Hyperlinks to Logos Resources

A few years back i blogged about links into Logos software as a kind of knowledge resource. This style of richly-hyperlinked information is increasingly becoming the standard way i try to communicate: it couples the basic textual content with doors that open into related areas.

With the release of Logos 4 (now a year ago!), there have been some significant changes both to how those links get expressed, and what kind of information can be linked to. So i recently wrote a post for the Logos Blog explaining how this works and why Logos users might care:  Logos 4 Information Has an Address. If you’re a Logos user, i encourage you to check it out!

Building an Architecture of Participation in Bible Study

The Cornucopia of the Commons

Some time back, Tim O’Reilly (The Architecture of Participation) echoed and applied some observations from Dan Bricklin (the Cornucopia of the Commons) about the architecture of Napster and  other significant web-based systems. The individual details are well worth reading, but here’s the summary form. There are several common models for how to build large datasets that are valuable to people:

  1. Pay people to build it (Bricklin calls this “Organized Manual”). Examples include the original Yahoo! directory of the web, and the Encyclopedia Britannica. There’s an variant that represents smart algorithms rather than just human effort (Bricklin: “Organized Mechanical”): this is how Google has built its indexes. But it still represents a significant monetary investment by somebody who probably expects something in return.
  2. Get volunteers (Bricklin’s “Volunteer Manual”): Wikipedia is the preeminent example here, along with Linux, the Open Directory Project, and a great many open source projects. People do this work because they value the end result, and the project coordinates and magnifies those efforts.
  3. Architect in such a way that individual self-interest creates collective value.

Napster (the original peer-to-peer version) was proposed by Bricklin as a prime example of the third model: simply by listening to your music (within the Napster ecosystem), the default settings meant you were also sharing that music with everybody else. Quoting Bricklin:

What we see here is that increasing the value of the database by adding more information is a natural by-product of using the tool for your own benefit. No altruistic sharing motives need be present, especially since sharing is the default.

This is Bricklin’s Cornucopia of the Commons (an allusion to Garrett Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons): a system designed in such a way that use brings overflowing abundance.

(You might think blogging and twittering are like this, but they’re not. Nobody tweets because it has direct, inherent value to them: instead, it’s an outgrowth of a narcissistic, self-centered open, generous belief that what i say might have value to others. Few of us would do it if nobody else was listening. )

Models for Data Creation In Biblical Studies

All that (and Napster!) is now history, and i don’t want to get distracted by the peer-to-peer model that made Napster so powerful (Bricklin argues that’s not the reason it succeeded), or the legal issues that led to its demise. Instead, i want to reflect here on how these principles apply to Biblical studies and software.

With Logos 4, we’ve launched a major expansion of our Biblical Knowledge, by expanding Biblical People, adding Places and Things, and building around the large set of concepts we call the Logos Controlled Vocabulary. This was accomplished through the Organized Manual method: we paid a bunch of people (me included) to architect and populate this data, in a major development effort that stretched over several years. You could view the vast network of links that make Logos more than just a collection of texts as an extension of the same principle (through the resulting software program doesn’t look so much like a database). It represents literally hundreds of thousands of hours of effort in book markup and design, along with lots of “Organized Mechanical” algorithmic work.

There are also lots of examples of Volunteer Manual projects related to the Bible. The Sword Project is like Linux for Bible software. e-Sword has a smaller group of developers, but the same framework of a volunteer effort which is given away. Open Scriptures is building a platform and API for others to use in building Bible-based applications. Web 2.0 efforts like YouVersion let people tie their reflections directly to the Biblical text, and numerous projects have sprung from the Wikipedia mold like Theopedia. My own SemanticBible projects are much more limited, but in a similar spirit.

Logos has been active with the Volunteer Manual approach as well. The Logos Topics website combines our Organized Manual data and architecture of topics with user-contributed extensions of additional terminology, links within Logos, and even links to other websites. This lets us do some neat things like extending the desktop application content through user contributions on the web. Like Wikipedia, these are altruistic contributions from people who want to share their knowledge with others.

Sermons.logos.com works in a similar fashion: if you’re a pastor who writes down your sermon, and you’re willing to upload and share it, lots of others (both on the web and in Logos software) can benefit from what you’ve created. This is closer to the Cornucopia of the Commons model, but it’s still a voluntary and indirect process: my sermon doesn’t get shared as a natural by-product of my preparation activity.

The Cornucopia and Bible Study

The interesting question to me is how to achieve the third model, where my own use of a tool provides a direct benefit to others through a network, not because i’m behaving altruistically but simply because the system is architected to work that way. This is closely related to the whole Web2.0 meme (can it really have been five years already?!?) of “software that gets better the more it gets used.”

One thought: lots of web sites use RefTagger to provide a nice pop-up of Bible text for their readers, a benefit that enriches the experience of visitors to their site. Twitter users can similarly use ref.ly to shorten Bible references, which, like RefTagger links,  in turn resolve to references on Bible.Logos.com.   Could those links be converted into data indicating, for example, the relative popularity of different verses, and then displayed back to users?

Aggregating users’ operation of Logos software (in a suitably anonymized fashion, of course) could also provide data on the most popular resources, searches, and topics, which could then be turned around into recommendations (“Looking for a Bible dictionary article on ‘marriage’? Here are the ones our users have found most useful ….”).

But none of these seem to me to accomplish the full promise of the Cornucopia of the Commons. There has to be more here than simply harnessing popularity (though sites like Digg and del.icio.us have shown how useful that can be). I’m still trying to imagine what data sets could be created by people who are already committed to Bible study, as a normal outgrowth of what they do anyway. Any thoughts? Please share a comment.

Finding Numerals in the Old Testament

Somebody who knows where i work wrote to ask if there was a way to get a list of all the numerals used in the Old Testament (two, twice, etc.). The answer’s yes, and it’s not hard: but since my first response was overly complicated, i wanted to try again and put the results out for others.

The background: i’m using Logos 4, Syntax Search, with the Andersen-Forbes Phrase Marker Analysis (henceforth AF). If this is new territory for you, you’ll want to start by getting some background from Mike Heiser’s tutorial videos here: the syntax videos are currently down near the bottom.

So here are the steps:

  • Open the Search panel, and select Syntax
  • Set the search to All Passages in Hebrew Bible: Andersen-Forbes Phrase Marker Analysis
  • Click on Query to create a New Syntax Search
  • In the new panel, click on Add Search Terms here and select Segment. You’ll also want to check Show Details at the top of the panel.
  • On the right side of the Panel, open up the Parts of Speech section, and in the Morph Specification type “@N?[NO]” (or select  the corresponding items from the pop-up: part of speech = Noun, Noun Family = numeral and ordinal). You can then click on Search to run this (i got 7128 results), and click through the results
  • You might want to refine this search in several ways:
    • Limiting the scope to a particular book
    • If you have a deeper understanding of syntax, you may want to elaborate the search specification to only include particular contexts
    • Adding Semantics=Quantity removes two results, which was a little surprising, but i didn’t take the time to figure out which ones

Greek Skills Test for Bible Software

I’ve been reading an enormous amount of user feedback lately on the Logos Forums about Logos 4. A lot of it is immensely helpful, as our passionate users tell us what they like, what they hate, what they miss from Libronix 3, etc. It can also be immensely frustrating, as it’s often full of misunderstanding, misinformation, second-guessing about our motivations and actions, hubris, bluster … just the things that characterize many other human communications (along with many refreshingly positive interchanges where people speak kindly, counsel understanding, and plead for cooperativeness).

One result of all this is a new appreciation for concreteness in such forums: reading for the 100th time “Logos 4 is so slow” just doesn’t help as much as a careful description of what the circumstances are (including the hardware environment), what operation is slow, what “slow” means (a few seconds? a few minutes? it just “feels” slow?), etc.

So, in the spirit of concreteness and positive contributions rather than complaining, and following up on some blog-chatter about the recent “shootout” at SBL, i’d like to tackle a nice “pop quiz” i recently found here about keeping your Bible software skills sharp. The original context was performing these tasks with BibleWorks. But i thought it might be useful to identify how to perform these same tasks in Logos 4, both for honing my own skills (i’m not just an employee, i’m a user), and for other users. Please note that i’m not trying to start (or fuel) any “my software can beat your software”-type competitions, or take pot shots at other products (i assume BibleWorks can do all these tasks just fine). I just liked the practical, objective orientation of this list as a learning exercise.

So without further ado, here’s the test (reproduced verbatim except as noted), the process i used to tackle each item, and the results i got.

  1. paulinesearchFind all ESV occurrences in Paul of words beginning in, but not the word in.
    Process
    I opened the Search pane, selected Bible Search, and set the search scope to a custom range “Rom-Phil” that i called Paulines. I selected ESV as the Bible, and used the wildcard search expression in* ANDNOT in.
    Result
    This returned 94 results in 84 verses, in about a minute (wildcard searches tend to be slower).
  2. formsearch How many Greek OT verses are there with the forms g:kurios AND g:theos? [note: i haven’t figured out how to render Greek in my WordPress-backed blog, so i’ve represented these the way somebody without a Greek keyboard would enter them into Logos. Just to be clear, this is an issue with WordPress, not Logos.]
    Process
    I opened the Search pane, selected Bible Search, and set the search scope to Old Testament (Gen-Mal). I selected Septuagint (with Logos Morphology) as the Bible, and used the search expression g:kurios AND g:theos.
    Result
    This returned 1367 results in 592 verses, in less than a second.
  3. lemmasearchHow many Greek OT verses are there with the lemmas g:kurios AND g:theos?
    Process
    Same steps as above, but using Morph Search this time. As above, i used g:kurios AND g:theos in entry, which the search dialog then converted to the proper Greek forms as before. Then i edited them to have lemma: (not greek:) as the prefix, and @N as the morphological class. There’s a minor gotcha here: you might think you could use search syntax like lemma:kurios in Bible Search rather than Morph Search, but you’d be wrong (or at least you wouldn’t get the results you expect).
    Result
    This returned 3319 results in 1335 verses, taking about 3 seconds.You can see some inflected forms in the last verse included in the screen shot.
  4. What’s the difference between these two searches? BGM .?????? and BGT .??????[again, i can’t reproduce the Greek, but i’d enter it in Logos as g:iesous]
    Result
    Not being a BibleWorks user, i don’t actually know what this means. Maybe it’s searching two different texts? If somebody can translate this for me, i’ll see if i can determine an equivalent.
  5. searchfrominterlinearHow many times does the word translated “creation” in Genesis 1:1 appear in the Pentateuch?
    Process
    I assumed “word” here meant lemma. I opened the NRSV, clicked the Interlinear button to display the interlinear text, and selected “created” (not “creation”, but i assume this was the intent) in the English text, which highlighted the corresponding Hebrew term. Then i right-clicked on that term, selected the Lemma tab in the right-click menu,  and selected Search This Resource. That searched the whole Bible (2 seconds), but the question said only the Pentateuch. So then i just changed the scope from All Passages to Pentateuch (i may have created this custom range before, i don’t recall).
    Result
    14 results in 11 verses.
  6. frequency of g:agape relative to book sizeg:agape is most common in what book of the Bible, when judged with regard to the book’s size?
    Process
    Here i used the Bible Word Study: the Lemma section provides a small sparkline-style graph with relative frequencies. Clicking on this opens up a larger pie chart that’s much easier to understand, but the counts here are absolute, not relative. However, the bar and column chart options let you select various display options, one of which is number of hits/number of verses in book (which i think is the intent of the question).
    Result
    Since i had a nice option to export the graph to PowerPoint, that made it easy to reproduce the results here. The winner is 2 John (i had assumed it was 1 John!).
  7. How many times does g:agapao appear in the LXX vs. the GNT?
    Process
    Again, Morph Search using lemma:agapao (which magically turns into Greek), over two ranges: LXX, vs NA27, all passages in both cases.
    Result
    LXX returned 272 results in 256 verses. NA27 returned 143 results in 110 verses.
  8. louwnidag:agape is in how many Louw and Nida semantic domains?
    Process
    Since i know Volume 2 of Louw-Nida has a Greek-English index that lists the domains for each term, the direct way is to just navigate there (using the table of contents) and count. That felt a little like cheating, but i don’t know of another approach that’s closer to the spirit of the exercise.You can of course search the resource for the term, but that produces lots of additional hits. There may be some deeper search magic that could be applied here.
    Result
    Two domains: 25.43 and 23.28.
  9. How many ESV occurrences are there of words beginning inter or enter?
    Process
    This is pretty much like task #1, but with the range as All Passages, and the search expression inter* OR enter*.
    Result
    This was a slow search (76 seconds), which returned 450 results in 413 verses (assuming “enter” was to be included in the set).
  10. prefix searchHow many GNT verses are there with g:uper alone vs. g:uper as a prefix?
    Process
    Like the search above, once you appreciate that wildcards word in Greek too. So these are both Morph Search operations, one with (the result of) lemma:uper, and one with greek:uper*.
    Result
    As a lemma, 150 results in 135 verses (2 seconds). As a prefix, 209 results in 184 verses. The screen shot is of the latter.

Some closing reflections on this exercise: overall, though it took a little time, i feel like i have a much better understanding now of how to perform tasks like these in Logos 4. The g: prefix syntax for entering Greek terms proved very handy (both for using the software and for blogging about it!), and performed just the way i’d want it to. There are some subtleties about Bible vs Morph Search on original language texts, but they make sense to me in retrospect. These counting tasks aren’t really the heart-and-soul of Biblical studies, but of course all the counts reflect a concordance that gives direct access to the verses in their context. So i’m encouraged that Logos 4 was able to address all these tasks quite easily, quite quickly, and with what i will assume are accurate results (until somebody lets me know evidence to the contrary 🙂 )

Update (12/3): please see the comments below for discussion of a few things i got wrong.

  • for #1, the range expression should be Romans-Phile (Philemon, not Philippians)
  • there are some subtleties about selection order in Logos that matter to getting the Greek text right for #2 and #3, as Mark Hoffman explains in his comment

Also, credit where due to Charlie Gibson, BibleWorks trainer, as the source for some elements of the quiz (thanks for pointing that out, Mark Ward).

Technology in Scripture

John Dyer points to a effort by Matthew Clarke to catalog references to technology in the Bible at WikiChristian. I really like the idea of looking at the Bible through technology glasses.

If you have Logos 4, you can easily play along using the Biblical Things feature (brief tutorial video), which provides a comprehensive list of references for all the physical, depictable artifacts of technology (though not more abstract things like metal refining techniques).

This kind of broad study across the whole of Scripture can provide new perspectives on things that, in their immediate context, often go right by us.

Logos 4 Videos

If you’re interested in the capabilities i discussed in my earlier post about the Logos 4 launch, there are a bunch of videos on our site explaining different features of the software. In addition to showing new users how their software works, these also give you a good feel for what Logos 4 is actually like, in case you’re thinking about taking the plunge. And, well … these particular videos were done by me 🙂

Logos 4 Launches Today

I’m thrilled to announce that we’re releasing Logos Bible Software 4 today. This is a complete rewrite from the ground up of the best Bible study software on the planet, so that makes this an exciting day in my book.

Logos 4 sports an entirely new interface to make it easier than ever to find what you’re looking for and keep your study space organized and effective. There’s a wealth of new, visually oriented resources, and better controls for working through the enormous space of resources Logos makes available. There’s even an iPhone app for no extra charge!

That’s the marketing view (and i stand behind it). But this means much more to me on a very personal level. It’s been almost 3 years since i came at Logos, and this will be the first time most of my work has seen the light of day. Specifically, Logos 4 contains the work of my colleagues and me in several new areas:

  • Biblical People, which organizes information about the 3300 individuals, groups of people, and deities named in the Biblical text. It includes a comprehensive list of references, their family relationships, links to dictionary articles, and links to related items. It also includes family tree and story-based diagrams. And everything is hyperlinked.
  • Biblical Places includes all the same kinds of information for 1200 named places from the Bible: cities, regions, even geographic features like rivers and mountains. Along with the data, there are 60 new high-resolution maps commissioned by Logos and covering the major Biblical events, as well as a mega-map that shows all the places together.
  • Biblical Things describes the physical objects of the Bible: animals, plants, body parts, clothing, food and drink, and much more, as well as specific items like Noah’s ark and Goliath’s sword and weights and measures. There are more than 1000 objects here, which also bring together thousands of images from across the library.
  • There’s also a new collection of high-resolution infographics illustrating different aspects of the Biblical world (and i’m extra proud that the bulk of this work was managed by my wife Donna)
  • In additional to regular word search (which is much faster than ever), under the hood is the Libronix Controlled Vocabulary (LCV), working to organize 11,000 different subjects in the Biblical studies literature and coordinating information across the library.

So if you’ve been following my posts on the Bible Knowledgebase … well, now it’s here. I can’t overstate how important i think this is: this is quite literally the first time in the centuries-old history of Biblical studies that this information has been made available in this way. The LCV isn’t quite as visible (yet), but it’s also an important organizing feature that will continue to grow in power going forward.

I hope you’re catching my sense of excitement about these new resources (and this says nothing about all the hard work of my dozens of colleagues in other areas). I hoped i’ve piqued your interest to learn more about Logos 4. It really is a watershed event in Bible software.

Obligatory disclaimer: i work for Logos and highly value what i do there. So i’m not the least bit objective about this. (more detailed disclosures)