Proof of what is unseen

#BibleTech 2019

I spoke at my second BibleTech Conference in Seattle this past week, and it was an enjoyable time. I’m afraid I made the mistake of putting in three paper topics, assuming the organizers would pick one. They picked three. And I did a Q&A for Authorized. And I interviewed two Bible translator nerds for a new podcast, still under wraps. =) Busy time. Loved connecting with new people and having the chance to talk at leisure with coworkers. You should come—and put in a paper topic—next time.

Here are quick run-downs of the three talks I gave.

1. Visualizing Textual Critical Data for English-Speaking Laypersons: Lessons from KJVParallelBible.org

It was a true delight to announce at #BibleTech the official launch of KJVParallelBible.org, a tool for teaching textual criticism to English-speaking Christians. That same morning, the first of the conference, an accompanying article was released at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog.

2. Tagging Meaning and Not Just Form

I asked:

  1. What are the most fruitful ways we as Bible software creators can tag Scripture for meaning and not just form, beyond the ones that have already been done?
  2. What are the best ways we can make this tagging useful and accessible to those who should be searching for meaning in a Bible software world in which everyone is used to searching instead for forms?

I gave real-life examples from Logos, such as the recent need I had to find out how the KJV translators translated λέγω (lego, “I say”) when it is a historical present. Tagging for meaning (historical present) and not just form (historical present) is what enabled me to do this work.

In this session I was mainly tossing out examples and hoping that we together could come up with good ideas for the future. I was not disappointed. Participants (mostly but not only fellow Faithlifers!) did a great job with this.

3. A Media Ecology of Bible Software

I really poured time into this one, and the night before I gave it I had a fun talk with a group that included our CEO, Bob Pritchett. He said a number of things that stimulated me to do some rewriting. He’s super thoughtful, and quicker on his feet than nearly anyone else I know. Here’s an audio recording for my blog reader.

My Favorite Sessions

The sessions I enjoyed the most were those by Jen Miles and Stephen Smith, though others were of course great!

Jen is a friend and coworker, and the one thing that most stood out to me in a uniformly excellent talk (based on her D.Min. research) was that careful surveys place half of Americans at “basic” literacy or lower. Only 13% are “proficient.”

Stephen Smith was hilarious, and he categorized very helpfully the kinds of topics that people search for in the Bible. Fascinating (and a little scary). He works for Bible Gateway. He also told us about a super-cool project he’s working on, the Expanded Bible. This would be a fantastic tool for teaching people about the number of minor (and the few major) decisions that go into Bible translation.

One Joke

I got my own best laugh during the Q&A after the Authorized documentary showing. A new friend asked, “Do you think we’ll ever again have ‘one ring to rule them all’? One Bible translation that the great majority of English speakers use?”

I said, “Yes. The Lexham English Bible.”

Of course.

And just think of the possibilities. Some day we’ll have LEB-Only people—LEBOs. I can’t wait.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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