SBLHS2 and Ibid.

With the release of the Chicago Manual of Style‘s 17th edition, the SBL handbook began deferring to this edition (rather than the 16th) for matters not explicitly addressed in the SBL Handbook‘s 2nd edition or on the SBLHS blog.

One of the changes with CMS17 is eliminating the use of “ibid.” In keeping with CMS17, SBLHS also now eliminates “ibid.” But, SBLHS does have a slightly different convention for how to format notes where “ibid.” would have appeared (i.e., a short tile is always included).

For further discussion, see the SBLHS blog and The Chicago and SBL Manuals.

Publication Year Ranges in Zotero

At present, Zotero’s “date” field doesn’t properly handle publications made over a range of years (e.g., 1950–1960). Instead of including the full range in the corresponding note or bibliography entry, only the first year of the range would be presented (e.g., 1950).

There is, however, a workaround that depends on entering the following syntax in an item’s “extra” field:

issued: [first year]/[last year]

Thus, for example, if the extra field has

issued: 1950/1960

Zotero would properly output a range of publication dates “1950–1960.” According to the Zotero forums, “better support for various date formats in the Date field itself is planned,” but there hasn’t been any indication of when this might be forthcoming. Until then, this workaround should prove immensely useful for these kinds of situations.

For other discussion of Zotero, see these posts.

Citing Lexica per SBLHS2

The SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd ed., contains fairly sparse treatment of how to cite lexicographic sources (§6.3.7), and none of the provided examples address how to cite standard lexica for the biblical languages (e.g., BDAG, HALOT). This clarification is supplied in a post on the handbook’s blog. Footnoted citations should follow a form like:

BDAG, s.v. [entry]

HALOT, s.v. [entry]

The lexicon abbreviation is italicized or not depending on whether it abbreviates the lexicon’s title or the initials of the parties responsible for the work.

For additional examples, information, and discussion, please see the full post on the SBL Handbook of Style blog.

Didaktikos 1 has launched a new journal specifically for faculty, Didaktikos, which focuses on issues related to theological education. The primary editor is Douglas Estes, and the editorial board includes Karen Jobes, Randolph Richards, Beth Stovell, and Douglas Sweeney. The inaugural issue includes authors and topics of broad interest:

• Mark Noll talks about teaching with expertise and empathy.
• Craig Evans, Jennifer Powell McNutt, and Fred Sanders write about recent trends in biblical archaeology, church history, and theology (respectively).
• Grant Osborne shares wisdom from his 40-year teaching career.
• Craig Keener writes about writing.
• Jan Verbruggen covers some fascinating research into the earliest alphabet (and it’s not Phoenician).
• Joanne Jung has written a helpful article on how to write effective prompts for online discussions.
• Darrell Bock discusses an overlooked area of NT studies.
• Stephen Witmer, an adjunct at Gordon-Conwell, shares solid insights about the synergy between teaching and pastoring.

Interested faculty can find more information and subscribe on the Didaktikos website or the journal’s announcement on the Logos Academic Blog.

The Chicago and SBL Manuals

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) has been updated to its 17th edition (2017). According to the second edition of the SBL Handbook of Style (SBLHS),

Currently in its 16th edition, The Chicago Manual of Style remains the most comprehensive general authority on editorial style and publishing practices. Answers to questions not addressed in this handbook may be found there. (§3.3)

The reference to CMS’s “current” edition raises the possibility that a new CMS edition may occasion a change in the CMS edition best followed by users of SBLHS2. In addition, on noting the release of CMS17, SBL Press commented that

based on the Chicago Manual of Style, this new edition will no doubt prompt changes to our own style. We will announce relevant changes on this blog in the coming months.

This comment made it sound like changes might be affected in SBL style before the release of SBLHS3 simply based on the release of CMS17. On reaching out to the ever-helpful folks at SBL Press, they’ve confirmed that

Our deference to CMS in matters not explicitly covered in SBLHS2 or on the SBLHS2 blog automatically upgrades to the most current version of CMS. Thus, as of September 1, 2017, we now defer to CMS 17th ed.

For the balance of the SBL Press’s note about CMS17, see the SBL Press blog. For more information about CMS17 or to order a copy, see the University of Chicago Press, Amazon, or other booksellers.


TopTracker provides a straight-forward, free time tracking utility that works on both Windows and OS X. The utility allows commenting on each session tracked (e.g., words written during that session). It also allows export via CSV, from where numbers can be crunched further in Excel to see how well progress is going.

By default, TopTracker will upload screenshots periodically while it’s running, but this feature can be disabled and other elements customized in the program’s settings.

For other similar utilities, see the Zapier blog. For additional discussion of the value of tracking writing progress or other “deep work,” see Paul Silvia’s book How to Write a Lot or Cal Newport’s Deep Work.

Reading for writing

Cal Newport outlines the basics of how he reads when working on a project. According to Newport,

The key to my system is the pencil mark in the page corner. This allows me later to quickly leaf through a book and immediately identify the small but crucial subset of pages that contain passages that relate to whatever project I happen to be working on.

For the balance of Newport’s process, see his original post. For broader suggestions about effective and efficient reading, see for example Rick Ostrov’s Power Reading and James Sire’s How to Read Slowly.

Prefix keys for Microsoft Word

In Dan Gookin’s Word 2016 for Dummies (Wiley, 2016), he provides a good deal of helpful guidance for beginning Word users. One particularly helpful resource that may be of interest more broadly is his nicely condensed presentation of prefix keys for producing diacritical marks (pg. 256, reproduced below).

Table of prefix keys for Word 2016

As the name suggests, the prefix key combination gets typed first, then the letter to which the diacritic should attach, and voila—the appropriate combined character is produced.

Zotero 5.0

The next major release of the Zotero bibliographic management system is now available. Zotero should update automatically for most users, but anyone wanting to go ahead and get the latest version can download it from Zotero’s site to install over a prior version. For discussion of what’s new in this version, see:

For other discussion of Zotero, see these posts.