This is good: Hitler on Wright and Piper

HT: Joel Willits

But I also really like what my students have prepared:

In a discussion forum about Jesus movies, Bruce Longenecker was praising the BBC’s The Passion as one of the better recent Jesus movies (not to be confused with Mel Gibson’s similarly titled film).  I had almost forgotten about it because it came out just after we moved to the UK.  I highly recommend it too.  If you want to get a feel beyond the limited trailer, I noticed on Youtube someone has uploaded the different episodes if you look for “The Passion Episode …” 1-1, 1-2, etc.

Also in the discussion forum was a note about a dramatized version of the Gospel of Thomas.  Since there is no narrative in the account it is 45 minutes of Jesus giving the sayings with other actors for the disciples.  It does show the distinct contrast with other Gospels since there isn’t any narrative to go along with the teaching.

I’m looking to incorporate some in-class feedback from students, test exam questions, etc. by allowing students to answer questions by sending text messages.  I don’t intend to do it very often, and thus don’t want to pay anything–everybody wants something for free, right?  But, I was interested to see if anybody has used this and prefers of the of several services that offer the service.  It seems that there are several options (in the US): like or  Thoughts or recommendations?

During my first semester at MBI I taught a course on 1 and 2 Corinthians. As many readers will know, teaching these letters to non-specialists can be quite difficult, for many of the problems Paul addresses in them assume familiarity with the ancient world generally and Roman Corinth in particular. Therefore, as I prepared to teach the course, I sought to find a video resource that would introduce the colony to those who had never visited. What I found was a decent, though less-than-amazing, DVD that provides the viewer with an 11-minute tour of the ruins of ancient Corinth along with some of its history. The DVD sells on Amazon for $14.95, or can be downloaded instantly for $11.96. Admittedly, the price is a bit steep for what you get, but I was desperate (see the 2-minute preview on youtube). And regardless of the quality, I love videos like this, for they make biblical texts come more alive. When Paul wrote 1 and 2 Corinthians, he was addressing real people living in an actual city — in fact, a quite famous city, whose cultural preoccupations intensely affected and inhibited the maturation of the church. While important aspects of social history cannot be sufficiently communicated in them, videos like this help students at least become a bit more situated in the foreign landscape of the first-century world.

I don’t use many other videos in my teaching, though I’m sure my students wish I did! I own the DVD Where Jesus Walked (wow, selling for instant download at Amazon for $1.99!), though I have not yet had an opportunity to show it. If anybody knows of other video resources that might be helpful in teaching various NT (esp. text-based) courses, please do share them!

Texts/Versions and Modules: Bibleworks 9, like earlier versions of the software, includes a number of helpful texts and modules. The NIV and ESV 2011 updates are both available on BW9. Not available on BW9, unfortunately, is the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS), although this is available as a module on Accordance. (PDFs of NETS are available on line here). I should hope that NETS will be made available as a BW module in forthcoming versions, if not included for free, at least for purchase. 

Of course some of the included modules are more valuable than others, especially to professional academics and advanced students. Those which are made available for free are:

Old Testament Quotations in the NT, Archer & Chirichigno
BibleWorks Greek and Hebrew Paradigms
Moods and Tenses of NT Greek, by Ernest Dewitt Burton
Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, by R. H. Charles
Grammar of LXX Greek, Coneybeare & Stock
Grammar of the Greek NT, by William Hersey Davis
Hebrew Grammar, by Gesenius
The Apocryphal New Testament, by Montague Rhodes James
A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, by Joüon, Muraoka
Greek Enchridion, by William Graham MacDonald
Commentary on the Bible, by Matthew Henry
Textual Commentary on the Greek NT, by Bruce M. Metzger
Nave’s Topical Bible, by Orville J. Nave
Introduction to the Peshito-Syriac Text, by William Norton
A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, by A. T. Robertson
New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, by Michael L. Rodkinson
Early Church Fathers, by Philip Schaff
The Biographical Bible, by David G. Stephan
Grammar of Palestinian Jewish Aramaic, by Wm. B. Stevenson
The New Chain-Reference Bible, by Frank Thompson
Greek New Testament apparatus, by Tischendorf
TEXTKRITIK des Neuen Testaments, by Gregory
The New Topical Textbook, by R. A. Torrey
The Revised CATSS Hebrew/Greek Parallel Text introduction, by Tov & Polak
Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, by Daniel Wallace
Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, by Waltke and O’Connor

Users can purchase additional modules for the program, though their costs aren’t always cheaper than the hardcopy versions. I myself purchased the BDAG and HALOT lexicon bundle when I first got the program years ago. (These are so valuable that I recently donated my hardcopy of BDAG to a college charity auction since I always use the BW version and literally hadn’t used the hardcopy in years). I have since added the unabridged LSJ lexicon, the Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts, and Comfort and Barrett’s The Text of The Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts. All of these, except perhaps Comfort and Barrett (since I don’t do much TC), are must haves — IMHO. Now, those upgrading from BW7 and earlier will have to exchange their previous unlock codes for new ones since the codes work a bit differently now, though the submission process is painless; they are entered at the installation/modification menu and are now a couple of digits longer. But on the whole, I believe adding modules and downloading updates works better than it did formerly, since in the past I occassionaly encountered error messages that made things rather frustrating.

Analysis Window: I love the analysis window! I rarely used it on BW7, since it could not do much that I found helpful beyond defining and parsing words. But with the improvements introduced to BW9 (and BW8 before that), I now use the analysis window regularly. Its purpose is to provide additional data for the user to view which corresponds to the word over which the cursor is placed in the browsing window. The cursor in the browsing window is synched to the analysis window, so unless the shift-button is held down or the cursor stops moving, the data in the analysis window will continue to change as the cursor moves over new words in the browsing window.

To me, the two best features of the window are what are called the “use” and “browse” tabs. The “use” tab functions like an instant search tool, displaying every instance of the word which the cursor is placed over—with the option to view all its occurrences either in the individual book under study, or the entire version. If the cursor is placed over an English word, only that specific form of the word appears. However, if the cursor is placed over an ancient word, then the user has the option to view the occurrences of the word’s specific form, or all its forms.

The “browse” tab, on the other hand, functions as the name suggests: a second browsing window. When the cursor is placed over a verse in the main browsing window, the tab displays that verse (in bold) at the top of the analysis window together with those verses which immediately follow it—for as far down the screen as the interface allows. Since the main browsing window allows the user to view either an entire passage or a single verse in numerous versions, in my opinion this tool becomes most helpful when the version selected for the “browse” tab differs from that displayed in the main browsing window (all languages available in the main browsing window can be displayed through the tab). Otherwise, the tab only displays text already available in the main browsing window. This is a great feature, since BW7 only allowed the user to view a text in multiple versions once verse at a time. The only adjustment I recommend for future BW versions is to display the verse over which the cursor is placed in the middle of the window rather than at the very top of it, so that the user can see the text immediately preceding the verse as well as that which immediately follows it. For being able to view the immediately preceding text is often more beneficial than being able to view that which appears several verses later.

Because I rely on these two features so much, but also rely on the analysis window to view lexica (e.g, I’ve set the “analysis” [lexicon] tab to display BDAG entries when I place the cursor over Greek words), it is then additionally beneficial that BW9 has the option, as I’ve said in an early post, to expand the analysis window by opening a fourth window (on the far right) that allows the user to do two analysis functions simultaneously.

Search window: For me, the primary appeal of BW is the power and flexibility of its search engine. Through the search window command line, the user can search for verses containing individual words, forms of words, phrases, groups of words, parts of words, etc. For this reason, BW will appeal mostly to those who desire to do exegetical work in the original languages. Although modern-language-only users can benefit from the software’s ability to search phrases and word combinations that are impossible for an exhaustive concordance, my impression is that those who are interested in doing such complex searches are normally those who are able to work in the biblical languages. And I do such searches all the time. Much of my research would simply be impossible if I did not have such a useful search tool as BW.

New to me in the search window of BW9 (though I believe this feature first appeared in BW8) is the ability to rearrange and hide verses that return from a search. The user can now tick a box next to each verse that returns from the search in order to configure the results as desired. This is an especially helpful feature when a search returns so many extraneous verses that they become a distraction. By hiding the extraneous verses, the user can “clean up” the window and concentrate better on those that actually matter for the project.

Another great feature of BW is the use of tabs above the search window’s command line. The tabs function exactly like tabs in Internet Explorer: they allow the user to work with multiple texts and have multiples projects open at once, each with their own search results and analysis window. Since I frequently use BW to conduct word/phrase searches, I normally devote individual tabs to a specific corpus of literature, so I can quickly do a search in, e.g., the LXX/Apocrypha/NT, Josephus, Philo, or the Apostolic Fathers without having to close or change my current window.

Jim Barr at Bibleworks (BW) was kind enough to send me a review copy of BW9. My plan is to post a few blog entries over the next week or so commenting on the main features of the software (primarily for the benefit of newcomers to BW) as well as highlighting what’s new on BW9 (for users of older versions). Now, I should admit that I was using BW7 prior to receiving BW9 (I never purchased the BW8 upgrade). So I will do my best to distinguish what is new to BW9 from what is simply new to me. I will say at the outset, however, that after using BW9 for the past three or so weeks, I emphatically recommend that anybody (like myself) still using BW7 or earlier versions make the upgrade immediately: the improvements are well worth the expense.

Interface: The interface for BW9 is, thankfully, the same attractive and user-friendly interface used in earlier versions of the software, so longtime users need not fear any drastic changes there. There are still three primary windows appearing in vertical columns to aid users as they handle texts: the browsing window (in the middle), the search window (on the left), and the analysis window (on the right). New to BW9, however, is the wonderfully-helpful option to expand the analysis window by opening a fourth window (on the far right) that allows the user to do two analysis functions simultaneously.

Browsing window: One of the standout features of BW has always been the ability to view numerous versions of a single text in the same central browsing window. BW9 has all the main Bible translations and critical texts needed for studying Scripture, as well as many other valuable early Jewish and Christian texts. The single most obvious improvement of the browsing window (from BW7 anyway) involves the layout of the lists that appear when the user clicks on the tabs to select a Bible version, book, chapter, or verse. The list that opens no longer forms a single vertical column that may go well below the bottom of the screen (e.g., in earlier BW versions, if one were studying Psalms and clicked the chapter tab to change chapters, not all 150 chapters of Psalms would be able to appear as options on the screen at once). Rather, the lists now appear in multiple columns making it easier for users to select the desired version, book, chapter, etc., without having to scroll down the list. Also different from BW7, the lists of versions are now initially collated according to language. Once a language is selected, a new window opens displaying an alphabetized list of texts in that language in multiple columns. This is to be distinguished from earlier BW versions in which clicking the versions tab produced a single alphabetized list of all texts reaching well beneath the bottom of the screen.

Negatives: The only negative comment I wish to make now is that the program takes a bit longer to open than my previous version. This may have to do as much with my aging laptop as anything, but I do wish it didn’t take so long to start up.

I will post on the search and analysis windows soon, as well as on the new modules and other helpful BW9 features.

I took a road trip this weekend to Ft Worth to a taster event offered by Logos this weekend at SWBTS.  The best part of the event is always the road trip with friends–I got to share a ride with David Capes, Peter Davids, and Phillip Marshall, who are my collegues at HBU.  It’s great having some established scholars in the department like Peter, who knows everybody it seems and has some great stories.

But to the larger topic, I’ve never been a big Logos user partially because of the price and partially because of the speed, but I do have several key texts that I use in Logos (TDNT, IVP Dictionaries, BDAG, LSJ, ABD).  This overnight event was very eye-opening for me, and I was very impressed with the Logos platform and where it is heading.  I am still convinced that BibleWorks is still the best bang for your buck if you are doing core biblical studies and want direct access to key ancient texts, but the importance of Logos is their commitment to emerging forms of media like tablets and smart phones as well as what appears to be a little more savy with regard to ease of use.

Recognizing that this was a sales pitch, I doesn’t seem that they are misguided when they talk of world of paperless books in the near future, particularly to the growing popularity of tablets.  I’m not sure how I would fully integrate Logos into my teaching at this point (though their rt-click, add to Powerpoint option for all their stuff definitely and audibly won the crowd and me over), but Bob Pritchett definitely started my gears turning when he started to help us envision a classroom in that world of no print books.  We have recently had a speaker on HBU’s campus that mentioned how the internet was going to radically shift the value proposition of traditional institutions.  Students will have to be convinced that the gen ed portion of the education needs to be as expensively offered through these institutions rather than through the cheaper online options.  One way (that I’m sold on and use already some because it’s much more like the British model) to increase that value proposition was to include more discussion in the classroom since they can’t get that online, and then to offer some lecture portion online for the class that the student can watch when it’s most convenient to them (an aspect I don’t do, though think it would have benefits).  This fits well with the Active Learning method that I am hoping to integrate more and more.

At any rate, the Logos proposition would facilitate some of that, but it’s a wider issue beyond their software.  However, they (Logos) seem to see how that environment will shape things in the not-to-distant future, and it’s that vision for the way technology will shape society that strikes me as a fundamental value proposition for Logos.  That is, not only do they offer a very good (but wildly expensive, imho, vis-a-vis BW) product, they also clearly have a vision for the future that will enable the longevity of the product.  I’m sure BW will remain competitive, but with their lack of integration into tablets and phones (which to my basic knowledge is not anything that will change soon, though feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) will create difficulties for them and therefore for us.

Now that I’ll have the scholars edition of Logos with the biblical texts to integrate with the dictionaries that I already owned, I’ll have to see how user friendly it all is in practice, but I’m definitely interested to try it out, not least since so much of my time is currently devoted to teaching preparation and therefore Powerpoint.

This will definitely be an addition to my NT classes in the future.

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