21 July 2006

The Future of Online Bible Study

Wow, it has been a while since I posted anything here.

One of the things that I have been intending to post is about two new websites that are under development. Both have to do with Bible study, and both are next-generation website.

The first, and more developed site, is eBible.com. This website is currently in beta and allows for users to study the Bible in English. This site has several versions of the Bible, as well as a couple of commentaries, dictionaries, and encyclopedias. The latter are more limited initially, but users have the option of purchasing a couple of additional titles.

The site is missing some features that would be very nice. For example, a way for users to make and save notes about verses or passages that they are studying. It would also be good to see some tools to access the original languages. I have been working on my NT greek for sometime, using hte tools at zhubert.com. I really like being able to access the original language, and it is noticeable absent from eBible.com.

So far this site can only be used by a limited number of people. You have to either put your e-mail address on the home page and wait in line for an invitation, or know somebody who can e-mail you one of the limited invites that are given to each user.

Speaking of original languages, the other site that I am checking out is thebiblos.org. This site is still at alpha development level, and is not yet fully functional. Like eBible.com, the site is currently by invitation only. I don't think that there is even a current waiting list for this one yet.

This site has less current functionality than eBible.com, but it is clear that it will be a great site once it is up and running. Zack Hubert, the creator of zhubert.com is behind thebiblos.org. He has created the Biblos Foundation with the aim of making original languages Bible study accessible to many more people on an affordable (read: free) basis. Like I said, I have been using the zhubert.com site for some time now. That site allows users to browse the Bible in the original languages. For the Greek New Testament and the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament that dates to the first century) the site also has tools to search lexical entries for all of the words, and includes tags for the declension and/or parsing of nouns, verbs and other words. The best part of zhubert.com is that users can create accounts and save their own translations of the passages that they are studying. For example, I am working on translating the Gospel of John, and am currently about halfway through the sixth chapter.

So far, thebiblos.org allows users to browse the NT text, to search the NT text in Greek and English using a concordance, and to look at lexical entries for each word. There is no translation feature yet, but I hope that it is coming. Zack and his team have made significant process over the last month or so since I got my invite to join.

There are two other differences between the sites: First, eBible.com seems to be getting more attention and buzz. Second, eBible.com is supported by ads. Both zhubert.com and thebiblos.org are ad free. It is nice to see someone trying to create a site that is not commercial. I know that Zack is stilling trying to raise funds for the site. His goal is to create a site that can be downloaded and provided to missionaries and others without internet access to provide economical access to the original languages. I think that it is a cause worth supporting.

By the way, I still have an invite available to each site. I actually have a couple to thebiblos.org. If anyone is looking to get inside, let me know.

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