Most students in biblical studies use one of the “big three” Bible software packages: Bibleworks, Logos, or Accordance. These packages, though pricey, are quite powerful for a host of exegetical tasks. However, one of the biggest problems facing all three is the pain they inflict when you try to copy and paste passages from the original languages (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic) into a document. (a) They use non-standard fonts that are often incredibly annoying to reformat in Word to begin with, often requiring resizing. (b) They do not use Unicode (a character set that works on any machine regardless of font) … which nearly all publishers and journals have now adopted. (c) In many cases one needs to use a lexical form of a word rather than the conjugated from that appears in the text, so you often have to figure out a way to type it yourself. And (d) many/most publishers now want unpointed Hebrew, which is hard to produce directly out of the Bible packages.
In light of this issue, I have begun using a mixture of free, online sources when I go to prepare source material in documents. Below is my short list of what I think are the best resources that do not require installing anything and produce unicode that works anywhere I need to use it.
- Hebrew Keyboard: On-screen keyboard for entering the Hebrew letters (and accents, etc. if needed) in unicode. It automatically works right-to-left and avoids the pain of trying to install a semitic keyboard on your system. Unfortunately the page itself is in Hebrew, but you can generally figure out how it works.
- Masoretic Text in Unicode: The text of the standard BHS (with pointing and diacritical marks) is available in a fairly easy to use format. Even though the navigation is in German, you can still figure out most of it. It also handles English search queries in the “Biblestelle” box. The Cross-Script Bible Tool may be more useful to some folks (it’s in English, at least!), and it provides access to a unicode version of the Westminster Leningrad Codex, which is very very close to the standard BHS. Enter your desired passage in the “Go To:” box on the left, and it will pull up two English versions, the MT, and the LXX (though without accents).
- BDB and Jastrow: Both lexicons are available in scanned format, so that you can track down page numbers that are not often available in a Bible package.
- Greek Keyboard: This simple web-page allows you to enter letters on your keyboard and have them convert to their rough equivalent in unicode Greek. To add accents, breathing marks, etc., click on the “Greek Keyboard” button to access an on-screen keyboard.
- Thesaurus Linguae Graece: This is the standard online search database to run queries for Greek words spanning the entire corpus of ancient Greek literature. It is truly powerful. The downside it is only free if your institution has a paid subscription.
- Perseus: This is a second powerful tool that provides access to the Greek and Latin source texts for classical works (all in unicode). It can be a bit tricky to run queries correctly, but once you figure it out, it’s fantastic.
- Liddell-Scott-Jones: Available in searchable online format (though not consistently with pagination). This is the standard Greek lexicon for the classical / pre-NT period.
- Louw-Nida: A more recent lexicon that is organized by semantic field. Does not include pagination, however.
- Rahlfs LXX: The entire Septuagint (Rahlf’s edition) is available in unicode, with some limited ability to run lexical searches. The best approach is to do your detailed research in a real Bible package, and then go to this website to pull the unicode to paste into a document.
- NETS Translation: The most recent scholarly translation of the Septuagint has been made freely available in PDF form. The downside is that the English translation does not appear together with the Greek.
- Brenton’s Translation: The old (but still good) English translation of the LXX was produced over 100 years ago by Launcelot Brenton. This site provides it in two column format along with a version of the Greek that roughly corresponds to Rahlfs.
- NA28: The most recent critical text (Nestle-Aland 28) has finally been made accessible in online (unicode) format, which is fantastic.
- Transliterate.com: Logos provides an online transliteration tool that produces SBL-formatted transliterated text for both Greek and Hebrew. Input you text in unicode, and out pops the transliterated text (also in unicode). It’s a little wonky with some Hebrew vowels, but in general it works.
- SBL Transliteration: If the above site fails to work for you, you can piece together your own unicode of transliterated text by copy-pasting from this page.
- Step Bible: This is a tool put out by the Tyndale House that attempts to re-create much of the functionality of a commercial Bible package, including parsing and other analytical tools. I do not use it regularly, but it would be a nice middle-ground for those who need a little horsepower but do not want to spend the big bucks for a commercial product.
- German Bible lexicon: This site is helpful for determining the meaning of words in a theological context that one encounters in a German writing. Many times a dictionary like Collins may not capture the subtleties of how a word is used within biblical studies. Moreover, in many cases the underlying Greek/Hebrew that this German word often translates may be provided.