Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another online resource

I also discovered the Open Text site. It kind of gives the impression that it hasn't been touched for a few years (and their discussion forum link seems to be broken) but it seemed they were doing some good work marking and displaying clauses in the Greek New Testament. I didn't see a description of their file format or where to download their work but perhaps it's in there somewhere? Or maybe this is just an archive site and they've moved onto something better somewhere else?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Exciting on-line resources

I was very pleased to find out about the Open Scriptures group on the Internet. They have a website at but nothing posted there since July. The current action seems to be over in GoogleGroups (note the hyphen in that URL). They've also had data and code in GoogleCode but seem to be moving to GitHub now (hyphen gone again).

It was great to listen to some of this group (and many other speakers) at the BibleTech site. I've learnt a lot from listening to the 2008 and 2009 talks there (scroll down the page).

It's exciting to find a group that seem to have many of the same interests, particularly in working towards providing free and open Scriptures (original languages and translations), along with software and webware tools that will use standardized interfaces to make it easier for programmers and others.

I'm still learning about their goals and projects, but I'm hoping that I can find something to do to help them by around the second quarter of 2010. There seem to be four main areas of work:
  1. Overall planning and design, especially XML formats
  2. Preparing and checking/proof-reading data files (HUGE job)
  3. Writing utilities to convert data files between various formats
  4. Designing and writing software to access and use the available data.
Of course, my specialty interest is minority-language Bible translation, so I'm hoping to eventually get to #4 above as we consider our experience in a translation project and how computer tools might have better assisted us.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Site available

We are in the process of moving back into our home in New Zealand after spending most of the last 21 years overseas. I am hoping to set up a small Ubuntu server there so I can host a few of my own small sites.

Meanwhile I have bought It only has an ugly placeholder page at the moment, but I'm hoping to set up a site there. I want to research and evaluate free Biblical materials available on the Internet and for mobile devices, and to publish the links and my evaluations on the site. My particular special interests are tools for Bible translators along with original Scripture resources and English translations, but I'd also like to extend it to other modern languages and other Christian resources.

I envisage a site structured by type of resource and by language, and for each entry to contain: the link to the resource, a list of computing platforms that it runs on, any additional technical information which is known (such as which language it's written in), a rating for usefulness, a rating for openness (e.g., is the source code/data available), and a very brief overview/evaluation which links down to the full review.

I'm not a site designer so I'd love help with the artistic side of the site, and I'm looking towards using some kind of framework to allow rapid development of wiki type features, etc. Because I'm a Python lover I'm investigating Django first, but I'm really jumping in over my head here. I really want to spend most of the time listing and evaluating the materials, not actually developing the site. So if anyone wants to help me out with this, I'd be very grateful.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I am a linguist / Bible translator who is just helping a team finish a Scripture selection (New Testament plus 8% of the Old Testament) ready for publication for a cultural community in Asia. It's taken us over twenty years to do this, including learning the language (plus a couple of the major languages in the country), establishing a literacy program, training local (mother-tongue) translators, establishing a Scripture promotion program, etc., etc.

Now I'm starting this new blog to pursue an interest in making more Biblical materials more available to students of the Scriptures all over the world. I'm concerned that it often seems that the Western countries are the "gate-keepers" of the original (Hebrew and Greek) texts, as well as the reputable English translations that local translators often want to use as resources for study and for translating into their own languages. Often copyrights or expensive charges prevent students from the rest of the world from having legal access to these helpful materials.

I think there's a growing (but still very small) number of people who recognize this problem and who, rather than focussing on the negative aspects of this discussion, want to take positive action to make quality Bible resource materials more freely available.

Hopefully you'll join me in thinking through some of these issues over the next weeks and months, and coming up with an action plan or how we (yes, me and YOU) can make a useful contribution. I guess the steps might be: 1/ try to define the problem more clearly, 2/ identify what Bible study resources are currently freely available, 3/identify what resources still need to be made available, 4/ plan how this might be achieved (this involves both data resources and software resources), 5/ see which part of this picture we might be able to contribute something tangible to. Please do contribute your comments, suggestions, objections, and anything else that will spur on this area of research.