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Saturday, May 23, 2009
  Eternal life?
Ilkka Rauhala posted this video to his facebook status. It nicely states some of the communication issues in presenting "the gospel" to a Buddhist.



I can't help wondering if (even for Western cultures and languages) "eternal life" is the best translation of ζωή αἰώνιος? Might αἰώνιος not suggest more life of the age that's coming, so be suggesting something like the dreams of a new age in texts like Rev 21:1ff. or Is 11:1ff.; 61:1ff.? Can any of you Greek/NT scholars help clarify this for me?

I am an INFP so I work most easily with intuitions, and my intuition is that ζωή αἰώνιος sounds like "life of the age to come" especially if I back translate to something like עוֹלָם...

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007
  Unicode for Dummies II (on Windows XP)
Mark has posted a fuller and more detailed post that links to sets of instructions for those who are not geeks but want to use Unicode to make their biblical language text transportable to other computers (like my post below, he focuses ion Windows XP - one day enough people will have Vista for someone to worry about the differences!). So if:
  • you are not at all tech savey and just want to type Hebrew, Greek or transliterations that others can read - go HERE and use the Tyndale Font Kit
  • you are a bit tech literate AND you would like a choice of fonts - go HERE after installing the Tyndale Font Kit (but BEWARE do not follow the advice at Greek Geek to install or use BW fonts, they are great for users of the BibleWorks program but they are "legacy fonts" and do not transport well)
  • you are moderately techie, and want (possibly better) a choice of different keyboards and fonts perhaps even for Syriac or Coptic - go HERE and feast
I have been remiss in not highlighting the SIL fonts and system, I just wanted to keep things as simple as possible for the people who ask me about "fonts" for Hebrew. The SIL fonts and systems for many many languages are HERE, just make sure that if one is listed as "Unicode" you choose that one!

Bible Texts in Unicode (for cut and paste if you do not have Logos and can't make BibleWorks export in Unicode):
  • TanakhML Hebrew Bible Browser (nb. at the right under "Display" you have a choice of turning vowels, accents and other marks "On" or "Off" to make your text maximally readable turn accents "Off" - they will show as little empty boxes for people without the specialised fonts, while the basic consonants and vowels should display OK even for them)
  • Greek NT and LXX (I was not able to find an accented Greek

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Thursday, June 14, 2007
  Unicode for Biblical Studies (on WindowsXP)

Ancient History (aka the 1970s-1990s)

In the "bad old days" computers did not understand non-Roman alphabets (like much in this post this is a gross over-simplification, if that troubles you you are in the wrong place - try Alan Wood’s Unicode Resources for a more complete presentation). To overcome this biblical scholars (at least those who were also geeky enough to want to process words in Hebrew, Greek...) needed to install special fonts that fooled the poor machine into thinking that a lowercase "x" looked like this: ח or, on other occasions like this: Χ, in other words the font represented Hebrew, Greek etc. characters, while telling the computer that they were proper American ones (the coding system was called ASCII "American Standard Code for Information Interchange").

This was simple, until you wanted to give your document (on a "floppy" remember those - once they were floppy too!) to someone else. At that point they had fun decyphering text like this: "d#r&k m*H$s@" and most gave up saying "It's all Greek to me!" at which point one informed them gently that it was actually Aramaic and everything went downhill from there!

I've seen the present - and it works!


All that is changing.

WindowsXP and most programs designed for it (like your Wordprocessor or Browser) understand Unicode. Like ASCII, Unicode represents characters by number codes. Unlike ASCII (which only had 128 characters, 33 of which wouldn't print anyway!) Unicode even in its simpler forms has THOUSANDS of characters so "x" means x and not ח or Χ which each just stand for themselves. And... when you send your document to someone else there is a very good chance the "foreign" alphabets will be readable, even if still without good fonts they may not be pretty. (The sad exception to this is complex accents and the like which risk showing up as little rectangles. The good news is though that whatever font they download that contains these signs will display them this sometimes looks untidy, but it is way more readable than "d#r&k m*H$s@".)

How to do it: Unicode for (Biblical Scholarly) Dummies


It is not difficult, just download the Tyndale House Font Kit. Install it, (you can pretty much take the defaults), so that basically means a double click after you download and then double click again on the install file.

After installation, at the bottom of your screen you will see a new little square with two letters (these represent the language you are using, EN = English, FR = French etc. - for these purposes Americans are understood to be using "English" ;-) If you click on the button (once will do, do NOT get overenthusiastic, Jean) you will see a popup like this:

This will allow you to select Greek or Hebrew as your input language (temporarily) Greek includes transliteration characters for Hebrew transcriptions too (just use shift lock). At first you will probably need the keyboard layout, so print out the file called: Keyboards.doc in the C:\Program Files\Tyndale Unicode Font Kit directory.

That's all folks!



Post Scriptum:

Except to add that as Daniel mentions in his comment below:
Another cool thing about Unicode is that when you copy and paste text into your word processor from a program like Logos Bible Software the fonts just...work. This painlessness is what persuaded Logos to adopt the Unicode Way back in 2001...
Thanks, Daniel, yes it has been a good feature that Logos adopted early, Bibleworks is still playing catch up in cutting and pasting.

BW users need to know that they have to go: |Tools| |Options| |Fonts| and tell the program that the "Export Fonts" should be Unicode, rather like this:


Post Scriptum II


Daniel (below) also points to Windows Keyboards for Ancient Languages as well as Greek and Hebrew (and transliteration) include also Syriac and one tailored for the entry of Coptic. If you have Logos installed these are probably both the easiest and best Unicode keyboards to use. If you use BibleWorks or another (non-Unicode) program then the Tyndale Font Kit is probably the easiest way to go. Either way your text will be readable by more people! (Everyone using WinXP+ or MacOSX+ if you use no accents... for accents they will require a suitable scholarly Unicode font but it does not matter which one they have :)

Post Scriptum III

Bible Texts in Unicode (for cut and paste if you do not have Logos and can't make BibleWorks export in Unicode):

  • TanakhML Hebrew Bible Browser (nb. at the right under "Display" you have a choice of turning vowels, accents and other marks "On" or "Off" to make your text maximally readable turn accents "Off" - they will show as little empty boxes for people without the specialised fonts, while the basic consonants and vowels should display OK even for them)
  • Greek NT and LXX

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