Tidbit from the UBS Handbook on Mark

I was reading in the UBS Handbook on Mark lately and came across a choice bit on the topic of repentance. If you own the book, you can open it to the Introduction and follow along.

…any translator who is working in a language which is outside the Indo-European family of languages will need to have help on just how the various interpretations, as may exist in the Greek, can be adequately rendered in some other language. For these problems the commentaries are relatively useless, for there is no real need and, consequently, little attempt to explore these difficulties. In English, for example, the explanation that the Greek term for “repent” means “to change the mind” offers little difficulty to the reader. In many languages, however, “to change the mind” means merely “to change one’s opinion,” which is a far cry from the radical change envisaged by the original Greek term. It is necessary, therefore, to add that the meaning of “repent” in Kekchi, a language of Guatemala, is brought out by the phrase “it pains my heart”; in Baouli, of the Ivory Coast, “it hurts so much I want to quit” is the proper equivalent; in Northern Sotho, of South Africa, one must say “it becomes untwisted,” and in Tzeltal, of Mexico, the correct expression is “my heart returns because of my sin.” The idiom “to beat the breast” needs no explanation for English readers, but translators working in many of the languages of Africa need to be warned that this idiom, when literally translated, may mean “to congratulate oneself” (the equivalent to the English “pat oneself on the back”)…

Bratcher, R. G., & Nida, E. A. (1993, c1961). A handbook on the Gospel of Mark. Originally published: A translator’s handbook on the Gospel of Mark, 1961. UBS handbook series; Helps for translators (vii-viii). New York: United Bible Societies.

The quotation illustrates not only how the Handbook Series serves the needs of translators but also how valuable it is for providing a fresh look at familiar passages and theological concepts. And isn’t that the challenge of pastors and teachers of all stripes, in all countries…to communicate the Word of God in a way that stirs hearts and changes lives?

(By the way, the footnote was automatically generated by Libronix. Just CTRL-C copy, CTRL-V paste, and there it is. Bam. I love this software.)

35 New Training Videos Posted

We just posted 35 new training videos to the Training area of Logos.com.

The videos show how to most effectively use Logos Bible Software for biblical language study. And, yes, we have videos for both Greek and Hebrew.

In the coming months we will be producing a lot more web-based video tutorials and have some refinements in mind for presenting them…but I thought you’d want to know about the first batch to come out of the oven.

Comfort & Barrett’s The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts

One of the books that Logos has recently released is Philip Comfort and David Barrett’s The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts.

One of the cool things you can do with Comfort & Barrett is compare the text of a given papyrus with an edition of the Greek New Testament. So, if you wanted to know how P75 compares to the NA27 (or Westcott-Hort, Tischendorf, or the Byzantine, or Stephanus, or Scrivener, or even other papyri) for a reference that they both share … well, just fire up Compare Parallel Bible Versions, select the desired reference(s), and let ‘er go.
Like this:

Be sure to check out the article that explains the comparison feature in a little more detail.

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: 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.

[Read more...]

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.”