[CS-FSLUG] Mac to Linux: Bible Software

Karl Kleinpaste karl at kleinpaste.org
Sun Nov 2 17:54:58 CST 2008

Timothy Butler <tbutler at ofb.biz> writes:
> What about Bible software. One
> thing I struggled with the whole time I was on Linux, and this was
> before I became nearly as dependent on Bible software as I am now, is
> that SWORD-based Bible software lacks a lot of key ingredients --
> major modern translations (ESV, NIV, NRSV are the ones I depend on for
> seminary work, NLT and TNIV sometimes for other stuff), scholarly
> Greek manuscripts, or even unscholarly manuscripts with accents, lack
> of quality scholarly lexicons, and the like.

Hi.  I'm primary developer plus project admin for GnomeSword, one of the
2 Sword applications for Linux (along with BibleTime).

This may come across as an advertisement.  It's not intended exactly as
such, but I do want to address concerns about what Sword does and
doesn't have.

Sword has ESV.  Crosswire has an agreement with the ESV folks to
distribute a free, full-featured ESV module.  It's available right there
in Crosswire's regular module repository.

We don't have NIV, at least not officially; regrets, but contact has
been attempted with International Bible Society (copyright owners) a
number of times, yet IBS does not even pay us the respect of
acknowledging the correspondence, both electronic and paper, much less
responding to the inquiry about producing a Sword module for it.  Ditto
TNIV, of course, since obviously IBS controls both.

Same with NKJV (Thomas Nelson Inc doesn't respond, either), RSV, NRSV.

The folks at bible.org have Sword modules for NET Bible.  I have come to
like NET very much, especially due to its notes, which I read as a
separate commentary-style module alongside NET itself.  (I consider this
appropriate because NET's notes are so large, featureful, and complete
that they do not suit "previewer" or "popup" style footnote management.
Sometime, look at NET's footnotes on Song 5:4 -- 10Kbytes of discussion
in 5 footnotes on the many euphemistic possibilities for interpretation
in a verse with only 15 words.)  Their modules come in 2 flavors, free
(notes are semi-crippled) and for-fee (full notes; $20, I think).

There will be a NASB module set (Bible + lexicons) as soon as the logjam
within Sword itself can be broken loose.  This will be sold directly by
Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org).  I don't know the expected price.

Greek manuscripts: We have rather more Greek texts by now than we know
what to do with.  I maintain a particular Greek NT, TischMorph, which is
Tischendorf's 8th Ed. as edited by Ulrik Sandborg-Petersen, available at
http://morphgnt.org/.  It's fully annotated with Strong's, morphology,
lemmas, and even includes variant readings.  I also constructed a custom
two-testament Greek bible, containing LXX OT + TischMorph NT, because I
find it personally useful to have a single end-to-end Greek Bible.

Lexicons, dictionaries...  Well, we have Ergane lexicons by the ton:
English->modern Greek, English->ancient Greek, English->Hebrew,
Greek->Hebrew, Hebrew->Greek of LXX words, ...  You get the idea.  There
is a Hesychius Greek Lexicon.  We also have ISBE, Nave, TSK, and a
number of the other more-or-less standard resources you probably expect.

We also have devotional modules such as Day By Day and Spurgeon's
Morning and Evening, plus some individuals' creations in the style of
"read the Bible in a year" and related stuff.

GnomeSword itself has moved forward in drastically huge steps in the
last 2 years.  It is far, far more stable; its module manager has become
actually useful; its search capabilities are considerable; we have
user-editable support both in personal commentaries (GnomeSword will
support multiple personal commentaries, useful for simultaneously
working up several sermons or Bible studies) and in journals and prayer
lists, which are essentially what we call a "genbook" (general book)
that GnomeSword understands how to edit.  On platforms supporting an
adequate display library, it shows Strong's, lemmas, and morphology in a
blocked pseudointerlinear style.  GnomeSword's next release will provide
automatic font support if a module has its own idea of a preferred font,
as well as supporting what's being called "companion modules": Some
modules come in what amounts to a Bible+commentary pair, like NET and
its notes, or NAB and its notes, so if you open one of them, GnomeSword
notices a companion specification in the configuration, and offers to
open both.  This latter was due to some brainstorming at last January's
BibleTech conference, when I and a couple Wycliffe guys were debating
their needs in the hotel lobby.

As well as developing GnomeSword itself, I generate modules at a steady
pace, and maintain my own Sword repository for them.  I have already
mentioned Greek NT, plus Finney's and Hodge's Systematic Theologies
(dated but very useful), an updated version of Gill's Expositor, better
Strong's modules (real Heb & Grk, not transliterations), the Early
Church Fathers series, and I've generated a whole herd of map- and
image-based modules -- GnomeSword's image support is really good.

Sword works pretty hard in the "translation generality" department.
Wycliffe works with us, and a couple months back, they dropped 43 new
translations into our beta repository, a big pile of Central American
and South American languages.  ("Caribbean Javanese" and "Diuxi-
Tilantongo Mixtec", anyone?)

As for those translations that we don't officially have available, there
are in fact ways of generating many of them using texts found on the
web.  I personally have NIV, NIrV, RSV, NRSV, NLT, NKJV, 3MB, Amplified,
NAB, and CEV...but I can't distribute them, they're effectively personal
proof-of-concept things if I could ever get someone's attention at the
appropriate copyright-owning sources.  Those modules hide in a second,
private repository of mine, waiting for a particular sunny day, if you
know what I mean.  I can tell you how to generate such modules yourself
using scripts I wrote to do the hard work but I can't ship finished
modules anywhere (and so the Sword Project itself doesn't support them).

Anyhow, this is too long by half now, I suppose, but I'd like to make
clear that Sword Project applications do get stuff done.  We're more
featureful than most folks realize, but you'll have to go looking for
really recent information to learn what you need to know.  We are (I am)
extremely interested in others' interests for new features and
capabilities.  By all means, if you have questions, please ask.


PS- Ubuntu users, your software repositories are horribly out of date
regarding Sword software, both the underlying Sword library as well as
both GnomeSword and BibleTime.  If you surf the download page at
http://gnomesword.sourceforge.net/, you'll find a reference to one
GnomeSword developer's personal repository just for Sword stuff.  That's
where you get current builds for Ubuntu if you don't want to build them

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