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Author Interview: More Light on the Path

Logos recently made available an excellent resource entitled More Light on the Path—a devotional of daily readings in Greek and Hebrew (with a dash of Aramaic). The book is a great way to build proficiency in the biblical languages by using them regularly in a meaningful context. “Use it or lose it,” as language teachers like to say.

The authors of the book selected readings based on the church calendar and include translation helps: English glosses for less common words and parsing for difficult forms. They also provide a brief prayer or meditation in English. The concept for the work originated from Light on the Path, written in 1969 by banker and student of biblical languages Heinrich Bitzer.

I was recently in contact with David Baker, one of the authors of More Light on the Path, and asked him to do an email interview for the blog. He kindly accepted and invited his co-author, Elaine Heath, to participate as well.

The interview follows; further info about the book, Eugene Peterson’s Foreword (itself worth reading!), and a sample screenshot are available at Logos.com.

Interview with David Baker and Elaine Heath

Logos: Were either of you readers of Bitzer’s original Light on the Path? What was it like?
Elaine Heath: Yes, I used it when I took Greek and Hebrew as a seminary student. It was a helpful way to practice what I was learning in class.

David Baker: I used it some, but was unable to discern an overarching philosophy of text selection. I was intrigued by the concept (which also let me brush up on my German, since it included that in the translations, as that was Bitzer’s original language.

Logos: What prompted the decision to create a new version of the work?

DB: We wanted something which would be attractive and accessible to students I was teaching (Bitzer was a bit hard to find). It really came from student demand.

EH: David and I were talking about Bitzer’s book one day, imagining how good it would be to have a sequel with some additional features. For example we thought it would be more helpful to readers if we followed the liturgical calendar and if each week was treated thematically. These were features that weren’t present in Bitzer’s volume. David thought the addition of meditations and prayers written in English and keyed to the texts would be a way to increase the devotional possibilities for the book.

Logos: When you put together More Light on the Path how did you envision it being used?

DB: I saw it as a supplementary text for an intermediate level language course, and also something graduates could use to keep their language use fresh.

EH: We knew it would be helpful to seminary students, just as the original volume had been. However, we thought more pastors would use it to help keep their language skills sharp if it could be used devotionally.

Keying it to the liturgical calendar and selecting theological themes that would be helpful in sermon preparation or Bible study made it a more versatile resource for pastors.

Logos: What level of language proficiency does someone need to use the book?

DB: It can be used by those with a year of language study, but will in some cases push students with this level of competence. This is good, since there is always a bit more to learn.

Logos: How did you select the readings?

DB: Together we went through the liturgical year (Christian and Jewish), selecting relevant themes. For the rest of the year we came up with ideas and then chose relevant texts based on them. Where there were allusions or quotations of the OT in the NT, we thought that using both would show an important part of the hermeneutical process.

Logos: Were there any particular challenges you encountered when creating the book?

EH: My biggest challenge was my commitment to use Lectio Divina in order to write the meditations. This meant being centered, silent, and taking as much time as I needed in order to hear what emerged from the text as I prayed. This required patience, which at times was a challenge! Prayer can’t be hurried.

DB: Another one was determining which words/forms to explain. We had to hit and miss for a while before coming across a workable plan. It was also hard to remember to be devotional in our text selection, and not to be completely academic in selection, since the object of the books was partly devotional.

Logos: I’ve read that Logos Bible Software 2.0 was used in the process…what role did it play?

EH: It was very helpful for me in using the search tools to locate texts thematically.

DB: I used it to copy and paste the language text material, saving a lot of time.

Logos: Is there any reader feedback you’d like to share?

EH: Several of my colleagues have expressed gratitude for the book, finding it to be a helpful resource for language students. I have also heard positive comments from people who do not have facility in Greek or Hebrew, but who use the book devotionally anyway, reading the daily scripture passages in English.

DB: Most of it has been very positive. I was struck by at least one reviewer who negatively reacted to one of the English devotional readings. I wish we could have been in touch directly, since the devotional simply brought out the clear meaning of the text itself, which itself is hard to read, so the problem is less with us than with the clear call of the text.

Logos: How have you or your family used and benefited from More Light on the Path?

EH: I have used the book devotionally and also for sermon preparation.

DB: I have used it personally in preparation for class, and periodically think, ‘Ah, there’s another text we could have used.’ Maybe we need a volume II!

Logos: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our users?

EH: David and I hoped to model an interdisciplinary approach to the study of biblical languages that was rooted in prayer and worship, and that would invite readers to deeper theological reflection.

DB: I appreciated working with two women, Elaine and my wife Morven. They both are much more spiritually sensitive than I, and I hope it was useful from both sides to see how the analytical and the sensitive, female and male, theologian, counselor and biblical scholar could each enrich the project through providing different but complementary perspectives.

Read more about More Light on the Path and buy the electronic edition...

Greek Syntax: OpenText.org Clauses and Word Groups

I’ve blogged about the OpenText.org Syntactically Annotated Greek New Testament in the past (see the Syntax Archives).

The folks who do the work on the OpenText.org project have been doing a lot of work since I last blogged about the project, and the result is that we have a vastly updated data set. The primary new goodie is the consolidation of the Clause and Word Group information.

Continue Reading…

Donald Hagner’s New Testament Exegesis and Research

Logos has recently released Hagner’s short and useful book, New Testament Exegesis and Research: A Guide for Seminarians.

At the recommendation of a friend, I’ve been using this book for awhile — since before Logos started working on the electronic edition. One of the places it has been most useful to me has been in its brief explanation of sentence diagramming. It is less of an explanation and more the simple templates and examples supplied. This is only a few pages of the book, but it has been immensely useful to me.

Hagner’s guide provides concise and useful introductions to the exegetical process and also supplies bibliographies for each step. Several of the listed items (or acceptable alternatives) are already available in Logos Bible Software.

Product Guide to Multi-Volume Commentaries

Inspired by Vincent’s work on product guides introducing the dozens of Logos products related to biblical languages, I decided to write a product guide on commentaries available for Logos Bible Software. We offer a lot of commentaries, it’s a category of book that appeals to almost every user, and it seems like an area in which people would appreciate some guidance…
It soon became clear that I was sticking my arm into a hornet’s nest.

In the first draft, I classified each commentary series in the areas of technicality, theology, and methodology. So a series might bear the labels “Semi-technical, Expositional, Evangelical,” for example.

As it turns out, it’s difficult if not impossible to come up with labels that are sufficiently descriptive yet accurate…and inoffensive. Labeling commentaries is always a subjective exercise and no matter what labels you choose someone will disagree.

This I quickly learned.

I took some time away from the project and during that time re-visited a website put together by Tyler F. Williams, an OT professor at Taylor University College in Alberta. Williams offers an Old Testament Commentary Survey that seemed to me to strike the right balance of non-intrusive assistance. Its primary classification is by intended audience, with category descriptions that are somewhat elastic but still helpful.

Professor Williams graciously agreed to let us use his classification scheme, and the result is the Product Guide to Multi-Volume Commentaries.

The guide introduces more than 30 multi-volume commentaries available for Logos Bible Software, providing basic information about each one such as publisher, which Bible version is followed, how much Greek or Hebrew text to expect, and more. The accompanying brief descriptions come from each publisher, which lets the series “speak for itself” in terms of intended aim or purpose.

If you desire even more guidance in selecting and using commentaries and other reference works, you might be interested in F. W. Danker’s Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study (a Logos resource) or print resources such as John Glynn’s Commentary and Reference Survey or D. A. Carson’s New Testament Commentary Survey.

Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary in Logos Bible Software

Way back in the late ’90s (I honestly don’t recall which year … 1996 or 1997?) Logos released the first electronic edition of the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. This was a massive project, I can remember working on it at the end of the development cycle. It was one of the first large reference volumes we released outside of the main Logos Bible Software collections. And it has consistently been a popular volume for reference.

The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary is one of the most widely accepted, widely used modern published reference dictionaries. In print, it is six massive volumes (each volume is at least two inches thick, as I recall). Thousands of pages. But, of course, the print edition has no concordance, no topic index, and no Scripture index. And no index for references to the Works of Josephus or the Works of Philo. All of those things are tagged in the Logos Bible Software edition.

If you’re looking for a solid, relatively recent Bible dictionary to supplement one of the Logos Bible Software collections, you should seriously consider the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. I’m not saying you’ll agree with everything inside of it; you’ll likely take issue somewhere with something. But it is a good reflection of the state of modern scholarship and very informative as a result.

As usual, the product page on the main Logos web site has much more information. Be sure to check it out!

Theologies Boom

Two major, contemporary, theological works hit the prepub page yesterday: Berkouwer’s Studies in Dogmatics (14 vols) and Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology (3 vols).

You might be asking, “Are theologies really the kind of book that benefits from an electronic edition?” Absolutely.

Theologies are chock full of scriptural references, and as a Logos Bible Software book all those references get turned into hotspots…even if they’re buried in a footnote. This overcomes a number of limitations of the print:

  • It now takes zero effort to look up Bible references to confirm the author’s interpretation.
  • We effectively create a Scripture index for the entire series of books, not just each volume…no page-flipping needed.
  • By creating a defined collection of books and adding it to the Passage Guide report [learn how], the software will remember to search your theologies for references to whatever passage you’re studying…without you having to think about it!

That’s just a few of the benefits of owning theologies in electronic editions. I could go on and on about searchability, links to other works, the ability to copy and paste, automatic footnoting…but instead I hope you’ll check it out for yourself by pre-ordering Berkouwer or Pannenberg or both.

There’s only one question left, and that’s the inevitable…”Awesome…now how about Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics?” Which provokes our usual response…”Yes, we’d love to do that, too.”

Chafer’s Systematic Theology in Logos Format

We’ve had a lot of folks ask us about Lewis Sperry Chafer’s magnum opus Systematic Theology.

Logos has recently completed work on Chafer’s most popular work and you can even purchase it today. Right now, even, through the wonders of that thing called “the internet”.

And you might want to purchase it today. Logos has a special arrangement with the publisher and we are only licensed to sell a specific number of copies. That is, the Logos Bible Software version is a limited edition (no, I don’t know how many we have, how many we’ve sold, or how close we are to the limit). But when we reach that limited amount, you won’t be able to purchase it anymore. Our product page for Chafer’s Systematic Theology describes it this way:

Many users over the years have asked for an electronic edition of this estimable work, but we were never able to secure a license to it. Now, for the first time, the publisher has agreed to a contract that enables us to bring you this resource, though in a limited quantity. When we sell out of our limited run, this title will be removed and we will be unable to take any more orders. We have no reason to believe that this title will ever be made available again electronically once all available copies are sold. We encourage you to place your order while you still can!

So if you’re into Chafer, or find electronic access to systematic theologies valuable, you may want to check it out.

Syntax: Glossaries of Terminology

I know, I know, I said I’d blog about searching the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament. And I will. Really, I will. But not today.

I’ve been working on a different aspect of the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament project recently: adding glossary information to just about everywhere a clause type or syntactic force note occurs. And wow, is it cool. Really.

Because syntactic terminology is at times confusing, and because different grammars and guides sometimes use the same terminology to describe different things and different terminology to describe similar things (got that?) we knew we’d need to include glossaries with our syntactic databases. And we also knew we’d need to provide links to further discussions of terms in standard grammar and syntactic references, so we’ve included (where appropriate) links to BDF, Daniel Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, and Smyth’s Greek Grammar (a classical grammar not yet in LDLS format … but give us time!).

Continue Reading…

Commentaries Alone or in a Set?

We received this comment from a blog reader back in December and I thought it deserved a little longer response than I could give it in the comments:

It would be helpful in this series of articles to explain the justification for making certain books available only as a part of the set (i.e., ICC commentaries) and not separately. Thanks for the great work you are doing! —Paul

Paul, that’s a fair question. Typically, you’ll see new commentaries made available first as a series and only later will they be broken up into individual volumes.

Often, this is due to licensing issues but it can also be the result of the way the prepub program works (we want to digitize the entire series, not just individual volumes). The deep prepub discount makes up for the fact that you may be getting volumes you wouldn’t buy otherwise.

A couple of years after publication, we often go back and split out the volumes for individual sale, if the contract allows. Many commentary sets are currently available as individual volumes, including Crossway Classic Commentary Series, College Press NIV Commentary Series, MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series, The Preacher’s Commentary Series, and Word Biblical Commentary Series.

Of course, you’ll always save money by buying the whole series instead of acquiring it piece by piece. But if you’re focusing on a particular book of the Bible or want to own a volume that has garnered special acclaim, buying one volume at a time may be the way to go.

Of the Making of Books (Part 5)

Today’s guest blogger is Ken Smith, General Manager of Electronic Publishing Services at Logos.
(This is the next installment in a series of articles about our nearly 60 publishing partners who market their own electronic products using our technology.)

Biblical Archaeology Society

From as far back as I can remember, customers were asking about making back issues of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) part of our electronic library offerings. We tried unsuccessfully for quite some time to license BAR from the Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS), but to no avail. (I guess they knew they had a good thing and wanted to do it themselves!)

Since we couldn’t get BAR, we pursued other content from BAS, including a Biblical Archaeology Slide Set. That project never came to fruition and I think we’ve still got a box of several hundred slides gathering dust in our basement somewhere (which may be an interesting find for some 23rd century archaeologist).

After several years of discussion, BAS decided the time was right for them to enter the electronic publishing arena. In October of 2002, that same dust-gathering slide set was released as The Biblical World in Pictures CD-ROM, fully integrated into the Libronix Digital Library System.

BWP

Those customers who had been asking for BAR in Libronix format didn’t have to wait long. In March of 2003, BAS published the first edition of The Biblical Archaeology Review Archive, containing every issue of BAR from 1975 to 2001. It has since been updated to include all of 2002 and 2003 as well.

We’re happy to say that BAS has continued to expand their electronic offerings for the Libronix Digital Library System. In 2004, they released two additional collections of magazine back issues. The Archaeology Odyssey Archive and The Bible Review Archive make the BAS family of electronic products a compelling set.

If you have a particular author, book, magazine, or any other content you’d like to have as part of your electronic library, we want to know! Send an e-mail to suggest@logos.com. No guarantees, but we’ll certainly consider any and all of your suggestions.

Next: Standard Publishing