Yesterday they talked about a feature in an upcoming version of their software that’s near to our hearts: a tool that maps relationships between people in the Bible. For example, here’s a chart they made showing people related to Aaron:
Why We Like It
It would simplify one of our ongoing projects: we’ve been combing through the ESV text and identifying proper nouns over the past few years. Why, you ask? Two reasons:
- We often run analyses of the text when we need to generate a linguistic report of some sort. Having a list of proper names removes ambiguity when we want to separate grammatically capitalized words (as at the beginning of a sentence) from semantically capitalized ones (e.g., “John the Baptist”).
- We’re working on making the text available in OSIS format (an XML dialect to describe the Bible) through our web service. We want name data available when we publish this format. We’ve also been categorizing the proper names we encounter based on the categories OSIS uses (e.g., a person differs from a place differs from a festival.)
Here’s a list of the proper names in the ESV that only occur once. We plan to release a complete list of proper names when we have one. (We’ve finished about 90%.)
The Logos tool is exciting for personal study because it does all the hard work for you. It takes a while to go through 90,000 capitalized words and determine why they’re capitalized.
Speaking of Hard Work…
Sean Boisen has developed a formal ontology for biblical names, showing the many relationships between people and places in the New Testament. It resembles the Logos tool but expresses the raw data as XML instead of visually. Here’s his schema:
People create new applications for data once it becomes available; both the Logos tool and open-source-like projects allow people to study the Bible in ways that even ten years ago would have required enormous resources. Now a person or small team with passion can develop fantastic tools and share them with the world.
Our approach of allowing broad access to the ESV has, we hope, encouraged people to read, meditate on, and discover the Word of God. We’d love to see more and more projects that help people explore their Bibles.