April 26, 2005

A Biblical Studies Wiki?

Mark Goodacre's blog entry on online glossaries for biblical studies raises an intriguing notion to me. When I think of the folks I read on B-Greek, Xtalk, Synoptic-L, other lists and Bibliobloggers as well, it makes me wonder about the possibility of a Bible Dictionary Wiki. What incredible potential really. Problem is, the push of users to suppress alternative viewpoints, would potentially make entries little more than a battleground of agendas. But, is something extra needed? Have a look at the Wikipedia entry for Synoptic Problem. I rather think it's quite good. However, having a look at the Biblical Criticism category shows a paltry 39 random entries. It makes me think that a new endeavour would be worthwhile. However, Wikis work in bulk. They work best as a consensus affirms new edits to a text, and in the absence of a critical mass to assess the wiki entries, who knows what would sometimes rise to the top. It would take some diligent person(s) also present to quickly erase graffiti or grossly errant editing--I have a person in mind.

April 12, 2005

Releasing the Tiger

Despite concerns raised by conservationists and animal rights activists led by an elusive group calling themselves "The Search for the Longhorn", a beloved fruit company in Cupertino, California has announced April 29, 2005 for the release of the Tiger.

That's right, Apple will soon ship its newest operating system Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger. Even though I know it'll be months before I can afford it, I'm still excited. I think several new features/technologies offer some real new potential for folks working in their academic office or their church office. Among the new features, I am most excited about:

  1. Applescript & Automator - The additions to Applescript are a nice showing. I'm quite pleased with the new XML Suite, and also the Applescript Utility which will make it easier for me to help others get involved with using scripts. Automator is Apple's new macro functionality complete with a user interface. It seems to have taken some cues from Quickeys, and improved upon the drag-drop sequencer concept. I'm anxious to see the inter-application limitations (can it read selected text only from "Services"-implemented applications, etc.? And I'm still fuzzy on the relationsip between the two... will there be an Applescript sequence you can drag into an Automator workflow (like you find in Quickeys)?
  2. Spotlight - The new smart-searching capabilites for this searching feature is highly anticipated. Having what you need at your fingertips is a tremendous gift.
  3. Dashboard - It's an extension to Exposé that puts little mini applications or other content up on the top layer of the screen. I'll have to pony up on my javascript, but I think there is some real potential for widgets ready-to-hand (with apologies to Wittgenstein) of great value to bible scholars and pastors. At some point, I'd like to facilitate some brainstorming regarding this potential.
Update: Apple has a semi-exhaustive list of the over 200 new features/enhancements in Tiger. Have a look at it here.

April 11, 2005

Open Access Journals

Several in Biblioblogdom continue discussions regarding the free availability of journals online (Cf. Stephen Carlson's post and his links). An article on Open Access Journals came out today in Wired News, which is I think a good indicator of the times. The article raises a question I've not seen addressed yet, namely, the potential conflicts of interest created when revenue structures change. If this is an area of interest for you, I recommend the brief article from Wired.

April 05, 2005

Spring Sale on Accordance CD's

Update: Accordance just added a nifty "Bible Bonus Bundle". For just $88, you get unlock codes for four bible translations chosen from among the translations they offer at $30 or less. This is a sweet deal, but it says for limited time. http://www.accordancebible.com/packages/details.php?ID=349 Accordance is having a Spring sale on a handful of CD's. The sale includes their entry packages, and the Atlas and the Biblical World in Pictures. If you've not seen either of those, boy oh boy. Look at their News page for details.

April 02, 2005

The Apostle Paul Hoax

It is a long-standing tradition to not trust any news you see breaking online on April 1. I am not a big prankster, and yesterday's post about a false inscription might have been the first April First joke I've ever done. I found a few things interesting:

  1. My circulation on that day was double my average daily circulation. The "came from" referrants were mostly "No referring link", which could mean they came to the site through a bookmark, an email, a feed aggregator on their computer, etc. I would guess the latter.
  2. Is it any wonder then, where the temptation comes from to perpetrate such archeological fraud in our field. If my little experiment was any indicator, the immediateness of the interest it generated is something quite powerful.
  3. Despite this larger viewing, I received absolutely NO emails, contacts, or IM's about the joke. This is unusual even for mundane posts. There was no "Well done" or a "Nice nob on the image", nor any "You evil thing". The only exception was an IM telling me the newspaper link didn't work. She was not pleased later to discover the full nature of the artcile.
    What I take from this silence is that no one likes to fess up having been taken by the joke. There were no "Aw man, you got me." comments. Or, the disturbing possibility is that a portion of the audience read the blog article, thought it was interesting, stored it into their mind of little tidbits they know about the ancient world, and moved on. Yikes. That's the danger, I suppose, of choosing a topic that's not earth-shattering and well-done enough to be believable (unlike Jim West's prank).
But, I'm speaking here from the evidence of silence, so what do I know? I do know I enjoyed some of the other April 1 news releases in the Mac world. Many of them had fun with the i* line of products:
  • iTunes phone, a jammin' mobile phone
  • iCopulate, device for linking iPods
  • 2good, a free Windoze emulator that is too good to be true
    And my absolute favorite:
  • iNote, a preview of Apple's upcoming PDA--well done!

April 01, 2005

'Apostle Paul' Inscription Found in Miletus

Nikos Angelakis, a friend of mine teaching in Athens, emailed me yesterday about an English news brief from Greece. It includes two slides of new stone inscriptions found in Miletus, one of which it claims is a reference to the Apostle Paul.

The writings on the stones were discovered early this year, while repairing vandalism. The article goes on to say:

A small vandalism restoration project below the northwest
pillar of the Roman theater grew into a full excavation,
responding to a surprising team member discovery . An
inscription, found on the underside of a corner floor stone,
led the professor and his crew to expand the excavation.

Following the discovery, the team removed nine floor stones
out of the foundation, each with inscriptions taken from
over three earlier structures. An Ödemiş Museum team then
led the removal and preparation of the historically significant

They have already restored and documented three of the pieces, including the one which contains an apparent reference to the Paul of the New Testament. Prof. Zuryis added, "The reference to the Apostle Paul is not surprising. He sailed to Miletos returning from a journey where he met with church officials from neighboring cities including Ephesus. Perhaps an edifice was set to honor St. Paul at the occassion of the farewell speech which he gave in Miletos. The Roman stadium itself was not built until late second century..."
My question is how can a structure built in the second century have cannibalized an earlier structure that already had a reference to Paul? I don't have alot of experience reading inscriptions, but this stone is not difficult to make out. Can you have a dangling Alpha like that?

I've been to Miletus when I did the Turkey tourist thing, but honestly I can't even recall what the theater looked like. I think it was a rather tall structure, set into a hill. But then maybe that was an Odion. You can find out more about all this here. Happy April Fool's Day