Archive - July, 2010

All about μέν!

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No, this is not a post about gender differences, but about one of the most under-appreciated Greek words you’re going to find. It is pronounced just like men in English. It is one of those words that causes translators fits, and is left untranslated nearly 75% of the time. Here is a link to the search in Logos 4 in the Lexham English Bible. Take a look at how many blank spots there are.

So why is it left untranslated so much of the time? Because it is what Robert Funk (the F in BDF fame) called a function word. It doesn’t so much mean something as it signals something. It’s what grammarians call a concessive adverb; it’s only purpose in life is to create the expectation that another related element is coming, with the latter being the more important of the two. Take a look at how adding the underlined words affects the following statements.

  • I really liked what you fixed for dinner.
  • While I really liked what you fixed for dinner…
  • Although I really liked what you fixed for dinner…
  • I mostly liked what you fixed for dinner …

If you have been married for any length of time, you might have a guess about what might happen next. All but the first statement have a function word that anticipates something more. In English, we would expect this to be a not-so-positive something. Not so in Greek.

The use of μέν creates what is called a counterpoint, setting the stage for a more important point that follows. It lets us know from the outset that something more is coming, that the initial statement is somehow incomplete. Here is an NT example taken from the Lexham High Definition New Testament:

The bullet in the first line stands in the place of the untranslated function word μέν. The and symbols delineate the counterpoint and the more important point that follows. John the Baptist is letting folks know that he is not the one they are looking for. He even does this in the grammar through the use of μέν. There is natural parallelism between the first and last part of the verse through the repetition of baptize, but the added function word makes this connection much more explicit. Figuratively speaking, it signals the first shoe dropping, creating the expectation that another, more important one is about to follow.

There are 179 occurrences of μέν in the NA27/UBS4 Greek text, and in the vast majority of cases, this word is left untranslated. Why? Because counterpoints cannot be signaled as easily in English as in Greek. We have to use clunky idioms like on the one hand, notwithstanding, in as much as, although, etc. Most often in conversation folks will say “While I liked X…” even though time is not the central focus.

So we have a fundamental problem here: how do you convey important exegetical information other than with a translation? You could use commentary or footnotes, but can be difficult to connect the comments to the text. There is a much more effective alternative, only available through Logos.

This week is the third anniversary of a bold experiment: The Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament (LDGNT) and the Lexham High Definition New Testament: ESV Edition (HDNT). These projects take the most useful insights from linguistics, discourse analysis and Bible translation, then annotate all occurrences of devices like μέν using an easily accessible set of symbols. Hovering over the symbol conveniently pops up a glossary description, so there is no need for memorization.

The feedback on how people are using these resources has been amazing! Pastors and Bible teachers are using them in their preparation because they tackle issues not addressed in most commentaries. Professors are using them to equip pastors to more carefully exegete Scripture, both in tools-based programs and as part of advanced Greek grammar classes. Bible translators are using the LDGNT to help mother-tongue workers to accurately preserve important features from the Greek in their translation. ESL teachers are using the HDNT to teach students the ins and outs of idiomatic English.

These projects are also the basis for the new High Definition Commentary series that is now underway, talking you through the text and providing integrated graphics for teaching.

In response to requests from users, Old Testament counterparts are in production, beginning with the Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible (LDHB) and the Lexham High Definition Old Testament (HDOT).

Take the time to watch the introductory videos to see how the HDNT and the LDGNT will enrich your Bible study. The HDNT is English-based, the LDGNT is for those comfortable working with a Greek interlinear. Logos is pioneering not only discourse-based Bible study, but also innovative ways to meaningfully communicate it.

Related posts:

Logos Bible Software: The Master Plan

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Almost 20 years ago we started Logos Bible Software with the idea of building a tool to help people study the Bible. Over the years Logos has grown from two programmers in a basement with one idea to 200 people offering 10,000 resources for Bible study.

As you can imagine, our mission has changed along the way, too. Today it reads:

To help more people do more and better Bible study.

Okay, so the mission hasn’t changed much; we added some adjectives. We have spent a lot of time on the plan of execution, though, and I thought I should share it with you so you can understand what we’re doing, what we’re going to be doing, and why.

First, the fundamentals:

Logos is all about Bible study. We’ve released software, a paper magazine, and video training materials. We host a conference. We’re on multiple technology platforms. We’re on the desktop and on the web. How does everything fit together? It’s all about Bible study.

Logos leverages technology. We choose projects that leverage our technology expertise. Even if a project isn’t software, you can be sure our decision to do it was based on leveraging technology. Of course technology isn’t essential to Bible study; it’s just our particular skill, and a place where we can serve well. We’re following centuries of non-technology-based Bible study tools, and many organizations serve that need well already.

Logos harnesses the network effect. Each e-book we add to our system is extensively tagged and linked to all the others. The scholarly translations and databases we build are both made with and delivered inside our software; the books and articles we commission build on content we offer and help users go deeper with our tools.

Logos is easy. The real work of Bible study is inside the student. We just provide tools and resources, so we need to focus on equipping without obstructing. The easier we make it to get into Bible study, the more people we can encourage to do it. The easier the tools, the more likely people can do better study. Easy means excellent user interface. Easy means elegant design that engages the student. Easy means fantastic customer service so a technical problem or misunderstanding doesn’t get in the way of getting into the Word.

Now, the plan:

Access. An internal joke at Logos goes “If it isn’t in the Passage Guide, it doesn’t exist,” because resources aren’t useful if you can’t find them. Logos Bible Software makes it easy to access the resources in your library when and where you need them. Our “one license, any platform” philosophy means you can access your content on Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, smart phone, and the web. We plan to offer even more interfaces in the future. We are planning task-specific mobile applications that connect to your library and web sites tailored to specific data sets.

Your Logos.com account will let you access your content (and documents you create) wherever you are, with whatever interface you need.

Content. We are planning more content for Bible study. Our scholarly translations and databases already make it easier to study the Bible in Greek and Hebrew; our visual resources are an aid in understanding and teaching others. Behind the scenes, we are building metadata that links content together and improves discoverability. An extensive set of tools lets you create your own content, too, ranging from notes to highlights to sentence diagrams. Synchronization with your Logos.com account connects your content to you, not a specific device.

Community. We study, learn, teach, and share in community with others. We are planning new ways to connect with others around Bible study. We will have ways to collaborate on documents, aids to studying in a group, and tools that help you share the fruit of your study with others. You will be able to link your Logos.com account to multiple groups and choose what you share with the communities important to you. And because we know that Logos Bible Software is itself part of a larger community, we plan new ways to connect our tools with the work of others.

Access, content, and community are interwoven; each both enables and is enabled by the other two. The connection point is your Logos.com account. Already this single login manages your content on multiple platforms and identifies you in communities like the Logos Forums and Sermons.Logos.com. In the future it will be even more valuable. (Is your profile filled in?)

How will this master plan be manifested?

That’s the exciting part: we are going to find out together.

We have some ideas, though, and you can see them starting to come together.

Books.Logos.com shows a content-specific search interface for scanned books from a seminary library. (We plan to link Logos Bible Software 4 to this site in the future.)

Sermons.Logos.com shows how community-created content can be shared with new users on the Internet and (through a section in the Passage Guide) inside Logos Bible Software.

Biblia.com is an alternate interface to most of the content in your digital library that is easy to use over the web. For some users it may be all they need for simple Bible reading; for others it’s a way to check a book when they aren’t at their own computer.

Topics.Logos.com exposes the Logos Controlled Vocabulary to everyone, and lets users contribute web links and share reading lists that will automatically show up in Logos 4.

Almanac.Logos.com lets our community of users search and edit a growing database of information on the Christian world (particularly seminaries, at this point). This database provides a platform for connecting users by school, organization, denomination, and area of interest.

Api.Biblia.com offers the power of Logos Bible Software to other web sites, enabling mashups and creative ideas we never imagined.

And we’re not done. There are new projects coming, and we are experimenting and learning as we go. We need to hear from you about what you need, and your ideas about how we can serve and connect more people who want – who need! – to study the Bible.

I am excited about our “master plan,” and thrilled that we get to play this small part in The Master’s Plan. Thanks for sharing in it with us!

New Testament Textual Criticism Collection

New Testament Textual Criticism Collection (6 vols)

Anyone who has studied some New Testament Greek, or who has looked a commentary like the Word Biblical Commentary has heard about “textual criticism”. But the field is hopelessly technical, with all of its abbreviations and assumed knowledge.

More important than being able to read a textual apparatus (such as that of the NA27 or of Tischendorf) is gaining an understanding of the general nature of the problem that textual critics, through these apparatuses, are trying to describe. And that’s what the New Testament Textual Criticism Collection (6 vols) is all about: giving some background to understand the problem.

There are some books geared towards introduction to manuscripts and to textual criticism in general; there are other books that are collections of essays that describe the practice of textual criticism applied to problems found in the New Testament. And there’s even an excellent book on the Synoptic problem. Here’s the list:

  • Encountering New Testament Manuscripts by Jack Finegan.
  • Manuscripts and the Text of the New Testament by Keith Elliot and Ian Moir
  • New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide by David Alan Black
  • Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism Eldon J. Epp and Gordon D. Fee, editors
  • The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes, editors
  • The Synoptic Problem: A Way through the Maze by Mark Goodacre

The Synoptic Problem: A Way through the MazeEncountering New Testament Manuscripts and Manuscripts and the Text of the New Testament are good introductions to the sorts of documents and evidence we have for the text of the New Testament. David Alan Black’s New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide gives a good starting point in three parts (Purpose, Method and Examples).

Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism and The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research are both sets of essays dealing with the background and application of textual criticism. The essays in these books are routinely cited and are well regarded. They are important works in the field. I’ve read them, and they are excellent.

The seeming outlier is Mark Goodacre’s The Synoptic Problem: A Way through the Maze, but it is one of the gems in this collection (it is also available individually). Goodacre identifies what is known in Biblical Studies as “the synoptic problem” and, unlike many books that only describe a problem, Goodacre posits a way out of it. And (here’s the spoiler if you haven’t read it) Goodacre’s solution does not involve “Q”. I’ve read this book as well (on my iPod!) and it is well written, convincing, and enjoyable to read. You will learn simply by reading this book. It’s that good.

Bible Book Reading Lists: Discover Each Book in a New Light

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Today’s guest blogger is Annie O’Connor, from the Logos Bible Software Design and Editorial team.

Have you ever heard a pastor mention that reading the letters in the New Testament is somewhat like listening to half of a phone conversation? You don’t know what the person on the other end is saying, you only know how the person on your end responded. Of course, we can’t reconstruct the exact details surrounding each letter in the New Testament, but we aren’t completely in the dark either. Many resources (like the ones in your Logos library!) discuss this information and provide a solid context to help us understand what was happening on the other end of the conversation.

Take for example the book of 1 Peter. What is the major theme of this letter? Here’s an excerpt from one resource:

“Peter elaborated upon the subject of suffering throughout the entire epistle. He offered words of hope to his readers as they faced suffering (1:4–5; 5:4). He pictured suffering as purposeful (3:14; 4:14)” (Holman Bible Handbook).

The theme of suffering is significant when you consider the apostle Peter as author of the letter. His acceptance of unjust suffering is remarkable given his previous abhorrence of it. In the gospels, Peter adamantly rejects the notion that Christ should suffer (Mark 8:31-33), and even denies his personal affiliation with Jesus in order to avoid suffering himself (Mark 14:66-72). What a difference, then, that Peter should say “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (1 Peter 2:19, ESV).

Fortunately, each of our base packages offers an array of resources that provide such information on each book of the Bible. The information is in your library, but it isn’t completely organized the way our other Guides are. In order to find this information, you need to open each commentary, Bible dictionary, or handbook individually and navigate to the desired information. We thought, surely, there must be a better way. We decided to take the first step.

In Logos 4.0 we introduced a new tool called Reading Lists (Tools>Reading Lists). This tool allows you to capture locations in resources and organize those locations as hyperlinks under a chosen topic. Using this format, we have created a Reading List for all 66 books of the Bible. This means that you no longer have to manually locate information on these books; the Reading Lists streamline the process. If you want to learn about the book of 1 Peter, the Bible book reading list will link you to articles in your library that address 1 Peter. You can quickly link to various articles discussing the Date, Historical Context and Recipients (what sort of suffering were the letter’s recipients experiencing?) or Authorship, Message, and Purpose (how is Peter’s affiliation with this letter significant?). These categories, though, are only the start. The Reading Lists have 30 categories pertaining to each book.

To jump start the reading lists, we have linked ten resources that provide maximum coverage of resources in our base packages. The next resources in our queue for linking are Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary, The Summarized Bible, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, ISBE, and the New American Commentary Series. The Reading Lists are not limited to these resources, though. Since the Reading Lists are user editable, anyone can add links to any resource they want. That means you! If you don’t see your favorite resource among those already linked, or in our queue, you can add it.

How does that work? Open the Reading List to the book page you want to edit, click “Edit” in the upper right hand corner of the pane. This will open the correct reading list on topics.logos.com. Click “Edit” on that page and you will be able to add links. How do you add links? Open to the introduction for the correct Bible book in your favorite resource, copy the Reading List link, and pasted it in the editing window on topics.logos.com. Divide any headings into the appropriate categories, click “Save” and, presto, your links for your resource are available in the Logos 4.0 Reading Lists.

There are more detailed instructions on our FAQ page.

So, in Logos 4.0, go to Tools>Reading Lists, find the Reading List for the book you want to study and quickly find many articles discussing that book. If you want more resources, just click “Edit” and add them. Happy reading and happy linking!

Logos 4: Vividly Display Repeated Words

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Today’s post is from Morris Proctor, certified and authorized trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos training seminars.

As we read a biblical passage and make observations, one of the items we look for is repeated words. Normally words or phrases mentioned multiple times in a passage have particular importance. For example, in John 15 notice the occurrences of fruit. In Philippians 1 take note of the frequent use of gospel. When you locate such a reoccurring word within a given passage, Logos 4 contains a tool, Word Tree (in Original Languages Library and above), that vividly displays the word along with the words in relationship to it. Here’s how to use this helpful feature:

  • Choose Tools | Passage Analysis
  • Select Word Tree
  • Type a biblical reference in the passage box like John 15.1-7
  • Type a word in the box to the right of the passage such as fruit

You’ll notice Logos presents your word and as well as the words in relationship to it. To control the display use the three drop down lists.

In the first list select:

  • Reverse to see all the words leading to your word
  • Forward to see all the words flowing from your word

In the second list select your desired Bible.

In the third list select how to present the words used in relationship to your word. Select:

  • Occurrence toarrange the words in the tree in their biblical order
  • Alphabetical toarrange the words in the tree in their alphabetical order
  • Frequency toarrange the words in the tree by the number of times they appear in the biblical text

Once the tree is generated, you can click on any word in the display to rebuild the tree according to that word. Try using this feature in the observation phase of your Bible study. I think it will help you ask some interesting questions of the text.

Update: Please note that the Passage Analysis tool is only included in the following base packages: Original Lanuguages Library, Scholar’s Library, Scholar’s Library: Silver, Scholar’s Library: Gold, Scholar’s Library: Platinum, and Logos Bible Software 4: Portfolio Edition. To find out which base package is right for you, and see what discounts you qualify for, visit our upgrade page!

FreeBookPreview.com Goes Live—Celebrate with an iPod Touch!

iPod Touch

On Monday, July 26, 2010 we will launch FreeBookPreview.com. To celebrate this event we are giving away a free iPod Touch!

FreeBookPreview.com

Now you can sit back and really check out a book on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch before you purchase it and not be confined to a couple of pagescans. Free Book Preview works with the free Logos Bible Software app allowing you to preview entire Christian books for a limited time. At FreeBookPreview.com you can see a calendar of upcoming previews, read descriptions of previewed books, and see an archive of previously previewed books.

Continue Reading…

Syntax Searching for Everyone: Using Query Forms

Video Tutorial

This is the second in a series of three posts called “Syntax Searching for Everyone”. In this video, we’ll peek at syntax search Query Forms.

What, you don’t know about Query Forms?

You didn’t know that you can just select a search template like “Subject”, fill in a blank, and find all the places where a particular Greek word (or, even better, English) is the subject of the clause?

Well, shame on me for not telling you earlier. But you can. Here’s how.

[Note: The Query Form feature is only available to users who have the Andersen-Forbes Hebrew Syntactic Analysis, the OpenText.org Greek NT Syntactic Analysis, and the Cascadia Syntax Graphs of the New Testament. The Andersen-Forbes and OpenText.org databases are in the Logos 4 Original Languages (LE) package and above; Cascadia is in the Logos 4 Scholar's Silver (LE) package and above.]

For other posts in this series, see:

Logos 4 for Mac Beta Released

Have you noticed everyone’s getting a Mac?

We sure have; Logos 4 for Mac has been in Alpha all year long, yet thousands of users have already made the switch. Undeterred by theft or theft, our Mac team has been putting out new Alpha releases every two weeks. And today I’m happy to announce we’ve hit Beta!

Logos 4 for Mac is working well, and we have most features of Logos 4 for Windows up and running on the Mac. (And in some cases running twice as fast!) Beta means we’re confident you can install Logos 4 for Mac and join the thousands already using it as their primary Bible study tool. The developers will be focusing on your feedback, fixing bugs as they are reported, and polishing the user interface.

Then we’ll add the minor missing features and make sure we’re in sync with the 4.1 features already in beta on the Windows side. Moving forward, our goal is simultaneous release of new features on Mac and Windows, and a seamless cross-platform experience for all your books and data: Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad, and even the web.

To report bugs or get help, be sure to check out our forums, where you’ll find a strong user community and many of our developers hanging-out.

I hope you’ll join me in thanking our development team for their hard work and long hours. They’ve done an amazing job catching up to decades of Windows development in a very short time. And thank you for your patience; I trust you will find the result a blessing and an aid in more and better Bible study!

If you are interested in the beta for yourself, you can buy a Logos 4 base package, upgrade to Logos 4, or download the free beta and try it out. You’re going to be glad you did!

Mind the Gap

Socio-rhetorical

One of the big hurdles in preaching is bridging the cultural gap between our present setting and the society in which the NT documents were composed. It gets even harder when you realize there is actually more than one gap. Take the Apostle Paul for example. He was born in one of the Hellenistic Greek cultural centers, Tarsus. Let’s not forget that he was also a Roman citizen, which adds to the complexity. Acts 22:3 tells us that he was educated under Gamaliel as a strict Pharisee, adding yet another Jewish dimension to the picture. Is there any hope for properly unpacking the cultural baggage which underlies Scripture?

Ben Witherington and David deSilva have devoted much of their academic careers to addressing these issues, leading to the Socio-Rhetorical Commentary Series (8 Vols.). This eight volume set is enables you to successfully navigate these complexities by identifying the relevant cultural or rhetorical features in a given context. Each volume begins with a series of articles orienting you to key factors that shaped writer’s conception of the world. The balance of the book guides you through each passage, highlighting socio-rhetorical facets critical to soundly exegeting the passage.

Although the cultural divide can seem unwieldy, the Socio-Rhetorical Commentary Series is a great resource for bridging the gap. Although Witherington and deSilva are noted experts, their insights are delivered in clear, accessible language. Whether you are a seasoned expert or just jumping into these issues for the first time, I’d highly recommend adding this collection to your library.

Syntax Searching for Everyone: Grammatical Relationships

Video Tutorial

Syntax searching is one of the coolest features of Logos Bible Software 4. I mean, to search and find where something is the subject of a clause, or the object of a clause? So, where, say, Peter does something (subject) or where something is done to Peter (object)?

Despite its coolness, some people think that syntax searching in Logos 4 is difficult. And I’ll admit, understanding the intricacies of syntax databases, the theories behind them, and how they represent structures takes work. But you don’t need to actually devise a query to do a syntax search. There are multiple points of entry, and many do not require you to create a syntax query from scratch.

I recently put together a series of three videos titled “Syntax Searching for Everyone” to show how syntax searching can play a part in your study — without writing a query. As simple as a right-mouse click in a reverse interlinear Bible. The three videos are:

  • Syntax Searching for Everyone: Grammatical Relationships
  • Syntax Searching for Everyone: Using Query Forms
  • Syntax Searching for Everyone: Syntax Search Templates

Today’s video is Syntax Searching for Everyone: Grammatical Relationships. I hope it helps you in your study!

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