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Saturday, October 04, 2008
  Scholarship is not "free" but it should be open
Way back in July (in the depths of my winter) Charles posted on the topic of the cost of scholarship. Since then I have been intending to reply ;)

In Is Scholarship Really Free? Charles argued that:
  • it is good when scholarship is freely available:
    I really love the fact that so much academic material is now distributed free of charge: the Oriental Institute is offering their treasure-trove of publications gratis, lectures on every conceivable topic from thermodynamics to Thermopylae are available on institutional sites as well as iTunes U, free online journals have arisen, and individual scholars are putting their work on their websites.
  • even such scholarship however is not really "free", since someone paid for it, he groups the patrons of scholarship (or rather its production and publication) as:
    • institutions that can use "scholarship" as advertising - here he lists teaching resources
    • institutions that employ scholars to research - if degree level teaching is "research led" should not all institutions employing scholars be employing them to research?
    • individual scholars - working for love
    • publishers - who pay for proofing and other editorial work
       
  • distribution costs(e.g. printing or hosting) need to be paid for
Thus far it seems to me to be good common sense. Scholarship is not free, nor is its distribution.

Though, Charles writes about scholarship in general, I'll distinguish between the research and teaching components. In this post I'll focus on research, since I have different things to say I'll do another post on teaching.

Scholarship is not free, nor is its distribution.

But institutions pay for its production either because that is what they have been given money to do, or in order to gain "profile". I'd add that (at least in places influenced by the European tradition) they also sponsor scholarship in order to retain the right to teach degrees. And sometimes individuals contribute out of love for the subject, as they have always done. Scholarship that is "paid for" in some other way, like medical research whose patron is a drug company, is suspect as it has sold its impartiality.  Scholarship which is driven by the royalties from book sales is NOT scholarship and is not worth reading ;)

Distribution costs. Traditionally scholarship was nevertheless made open through the existence of libraries which opened their doors to unattached scholars as well as to institution members, sometimes there was a small fee but this did not often bar anyone with an interest from access. Today with electronic distribution those costs are negligible Charles asks: "who’s going to host the publications and pay for bandwith" since the costs are now very low. My host copes with 60GB a month data transfer, which since "scholarly publication" is usually words with some pictures is quite a lot of scholarship ;) for US$100 per year which includes a domain name. That equates to over 2,000,000 scholarly books for $100 or 0.000000108 US cents per book. (Yes I know in reality the labour involved maintaining the site costs far more than the hosting, so let's multiply the figure above by 1000 making a whopping 0.000108 US cents per monograph.)

That leaves editing. Traditionally much editing of scholarly work has been done by volunteers, e.g. those who edit journals for the kudos not the cash. That is becoming less workable and has never worked for larger projects, like monographs. The open access movement began with research grants and institutions paying for this, but why not in each developed country a tiny proportion of the research budget gets spent on providing editing services to peer reviewed publications. It is after all in the national interest, in dozens of ways, to be seen to sponsor such work! (It would also be in the national interest to sponsor good work from scholars in other countries ;)

My conclusion is the direct opposite of Charles'. Research publication should be freely accessible, except where such "research" has been bought by the military, by drug companies... and then it should NOT be considered a scholarly but a commercial activity, and so not eligible for tenure, promotion or other scholarly uses ;)

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008
  What will we do when you are gone: digital life after death
In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
[1789 B. Franklin Letter 13 Nov. in Writings (1907) X. 69] Quoted from Answers.com

Indeed, as we all know, taxes can be avoided, at least by the rich. Death however, is in the end unavoidable and unpredictable, our end might be tomorrow if we fail to take due care crossing the street.

It's an issue we don't talk about, indeed until recently (at least in my experience) it is one that people online have avoided thinking about. In nthe "virtual world" we've pretended that death happens to other people. This pretence is assisted by the fact that online the dead simply "fade away", there is no new activity on the blogs and email lists and even attempts at direct contact (unless you use a phone number or physical address - which is cheating) simply go unanswered.

What happens, though, to all the effort and love that have gone into our online worlds when we die. Print books continue to reside on library shelves until the special entropy that affects libraries moves them to the stacks, and eventually to the second hand bookshop. Online it is different, as Peter discovered (aftermath of Early Christian Writings and friends) even without the extreme case of death a little inattention and your site is gone.

Of course there is the Wayback Machine.However, out of the more than 1,600 pages in my Amos commentary the best result this branch of the Internet Archive can offer is 95 pages from 2005. This blog, though it has a few less pages suffers even more the highest Wayback score is 7 pages.

Peter's problems stemmed from a failure to renew his domain name on time, I wonder who has the details of your domain registrations, hosting accounts etc. and do they know that they will be responsible for the treasures after you are gone?

Now that I've put the wind up you by introducing the extreme (if totally unavoidable) case of death, what about the other common problem, a fine resource is built up - let's call it New Testament Gateway (since a while back Mark discussed just this issue) the originator of the site loses energy or moves on to other tasks, or is simply overwelmed... Certain sites are of use to all of us, we rely on them. Yet their future is highly insecure.

What should we do?

Some suggestions for discussion:
  • individually: we should seriously think about making a list of key data for our domain names and hosting etc. and ensuring someone we trust has it and has the means to use it in the event we cease to be able to...
  • as communities (and I guess these would have to be informal ad hoc small communities) we agree on some sites that are worth maintaining and developing, and in collaboration with their founders we take steps to ensure continuance and continuity.
  • maybe: CARG should organise first discussion and them action to ensure that some of this gets done in a more organised and collective way...
If we do nothing the future of the past of biblical studies online is very insecure.

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Sunday, August 31, 2008
  Hebrew vocabulary learning
Alan Lenzi has posted about his approach to teaching vocabulary to beginning Hebrew students. "The idea is rather simple: provide a simple or familiar context for each vocabulary word and one will more easily remember the word."

This approach is one we valued in developing דָּבָר Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies project. Along with the other contextual material: sound, picture, other forms, semantic field... we included a phrase from the Bible that uses the word to be learned. In our version the student can also hear n0t only the lemma, but also the example phrase.

Allan has prepared lists for about 1200 words. We only have about half that "done" so far. But if you notice that "vocabularies" is plural in the name we chose you may also spot that with our system you can produce the vocabulary you need for whichever grammar book or course you are using. If you need a word we have not yet done you can become a "contributor" and get a login to add data to the collection to fill in the gap.

Here is what one word would look like to the student.

BTW if you want Greek flashcards Danny has a system to offer. Which allows me to mention that דָּבָר Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies project also allows you to output your vocabularies for printing to use as flashcards. (Actually flash two sheets of paper that slide but that will save trees too!)

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Saturday, August 30, 2008
  Theological education and outdoctrination
Linking to Geoff's "Creativity in Theological Education" post and then watching the brilliant presentation (in just 20 minutes) by Sugata Mitra the Indian "Hole in the Wall" man (on TED) "Can kids teach themselves?" has got me thinking (again) about how we do theological education the wrong way round.

[By the way if you have only heard about Sugata Mitra's work it is well worth spending 20 minutes to watch the man himself, whether you agree with him or not, he is a fine presenter!]

He calls his suggestions "outdoctrination" because they are the opposite of indoctrination. In indoctrination a teacher who "knows better" tells a student the answers. Most theological education is built from the ground up on an indoctrination model. Teachers (or possibly the school boards who govern the teachers - quis custodiet custodes) decide the curriculum. They then decide how it is to be taught and how success is to be measured. Students then are fitted into this mold. Evidently, despite our efforts to steer clear of "imposing" our conclusions on students, this is indoctrination. After all, though we may seek to avoid imposing answers, we did impose the questions!

Why not a system designed the other way up. Start from real issues and situations and get teachers to asist students to learn what they need/want to approach these issues. There would be severe difficulties creating "suitable" learning outcomes, and perhaps worse ones working out how to measure them - but I suspect the real measure of success would be seen when students "leave college" and really start to learn!

[I suspect Dr Mitra, a professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle, thinks his work only applies to kids, and that adults are too far calcified in the cortext, but I wonder, humans have more capacity to make do and adapt, I believe that even "mature students" can still learn if we offered them "minimally invasive theological education"!]

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008
  Scholarly prejudice against electronic publication, among biblical scholars
Torrey has a short post taking notice of the Prophecy and Apocalyptic: Additional Bibliography that the Institute for Biblical Research has put up on their website. Sandy and O’Hare write:
This collection of sources supplements a bibliography published by Baker under the auspices of the Institute for Biblical Research: D. Brent Sandy and Daniel M. O’Hare, Prophecy and Apocalyptic: An Annotated Bibliography (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007).

In the process of compiling sources, hundreds were entered into our data base (many of which were annotated), but in the end they could not be included in the final selection for the printed edition of the bibliography. Hence, those sources are here made available.

Which is great, a sort of bonus for those who have the print book. Well done! However, they also write:
One advantage of this
digital version of the bibliography is that you may search for specific
words pertinent to your research.
Which is not so great... because what it means is that I can easily search the supplementary material, but the material in the print book must be inconveniently searched by hand. In other words the bibliography would have been better published online or at least electronically in the first place! BUT some criterion other than the advantage to the user caused it to be published in print, and now in order that the print book may sell the online more convenient and usable version cannot contain the full dataset.

The scholarly prejudice against e-publication strikes again!

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008
  Genesis 1: בָּרָא (again)
I noted below John's (Hobbins) post about John's (Walton) claim that בָּרָא does not mean "create" as in "make from nothing" but rather "create" as in "give a new function to" - and this description is a gross oversimplification of much more nuanced claims. Well, even more credit is due to both Johns, and to John 1's commenters also (since I suspect that their kind and quality persuaded John 2), there is now a follow up: The Goal and Purpose of Genesis 1: John Walton Responds, in which John 2 explains his thought further, and provides some tantalising hints about his forthcoming Eisenbrauns monograph on the subject. Even on a quick read I am much more nearly convinced than I have been by the Genesis NIVAC alone.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008
  Note to Tyler: re Biblical Studies Carnival
Tyler there are two posts this morning in my reader that I think you should consider mentioning in the next Carnival.

The first is Duane's abnormally interesting, and credulous(?), Isaiah 38:9-20: An Abnormal View in which he provides a strong sketch of arguments that might be made to claim that Hezekiah actually wrote part of the Bible in his own hand. (At the moment I hope he does expand the post to a paper, it would be fun to hear the discussion! And perhaps I will as I continue to follow the blogs over the next few days/weeks :)

The second I am also noting for my Genesis class reading list (for next semester) where John (Hobbins) asks: Does Genesis 1 describe the creation of things or the assignment of functions to things? A Response to John Walton frankly he takes John (Walton)'s special pleading more seriously than I would, but he provides a really good clear discussion that I want my students to follow.

Two fine examples of why (biblio/biblia)blogging is both fun, and useful!

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Saturday, May 03, 2008
  Commentaries and Open Publication
Alan Lenzi has a couple of provocative posts, in the more recent he discusses why biblical scholars write commentaries (he counted and Dove list over 80 on Job alone):
  1. Commentary writing appeals to our strengths and training...
  2. Commentary writing is a recognized genre within the guild ... All the great scholars write commentaries...
  3. Commentary writing is relatively straight-forward...
  4. Commentary writing can be an act of piety...
  5. Commentaries sell so publishers keep asking scholars to write them...
  6. Commentary writing reflects and contributes to advances in the field, presenting the latest research in a convenient location...
Just a few days earlier he wrote about The Open Access Monograph Series That Almost Was and dropped frustrating hints about a newer and better project. So, before he (or someone else) announces that project, I'll reiterate a call for contributors. Any established scholar who wants to write a commentary on a biblical book, and who is interested in getting your work seen and used more widely than print can achieve, take a look at the Hypertext Bible Commentary project, and then contact me for more details.

The Amos "volume" has already (in its peer reviewed stable form) been consulted by thousands of readers each month since its publication in late 2005. The changeable experimental version also gets a huge number of visitors.

If you don't want to spend the time to write a commentary, or you are not yet an "established" scholar then, offer a dictionary article these too will get larger than print readership, these also will be peer reviewed before publication, and so should "count" as publications, but most of all you will contribute to making solid information available to everyone who is interested. And unlike most scholarly writing your article will get read and considered and used!

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Sunday, March 30, 2008
  Amos review in Maarav
Jim W kindly emailed me a copy of the review of the Amos: Hypertext Bible Commentary from Maarav 14.1 which appeared recently. Since I am currently in a refugee camp I had no other way to see it. Walter Kim (Harvard) has done an excellent job of first understanding the nature and aims of the project, and then reviewing it on its own terms. He understands the medium and his criticisms are well worth consideration. Some will probably be incorporated into a second edition of Amos one day - and may well get incorporated into the changeable version earlier than that (n.b. there are two editions the stable, citable, peer reviewed edition on CD, and currently also at http://hypertextbible.org and the "wild" edition that I may change any time and therefore is neither stable, nor formally peer reviewed). I plan to post discussion of some of the ideas from these print reviews in the near future, but not till we are home from the camp and I have again the luxury of peace and quiet for thinking ;-)

For now I will just quote the closing paragraph, and bask!
The digital revolution has altered the way people shop and interact. In this unique commentary, Bulkeley suggests that the revolution extends to the way people learn and that the organization of information ought to reflect that transformation. The field of biblical studies is in many ways a conservative endeavor. Scholars work with ancient and venerable things. This commentary, however, suggests that one need not work with them in ancient and venerable ways. With the rise of the internet, the landscape of learning is changing, and Bulkeley helps the reader explore the possibilities of this new terrain. With a vast array of sound files, photos, encyclopedic articles, and traditional commentary on verses, readers of various levels of training and expertise can browse the commentary and construct a rather different experience, based upon the links pursude or ignored. Because the internet permits learning to occur as controlled chaos, the person who searches on the webexercises a vaste amount of autonomy in the selection and utilisation of resources. Bulkeley's commentary puts the reader in a similar position.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007
  Learning Hebrew Vocabulary
John, the prolific, Hobbins has posted, as a demonstration of concept The Human Anatomy in Ancient Hebrew: An Introduction. Basically he is proposing a better way to present and learn vocab. Through displaying a semantically related collection of words and their relationships. What he is proposing goes far beyond what we can achieve through דָּבָר : Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies project. Though we have tried, by using semantic field as one of the ordering categories, to make something approaching John's dream more possible.

At present, with only about 550 words, we are far short of the thousands John's dream requires, though that's the beauty of a distributed collaborative project, if John, and you, join in the full list would soon be done! As a sample of the sort of thing a student would see I have outputted the currently available "kinship terms":
If you want to play with the system email me: tim (at) carey.ac.nz
.

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Friday, October 05, 2007
  Ehud Ben Zvi and the futire [read "future"] of scholarly publishing
As John reminded me in an email and shows in his post Ehud Ben Zvi, the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, and Hypertextuality, the article by Ehud that SBL forum published while I was on holiday deserves comment and discussion.

The article is titled "A Prototype for Further Publication Development of the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures and Other Open-Access Journals" from its opening paragraph it is full of good stuff.
Worldwide, completely free, and unrestricted access to peer-reviewed journal literature is a social and academic good. It is important for the creation and dissemination of knowledge, and as such to the academic guild and to society in general. It is important for individual researchers, students, libraries, and the general educated public..
That paragraph might be dismissed as a platitude, or a pious hope, or even a utopian dream - and would have had to be, even a mere twenty years ago. Yet for over ten of those twenty years JHS has provided a working model. And one that has also changed and adapted. Changing technologies of print have permitted the Journal to be now also available in that secondary format.

The article briefly charts the progress and increasingly firm establishment of the Journal. In doing so it also comments on the acceptability of electronic publication within the academy. In a number of areas I would currently offer a less optimistic conclusion. So, Ehud writes:
In 1996, when the journal was begun, many scholars expressed serious concerns about how publication in open-access, electronic journals would be assessed for tenure and promotion. Electronic publication is not an issue anymore..
Anecdotal evidence suggests that (at least in NZ) while between 1996 and our first government-conducted round of Performance Based Research Funding assessments in 2003 Electronic publication grew strongly in esteem, but that by the second round in 2006 they had again become somewhat suspect. (There MAY be good reasons for this, not all electronic journals are as scrupulous as JHS in their review processes... The evidence is merely anecdotal because the process is confidential and the criteria are secretive and not revealed to the public who pay for the exercise or to the academics who are graded by it. This is a government activity ;-)

Ehud also admits:
there are still financial and human resources problems associated with the open-access model..
This surely is a major understatement! Recently the NY Times has ceased offering its Select service online through a subscription-based economic model. While the NY Times stresses the success of this subscription model with US$10 Million revenue annually, the following comment:
“But our projections for growth on that paid subscriber base were low, compared to the growth of online advertising,” said Vivian L. Schiller, senior vice president and general manager of the site, NYTimes.com..
Suggests that this change is due to lack a real critical mass of subscribers willing to pay for online content, rather than altruism! Meanwhile although providers of mass entertainment may be able to make a financially viable model using advertising revenue, but such a model (even if the academy desired it ;-) is unlikely to be viable for the average Biblical Studies publication. For there are costs involved in electronic publishing. Despite the possibility of greater use of peer-reviewers as amateur proof-readers several open access peer reviewed publications have been criticised for issues of quality control that in a conventional print publication would have been corrected by the proof-reading process. Some reviewers of the Amos: Hypertext Bible Commentary volume have drawn attention to such issues. John in his response to Ehud's article raises the same issue that Ehud raised in his review of my Amos commentary
Secondly, a number of articles published in JHS seem not to have been carefully proofed. In my own case, that is one reason I have not submitted anything to JHS. No matter how careful I am, typographical errors and worse creep in to the work I do. In this I am not alone. JHS needs to have higher copyediting and proofing standards..
A return to patronage (or sponsorship as it is often known today) is another model that is increasingly touted to provide necessary resources for open access publication. In the sciences it is common now for journals to request a fee (often paid out of the grant that funded the research). However, in Biblical Studies such possibilities are not the norm. All patronage raises questions about the independence of the research and its conclusions, so such a model is not without its problems, even if rich donors with an interest in the Bible were queuing up at our doors ;-) (See Sebastian Mary's books and the man, part III: the new patronage for one interesting viewpoint.)

Up to now JHS has published its articles in basic text format. The filetypes offered have changed, now just the page representation of PDF and the more fluid HTML with the proprietary wordprocessor formats MS-Word and Word-Perfect being dropped. Both formats are capable of moving beyond text, but thus far JHS has not explored these possibilities. In part this was doubtless driven in the early days by a desire to keep the journal as familiar as possible. It has also been driven by an appropriate caution:
Not everything that can be done in e-publication of texts is of necessity helpful. We have great tools, but one of the challenges we face is what we should do with them..
Now, however, changes are being explored which might see JHS begin to explore the greater possibilities that electronic publication offers beyond mere linear text.

When Ehud introduces these possibilities in this article he also mentions the need to avoid leaving readers "lost in hyperspace." Yet that is close to my experience with the early prototype pages he linked to in his email to JHS subscribers. For every occurrence of words such as Haggai or Zechariah (inevitably common in this article on "The Formation and intention of the Haggai-Zechariah corpus") produces a popup link to various online biblical texts. Since this is generated automatically the mention of "Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest" produces a less useful link to the text of Joshua 1:1. Thus in two ways this article exemplifies one of the problems with hypertexting biblical studies, link overload, and the mechanical generation of excess and unhelpful links. Different projects will doubtless cope with these issues in different ways, till gradually new conventions emerge. We need discussion of these issues, but there are few places where practitioners of academic hypertext can meet and share wisdom.

[Incidentally, the Hypertext Bible Dictionary will try to deal with this issue by generating most links (except those with biblical chapter and verse references) manually through the decision of an author or editor. See the draft instructions for authors.]

Automated linking also produces other issues, such as nul returns like that from BiBIL for the name August Klostermann. Since these results take time to generate empty results are annoying for users. This problem, of course, is one that clever programming may enable the actual implementation of this hypertext version of the Journal to avoid. But clever programming costs money, which brings us back to the issue of funding open access projects.

That JHS is doing this using XML and from the comment: "The purpose of these xml files is to allow readers to create their own hypertexts, if they so wish, within the limitations of open access databases." I assume and hope an open XML format and perhaps even a standard one like OSIS.

I will end these brief comments quoting Ehud's conclusion:
to implement all of these while keeping the journal open access, which is a non-negotiable issue for us, is a tough act. It involves technical, financial, and general resources challenges. It also requires a great amount of goodwill from a lot of people.
and hoping that the implementation will also be supported through ongoing conversation with other interested parties - not least JHS readers!

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007
  AKMA, Prince, Radiohead and Biblical Studies
AKMA has a post noticing Radiohead’s new album, In Rainbows and its business model, for forty pounds sterling you can get a package with EVERYTHING:
…the new album, in
rainbows, on CD and on 2 x 12 inch heavyweight vinyl records.
A second, enhanced CD contains more new songs, along with digital photographs
and artwork.
The discbox also includes artwork and lyric booklets.
All are encased in a hardback book and slipcase.
But if all you want is the music, of the basic album, why download it and pay whatever you think is right. That's right, you fix the price.

Business Week had this to say:
Radiohead is trusting its fans to do the right thing, or something approximating the right thing.And I tend to think they will.File under "needless to say:" It's very hard to imagine an actual big-deal record label attempting anything like this.
Amy Phillips on Pitchfork wrote:
Haha, the entire record industry is so fucked!
AKMA expressed similar sentiments more verbosely but decorously:
You prosper in the digital environment by giving away what the internet
makes easy and by charging for what the internet doesn’t
facilitate (personal appearances, physical artifacts like packaging,
clothing, books, and so on). It’s that simple, but some
people and some corporate entities want to force the internet to
conform to the properties and characteristics of a pre-digital
environment. In the long run, they’ll be as successful as the
dinosaurs who commanded mammals to respond the the ice age by voluntary
mass extinction.
I am convinced they are right... But how do people (say biblical scholars) who do not get paid mega-bucks for personal appearances and the like pay for the other people's work needed for a successful publication. Our own work is either a hobby or we are paid for it as part of our job, but whatever format we choose except the casual blog, we need proofreaders, designers, film editors etc... to help make the "product"... how do we pay them?

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Monday, October 01, 2007
  Biblical Studies Carnival XXII

Biblioblogger of the month

As Jim reported:

"Alan Bandy was [the] victim subject interviewee for the September Biblioblogger of the Month.

Biblical studies as an international discipline

Jan Pieter van de Giessen emailed me "I think it would be nice giving some attention to nonEnglish Biblical Studies blogs". I thoroughly agree. However, there are some problems. All of us are busy, blogging is relegated to odd moments or the "small hours of the night", and many English-speaking biblical studies bloggers have not had the advantage of living or working much in other languages. Thankfully, Jan Pieter himself, Jim West (as multilingual a polymath as even John Hobbins could wish!) and others have nominated a number of posts.

We should be grateful to them for their nominations mentioned in the "sections" below.

JP proposed a couple of items that I found difficult to place, Jona Lendering writes about Synesius of Cyrene in Eenoprecht onoprechte bekeerling: Synesios van Cyrene (deel 4) and Mark's new (first post 18th) TheologicalGerman/Theologisches Deutsch a site for reading and discussing theological German, with its sister site Celucien's Theological French/Français théologique which is also brand new, and looks to be planning to start from the very beginning - with the "French alphabet"!

Jim also mentions a new Swedish blog Exegetisk Teologi when I looked (25th) it only had one post [Update: sorry, I don't know what happened here, put it down to being overworked and underpaid;-) there are dozens of posts.], Bilder på kung Herodes stenbrott, since this "Kredit till Dr Jim West, som på Biblical studies mailinglista, tipsade om detta", we at least know how the polymath knows of this new blog, though I am not at all sure how he discovered "Little Ho" or his post 駱駝穿過針眼 about the Camel and the eye of a needle! I suspect that humour aside, Little Ho's post on the Local (Christian) Publishing Industry 本地出版業 may be more relevant to this carnival. (NB. beware Google language tools which translated the first post's title as "Camels crossed eye")

Bible in General

Dale has a post on trusting the bible? with some interesting responses to a lecture by Bishop Spong which claimed that"The Bible is not the solution - it's the problem." Meanwhile Mark gave his students a simple test, and as a result laments The state of Bible Knowledge Today! I wonder, looking at his diagnosis framed in terms of failures of the Kiwi churches to engage with the Bible whether US students would actually do anybetter… or has the problem a different cause? (Me, I'm still shocked that anyone in an NT class would still think the book of Elijah was written by Paul ;-0

Meanwhile Matt's Bible Films Blog looks set to become an encyclopedia of Bible-related filmography, with this month among others entries Golgotha - Additional Comments (which are longer than the average blog review)!

Richard had a post that reached from the priestly code to Luke, via the prophets I will gather the lame, the outcasts and the afflicted whose title explains its range!

Hebrew Bible

Susanne really started something (while I was away holidaying in Thailand :) and technically falling outside this carnival's territory - being dated 31st Aug) with her Psalm 68 Part l In this post she inevitably opened up questions about God's name as well as the interesting psalm itself. So then the ball began rolling - with just a little pushing from Lingamish ;) I'll try to list all the posts (but please excuse me if I missed yours, or better still tell me and I will add it):
1st
Susanne: Psalm 68
Part 2

2nd
Psalm
68 Part 3

3rd
Lingamish: "This psalm is the most difficult of all psalms to understand and interpret." he must think higher of my capacities than I do, since he then emailed me to get involved in interpreting it ;-)
John at ancient hebrew poetry: When the Face of God Fills the Horizon: Psalm 68:2-4
Bob: Psalm 68
4th
Wayne: Ps 68: Pt. 4: A house full of children
5th

Bob: More on Psalm 68 and Some Commentaries on psalm 68
Susanne: Ps.68: Part 5 The barren woman
6th
Aristotle's Feminist Subject: How Aristotle Reads Psalm 68
Lingamish: Psalm 68: Should we be singing the yucky stuff? and Psalm 68 as a Missionary Prayer
Bob: The precipices in Psalm 68
Susanne: Ps. 68: Part 6: The heavens dripped
7th
Lingamish: How Aristotle Reads Psalm 68
John: Psalm 68:6-7 and the God of Many Names
Iyov: Psalm 68
8th
Aristotle's Feminist Subject:How Aristotle Writes Psalm 68
Susanne: Ps. 68: Part 7: Reflections
The Voice of Stefan: Why Not to Blog on Psalm 68
10th
Aristotle's Feminist Subject: Reflections Around an Embroidered Psalm
Iyov: Traditional Gentile view of Psalm 68
11th
Lingamish: Psalm 68: A threnody for 9/11
12th
Lingamish: Psalm 68: Tag, you’re it
12th
Chris admitted: Psalm 68: coming late to the party
13th

So John at ancient hebrew poetry then attempted to scoop the pool with a series of mega-posts on naming God (all dated 13th Sept), so he must have been saving them up ;-):

At this point Names of God(s) probably should be considered its own thread, with contributions Names of the Gods in Some Epigraphic Hebrew and "Blessed Among the Nations" and other Divine Appellatives from Duane.

Though Ps 68 was far from finished with:
17th
Susanne: Ps. 68: Part 10
18th

Lingamish: Psalm 68: Vassals all
19th
John: The Beautiful Spoils of War: Psalm 68:12-19

Just to prove that Baptists are sturdily independent souls Sean the Baptist is ignoring the crowd and (though an NT scholar) working on Some Notes on Psalm 51 and More on Psalm 51.

Sonntagsblatt Bayern has an interview with Elijah, surely a scoop any tabloid editor would kill for…

The Other Testament

The Other Testament has its own equivalent of the Ps 68 marathon, (it began way back before this month): but Ayrton can perhaps be credited with the first post in the series this month (2nd) Juda e os judeus nos seculos VI-IV AEC Loren followed up with (7th) Jesus Was Neither Jewish Nor Christian, Doug responded quickly (8th) Jews and Judaeans revisted,
April entered the renewed discussion (10th) with first Now Jesus is not Jewish?, then (11th) Jesus
the Israelite?
and (12th) Jew or Christian? and a Link to Elliott's article (which may have started it all!) also Loren Jesus the Israelite: Questions of Anti-Semitism

Several of these posts have really good comments threads, does anyone know why NT people comment more, while OT people write posts in reply more often?!

To prove that conference season continues into September (the middle of the second semester down here) Sean the Baptist reported from the BritishNew Testament Conference 2007

Torrey has a new blog Research Notes on 1 Peter which already has a couple of useful reviews on this often overlooked epistle.

Stephen Carlson notes a useful new blog NT Resources Blog, and also in discussing an article from ETL opens interesting questions about ancient citation practices (Kloppenborg Nixes an Oral Q). Mark (naturally) is disappointed that the discussion focuses on Q (Kloppenborg on Variation in the Reproduction of the Double Tradition) and in doing so plugs his forthcoming SBL paper (a useful double whammy). April, with a sideswipe at Q1, is Rewriting Early Christianity seeking to rehabilitate Acts as a source for the early history of Christianity.

But then, Deirdre asks What did Paul know of Jesus and the Gospels? Judy considered Eyewitnesss accounts and asked at what point a redacted eyewitness ceases to count as an eyewitness account. In this mini-series April also discusses How can we know anything from our texts? (where anything seems defined as "information about events that happened"). Which, read in the light of the Maxi-Min conflict, causes me to realise with renewed force the importance of defining why we read before we start. Personally I am somewhat inclined to take a Jim West like stance of privileging theology over history as a motive for reading.

Is it time we recognised two or three related disciplines of historical/theological/literary biblical studies, rather than pretending we are all doing the same discipline!?

Back in the gospels Zephyr posts on Luke's Trial of Peter around the Fire.

Marco Rotman has a series of posts (in Dutch) on the life of Paul: http://bijbelaantekeningen.blogspot.com/2007/09/paulus-1.html
http://bijbelaantekeningen.blogspot.com/2007/09/paulus-2.html
http://bijbelaantekeningen.blogspot.com/2007/09/paulus-3.html
http://bijbelaantekeningen.blogspot.com/2007/09/paulus-4.html
http://bijbelaantekeningen.blogspot.com/2007/09/paulus-5.html
http://bijbelaantekeningen.blogspot.com/2007/09/paulus-6.html


Sean in his Tiddlywikis and Bible Information not only makes provocative comments about the presentation of information about/related to Bible texts, but pointed us to Dave's Philemon TidlyWiki commentary. The format and delivery is fun, but I do find it somewhat disconcerting to come across
StyleSheetColors immediately after Theology and Themes in the menu (which is organized as a timeline)!

Scott McKnight finally did it, a mega post Missional Jesus: All of it which gives us all 60post s his Missional Jesus series. Not links, but 39.46 screen yards of post, it makes even some of John's Hebrew Poetry marathons - or this Carnival - look brief ;-)

James provides enough evidence of Jesus' Sense Of Humor to forever dispel Lingamish's Whoa to you who laugh and for those who are finding all this Bible blogging just a tad too tame there is the lively discussion Jerusalem tunnel from 70 CEDan started with his disquisition on Pauline Scatology (and before YOU make any jokes about expecting Eschatology not scatology from DTS Dan did that one himself) and then Doug's post Oh σκύβαλα – sanitising the Bible just inflamed the fire, getting a different pool of suspects involved in the hunt for dirty words in the Bible! But then I discovered the previous post by Michael, the hilariously unsound Top Twenty
Theological Pick-up Lines NOT to use
my particular favourite (one of the few equally inappropriate for any gender) is '12. During communion say, “Can I get you another drink.'

Archaeology

Todd continues to keep us updated on current developments in archaeology in Israel/Palestine, with posts like Mount Zion - New Excavations often enriching the posts with his fine photos. Stefan Green collected virtually every biblioblogging link to the Temple Mount excavations and added comment of his own (in Swedish). There are also what claim to be videos of the destruction with a link to a petition.

Biblische Ausbildung drew my attention to the JerusalemDrainage Tunnel from 70 CE Long running debates were not forgotten, the phrase "brother of" on the "James ossuary"is analysed by Anotonio Lombatti (in Italian).
Herodian quarry, al092407538sr

Todd also offered us a selection of fine photos (from Aubrey Laughlin) of the Jerusalem Quarry as well as a post indicating the location using Google Earth (the image - right - comes from his first post Quarry of Temple Mount Discovered).

Astronomy (or Interdisciplinary studies?)

Jan Pieter has a post on Biblical Women on Venus an unusual blending of astronomy and Bible. (With the possibility of adding feminist studies too into the mix?)

Teaching


Many biblical scholars also teach, so it is useful to note Danny's announcement of the new improved Deinde Bib. Studies Glossary, a useful link to provide for classes. The tooltip format is neat, but may make it difficult to quote a definition.

Michael Pahl's discussion of some conundrums facing "Conservative" readers of the Bible might be a useful discussion starter.

Mary discussed Free, online theological education with resources from Gordon-Conwell among others, but concludes:

But these are scattered efforts by innovators, not a sustained, collective, FREE, process."

Judy has a nice rant about the elitist failure of biblical scholars to popularise their work. In Making biblical scholarship available to congregational members - a bit of a rant which includes this:

I have reasonably frequently heard it said that telling members of congregations about ‘modern’ biblical scholarship is not appropriate either because they wouldn’t understand or it would destroy their faith. I find this elitist and condescending and have been known to ask whether the person making the statement has understood the scholarship and if so, whether it has destroyed their faith.

BTW the comments thread is well worth following…

Claude in Learn Hebrew points to Learn Hebrew a vocabulary learning site that offers a simpler alternative to דָּבָר : Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies. Basically Learn Hebrew offers premade themed vocabs with a word, gloss and sound file, whileדָּבָר offers the possibility of exporting your own selected words into vocabularies for your students, and a richer collection of semantic information… So many useful tools and sites are becoming available, ironically (though perhaps for related reasons) just at the time when the "owners" of the meta-sites are either ceasing to maintain them (Torrey RPBS-Resource pages - going into sleep?) or casting around for a new model (Mark The Future of the New Testament Gateway).

Technology

Readers of the carnival are probably power-users of Bible software, but if you need a place to point your less gifted colleagues BibleandTech offers a roundup: Logos Workspace and BW7 Ben on Thoughts on Antiquity points to The Patrologia Graeca (Migne) in Greek Unicode via PDF (not a BS resource, but one many Biblists may be glad to know about).

Writing and publishing

AKMA in his Writer's Hurdles discusses two such hurdles he faced, the second concerns the search for a good opening, a topic which perhaps deserves more discussion on academic blogs ;-)

Deirdre's thoughts on writing this month include (in Pondering what to publish?) citing a gem from Rachel Toor's The Care and Feeding of the Reader "A good writer, she opines, must enchant the reader".

Charles has a rant about Why Anchor Yale Bible is Bad for Biblical Studies and the General Public which deserves more discussion and thought…

Digital scholarship

One of John's fine review posts discusses Ehud Ben Zvi, the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, and Hypertextuality. While this is purely digital scholarship, another of John's reviews illustrates the usefulness and difference of blog post and "conventional" print-review his "The Book of Psalms"by Robert Alter: First Impressions does not aim (or claim) to be a full review, but offers a quick reflection on a very new work, which may help others with an interest decide whether to order, or how soon to try to read, the work in question. Thus blog and journal can complement each other. Though since John's "first impressions" continue into a series Robert Alter Translates the Psalms: A Review, Robert Alter Translates the Psalms: The Importance of Prosody, James Kugel vs. Robert Alter: The Cage Match of the Centurythe gap is narrowed, this post continues in James Kugel vs. Robert Alter:Round Two, James Kugel vs. Robert Alter on Psalm 51:7-8 Tyler also (on 27th) added his 2c in Alter on the Psalms.

Christopher reviewed Eric Cline's book, From Eden to Exile, Unraveling the Mysteries of the Bible (2007), The National Geographic Society, or at least chapter one of the book - another advantage of blog reviews is the option to offer them as serials, instead of in serials ;-)

[Perhaps we could call this sort of occasional scholarship Two Cent Scholarship and the old fashioned formal kind 100% Scholarship or in the case of Brill $100 Scholarship ;-)]

Jim (West) believes that scholarship is the art of concision (!), and thus praises the notion of The History of Ancient Israel in Ten Pages. Indeed by this standard he himself excels, a 39 word notice of a 800+ page book How to Read the Bible! But it is indeed another book worth noticing!

Charles drew attention to Kugel's argument that the attempt to mix critical study of the Bible with claims that the Bible has an authoritative role in modern life is "Biblical Criticism Lite" - an undesirable project. Charles offered a link to a condensed version of Kugel's thinking and proposes that his claims be discussed. Since the notion is closely related to Avalos' SBL forum piece and book which have generated some blog interest in previous months, perhaps discussion of Kugel's thought on this can help give this issue - surely a vital one for professional Biblical Scholars - another lease of life... John also writes A Review of Chapter Five of Hector Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies I'm doubly biased (firstly I think Jonah is so brilliantly funny and such a well-written work and secondly Avalos approach does not appeal to me) so I enjoyed his paragraph:

That is Avalos’s take on the book of Jonah: “distorted,” “aggravating,” “annoying,” “ugly.” Ironic, I think. The book of Jonah is delightful precisely because it is permeated by a self-deprecating humor that is altogether lacking in Avalos.

Which is perhaps justifiable sarcasm, if Avallos' views are a vitriolic as a line John quotes suggests!

Avalos does not think highly of his fellow biblical scholars. In his “Introduction,” he says that what they have to say is “either bland, ambiguous, or outright fatuous. Since 1982, I have encountered only about a dozen truly memorable papers.”

Jim (Davila) among others posted the SBL email trumpeting the new improvedONLINE CRITICAL PSEUDEPIGRAPHA PROJECT thoughsadly as Joepoints out this useful project is not (yet?) as Mac compatible as one might wish, or the press release suggested, he also offers a substantial REVIEW OF NADIA ABU EL-HAJ, FACTS ON THE GROUND: Archaeological Practice and Terriorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001)

Just before the start of this carnival, but not mentioned in the last (modesty?), Duane in Peer Review and Blogging - Discussing and Being Discussed considers the uses of tagging posts about peer-reviewed
articles, and listing citations of blogs in such articles not least as a way of marking the interaction of blogaria and conventional scholarly publishing. (Duane's post was stimulated by The BPR3 Icon Contest has anyone seen Tyler's entry? It is bound to be good!)

Other review posts included: Rod on Con Campbell on Verbal Aspect and Narrative, Jeremy's Nahum Commentaries Zephyr's Recent Letter of James Research and More With Less Recent James Research, Edward (alias Ralph) offers a review of a few paragraphs (which is the sort of detail that good print reviews avoid!) in Halpern and the Beerothites, Rick's series on I also had a few posts on Stanley Porter's
Hearing the Old Testament in the New Testament
(the series began in August, just),

http://www.supakoo.com/rick/ricoblog/2007/08/29/MoreOnStanleyPortersHearingTheOldTestamentInTheNewTestament.aspx
http://www.supakoo.com/rick/ricoblog/2007/08/25/PortersHearingTheOldTestamentInTheNewTestament.aspx
http://www.supakoo.com/rick/ricoblog/2007/08/16/NewBookHearingTheOldTestamentInTheNewTestamentByStanleyEPorter.aspx

And finally, my friends, since we all need help to read right I must draw attention to 5 Tips: How to Read the Bible the RIGHT Way - MY Way these tips could change your life!
_____________________________________________________________________

The next Biblical Studies Carnival is hosted by John Hobbins at Ancient Hebrew Poetry it will cover October 2007. Please nominate posts John is erudite, prolific and always interesting, but even he cannot read everything!

For more information, please consult the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007
  Open Theology
Here's an interesting project: Open Theology. The website leaves the exact nature of the project somewhat vague, it looks like a e-journal, with what appear to be numbered issues, an Advisory Board, instructions for contributors etc. Yet the blurb on the "about us" page reads more like a social networking site:
Welcome to an inclusive project that we hope will grow with the help of your good will, imagination and knowledge. ... We would like to invite students, academics and those with no 'professional' involvement with religious studies to share with us their intellectual passion for critical thinking about religion, so that together we can reflect on the role and value of faith and religion in our culture, wherever we live.
Actually, the header Revue trimestrielle de theologie/Theologische quartalschrift and the like in Polish and possibly English (on my browser the graphic was obscured) makes clear this is a journal. Other description makes clear that the quarterly issues are themed, and interestingly - though numbered AND dated - open to further responses and contributions that continue the discussion. The instructions for contributors also makes clear that submissions are subject to some selection process - it is not stated to be peer-review, so probably selection by the editorial team.

An email to the University of Auckland School of Theology from Revd Dr Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowski (Editor-in-Chief) says:
It is one of our hopes for this international project will bring together students interested in discussion about theology, philosophy, religion and their co-existence in the context of the current culture. We hope also to engage the interest of the students (MA/PhD), by enabling dialogue across different religious traditions about the value of religion and faith in our postmodern culture (section: FORUM), and by promoting conferences and events which focus on tolerance, openness and critical reflection on religion (section: WE RECOMMEND). I would be most grateful if you could pass on our invitation to your academic colleagues and students. Hopefully, some of them may contribute to the forthcoming issues.
Indicates the Journal is open to student papers, though the contributors to the first issue (at least as of now - since that might presumably change ;-) include only people with titles like Prof and Dr.

As I said an interesting project, one to watch. A pity they don't have an RSS feed, which would make subscribing easier!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007
  Making Bible references meaningful (to machines)
Sean is pushing ahead with his Bibleref idea. (You remember, adding a bit of invisible code that makes your references to the Bible machine readable, so that search engines and the like can do clever things, and smart people can help make the web a better place for rule-obeying Bible students.) It seems Bibleref is ready for the prime time! In Sean's Bibleref: Going Public post he offers He also says that:
So now all we need are some sort of addin for Blogger and/or Performancing and perhaps one for Wordpress that is not linked to a particular (controversial) translation. So that ordinary people can easily and painlessly tag Bible references, without <coding complex stuff> all by themselves! Having had to learn to talk HTML and even a bit of CSS (and to at least say hello in JavaScript) I'll probably try to implement Bibleref even without a tool - but being badly disorganised I'll only do it sometimes... So, clever technical gods, lets have a simple way to do this. It is FOR machines, but people have to implement it if the machines are to have anything worthwhile to work on.

PS if you are an early adopter, you can either take the badge above (right click Save As) or make a better one and post it to Seans discussion HERE.

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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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Sunday, June 17, 2007
  Greek NT Text Resources
La Parola in reteThank you, Richard for adding the comment below and pointing me to the La Parola Greek Testament with both variant readings and a list of Patristic citations. It is both magnificent, and a fine example of how (if the data are in suitable formats) people online can build on, and add value to, each other's work. You have put together a really useful site!

Richard lists het following resources which have been used in his project:

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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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Tuesday, May 29, 2007
  Getting ideas for Biblical Studies Podcasts
I've now prepared about fifteen 5 Minute Bible podcasts and have begun to get a feel for the medium and its strengths and weaknesses, also I am discovering (slowly) the ways I have to change my thinking patterns to adapt to this format and medium. I've just posted one that came from teaching the Hebrew group: "Biblical Narrative: Fraught with Background: Genesis 24". Most of the 'casts so far have developed out of things we have done in class. Which leaves me with a problem over the next few weeks. My last classes this semester are on Thursday - then that source of ideas will dry up till July. So, if anyone has any suggestions for 'casts or for getting ideas for such short focused slots about the Bible do let me know!

I must also find a better way of indexing them so that I can be more likely to remember or find them when one would be useful for students... So for example if you have a small topic that you think your students could do with a short different voice (in more ways than one ;-) explaining add it to my wish list and who knows you could have a new targeted resource!

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Monday, May 28, 2007
  Bible References in Blog Posts
There's an interesting, and potentially extremely useful (if for most Biblical Scholars a tad technical) discussion in the last few days which could make citing the Bible in blogs very much easier and better. Basically the problem is that currently if you (or I) cite a Bible reference in our blogs either:
  1. nothing happens, and the user has to manually look up the reference for themselves
  2. you (since I do not yet) subscribe to a clever plugin that converts you reference into a link to an online Bible that the plugin writer fancies (often the ESV) which the reader is stuck with even if they hate the XYV and would prefer the original Aramaic (it was that part of Daniel you cited wasn't it?)
Sean (Blogos) Annotating Scripture References in Blog Posts: a Modest Proposal is a neat simple "microformat" approach. Now at this point some of you are pricking your ears up at the trendiness of microformats (though most of you read Sean and OpenBible.info already) but the rest are looking glazey eyed and yawning ;-) Actually microformats are really seriously good for you! They are: ""simple conventions for embedding semantics in HTML to enable decentralized development." Do not yawn, there in the back, what that means is:
  • they are "simple" so even dumboes like you and I can use them, they are not just for technogods
  • they are "conventions" so we can choose whether to use them or not, but if we do good things happen, like when we follow the conventions of the form of literature we are writing
  • they "embed semantics" - that means that they "know" what you mean, and other services can understand that your reference to Amos 5:13 is just that, a reference to a Bible verse or passage
  • this enables "decentralised development" - which means that today, tomorrow or in two years time, Jo or Joe can write a cool tool which sings the Bible in properly cantored Hebrew, or presents a PDF of the beautifully illuminated page from the Book of Kells, or whatever... and you can use it, or your user can use it - even if you have never heard of the tool.
Now, is that cool or what!?

Here are the three posts so far that discuss the proposal. Do take a look. Forget yawning at the techno-speak, but think about how this will work from a user's point of view. And encourage this development, so it does go on to become a convention. Because that is what is needed for it to work.

Sean's "modest proposal":
and OpenBible.info suggests some neater simplifications:
Sean responds and agrees:
WARNING: the post above was written by a technical ignoramus, but it will be corrected and updated as soon as anyone with greater knowledge explains the need!

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