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remember when I first started working through definitions in BAGD (the second English edition of Bauer’s lexicon, now superceded by BDAG).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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Slicing Books for Art

At a used bookstore in London I found a Bible atlas from 1900 with beautiful colored engravings. I have seen individual atlas pages in old map shops sold for more than this book cost, and it had 11 full page engravings. Few things hurt me like cutting up a book, but these clean, neat 8 x 10 inch pages simply begged to be framed and hung on the wall for everyone to appreciate.

After a quick check on the Internet to ensure that the book wasn’t too rare, we carefully cut out the pages and scanned them at high resolution before framing them. You will see them on the wall if you visit Logos in the future, and you can download this diagram of the tabernacle and the temple right now. (The file is 2.85 MB and the image is 3232 x 2464 pixels.)
The whole set of corrected images (cropped, rotated, color adjusted and scaled to 50%) are available in an 8 MB file.

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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If You Can’t Afford a Quarter

…then you ought to give a dime. If everybody gave then we could save the Blue Water Line.

The Kingston Trio wanted to save the home town depot and old engine number nine. I just want to make more books available to Logos Bible Software users.

Our Community Pricing Program is an attempt to let users collectively set the price of a book production project as low as possible. The more people who pre-order, the lower we can make the cost per unit and still cover our production costs.

Community Pricing is an experiment, and it is working. Together you have moved several projects into production and in each case the price per unit has been much lower than it would have been as a traditional Pre-Publication project.

What surprises me, though, is how many orders come in after a project covers its costs in the Community Pricing Program and before we ship it. When a title covers its costs in Community Pricing we move it to the Pre-Publication program and raise the cost. We have been getting as many as 20% more orders after moving a title.

That’s fine with us. The costs are covered, so those orders represent profit for us. But if those orders had been placed in Community Pricing, instead of Pre-Pub, the cost would have been lower for everybody. If you are at all interested in a title in the Community Pricing Program, place a bid now. (Some titles allow bids as low as $2!) If you placed a bid on a title that is hovering around 60%, a small increase by all the bidders can move the book into production right away.

Toggling Zoom with a Custom Toolbar

The Libronix Digital Library System is a very modular framework. The user interface is separate from the system internals. This modularity not only makes for a better application architecture, it allows us to deliver new features and user interface without changing the underlying system. (Below I am going to show you how to add a “Toggle Zoom” feature right now, without downloading anything.)

The Libronix DLS exposes its internal interfaces publicly, allowing external applications to control it. It also allows users to add their own functionality, either with an external programming language or with JavaScript inside custom toolbar commands.

The documentation for the scriptable object model is available as a free Libronix DLS compatible resource. The automation newsgroup is where you can ask questions about automating the Libronix DLS and get help from Logos programmers and other users.

I’m going to show you how to add a custom toolbar with a new command that toggles resource windows between their default zoom and 200% zoom. (This is really useful when you are projecting Logos Bible Software in a classroom, or even just leaning back to read.)

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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.

Mouse Gestures

It is always a pain to switch from keyboard to mouse and back. “Power users” tend to master the keyboard shortcuts of their favorite applications so that they can keep their hands in one place.

The keyboard is not as convenient as the mouse, though, for navigating a page full of hyperlinks. But when you are following lots of links it is a real pain to keep moving your mouse between the list of links and the back button, or moving your hand back to the keyboard to press “Alt-Left”.
Mouse gestures are a powerful shortcut that can cut your mouse travel without touching the keyboard.

In an open resource window, click and hold the right mouse button while dragging it just a short distance to the left and then releasing the button. This “gesture” executes the Go > Back command. (Assuming you have already followed a link or scrolled, so there is somewhere to go back to.) Right-click and drag to the right executes the Go > Forward command. Up moves to the previous article, down to the next. A “C” shape (left, down, right) toggles the contents pane.

I am not sure who invented mouse gestures, but we first saw them in Opera and Mozilla. These browsers support a long list of gestures, but I don’t often make an “M” shape to view the tags for a page, or “S” to view the source. I do use forward and back all the time and can’t imagine working without them.

I call mouse gestures a hidden feature because they don’t have any visible user interface and so most users never find them. But now you know. A complete list of the gestures supported in the Libronix DLS is in the Libronix DLS Help, under Appendixes > Gestures. Give them a try, and let us know if there are any other commands you would like to access through gestures.

Photos from a Logos Fan

Not only do our users send us random shipments of hot sauce from time to time, but sometimes we get photos like these sent from Logos user Michael Sinclair. Click either photo to see a larger version.

Michael is running Logos on Windows XP on this dual-boot Shuttle XPC (a compact PC). Notice the Logos wallpaper layered onto the front of the machine.

The shuttle coexists peacefully alongside a dual processor Mac G4–Michael says he plans to install Logos Bible Software for the Mac on that in December.

Thanks for the pics, Michael! You’ve got a cool setup there…