Logos 9: Manuscripts of the Bible

[Note: all screen captures taken using Verbum, the version of Logos Bible Software customized for Catholic users; features and data discussed are the same between Logos and Verbum.]

We’ve long wanted to make manuscript data more accessible in Logos Bible Software. With Logos 6, we introduced the New Testament Manuscript Explorer, which provides manuscript-level information (date, location, contents, etc.) based on the incredible NTVMR from the INTF. Throughout the Logos 6 lifecycle (if I recall correctly) we also released the Septuagint Manuscript Explorer and the Hebrew Bible Manuscript Explorer.

While that information is useful, as an interactive resource it is not able to be easily accessed or linked to other resources. And since we wanted to pull manuscript information into Factbook, we needed something different.

Manuscripts of the New Testament, in English, Portuguese, and Chinese (Traditional)

We also wanted to provide page-level links to manuscript images indexed to Bible reference.

That sentence doesn’t make much sense. Let me try again. We wanted to be able to search for a reference (e.g. Mark 1:41) and list images one could browse at the NTVMR with links straight to the images. We wanted to provide something like the below, showing the 278 manuscript pages indexed to Mark 1:41 with links directly to the page at the NTVMR.

Search for manuscript pages indexed to Mark 1:41

We’ve created similar resources for the Septuagint (LXX) and the Hebrew Bible, but unfortunately there isn’t nearly the available page-level data for these corpora (Hats off to the NTVMR folks!). So we’ve made page-level references where data was available (LXX Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) and incorporated manuscript-level references to other manuscripts where data is available.

All three resources, in English

Hebrew Bible stuff is different from Greek NT or LXX because we (Logos) have transcriptions of all of the biblical scrolls, and many of the scroll fragments have images published on the web. So for the Hebrew Bible we have links to the transcriptions in Logos and available images at official sites.

But the big gain here is this information is now accessible in Factbook. We all know we can look up what “1Q1 Gen” is if we have the right resource open, or if we do a search across the library. But now, because it is all accessible from Factbook, you don’t have to remember which book or series to open to look. Just open Factbook and type in “1q1 gen”, and see what happens.

P52 entry in Factbook, and looking up “1q1 gen”

Now when you run across a reference to an NT, LXX, or Hebrew Bible manuscript, you just need to open the Factbook and look. You can read the article in Factbook’s Key Article section, or click the link to read it in the relevant manuscripts resource. We’re hoping this incorporation of manuscript information in Factbook makes it easier to follow up on questions about manuscripts you may encounter after reading technical commentaries or consulting textual apparatuses.

We have some ideas about how to integrate these manuscript resources even further with existing apparatuses (particularly of the GNT and LXX). No promises, but hopefully we’ll be able to make manuscript data even more accessible from the apparatuses themselves. Cross your fingers.

Logos 9: Lexham Research Lexicons

[Note: all screen captures taken using Verbum, the version of Logos Bible Software customized for Catholic users; features and data discussed are the same between Logos and Verbum.]

One of the best-kept secrets (in a bad way) of tools in Logos Bible Software is the Bible Sense Lexicon (BSL). It is unfortunate because the BSL is this great tool that provides a cross-linguistic sense analysis of every instance of every noun, verb, adjective, and adverb in the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament. But outside of in-passage mention (where it is available in a context window or by link) it is pretty hard to find, especially if you’re starting with a lemma.

We did some evaluation and figured out that we could use the BSL information to aggregate sense data by lemma and provide the skeleton of a lexicon. Even better: The BSL has been localized into all of the core language editions of Logos Bible Software, so if we could figure out what to do with the English, we’d get six more languages for basically free. Here’s an example of the Lexham Research Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, in English, Spanish, and Korean.

Lexham Research Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (English, Spanish, and Korean)

Focusing on the English, there are a few things to note. The material drawn from the BSL is “peaceful (whole) — characterized by …” Before that material, we have part of speech and generalized gloss as well as, where applicable, equivalent Hebrew lemmas based on an analysis of available reverse interlinear data. Sometimes there will also be a link to the Lexham Theological Wordbook.

The references listed (in this case) are all the available instances of this sense+lemma combination. We also list a snippet of context in the original language (Greek here) in an interlinear view (only English and Spanish; other languages do not have the data available to support the interlinear view). Don’t worry, the interlinear is customizeable and you can turn off the gloss line if you’d like (using the aleph/omega button in the toolbar). The context given in the snippet is based on propositional data from the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. We select appropriate example references to list based on an analysis of Important Words data.

After this, for the New Testament, there are references of the same word from the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament). These reference listings (and the alternate corpus listings underneath it) are based on an analysis of existing Greek lexica and the manner in which they cite non-New Testament material.

After this we have the Commentary Articles section, which has listings of commentaries where the lemma is discussed. These listings are based on an analysis of all available commentaries with Greek or Hebrew words (or transliterations; presently over 8,300 commentaries are analyzed). We’re basically leveraging existing data here. Logos has had a Lemma in Passage feature that analyzes commentaries and tags lemmas where discernable. This is combined with information from another feature (Important Words) to determine which words are more significant in a passage. We then put the dots together to locate discussions in commentaries where the current lemma is important, and list the best scoring items.

We also have implemented a Journal Articles section that does similar things, only for Journals. This is based on a similar (in-development) analysis of over 3,700 journals for original language discussions. Not quite sure where the journal data is going yet, but this seemed to be an appropriate use of the data to surface Journal articles relevant to the lexicon article lemma.

The Lexham Research Lexicon of the Hebrew Bible is similarly organized. It also uses an interlinear view of example references (though only for the English), with contextual selections based on an analysis of the cantillation marks of the Hebrew Bible. Entries for verb are broken up further by verb stem. In the screen capture below, note the term reflecting the lemma of the entry is black and the other words are a lighter shade of grey, making it easier to determine the word related to the article even if the gloss line is not present.

Lexham Research Lexicon of the Hebrew Bible (English, Spanish, and Korean)

Note we have also created the Lexham Research Lexicon of the Aramaic Portions of the Hebrew Bible. The structure is the same as that of the Hebrew Bible volume.

The Bible Sense Lexicon (BSL) analysis is only of the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Bible. We have not, as yet, analyzed the Septuagint (and we do not presently have plans to do so). But we do have a fair amount of lexical data for the Septuagint, so we also created a (slightly different) Lexham Research Lexicon of the Septuagint. We presently have only created a lexicon for English users as we have not yet curated and localized some key Septuagint data in other languages.

Lexham Research Lexicon of the Septuagint

For words that also occur in the Greek New Testament, the article in the Lexham Research Lexicon of the Septuagint shows much of the same data, only without the senses from the BSL. The Commentary Articles are drawn from commentaries on Old Testament books but which mention Greek in their discussions. There are no Journal Articles sections in the Septuagint volume.

We’re really excited about the Lexham Research Lexicons and their availability (for GNT, Hebrew Bible, and Aramaic) not only in English but also in Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Chinese (Simplified) and Chinese (Traditional). The early feedback from beta testers has been encouraging. We hope you find these tools useful in your study of the Bible.

Logos 9 is here!

[Note: all screen captures taken using Verbum, the version of Logos Bible Software customized for Catholic users; features and data discussed are the same between Logos and Verbum.]

It’s true, Logos 9 is here! It’s been around two years since Logos 8 released, so it must be time for Logos 9. As with Logos 8, this release is multi-OS (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android), multi-platform (desktop, phone, tablet, web), and multilinguial (English, Spanish, German, Korean, Portuguese, Chinese (Traditional), and Chinese (Simplified), with French on the way sometime next year). Lots and lots and lots of work.

For Logos 9, the team I’m part of worked on the improved Factbook. One of my responsibilities was to create resources that would allow the Factbook to access lexical information and manuscript information. So I examined all the data presently available in these areas and came up with some new stuff that will make its debut in Logos 9 (some shown below).

Lexicons and Manuscripts and Images, oh my!

Later this morning I’ll post about the four new Lexham Research Lexicons. After that I’ll post again about the three resources that make up the Manuscripts of the Bible series. So stay tuned!

Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: Second Timothy — Now on @Logos Prepub!

This past winter, I published the second volume (of three planned volumes) of the Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, this one being the volume on Second Timothy.

Now the good folks at Logos Bible Software (note: I work for Faithlife, the producer of Logos Bible Software) have decided to make Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: Second Timothy available on prepub, to go along with the volume on First Timothy that was released in Logos format in 2017.

I’m stoked about this! Preorder yours in Logos format now!

Here’s the description on Amazon:

To responsibly exegete the text of Second Timothy, one must become familiar with the vocabulary. But examination of word meanings involves more than simply looking up words in a lexicon and choosing a gloss that seems appropriate.

Rick Brannan evaluates the vocabulary of the Second Timothy in light of the New Testament, the Septuagint (LXX), the Apostolic Fathers, the works of Philo, the works of Josephus, the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, and other material. Many commentaries and other works of exegesis mention material from these sources to provide background information or examples of word usage, duly noting references to such works in footnotes or endnotes. Brannan’s work, however, provides full quotations (in translation) of the relevant references. Instead of relegating these citations to footnotes that are seldom if ever looked up, the cited text itself is reproduced for the reader to evaluate.

Please note: All proceeds from sale of books published by Appian Way Press, in print or Logos format, go directly to offset costs incurred in the adoption of our third child, Josiah. He’s now 2, and doing well! But domestic infant adoption is expensive, and we’ll be paying bills for a long time, so help us out with some book purchases!

Yay, Logos 8 is here!

Logos8_Display Ad_450x450Well, it’s been here for a whole day. Yesterday (October 29, 2018), we released Logos 8 to the world. And “releasing to the world” is more true of this release than any before. We didn’t just release Logos 8 in English, but it has Spanish, German, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese (Simplified) and Chinese (Traditional) versions as well. And we didn’t just release on desktop (Windows, Mac), we also released our massively updated web app as well as iOS and Android versions. And web sites to support all of those languages. It was a massive, massive job.

Logos 8 Workflows

This time around (I’ve been through a few launches) my responsibilities involved working on one of the flagship features, Workflows. Think: What if instead of just telling you how to do something, your Bible software had a process it let you walk through, gathering the appropriate data for you at the appropriate time, and asked you questions (and let you answer!) about the current study step you were on? Well, that’s what workflows do. 18 months ago, I started working through all sorts of different Bible study methodologies, identifying tasks, understanding processes, and isolating strengths and weaknesses. And thinking about how Logos Bible Software could integrate at every single point. From there, it was a bunch of work from designers, programmers, editors and (remember, six different languages!) translators to put bones and brains into the loose sketches I’d put together.

I’m really super excited about workflows, and can’t wait to see how folks use them. There are workflows for working through a passage, topic, Biblical person or place, for building a sermon, for prayer time and devotional time. And we have more we plan to do.

Oh, there’s also a Workflow Editor that allows users to make (and share!) their own workflows. This is going to be huge.

Logos 8 Important Words

While working on workflows, one item that was repeatedly included in study methodologies but which Logos didn’t have great data for was something like “Identify words important to your passage.”

After thinking about this for awhile, we realized that commentaries actually do this. Commentary authors pick and choose from the language in the passage they are commenting on. What they actually write indicates a choice. If we could only identify the words in the passage they discuss, we would be well on our way to deriving passage based word importance.

Fortunately, during the Logos 7 cycle, I’d done work on isolating all the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic words discussed (in Greek or Hebrew script, or in transliteration) in commentaries — and lemmatizing them — for the Logos 7 Lemma in Passage feature. That work has continued to grow, we now track nearly 7,000 commentaries and the original language words they use. This was the perfect data to extend and analyze to determine important words in a passage. The data allowed us to tie original language words to passages, and then aggregate that data across all commentaries. A colleague did some really great work analyzing the data to derive per-passage ranking, and from there the feature basically wrote itself.

Logos 8 Important Passages

The Important Passages feature was much the same. Study methodologies advocate locating similar passages and cross-references. While we’ve had cross-references data for a long time in Logos Bible Software, what has never (really) been done before — and what is really needed — is to provide a boatload of related passages but to also indicate the reason the passages are related.

The Logos 8 Important Passages feature does this. Each passage that is related to the study passage also indicates at least one reason why the passage is related and thus worth examining further. If you’re looking for similar vocabulary, or shared cultural concepts, or intertextuality, or similar command, or whatever, you can see the reason for the relation before you go and look up the passage. It’s pretty awesome.

We aggregated the data for these references in much the same way that we aggregated the data for Important Words: we used commentaries. In each commentary article, there is what we would call a milestone (the passage being commented on) and references (Bible reference citations within the comment on the passage). If you can aggregate these by passage across nearly 7,000 commentaries, then you’re getting somewhere. But we also analyzed all of the Bibles in Logos for where they indicated cross-references, we examined the old Treasury of Scripture Knowledge and other similar resources for where they indicated cross-references. The data included over 27 million milestone-reference pairs. And we did a separate analysis of lexicons to build data that indicated which verses were commonly cited in the discussion of particular lexical items. It was a huge amount of data wrangling. I was in heaven.

From here, a colleague did the tough work integrating reasons for references and of ranking and scoring things. The output of it all is that we can tell you what references tend to be cited as important or relevant or helpful for any passage of Scripture. And we can suggest all sorts of reasons as to why the passage is relevant to examine for the current study passage (milestone).

Other Stuff

I did other stuff along the way, but the above are the major pieces. Basically these have consumed me for the past 18 months, and it’s exciting to see these features and datasets released. Hopefully they enhance your study.

The Apostolic Fathers: A New Translation is now available in print!

It’s real! Purchase at Amazon.

My translation of the collection of writings known as the Apostolic Fathers is now available in print! I’m super excited about this.

It’s been long enough ago that I don’t really remember when I had the idea. But looking back at internal records here at Logos, my Apostolic Fathers Greek-English Interlinear was listed on pre-pub in late February 2010. That jives with my vague memories because I think I actually started work on the Didache and Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians in 2009. Anyway, that was the project that started it all.

I woke up early pretty much every weekday morning after that to work on the interlinear. Through 2010 and into 2011, until the product was released in October 2011.

Sometime between October 2011 and October 2012, I must’ve had the idea to write a program to convert the translation embedded within the interlinear into an actual, bona-fide, English translation. So I did. Some text-wrangling ensued, and I generated translations that needed to be further edited and revised into a smooth, readable English text. The Logos version was released in December 2012, with a reverse interlinear alignment. I thought it was pretty much the coolest suite of stuff I’d ever be able to do (Interlinear, Translation, Reverse Interlinear), but it just got cooler. Because in December 2016, Lexham Press talked to me about getting the translation available in print. There were some bumps along the way, but we persevered, and the English translation is now available in print. Woo hoo!

You can purchase a copy of The Apostolic Fathers: A New Translation, from either Lexham Press (be sure to specify print) or from Amazon.

Side note: Because I was able to do it with the Apostolic Fathers meant I next wanted to try it with Logos/Faithlife’s Septuagint Interlinear. We rounded up some more contributors/editors (thanks, guys!) and the output of that process became the Lexham English Septuagint, available with a reverse interlinear.


Anticipating His Arrival: My New Advent Devotional

Anticipating His Arrival

It was August, 2009. My daughter was getting to the age where she could start to understand some things about God, Jesus, and Christmas. And our church was sponsoring a church plant, which we joined right away. We needed a new adventure.

For some reason — I’m not really sure why — I began writing a short advent devotional for my family so we’d have something easy for the holidays. Nothing long or preachy. Just some daily readings (which I based on the Revised Common Lectionary’s  (RCL) weekly readings) and some short questions about the reading. I added some brief answers, too. I’d chatted about it with our pastor, and he thought it was good enough to print some copies for church folk via Lulu. Folks used it and liked it. We used it an liked it in our own family, too.

Fastforward to 2012. The RCL is a three year cycle, so I expanded the devotional and added one more year of readings, questions, and answers. We liked that too, and I figured I’d write the third year at some point.

Fastforward again to July, 2015. I’d told some folks at work (I work at Faithlife, makers of Logos Bible Software) about it. Some of those folks work for our publishing imprint, Lexham Press. And they thought that an Advent devotional would be a good book for Christmas. So they approached me about finishing it, and I agreed — since I was going to do it anyway.

So now there are readings for all three years of Advent covered by the RCL. The title of the devotional is Anticipating His Arrival: A Family Guide through Advent. And that’s really what it is: A short Bible reading with 2–4 discussion questions and responses for you to base a family devotional time on during Advent. We’ve read it after dinner. This year I think I’ll try reading it with kids before their bedtimes if busy-ness causes us to miss the dinner reading (hey, it happens).

I wanted to share it with y’all because the devotional is on “pre-publication” at Logos right now. And it is probably the cheapest it’ll ever be: $2.99 ($11.99 retail). So subscribe to the prepub, and give it a try. If it does well this year, they may publish it in print for Christmas 2016.

This post is already too long. But I hope to post an excerpt from the devotional next week sometime. So be on the lookout.