View Poll Results: Does BibleWorks (or other software like it), help or hinder learning the language?

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  • Yes, strongly

    4 28.57%
  • Yes, maybe

    2 14.29%
  • No, strongly

    0 0%
  • No, maybe

    0 0%
  • Depends on the user, not the software

    8 57.14%
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Thread: BibleWorks Efficacy on learning the language: what's your story?

  1. #1
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    Default BibleWorks Efficacy on learning the language: what's your story?

    http://ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=892&sid=24786a1b5960c713086f6 5df31022258 is a thread about BibleWorks in the B-Greek forum. I love that place. They ask whether Bible software, and in particular BW, is a help or hindrance to learning.

    For me, it's made all the HELPFUL difference in learning. Never studied conjugation, tenses/aspects, cases, etc. with that droning method they teach in schools. Like multiplication tables, rote learning absent relevance, surely has its place. But this was Bible. Everything I learned, had a context related to God. That made every bit, meaningful. But it wasn't typical.

    Heard my pastor exegete daily, remembered verses in terms of the grammar bits, lexical usage history, semantic range, whether gnomic or progressive or dramatic or culminative or constantive, proleptic, emphatic, ascensive, heroic accusative or Ionic dative, etc. For those were the objective puzzle pieces, which governed interpretation. Yes, I used an interlinear, but it was a great mnemonic to equate English and Greek vocabulary (interlinear word order never makes sense, so it doesn't tempt laziness). Alexander Hamilton thought so, too: I have one of his Latin interlinears, where he makes the same claim. Easy to pick up dozens of words a week without any effort, because you see both English and Greek (or Hebrew) in the selfsame glance.

    But you know what: I didn't read the text. It was but analyzed meaning, in my head. Then I got BibleWorks 4 at a seminary nearby. Within a month, I could recognize the words, syntax, wordplay, barely noticing I never learned the conjugations or case endings; yet immediately understood them. I sometimes forget I'm reading a foreign language. I use that mouse hover thingy all the time, yet sometimes I honestly couldn't tell you if I was READING the Auto-info window, or not. The repetition of reading, did the memorization for me. Not, rote out-of-context charts and graphs. Honestly: when you teach your kid: do you present him with long parsing charts, or do you start him off with Dick and Jane, a story to which he can relate?

    Point is, it's NATURAL to learn and read the text in BibleWorks. You learn something about BIBLE each time, not merely about the language. The most useful feature of Bibleworks is that mouse hover: when I put my mouse over a word, I get a lexicon. Even if I knew NOTHING, I'd begin to associate the sound of the word, and the morphology listed, with the translation. We all learn sounds, first. We hear strings of sounds, then learn to know they are words, and we ape what we hear. Seeing the BIBLE makes us want to learn what we read. We won't understand it at first, but using 1John1:9 we will learn it far faster, and the Holy Spirit will make us retain what we saw. So it's a better system of learning, to SEE it all, and just repeat rinse repeat, every day.

    We learn the rules, long afterwards. At that point, we've had repetition in hearing/seeing the words, so the rules BECOME meaningful. In my case, I learned the rules in context with the Bible verse in translation; for my pastor would explain his interpretation by means of the grammar rules for the applicable Hebrew or Greek words -- which he wrote out, so I learned those too -- so I remembered THE VERSE in terms of the Hebrew or Greek keywords, and their morphology, etc. So seeing it all together in Bibleworks, accomplishes the same goal. Outside, the classroom. As a helpful adjunct to, the classroom.

    I make videos showing Bibleworks in Hebrew and Greek, to explain stuff my viewers ask me to explain. Like, a study buddy. I encourage them to use 1John1:9 and just listen. They pick up the words, doesn't matter yet if they mispronounce or don't know the rules. THEY ASSOCIATE THE WORDS WITH THE TEXT, and feel they are beginning to know BIBLE. It's like touching God, see. They won't necessarily know or understand the answer, but THEY KNOW THERE IS ONE. Which they can touch, as it were, by seeing the text. So they feel better.

    So, they are motivated to keep learning the Real Words Jesus learned, spoke, and via the Spirit, gave to the NT writers to write. Their faith grows. Can't tell you how many copies of BibleWorks people have told me they purchased, as a result of the videos or chatrooms over the last 7 years, but people regularly tell me they got it. And though intimidated by the interface, they want to learn it. With that mouse hover thingy, they can learn faster.

    Life without BibleWorks for me is life without Bible. I can read it now. Read and analyze huge amounts of related interpretative data all at ONCE. What took our forebears MONTHS to parse out, search, memorize and understand, I now know in seconds.
    Just imagine poor Jerome, sweating it out and squinting over a candle, cursing the uncials, groaning over those smelly parchments. He would have killed to get BibleWorks. Would the KJV have so many errors in it, if the translators had the tools we do? So of course the flipside is: we have a higher learning required of us. But we CAN learn faster and more. In deference to, our forebears who lacked these tools.

    So yeah, faster learning, easier learning, in-context learning, EXECUTIVE LEARNING, rather than grunt learning; and it's always related to something specific in Word so you know WHY it matters. That's my story.


    So what about yours?
    Last edited by brainout; 03-29-2012 at 04:36 PM. Reason: EXECUTIVE LEARNING, in-context learning
    'brainouty' on Youtube and , http://www.vimeo.com/brainout

  2. #2

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    I agree with some of the views expressed on that forum that bible software (including Bibleworks) can be detrimental to learning the original languages. But with a bit of discipline, the reverse can be true.

    Take “struggling with vocabulary” as an issue. It’s very tempting to let your software do the hard work when you come across a word you don’t instantly recognize. How do you figure out whether it’s worth spending extra time digging in your memory for words in the recesses of it? The “doh!” moment when I move my cursor over it and I mentally kick myself for not having thought about it just that little bit longer, is probably not sufficient to engrave it more centrally in my memory.

    However, I’ve done a little trick to help me with this. I’ve got BW to highlight every word in the Hebrew text that appears with less than a certain frequency (I can change the frequency level, or highlight words in different colours for different bands of frequency). This way I can judge whether or not I should spend that little bit of extra time figuring out what a word is; all words that are not highlighted are sufficiently common that I ought to know the word – and now I know I ought to know it. I find that this helps considerably in reinforcing these common words with me. By varying the frequency threshold for highlighting, I can improve my vocabulary acquisition, particularly with revision help from BW’s vocab flashcard module, which is also orderable by frequency of appearance in the text.

    Perhaps this “psychological” trickery wouldn’t be helpful to everyone, but I find it useful.

    A second useful thing about bible software is not having to spend time flicking through the lexicons when you’re stuck. This time-consuming activity I find a disincentive to reading the text in the original languages. I actually spend much more time reading the original languages now I have bible software than before, as looking words up in an electronic lexicon is so much quicker.

    One advantage of Bibleworks over the other 2 main competitors in the market is that it doesn’t have interlinears. Personally I think interlinears should be banned, as they lend nothing to biblical research but instead lead people astray from the original language text. In addition to Bibleworks I have recently acquired Accordance, which is a great programme, but I maintain the interlinear function strictly switched off.

    Finally, having a number of original language grammars available electronically gives the same advantage as that of the electronic lexicons above. If I’ve half-remembered a grammatical rule, I’m much more inclined to check it out in the easily accessible electronic grammars than in paper versions.

    So all in all, with a little self-discipline, I think bible software can be a boon for original language learning. It depends on the willpower of the student!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Laurence View Post
    I agree with some of the views expressed on that forum that bible software (including Bibleworks) can be detrimental to learning the original languages. But with a bit of discipline, the reverse can be true.
    I don't understand why people feel that using software is somehow more lazy than using your memory or a dictionary. The key isn't whether you remember or whether you use a dictionary -- the key is REPETITION. You practice piano over and over. No proficiency, else. You practice riding a tricycle, no shame in that. Then when you've REPEATED it enough, you've learned balance, and then can go to a bike.

    I deal with Federal pension law for a living. There are something like 40,000 pages of law to know. I memorize the Code sections right away because I'm too lazy to have to look them up each time. I hate delay. I memorize keywords and key sections for the same reason, to avoid delay. But I have yet to memorize anything Bible. Instead, I just do the Einstein thing and look it up each time, even if I already know what it means. The repetition does the memorization for me. I never once memorized conjugations or vocabulary words or anything even remotely like was done in Latin, Spanish, Italian, or whatever other language class I've taken in my lifetime. Due to the repetition, I just 'know' -- like a kid learns from hearing people talk -- what is meant.

    This point isn't made to contradict you, but to take the opposite position and derive the same conclusion you list at the end -- depends on your MOTIVE in learning. Mine, like yours, is to READ THE TEXT. Maybe if I didn't use 1John1:9 so often it wouldn't be so easy, but I need that verse constantly, so learning is easy as well. (My internet penname/nickname comes from the Greek of Eph4:23, which basically quips that you have no brains when out of fellowship, lol.)


    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Laurence View Post
    A second useful thing about bible software is not having to spend time flicking through the lexicons when you’re stuck. This time-consuming activity I find a disincentive to reading the text in the original languages. I actually spend much more time reading the original languages now I have bible software than before, as looking words up in an electronic lexicon is so much quicker.

    ...

    Finally, having a number of original language grammars available electronically gives the same advantage as that of the electronic lexicons above. If I’ve half-remembered a grammatical rule, I’m much more inclined to check it out in the easily accessible electronic grammars than in paper versions.

    So all in all, with a little self-discipline, I think bible software can be a boon for original language learning. It depends on the willpower of the student!
    Spoudazw overcomes self-discipline. You remember what you first WANT to learn. I submit that people study Bible because they want to, and that software (and interlinears, sorry) remove obstacles to learning. Of course, any tool can be used well or badly. So again, as you said -- from the opposing side of your own argument -- what you said, is apt.
    Last edited by brainout; 04-04-2012 at 06:49 AM. Reason: typo correction
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by brainout View Post
    [COLOR=#006400]The repetition does the memorization for me. I never once memorized conjugations or vocabulary words or anything even remotely like was done in Latin, Spanish, Italian, or whatever other language class I've taken in my lifetime. Due to the repetition, I just 'know' -- like a kid learns from hearing people talk -- what is meant.
    Brainout and Nick,

    I've taught Greek in seminary for a long time, and I agree with what both of you are saying. I do think that memorizing vocabulary is essential in a class situation, unless you want it to take as long to learn Greek or Hebrew as it did to learn English! But repetition is absolutely the key, and the goal should be to read the text in the original language (not just be able to translate). And that's where a tool like BibleWorks could be handy, as Nick says. Using BW to read stretches of Hebrew or Greek, using the mouseover as needed to identify words and forms not yet remembered, will result in learning both vocabulary and grammar. It is seeing the language at work, in texts that actually have something to say (as opposed to the awful artificial sentences used in too many textbooks), that makes language learning happen.
    David Rensberger
    Atlanta, Georgia

  5. #5

    Default Using Bible works to learn Greek or Hebrew.

    I do think that Bibleworks can be a great aid to those who are studying the langauge (as others have said) as long as one uses enough restraint.

    However, using Bibleworks as a tools to learn Greek or Hebrew apart from studying the langauge is a huge mistake; I have known many people who think they know Greek or Hebrew because they can use a program like Bibleworks (or a Strong's concordance); far too often, many of those who engage in "learning" the langauge this way are often the same ones who "discover" translation "mistakes" missed by the Greek and Hebrew scholars who have spent a lifetime learning the languages. I have never met anyone who has learned the language using these methods that could read even a basic text from an unfamiliar text i.e. they can "read" a text only when they have tools like Bibleworks or a Strong's concordance that allow them to read the text. Idioms and grammatical and contextual nuances that limit the semantic range of meaning are are rarely understood by those who attempt to learn a langauge in this way.

    For example, if I say (in modern Hebrew):

    אני כותב עם עיפרון or אני כותב בעיפרון

    A modern speaker would generally understand these to mean the same thing even though some modern speakers would recognize the grammatical error in one of these. In biblical Hebrew these would be interpreted (and translated) very differently. Lexicon's offer a student little help in understanding the differences in these two statements; without the feedback from someone who knows the langauge these kind of misunderstandings of the langauge are nearly impossible to overcome.

    Too often I hear people present the idea that children learn languages only by hearing (often a claim made by the language learning programs that claim you can learn a language in 10 days). What is forgotten is that the parents, teachers, etc... of these children are continually correcting the children and "teaching" them grammar either formally (in school) or informally. Children learn a langauge with a WHOLE LOT OF FEEDBACK from native speakers of the langauge and over a period of many years.
    Last edited by benelchi; 04-04-2012 at 01:40 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidR View Post
    Brainout and Nick,

    I've taught Greek in seminary for a long time, and I agree with what both of you are saying. I do think that memorizing vocabulary is essential in a class situation, unless you want it to take as long to learn Greek or Hebrew as it did to learn English! But repetition is absolutely the key, and the goal should be to read the text in the original language (not just be able to translate). And that's where a tool like BibleWorks could be handy, as Nick says. Using BW to read stretches of Hebrew or Greek, using the mouseover as needed to identify words and forms not yet remembered, will result in learning both vocabulary and grammar. It is seeing the language at work, in texts that actually have something to say (as opposed to the awful artificial sentences used in too many textbooks), that makes language learning happen.
    Thank you! I learned of BibleWorks via seminary bookstore, years ago. What modules, if any, do you recommend for your own students? Youtube People new to Bible study in mss write me regularly, asking that question; I tell them BDAG and HALOT, but am at a loss what else to recommend, other than Wallace. Thank you for whatever time you spend in reply!
    'brainouty' on Youtube and , http://www.vimeo.com/brainout

  7. #7
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    Well, brainout, here I have to confess that my Greek teaching was mostly in a time and place that it could not be expected (let alone required) that students would buy a program like BibleWorks, and I really never was called on for that kind of advice. Obviously BDAG and HALOT would be at the top of the list. However, for people who can't afford to shell out for those modules, a resource included with BW, the LSJ abridged Greek lexicon, can be useful, precisely because it is not focused on the NT. It will give word meanings that are more generalized in the Greek language, and allow the NT student to then contextualize these meanings within NT writings. For instance, LSJ abridged has the following for βλασφημία: a profane speech; defamation, evil-speaking, slander; impious and irreverent speech against God, blasphemy. That's more or less the range you get in BDAG, but by giving equal weight to the "secular" meanings, it helps beginners in particular to realize that the Bible was not written in a special sacred language, but using the language of ordinary communication, and thus to get more of a sense how the biblical writings would have sounded in their own place and time.
    David Rensberger
    Atlanta, Georgia

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidR View Post
    Well, brainout, here I have to confess that my Greek teaching was mostly in a time and place that it could not be expected (let alone required) that students would buy a program like BibleWorks, and I really never was called on for that kind of advice. Obviously BDAG and HALOT would be at the top of the list. However, for people who can't afford to shell out for those modules, a resource included with BW, the LSJ abridged Greek lexicon, can be useful, precisely because it is not focused on the NT. It will give word meanings that are more generalized in the Greek language, and allow the NT student to then contextualize these meanings within NT writings. For instance, LSJ abridged has the following for βλασφημία: a profane speech; defamation, evil-speaking, slander; impious and irreverent speech against God, blasphemy. That's more or less the range you get in BDAG, but by giving equal weight to the "secular" meanings, it helps beginners in particular to realize that the Bible was not written in a special sacred language, but using the language of ordinary communication, and thus to get more of a sense how the biblical writings would have sounded in their own place and time.
    Thank you! The LSJ abridged is already part of BW. Thank you again!
    'brainouty' on Youtube and , http://www.vimeo.com/brainout

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the interesting feedback. As I said in the linked thread, I try to restrain myself from going immediately to the helps when using BW (just as I try to do when reading from a hard copy Greek NT or Hebrew Bible). Your brain is able to do a little more than you give it credit for (especially you, brainout ), and if you think for a moment you will often be able to remember what a word means or to identify the form or a particular syntactical idiosyncrasy without looking it up.
    καὶ ὑπὲρ πάντων ἀπέθανεν ἵνα οἱ ζῶντες μηκέτι ἑαυτοῖς ζῶσιν, ἀλλὰ τῷ ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν ἀποθανόντι καὶ ἐγερθέντι.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by brainout View Post
    What modules, if any, do you recommend for your own students? Youtube People new to Bible study in mss write me regularly, asking that question; I tell them BDAG and HALOT, but am at a loss what else to recommend, other than Wallace.
    If you mean Wallace's grammar, that is included in BW.
    I have no formal training in Biblical languages, let alone teaching, but one of BW's add-ons that I like a lot (despite its heavy price tag) is Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Balz, Schneider 1990). I got it because I used TWOT a lot for the OT, and wanted something similar for the NT.

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