Wednesday, December 24, 2008

1 Chron 12:32 Report, no 57: e-Sword, a Christmas 2008 Blessing for the Caribbean Church and people

First, Christmas greetings to one and all!

May 2009 be a blessed year under God!

Now, the blessing: A few weeks ago, I made an astonishing discovery, one that, by the grace of God, is now presented as a Christmas 2008 blessing to the churches and people of the Caribbean:

e-Sword.
(For those who long ago found out about this amazing free-for-download Bibles and Bible resources software and have been quietly using it all along, I know I am late to the party; very late! But, that is even more true for 99.9+% of the people of our region. The ones who have not found out about it yet. And, I have a few things in mind . . .)

As the publisher, Rick Meyers -- and if you can, generously bless him with prayers and financial support for such a wonderful extremely high value for money blessing to the churches and peoples of the world -- sums up, e-Sword is: a fast, effective way to study the Bible, using modern database technologies [actually, it uses Microsoft Access database . . . for those who can hack this stuff].

The software provides dozens of Bible translations [including Hebraic roots and Hebrew ones] and original language tools, with supportive Dictionaries, encyclopedias, commentaries, STEP Reader support, and a host of books etc presented as Topic Notes. (You can also make your own study notes as you work your way through Bible texts. Highlighting is also possible. And, a lot more.)

All, in one clean interface that allows instant access for verse by verse study. (How I remember having once had to travel all the way across Kingston to find a Commentary reference on one verse! No more!)

To get concrete:
--> My set-up for e-Sword has Barnes' Notes, Matthew Henry's full and concise commentaries, Adam Clarke, Young, Jamieson- Faussett- Brown, Wesley and Calvin all immediately to hand, among other free classic commentaries.

--> I even have a Quran (though not in one of the three major translations; in an 1880s "Orientialist" translation). I access Muslim Student Association's 3-translations in parallel when I want to do a Quran reference. But an "on my PC" Quran is worth it too -- and the translation seems to be quite good. This is as a topic note

--> I could put up Hindu and Buddhist, Mormon etc. materials if I wanted. (BTW: if you need it I also ran across an obviously e-Sword-inpired full set of the Quran and Hadiths, in English, by a Croatian Muslim. Fat file, 6MB or so in Zip; so let me know if you need it for apologetics or other "tidal wave no 2" related ministry purposes. It's an exe file so your firewall may reject it when I email. No viruses or worms as far as I can see, though. No surprise: the Croatian was trying to do a service to God as best he knows him.)

--> I have also zipped most of my modules as a backup -- hard to keep up with fresh additions -- into a 200 + MB file. In other words, I am looking at about a Gigabyte of resources all told.

--> I guess we could eventually arrange to do a self-loading Caribbean e-Sword DVD with Mr Meyers. Any PC technology-savvy volunteers to help on that one?

--> Also, I have an unusual apparent Rastafarian text I ran across, the Holy Piby. [All you experts out there, could you help me on that one? What is it?] )

--> Oh, yes, I have Chesterton's Heresies and his Orthodoxy.

--> Not to mention, Machen's Christianity vs Liberalism and R A Torrey et al on The Fundamentals [1st 2 vols].

--> For illustration of my new approach to Bible Study: I have my four-column parallel mode set up to give me the ASV -- I prefer this ancestor to the NASB to the British RV -- as a basic reference in modern English; next, OT or NT in original Language with "hot" Strong's Heb/Gk numbering keyed into the relevant original language tools, and with KJV next to that. (I also have transliterations of the Heb and Gk text.)

--> Then I can pick my version of the moment for the fourth column: from Wycliffe's 1385 translation to Coverdale on and the Vulgate and Douai-Rheims all the way across to the New Jerusalem Bible. Good news Bible and other current translations too. (There are also resources in many other languages. Even saw a missionary trying for a Haitan Creole Bible.)

--> I have set up my new daily computer-based Bible reading scheme: [1] OT, [2] Gospel, Acts and Revelations, and [3] Epistles; in three different parallel cycles; using The New Jerusalem Bible -- which I have liked ever since I met it in 1st Form at Campion College -- as my preferred text. (NB: By paying for it I can have the 1984 NIV etc too. I have run across the 1978 NIV and the AMP as "free" resources, but the copyright status is a question on these. Do, please be cautious.)

-> NB: some of these extra non-e-Sword site resources are not self-loading. They require adding files manually to the e-Sword folder in program files. (Not for the faint of heart; but not rocket science either.)

--> Did I mention; e-Sword is also in Pocket PC version, and there are serious attempts to port it over to Linux and Mac? [Not for novices or the faint of heart, it seems. but the software is so important that I would recommend that you get an old reconditioned laptop for ~ US$ 300 - 350 or one of those student specials available from several major suppliers at US$ 400 - 500 or so and load it up with e-Sword.]

--> I have also now got major works like the Ante Nicene Fathers, Eusebius' History, Bede's History, Schaf's History, his work on the Creeds, Calvin's Institutes, Augustine's Confessions, the Didache, the Westminster Confessions, some Catechisms, and the like, as topic notes.

--> Even the old Catholic Encyclopedia and the equally veteran but still useful 1915 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. (A significant number of current as opposed to classic resources are also available, on a reasonable- fee- to- download basis.)

--> A useful Philosophical Dictionary

--> Strong's Greek in a Nutshell.

--> The 1828 Webster's Dictionary [a Bible dictionary in its own right . . . seems Webster also produced Bible resources] and several classic Bible Dictionaries, e.g. Smith's.
And, much more.

I even downloaded the 2008 CIA World Factbook as a graphics file, from the e-Sword site. (Useful; but I would love to see a World Missions survey as well.)

These resources come form three main sites, some utilities and some e-groups:
[1] the e-Sword Downloads pages. Just use the drop-down window at the top to see the various resources. this is for the easiest to download, install and use stuff. A good basic loadout.

[2] David Cox's e-Sword resources page. Mr Cox is a fundamental -- as opposed to Evangelical --Baptist missionary in Mexico and maintains a considerable online theological and church resource library, of course reflective of his particular theological views. (I think he, too, is deserving of a bit of support! Even if you may not agree 100% with is theological perspectives. For that matter, across time I don't agree with my own older theological perspectives 100%!)

[3] Craig White's e-Sword library. This is not so extensive as Cox's site, but it is important as the easiest access to the next level of e-Sword: creation of our own resources. For, in that page we can find what seems to be the easiest to use e-Sword resource creator and editor, e-Sword MEd, i.e. Module Editor; which is designed to work with a Word Processor that generates Rich Text Format (rtf) or plain Text format files. Cox's tutorial is here.

[4] So, we can create and make available our own library of resources, which will be especially important to address the key gap I see in the material I have found to date: discipleship and reformation supportive materials. (I am working to port over my ABCD basic follow up course, and will also, DV port over the Why Not Now series from Caribbean Challenge 1999 - 2000, the Cell Leader's Manual, the Apologetics Primer, my Intro to Phil course, the Ethics and Development public lecture of 2002, and the Mars Hill Strategy materials, as well the missions worksheet, the MVAT Kit and One Stop Missions Shop resources, for starters.)

[5] Two key online resource user and developer support groups are at Yahoo Groups; eSword and e-Sword_Tools.
Altogether, I suspect I have well north of US$ 2,000 worth of Bible resources, accessed from a community that does not even have a full bookshop. As well as utilities that allow me to develop my own resources, in part by re-purposing existing materials. And that holds for in effect "anybody."

Now, on relevance.

Let's just say that just through discussing with people I have been seeing in the local public library, the Dan Brown type myths and misrepresentations [the link goes to Josh McDowell's book, availabel online] on the Christian Faith's credibility are gaining ever more traction, are becoming commonplace, increasingly accepted opinion. And, in such minds, the Christian church and the Bible is ever more being viewed as a discredited fraud.

Indeed, stuff from that real C2 gnostic fraud, the so-called Gospel of Peter, is apparently being presented on cable TV as if it were just as credible as an historical source as the provably C1 NT; allegedly "implicating" our Lord in a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene. (It seems to have now progressed
far beyond "merely" being allegedly "married" to her. Behold the persuasive, deceptive power of of un-addressed heresy!)

Not to mention, we have the spectacle of this year's annual Christmas-time Newsweek anti-Christian outrage: an attempt to twist the scriptures to discredit those who use the Bible to object to the rapidly advancing Romans 1 style apostasy in and linked homosexualisation of our civilisation.

All, with the implication in train that those who stand on the Biblical teaching on God's creation order for human sexuality are hateful, Bible-twisting bigots who must be stopped, by force of law. Just as the racists eventually were through civil rights law. Indeed, the latest homosexualist slogan I have seen is the utterly unwarranted but plainly highly persuasive assertion that "gay is the new black."

(And in our region, in the name of stopping "stigma" against AIDS victims, we are presented with passionate appeals from senior medical and public health policy people, such as Dr George Alleyne [did you hear him on BBC Caribbean report?] that we "must" change our laws to in effect make them teach the legitimisation of sodomy. [NB: While there is a legitimate concern that we must not shun and hate the sinner, but help him including in finding treatment for the diseases of sin; that has nothing properly to do with the principled objection to behaviour and associated agendas that are objectively destructive to the society. If you doubt me on that destructiveness and danger, just look North.] )


Sorry if I just slightly spoiled your Christmas. (But then, the first Christmas was held under the threat of Herod's murderous rage, too . . .)

But, we have to face facts and challenges, before they get utterly out of hand. And we have to seize and hold the cultural initiative and high ground.

Not to mention, we now have in hand a powerful tool that we can use in discipling work and in capacity building for our people, the churches and the community.

Indeed, e-Sword has now joined Moodle and Tiki Wiki as core technologies for the Cybercollege campus that is now under initial stages of development, with a Caribbean regional campus and a North American Campus envisioned as the initial regional campuses to work with affiliated local community based microcampus centres.

For, we now have to create an informal Bible and Discipleship school, using resources that are instantly available and easily accessible to every teenager, every church member, every seminary student -- and indeed every pastor and Christian minister.

eSword offers us that capacity.

It is that important.

And that simple.

Why not now? Why not here? Why not us?
END

4 comments:

Jonathon said...

Couple of points and clarifications.

a) What would you like to see on a Caribbean e-Sword DVD?
For tech help, ask at e-sword-users.org. (This site is created by users, for users.) Depending up what resources are wanted, you might be able to convince somebody to create them for you, within a reasonable time frame.

b) Had _The Holy Piby_ (which has been converted into e-Sword format) not been written, Rastafari would not have developed. It probably is best considered as a deuterocanonical text, for Rastafari.

c) My current estimate is that 50% of the e-sword resources on e****, is in violation of either copyright law, or the license the resource was originally distributed under. On other sites, the percentage is even higher.

d) e-sword-users.org is in the process of vetting user created resources, and redistributing them, if both the license, and copyright law permit it. When either one of those factors fails, then there either is a link to a site taht can legally distribute the resource, or a notice stating that the resource currently can not be distributed in e-Sword format.

e) When obtaining user created e-Sword resource, know your distributor. (Obviously somebody who has just been introduced to e-Sword won't know who to trust, and who not to trust. This is where Google can be your friend. Look at how well the rest of the e-Sword user community regards the individual, and/or the site that has the resources.)

f) e-Sword is distributed, and supported on Windows only. Pocket e-Sword is for Pocket PC 2002, 2003/2003SE, Windows Mobile 5, or Windows Mobile 6 platforms only.

# PDA must have a "touch screen".
for Microsoft Mobile, and

g) There are no plans to port e-Sword to Linux. Some users run e-Sword using WINE on Linux. (There is a script to install Wine, and e-Sword, in the Ubuntu Christian Edition web forum. http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?s=653c56c92ba62bc3fa0e985702598e5e&t=404042 ) There is no official support of e-Sword on Linux. There is some user support, due mainly to the number (and technical know how) of users on that platform.

h) There are no plans to post e-Sword to Mac OS X. Some users run e-Sword using WINE on Mac OS X. There is no official support of e-Sword on Mac OS X. There is very little user support, mainly due to so few users on that platform.

i) live.e-sword.net was created as a web based version of e-Sword. This is for those who can't run e-Sword or Packet e-Sword as a native application.

j) Roughly half of _The Early Church Fathers_ is available as topical files for e-Sword. (The first ten are at e-sword.net. The rest either are, or will be at e-sword-users.org.)

k) If _Missions Survey_ is under copyright, and the copyright owners require a royalty payment, request Rick Meyers to provide it. If it can be distributed gratis, then ask at e-sword-users.org.

l) Craig White's ModuleEDitor is probably the best currently available resource creation tool for novices.

m) BeST 2.0 can be used to create both e-Sword, and Pocket e-Sword resources. However it has a steeper learning curve than MeD.

n) Geeks might prefer using Text2DAO, to create text resources, and Module Utility to create MAP resources.)

o) If one had all of the user created resources that have been made available on the Internet, One would have just over 5,000 resources. (This includes resources that can be,and resources that can not be legally distributed.)(Somebody else can figure out how much the hard copy editions would cost.)

Disclaimer: I wrote a lot of documentation for e-Sword, and the various utility programs. I am also involved with e-sword-users

jonathon

Gordon said...

Hi Jonathon

Thanks for your thoughts.

In particular, your caution on copyright issues -- which I noticed on NIV '78 and AMP -- is duly noted. You will also note my remarks on classic resources -- pre-1923 in particular.(In fairness, eSword and Cox in particular note that copyright is an issue and seem to have made some effort to address it. How successfully is another matter.)

I will comment on a few points:

a --> Caribbean e-Sword: the main gap I see in e-Sword is in a dearth of discipleship, reformation and transformation resources and training materials. Also, there is need for a good missiological survey and how-to. You will note I have my own resources (as linked), which I am willing to make freely available; towards building a cybercollege campus. Beyond that the issue is user-friendliness, i.e. we need something that an ordinary person can do a load-out on which will call up a wizard and in a few minutes set him or her up with a good set of tools. As I noted on Haitian creole, there is also need for language support - but then Wycliffe and Bible Society are active in the region too. (I circulated my blog to the relevant key people.)

b --> Piby: I hear you on the point that this is the real foundational book of Rastafari. I just want to hear back from the region's experts; one of whom is on the list. In all my dealings with Rastafarians over the years I heard of Ethiopian books such as Kebra Negast [sp?], and Apocryphal works like Maccabees; but never this one. (Maybe no surprise as such an "extra" book would be pounced on in the very Protestant, "66 - Books" culture of Jamaica. Adventists, for instance go very quiet on the full significance to them of E G White's works in Jamaica.)

c --> Copyright etc: Your estimate on copyright or licensing issues is taken as a serious point. This underscores the need for a "clean" loadout for the Caribbean. (My rule of thumb was I looked for classics that are datelined before about 1925.) Could you inform me on any main works that I cited that are in such trouble? Also, would the projects like Gutenberg etc not be useful sources of clean, classical materials. [Also, I think I will need to get back to the Bible Society, Wycliffe and CLC on making available clean free access materials for the people of our region in the face of a major spiritual crisis; similar to the way that HIV drugs have now been made available at much lower cost on a managed basis. For instance, maybe a series of "updated classic editions" of certain key resources could be developed, and distributed under GNU LGPL or the like.If HIV deserves an outreach to the poor in the South, from profit-making owners of intellectual property; does not a mounting, fast-spreading epidemic of spiritual cancer?]

d --> USERS: You will see that I am a very recent member of both Users and Tools; as kairos gem. Perhaps the Users could help us identify a reasonable, copy-clean loadout that can be configured as a DVD or CD for Caribbean distribution at essentially nominal cost [Remember, Jamaica, Guyana and Haiti are on the list of key Caribbean nations], through Wyclife, Bible Society, CLC, IS/IVCF-UCCF, EAC, etc. My reason, apart from the intent to create in effect a virtual Bible School, is that we are being inundated with clever assaults from the North and the East, both aiming to destroy the street credibility of the Bible and Gospel; with very sobering implications once you factor in the deep-seated resentments that lurk in our region, especially in the hearts of Black, working class male youth. So we need, desperately, to be equipped to respond solidly. This need also immediately extends to the suffering church under persecution in the 10/40 Window -- the logical Missiological target zone for our region (whose ancestors by and large came from that belt). You will observe again, that I am willing to put up resources of my own.

e --> Distributors: I agree; not least macros can hide worms. If there are particular problems with specific sources, kindly use the "contact me" accessible at the kairosfocus reference site.

f --> Windows: We have adequate technical resources in the region that could potentially be mobiised to do the relevant porting; once there is vision. This looks very feasible once we see . . .

g & h --> Wine and Macs: You will note I spoke to the "not for the fainthearted or novice" stuff that is out there just now. The vast majority of PCs in our region are Windows,and those who have Macs or Linux would likely -- but not always -- have access to Windows. Long term, I am very much in favour of migrating PC technology for the region to Linux [especially the Ubuntu flavour], similar to what the One Laptop Per Child people are already doing globally. I am of course also bearing in mind the related access to PCs for all initiatives. Stuff on Pocket PC is appreciated. [BTW, there is some stuff on e-Sword for Java enabled phones; which is probably the biggest computing/digital platform in the Caribbean. I have a Java Virtual machine for cell phones port in mind too. "Bible + on your cell phone . . ." (While I am at it, a port to my -- DV -- soon to be acquired HP 50 calculator [replacement for a late, lamented 42S] would be appreciated. A Java Virtual machine port would enable all of that.)]

k --> "Missions Survey": Alas, that is a descriptive term, not a title for a work. Johnstone [sp?] I think it is has done a survey series, and maybe he can be persuaded to even let older versions be ported? [I am thinking the issue is mobilisation and vision . . .] YWAM might have something too.

l --> MEd: That is my estimate too.

m --> BEST: effective user manual? [Can I suggest that something like Tiki Wiki allows the controlled open source creation of user resource manuals etc?]

n --> Text2DAO and Module Utility: thanks for the names to pass on to the real techies.

o --> 5,000: I hear you. My interest is the key 20 - 30 or so [inclusive of Bible translations]; plus training and reference materials. And if we can do an updated classics game plus a Java port, that looks good to go to me! (A Bible School on your laptop or your cell phone . . .)

_______

In addition, we need Secularism, Neo-pagan apostasy and Islamic reference materials and especially effective, 101-level responsive resources. I have some prelim stuff on that but there is need for a lot more.

DESPERATE need.

If you doubt me on this, just note the number of Caribbean people [especially Jamaicans] turning up in the lists of Al Qaeda and similar terrorists and inciters.

"Sampson, the Philistines are upon you!"

GEM of TKI

Vaughn said...

look into http:\\e-sword-users.org

Gordon said...

Vaughn

Thanks, that is a third group!

Looks useful, let me sign up . . .

Legalese part is a bit longish, but okay.



G