1 August 2007

The Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible

The Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible 

The Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible is an electronic version of the most fundamental documents in Biblical Scholarship – the main texts of the Hebrew and Greek Bible with their critical apparatus. This tool demonstrates that these resources are much easier to use as an electronic publication than on paper. The Logos edition has some rough edges, partly due to the data produced by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft on which this is based, and I look forward to a future version which will be even more usable.
If you've heard me on the subject of Logos before, you'll know I'm not a fan. I'm still not a fan, but I'm impressed. There is no doubt that they are providing useful and increasingly essential resources which are unavailable elsewhere. I don't like their interface – it is as ugly and awkward as a large open-plan office – but that probably betrays more about me than the program itself. I'm stating this so that you take my snide comments with a pinch of salt and understand that my congratulations are fulsome and well earned.

Which resources are included? (can be misleading)

The most important resources

Installing it (never as straightforward as you expect)

Getting started (can be confusing)

Searching (not as simple as you'd think)

Overall Usefulness: much better than paper

Should I buy this? (what about BibleWorks & Accordance?)


Which resources are included? (can be misleading)


[Update: The logos deal is now different. See here.
You can still buy the original version from SESB]
There are two versions of SESB - the one supplied by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, which can be bought in a variety of places for about $325 (for USA customers and for outside USA), and a cut-down edition for about $160 (USA only). For most English-speaking scholars, the Logos cut-down version contains everything you want – it lacks only the multitude of modern Bible translations, most of which are non-English, and the Gospel of Thomas. The cut-down version is only available from Logos and only for US customers – presumably due to an agreement with Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.   
The quickest way to find out what has been installed is to click on Library. The alphabetical list is much longer than expected because each book is listed in various ways (eg "Authorized Version" under A, "Bible Authorized" under B, "King James Version" under K etc), and because the list includes a large number of locked books you can purchase.

Resources unlocked in the full collection are: 

  •  Wörterbuch zum Alten Testament – a basic OT lookup dictionary with German & English definitions
  •  Lust's Lexicon of the Septuagint (LUH) – a brief lexicon with links to OT refs
  •  Newman's Dictionary of NT Greek – a basic NT lookup dictionary in English
  •  Kassühlke's Dictionary of NT Greek – a basic NT lookup dictionary in German

New Search methods: 

  •  SESB Lemma search
  •  Morphological Search
Bible Translations:
  •  AV, NIV, NRSV,
  •  Several Bibles in Dutch, French, German, Norwegian, modern Greek

Ancient Texts & Editions: 

  •  Vulgate,
  •  Greek NT – Nestle-Aland 27th ed. & UBS 4th rev. ed with both Apparatuses
  •  Greek OT – Rahlfs
  •  Hebrew OT – BHS & the 1st 2 vols of Quinta, both with Apparatuses
  • Metzger's Commentary on the Greek NT
  • Gospel of Thomas in Coptic, Greek & English


The most important resources

People who buy this package mainly want the original-language texts.

BHS –  Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: 

The text is tagged but only with simple morphology and lexical roots, so this is the only information which appears when you hover over words. Surprisingly this does not include simple English meanings, though double-clicking on the word takes you to the correct position in the simple OT English dictionary.
The contents of the Apparatus appears when you hover over a textual marker, but unlike the NT you can't click on it to fix it. Instead the whole apparatus opens in a separate window at the correct place. In this Apparatus you can hover over all the inscrutable abbreviations and get a full explanation. For example, hover over "C" and you find it refers to "fragmentum codicis Hebraici in geniza Cairensi repertum" whereas "c" refers to "cum". This is both wonderful and frustrating – why are they still in Latin? Their reverence for the printed text has stopped them from being creative in the programming.
  •  Wörterbuch zum Alten Testament – a basic OT lookup dictionary with German & English definitions
  •  Lust's Lexicon of the Septuagint (LUH) – a brief lexicon with links to OT refs
  •  Newman's Dictionary of NT Greek – a basic NT lookup dictionary in English
  •  Kassühlke's Dictionary of NT Greek – a basic NT lookup dictionary in German

LXX – Rahlf's text: 

The text is tagged so that hovering over a word displays the Gramcord morphological information. Surprisingly the lexical root is not shown, nor any English meaning, though double-clicking on a word takes you to the entry in Lust's dictionary.
The Apparatus of Rahlfs is not present. Why not? It isn't the best apparatus (by choice, one would use the Göttingen edition where available and the Cambridge edition where it isn't) but nevertheless, if there is nothing else available, Rahlf's apparatus is still useful.

 BHQ – Biblia Hebraica Quinta: 

The text is not tagged, so hovering over words or double clicking on them does nothing. Why wasn't the tagging of the BHS applied to this? – the texts are essentially identical because they are both transcriptions of the Leningrad codex.
The Apparatus abbreviations are explained when you hover over them, as with the other Apparatuses. In addition, the superb Quinta commentary is revealed when you hover over the large "+" signs. This commentary is what makes the new Quinta so much more useful than the BHS, and it is wonderful to see it integrated in such a useful way.

NA27 – Nestle Aland Greek NT, 27th edition: 

The text is tagged with Gramcord morphology, though no lexical roots are displayed in the hover-over. Double-clicking on a word opens the basic NT dictionary.
The Apparatus can be seen if you hover over an abbreviation in the text. When you click on it, the Apparatus opens in a separate window. Hovering over an abbreviation in that window reveals the full information about each manuscript. For example, hovering over "D" tells you that it is "ms. nr. *D 05 saec. V bibliotheca Cambridge, Univ. Libr., Nn. 2. 41 cont. ea (vac. Mt 1,1-20; 6,20-9,2; ….." (extending to a list of all the passages covered). The explanation is lifted straight out of the printed edition, but a fuller version without abbreviations might have been better for the electronic edition. 

UBS4 – United Bible Society Greek NT, 4th revised ed. : 

The text is not tagged so hovering over a word tells you nothing, though double-clicking on a word takes you to the Perseus  internet site which gives a morphological analysis and links to Liddell & Scott (you need a live internet connection for this). Hovering over a verse number shows the cross references.
It is difficult to see why the NA morphology couldn't have been used for the UBS text, given that the text is virtually identical to the NA27 text (except for a little punctuation, some capitalisation and perhaps a couple of spellings). 
The Apparatus is viewed by hovering over the abbreviations in the text, and if you click, the hover-over becomes fixed so that you can hover over abbreviations in the note. For example, hover over "D" and you find it is "Uncial Manuscript: D 05, Contents: Gospels & Acts, Location: Cambridge: Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Date: V" (compare the rather more inscrutable version in NA above).

 Metzger's Commentary on the variants in the Greek NT is, in some ways, a supplement to the UBS text. It would have been nice to have direct links to it from the Greek text. You can imitate this by opening both resources and clicking on the "Links" symbol (looks like a chain link) and selecting "Set A" in both. They will now scroll together.

Unlike the NA27, Quinta or BHS you cannot open the Apparatus as a separate document, so it is difficult to search (though see Searching below for a solution).


Installing it (never as straightforward as you expect)

The CD (or CDs) come with a helpful manual. You also get a "Supplement CD" which isn't mentioned in the manual. You aren't told, though it is fairly clear, that you should install using the "SESB v.2" CD. If you don't already use Logos front end called "Libronix", this will be installed along with the SESB resources. Registration is compulsory and is easiest over the internet. You also need an internet connection for some upgrades and even for some program features (see UBS below).
When you have installed, and registered, you are prompted to load files into your hard drive - a very good idea unless you have restricted space. At “List Resources” select “All on removable media”. When you are asked "Do you have any more discs?" reply Yes, and insert the Supplement CD - it is mainly for installing the user's language. They treat the user language very seriously; they supply several European languages as well as different English versions for users in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand!
If everything goes OK, all this will all take about 10-20 minutes, though it took me about 2 hours (don't ask). A hint: if there is no Home button at the top left, the installation has probably gone wrong (as it did for me). In that case, click on Tools: Account Management. If this doesn’t bring up a request for the serial number, try restarting your computer.
To use the SESB searches, you will need Unicode Greek & Hebrew keyboards installed. Rather than use the default ones in Windows (which are unrelated to English keyboards) or the Logos ones (which, in my opinion, are not very intuitive), I recommend installing the free Tyndale Unicode Kit (www.TyndaleHouse.com/Fonts.htm). These keyboards map the alphabets to match English letters as far as possible (ie beth and beta on B, gimmel and gamma on G etc) and gives easy access to Hebrew pointing & punctuation, Greek accents & breathing and transliteration accents. While installing it, the kit gives detailed instructions on how to initialise the Greek & Hebrew keyboards.


Getting started (can be confusing)

If you are new to Libronix, the opening window is disconcerting empty, but the SESB has a useful welcome screen which acts as a quick introduction. It is always available when you click on the Home button. This Home screen helpfully invites you to set your default Bible (which m otherwise set to Luther's German Bible). There is no option to pick separate selections for NT & OT (eg you might want NA27 & BHS respectively), so they appear to assume you will want to choose a translation rather than an original-language text.
Other quick links there also take you to some useful searches.

For a quick tour, do the following: 

Click on “Search in a Bible” – enter a word or phrase. Try “John the Baptist” with “All available unlocked Bibles”. The search is a little slow, but the results are helpfully grouped by text, columns marking which versions contain the words. with

 Click on  Home again, and then on “Search Linguistic Database of BHS” – in the Find box type “bdd” (ie beth dalet dalet) and Enter. This is the Quest search tool with which you can create some very complex searches. For now simply click on “Add all” to find all the forms listed, then click on "Search".
-          - You can select three ways to display the results – the most useful Current View is probably “Hits in context”.
-          Click on a line and the Hebrew BHS text is opened at that location.
-          Hover over a Hebrew word to see the root and morphology. Right-click then on "Execute Keylink" to find it in a simple lexicon.

 Click on Home again, and then on Search in the linguistic database of NTG (or … of LXX). These both open the Morphological Bible Search, which is rather easier to use than the Quest search tool. It can search any of the three main Bibles (BHS, NA & LXX) using the morphology (ie grammatical analysis) pertaining to any of their three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic & Greek). For example:


-  Change your keyboard to Greek by clicking on the "EN" in the Status Bar (bottom right of the screen) and changing it to "EL" (for 'Elenika or Greek), or by pressing Alt-Shift. Or, if you have not installed Unicode Greek & Hebrew, use the Logos Keyboard by clicking on the "a" in the Status Bar.
-          Type a couple of letters at "Lemma" and wait for the Word List to populate

Turn on the Information Window (menu "View", "Information Window"). This shows the information you'd expect to find when you hover over words – ie root, morphology and basic meaning (which you can adjust at menu "Tools", "Options", "Bible Tools"). Now that you have done that, you may as well turn off the relatively useless SESB hover information (click on menu "Tools", "Options", "Keylink", then select "Hebrew Morphology SEBS" and "Do not display tip window", and do the same for other SESB texts).


Searching (not as simple as you'd think)

There is a bewildering number of searches available.
Click on Search and you can choose:

Basic search: 

Search for a word or phrase in one or all installed books

Bible search:

Search in one or all Bibles, which can be constrained to a range of Bible books

 Bible Speed Search: 

A Basic search, but only for Bibles (not including the Apparatuses)

Morphological Bible Search: 

Includes ptions for Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic. This is a very powerful tool by which you can look for every occurrence of a lemma (which you can pick from a drop down after typing a couple of letters) or you can constrain it by a particular grammatical form (which you can pick by ticking boxes). You need to type in Unicode Greek or Hebrew. You can add together different words and grammatical forms and easily create a highly defined complex search. But this ONLY searches BHS, NA and LXX which come with SESB.

SEBS BHS Search: 

A powerful tool for making complex searches as in the Morphological Search but by different tools. It has a couple of extra features (you can save searches and define the maximum word gap between different search elements) but is less helpful (no dropdown lists for the lemmas) and only searches BHS.

SESB Lemma Search

Has as dropdown list of lemmas, so you only have to type the first two letters. It automatically types Greek or Hebrew when appropriate. It can only search the text of BHS, LXX & NA27 – ie it can't search texts added in version 2 (UBS & Quinta) or any of the Apparatuses. 

Fuzzy Search

Adds some variation to save you searching for several permutations. For example, searching for "Baptist" finds passages including the words "baptism" and French "Baptise" though not "baptise", etc.

Advanced Search

Adds the ability to construct complex searches graphically and carry them out on whole books or ranges. In my installation of SESB this caused an error, probably because a Libronix component is missing which comes with the standard Libronix installation, but I expect they'll have a fix soon. 

Right-click & Word Study: 

Right-clicking on a word gives a quick route to many of these searches. In tagged Greek & Hebrew resources this will also give you the option of searching for the lemma or its basic meaning in English.
The "Word Study" feature is particularly powerful, pulling together relevant information from all your resources and organising them in a semi-intelligent display, though it can be slow to complete. I don't think there is anything this useful in competing products.

Field Searching is a somewhat hidden though powerful feature: 

 All resources are tagged with different fields, each of which can be searched. You might, for example, want to find all the variant readings citing evidence from a particular Church Father in the UBS apparatus. To do this:
1) Open the UBS NT by clicking on "Library" and finding "The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with apparatus)"
2) Click on menu "Help", "About This Resource"
3) Under "Search Capabilities" the "Fields" are listed which you can search – an impressive list, including "Church Fathers"
4) Click on the menu "Search", "Basic Search", click on "In" and select the UBS text
5) In "Search" type the search field followed by ":", eg "ChurchFathers:"  (note – remove any spaces)
6) Add the item you are searching for, eg "ChurchFathers: Origen" and click on "Search"
This example illustrates both the hidden power and the complexity of Libronix. 


Overall Usefulness: much better than paper

Using these resources in electronic form makes me wonder if I will ever want to use the paper versions again. First the obvious – it is easier to zoom in on tiny details like pointing; information like morphology,  roots or meaning appear by hovering or clicking; and the text can be searched in a variety of ways. All this is wonderful, though none of this is new, and sometimes it is done better by other programs, many of which are free.
(see www.Tyndale.cam.ac.uk/BibleSoftware)


What is new in SESB is the ability to search the Apparatus. You can, for example, find all the Tiqqune sopherim by searching for "Tiq soph" in the footnotes of BHS. These are the emendations that the rabbis recorded as having been made to the original text for the sake of preserving God's honour. For example the original Hebrew of Gen.18.22 read that the Lord stood before Abraham, but this might be misinterpreted as the stance of a servant so the text was changed. The BHS apparatus refers to such changes in 14 instances.

What makes SESB so useable is the ability to understand the apparatus without needing to memorise all the arcane abbreviations. Remembering that codex B is 4th C Vaticanus and D is 5th C Bezae is easy compared to trying to remember that "28" refers to an 11th C Minuscule or that Hilary is a mid 4th C Father, or that "Diatessaronarm" refers to the Armenian translation within Ephraem's commentary for passages where it differs from the Syriac original. The linking between them and the text is also very useful, because there is no need to constantly take one's eye off the text to try and identify the relevant note. At last, the Apparatus is usable.

The BHS Apparatus has also become more usable, but I wish they had taken the opportunity to translate the Latin abbreviations into English and German. Latin was chosen as a language which all scholars in all countries knew, but sadly that isn't true any more. Hover over a gothic "S" and you are informed that this refers to "versio Syriaca consensu testium SA et SW constituta" and "cf" is explained as "confer(endum) etc". This software provides menus in several different languages including separate varieties for Australian English and New Zealand English. If only they could extend a tiny amount of this care to the texts themselves.  

Copy and paste works straight into Word or any other application which recognizes Unicode. The fonts are a mixture – BibliaLS for UBS, Gentium for LXX and NA, SBL Hebrew for BHS and Quinta (though you can change this in Tools: Options: Bible Tools).  But it doesn't matter which fonts are used, because Unicode fonts are interchangeable. You can convert it to any other freely distributed Unicode font which contains academic Greek & Hebrew, such as Cardo. You can also use the Verse Copy tool in the Status Bar which has an option to produce the Greek or Hebrew in transliterated form. They also helpfully provide a tool to convert Word documents using Graeca and Hebraica to Unicode.


Should I buy this? (what about BibleWorks & Accordance?)

Accordance sells the "Mac Studienbibel CD-ROM, Stuttgart Original Language Collection" which is the rough equivalent of a cut-down SESB v.1 – ie they have untagged BHS and NA27 with their Apparatus, and Rahlf's LXX, but they do not have any Quinta or UBS. Perhaps they will add Quinta, but they will probably not add UBS because they already sell a more detailed apparatus which is based on the UBS4 apparatus (CNTTS – the Center for New Testament Studies NT Critical Apparatus).
Therefore, what makes the Logos version different from all other Bible software is the presence of UBS & Quinta, and the two extra search methods.  Will there be a free upgrade when other volumes of Quinta come out? If so, this is a wonderful bargain. My guess is we'll have to pay for them. Of the two  search methods, the Morphological Search is easier to use and covers all the texts, and it is very easy to use considering how fantastically powerful it is. It is as good as, and perhaps a little easier to learn, than the Accordance and BibleWorks morphological searches.
If you are a Mac user running Accordance you will probably want to buy their similarly priced package which has the most important of these texts. You could, of course, buy the PC emulator Parallels and a copy of Windows and run Logos on an Intel Mac (I've seen it done, and it works well). But anyone who has got used to Mac and Accordance is likely to find the transition to Windows and Logos filled with frustration and disappointment. (I'm a PC fan personally, but I recognise that Mac & Accordance users smile more often than I do). Logos is working hard at making a comparable product for the Mac. The amount of time this is taking shows how serious they are, and how complex the task is.


At present BibleWorks does not have their own version of SESB. It includes tagged texts of BHS, NA27 and LXX and some tools for variants, but they do not have the Apparatus of NA27 or BHS.
BibleWorks integrates itself well with Libronix and with internet resources via the built-in Link Manager, so you can open SESB via BibleWorks.
If you are a PC user, this decision is a no-brainer. Sell your paper BHS, NA27 & UBS4, and buy this package. You don't need to stop using BibleWorks and you will soon want to have both open. Even by itself, this package gives you a fully working Logos Libronix workface, and soon you will want to dip your toe in for other resources.


Anonymous said...

Any advice for Linux users?

Dave Daniels said...

www.HolyBibleVerse.com is a powerful advanced online (no software of apps needed) Bible search tool (also read, listen, compare and/or visualize the Bible verse by verse or chapter by chapter). Some fun stuff thrown in to make Bible study more enjoyable.