Reading with a Print Text & Digital Lexicon

Over the summer I did a series of posts about different ways of reading Greek and Hebrew. I said that my the summer time tools of the trade are a print text and a print lexicon. During the school year, however, I am rarely able to read in my home office. To continue reading with a print text and lexicon would mean that everyday I have to carry multiple heavy books around campus. My favorite way to read hasn’t changed, but during the school year I’m really happy to settle for a print text and digital lexicon.

Print text

NA28, Rahlfs’ Septuagint, a Loeb Crito, and Steadman’s Lysias 1 & Crito are in my bag on most days, but because Rahlf’s Septuagint is so thick, sometimes it gets left behind. I prefer a print text because I think holding a book and flipping pages is more enjoyable, unless the book is old and gross. I realize that sometimes an old book is great, but I am not a fan of mold and other people’s finger grime — for example, crusty library copies of Migne or seminary library copies of a GNT.

Digital lexicon

For New Testament, Septuagint, and classical Greek there are a couple really great, affordable iOS options: Logeion & Protagoras. Logeion is free and includes LSJ, Middle Liddell, big Lewis and Short, little Lewis, and several other Greek and Latin lexicons. Protagoras is only a couple dollars, and for Greek it includes LSJ, Middle Liddell, Slater, and Autenrieth. For Latin it has both the full Lewis and Short and the smaller version by Lewis.

Logeion is amazing because of the way it interacts with Attikos, and because the user interface allows for quick entry and easy movement back and forth between the last few words you’ve looked up. Logeion hasn’t yet been updated for the iPhone X, however.

Protagoras, on the other hand, looks great on the iPhone X, and the developer has formatted the text in a way that makes a big difference for longer entries. Every portion of each entry that was originally in italic type appears in Protagoras as bold-italic. This means that as you scan a long entry your eyes can easily jump from gloss to gloss. For quick reading, this is such a timesaver. The bold glosses and iPhone X support means that I’ve been using Protagoras as my digital lexicon more often than not. One additional feature of Protagoras: it has a bookmark feature. As you are looking up words, you can bookmark them, and after your reading session, or maybe at the end of the week, you can go back to review.

For any lexicon not found in Protagoras or Logeion, I turn to Accordance. It is much more expensive, but it is worth every penny. With Accordance you are looking at a price tag much closer to what you would expect to pay for a print text, and this is completely understandable for works that are still in copyright and/or works that they have labored in house to tag in various ways. BDAG and HALOT, for example, are lexicons that I would do whatever necessary to have digitally and in print.

One final note about the digital options: I appreciate the ability in Protagoras and Accordance to type the Greek word you are looking up in beta code. This just saves the step of having to change your keyboard.

Experience

When reading this way, I usually access a digital lexicon on an iPhone, sometimes on an iPad. The bigger screens on the iPhone X or one of the plus models turns thousands of pages with tiny print into a much more readable, handheld reading companion.

This …

becomes this:

I know that the thought of your phone lying directly on top of the book you are trying to read sounds repulsive to some. Random notifications are a real threat, but they’re something that can be muzzled. Waiting for the ideal reading conditions just means you will not read as much text, and the number one thing most people need coming out of their first year of Greek is time in the text reading quickly. For more in that line of thought, see this post on reader’s texts.

Conclusion

Whether you are fresh out of your elementary courses or you’ve been doing this for decades, reading with a print text and digital lexicon is comfortable on the go. Sometimes even at home you just want to sit on the couch and relax with a text and lexicon that makes a small footprint but still gives you all the info you need. This way of reading fits those situations well, too. The print text allows an immersive reading experience and provides all the memory benefits of the sensory experiences that go along with holding a physical book, and the digital lexicon gives you portable, quick access to the vocab you need to keep moving.

This is the primary way I’m reading these days. Read however you like.

Just read.

Best Blogging Platform, Revisited

For the past couple years Squarespace has been my blogging platform of choice for one reason: even without much knowledge of CSS, Squarespace allowed me to customize the site to my heart’s content. It was partly about the template I used, too. I had a Squarespace template that was close enough to my style preferences that I could use the built in customization features to get things exactly as I wanted them.

The last time I wrote about this I said that customizing your theme/template is necessary because no simple, elegant blogging theme exists on any platform. Well, things have changed. I found a WordPress.com theme that I really like (the one you are looking at), and the move to WordPress brings along several benefits.

Money

The monthly cost of Squarespace is the primary thing that sent me looking for another platform. Squarespace cost me $16/month. WordPress is $4/month. The $4 WordPress personal plan allows me to map my Hover domain to my WordPress.com site. Squarespace is setup to be much more than a blog, and I finally realized I do not need to pay for such a robust platform.

Mobile

One of my biggest frustrations with Squarespace was their mobile apps. Getting a post up was not difficult. I cold write a post in Ulysses, and then copy and paste the markdown directly into Squarespace’s iOS app. But if I wanted to access my site’s dashboard, forget about it. Navigating the Squarespace website is a horrible experience on mobile devices. At one time, when I went to the site to customize the template, I was told I could not proceed on my mobile device; only way to proceed was on a laptop or desktop. Mind boggling.

WordPress on the other hand allows me to post directly from Ulysses, and I can run just about every aspect of the site from my iPhone or iPad using either their website or their mobile apps.

Style

Finding the “Independent Publisher 2” WordPress theme was the turning point. It isn’t perfect, but it is minimal, single column, and prioritizes the reading experience. I like the large sans serif headings and the way the theme allows me to set the main font to Noto Serif, which has a nice, full featured set of Latin and Greek characters.

Final Thoughts

The only drawback to the switch from Squarespace to WordPress was that I had to edit the slug for every post on this site. Initially, every link to my posts was broken. This problem only took a couple hours to fix, and for the reasons above, it was totally worth it.

If you are looking to start a blog, I recommend registering a domain with Hover — great support and not tied to a particular blogging platform — and getting a WordPress.com personal plan.

Teaching Online iPad Only

For the first time, this week I taught a formal online class using only my iPad. By “formal online class” I mean not a one-on-one teaching environment. This class was for an accredited institution with multiple students all over the country. They see a live stream of me teaching, and each student has a microphone they can use when I call on them.

I normally run the digital classroom on my laptop and use my iPad as a white board. The reason I did the class on my iPad yesterday is because my car transmission is shot. It’s not drivable. This means I get rides to work, and on this day I couldn’t get a ride home until after my online class. I happened to forget that all this meant I “needed” to bring my laptop.

The normal workflow was out the window, and it didn’t take long to figure out that I wasn’t going to be able to use the white board in the Adobe Connect iOS app as a normal classroom white board. More on that in a minute. I improvised. Instead of writing everything on the whiteboard, I took screen shots of the key paradigms and exercises in the Logos version of Croy’s grammar and cropped them. In the Adobe app, instead of sharing a whiteboard, I shared the pics. The only problem was that each time I wanted to share a different pic, I had to stop the share and then initiate it again picking a different pic. Each time I selected a pic it had to upload, but the upload was fast. Sharing the photos worked really well otherwise. I could hit a ‘draw’ button and lightly annotate them with no problem. The students seemed to like seeing the paradigms in the way they actually appear in the book, and I might actually shift to doing something like this regularly instead of just writing on the whiteboard.

Even after this overall good experience, if I am able to be home I will use my laptop to run the digital classroom because writing on the white board within Adobe Connect is really, really bad. You write for a couple seconds fluidly, and then it’s like it has to process that writing to actually get it on the board. Whatever you are writing during that processing period isn’t recorded.

The definite take away is that this is yet another scenario I have discovered where I can leave the laptop at home. Now, whether I am doing online private tutoring — for which I use Zoom and it’s amazing — or a formal online class, I can leave my laptop at home. There is no situation when my laptop needs to leave my desk except when (1) I am working on a paper or (2) writing multiple quizzes.

Obstacles to Going iPad Only

Apple’s 2017 hardware and software releases helped me make significant progress towards going iPad-only, but I’m not quite there yet. I now only carry my laptop one or two days a week. What has to change for me to go i-Pad only?

There’s two prongs on this fork, but both have to do with one piece of software: Microsoft Word. There’s (1) what it would take for me to be able to leave my laptop at home every day and (2) what it would take for me to no longer need to own a laptop.

To leave the laptop at home

As a teacher I write quizzes and tests every week, and I need the ability to open multiple Word documents so that I can copy and paste from one document to another. Currently, the only way to do this is to break out the MacBook Pro. I usually write all my assessments for the week on Monday, so this is the only day I have to take the laptop off my home desk and carry it to the office.

Printer Pro is a key app that allows me to be iPad-only for the rest of the week. Printer Pro allows me to print any document to any printer.

To sell the laptop

Word for iOS would have to be a full-blown word processor for me to be able to sell my laptop. I need to be able to typeset a paper for publication. I have to be able to create and edit styles, and I have to have full control over the formatting of footnotes. It would really help if there were a way Zotero and Word for iOS could communicate.

The Accordance iOS app would also need a lot more development. Using the MT-LXX merge search is not currently possible on iOS. It also takes too many clicks to move from text to lexicon, and the information window pop-up is too small to be a solution. I still love and use the iOS app far more than I do the Mac app.

New Greek Resources in Accordance

Whether you are in Boston or not, for the next twenty-four hours you can pick up two new Accordance Greek resources at an introductory discount. These are a part of their SBL/ETS sale. The best part: both are very affordable!

Gregory of Nyssa’s Great Catechism

The Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity states that Nyssa wrote The Great Catechism around AD 385 and describes it as “a work of his maturity … a doctrinal summa for teachers who needed a system in their instructions” (vol. 2, p. 184).

This type of resource is great for those of us who are more interested in digging through lexicons and working through texts in original languages but are aware that we should be reading more theology (at least a little, right?). Here, you get early Christian theology in Greek!

Along with the Greek text, the Accordance module comes with an English translation and notes containing a few cross references to scripture and other portions of the catechism.

Check it out here.

Whitacre’s Patristic Greek Reader

This is the one I’m most excited about because I tend to spend more time in biblical and classical Greek. Having this reader’s text in Accordance allows me to get a taste of post-NT Greek during down moments when I’m out and about.

In the Accordance module, the reader’s notes are accessible via verse reference hyperlinks. For example, in the second picture below, by clicking 1:3 the notes for that verse appear in the information window. You can click the hyperlink in the top right of the information window to jump to the notes section, which is something you might want to do ocassionally because all the resources Whitacre mentions, like BDAG or LSJ or Wallace’s Greek Grammar, are hyperlinked. You can navigate to them in your Accordance library with a click (if you own them, of course).

Another great feature of the reader is that the texts are arranged from easy to more difficult. The reader is designed to help students with one year of NT Greek study move into more difficult texts.

I’ll post more thoughts as I’m able to spend some time with these resources.

Check it out here.

Online English to Greek Lexicon

Someone asked me today how to say “differently” in Ancient Greek. I pointed them to Woodhouse online and then remembered that I have never highlighted this resource on the blog.

The University of Chicago has put together a nice website that allows you to search for English keywords and go directly to the relevant page scan of Woodhouse. Searching for the word differently will take you to a link for page 223 where you can see the Ancient Greek options.

You can purchase Woodhouse in Logos, as well.

On Teaching Greek

I did a three hour talk today on teaching Greek in a middle/high school context. This was a part of the the Classical Latin School Association teacher training conference.

Here’s a portion of my notes, the online handout.

I wrote the handout in Ulysses‘ iPad app and exported it to PDF using a customized version of the Rough Cut style. Here’s a link to the Ulysses PDF style sheet. You’ll need to download and install the Brill font.

Off-Campus Oxford Handbooks Online Ready

Thanks to John Merritt, off-campus access to Oxford Handbooks Online is ready to roll.

Head over to the databases page, and you will see it in the New Databases section on the right side of the screen and in its permanent home in the O-section. Click the link, log in with your normal SBTS login information, and you are good to go.

At the top of the Oxford Handbook Online page you will see a Browse by Subject section. You have access to the religion, philosophy, and history handbooks.

Go ahead and save a bookmark to this address, and next time you can go straight to the login page: http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com.ezproxy.sbts.edu.

Apple Silicone iPhone 7 Case

I’m on my third one, and if I bought a new iPhone today I would purchase another. I just can’t seem go without a case because I do drop my phone and I cannot stand to have scratches and dings on my devices. First world problems, yes, but it drives me absolutely bonkers. Apple likes to talk about how thoroughly drop tested these products are, and I can confirm that my phone has never suffered one bit of damage from the several times it has hit the ground.

Each silicone case that I’ve owned met its demise, however, with the bottom right corner of the case completely chipping off. Yes, each case has hit the group, but they’ve never been dropped even from full standing height. Maybe I get out of the car, and my phone slides off my lap, or maybe it slides off the arm of a camping chair and hits the concrete. These drops will leave the case with a nicked corner or two, but I seriously doubt these small drops are the reason two cases in a row have failed in exactly the same way. So while I sort of understand why someone might be displeased with the case “coming apart” (so dramatic), I completely disagree with the two-star rating you will find on the Apple website.

Apple replaced each case with no questions asked. The last guy I worked with said at this point the issue is well known. He walked to the back grabbed a new case, took mine away, and handed me a brand new one. He even offered me a different color if I wanted to switch things up. To me, that communicates, “Hey, exchanging this product is no problem at all. I’m happy to help you any way I can. Thanks for being our customer.” With both exchanges, I was in and out of the store in less than five minutes.

I’ll purchase an Apple silicone case for the next iPhone I have, too. In addition to Apples five star customer service, these cases are slim, grippy (much more so than Apple’s leather iPhone cases), and they brandish a nice, muted Apple logo on the back. It would be nice if the iPhone 8 cases held up a little better, but it is also nice to have a new case every six to eight months.