Comments on Commentaries

We’ve posted a new article at Logos.com that introduces commentaries as a category of reference book, shows why and how they are useful, and surveys the benefits of owning commentaries in an electronic format. Check it out...

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: Gaps Happen

In an earlier post, I wrote:

You’d be amazed the sorts of things you stumble upon in scrolling through the text and visually recognising similar graph structures in close proximity.

One of the things I keep an eye out for when scrolling through the Greek Syntax Graphs are gaps. If you’ve studied Greek, you’ll know that sometimes it seems like word order in Greek and word order in English have little if anything in common. So I keep an eye out for where one structure has an intervening structure. These sorts of things are called gaps; at least for the purposes of the Syntax Search dialog and underlying syntax database implementation. (Linguists have a more precise definition of “gap”, my casual use of “gap” is not to be misconstrued with that more technically correct perspective).

Continue Reading…

Beautiful Joe

Brought to you by Bryan Albert, Logos programmer and coffee artist.Get mugged.

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…

More on the Google Toolbar

Another feature of the Logos button for Google Toolbar that I overlooked in this morning’s post is that you can launch a search of the Logos.com site by right-clicking text at any other website instead of typing it into the toolbar. This saves precious keystrokes, making all of us lazy typists quite happy.

To pick on Amazon again, you can right-click on the words International Theological Commentary and choose Logos Bible Software from the menu.


This will launch a search of Logos.com for International Theological Commentary, which was just added today as a new prepub. Props to the ESV blog for pointing out this feature.

(Note: If you already installed the Logos button you will need to refresh it to get the right-click search thing going. Just click the black triangle next to the “G” inside the Google Toolbar’s search box; select Manage; double-click Logos Bible Software in the list of Custom Buttons; click “Update button to latest version from www.logos.com…”)

Oh, and in case you were curious…the Logos button is already listed in the Google Toolbar Button Gallery.

Logos Button for Your Google Toolbar

If you use Google Toolbar, you can now add a Logos button to the toolbar that grabs the newest headlines from the Logos Bible Software Blog and other Logos feeds. The button also lets you search the Logos.com website directly from the Google Toolbar, which is useful when you’re contemplating whether to buy that printed book from Amazon or get it in electronic format.
To add the Logos button to your Google Toolbar (and install version 4 of the toolbar), just click here.

(Requires Windows XP or Vista and Internet Explorer 6.0+. See the Google Toolbar page for previous IE versions and Firefox version.)

Once you have the custom button installed, you can enter a search term (e.g., deissmann) in the toolbar search box, click the Logos button, and view search results from the Logos.com site search engine.


You can also click the black triangle next to the Logos button to see the latest headlines from this blog, Logos product announcements, press releases, product reviews, and more!


Want to read more about this whole RSS thing? We have an article for you on Logos.com.
Also see the follow-up post: More on the Google Toolbar.

Logos in Review: Ashland Journal & Preaching Online

A new review of Logos Bible Software Series X (v 2.1b) and Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible from Ashland Theological Journal has been posted at Logos.com.

The review is authored by Dr. David W. Baker, who teaches Old Testament courses at Ashland Theological Seminary and is the editor of the journal. He is also the author of dozens of articles in Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, among others.

The upshot of Baker’s review is a recommendation of both Series X and SESB for users at all levels. In particular, he seemed to appreciate Verb Rivers, Word Study Guide, Graphical Query Editor, and Sentence Diagramming. He also praises the text-critical apparatus in SESB.

You can read the full text of the review at Logos.com.

We also posted excerpts from a review of Scholar’s Library Silver Edition that was published electronically in the January-February, 2006, Preaching Online. This review was authored by John Glynn, whose Commentary & Reference Survey (Kregel) has been mentioned before on this blog.

Glynn’s review discusses KeyLinking between references, shows a sample graphical query, and praises the auto-footnoting feature that is a standard feature of all Logos Bible Software packages. He also appreciates the expandability of the Libronix DLS, citing some key commentaries that are available.
Excerpts from Glynn’s review are posted at Logos.com.

Words, Words Everywhere: Episode II

Last week, I showed how every word in every Libronix DLS resource is a link. The focus of that post was interacting with English text in resources; today I want to follow up with some observations about interacting with text in other languages.

Just as you can double-click on an English word in a resource and jump to a reference work that has an entry on that word, you can also interact with Greek text in the same way.

Baker New Testament Commentary includes a section for each biblical passage discussing “Greek words, phrases and constructions.” When reading the commentary you might encounter a page that looks like this:

Some of the Greek words here may be unfamiliar to you, or you might become intrigued by a word and want to study it further. To read more about ἀσθενής, for example, double-click it and a lexicon will open directly to the entry for that word. For me, BDAG opens to an in-depth article about the word, and I can take my study in any number of directions from there.

(Bonus tip: You can open more than one lexicon the same way; just go to Tools | Options | Keylink, select the desired Data Type (e.g., Greek) and change Number of Windows to Open on a KeyLink to a number larger than 1.)

If I double-click on the word κερδήσω, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (included with Scholar’s Silver) opens instead of BDAG. This is because κερδήσω is an inflected form of the word, not the dictionary form.

ANLEX, as it is called, is worth its weight in gold for this simple reason: it lists every inflected form in the Greek New Testament…so if the word is in the NT you’ll get a hit in ANLEX. I can either consult the brief lexical entry here or double-click the headword κερδαίνω to dig deeper with BDAG or another lexicon.

Just remember…with Libronix, every word’s a link!

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy reading Rick’s discussion of KeyLinking between lexicons.

Proceed to Episode III >>

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.