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Books That Last

When we marketing types at Logos talk about the benefits of electronic books over print, one benefit we include in the list is that electronic books are not easily destroyed. We like to point out that our books do not mold, mildew, fall apart, or fade over time. And when a hard drive crashes or computer is stolen, book files are easily replaced and licenses restored from our servers.

The durability of electronic books can seem like a theoretical benefit until some kind of personal catastrophe or natural disaster makes it very real.

I’m reminded of this as our support department reports they are beginning to hear from users who lost everything to Hurricane Katrina and are calling to request a set of replacement discs and a regenerated license file. Having access to one’s books is certainly a very small comfort in light of the massive losses sustained by so many, but I’m glad that we can help provide even that small step in a return to everyday life.
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Community Pricing: Adolf Deissmann’s Light from the Ancient East

Since Bob has brought up the subject of Community Pricing, I figure it’s time to write about one of my favorite references that is (and has been) on the community pricing page: Deissmann’s Light from the Ancient East.

I can remember when I first started working through definitions in BAGD (the second English edition of Bauer’s lexicon, now superceded by BDAG). This was in the early to mid 1990′s. I’d just finished college, with a year of Greek under my belt, determined not to let it lapse. I’d asked my professor which books I needed, and he simply said “Get BAGD.” I went to the bookstore, and they ordered it — and told me it would be $70.00! I swallowed that pill, had them order it, and haven’t regretted it.

Because I’d spent that money, I used BAGD whenever I needed to look up a word — which was (and still is) frequently. And I soon noticed an oft-repeated abbreviation: LAE.

It only took me a few times to look that up in the abbreviation table (this was before the electronic edition was released by Logos) to associate it with Light from the Ancient East by Adolf Deissmann. It was cited frequently. I didn’t have a print copy, so I never bothered to look it up.

But I was the one missing out. Two or three years ago, I finally broke down and located a used print copy of LAE and dug in. I read it from cover to cover and soon saw that LAE contained excellent background information from papyri, inscriptions and ostraca. These materials are transcribed, translated and discussed. Photos or drawings exist for most materials, so you can actually see the item being discussed.

The discussions are the valuable part, from my perspective. Deissmann brings much to the table that can help one in examining infrequent New Testament words.

Allow me to present one example:
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Using DBL’s Semantic Domains

When you are studying a word, it’s often a good idea to look at synonyms and antonyms for that word as well. For example, if you were studying the English word run, you might also want to consider how words like sprint, jog, or even gallop overlap in meaning with run, and to what extent they are different. You may also want to consider how run and its synonyms are transformed into other parts of speech: What can the word jogger tell us about the meaning of run that runny cannot?

Finding words that are related to one another in meaning is also useful for studying the Bible, or else resources like Girdlestone’s Synonyms of the Old Testament or Trench’s Synonyms of the New Testament wouldn’t exist — not to mention Louw and Nida’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains. The Louw-Nida dictionary is particularly interesting, since it arranges all the words of the Greek New Testament by means of a hierarchical taxonomy, where each entry rests within a “domain” of meaning alongside any other words that have some degree of semantic overlap.

That’s all fine and good if you’re only studying the Greek of the New Testament. But what about the Old Testament?

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Spanish Dividends

It costs so much to build English-language tools and, incrementally, so little to enable them for other languages that it seems a waste not to do so.

Our large investment in the large English-speaking market should pay dividends around the world, not just here in the US. Building a multi-lingual technology like the Libronix DLS enables that, but users still need Bibles and reference works in their own language.

We’re working on acquiring licenses to those resources, but it is a slow process made all the more complicated by multiple ownership: a Spanish reference work may be a translation, by a Spanish publisher, of an English work, but the translator only owns the print rights and the electronic rights remain with the English publisher, who doesn’t own the translation. (We are working through this, though, and getting results.)

Years ago Logos funded the development of a complete set of biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek lexicons by James Swanson. Controlling the rights as well as high-quality XML source files allowed us to have this Dictionary of Biblical Languages translated into Spanish at a reasonable cost without having to re-do all the tagging and linking. The translators started with the well-tagged English source files and only translated the English, ensuring that the original languages text and extensive links to other resources remained intact.

The Greek dictionary has been translated, and we hope the other volumes will follow soon. Look for it in an upcoming Spanish release.

English:

787 ἄρτιος (artios), ία (ia), ον (on): adj.; ≡ Str 739; TDNT 1.475—LN 75.4 qualified for a function; capable (REB), efficient (NEB), proficient (NRSV), competent (NAB), (2Ti 3:17+), note: many versions use vocabulary that emphasizes the thoroughness or completeness of the equipping; thoroughly (NIV), fully (NJB), complete (ASV, RSV, NKJV), perfect (KJV)

Spanish:

787 ἄρτιος (artios), ία (ia), ον (on): adj.; ≡ Str 739; TDNT 1.475—LN 75.4 calificado para una función, capacitado (RVA, NVI), eficiente, eficaz, preparado (RVR, DHH, TLA), equipado (LBLA) (2Ti 3:17+), nota: muchas versiones usan un vocabulario que enfatiza la meticulosidad o totalidad de la preparación; minuciosamente, completo, perfecto

More on Looking Up Citations: Pseudepigrapha

I blogged about looking up Philo citations in BDAG awhile back. But Philo (and even Josephus) aren’t the only potential targets you can work with.

There are a number of reasons to use pseudepigraphal writings (Greek or English or both) to supplement one’s study, though I think such reasons fall into two primary categores: cultural and linguistic. In this article I’ll focus a bit on the linguistic side of things (though I do venture into the cultural a bit), looking particularly at word meanings.

In my personal study, I like to look up cross-references when looking into word meanings. This is particularly handy if a word doesn’t occur often in the New Testament but does occur in other non-canonical writings. I was recently looking at 1Ti 3.8, specifically at the word ?????????????, which the ESV translates as greedy for dishonest gain.

The first thing, of course, was to look it up in BDAG. Here I found that it occurs 2 times in the NT, and both of these are in the Pastoral Epistles (1Ti 3.8 and Tt 1.7). Both contexts are the pretty much the same. But BDAG also cites instances of ????????????? in the Works of Philo (Sacr. Abel. 32) and in the pseudepigraphal Testament of Judah 16.1.
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Liddell-Scott-Jones (LSJ) as a complement to BDAG

I was all set to start to write a post about how I use LSJ as a complement to BDAG when I’m looking into word meanings in the Greek New Testament.

Then I realized I’d already written such a beast, and it’s been on our web site for awhile now. If you’ve been wondering why a lexicon that covers a large range of classical material (like LSJ) would be useful in studying either LXX or New Testament Greek, then you may want to check out the article.

And, if you’re interested, you can read an overview of how we (Logos) came to the decision to produce LSJ as a Logos book. In the process, you’ll learn a bit about how we take stuff from print to electronic via the Pre-Publication Program.

New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC)

We’ve got a lot going on here at Logos (have you looked at our pre-pub page lately? Zowie!) but the one I’m most excited about is getting ready to ship: The New International Greek Testament Commentary, or NIGTC.

I’ve used Knight’s NIGTC volume on the Pastoral Epistles and it is consistently a great place to go when I’m confused as to what is going on in the Greek text.

One example where NIGTC helped me recently is given below.

I was looking into the creedal/hymn fragment in 1Ti 3.16, particularly the line that the ESV translates “vindicated by the Spirit”. The Greek for that line (NA27) is ????????? ?? ????????. I was wondering about the reason for assuming that ?? ???????? referred to the Holy Spirit as there was no article, which would normally be a clue. I agree with the reading that this refers to the Holy Spirit, but wanted to know the linguistic/grammatic reason.

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Bibliographies and Book Evaluation

In a recent post on the Logos Bible Software Blog, Daniel Foster writes:

Just writing this post brings it home to me that there is a definite need for more bibliographic “metabooks” (or perhaps more of us, myself included, should take advantage of the many that have been written). And it would be great to have more of these metabooks as electronic books in Libronix.

Daniel is correct, of course. Here are a few resources that may be of help when you are looking to evaluate a book; whether it is already in your Logos Bible Software library or if you’re looking at a copy in actual, bona-fide print.

  • Critical Review of Books in Religion (1988-1998). This is a set of books that is currently under production here at Logos. It is a collection of scholarly reviews of books in religion. Go read the pre-pub description and see if this type of stuff is for you.
  • Review of Biblical Literature. This is a web site that releases new reviews of books in the realm of Biblical Studies and Ancient Near East studies on a weekly basis. You can search by all sorts of criteria. You can subscribe to the weekly listing of new reviews as well (the subscription is free).
  • Getting to Know Your Library. This is a support article I wrote awhile back. It discusses some strategies you can use to get to know more about the books in your Logos Bible Software library.

Using Keylinking to Navigate Between Greek Lexicons

When I’m working through the Greek text at the word level, many times I like to get a second opinion. My primary Greek lexicon is BDAG, which is an excellent resource, but I do like to consult others. My favorite lexicons to consult for second opinion are:

This article explains just a little bit about Greek keylinking and then shows you how to keylink from lexicon to lexicon using the keylink functionality straight from the right-click menu. No funky keystrokes involved.

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Using the Works of Philo with BDAG

One thing I like to do when examining Greek word usage is to evaluate how the Greek word is used in similar context outside of the New Testament corpus.

This article will point out an easy way to use the Works of Philo (in English) in conjunction with the BDAG Lexicon. This same method can be used with other Greek corpora for which Logos Bible Software has English translations, such as the Works of Josephus (in English) or the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.

The strategy discussed is really a temporary one as we’re currently working on versions of the following corpora in Greek, fully morphologically annotated:

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