Studying the Dead Sea Scrolls Just Got Easier

Dead Sea ScrollsThe Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts (QSM) collection is a tagged database of all the nonbiblical scrolls found at Qumran—the Temple Scroll, the War Scroll, the Damascus Document, the Rule of the Community, and over 700 other scrolls. These documents provide invaluable information about Judaism in the Second Temple period.

It’s been over 10 years since we first offered this database in Libronix DLS, and much has changed—both in the contents of the QSM database and in how Logos supports Hebrew and Aramaic databases generally. We wanted to take the opportunity to get the latest data and bring this incredible tool up to our current standards.

The result: QSM just got a major update! 

What’s new

It’s never been easier to study the Dead Sea Scrolls in the original Hebrew and Aramaic. Improvements in this release include:

  • More than 100 new scrolls, bringing the total to 737 documents.
  • Reorganization: several of the previously released scrolls have been reorganized to match the latest scholarship on how to reconstruct larger works from individual pieces.
  • Textual searches: QSM now shows up in the Textual Searches section of the Bible Word Study guide, making it easy to find instances of words from the Hebrew Bible in the Dead Sea Scrolls. This feature returns the best hits when running Bible Word Study directly from the Westminster database (BHW 4.18), since no data-type conversion is required, but it also works from several other Hebrew Bibles.
  • English glosses: the glossary now includes every word in the database, while the older version only had entries for those words not found in the Hebrew Bible. In addition, QSM now glosses the text on mouse hover and populates the word-selector dropdowns in various reports and search interfaces, making it easy to select the word you want.
  • Improved navigation: now it’s possible to quickly navigate to individual scrolls, columns, or fragments, instead of just to specific lines in the scrolls.
  • Improved Dead Sea Scrolls tagging: in commentaries and other reference works, we’ve tagged Dead Sea Scrolls citations with references to Brill’s Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (DSSSE), which includes English translations and transcriptions of the most important scrolls, as well as complete bibliographic data. In this release, we’ve added a mapping of the DSSSE datatype to QSM, making it easier to link and scroll those resources together and making it possible to jump directly from tagged Dead Sea Scrolls references in your library directly to the QSM database without having to own or open DSSSE. The Brill volumes have also been updated to improve their linking with QSM and with each other.
  • Morphology update: the implementation of the morphology codes has been updated to function alongside the improvements made to the Westminster data types for the release of BHW 4.18, making it easy to search for morphological features across the scrolls and the Hebrew Bible at the same time.

Get yours today

If you already own the old version of QSM, you’ll receive this update automatically. (If you haven’t gotten your update update, just type “update resources” into the command bar and Logos will download it.)

If you don’t already have these important documents, get yours today!

Get the Latest Westminster Hebrew Morphology for 50% Off!

BHW 2.18The latest version of the Westminster Hebrew Morphology, version 4.18, is now available. This marks our first upgrade of this significant database since version 4.2, released in 2004, and represents nearly a decade of improvements and corrections.

Already own the WHM? Get the update free

If you’ve been working with the old version 4.2, and you have your Logos Bible Software set to receive automatic updates, you might already have the new version, which was sent out as a free update for users of the 4.0/4.2 versions. Look for it under the new title: Biblia Hebraica Westmonasteriensis with Westminster Hebrew Morphology 4.18. (The version numbers aren’t decimals—think of 4.2 as version 2 of the fourth edition, and 4.18 as version 18.) The older releases were misnamed as Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia—version 1 of WHM was the text of BHS, but ever since version 2, this database has moved toward being a more accurate transcription of Codex Leningradensis (L), the oldest complete Hebrew Bible and the textual basis of the BHS and many other editions. The WHM has detailed notes about every place where it reads or corrects L differently than the BHS and the published fascicles of BHQ, making it very useful for comparing the finer points of these popular print editions.

New to the WHM? Get it for 50% off!

If you haven’t used the Westminster Hebrew Morphology, now’s the time to start—through December 2, we’ve cut the price of the new edition in half.

In addition to the textual notes already mentioned, you’ll get complete lexical and morphological analysis of every Hebrew and Aramaic word in the Bible. These tags help you identify the form of each word and its function in the sentence; they also facilitate advanced searching. WHM also includes both the Kethiv and the Qere readings, in which the text to be read aloud is different from the written text, and a reconstruction and analysis of the Kethiv readings, which by their nature lack vowels in the manuscript of L.

One of the most accurate morph databases available

The Westminster Hebrew Morphology, one of the first Hebrew Bible databases made widely available, has benefited from an enormous quantity of feedback from scholars and students. The editors at the J. Alan Groves Center for Advanced Biblical Research (formerly the Westminster Hebrew Institute) have developed an impressive issue-tracking database to store reports and discussions of proposed changes, which helps maintain consistency and prevent regression errors. The user feedback and the editors’ hard work have created one of the most accurate morph databases available—one that gets better with every release.

In addition, the WHM tags many features not found in most other databases. Starting with version 4.12, for instance, it’s been tagging “unexpected forms”—for example, pronominal suffixes that appear at first glance to be feminine, but that context demands be read as masculine (a phenomenon that happens most often with words accented to indicate a “pause” in the verse). It also labels other morphological characteristics mentioned in advanced Hebrew grammars, such as the “energic nun,” making it easier to understand what’s going on with relatively rare word forms.

Get 50% off the latest version of the Westminster Hebrew Morphology today!

The Aramaic Bible: Get the Targums in English and More

targumThe Aramaic Bible is coming to Logos. This is a series I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time, so the sales team asked me to answer some basic questions, like “What’s a Targum and why should I care?” and “What’s so special about this particular edition?”

What are the Targums?

The Targums are early translations of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic. They cover the entire Hebrew Bible except Ezra–Nehemiah (probably originally one book) and Daniel, portions of which are already in Aramaic; some of the books of the Bible have several different Targums. Some follow the Hebrew text very closely, while others contain significant additions and explanations. They’re useful for textual criticism or for resolving difficult passages in the Hebrew Bible (particularly those Targums that are older or stay closer to the source material), as well as for learning the diverse ways that the ancient Jews understood their Scriptures. Quite often, when I read someone commenting on places where a New Testament author “must” have been using the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures), looking at the Targums will demonstrate that the tradition being followed may have been alive and well in synagogues without the need to reference the Greek text at all. The Targums also demonstrate the diversity of ancient Judaism, sometimes disagreeing with each other, sometimes differing in interpretation from material found in the Mishnah or the Talmuds. Some of the Targums, particularly Onqelos on the Torah and Jonathan on the Prophets, are still used extensively in Orthodox Judaism today. [Read more...]

Free Talmud Resource: Daf Yomi!

The Babylonian Talmud is one of the most important Jewish texts. It contains most of the earlier Mishnah, with detailed rabbinical commentary addressing nearly every aspect of Jewish life. Although it’s organized by topic, not verse, the Talmud is a fantastic source for early Jewish biblical exegesis—but it can be a daunting read.

In response to this difficulty, Rabbi Meir Shapiro developed a reading plan built around studying both sides of a Talmud page (Daf) every day (Yom), launching the first readthrough September 11, 1923. The schedule was published so that readers everywhere could get on the same (literal) page. Classes formed around these reading schedules, followed by radio programs and, later, websites, podcasts, and blogs.

Rabbi Meir Shapiro

On August 2, 2012, just shy of 89 years after the program began, 300,000 people celebrated the completion of the Babylonian Talmud’s 12th communal readthrough. Without a break, the 13th cycle began the next day.

To mark the 13th Daf Yomi cycle’s start, we’ve created a free Daf Yomi reading plan. The plan links to Jacob Neusner’s English-language Talmud translations and, where relevant, to readings from Neusner’s The Mishnah: A New Translation. This week only, we’re offering Neusner’s translation bundle for over 30 percent off the sale price with coupon code DAFYOMI—a savings of $90! The discount is good only through August 19, 2012, so download Neusner’s translations now.

If you’re interested in early Judaism in general or the Talmud in particular, this is a terrific opportunity to get in on the new reading cycle. We’ve started a Faithlife group* where Daf Yomi reading-plan participants can share their thoughts, observations, and questions.

Get your free Daf Yomi reading plan today!

* Make sure you have a Faithlife user account—you can sign in with your Logos.com account. Then simply join the Daf Yomi group (button to the right of the group name) to get involved with the discussion!

50 Volumes of Ancient Religious Texts on Pre-Pub

50 volumes of Sacred Books of the East might seem like an odd offering from a Bible software company, but I’m looking forward to this as a valuable addition to my library. Here’s why you might like it, too:

Bas-Relief in Persepolis

  1. For about 200 years of the biblical timeline, Israel was under ancient Persian rule. Scads of commentaries make observations about various Jewish beliefs and practices that are often seen as influenced by, or even borrowed from, the Persians during this time. Even in the New Testament, the star-following magi may be of Persian origin. Persian influence is discussed in relation to the resurrection and afterlife, judgment, developments in monotheism as well as the kinds of dualism seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls between the ‘Sons of Light’ and the ‘Sons of Darkness’ (with parallels in the theology of the Fourth Gospel). But the writings of the Persians themselves haven’t been available in Logos Bible Software. 8 volumes of the SBE are dedicated to the literature of Zoroastrianism, the religion of ancient Persia. That means with this set, we’ll be able to start linking discussions in commentaries about the Persian influence on Judaism back to the most important source materials, and we’ll be able to read about one of the most ancient monotheistic religions in their own words. [Read more...]

New Shibboleth Update

Back in 2007 we unleashed Shibboleth, a tool we designed to help people key in ancient scripts more accurately, even if they weren’t proficient in those scripts.

We’ve updated Shibboleth with a number of improvements:

[Read more...]

Talmud Top Five

Community Pricing

We recently announced a pre-publication offer for the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud. I’m pretty excited about this one, so I thought I’d put on my junior marketeer’s hat and share my Top Five Reasons why you might get excited about the Talmud prepub as well:

  1. The Talmuds are two of the most important documents for understanding Judaism, ancient and modern. The Talmuds are by far the two largest components of the dozen or so early Jewish documents that together form the ‘Oral Torah’ – that is the body of teachings passed down by word-of-mouth and eventually codified into writings that, alongside the Written Torah (the Hebrew Bible), are normative for Jewish faith and practice.
  2. The Talmuds are often used to explain Jewish practices mentioned in the New Testament. While the Talmuds were written down three to five centuries after the New Testament, the Talmuds cite individual rabbis for the teachings found within. These rabbis can be dated, making it possible to get a sense for the antiquity of the various teachings found in the Talmuds. (Neusner, the editor and main translator for this set, is less sanguine about the traditional approach to dating Talmudic material, and puts emphasis on the rabbinic literature being products of the time in which they were finally compiled. However, Neusner provides his own criteria for dividing the Talmud into different chronological strata.)
  3. Commentaries, Bible Dictionaries and other references works already in the Logos library cite the Talmuds extensively. I ran a search for the first tractate, Berakoth, across the entire Logos library and found over 13,000 hits ( using a regex search with Match Case turned on: /[bytp]?Ber(a[kc]h?oth?)?/ ). Some of those are related Mishnah references instead of Talmud references (they share the same tractate names) but Berakoth is just one of 49 tractates covered in the Talmuds, and this count doesn’t include books in production now which will greatly benefit from tagged references to the Talmuds, such as Lightfoot’s A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. Tagging these sorts of references makes the software more efficient at helping you dig as deep as you want to go.
  4. Even if one is fairly fluent in Aramaic and Hebrew, reading the Talmud requires special training due to the compact ‘encoding’ and formulae of the compositions. Neusner’s English translations provide parenthetical expansions of the text which ‘unpack’ the Talmuds, making them accessible to a much wider audience. Neusner also structures these texts using an outline format around ‘sense-units’ that visually convey the thought structure of the original texts that is often lost in other translations (you can see this approach in action in Neusner’s translation of the Mishnah as well).
  5. The price is right. The pre-pub cost for this set is the same as the CBD discount price for the PDF editions (a steal at $80 a Talmud—these are massive, multi-volume sets). The PDF editions are searchable and I think quite nice for PDFs, but they do not contain the type of data type milestones or tagging that make Logos books easy to navigate. For example, the PDFs are organized around Neusner’s chapter numbers, but these works are almost universally cited by folio number and an A or B to indicate which side of the folio. The Logos edition will be navigable and linkable by either Neusner’s own structural outline numbers or the traditional folio numbers. References to the Mishnah and the Bible will also be tagged as well, making this edition even more useful than the PDFs, all for the same price.

I’m excited about the avenues of exploration that will open up by having these texts available in the Logos library. If learning about ancient Judaism interests you, either for its own sake or for what it can teach about the New Testament or the Hebrew Bible, have a look at this prepub.

The Other Third of the Hebrew Bible

Approximately one third of the Hebrew Bible is poetry and needs to be interpreted with a sensitivity to the devices used by Hebrew poets. However, most books covering the grammar and syntax of the Hebrew language are devoted almost entirely to prose, and leave investigations of poetry to more specialized books.
Those using Logos Bible Software to study the Hebrew Bible have a great selection of these prose grammars available to them, from Waltke and O’Connor’s An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax and the classic Gesenius-Kautzsch-Cowley Hebrew Grammar to Joüon-Muraoka’s A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew and Christo van der Merwe’s A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar. But until now, there have been few works made available for studying Hebrew poetry. Happily, the news isn’t all grim: a number of collections are now listed on the pre-publication page that can round out your Hebrew library nicely.
Hebrew Studies Collection (7 Vols.)
The Hebrew Studies Collection, consisting of seven volumes from the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series, includes no less than four books on Hebrew poetry: Traditional Techniques in Classical Hebrew Verse, Classical Hebrew Poetry, A Guide to its Techniques, Directions in Biblical Hebrew Poetry, and Structural Analysis of Biblical and Canaanite Poetry. Parallelism, word pairs, figurative language, metre and a host of other rhetorical and structural devices are explored in this collection, making it an excellent first stop for exploring Hebrew poetics.
Word Order Variation in Biblical Hebrew Poetry, by Nicholas Lunn. Changing the expected word order is one method the biblical authors use to highlight or emphasize certain aspects of their sentences. Word order has oft been studied for Hebrew prose, but this book explores how those dynamics play out in the poetic genre.
The BHS Helps Collection features Luis Alonso Schokel’s A Manual of Hebrew Poetics. The manual is not primarily a reference book but rather a volume of initiation into the practice of analysis. Among the poetic techniques discussed are sound and sonority, rhythm, imagery, figures of speech, dialogue and monologue, development and composition.
Biblical Languages: Reference Grammars and Introductions (19 vols.) includes George Buchanan Gray’s classic The Forms of Hebrew Poetry, which includes extensive discussions of parallelism, rhythm, and alphabetic acrostics. Also included is Wickes’ Two Treatises on the Accentuation of the Old Testament, a study in the cantillation system of the Hebrew Bible.
I encourage those interested in studying the other third of the Hebrew Bible to take a look at some of these collections.

An Alternate Book of Esther

I was flipping through the Esther volume of the Göttingen Septuagint and saw something unusual:

Göttingen Septuagint

If you examine this page carefully, you’ll see that the top section contains Greek text of a portion of Esther. Under that is a critical apparatus – a shorthand method of documenting manuscript evidence, showing which manuscripts agree with the text above and which manuscripts disagree, and how they disagree.
Then under the apparatus there is second section of Greek text (market by an L in the margin) followed by a second apparatus. We’ve seen something like this before. The ancient Greek book of Daniel, for example, exists in both the Old Greek and the Theodotion versions, and other editions of the LXX, such as Rahlfs and Swete, have presented both versions of that text either on facing pages or with one version on top of the other. Similar parallel texts are presented for the shorter and longer versions of Tobit and those parts of Joshua and Judges where codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus disagree. But I’ve never seen this phenomenon in a printed edition of Esther before.
The marginal ‘L’ indicates that the text is thought by some scholars to be a Lucianic recension, or revision, of the Septuagint. Lucian was a Christian martyr who died in 312 AD and was famous for comparing the various Greek translations with the Hebrew Scriptures and preparing new Greek texts that were in greater agreement with the Hebrew originals.
However, the L-Text of Esther is different from the Septuagint text in some surprising ways that seem, to some scholars, inconsistent with the Lucianic reforms. The LXX and the L-Text both contain the so-called ‘Additions to Esther’ not found in the Hebrew Massoretic Text (MT), and the L-Text and LXX are significantly similar for those Additions. But in places where the L-Text and the LXX are clearly translating the same Hebrew, there is very little word for word correspondence. And at several junctures, it seems that the L-Text must be translating a different Hebrew source all-together. Carey Moore in his Anchor Bible volume on Esther, and elsewhere, has argued that the L-Text of Esther is really a fresh translation from a Hebrew original that is, at points, very different from the Hebrew (MT) that we have today. Followers of this line of reasoning usually refer to this as the Alpha-Text or A-Text of Esther, rather than the L-Text. If Moore is right, then the A-Text of Esther isn’t so much useful for determining the original text of the Massoretic version of Esther, but is rather more valuable for illuminating a version of Esther that no longer exists in any Hebrew manuscript known today.
Right now the Göttingen Septuagint is gathering interest on our prepublication program, listed at less than 1/10th of the retail price of the print volumes! The prepub has been well received, but we still need a few more orders to confirm that there is enough interest in getting the best Septuagint available into Logos Bible Software. So if you were sitting on the fence with this one wondering what you’d get that isn’t already in Rahlfs’ or Swete’s LXX, the A-Text of Esther is one example of the cool, useful things you’ll only see in Göttingen.
P.S. If you’re interested in the Septuagint, you might take a peek at Biblical Languages: Reference Grammars and Introductions (19 Vols.), which contains three volumes on the Septuagint: Swete’s classic Introduction (which examines the Lucianic recension on pages 80-86), the introductory grammar and chrestomathy by Conybeare and Stock and the reference grammar by Thackeray. If you want to lock in the early bird price, now is the time.

“Free” Book: Apocrypha Reading Plan

Recently we’ve blogged about the many ways to read the Bible in a year using tools from Logos Bible Software. Within the application, one can make custom reading plans, or you can join an online community of people reading through the same plan using either Global Bible Reader or Bible.Logos.com.
But all of these solutions currently support a 66 book canon only. If you also want to read the Apocrypha, or Deuterocanonical books, either because your faith tradition includes such books or just to learn more about the Jewish writings that appeared during the time ‘between the testaments’ and were read by the early Church, some additional help is needed.
So I’ve made a little Libronix digital book that contains a list of daily readings to cover the Apocrypha in one year. It functions just like other daily devotionals, with a link at the top to jump directly to the current day’s reading. It can also be loaded into your Libronix Home Page in the devotionals section.
This reading plan covers the Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican deuterocanonical materials. The ‘additions’ to Esther and Daniel are interspersed within and around the protocanonical portions of those books, and Ezra, Nehemiah and the last chapters of 2 Chronicles are included just before the Esdras writings to provide important context for comparison. So if using this in conjunction with one of the other Bible reading plans, you might end up reading some of the books of the Bible twice, but we think this is a high class problem.
Because of some (temporary) limitations to how the Bible data type functions, this first release of the Apocrypha Reading Plan is hard-coded to the NRSV, so we’ve made it free to any customer that already has the NRSV in their Libronix Digital Library. The NRSV is included in all of our base packages, and is also available à la carte.
Updated Instructions:

  1. Determine the folder that contains your Libronix digital books. The default folder is C:\Program Files\Libronix DLS\Resources. If you have changed the default folder, you can see the folders your system monitors for new books by opening Libronix DLS and clicking Tools | Options | General | Resource Paths.
  2. Save, do not run or open the following link to the folder that contains your Libronix digital books. Save this file to your resource path.
  3. Open Libronix DLS (don’t try to click on the newly downloaded file). You may see a message in the lower right-hand corner that says “Discovering Resources” – wait a few seconds for this message to go away.
  4. Open My Library and type ‘NRSV Apocrypha Reading Plan’. If you already own the NRSV, this will appear unlocked, otherwise it will be locked. If Libronix DLS was open when you downloaded the file, you may need to press the F5 key to refresh your My Library view, or close and re-open Libronix DLS.
  5. Enjoy!