We linked on Wednesday to the Logos Bible Software Blog as an example of a group that’s doing cutting-edge technological work to help you study your Bible better.
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.
Cameron Moore explores two free Bible software applications:
I started playing around with E-sword this week and have used the Sword Project in the past on a Linux platform. Both projects are free Bible applications that allow you to compare different translations and lookup Strong’s numbers and so on.
He then notes that the ESV is available for E-sword. Sword will soon have the ESV; we haven’t announced that tidbit anywhere yet.
We’ve found that people who read the ESV tend to like it, so we try not to create obstacles that prevent people from becoming acquainted with it. (Or, if they come from the KJV or RSV traditions, we’d say that they’re largely reacquainting themselves with an old friend.)
Of course, companies that charge for their software can devote resources to areas that free projects can’t–whether in interface innovation or in digitizing materials that would otherwise remain trapped in printed volumes.
Logos Bible Software has a blog that chronicles what “Bible geeks” get paid to do. (Logos produces the free CD-ROM that comes with many ESVs.) You can learn about a lot of ways to study your Bible just by following their blog. You don’t need to own Logos software to take advantage of all their tips.
Crossway maintains a list of other ESV electronic licensees.
Matt Gumm uses the recent publication of the (non-ESV) 100-Minute Bible, an overview of the Bible that you can read in 100 minutes, to talk about ways you can breathe more life into your devotions–and increase your knowledge of the Bible–without abstracting away the biblical text.
One of the more intriguing methods he talks about involves reading the same few chapters of Scripture every day for thirty days. Such an approach, while not for everyone, encourages in-depth exploration and familiarization with the Bible.
He also recommends through-the-Bible RSS feeds (like ours) that arrange the readings for you and prompt you to keep up with them.
Mark Horne suggests, meanwhile, that the size and format of some Bibles discourage people from treating them like books and actually reading them. He praises a few (non-ESV) Bibles that helped him approach the Bible in new ways, including a paperback version of Genesis. He doesn’t recommend replacing your primary Bible with such “idiosyncratic” translations or editions. But, he argues, you can often supplement your daily Bible reading with… another Bible.
We plan to unveil a few new features by the end of the year to help people in their daily reading. We mentioned podcasting the Bible in our talk at GodBlogCon, for example.
Update: Mark responds to this post. In addition to his kind words about the ESV, he praises Crossway’s paperback Psalms. We’d add that Crossway’s Gospel of John is also a single-column, inexpensive paperback (though a little on the small side).
Maybe you’ve considered using the ESV web service (which lets you show the text of the ESV on your site) but don’t want to go through the hassle of applying for a key. You no longer have to.
You can now use the key “IP” (without the quotes) for your web service queries. This key limits you to 500 requests per IP address per day. A sample query: John 3:16.
Using the key requires that you agree to the web service terms and conditions. Of particular note:
- Your use must be noncommercial: you may not make money, directly or indirectly, from the ESV text.
- Your website (if you’re using the text on a website) must primarily be noncommercial. Personal and church websites are usually OK.
- An ESV copyright notice must appear somewhere on your site or in your application.
- You may not locally store more than 500 consecutive verses or half of any book of the Bible.
You could run into access limits if you make a lot of queries or if your website shares an IP address with other websites. Feel free to request a personal key (email@example.com) in that case.
Those of you who have current keys don’t need to make any changes; your keys will continue to work.
Read more about the API (technical document).
We hope this new approach will lead to exciting new applications for the ESV. Please let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you build something nifty so we can share it with our readers.
The plugins keep coming. Glenn Slaven has released a new version of his Verse of the Day WordPress plugin. It lets you show a daily verse from the ESV (or any Bible version that has a VOTD RSS feed) on your blog and takes care of all the updating automatically.
The new version does away with the need for troublesome temporary files and for tweaking the code when you want to make a change. It also uses a new options page to give you more control over how the plugin works.
We plan to use this plugin on the ESV blog.