4.0522 Offline 30 (abridged version) (1/491)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 25 Sep 90 22:37:44 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0522. Tuesday, 25 Sep 1990.

Date: Thursday, 20 September 1990 2101-EST
From: Bob Kraft <KRAFT@PENNDRLS>
Subject: OFFLINE 30 (abridged)

<<O F F L I N E 3 0 H (abridged for HUMANIST>>
by Robert Kraft, with guest columnist Tzvee Zahavy

This OFFLINE column has three primary aims: (1) To alert readers to the
computer related activities at the annual meetings in New Orleans; (2)
to follow up on some issues raised in OFFLINE 29 by Jim O'Donnell's
discussion of accessing libraries remotely; and (3) to present a
comparative review of some CD-ROM packages for biblical and related
studies by guest columnist Tzvee Zahavy.

<Computers, CARG, and New Orleans>

There will be various pieces of detailed information on the programs of
the SBL Computer Assisted Research Group (CARG) at the New Orleans
meetings, and on associated (AAR, ASOR) or separate (e.g. comercial
vendors exhibits) computer activities. The special CARG program on
Saturday (coordinated by Robin Cover and Alan Groves) will focus on
materials for computer assisted instruction, including presentations by
my colleague Jack Abercrombie on his CINEMA project for using movies as
a base for language and other instructional modules, and by our current
guest columnist Tzvee Zahavy (see below) on his Hebrew language
instructional software. CARG will also have the usual special exhibit
and demonstration room running throughout the period of the meetings, in
the Marriott Hotel. Seek us out and help us help you to keep in touch
with developments.

<ATARI User Group Update>

The August 1990 SBL ATARI ST User Group Newsletter 4.3 recently arrived
and announces a change of leadership from Doug Oakman, who has
coordinated the group for the past three years or so, to Ray Mattera
(1130 South Lorraine, Apt 3B, Wheaton IL 60187; tel 708 665-5240).
Thank you, Doug, for your valuable investment of time and energy on
behalf of your colleagues; and best wishes, Ray, as you continue the
task of developing and exploiting the scholarly use of this powerful and
inexpensive system.

<Mac Alert -- Possible Problem Displaying TLG/CCAT Greek Texts>

Apple Macintosh users of Conrad Gempf's Corinth Greek font for
displaying "Beta Code" Greek files (from CCAT or TLG) that have been
filtered through the CCAT programs "Transcribe" and "Running Text" may
find that every line that begins with a smooth breathing beneath a
circumflex accent is missing! The author of the programs, Jay Treat,
can provide information on how to avoid the problem; he can also provide
updates (including TRANSCRIBE 2.7) to those who supply a formatted disk
and a self-addressed stamped envelope, or via electronic mail. Contact
Jay through the OFFLINE addresses provided at the end of the column.

<More on Accessing the Electronic Networks>

An immediate and widely represented response to the printed publication
of Jim O'Donnell's OFFLINE 29 discussion took roughly this form: How
can the person who is NOT connected to the University networks take
advantage of the opportunities offered by electronic communications and
access to remote libraries? The question is not insoluable, but finding
the appropriate answer for your own situation may take a great deal of
perseverance on your part! [[...]]

The August 1990 issue (19.1, 64-65) of _T.H.E Journal_ contains a brief
article by Martin B. Solomon entitled "E-Mail: a Primer for Academics."
Solomon describes INTERNET, which is what you want to plug into, as "a
non-commercial computer 'network of networks.' ...Anyone using any one
of the member networks can communicate with people on any other member
network." A large number of networks are connected in this way,
including BITNET, Arpanet, CSNet, NSFNET and the like. Organizations
pay a fixed annual fee to join the Internet, and you as an individual
want somehow to establish an association with such an organization, or
at least find ways to plug into the Internet facilities.

One approach is to obtain an account at an accessible University that is
connected to the Internet. Sometimes this is only possible for persons
affiliated with the University. Sometimes "outsiders" can obtain an
account but the costs may be prohibitive -- at my own institution, $50
per month has been quoted as a minimum. But the variations are
significant, and you might want to shop around. Stanford (415
723-4795), for example, charges non-affiliated account holders 35% more
than its own people, but has no minimal fee for usage so that the costs
are the telephone tolls plus about $.36 per minute CPU from 6 pm to 6
am. Disciplined usage of such a system has proved quite valuable for

An enquiry for more information on such matters was sent to the combined
membership of HUMANIST (a network discussion group of some 700
humanists) and produced interesting results. The University of Georgia,
it is claimed, has provided toll-free dial-in numbers for "a number of
state and private institutions" that are otherwise not connected to the
networks. Details were not known regarding costs to those institutions,
but apparently there are no costs to individual users. Hopefully other
Universities and areas will follow this sort of lead. There is a
service called the Cleveland FreeNet (supported by Case Western Reserve
University; modem dial-up 216 368-3888) that apparently provides at
least limited access to some library resources for the cost of the
telephone charges. Something called CERFNet in the California area
might also be promising (619 534-5087). Vague reference was also made
to "a Denver Public Access Unix" address. What you need is some magic
telephone number (preferably toll- free, of course, but at least at low
cost hours!) that gets you to a connection where your TELNET command is
accepted -- from there, just follow Jim O'Donnell's instructions. A
dial-up line to a University Library might do it; you will only find out
by trying.

Some things can be done through commercial networks such as CompuServe
(800 848-8199; $39.95 to join, $1.50 per month, $6 per hour at 300 baud;
for basic information see J.Hughes, _Bits Bytes & Biblical Studies_
5.4.1) or the WELL (415 332-4335; $8 per month, $3 per hour connect
time), among others, such as sending and receiving messages, getting
files from FileServers, and the like. But the interactive use of
resources such as library catalogues is not yet possible with those
facilities. Still, if you are on such a network and want to get
involved in the e-mail Internet world, you can do so.

<CD-ROM Computer Resources: Rabbinic Literature and Bibles>

The remainder of the column has been contributed by Tzvee Zahavy,
professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies at the University of
Minnesota. He is the author of books on _The Traditions of Eleazar Ben
Azariah_ (Scholars Press for Brown University Judaic Studies), _The
Mishnaic Law of Blessings and Prayers: Tractate Berakhot_ (Brown Judaic
Studies, 1987), _The Talmud of the Land of Israel: Tractate Berakhot_
(University of Chicago, 1989), and _Studies in Jewish Prayer_
(University Press of America, 1990). He is also the primary author of
"Milim: Vocabulary Drill for Foreign Language Instruction," published
by IBM's Wiscware, of "MILIM-Windows" and "Verbs" published by Exceller
Software, and he is co-author of the Windows language shell system,
"Sentences," also published by Exceller Software (1-800-426- 0444). As
was mentioned above, he will be exhibiting and discussing some of his
instructional software at the forthcoming AAR/SBL/ASOR annual meetings
in New Orleans.

The following comparative review deals with collections of electronic
texts (databanks) stored on CD-ROMs and accompanied by accessing
software that runs on IBM-type microcomputers (similar resources for Mac
users are also beginning to appear). Thus they differ from those
CD-ROMs which contain texts but no software -- e.g. the TLG, PHI/CCAT,
and PHI/DUKE discs, which have been described in earlier OFFLINE
columns. The popularity of CD-ROM as a delivery device is growing
rapidly, as should be clear to anyone associated with a modern research
library, and thus Professor Zahavy's review is most welcome and most

<The Setting>

[[two paragraphs omitted...]]

The Tora Treasure and the "Computer Bibles" reviewed here share common
characteristics. Each package comes with search software and a CD-ROM
containing a text databank. The Computer Bibles have in addition
reference resources. Each runs on IBM or compatible computers with a
CD-ROM storage device disc drive.

<The CD-ROM and CD-ROM Reader Drive> [[section omitted...]]]

<The Computer Configuration>

To use these products one must have as a minimum configuration an
IBM-PC, AT or PS/2 (or compatible) with 640K of internal memory (RAM)
and a CD-ROM drive connected. I tested these programs on a Toshiba
3201A drive attached to a PS/2 model 60.

The RAM memory requirements for these packages are substantial. When I
began to test these products with a DOS shell program running on my
computer I had less than 500K RAM memory space available for other
programs. Thus, to run the CD-ROM packages, I had to disable the shell
programs I normally use.

<What Can the CD-ROM Packages do?>

The programs and databanks under review put Rabbinic literature or Bible
versions and reference works conveniently at your disposal. They can
print or save to disk the results of your searches. Some even provide
cross-referencing to encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks and other
resources in the package.

The Computerised Tora Treasure comes from Israel and runs in Hebrew.
The screen displays in Hebrew on an IBM-type computer using either a
chip or special software and an EGA or VGA monitor.

One disappointment in the Bible Computer packages is their lack of
support for Greek and Hebrew character display on screen and to printer.
A customer paying these prices expects state-of-the- art software.
Subroutines to display the foreign characters for those users who want
them on screen or printed ought to be included with each package.

After describing each package I will provide a comparative analysis of
its features and a final reckoning, following the evaluation model
established in the reviews of the computer publication _InfoWorld_,
where 5.0 and above is satisfactory, 6.25 is good, 7.5 is very good, and
10.0 is excellent (averaging the weighted evaluation of each of the
features that is compared).

<Computerised Tora Treasure>

Version: none specified, no date, no label on the CD-ROM Company:
Computerised Tora Treasure (Machon Otzar HaTorah HaMemuchshav -- ATM),
59 Rabbi Akiva St., B'nei B'raq, Israel, telephone 03-783-262. List
Price: Starts at $350 for the Tanakh, and goes up to several thousand
dollars, depending on the data collections desired. Hardware/ system
requirements: 640K memory with 500K free. Positive features: Has
rabbinic literature. Runs in Hebrew on the screen. Good search program.
Negative features: High cost, poor support. Many errors or
inconsistencies in the texts. Some features on menus not operational.
The program is copy protected by means of a very inconvenient system. A
"doggle" from the publisher must be attached to the computer's parallel
port. The first one sent to me did not work. As a result I could not
run the program for a month until I received a replacement from Israel.
Summary: The software is fast and intuitive. The databank is
extensive. A great tool for research.

-Textbank and Capacity (318 megabytes+) [very good]

Tanakh, Mishnah (with commentaries), Tosefta, Talmud Bavli, Talmud
Yerushalmi, Midreshei Aggadah, Rambam: Mishneh Torah, Tur and Shulchan
Aruch, Ramban on the Torah. Soon available: Zohar, Midreshei Halachah,
Rashi and Tosafot for the Talmud Bavli, Shitah Mequbetzes.

Potential users should note that the publishers of the Tora Treasure
provide no information concerning the source(s) of their electronic
texts. The rights to some of this material may be subject to dispute.

[[detailed comments ommitted from the following sections...]]
-Compatibility of Output [good]
-Search/Retrieval Capabilities [very good]
-Documentation/Help Facilities [satisfactory]
-Learning Curve [good]
-Efficiency for Users [good]
-Errors: Fallibility and Consequences [good]
-Product Support [satisfactory]
-Is it Worth the Price? [satisfactory]
-Final Average: good (6.2)

<Master Search Bible>

Version: 1.2
Company: Tri Star Publishing, 475 Virginia Drive, Ft. Washington,
PA. 19034
List Price: $695.00
Hardware/system requirements: 640K memory with 500K free.
Positive features: Excellent documentation, tutorial, memo feature,
multiple windows, four bible versions, secondary research aids
(dictionary, encyclopedia, geography), access to original
Negative features: Hebrew and Greek transliterated only; clumsy
retrieval mechanism.
Summary: A slick package with strengths that falls short on some
expected capabilities. Comes with a memo pad feature. Is the only
program of the three to allow for four full windows with different
texts, easy movement between windows and scrolling within each.

-Textbank and Capacity (320 megabytes) [very good]

Bible editions: King James, New American Standard, New International,
transliterated Greek and Hebrew texts. Only Hebrew and Greek words
found in Strong's dictionary may be accessed, using a difficult and
non-intuitive style of transliteration beta-code. This is a drawback to
the package.

Reference tools: Expository Dictionary of the Bible, Handbook to
Biblical Study, The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times, New
International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology, Oxford NIV Scofield
Study Bible, NIV Study Bible, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, The
Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, The Wycliffe Historical Geography of Bible

[[detailed comments ommitted from the following sections...]]
-Compatibility of Output [very good]
-Search/Retrieval Capabilities [good]
-Documentation/Help Facilities [very good]
-Learning Curve [satisfactory]
-Efficiency for Users [good]
-Errors: Fallibility and Consequences [good]
-Product Support [very good]
-Is it worth the price? [satisfactory]
-Final Average: very good (7.3)

<The FABS Reference Bible (FRB)>

Version: no date, no version specified
Company: FABS International Inc., DeFuniak Springs, FL 32433
List Price: $795.00 [RAK note: this price has been reduced
drastically and negotiations are underway for the American Bible
Society to take over the package and reissue the CD-ROM under its
own label at perhaps one-third of the original price.]
Hardware/ system requirements: 640K memory with 500K free
Positive features: Documentation on disk (must be printed out by user).
Simple search engine with save and print features. Extensive databank
of biblical versions, including Vulgate, Spanish and German editions,
and aids to study. Provides very good support for grammatical inquiries
via searches of the Westminster morphological analysis of the Hebrew
text and the Gramcord morphological analysis of the Greek New Testament.
A multi-language wordprocessor (MegaWriter, English/Hebrew/Greek) is
Negative features: Limited to search of index entries. Hebrew and
Greek resources rely on beta code transliterations; no reference card
included; some unusual choices of secondary sources. No apparent user
support. Some documentation on the disk was missing or corrupted.
Summary: For the most part, lives up to its advertising. The
"Foundation for Advanced Biblical Studies" provides a valuable
electronic study Bible for ministers, teachers and advanced students.

-Textbank and Capacity (279 megabytes) [good]

Bible editions: King James, New King James, New International,
American Standard, Revised Standard, New American Standard, two
Spanish Bibles (LALB and 1960 RVR), German (Luther, 1984).

Reference tools are presented in several categories: "Original Language
Texts:" Hebrew Bible (UBS), Greek "Septuagint" (Rahlfs), Greek New
Testament (UBS), Greek Harmony of the Gospels, Hebrew Harmony of the OT
History, Latin Vulgate (UBS). "Grammatical Key to the Bible:" Hebrew
Bible (Westminster), Greek "Septuagint" (CATSS), Greek New Testament
(GRAMCORD), Hebrew Lexicon (Davidson), Greek Lexicon (UBS). "Bible
Study Aids:" Abingdon's Dictionary of Bible and Religion, Apostolic
Fathers (Lightfoot), Works of Josephus, English Septuagint (Benton),
English Harmony of the Gospels, English Harmony of the OT History.
"FABS Electronic Journal" of theological writings. "FABS Electronic
Library" of additional materials.

[[detailed comments ommitted from the following sections...]]
-Compatibility of Output [good]
-Search/Retrieval Capabilities [very good]
-Documentation/Help Facilities [satisfactory]
-Learning Curve [good]
-Efficiency for Users [good]
-Errors: Fallibility and Consequences [good]
-Product Support [poor]: None apparent.
-Is it worth the price? [satisfactory]
-Final Average: good (6.3)

<The Bible Library>

Version: 1988 date, no version number.
Company: Ellis Enterprises, P.O. Box 1775, Edmund, OK 73073
List Price: $595.00
Hardware/system requirements: 640K memory with 500K free.
Positive features: Lower price, easy to install and use, very good
documentation with tutorial, parallel versions presented in record
retrieval, flexible search criteria. Good use of function keys in
the search software.
Negative features: No searching in transliterated Hebrew, incomplete
transliteration system, limited browsing among record fields
Summary: For the price this product delivers an excellent value in many

-Textbank and Capacity (287 megabytes) [very good]

Bible editions: 27 titles, 9 Bibles and 18 reference works --
American Standard, King James, New King James, Living Bible, New
International, Revised Standard, Simple English Bible New
Testament, transliterated Hebrew and Greek Bibles.

Reference tools: Easton Illustrated Dictionary, Elwell Evangelical
Dictionary, Gray Home Bible Commentary, Henry Concise Commentary, Life
and Times of Jesus, Literal Translation, Micro Bible, Osbeck's 101 Hymn
Stories, Sermon Outlines, Strong's Greek Dictionary, Strong's Hebrew
Dictionary, Theological Wordbook of the OT, Vine's NT Dictionary, Vine's
OT Dictionary.

[[paragraph omitted ...]]
[[detailed comments ommitted from the following sections...]]
-Compatibility of Output [good]
-Search/Retrieval Capabilities [excellent]
-Documentation/Help Facilities [very good]
-Learning Curve [very good]
-Efficiency for Users [very good]
-Errors: Fallibility and Consequences [good]
-Product Support [good]
-Is it worth the price? [very good]
-Final Average: very good (7.5)

<CDWord Library>

Version: 1.0
Company: CDWord Library, 2 Lincoln Center, 5420 LBJ Freeway LB7,
Dallas, Texas 75240
List Price: $595. $8 video demonstration available. (Known
initially as CDWord, but changed name to avoid confusion with the
software Microsoft Word.)
Hardware/system requirements: 286 or 386 processor, hard disk with
6-10 megabytes free (for Windows software and program files), 640K
memory (uses 512K to 2 Meg of extended or expanded memory if
available), EGA, VGA or Hercules graphics monitor, mouse, Epson 24-
pin or HP Laser printer, MS-DOS 3.0 or higher, Windows 2.0 (run-
time version included) or Windows 3.0.
Positive features: Uses Windows environment to display multiple
references and employs the mouse for pull down menus. Offers
synchronized scrollable windows to enable simultaneous viewing of
Bible versions and commentaries. Displays Greek characters on
screen and permits searching in Greek LXX and Greek NT. Hypertext-
like interaction between biblical texts and lexica, Bible
dictionaries, commentaries, cross references and graphics
collections (maps, charts, diagrams). Greek parser available.
Includes a highly refined search engine.
Negative features: Extensive hardware memory and software
requirements. Learning curve for this package may be more extended
than for others. Does not include a Hebrew Bible. Hebrew texts and
lexica along with other enhancements will be in a future release of
the package according to Jim Bolton of CDWord Library.
Summary: By far CDWord Library represents the state of the art of
the Bible CD-ROM programs. After working with the package I was so
impressed I considered changing my area of research specialization
from rabbinic literature to biblical studies. All the databanks are
presented in an attractive fashion. Little enhancements permeate
the package and make using the program very pleasant. For instance,
you can adjust the size of the characters or windows in the
display. With the provided "navigational tools" you can backtrack
to previous stages in your work in each session or you can insert
a bookmark and return later to that place in your search or
browsing. You can modify many of the default settings.

[[two paragraphs omitted ...]]

The superb hypertext links and features like the on-line parser
and search concording capacities make the program powerful for
learning and for research. I judge this program will be the
standard for competitors to reach.

-Textbank and Capacity (300+ megabytes) [very good]

Nestle-Aland Greek NT with diacritics; Rahlfs Greek LXX with
tags (based on the CATSS/CCAT version of the TLG text plus the
CATSS Morphological Analysis); KJV; NIV; NASB; RSV; New Bible
Dictionary; Harper's Bible Dictionary; Bauer Lexicon;
Intermediate Liddell and Scott; one volume Theological
Dictionary of the NT; Harper's Bible Commentary; Bible
Knowledge Commentary; Jerome Bible Commentary; also graphics:
illustrations, charts, chronologies, cities, genealogies, maps
and tables.

[[detailed comments ommitted from the following sections...]]
-Compatibility of Output [excellent]
-Search/Retrieval Capabilities [excellent]
-Documentation/Help Facilities [excellent]
-Learning Curve [very good]
-Efficiency for Users [very good]
-Errors: Fallibility and Consequences [excellent]
-Product Support [very good]
-Is it worth the price? [excellent]
-Final Average: excellent (8.8)


These packages are among the most sophisticated electronic Bible and
rabbinic text databanks available. Obviously the hardware system
requirements and price put them beyond the means of most home users.
Libraries, seminaries, and large synagogues or churches might be more
likely to invest in these resources. Despite the high price one could
argue that the purchase of a CD Bible resource might save a library
money. The Bible Library manual, for instance, brags that the materials
it provides would cost over $1400 retail in print form.

A recent and extensive catalogue from a software dealer and consultant,
Hermeneutika: Computer-Aided Bible Research (1-800- 55-BIBLE), lists
over 350 PC Bible software and hardware tools. New products include
some promising and interesting items. Some are more economical but less
extensive than the products reviewed here. Other products may serve the
more specialized interests of various users.

Among the examples of alternatives is the new stand-alone Franklin
Electronic Holy Bible. This small portable unit is available with
either the KJV or the RSV for $250 from the publisher Technologies for
Learning (P.O. Box 210, Lumberton, NJ 08048). An inexpensive popular
disk-based program, Godspeed, can be purchased from many software
dealers. With the KJV it is $99.95, with the NIV, $119.95, and with the
Greek/Hebrew, $149.95.

Those who want an alternative for Hebrew Bible searching in the original
may find Zondervan's MacBible the best available at $399
(1-800-727-7759; 1415 Lake Drive SE, Grand Rapids MI 49506).

CD-ROM storage for rabbinic literature and computer Bibles are exciting
technological developments for scholars and professionals who work with
biblical and classical Hebrew texts. For those who regularly have
relevant applications, I recommend these packages highly.

Please send information, suggestions or queries concerning OFFLINE to
Robert A. Kraft, Box 36 College Hall, University of Pennsylvania,
Philadelphia PA 19104-6303. Telephone (215) 898- 5827. Electronic
addresses: KRAFT@PENNDRLS.bitnet or KRAFT@PENNDRLS.upenn.edu. To
request printed information or materials from OFFLINE, please supply an
appropriately sized, self-addressed envelope or an address label. A
complete electronic file of OFFLINE columns is available upon request
(for IBM/DOS, Mac, or IBYCUS), or from the HUMANIST discussion group