, questions, thoughts, comments and rebuttals are welcome in the comments below.


SBL: Software Bible Shootout

softwareI had the opportunity on Saturday to sit in on the "Bible Software Shootout" at SBL. This event was described in the program in the following manner:

Invited software vendors will showcase their products by demonstrating how their software solves five real-world problems in back-to-back comparisons. Each vendor will have 30 minutes, with the exception of SESB which will have 15 minutes.

Keith H. Reeves, Azusa Pacific University, Presiding

Logos Systems
Michael S. Heiser, Logos Systems, Respondent [replaced by Bob Pritchett]

Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible
Oliver Glanz, Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible, Respondent

Jim Barr, Bible Works, Respondent
Glen Weaver, Bible Works, Respondent
Mark Cannon, Bible Works, Respondent

Roy B. Brown, Accordance, Respondent
Rex A. Koivisto, Accordance, Respondent

Olive Tree
Stephen Johnson, Olive Tree Bible Software, Respondent
Drayton Benner, University of Chicago, Respondent

Each presenter was challenged to use their respective software packages to solve the following tasks:

  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 withe the Greek in the LXX (if there is a correspondence).

  3. Find all the occurrences of οἰ δὲ 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 are for each of the conjugations (perfect, imperative, etc.) person, number, gender, 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.

I do not know if the session was video recorded, but it should have been. The Accordance team was the only one to provide a paper presenting the steps in putting together the solutions to the problems above. If the Accordance folks decide to post their paper, I'll create a link to it here.

Now, let me say up front that I'm biased towards Accordance. I won't try to hide that fact. I'm so biased, in fact, that I've agreed to work the booth with them here at SBL. But I should also point out that my bias is neither random nor based on anything but my own experience with Bible software.

I've been using Accordance for over 11 years. I own the Scholar's Unlock All, Library Premier, and scores of other modules I've added over the years. But you should know that I also own Logos 4 Gold Level (and other resources bought separately) and have it installed both in Windows (via Bootcamp & Parallels) and in Mac OS X (although the Mac version currently is an alpha version that is of minimal use). I have a very old version of BibleWorks (v. 3.5) which I had from my Windows days before I switched to the Mac in 1998. All of the above, I have paid for with my own funds. I also have a copy of Olive Tree's Bible software on the iPhone, some of which I bought and some of which was given to me by Olive Tree.

Here are a few reflections:

I still don't understand why Oliver Glanz was demonstrating the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible, since it runs on the Logos platform.

My familiarity with Accordance vs. my lesser familiarity with Logos and my almost nil experience with the current version of BibleWorks made it difficult for me to follow some aspects of the latter two's presentation.

Logos 4 continues to be extremely impressive visually, but I have to wonder how much all the many charts and graphs would be of significant help if I was needing it to solve the problems that were part of the challenge. A good way to describe Logos 4 is "visually overwhelming." And while I don't mean that in a totally negative manner, it's not completely positive either. There simply seemed to be too much thrown at the problems during the presentation, and it wasn't clear how helpful some of the supposed solutions would actually be.

Although Olive Tree could not perform every aspect of the last two challenges, what they could do was very impressive, indeed. The representatives from Olive Tree showed that their "pocket" software can be used for very serious work if someone is so inclined to do so. It's been over a year since I wrote my initial review of the iPhone app, and it's probably time to post an update.

Of all the presenters, only Roy Brown of Accordance provided a handout describing his solutions to the problems. In fact, his handout was 12 pages long! This meant that anyone with access to the software could easily go home and duplicate his solutions, step-by-step. That would really be impossible with the other software unless the attendee was keeping extremely meticulous notes.

Roy is undoubtedly the "father" of Mac Bible software. The maturity and straightforwardness of his presentation, combined with his knowledge of the software as an engineer as well as his insight into the biblical language gave his presentation a certain level of gravitas that the other presentations could not match.

There was an ongoing query during the Q&A sessions regarding the availability of critical apparatuses. Accordance fared best here having a total of eight combined for the LXX, Hebrew Bible, and Greek New Testament, including the near exhaustive CNTTS. Olive Tree does not currently have any. BibleWorks only had one, but an older one of less value (Tischendorf). I don't remember how many Logos had, but I know that have at least one for the NT and one for the OT.

Finally, after the competition was over (no winner was actually announced), I spoke briefly with a former classmate of mine who is now a professor in a prestigious seminary. He told me that in watching the different presentations, he thought Accordance had the most logical and straightforward solutions to the problems. While he said that he did not know how to use Accordance yet, he felt confident that it was something that could be easily learned as a valuable tool for biblical studies.

Let me be clear: no one gave a bad presentation. But if I had to pick a winner, biased or not, I would pick Accordance because of its simple, straightforward and logical approach. The methods employed were both useful (and often multiple in number to achieve the same results) as well as direct and to the point, avoiding the temptation to "wow" an audience with impressive features that do not necessarily or directly address the issues at hand.