An example of why BibleWorks is so great (and a blessing!)
I am in the middle of a fairly large project and wanted to share how BibleWorks has made the project not only more effecient, but more enjoyable and accurate.
My project: Create a Hebrew flash card program online, available for free, using PHP and the Bwhebb font. The primary goals are to offer quizing tools that do the following:
i. Flash Cards stacks in descending order of frequency for the most common vocabulary (every word appearing 50x and more), based on lexical form, to make reading tools like, "A Reader's Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament" more effective and approachable for students. The end product is approximately 35 twenty word vocabulary lists and 7 one-hundred word "review" lists.
ii. Flash Card stacks for the most common nouns, prepositions, prepositions with suffixes, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, pronominal suffixes, numerals/cardinals, alef-bet, vowels, accents marks, and so forth.
iii. Flash Card stacks for verb paradigm "inflection" practice and learning. The starter stacks will include the basics like Strong verbs that are Qal Perfect, Imperfect, and cover all the various stems and conjugations for both the strong and weak verbs, with advanced packs intermixing and increasing the difficulty.
iv. Flash Card stacks keyed to a grammar and grammatical concepts. I am tentatively considering the Basics of Biblical Hebrew (well layed out, popular, and approachable... my personally faviorite grammar and I believe the "logistic" breakdown of the language would facillitate the use of these stacks by students of other grammars). Each stack will coorespond to a chapter and include questions based on the principles learned in the chapter.
v. Flash Card stacks based on sections of the Bible, e.g. Ruth. A complete review of vocabulary and grammatical forms found in the book, chapter by chapter, for review.
vi. The master list, based on frequency, will be placed in a spreadsheet and identify the chapter that words appear in popular grammars (Weingreen, Seow, Ross, Rocine, Garret, Kelley, Kittle, Mansoor... Lambdin and Simon if I can get a copies, any others people request). This will facillitate the production of grammar-specific review stacks for those using various Hebrew grammars.
To obtain this goal I need accurate vocabulary lists to work from to create a frequency master sheet with sub sheets for the categories that cannot be sorted from the master list (which includes information like part of speech, PGN, etc). Talk about a labor intensive task! Imagine going through a concordance, word-by-word, and then manually typing in all the words in Hebrew and their definitions that appear 50x or more. Than having to sort through all of this to get them in order. I cringe at the thought!
This is where BibleWorks is a time saver and provides excellent quality control! With BibleWorks and Excel this huge task has really been cut down to a very approachable project with a realistic completion date. Below are examples of how BibleWorks has saved me a lot of time and has drastically improved the quality of my project:
1. Generating the master list based on frequency.
The primary goal is the master list with the most frequent words appearing 50x or more in descending order. This information will be used for the individual review/quiz stacks. Thanks to the wonderful morphology database (WTM) in BibleWorks, I was able to generate this information under 1 minute. The steps were simple
a) Go to the Tools tab;
b) select Word List Manager (WLM);
c) select Load or Generate Word List;
d) select WTM Westminister Hebrew OT Morphology as the version;
e) source should be set to Load words from Bible version, range should be the entire Hebrew Bible (minus Aramaic, this information is found handily in BibleWorks), and Keep Greek accents and Hebrew vowel points should be set;
f) the filter words using should be set to: *
g) Select create list
One minute later Bibleworks has sorted through the entire Hebrew Bible and produced a master list. Simply select "Sort" and choose by frequency and you now have every (lexcial) word in the Hebrew Bible sorted in order! To remove the words that occur less than 50x simply highlight them all and go to "Edit" and select delete.
One problem I ran into was definitions and getting them into my spreadsheet effeciently and accurately. "A Reader's Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament" uses BDB for the master list in the appendix, but the words are listed in alphabetical order and not by frequency (and no frequency information is provided). No problem for BileWorks! The WLM allows you to sort by frequency or alphabetical order.
For data entry I exported the WLM list frrom BibleWorks to an RTF with a single click in the WLM and opened the file in Microsoft Word. In Word I converted the text to a two column table, words on the left, frequencies on the right. Copy and paste the table into my Excel spreadsheet and all is good With Excel I can change change the list order back to frequency with the Excel sort tool.
With BibleWorks (and the MS Office Suite) I am able to work with the list alphabetically for easy data entry, and then revert back to a correct frequency ordering in SECONDS!
Further, with BDB (and TWOT, HALOT, etc) in BibleWorks I can check the meaning of a work as I go as well. Just keep the word list manager open and with a single double click BibleWorks pulls up the results and I can get the definition in the auto-info window.
Hebrew has dozens of words that are spelled the same and sound the same yet have different meanings. e.g. qara’ I (to call) and qara’ II (to gather) are both listed in Lexicons. One hurdle of using the WLM is that using the broad search I used I cannot, at face value, know if a word's frequency is accurate because it may contain more than one word.
Thankfully WTM has tagged each word in the Hebrew Bible with a homonym tag. By going back to the word list manager I can search for all words with a secondary homonym for the lexical form (search: *@*Hb* ). Sort the results in the WLM by frequency and I have narrowed down my manual search to about 40 words to check for 2 or more homonyms. Obviously lexicons give this information as well, so if you are manually checking each word in a lexicon in BibleWorks it will point you in the right direction--but this sure cuts down the work and lets me know exactly what I am dealing with ahead of time.
4. Grammatical information.
One of the goals of the spreadsheet is to be robust and flexible so the words can be culled to make lists other than flash cards based on frequency. Using the WLM a quick double click on the word I am working and BibleWorks finds every example of the word. If you know the abbreviations you can see a list of parsed/coded variations or you can hover over an example and get an intelligent description of the word in typical grammatical terms.
BibleWorks puts a lot of information at your fingertips in a very structured and usable fashion. For those familiar with Hebrew and Greek you have all the information you need to begin exegeting the text and double checking your own translations. I have been using BibleWorks since 3.5 on a regular bases and to this day it still surprises me with its power and flexibility. It has different layouts for your needs and provides the information you want. The tools are top notch and the workflow is amazing. What more could you ask?
BibleWorks has saved me a lot of time with this project. In the past I have had to manually type every single word in Hebrew or Greek for digital flash cards. This is very time consuming and prone to a lot of errors. For that reason alone BibleWorks saved me a lot of time and frustration. But as outlined above BibleWorks has held me by the hand from square one and provided the tools and resources I needed to get this project rolling.
Fast, powerful, effecient. BibleWorks is just amazing software and it really opens up a variety of avenues to get the most out of studying the Bible. And to top it all off the BibleWorks staff is the cream of the crop. Knowledgable and extremely helpful. And the community is great as well. As great as the software itself is, those last two points may be the most important aspects of the BibleWorks product. Outstanding service. I own thousands of dollars of software and I cannot say that I have ever met a company who backs their product like BibleWorks.
If you are reading this and have been thinking of using BibleWorks but have yet to try it I would encourage you to give it a try. I know Michael Buschel and his team are men of integrity and back their product and guarantees. BibleWorks has been a blessing to me and I am thankful for all the hardwork and service they offer the academic and faith communities. Thanks guys!
Ps- Special thanks to Michael Buschel, Michael Tan, Charlie, and Joe Fleener for their hints, tips, and suggestions in helping me get the most out of BibleWorks for this project.
I'd love to see the outcome of this project, Joshua! Do you have a link?