January 10, 2014

Embracing technology as the pastor: Use Bibleworks to explore cross references

Bible cross reference lists are lists of Bible verses that are similar to a specific Bible verse.

Cross reference lists are immensely popular and are contained in most major study Bibles. 

Such lists are popular because any serious student of the Bible knows that the best way to interpret Scripture is by comparing Scripture with Scripture.

However, looking up the different texts can be tedious if you're working with hard copies of the lists and the Bible.  You have to drag out the list and then look up the individual texts, patiently turning the pages of your Bible.

Whereas cross reference lists in a program like Bibleworks make life so much easier.  Bibleworks has a cross references tab (called 'X-Refs') that when in focus will automatically load the reference list for your focus verse, and then display the list with the full text of each reference in your preferred Bible version.  No more flipping of pages or even clicking of a link, the cross references are there immediately for you to use.

But Bibleworks goes a step further.  The software has a 'Master' cross reference list which compiles all the cross references from many popular reference lists into one list.  The references are then sorted into two sections, 'frequently cited refs' and 'less frequently cited refs'.  Thus at the top of the list you will always see the most popular cross reference, which I usually find is the most helpful text I could look at in relation to my focus verse.

The important work of using cross references has never been so easy.

August 1, 2013

Embracing technology as the pastor: Use Bibleworks to export parts of the Bible

Sometimes you want a complete electronic copy of a book of the Bible or even an entire Bible translation.  That way you can manipulate it in a particular way.

The time I notice this need most is at the beginning of the year when I'm planning my devotions for the year.  Each year I read through the Bible by reading from three different parts of the Bible - loosely following M'Cheyne's Bible reading program (I only use three columns though).  I also try a different English translation each year.  So I've found it useful to simply make a PDF for each of the three readings so that I can quickly bring up my Bible readings for the day by opening three files in my PDF reader that then remembers where I was last up to in my reading of the documents.

Also, sometimes you want to print out an entire book of the Bible so that you can highlight it and scribble over it for sermon preparation.

But to get a full copy of a Bible translation is not that easy.  Unless you have software like Bibleworks.

In Bibleworks, you can quickly export to a text document all the parts of a translation you want using their 'Export Database' tool.  Instructions are given here: http://www.bibleworks.com/bw9help/bwh28_Copying.htm

So whether you need a whole book or the whole Bible for you to use in your ministry work, Bibleworks comes in handy.

June 15, 2013

Embracing technology as the pastor: Use Bibleworks to make your own translation

There's nothing quite like making your own translation of the Bible. 

One of the great joys for me at Bible college was learning Greek and Hebrew so that I could get even closer to God's word.

But the Bible is a big book to translate.  So how do you keep track of your translations of different verses and work toward producing a complete translation?  

This is where Bibleworks comes in handy - it allows you to easily make you own translations. 

You can create a database in Bibleworks that then has the portability of any other translation you use in Bibleworks.

To make a translation, you don't need my advice.  Just follow the official Bibleworks instructions and you will be making your own version in no time.

But I will give you some tips that I discovered that help make the job of translating faster and easier.

Firstly, pick a version you like (I used Young's Literal Translation) and use it as a base version that you revise.  That way you save significant time that would be wasted writing out what you already agree with. 

Now this does mean that you're not strictly producing your own translation, you're revising a version.  Yet, don't be turned off.  This is a faster but still legitimate form of translation work.  After all most professional translations are not original translations, even the King James was based on Tyndale's work. 

If you do use a base version, I would also advise that you make common changes to your translation using the 'find and replace' function in a text editor.  For example, I replace in Young's Literal Translation all old English words like thou, cometh, findeth, seeketh etc, whenever I come across them.  That way you're not revising the same words again and again - you hit them all in one go each time.

Secondly, translate
regularly.  I translate three verses a day from the three different Biblical texts that I read in my devotions.  To make it easier, I have three different Bibleworks tabs dedicated to the three passages (find out more about using tabs here).  I also update my version by translating the text I'm preaching on.

Thirdly, compile your database periodically.  I did it once a week in the early days when I was changing a lot of old English words.  Now I do it once a month.  This saves time rather than compiling it every time you translate.  Honestly, the changes to your version each time you work on it are not going to be that revolutionary - particularly if you are reasonably happy with the base version your are revising.  So you shouldn't need to compile the version that regularly.

April 13, 2013

Embracing technology as the pastor: Use Bibleworks to cut and paste text

Copying out Bible text has never been too much of a problem for me.  I have pretty much always had access to an electronic version of the Bible from which I can cut and paste Bible text into a relevant document. 

So I can't imagine what it was like for pastors in the past who had to write Bible verses out manually again and again in their writings.
  They certainly must have begun to memorise verses much faster.  But with any manual copying, there is also a great potential for error (as any scribe or text critic knows).  Also valuable time can be lost due to one simply becoming a copyist for a good portion of each week.

So how do you cut and paste text to save time?

My initial dealings were with the free website Bible Gateway.  Which served me well particularly before I became a minister.

But for serious pastoral productivity, you should have multiple versions of the Bible in a software program on your computer.

For example, from having Bibleworks on my computer, I can:
(i) access multiple translations much faster than through an internet connection;
cut and paste while offline;
(iii) load many, many versions at the same time, some of which are simply not readily available online;
(iv) export whole Bible books, and even the entire Bible, to a document;
custom tag the end of my copied texts thereby saving time usually used copying out a reference, e.g. when I hit paste, the Bible reference and translation are put at the end automatically for me, e.g. Mark 2:1-10 (ESV).

Also I should give a quick exhortation to learn the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl +C (to copy) and Ctrl + V (to paste).  They'll save you even more time.  And you may also consider installing software that strips formatting like PureText.

So don't wast time typing out text yourself or laboriously copying it from a website.  Get some serious Bible software.

April 6, 2013

Embracing technology as the pastor: Use Bibleworks to look-up lexicons and analyse words

One of the most laborious activities in learning a language is looking up a gloss for a word you're translating.  You have to stop what you're doing, heave down your lexicon, recall the order of the alphabet, and then search for your word.

But with Bible software, the entire search is practically done for you.  In Bibleworks all you have to do is hover over the word in the verse that you don't know, and automatically the gloss from your chosen lexicon is displayed in the analysis window. 
Searching BDAG and HALOT has never been so easy!  And if you want to change lexicons, it only takes a few clicks to change the default lexicon.

I have to admit I started my serious Greek and Hebrew work while owning Bibleworks, so I'll never really comprehend how much shelf space and time I've saved by not having to look up words manually - but I can imagine it is a lot!

The only problem is, I never picked up the sequence of the alphabet all that well (but there are songs to teach you that for both Hebrew and Greek).

Moreover, not only does the gloss show up in the analysis window when you hover over a word in Bibleworks, words are analysed for you too.  This means you don't have to do the heavy lifting of analysing your words and working out whether, for example, your verb is in the indicative or subjunctive mood.

Bible software may make you lazy, but if you're pressed for time, it is a Godsend.

February 2, 2013

Embracing technology as the pastor: Use Bibleworks to search versions

Concordances are time consuming and cumbersome things to use. 

So o
ne of the most wonderful things about Bible software is the ability to search the Bible quickly and efficiently.

For example, quality Bible software allows you to:
search multiple versions, not just in English but in Greek and Hebrew etc;
search for keywords;
search for phrases;
search syntax;
(v) search for punctuation.

And that's only the searches off the top of my head that I commonly perform.

Bibleworks searches are incredibly diverse and can get quite complex if you want them to.

Basically if it's in a version, you can search it.

So, for serious searching of God's word use a serious electronic search engine. 

Rest In Peace (or recycling bins) concordances.

January 12, 2013

Embracing technology as the pastor: Use Bibleworks to compare versions

One of the privileges for the pastor living in the computer technology age is the fantastic wealth of resources available for working with the Bible's original languages.

There are basically three big software packages on the market for working with Greek and Hebrew:
(i) Logos;
(ii) Accordance;
(iii) Bibleworks.

I was introduced to Bibleworks at college and have been in love with it ever since.  It's always running in the background on my computer ready to be used throughout the day.

So as we wind up this series on 'Embracing technology', I'm going to give a mini series of posts explaining some of the primary things I use Bibleworks for. 

Now most of what I do with Bibleworks I'm sure can be done with other Bible software, but as I only know Bibleworks, that's all I'm going to talk about.

The first and most obvious thing you can do with Bibleworks is compare Bible texts and versions in the browse window.

No longer is there a need for a massive Bible with multiple translations, or multiple Bibles in hardcopy, or an interlinear Greek or Hebrew Bible.  You can have pretty much every major translation right in front of you at any given time.

For example, the versions I usually have open in my browse window screen and in order of preference are:
(i) GNT (Greek New Testament, 4th edition, eds Aland et al);
(ii) WTT (Codex Leningradensis Hebrew Text);
(iii) LXT (
LXX Septuaginta edited by Alfred Rahlfs);
(iv) LXE (The English Translation of The Septuagint Version of the Old Testament by Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton);
CSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible);
(vi) NIVO (New International Version 1984);
(vii) NIV (New International Version 2011);
(viii) ESV (English Standard Version);
(ix) NET (New English Translation);
NAU (The New American Standard Bible 1995);
KJV (King James Version);
(xii) YLT (Young's Literal Translation);
(xiii) SCR (New Testament in the Original Greek According to the Text Followed in The Authorized Version, F.H.A. Scrivener; The Textus Receptus).

Occasionally I'll add to the mix the:
(i) RSV (Revised Standard Version);
(ii) NJB (New Jerusalem Bible);
(iii) NKJ (New King James).

I also use the following versions when I'm studying Latin for the day:
(i) VULM (Vulgate Latin Bible with morphology);
(ii) DRA (The Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition; Very literal translation of the Latin Vulgate).

So if you need to compare a verse in various versions, there's nothing like bringing all those versions up in one place on a computer screen.  The alternative of looking them up in hard copies would be most time consuming.

November 10, 2012

Embracing technology as the pastor: Use a smartphone

I must admit that I was initially reluctant to buy into the whole smartphone market.  It just looked like a way to waste time on games and checking your email needlessly.

But eventually I succumbed and have owned both an iPhone and an Android phone. 

As a result, I have discovered that a smartphone is very handy if you have the self-control not to use it for time wasting practices.

For example I use my phone productively for:

(i) podcasting (including playing the audio at double speed);
(ii) listening to sermon mp3s;
listening to music through headphones and also on my stereo using Bluetooth;
playing internet radio;
(v) checking the weather forecast;
reading books when I have a spare moment (usually while waiting in lines);
checking blog feeds;
reading the Bible (including in Greek and Hebrew);
navigating in traffic (after trying various navigation apps I keep coming back to plain old Google Maps);
(x) emailing notes to myself so I won't forget an idea;
(xi) accessing most of my important documents immediately (using Dropbox);
(xii) tethering the internet to my laptop;
(xiii) making phone calls and sending text messages for free over wireless networks (using apps like Viber and WhatsApp);
(xiv) accessing my to do lists that I store in Evernote (very handy for shopping lists);
taking photos (and not just of people, but of things that I need to remember, e.g. a book someone shows me);
(xvi) showing photos of my family to people.

Of course I also use it for the usual things that most people use their phone for, making phone calls, sending text messages, setting alarms and timers.

Now some of what I use the phone for sounds laborious and fiddly to implement.  But another beauty of the smartphone is that a lot of things can be programmed to work automatically.  For example, my phone automatically (often wirelessly so I barely know it is happening):
(i) downloads new podcasts and deletes them once played;
(ii) rotates my least played songs onto the phone and rotates my most played songs off the phone;
(iii) copies over favourite family photos that my wife has put in a folder on her laptop (meaning from her laptop the photos are automatically synced to my laptop and from there synced automatically to my phone);
(iv) updates my to do lists from my computer so I have them at all times;
(v) puts photos I take with the phone back on my laptop hard drive.

So rather than my smartphone wasting my time, the phone is able to redeem the time.  With a smartphone I have a tool that allows me to make the most of my time by giving me ready access to things that I would need to plan in advance to take with me (e.g. music, a Bible, my to do list, certain files) and saves me lots of time by doing many tasks automatically for me.

If you have the determination and ability to use a smartphone to its full potential, they're a wise investment.

November 3, 2012

Embracing technology as the pastor: Podcasting your church sermons

Many churches record their sermons.  Many churches also put their sermons on their church website for free download.

But I'm surprised at how few churches podcast their sermons and thereby make it easier for people to subscribe to their sermons and listen to them every week.

So how can you podcast your sermon?

I've found that one of the easiest ways is using the blogging software WordPress.

Basically you start a sermon blog and then attach the sermon each week to a blog post.  The blog feed therefore becomes the podcast feed which is then imported into people's podcasting software.

The feed can also be submitted to iTunes to show up in the podcast section of their store.

So how do you go about using WordPress on your church website? 

Firstly, follow the official WordPress installation instructions.

Then once you have your blog/podcast set up, you need to install a WordPress podcasting plugin. 

I use the
Podcasting Plugin.  If you want to do the same, then follow their instructions on how to make a podcast post.

How do you get your podcast on iTunes?

A fairly large proportion of the population will want to use iTunes to subscribe to your podcast.  So to make it easier for people, submit it to iTunes using their instructions

Should I burn my feed?

You can burn your feed at the Google owned FeedBurner site.  Burning your feed gives you the benefit of seeing statistics about your subscribers and also presents your feed on a webpage that offers many useful links for different podcasting software.  For an example of a burnt feed, check out our church podcast's feed at FeedBurner.

If you do burn your feed, make sure the feed you submit to iTunes is the FeedBurner feed, not your site's original rss feed.  Otherwise you'll miss out on valuable statistics.

October 27, 2012

Embracing technology as the pastor: Cataloguing books

Most pastors are avid readers, which also means they will usually acquire a large number of books.

At first you can keep track in your head what books you own and where they are located in your library. 

But eventually a tipping point is reached where this is no longer an effective practice.
  You particularly know you've reached the end of your mental capacity when you end up buying the same book twice, miss a book bargain because you think you have the book already, or spend inordinate amounts of time looking for a book on your shelves.

So eventually you should look at cataloguing your books.  And computers make this task much easier.

There are many library catalogue programs available, but I got hooked on Endnote when writing my PhD thesis and never let it go.  A popular alternative appears to be Zotero.

My only caution in choosing a cataloguing program is to make sure it has an export function to a standardised file type.  That way if you ever have to migrate to another program, you can easily import your library.

Now for a few personal tips from how I catalogue my library:

(i) only include the author, title and call number in your catalogue, inputting anything more than that is a waste of time (unless you use your catalogue for referencing in professional writing);
(ii) don't use call numbers, have very broad categories (e.g. 'church', 'apologetics') and then simply order those categories on the shelf by alphabetical order using the author's surname;
(iii) label the books with only the first letter of their category - you don't really need to include any more information (e.g. author's initials etc);
(iv) for commentaries, label and order them on the shelf with the number that they are in the Biblical canon, e.g. Deuteronomy is '5', Revelation is '66';
(v) if you can, find a volunteer to enter the bulk of your library into your software (and don't overlook the abilities of children to do this rather mundane task);
(vi) export your catalogue to the internet somewhere so that you can find it easily on your phone whilst shopping (you never know when you may spot a sale);
(vii) maintain your catalogue - don't let things slide or you may as well not have bothered in the first place!