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E-Sword: The sword of the lord with an electronic edge
October 21, 2011 7:11 PM   Subscribe

For more than a decade E-Sword: The sword of the lord with an electronic edge has been the standard electronic bible available as freeware to anyone with a computer. E-sword is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to get to know the bible better, whether you are reading from a devotional, historical, critical, or literary standpoint; or just have a habit of getting into arguments with street pastors, doorknockers, or religious relatives and like to win.

Features

With more than 80 Biblical texts available to download e-sword allows you to seamlessly compare them verse for verse or in larger volumes. The KJV translation that comes standard is fully integrated with Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionary with a link to definitions of the Hebrew or Greek word next to the English one. It is fully searchable by English phrase, Greek or Hebrew word, and topic as well as integrated with a plethora of other dictionaries, commentaries, devotional guides and atlases. You can use one of the many existing annotations or make your own with its study notes function.

It can be downloaded here, and there are helpful guides for getting started.
posted by Blasdelb (40 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bible blue?
posted by willF at 7:24 PM on October 21, 2011


I guess this is

*puts on sunglasses*

The Word processor
posted by unSane at 7:29 PM on October 21, 2011 [15 favorites]


I've often felt that people selling Bible software must lack the courage of their convictions, so I admire the sincerity here.

I'm curious as to whether people still use standalone software for this sort of thing. Bible-studying Mefites (if there are any of you :) ), do you use desktop software or has the web displaced this sort of thing?
posted by jcreigh at 7:30 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, give me anything that allows for a deeper and clearer understanding of this text that so many people have so much faith in. Good work.
posted by carsonb at 7:32 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Uhh, can I suggest that the name itself precludes this software from being a very reliable and unbiased reference? There's all kinds of verbiage about swords and warriors and knights in contemporary practice among fundamentalists - I don't believe any of it can be traced back to anything Jesus actually said.
posted by newdaddy at 7:38 PM on October 21, 2011


Christ is a donkey, a lamb, not a lion or a knight.
posted by The Whelk at 7:41 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Hunt those filthy Orcs back into the holes from whence they came! Slay and slay! Mount their leader’s head to my truncheon, and carry it through yon city as a warning!"

"Prepare the chain guns and the vorpal scythe! We shall show them no mercy on this day of retribution! Let these gutters run green with Orcish ichors! We crush their skulls! We eat their hearts!"

Pro tip: if you can't tell the difference between what you're doing and World Of Warcraft, it's not Christianity.
posted by newdaddy at 7:45 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Uhh, can I suggest that the name itself precludes this software from being a very reliable and unbiased reference?

Of course you're welcome to draw tenuous connections just for the sake of stirring shit.

This is the sort of tool that oughta be available for every important text, made freely available and arranged in a modern fashion. It's an exemplar of what the Internet should be, so who cares what it's called? It's a useful tool.
posted by carsonb at 7:50 PM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think some of you may be reading a little too much into the name, but even if "e-Sword" does tell you something about the programmer's personal flavor of Christianity I'm not sure how that translates into a practical concern about bias. Asfar as I can tel, the software lets you use whatever version of the bible you want. Same goes for commentaries and other textual references. I don't think Rick Meyers supplies or edits any of the content that you're viewing when you use the software.

Anyway, I think it looks pretty useful. I was about to try it out but there doesn't appear to a Mac version.
posted by Cortes at 7:58 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't believe any of it can be traced back to anything Jesus actually said.

Isn't "I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword" in your red-letter Bible? Whether Jesus meant physical violence or spiritual conflict or something else entirely, sword-imagery was an established part of Christian metaphor long before the rise of fundamentalism.
posted by vorfeed at 7:59 PM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


There is a Mac/Linux version using CrossOver but to be honest the whole thing looks like it escaped from 1999 and is trying to find its way back.

I check Biblical stuff pretty frequently (finding quotes in different version) and just use the web.
posted by unSane at 8:02 PM on October 21, 2011


Well, ok, fair criticism, and I'll admit I was having too much fun with that. If the intention is to really make Biblical inquiry easier, why does it limit me so as not to look at, say, the Dead Sea Scrolls? The Gospel of Thomas? The Nag Hammadi texts?

The name is just a name, surely, but it can be reasonably argued that the closed nature of the thing, and the specific selection of texts included, is meant to constrain your thinking. Else, why not use a Kindle or a Nook? Or at least make some way to import other writings you yourself feel ae relevant.
posted by newdaddy at 8:03 PM on October 21, 2011


"Well, ok, fair criticism, and I'll admit I was having too much fun with that. If the intention is to really make Biblical inquiry easier, why does it limit me so as not to look at, say, the Dead Sea Scrolls? The Gospel of Thomas? The Nag Hammadi texts?"

If you were to translate them yourself or find someone with a translation willing to offer it for free, and then make a module for it then you could offer it to everyone, but it looks like someone has already done that and also integrated it with Strong's. Its towards the bottom under Coptic
posted by Blasdelb at 8:09 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


nope, still doesn't make any sense
posted by the noob at 8:10 PM on October 21, 2011


At least the Gospel of Thomas is, the others are easily findable with google
posted by Blasdelb at 8:11 PM on October 21, 2011


<derail>
I can't think of any comment to make that won't be offensive the Christians in this thread, some of whom I know from other threads as very nice people, but, really guys? E-Sword?

The rest of us can't help but notice these things, and when you claim a religion based in love, tolerance, and forgiveness we can't help but remember them.
</derail>
posted by benito.strauss at 8:22 PM on October 21, 2011


I don't quite understand what you're implying benito -- is it that the name strikes you as championing violence? I think it's most likely a reference to this passage (the bolded lines in particular) from Ephesians 6, which is a favorite of Protestants. (I think it's pretty great, myself, but I definitely see this being a "greatest hits" passage as far as my evangelical friends and family are concerned.)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
posted by Cortes at 8:33 PM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I recently found Issac Asimov wrote a 2-volume 1200 page book on the Bible that is pretty good. Asimov's Guide to the Bible (1981). Each chapter is one book from the Bible, he describes what's going on and what it means. Since I read it from a literary perspective I trust him not to get preachy and stick with what's interesting.
posted by stbalbach at 8:33 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Referring to the bible as a "sword" is very common even in the most benign Christian sects. It just means that you use the word of god as your weapon instead of physical violence. At least that's what I was taught. (I am an unbeliever of the highest order since I was 17 or so)
posted by Sweetmag at 8:33 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The rest of us can't help but notice these things, and when you claim a religion based in love, tolerance, and forgiveness we can't help but remember them.

Well benito.strauss the choice is yours. You can either demand an eye for an eye, or turn the other cheek - e-sword® makes it a snap
posted by the noob at 8:44 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, well, GIMP is a super-suck name too, but it's very nice that someone is offering it for free.
posted by Trurl at 8:48 PM on October 21, 2011


Gimp is an acronym.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:57 PM on October 21, 2011


Yeah, I'm a cynical atheist and even I can't see getting hung up on the name of the app. Martial metaphors abound in the Bible. Some readers unfortunately take those at face value, but that's not the fault of the work any more than it's Melville's that some think Moby Dick is a story about a fish.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:58 PM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you have web access I find bible.cc to be pretty helpful. It has parallel verses in all the major translations, plus excerpts from lots of well known commentaries.

It's still not neutral --it is run by believers, if that sort of thing concerns you-- but I don't think that gets too much in the the way of just trying to understand what's being said.

For what it's worth I think the King James is wonderfully poetic but I'll be damned (lol) if it isn't impossible to decipher sometimes. "E-Sword" is an incredibly dorky and potentially confusing name. This is fairly consistent with Bible, however, which is full of incredibly dorky and confusing names, phrases and ideas.

The Bible™: Where asses are holy, angels like to "wrassle", there's a guy named "Ham", and a prophet once used some she-bears to murder a group of children who made fun of his hair loss. It's BETTER than TV!
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:06 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh turds. I know I can't participate in this without being utterly derail-y. I'm taking the noob's advice, and I'm removing this thread from my Recent Activity. Bye.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:10 PM on October 21, 2011


Also: my username comes from the King James Bible (hint: it's in Isaiah). I'm pretty much agnostic these days but I was raised Mormon (KJV is the only acceptable bible for Mormons) and it will always have a place in my heart.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:10 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


...Also also: This is why, if you want to know what the Bible says in any given verse, it pays to read a few different translations.

To illustrate, a phrase in 1 Samuel 6:4:

King James Bible
Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods...

So what are emerods? Well, let's check some other translations:

New International Version:
The Philistines asked, "What guilt offering should we send to him?" They replied, "Five gold tumors...

Darby Bible Translation
Then they said, What is the trespass-offering which we shall return to him? And they said, Five golden hemorrhoids...

Five golden what!? Sheesh, the Bible is strange. Which is where the commentaries come in handy:

Barne's Notes on the Bible
It was a prevalent custom in pagan antiquity to make offerings to the gods expressive of the particular mercy received. Thus, those saved from shipwreck offered pictures of the shipwreck, etc., and the custom still exists among Christians in certain countries.


So basically it's an example of sympathetic magic practice in the early part of the Old Testament. Which you probably wouldn't have been able to guess if you were just reading the KJV. If you want to understand the Bible better*, or if you want to win an argument based on the text**, using something like bible.cc is practically indispensable.

*Understanding the Bible better does not necessarily mean you will understand Christians better. The two are only tangentially connected.

**This is unlikely to yield many friends or win anyone to your cause, but it is fun to win at things.

posted by Doleful Creature at 9:26 PM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


"...and a prophet once used some she-bears to murder a group of children who made fun of his hair loss. It's BETTER than TV!"

I used e-sword to better interpret this once!

"23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria."
-Used NJV, unfortunately KJV is pretty confusing, more context for the passage here

I once brought up this passage in a discussion about morality in the bible when someone claimed that the word for child used would mean something like teenager today. I was able to whip out my laptop, look it up, and find that the Hebrew word used was נַ֫עַר (pronounced na'ar), which means a boy in the period between infancy and adolescence and was modified with קָטָן (pronounced qatan), which is a diminutive. Metafilter has already discussed how many children on the small end of 4-12 years old we could take on, but the group I was with got decidedly uncomfortable with their hermeneutic framework instead.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:28 PM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


When I briefly in seminary, the standard software package that we were using came from Logos. Of course this was one of those liberal seminaries, so YMMV.
posted by khaibit at 9:45 PM on October 21, 2011


Nice one Blasdelb!

*BIBLICAL FIST BUMP*
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:56 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter - I was about to try it out but there doesn't appear to a Mac version.
posted by joannemullen at 10:39 PM on October 21, 2011


Gimp is an acronym.

Well, I guess you'll just have to go and de-acronym him now, won't you?
posted by codswallop at 1:28 AM on October 22, 2011


A Hebrew Bible App
posted by wobh at 4:47 AM on October 22, 2011


There's a very similar FOSS project called SWORD. The SWORD project capitalizes the name, suggesting that it was (at least originally) an acronym. I can't find any explanation of what was supposed to stand for though. I'm guessing like a lot of open-source projects it was supposed to be a pun (something like "Software for the Word", plus it spells "sword" like in the "armor of God"). I'd also guess that e-Sword was named after it because it's similar to SWORD front-ends, even though ie-Sword is proprietary and not actually based on SWORD (in kind of the same way that a lot of word processors are named 'Something-Word' after WordPerfect and Word).

The Xiphos project, which is based on SWORD, explains the sword image by quoting this passage (Hebrews 4:12):
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
(At least according to them, the metaphor isn't 'chopping off the heads of non-believers.')

Xiphos also adds this on their about page (includes an apparent dig at e-Sword):
We have changed our name from GnomeSword to Xiphos for two primary reasons:
1. The name can be peculiar even to Linux users, who may not be aware of the name of their desktop environment, especially if it was provided for them without their involvement.* In particular, we have had reports of people thinking that GnomeSword was related to Dungeons & Dragons.
2. We have recently released our Windows ("WIN32") port. In the Windows world, there exists other software with similar names, with which the name GnomeSword is often easily confused. We are an older and more mature project than most such other examples, and we wish to ensure that we are readily distinguished from them.
Xiphos is the transliteration of the Greek "ξίφος", one of several Greek words for "Sword", and thereby we maintain our connection to other elements of The Sword Project family.
* I assume by "Linux users, who may not be aware of the name of their desktop environment" they mean Ubuntu users.

There's more info about SWORD and it's front ends here.

I thought this was cute (from the SWORD wiki):
You can also help by doing research into what companies or organizations hold the copyrights on some of the texts we don't have and gathering/verifying other copyright information for modules that we do have .... One of the biggest ways you can help is by praying for CrossWire and our efforts in trying to get these companies, etc. to license their works for distribution.
There's a similar project for the Qur'an. (Zekr means "recollection" or "citation.")
posted by nangar at 5:03 AM on October 22, 2011


When I briefly in seminary, the standard software package that we were using came from Logos.

For some reason my mind parsed this as using a biblical software package from Lycurgus, which didn't make a lick of sense (except for all those Catholic school angry nun stories).
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:42 AM on October 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I poked around a bit for something about the history of the two projects. e-Sword started in 2000 according to it's history page.

The origin of SWORD seems murkier. I found this on a SWORD project forum:
The earliest release still in the archive is 1.1 dated October '98. And I don't think that was the start either.
(Wait a minute, you mean the developers don't actually know?) There are some references to it in 1999.

Evidently, the SWORD project did exist before Rick Meyers started work on e-Sword. I assume he named it that because it was supposed to be like SWORD for Windows, even though it was apparently written from scratch. (SWORD would only have been available for Linux at this point.) I am just assuming this though.

I still have no idea where the name actually comes from.
posted by nangar at 7:05 AM on October 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Bible-studying Mefites (if there are any of you :) ), do you use desktop software or has the web displaced this sort of thing?"

When I was in seminary (2000-2004), we still used books. I have a dozen Bibles on my nearest bookcase and I know I have more than that, so we just compared by hand when necessary. But well-annotated scholarly editions that include the Greek or Hebrew word, a list of all variants in all extant texts, and notes on possible/probably meanings is faster and more useful. You do have to learn to read the shorthand "code," though. I tend to use Bible Gateway if I'm on the web and need fast reference -- it's usually the first site Google pulls up and it has plenty of versions. I thought it used to have direct links to Strong's numbers which is what made it useful but maybe it doesn't now, or maybe I'm thinking of the wrong thing.

I've also got the Nag Hammadi Library, Dead Sea Scrolls, a variety of other ancient near eastern literature and scriptures, an interlinear Hebrew-English Tanakh, a parallel Gospel, some Torah commentaries, some Anchor Bible commentaries, etc. The books just accrete around seminarians, I've never met one without a serious book fetish.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:22 AM on October 22, 2011


Metafilter: (I am an unbeliever of the highest order since I was 17 or so)
posted by Blasdelb at 6:14 PM on October 22, 2011


E-Sword has many public domain translations of the Bible; however, many of them are not based on modern Hebrew and Greek text critical editions, which in turn take into account the earliest biblical manuscripts that have now been found. E-Sword also doesn't include the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). You can access the NRSV online here, however, via the Oremus.org web site.

I use the NRSV in the community college biblical studies classes that I teach, because the committee that prepared this translation was ecumenical in nature, including Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox scholars. Specifically, I use this particular academic study Bible. The detailed study notes comprise about 40% of each page, with the biblical text itself being the other 60%. These notes are academic rather than devotional in nature.

I'm also partial to this particular version because it includes biblical books that are canonical for Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox [whose canons vary].

BibleWorks is another for-purchase software package (like Logos). It's a rather high horsepower software package that is especially useful for biblical scholars who read the texts in the original languages.
posted by apartment dweller at 8:47 PM on October 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


There are a few Bible-reading websites that let you switch seamlessly between different versions. I found one that seemed cool (possibly via Mefi?) but seem to have lost it.

This seems like something that would be at home on the iPad.
posted by grobstein at 7:57 AM on November 2, 2011


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