Unicode converter for Gramcord fonts?

Years ago, the first substantive Biblical Studies software I purchased was Gramcord. The software was a hugely helpful tool at the time but has long since been surpassed by others.

Since the Unicode revolution has taken hold in Biblical Studies software, there are several tools that have popped up for converting legacy fonts (those that make English characters look like Hebrew or Greek). But, I’ve yet to find one that will work with the fonts that came with Gramcord—Greekpar.ttf and Hebpar__.ttf.

Has anyone found a tool that will convert text in these Gramcord fonts to Unicode-compliant characters?

Creating series in Logos

Logos Bible Software logoUnder the heading of “keeping your Greek and Hebrew skills sharp,” Mark Ward has some helpful advice about creating a serial biblical text in Logos Bible Software. For instance, if you create a series between BHS and NA28 and you have BHS open, you can type a New Testament passage in the go box and run straight there. Logos will treat the two resources as combined.

I’d had this done at one point, but then a subsequent software update disrupted that connection, and I’d been looking for a good way to reestablish the connection. Using Mark’s principles, I’ve now got serial relationships established among BHS, LXX (based on the current German Bible Society version of Rahlfs), and NA28 texts. The combination allows movement from any one of the texts to any other. For texts occurring in more than one of the resources (BHS, LXX), it looks like Logos may follow the priority system established via the library.

For the moment, the serial relationships don’t seem to get passed from the desktop version to iOS. But, one can hope that’s on the road-map for a future iOS app update.

In the Mail: Tigay, Deuteronomy

Tigay, "Deuteronomy"

The volume has been available for quite some time, but in yesterday’s mail arrived Jeffrey Tigay’s Deutronomy (The JPS Torah Commentary, 1996). According to the publisher,

The JPS Torah Commentary series guides readers through the words and ideas of the Torah. Each volume is the work of a scholar who stands at the pinnacle of his field.

Every page contains the complete traditional Hebrew text, with cantillation notes, the JPS translation of the Holy Scriptures, aliyot breaks, Masoretic notes, and commentary by a distinguished Hebrew Bible scholar, integrating classical and modern sources.

Each volume also contains supplementary essays that elaborate upon key words and themes, a glossary of commentators and sources, extensive bibliographic notes, and maps.

For this volume, I am grateful to this blog’s wonderful readers and the excellent folks at the Westminster Bookstore. It looks like the Genesis volume is currently out of stock, but for the other JPS Torah Commentary volumes at the Westminster Bookstore, please see here.

Putnam, A New Grammar of Biblical Hebrew

Grammar of Biblical Hebrew
Frederic Putnam

Fred Putnam’s New Grammar of Biblical Hebrew is now out, and the grammar should be available from the Westminster Bookstore sometime next month. According to the publisher,

This is a Hebrew grammar with a difference, being the first truly discourse-based grammar. Its goal is for students to understand Biblical Hebrew as a language, seeing its forms and conjugations as a coherent linguistic system, appreciating why and how the text means what it says—rather than learning Hebrew as a set of random rules and apparently arbitrary meanings.

Thirty-one lessons equip learners for reading the biblical text in Hebrew. They include sections on biblical narrative, poetry, and the Masora—as well as of the text of the Hebrew Bible, lexica, and concordances. The examples and exercises are all taken directly from the biblical text, so that students can check their work against any relatively literal version of the Bible. The vocabulary lists include all of the words that occur fifty times or more in the Hebrew Bible.

Special also to this Grammar are the ‘enrichments’: brief sections at the end of each chapter encouraging students to apply their grammatical knowledge to specific questions, issues, or passages in the biblical text. Appendices include a Vocabulary of all Hebrew words and proper names that occur fifty times or more, and a Glossary and index of technical terms—as well as complete nominal, pronominal, and verbal paradigms, and an annotated bibliography.

The learner-friendly design of this Grammar has been endorsed by faculty and by students who have used pre-publication versions to teach themselves Biblical Hebrew, both individually, in classes, and in informal groups.

Even just from the (all too) limited degree to which I know Fred, he is an excellent fellow and a highly energetic and enthusiastic teacher. So, his Grammar and its pedagogy are sure to merit careful consideration, and I am certainly looking forward to an opportunity to work through them at some point.

Donnerstag Digest (August 26, 2010)

This week in the biblioblogosphere:

Computing Ugaritic

Sunday, National Geographic reported that researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had successfully tested a computer system that, by itself, deciphered a substantial amount of Ugaritic “in a matter of hours” (MIT press release). This system is based on a statistical model developed by Benjamin Snyder and Regina Barzilay of MIT and Kevin Knight of the University of Southern California. According to MIT,

Snyder and Barzilay don’t suppose that a system like the one they designed with Knight would ever replace human decipherers. “But it is a powerful tool that can aid the human decipherment process,” Barzilay says. Moreover, a variation of it could also help expand the versatility of translation software. Many online translators rely on the analysis of parallel texts to determine word correspondences: They might, for instance, go through the collected works of Voltaire, Balzac, Proust and a host of other writers, in both English and French, looking for consistent mappings between words. “That’s the way statistical translation systems have worked for the last 25 years,” Knight says.

But not all languages have such exhaustively translated literatures: At present, Snyder points out, Google Translate works for only 57 languages. The techniques used in the decipherment system could be adapted to help build lexicons for thousands of other languages. “The technology is very similar,” says Knight, who works on machine translation. “They feed off each other.”

See also CNN; HT: Mark Catlin (personal blog).