Archive - May, 2007

The Changing of the Guard

Guest blogger Scott Lindsey is back in the office after five weeks on the Bible Study Bus. View more road trip photos at Flickr or readScott’s first and second posts from the trip.

ScottBobHandoff

Bob Pritchett, our fearless leader, and family flew into Dallas on Tuesday evening to take the keys to the Bible Study Bus and continue our Bible study campaign across America!

I can’t believe my leg of the trip is done… WHEW, that was a lot of driving and work. The Lindsey Crew drove almost 5,000 miles in the last 5 weeks. But it sure has been a privilege to introduce people to the best Bible study technology on the planet!

We had some great BBQ and an even better event Tuesday night in Fort Worth at Christ Chapel Bible Church. Attending Tuesday night’s event was Mike Atwell, our new Field Rep for the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

Wednesday was a day to celebrate… the first installment of the Bible Study Bus Road Trip is complete! So, we went to Six Flags over Texas. GroupAtRVThanks to Sean Fields – our resident graphic artist – and his loud-and-proud Bible Study Bus design, it’s impossible to forget where you park the thing. You should have seen the bus in the massive Six Flags parking lot… thousands of people all day walked by mouthing the words Bible-Study-Bus. We invited the Dossey family up from Austin to enjoy the day with us. Alex and Nicole both used to work at Logos and have remained dear friends. It was great seeing them again!

It was truly a blessing to travel across this great nation for the last 5 weeks and meet so many wonderful churches and show the Body of Christ how Logos can greatly impact personal Bible study. I pray the fruit of our labor brings glory to the Lord and creates a hunger and thirst for His word.

Well, onward Logos Bible Study Bus! The Road Trip continues through August so we hope to see you at one of the events.

- Scott Lindsey & Family

New Bible Widget for Mac

Mac users can download the new and improved Bible Widget from www.LogosBibleWidget.comor Apple.com.

Thebiggest update is that thenew widget adds the ESV Bibleso you can instantly navigate to a verse in either the English Standard Version or King James Version Bible.

Logos Bible Widget version 2 is also much more streamlined, in response to requests from users who foundthe original widgetto be a desktop space hog. It’s alsovery good-looking, if I may say so (kudos to Sean Fields, Logos design director)…

Using the widget is simple: Type a Bible reference to jump to that verse. Click the forward or back arrow to jump to the next/previous verse; click the double arrows to jump to verse 1 of the next/previous chapter. You can copy/paste text from the verse window into another application.

To switch Bible versions, just flip the widget over.

Related posts:

Top 50 Women in the Bible

As promised, I’m back for one final post on this whole “most important people in the Bible” topic. The first two posts in the series are here and here.

Today we’ll take a quick look at a visualization of the top 50 women of the Bible, as determined by Logos information architect Sean Boisen’s calculations. This data is also available at Many Eyes for anyone to manipulate and try out new information visualizations.

Here’s the scatterplot; click the thumbnail for a full view.

This time, dot size is the final “importance” scoreusing all the weights and factors calculated. The x-axis is the total number of mentions in the Bible. Bigger dot = more important; further right = more mentions.

One of the most interesting things we see here is the name Zeruiah with a pretty big dot and fifth place in terms of mentions. I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall ever hearing a Bible story about Zeruiah. My girls (ages 3 and 4 1/2) and I are on our second time through the cartoon Picture Bible and we haven’t encountered any such person.

Who is this mystery woman?

With the help of the Biblical People Addintool within Logos Bible Software 3, it’s pretty easy to find out. I fired up the tool and typed “zeruiah” to generate the following graph.

Turns out Zeruiah was King David’s sister. But ifshe’s the fifth most-frequently mentionedwoman in Scripture and is closely related to a majorcharacterwithin the biblical narrative why wouldn’t I know anything about what she did or said?

The answer to this question is also provided by the Biblical People tool. I can hover over or click each of the Bible references to see every mention of Zeruiah in brief context. Or better yet, type Zeruiah’s name into Bible Speed Search and get all the verses on one screen.

Looking through the results, we find that 24 of the 25 mentions of Zeruiah consist of the phrase, “Son(s) of Zeruiah.” The exception is in 1 Samuel 17:25 where we read that David’s sister Abigail (not to be confused withDavid’s wife named Abigail) is a “sister of Zeruiah.”

So it turns out that we don’t know anything about Zeruiah except for her relation to other people. We don’t know of a single thing she did or said. Commentators speculate that her sons are frequentlyidentified by her name because of the link back to King David.Anyonewho trailed an older siblingthrough high school or has a star athlete in the family could commiserate with Zeruiah—”Wait…aren’t you Abigail’s sister?” “You’re Joab’s mom, right?”

It may be that Zeruiah points up another opportunity for improving Sean’s “importance” weighting factors. Can somebody who appears in Scripture by name only, with no speaking or acting role, benumberedamong the mostimportant? I’d ask Sean for comment but he’s presenting a case study at the Semantic Technology Conference in San Jose so I’ll just have to wait until he gets back.

In the meantime, I’ve got to quit playing around with Many Eyes and get back to work. :-)

Learn Hebrew this Summer

You’ve been wanting to do it for some time…why not make it a goal to learn Hebrew this summer?

We’ve got some excellent tools to help make it as easy as it can be. Here are my top three picks, in no particular order:

Biblical Hebrew for Beginners

This brand new Logos book is due toshipat the end of the month, so now is your last chance to take advantage of the prepub discount and get this for less than $20.

The description says,”Biblical Hebrew for Beginners shows you how to master fundamental Hebrew in clear, simple steps. Starting from scratch with the Hebrew alphabet, Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok leads you through the essentials of biblical Hebrew and has you reading the Bible in Hebrew from the very first lesson. There are simple exercises (including answers), a word list, and plenty of examples throughout.”

How much easier could it get? Plus it’s even endorsed by a former Archbishop of Canterbury! So ignore the bizarre cover and check out the details

Beginning Biblical Hebrew

I had the pleasure to meet Mark Futato when he was here in Bellingham giving atalk on Psalmsas part of the Logos Lecture Series. It was a fantastic talk,and Mark would be a great teacher of Hebrew whether in person or via this grammar.

An RBL reviewer said of this one,”Mark D. Futato’s new Hebrew grammar is a simple, thoughtful, and straightforward work that reflects genuine empathy for the beginning Hebrew student. The agenda of the book is to provide the fundamentals of the language unencumbered by information that may fog the road toward basic Hebrew competency.”

Logos user George Somsel warned, “I can see it putting all Hebrew instructors out of work since it’s so simple to teach yourself.” Look to your tenure, Hebrew profs!

The First Hebrew Primer: Textbook, Answer Book & Audio Companion

This one is the big enchilada, complete with audio recordings and a workbook.

These resources begin with the alphabet…or you might say the Aleph-bet (aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, get it?)…and over the course of thirty lessons provides enough information and practice to enable you, with the aid of a Hebrew-English dictionary, to understand most biblical texts.

We just put together a brief video demo so now you can get a look at what the First Hebrew Primer package is all about.

Wouldn’t it be great if you got to the end of summer and could look back on not only a bunch of great barbecues, ball games and days at the beach…but also take with you a new knowledge of and appreciation for the Bible that Jesus used? Learning Hebrew would provide a lifetime of rewards and there’s no better time to begin than now!

Top 50 People in the Bible

Earlier this month, we blogged about the process used toquantify theThe Most Important Person in the Bible by computing factors such as frequency of mentions and the dispersion of those mentions across biblical books and chapters.

As you might suppose, Jesus Christ is the most important person in the Bible.

But what I findinteresting is how the Bible characters fall into rather distinct first, second and third rate clusters when we use Sean Boisen’salgorithm. These three clusters really jump out when the data is loaded into Many Eyes,IBM’sonline visualization engine.

Click the screenshot above to see a full-size static image that I enhanced with name labels…or click here to play with the live visualization at Many Eyes (Java required).

Three Clusters

Moving from right to left (descending order of importance), the three clusters that emerge are:

  1. Jesus, David, Moses, Jacob
  2. Abraham, Aaron, Solomon, Judah, Isaac, Saul (Son of Kish), Joseph, Paul, Joshua, Peter
  3. The remaining 36 characters…starting with Levi, Benjamin, Hezekiah and ending with Jehoshaphat, Uzziah and Adam.

If you wanted to study the various people in the Bible using a top-down list, it wouldn’t hurt to begin with Jesus, David and Moses. Jacob might be a little higher up the list than I would think warranted. But the second clusterseems pretty solid, with Abraham, Joseph, Paul and Peter definitely looming large in the pages ofScripture.

A few biblical figures I didn’t expect would be buriedso far down in Cluster 3: Noah and Adam, those staples of bedtime Bible stories and flannelgraphs. Plus prophets with whole books named after them such as Jeremiah and Isaiah. Of course, these are the top 50 Bible peopleout of 2,987…so we’re not talking about obscurity for any of them.

“Where are all the ladies?” you may rightly ask. None of them made the Top 50 using this name weighting scheme…but Sean did generate a data set for the Top 50 Women of the Bible which I plan to blog about in a follow-up post…

Dot Size vs. Position

Many Eyes also helpsillustrate how Sean’s inclusion of factors such as dispersion overbooks and chaptersaffects the overall ranking. Here’s a close-up of Cluster 2:

The X-axis is the overall “importance ranking” and the dot size is the number of mentions. So Sean’s weighting is evident in those places where you see a smaller dot like Abraham promoted far above a larger dot like Saul. Ranking the Bible names strictly by number of mentions would put Saul above Abraham, so we’re clearly getting a more nuanced view here.

The upshot of all this? We’re not solving the Bible Code or anything…and not trying to. But Ifind it very cool that anaverage joe like me can play around with these data and visualizations without knowing a lick of programming. I made this visualization just by selecting a visualization style and choosing which data to put on which axes. Once the dataset iscomplete (thanks, Sean!) we’ll be able to do all kinds of additional cool things not possible today…and be able to do it using Logos Bible Software!

Related posts around the blogosphere:

Parallel Passages Hack

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again…Logos users are a very clever bunch.

One user, John Minter, recently posted a “wouldn’t it be nice if…” to the Logos newsgroups. Regarding Kurt Aland’s Synopsis of the Four Gospels—a data set within the Parallel Passages and Harmonies tool—he wrote:

I like being able to generate with my desired translation. What would be nice is to generate a table for the given section as a handout…

Six minutes later he posted again to answer his own question:

OK Figured it out. Select a hebrew text like the BHS and all you get is the table. Woo hoo.

I’m not sure whether this little trick should be considereda hack orfeature (no doubt my friends in development would take credit for it as the latter) but it does seem to work and strikes me as the kind of thing that could be useful so I’m sharing it with you.

Try It Yourself!

To try it out, open Logos 3 and click Tools | Bible Comparison | Parallel Passages and Harmonies. For Source, choose Synopsis of the Four Gospels (Aland) if you have it. If not, don’t worry—it works with other data sets, too. For Bible version, choose BHS or ESV OT Rev. Int (the latter is in more packages).

Now when you drill down into a section of the synopsis, you’ll get the report shown below on the left instead of the usual report, shownon the right (click the thumbnail for a full size image):

This references-only table can be printed, or pasted pretty well into a word processor. It’s a handy little hack if you want to include just the parallel references in a handout or other document…

Thanks John!

Logos and Latin-American Missions

Today’s guest blogger is Rob Haskell, who works in the Spanish department at Logos.

It’s been fun to find out through my work with Logos that missions is a growing theme in Latin-American Christianity. This is so much so that we have been able to create a collection of 40 books on missions from a Hispanic perspective called Biblioteca Digital de la Misión (Digital Library for the Mission).

According to COMIBAM, an umbrella organization for missions from Latin America, there are almost 10,000 Latin missionaries around the globe – many of them in the US! Andthat figure does not take into account the number of “non-professional” missionaries who emigrate every day from Latin-American countries to all parts of the globe, taking with them the good news about Jesus.

Last month an elderly woman approached our booth ata pastor’s conference in Monterrey, Mexico. She was dark skinned and dressed in a sari so my initial thought was that she was East Indian. As it turned out she was a Mexican woman who was headed to India as a missionary in a month. She was outgoing, energetic and particularly excited because the Lord had just given her a laptop. Of course, the Logos booth was her next stop. Another person had also given her a crisp $100.00 billand after applying all possible discounts she was off with her very own Biblioteca Pastoral – our largest collection of books in Spanish. Now she can take a theological library of 144 books in her own language to the ends of the earth.

This committed missionary woman from Monterrey is probably the most striking image I have of the growing Latin-American passion for world missions, but there are many other amazing stories and surprising statistics which all point to a growing movement. It will be interesting to watch it develop and see how Logos can continue to play a role in the Lord’s work around the globe.

Parallel Passages – Verses Like These Verses

If you’ve spent time around Logos Bible Software, you probably already know that Bibles such as the ESV, NKJV, and NASB* include cross-reference linksright there in the text. They’re indicated by the “little letters and numbers” sprinkled throughout most passages.

Just hover the mouse over an indicator and the cross-references pop up in what we call a “tool tip” window. Click the indicator (rather than hovering) and the tool tip will remain in place when you move your mouse away, allowing you to interact with the links inside the tool tip itself. This is a great way to see the cross-references—verses related to these verses—when reading through a passage.

But did you know that Logos also includes a more powerfultool specifically built for working with parallel passages, Gospel synopses/harmonies, and tables of quotations and allusions?

So you could spend thirty bucks to buy a printed “harmonized Gospel” which would give you a harmony in oneversion (NIV, for example)…or use the tool within Logos and viewthe harmonyin any Bible version you own, in any language!

Parallel Passages & Harmonies

The Parallel Passages & Harmonies tool is included in allthe Logos 3base packages—withincreasingly larger data sets available as you move up the product line. If you have a base package you should have at least four parallel passage data sets and maybe more!

To access the tool using Logos 3, click Tools | Bible Comparison | Parallel Passages and Harmonies. Click the Source button to choose a source—”Synopsis of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Jackson),” for example. Then select a Bible version in the Bible version chooser box to the right.

You will see a table of contents that looks like the image above; click a title to open the report to that section. Here’s what it looks like when I clicked “The Calling of Disciples.”

Mark, Luke and Matthew contain an account of this event so they all show up here in an easy-to-read columnar alignment…in the Bible version I chose.

Notice the commentin the right-most column, which is supplied by Jeffrey Jackson, the editor of this data. To learn more about the source of each data set, click the first item in the table of contents, whichis a description. For this data set, the description explains the approach Jacksonused to create this synopsis and the meaning of special formatting used, such as blueor bolded text.

To get back to the table of contents at any time, just click the title of the data set (in this case “Synopsis of Matthew, Mark, etc.”).

Navigate to the next or previous section of the synopsis by clicking the down or up arrow (circled in red above). Clicking the hooked up-arrow moves you up one level—that is, it will load the entire chapter into the display.

The left and right arrows work just like the back and forward buttons in your web browser—jumping you back to the previous view or ahead (when applicable).

More is Better

The cool thing about having multiple, overlappingdata sets is that each editor follows a slightly different approach when assembling something like a Gospel harmony. All told, Logos packages include no less than six “parallel passages” data sets for the Gospels:

  • Synopsis of the Four Gospels (Aland)
  • A Harmony of the Gospels (Robertson)
  • A Harmony of the Synoptic Gospels (Burton, Goodspeed)
  • Synopsis of Matthew, Mark, and Luke
  • Eusebian Canons (Eusebius)
  • Records of the Life of Jesus (Sharman)

A quick glance at the Burton & Goodspeed harmony description shows that any project like this entails certain editorial choices that others may make differently:

“Our study of the Synoptic Problem, extending now through many years, has led us to certain very definite conclusions respecting the relation of the Synoptic Gospels to one another, and their literary sources. The purpose of this book, however, is not to demonstrate this theory; nor is its construction determined by that theory. It aims rather, as largely as possible in independence of all theories, to set the text of the several gospels in such parallelism as will make the facts themselves tell their own story with the utmost possible fullness and clearness.”

Because each data set is compiled by a different editor, each offers a unique perspective on the text. We offer as many as we can license, in hopes that your Bible study will be enriched!

* For the Logos editions of Bibles, we use the cross-reference data supplied by the publisher, which was generated by the publisher’s translation/editorial team. For some versions (e.g., NIV, NRSV) this data was not supplied by the publisher and so is not present in the electronic edition.

Protesting the Postage Rate Increase?

Ever since my blog post about saving 10% on postage, I’ve been thinking more and more about the reality of all the postage out there that has never been used.

Then I realized that today is May 15th, the day (according to several mass-emails I received titled “Do not pump gas on May 15th”) that we as a nation are going to show our solidarity and stick it to the gas companies by boycotting the pump for one day. This email explains that if we all get together we can take the gas companies for billions of dollars, and they will choke on their stockpiles.

In a way, the post office has created their own form of stockpiling of postage. The stockpile of collectible stamps has definitely contributed to their bottom line, but will never be used. They know there are collectors out there that need to have a complete collection, so why not make more designs just to sell stamps that will never be used?

Big deal I say. The post office has a good idea. They won’t be more popular by raising rates every week, but they will be popular by releasing more collectibles, and keeping rate increases down by ensuring they sell more postage than is actually used.

Sure, I know I have better things to do than to dream about postage all day, you probably do too – but if you are curious about what is really out there, take a look at what I found out…

I called up my new buddy, Tim, at the local Stamp and Coin shop and asked if there were an industry association for Stamp & Coin stores – sure enough – the American Philatelic Society. After looking over their website I stumbled on the dealer member directory which boasts 1,800+ entries. Now Tim is not a member, and it looks like most of his peers at other local Stamp & Coin shops aren’t either. A quick yellow pages search for Stamp and Coin in Seattle shows eight stores, yet a search for member stores in the APS directory yields only two. If you apply that multiplier to the country you get 7,200 Stamp & Coin shops. Hardly scientific I know, but this is a blog post, not an investigative journalist’s life’s work.

Tim says if you are any kind of stamp store at all, you have to have at least the basic collection of plain old postage issues including five issues of each stamp, mini sheets (which can have 20 stamps), rolls, regular sheets, blocks of 4, and so on and so forth. That can easily run around $5,000 of face value postage for a small mom & pop store – not to mention the bigger stores.

Since Stamp & Coin shops are always buying and selling inventory of stamps, add to that another thousand or two just to make sure you have more of the popular stuff, and an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 face value of old postage that they picked up at estate auctions or bought from the heirs of collectors like I mentioned in my previous post.

Inventory adds up pretty quickly, and pretty soon we are looking at say – $25,000 of face value postage stamps at each little shop, not counting the face value of the collectible stamps that are actually worth far more than their face value and which no sane person would ever dream of using as postage. If we take our conservative estimate of $25,000 in face value and multiply that by 7,200 stores we are looking at $180,000,000.00 in unused postage just sitting around in store inventory. Not to mention millions of dollars in unused postage in private collector’s hands, old desk drawers, lost, you name it.

Let’s add in the private collections. Apparently more than 55,000 members receive The Journal of the American Philatelic Society. Don’t get me wrong. I like stamps. I use stamps. I think they’re great. I’ve always had a roll or book of stamps in my desk drawer, but I’ve never once thought about joining the special stamp club. I figure in order to want to join the APS desperately enough to pay a membership fee and get their journal, you probably have to be pretty serious about stamps.

Tim says if you are pretty serious about stamps you’ve got to have at least a couple thousand in face value postage. Take over 55,000 members and multiply that by a couple thousand bucks and you’re looking at well over $100 million dollars, and that’s just for the dedicated “card-carrying” members. Now you have to believe that if there are more than 55,000 people who want to pay to be members of the APS there have got to be tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands more, that think stamps are cool enough to collect, but don’t want to join the club. For every one person that is serious enough to join the membership club, there have got to be dozens who are interested enough to collect stamps, but not enough to pay to join. Add their collections into the mix.

Now some people may be thinking that this is too hard to believe. Seriously, “hundreds of millions” of dollars in stamps? Come on.

Well how about this for starters: since most “collectors” are by nature not “sellers” imagine how much postage they are holding onto compared to what they have for sale. A quick scan of the APS auditors’ report from three years ago shows that they had almost $14,000,000.00 of members’ stamp books sitting around on consignment waiting to be sold. Who knows what that number is today, and that just counts the stuff that they are trying to get rid of. Most collectors “collect” and don’t sell, so if there is $14 million sitting around on consignment waiting to be sold, imagine how much they have in their private collections.

Any way you slice it, it looks to me like there are hundreds of millions of dollars of unused postage out there just sitting around with no special collectible value. So forget the forever stamp, there are already “forever” stamps out there. Every stamp ever issued in the USA is still worth every penny that it says it is.

Don’t go nuts. Do not send an email to everyone you know that says something like this:
“Protest the postage rate increase! Don’t buy stamps from the post office for the entire month of May! Buy old postage from Stamp & Coin shops and don’t go to the Post Office for the entire month in protest of the postage rate increase! If we all get together we can take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the Post Office’s hands and put it back into the hands of the small business owners.

That will teach the Post Office that we don’t want a stamp hike!”

Oh rats, I forgot. I should have written that in ALL CAPS!

Obviously this won’t work for the same reason not buying gas on May 15th won’t work. As long as there are collectors, and as long as the Stamp & Coin shops keep inventory, they will just go out and buy more. If you don’t stop the consumption nothing changes when you put off purchasing for a brief time.

But what if people realized that the stamps that they were collecting were never going to make them rich? What if people who were sitting on stamp collections decided to take them out of their mint condition books and use them on a letter? Is the Post Office ready to operate on budget with an unforeseen $200 million dollar shortfall in postage sales?

It makes me wonder.

Now seriously, you need to get back to work because this post is way too long, and isn’t even remotely related to how to get the most out of the best Bible Study Software in the world like it should be.

If you are on your day off, and happen to be in the mood for some more crazy rambling, keep reading.

Is the USPS recognizing unused postage as a liability on their books, just like some gift card retailers do?

Does the postmaster general even discuss the fact that there are untold hundreds of millions of dollars in stamps out there that haven’t really been accounted for? They just assume that they will never be used, and they go about their business. Are they held to the same level of accountability that gift card or stored value card retailers are? Or does the government get different treatment?

Over a year ago it was reported that Home Depot Inc. saw $43 million in pretax profit from cards sold before 2002 that went unused. The same report revealed that Limited Brands Inc. had unspent gift cards worth $30.4 million on the books. It would be interesting to see if that same year the postmaster general’s report including a line item for unused postage… Big retailers are raking in tens of millions of dollars in profit on totally unused gift cards that people lose, throw away, collect, or just never spend – and those cards are way more versatile and useful than a sheet of stamps.

But once again we see that the Internet changes the way the world works. Now there are several websites that do nothing but facilitate trading or selling unused gift cards…not to mention eBay. People are already selling unused postage at a discount on eBay and other places.

Will we see new sites popping up selling “Unused postage” (hurry, that domain was still available when I wrote this post) or what about the new forever stamps? The USPS printed 4 billion “forever” stamps already and people are snapping them up like crazy. A quick search of the web shows a lively discussion on the merits of “forever stamp arbitrage” or forever stamps as investments. Since even the new forever stamp will always be worth the price of a first class mail piece, having, oh I don’t know…say 10,000 more stamps than you need when your kids inherit your shrewd investment may still flood the local Stamp & Coin shops with a ton of inventory that they will need to blow out. Of course it will be more convenient to use, so it may be easier to sell, but still – they will be sitting on lots of inventory, and that is a recipe for a discount.

Well, I have to get back to work now, then take some envelopes over to the Stamp & Coin place to get stamped, then run over to the gas station to fill up my car. Hey, I’m on empty, give me a break! :-)

Syntax Search Example: Prepositions and Nouns

If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know that sometimes I just notice things as I’m reading through the text. This time, it was a syntactic structure used in 1Ti 6.3, shown below in the  ESV NT Reverse Interlinear:

The structure that is highlighted is what we’re interested in. This is a neat little syntactic structure where the article + substantive (here a noun) combo surrounds a prepositional phrase. Here’s the syntax graph of the verse:

I thought it might be interesting and instructive to walk through constructing a search to find this and other instances (over 100 in the NT!). So I created a video.

[Note: I used WMV format because the video as captured was too big for Camtasia to save as Flash format. I'll try to keep it shorter in the future -- RB]

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