Reaching a Critical Mass

Today’s guest blogger is Dale Pritchett, vice president of sales and marketing for Logos Bible Software.
User Mark Alison wrote in the Logos Newsgroup, “I don’t think Logos or anyone else will ever have rights to every publisher’s works.”

While this is certainly a true statement, at Logos we continue to pursue rights to as many books as we can in the field of biblical studies. It is our fond hope that one day we might include works from Zondervan, and the denominational publishers now unavailable to us.

We are running as fast as we can. We have two full-time publisher Reps, plus support staff, licensing new books every day. We have thousands of contracts to be maintained and reviewed, royalties to calculate, technology licenses to execute and data processing projects to specify, key, tag and proof.

We process millions of pages of data annually and yet feel the pain when a simple typo is reported. We work in both modern and ancient languages. We employ approximately forty people in-house who are on digital book design and production. All of these efforts are directed toward the single goal of creating digital books to reach a “critical mass” for biblical studies.

It is not about building a monopoly. It is not about favoring a particular theological school or doctrinal position. It is not about favoring one publisher over another or refusing to work with other publishers. It is not about greed or competition or pride of accomplishment. It is about “critical mass.”

There is no such thing as a digital library alternative for biblical education until and unless there is a digital library for biblical studies sufficiently extensive to enable meaningful work in the field. This is the key. It is like saying there can be no alternative to the railroad until there are sufficient airline seats to carry the passengers. It is like saying television will never be as popular as radio until everybody who owns a radio can afford a television.

Logos is about realizing the dream of a portable digital library that makes biblical publications accessible and practical at any point on the planet. This is our passion, our dream and our daily work.

It will not be accomplished until there is a “critical mass” of books in the digital library. Look at
how many digital library initiatives have failed because they had wide breadth but insufficient depth to do real work.

We publish more digital books than all the others in our field combined. This is a simple statement of fact. Among the reasons we have been able to accomplish this are a clear focus on the task and a clear understanding of the special technical challenges involved in dealing with biblical reference works.

The task required us to define a new digital publishing standard in which we could display, search and link all kinds of books, with all styles of organization in all languages from all publishers. To accomplish this, we set a hard course for ourselves that involved doing things the “hard way” demanding attention to detail that could only pay off in the long run with a very large, cross-linked library — critical mass. It has taken a long time to reach the point where the critical mass shows off the benefits of those years of detailed effort. This whole end result usually translates into a simple user comment like, “I would really prefer to own the book in Libronix format.” Thank you. We share your thoughts.

If we are ever to have additional titles from Zondervan, Eerdmans and others it will be because of simple statements like this, “I would really prefer to own the book in Libronix format.” Believe it or not, publishers hear you. They really do care.

Postscript: What is Critical Mass?

While there may be many answers to this question, we basically think in terms of book replacement. Critical mass is a sufficient volume of titles to represent the equivalent number of volumes in a corresponding paper-based library. On this basis, critical mass may be different for a pastor’s library and a Bible college or seminary library. In time we hope to have sufficient digital resources to equal a large seminary library. When that time comes we will be able to think in terms of “brick and mortar” replacement or real estate savings.

How-To: Make a Vocabulary Guide with Word Frequencies

A recent post on Morris Proctor’s Tips & Tricks Blog prompted the following comment from user Aaron Cantrell:

…What I would like to do is choose a book of the bible, or a section of a book (for example Gen 12-22), and have the program give me a complete list of all the words in that book, or section, and show me where they are found in that section. It would be extremely helpful if it could be limited to words that occur a specific number of times. For example, “Show me all the words that occur in Genesis 12-22, occuring 50 times or less.” Then a list comes up which shows all these words and where they are found.

That would be a very helpful concordance feature.

In the print world, this kind of thing is often called a “vocabulary guide” or “lexical aid”and a number of excellent tools are available in this category.

What our users may not know is that all Logos Bible Software 3 “language” collections* include a feature that can create a frequency-sorted vocabulary list from lemmatized Bibles inGreek, Hebrew, Syriac, or Aramaic. What’s great about doing this digitally rather than in printis that you can break down your lists by pericope, chapter, book, or however you like; you can add, subtract, or edit individual words; and you don’t have to spenda dime onanother book because the capability is built into Logos Bible Software!

Vocabulary Lists

Vocabulary lists are helpful when learning a biblical language, because you can start learning the most common words and work your way down to the least common. Or filter out the most common words you probably already know and focus on the less common words. Flash cards are great for drilling the language (through my thick skull, I could add).

TheVocabulary List feature in Logos 3 makes it easy to produce a list of words within a passage or biblical book—with word frequencies—and sort the list either by frequency or alphabetically. At that point, printing flash cards is just a few clicks away.

Due to the highly flexible nature of this tool, you could do all sorts of cool things… You could build vocabulary lists by author, combining, say, all Johannine material into one list. Or you could build a vocabulary list for a parallel passage in both the Septuagint and Greek NT. Go wild.

Vincent recently created a training article that walks you through the steps of creating a vocabulary list manually or by importing words from a passage. His article also includes links to free, pre-built vocabulary lists that go along with the most popular Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic grammars. Be sure to check it out.

DIY Vocab List

Here are the steps for making a vocabulary list for Genesis 12-22, asMr. Cantrellrequests.

  1. Click the black triangle next to the New File icon on the toolbar and choose Vocabulary List.
  2. In the Properties dialog that opens, select Hebrew for the language.
  3. Click the Add button on the Vocabulary List toolbar and select Add Bible Passage…
  4. Select the BHS Bible and enter Gen 12-22 for the reference. Click OK.

Voila! Like magic,you have a vocabulary list. (Think for a moment about what we just did and how little effort it took…and I think you’ll see why I call it magic.)

We’re close to the desired goal…now we just need to re-sort the list by frequency. Right-click on the section header and select Sort by Frequency (Descending).

Now the list is sorted by frequency and we can delete the words with a frequency over 50, if desired. Click once on the top row, then hold down Shift and click on the last row with a 50+ frequency, and hit the Delete key.

Everything highlighted in gray abovegets cutand you’re left with a list of words used 50 times or fewer in Genesis 12-22…with glosses included!

By the way, you can edit anything you see here, including the Hebrew words, frequencies (maybe you want to use that column for something idosyncratic like difficulty level, then sort by difficulty!), and glosses. And, as mentioned previously, you can print these words as flash cards and use them to master the vocabulary in this passage.

All this with just a few clicks, and available from the software you already own…no need to go out and buy a separate vocabulary guide!

* How come I don’t have the Vocabulary Lists feature? Vocabulary Lists are part of the Original Languages Addin, included in the following Logos 3 collections: Original Languages Library, Scholar’s Library, Scholar’s Library: Silver, and Scholar’s Library: Gold. If you own the Original Languages Addin as part of an older collection but have not updated to Libronix DLS v3.0 or greater, you can get Vocabulary Lists for free: open Libronix DLS and click Tools | Libronix Update. If you own a collection like Bible Study Library or don’t own a base collection, you can get the Original Languages Addin by upgrading to a Logos 3 collection that includes the addin or purchasing it individually.

What Happens When You Steal a Bible

There are some business advantages to serving pastors and Bible students. In conversation with other business people I have observed that we have less theft, piracy, fraud, and credit-card charge-backs than most businesses. Our customers pay their bills. Our product isn’t the theft target that music and sneakers are. Unfortunately, there are still people who, for reasons both selfish and self-righteous, don’t seem to mind stealing Bible software.

The anti-piracy features in Logos Bible Software aren’t super-secure. Serial numbers, registration, etc. are more for letting us restore lost licenses than for locking down users. We want enough security that stealing the software requires conscious, deliberate (and usually pretty technical) effort, while creating the minimal inconvenience for honest users. But for the determined thief, there’s no lock that can’t be picked and no software that can’t be copied.

In this week’s mail I received an envelope from a professor, obtained from one of his students. It contained a home-made DVD-ROM and instructions on installing a pirated version of our software. Step 2 in the detailed instructions installs the stolen licenses. Step 5 encourages the thief to “Study to shew thyself approved ;-) (2tim 3:15)”.

It is always disappointing to see such deliberate piracy. But years ago we decided that we weren’t going to get too upset about it.

Because if you want to steal the Bible, we want you to have it.

Because if you read it, and apply it, and let it change your life, you might write a letter like the one I found in the same stack of mail:

The writer confessed to having purchased and returned a copy of Logos Bible Software v1.6 in order to use the sales receipt for a discount on upgrading to Logos Bible Software v2.0. Back in 1995.

And now, 11 years later, he feels convicted about his dishonesty, confessing it as part of an old life style of stealing, shop-lifting, etc. He enclosed a check for the value of the returned software, plus interest, and asked for our forgiveness and blessing.

What a blessing it is to be building tools to help people study God’s Word. And to be in a position to see, side-by-side and on the same day, such evidences of our sinful tendencies and of the power of the Word to convict us of them.

National Bible Week Essay Contest (cont’d)

This year’s National Bible Week Essay contest has been a resounding success!

Nearly 200 essays have been submitted and dozens of Logos users have opened their email inboxes to find they have won. Take a look at some of the winning essays to get some fresh inspiration for your own Bible study.

Although all of the essays are centered around the general theme of “Bible study” the diversity of content has been remarkable. Who knows? Maybe there will be an essay that jump starts your own Bible study or reveals an approach to Bible study that has never occurred to you:

Do you often feel you need to make more time for Bible study? Here is an excellent solution!

Do you want to take your Bible study to the next level, but don’t know any Original Languages? Find some encouragement here!

Are you looking for an interesting book of the Bible on which to focus your Bible study? Try Deuteronomy!

Or read an honest (and inspirational) reflection on how Bible study has helped this reverend mature in his faith.

Each selected essay has earned its author $30 of unlock credit to be used towards purchases from Logos.

In total, we have doled out almost $1,000 in unlock credits and more essays are being selected every day.

If you have not submitted one yet, your window of opportunity is shrinking as essays will only be accepted through Friday, December 1. To submit an essay go to www.logos.com/nationalbibleweek (and don’t forget to read the official rules before you send your entry).

Giving Thanks for Another Great Year

It’s been a great year for Logos in so many ways. We’re thankful for the enthusiastic response to the Logos 3 release, safety on the Bible Road Trip and a warm reception wherever we travelled, strong sales growth,deepening relationships with key constituencies, and a great team of people to work with here in Bellingham and around the world.

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

If you’re a regular reader of the Logos Blog, you know that we love to eat. So it’s no surprise that Logos does Thanksgiving in style. Bob hasturkey, stuffing and gravy catered in, and we all bring sides and drinks—good old church potluck style.

Here’s a little video I put together of the Thanksgiving feast we had last Wednesday: Thanksgiving2006.wmv (Windows Media Video, 1:37, 6MB).

I also snapped a few photos, trying not to get anyone with their mouth full. Though after yesterday’s photo of the SBL team asleep in the van, maybe I shouldn’t have worried about it.

Continue Reading…

Quick Impressions of ETS and AAR/SBL 2006

The ETS and AAR/SBL conferences were awesome. We were able to meet all sorts of folks at both conferences and talk with them about Bible study software and especially about syntax.

But it was a long week. Time in the booth, catching sessions, giving papers, catching up with old friends and making new friends have a way of wearing a guy out. As a matter of fact, on the way to the airport for the flight home, Eli (in the back), Mike (on the right) and Rick (on the left) crashed in the minivan while John was playing the role of chauffeur. Vincent apparently obliged in snapping the picture.

We may have other pictures later, and I hope to post the papers I presented later as well.

Syntax Searching and Epistolary Form Criticism: Greeting Form

Read the first two posts in this series: 1 | 2.
Romans 16 has several examples of this form. Verse 3 offers a good sample:


Greeting Form in Ro 16.3

Description of Form
Mullins describes the components of the greeting form as follows:

The elements of the greeting are: 1. the greeting verb (some form of ἀσπάζεσθαι); 2. indication of the person who is to do the greeting; 3. indication of the person who is being greeted; 4. elaborating phrases. The first three are the basic elements of the greeting. The fourth is optional. These elements may be expressed differently in the three types of greeting. In the first-person and second-person type of greeting, elements one and two are accomplished at the same time by the verb.[1]

As noted in the above quotation, Mullins identifies three different types of the form, one for each grammatical person of the greeter. Thus there are first-person, second-person and third-person forms. Because component 2 can be done with either grammatical person of the verb (first and second person) or a pronoun (third person), the pronoun is essentially optional when considering a syntax-based query.

Therefore a syntactic search only need attend to two criteria:

  • The greeting verb (ἀσπάζομαι)
  • Indication of the person being greeted.

Mullins does not provide a definitive list of New Testament instances, but he does mention epistles that contain instances of the greeting form: “It appears in the letters of Paul, extensively, and in the Pastorals, Hebrews, I Peter, and II and III John.”[2]

The Form in OpenText.org SAGNT
Locating the greeting form involves searching for clause-initial instances of ἀσπάζομαι (as a predicator component) that also have a complement clause component. The complement denotes what completes the predication, thus direct objects are included in the sorts of things that complements encode.[3] Including the complement therefore includes an “indication of the person being greeted”.


Structure of Greeting Form

This query returns 69 instances, though the results are not perfect. Instances in Mark (15.18) and Acts (21.7, 19; 25.13) are returned in addition to hits in Paul, Pastorals, Hebrews, First Peter, Second John and Third John.[4] Romans, with an extensive greeting section in chapter 16, contains the bulk of the matches.

Bibliography

Mullins, T.Y., “Greeting as a New Testament Form”, JBL 87 (1968), pp. 418-426.

Endnotes
[1] Mullins, p. 419.
[2] Mullins, p. 424.
[3] An aside: One could limit greetings to those that list personal names in the complement by restricting the complement to containing a head term word that is also tagged as Louw-Nida domain 93, the “personal name” domain. But this would skip over other valid instances of greetings like Php 4.22, “All the saints greet you”.
[4] Based on Mullins’ article, my guess is that only the Mark and Acts references are extraneous; the rest are valid.

Syntax Searching and Epistolary Form Criticism: Disclosure Form

Read the first post in this series
An example of the disclosure form is found in 1Th 4.13:


1Th 4.13, Disclosure Form

Description of Form
Smith provides a concise summary of the structure of the disclosure form as identified by Mullins:

Mullins has isolated the disclosure form, as a distinct literary form which is used in the NT. He examined the form in terms of structure first. By doing so he observes that this form has four constituent elements: verb of wishing, infinitive of a noetic verb, person addressed and information disclosed. Next he examined the form in terms of content and observed that the verb of wishing is typically θέλω, the infinitive of a noetic verb used is typically γινώσκειν (the tense varies) or ἀγνοεῖν, the person addressed is either second person singular or plural and the content of the information disclosed is diverse and usually found within a ὅτι clause.[1]

White discusses the form briefly in his article:

This form may be delineated in terms of its three principal elements: (i) the verb of disclosure, often a two-membered unit consisting of a verb of desiring (θέλω or βούλομαι) in the first person indicative, and the verb of knowing (γινώσκω) in the infinitive form; (ii) the vocative of address (ἀδελφοί, “brothers,” in the five examples from Paul); and (iii) the subject to be disclosed introduced by ὅτι.[2]

The common points of these descriptions include:

  • verb of wishing/desiring
  • verb of knowing, in the infinitive mood
  • a ὅτι or ἵνα clause further explicating the subject to be disclosed.

Smith reports Mullins determines the following references as containing instances of the disclosure formula: Ro 1.13; 11.25; 1Co 10.1; 11.3; 12.1; 2Co 1.8; Col 2.1; 1Th 4.13.[3]
Because the third item (ὅτι or ἵνα clause) is variable as Mullins’ reported instances demonstrate, candidate instances of the disclosure formula can be located simply taking the first two items into account.

The Form in OpenText.org SAGNT
Locating the disclosure form in the OpenText.org SAGNT involves searching for clauses that contain a Predicator with θέλω and that also contain an embedded clause (infinives are typically encoded as embedded clauses) with lexical forms of either αγνοεω or οιδα.[4] Below is the query that will find Smith and Mullins’ reported instances.[5]


Structure of the Disclosure Form

Search results in Logos Bible Software are presented in both Greek and English, with respective structures highlighted in each language. In this particular search, the silver background represents the content of the clause; the orange represents each clause component.


Syntax Search Results — Disclosure Form Instances

Bibliography

Mullins, T. Y., “Disclosure: a Literary Form in the New Testament”, NovT 7 (1964), pp. 44-50.
White, J.L., “Introductory Formulae in the Body of the Pauline Letter”, JBL 90 (1971), pp. 91-97.
Smith, C.A., Timothy’s Task, Paul’s Prospect: A New Reading of 2 Timothy (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2006). pp. 10,

Endnotes
[1] Smith, 10.
[2] White, 93.
[3] Smith, 11.
[4] Andrew Pitts, in a forthcoming review of Logos Bible Software 3.0 to be published in the Journal of Greco-Roman Judaism and Christianity, uses a similar search with similar results as an example of the capability of the OpenText.org SAGNT.
[5] As of November, 2006, this is not strictly true. 1Co 12.1 is erroneously tagged in the current version of the OpenText.org SAGNT. This error has been flagged for correction and should be updated in a future release of the database.

National Bible Week Essay Contest

In honor of National Bible Week, which is this week, we’re sponsoring an essay contest on Logos.com. You are invited to write and submit a brief essay on Bible study. If we display the essay on the site, you’ll receive a $30 book unlock credit. The sign-up form is here.

During last year’s contest, more than 70 essays were submitted, approved, and posted, with a nice variety of themes and perspectives represented. You can read last year’s essays on the Selected Essays page.

As you reflect on how the Bible has shaped your life and give thanks for the privilege and ready accessibility of Bible study materials,I encourage you to put your thoughts into writing and share them with us!

NZ Road Trip Report

Dale and Jenni Pritchett recently returned from New Zealand, where they did nine Bible Road Trip events. Here’s their retrospective on the trip plus a few photos…

Jenni and I are just getting back to normal after spending about two and half weeks in New Zealand visiting Logos users. Hal and Nancy Mickens, long time Logos users and frequent assistants at Morris Proctor’s Camp Logos seminars accompanied us. Hal and Nancy were not only great travel companions; they were great in helping individual users with their questions.

It is hard to begin to describe our experiences. We traveled over both the North and South Islands and conducted ten two-hour presentations in churches and schools, met privately with numerous people and enjoyed hospitality in a variety of homes. It was a wonderful experience to be with so many people who love Bible study. We can’t wait to go back!

(More photos fromBible Road Trip: New Zealand...)