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What’s in the Pipeline?

Posted on: June 10th, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 158 Comments

We often get asked about what we are working on. While you can be sure we are always working, and that our work probably involves some version of PocketBible, we understand you may be interested in a more detailed explanation of what is going on behind the scenes. It is in that spirit that we are going to try something new with an occasional post on what’s in the pipeline for apps and books.

You’ll notice we don’t talk about release dates. We’ve been in this business for a long time and have learned that our best-laid plans often go awry. In fact, in the software business, that’s the rule rather than the exception. So we don’t spit into that wind nor tilt at those windmills. We’re pursuing the goals you see below at our best pace and will release new books and updates to our apps as soon as they’re ready.

Apps

  • PocketBible for Android – Version 1.4.4 is current. Includes support for upcoming BookBuilder improvements with respect to user-created Bibles.
  • PocketBible for iOS – Version 3.2.3 was released on June 1, 2015. We are currently working on some enhancements to the user interface and changing the way we do text-to-speech to make it easier to manage and less expensive.
  • PocketBible for Mac OS X – Version 1.1.5 with support for some upcoming BookBuilder improvements and minor new features was released on April 9, 2015.
  • PocketBible for Windows Phone – Send us your suggestions for enhancements.
  • PocketBible for Windows Store – Send us your suggestions for enhancements.
  • BookBuilder for Mac OS X – Version 1.0.0 was released on 3/6/15. Currently working on some in-house features and better support for user-created Bibles.
  • BookBuilder for Windows Desktop - Work is starting to refresh the Windows version to improve the user interface, improve the integration between the various tools that make up the Professional Edition, and bring it into feature parity with the Mac version.

Books

Here’s what our editorial team has in the queue for you (not in any particular order):

  • Additional volumes of the Ancient Christian Commentary Series (IVP)
  • The Applied New Testament and Old Testament Commentary (Cook)
  • Wesley Study Bible (Abingdon)
  • NASB Bible text Updates
  • Add Words in red to KJV text
  • Tree of Life Version (TLV)
  • Adam Clarke Bible Commentary

Disclaimers: All this is subject to change in priority, feasibility, copyright licensing, etc. That means we reserve the right to never release these features or books. We are sharing with you the current plan which is written in sand, not stone. Also, just because something is not on this list doesn’t mean we are not considering it. Finally, we are open to your requests, suggestions and comments!

PocketBible 3.2.3 for iOS Now Available

Posted on: June 2nd, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 5 Comments

PocketBible iOS IconApple has approved PocketBible 3.2.3 for distribution on the App Store. This version is a minor update intended to fix a few problems mainly on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. (We’re just going to pretend that 3.2.0 never happened.)

The new iPhones have larger screens. PocketBible has absolutely no problem with larger screens. In fact, exactly the same code runs on the iPad and iPhone. PocketBible asks iOS how big the screen is, then proceeds to fill it. Apple, however, has to protect you against apps that assume that the only possible size the screen can be is one of the known sizes as of the date of release of the app. So when we ask iOS for the screen size, it lies to us and tells us the size of the iPhone 5 screen. Then it multiplies the pixels by 1 + a small fraction and blows our user interface up to fill the screen.

The result of this “lie and blow up” strategy is a blurry app, as you can see on the left, below (click for full resolution).

PocketBible on iPhone 6

On the left is version 3.1.0. On the right is 3.2.3 (misidentified as 3.1.1 in the picture above). Version 3.2.3 jumps through the magic hoop that tells iOS that we understand the larger screen size. The “hoop” consists of using a different method to display the “splash screen” that appears when you launch PocketBible. When iOS sees we are using this method, it knows that we must know about the iPhone 6, so it stops lying to us about the size of the screen and allows us to use all the pixels on those great new displays. As you can see, the screen shots were taken just two minutes apart. It’s literally the same PocketBible code displaying non-blurry text. (Can you tell that this frustrates me a bit? I’ll post a link in the comments with more ranting about this if you’re interested.)

One nice change in this version is that you can change the password on your account without being forced to delete your books and your user-created data. The previous version believed you were trying to log into a different account, so it forced you to delete your books and answer some hard questions about your notes, highlights, and bookmarks before it would continue. The new version realizes all you have done is change the password, so it doesn’t ask you to do any of that.

If you DO log into a different account, it will still ask you to do something about your user data so that it doesn’t get corrupted by being sync’ed to a different account, but it isn’t as insistent that you do it right away.

This all being said, you shouldn’t be switching user accounts. If you think you need to bounce between user accounts, talk to us so we can figure out what you need and solve it correctly.

Behind the scenes, PocketBible 3.2.3 is now using https: connections to talk to the server for all connections, not just the ones where personal data like passwords are being transmitted. This takes advantage of some security changes we’ve made at the site in the last few months and makes all your data more secure than it needs to be.

The App Store on your device will notify you about the update, or you can just go get it now.

Here’s the full list of new, enhanced, and repaired features in 3.2.3:

New Features

  • Recognize and take advantage of the increased screen size of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus instead of allowing iOS to scale the screen, which caused text to be blurry.
  • Support “custom Bibles” from BookBuilder which specify custom versification by referencing existing versification schemes. (Reader Engine version 1.073.)

Enhancements

  • Allow the Font / Size / Brightness setting window to rotate to landscape and to fill the full width of the screen.
  • Allow user to change password without forcing them to delete books and user-created data (notes, highlights, bookmarks, etc.).
  • Allow user more affirmative control over disposition of user-created data when logging into a different Laridian customer account.
  • Use https: connections throughout, even though no personal data is being transmitted.
  • Do a better job selecting italic and bold/italic fonts with families that support heavy, bold, demi, semi, medium, etc. variants.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed a bug that caused text-to-speech reading to stop at an empty verse.
  • Table heading tags were getting filtered out of notes.
  • Opening a devotional with no existing start date would create a start date, overwriting the existing start date that might not have yet been sync’ed from the Laridian Cloud.
  • Fixed a memory leak when displaying lists of bookmark categories.

PocketBible for iOS is Back in the App Store

Posted on: June 2nd, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 25 Comments

PocketBible iOS IconIt appears this story is old news now. 3.2.3 is available on the App Store. A few of you are still upgrading, so I’ll keep the article here for a while.

On May 18 we submitted PocketBible 3.2.0 to Apple for approval. On Thursday, May 28 they approved it and by Friday night it was being downloaded by our users.

When I saw it was available for me to download to my iPad, I updated my personal copy. I got the message I expected, that my data needed to be updated. I went to Manage My Data as instructed but there was no response from the program. I quickly hooked my iPad up to my laptop and ran the program in the debugger. It turned out the Manage My Data screen was being built, but as soon as it was displayed, it was being dismissed by iOS so the user never saw it.

I tried deleting and re-installing to no avail.

During this process, Facebook notified me of some messages from a couple people who I know to be active PocketBible customers. When I visited Facebook I found there were several users having the same experience I was.

I posted a status update to our Facebook followers instructing them not to download the update to their iPads (the program was working fine on my iPhone). After a few more minutes of testing I realized there was no way to work around this and that I was going to have to stop it from being distributed. Unfortunately, Apple does not offer an immediate “off” switch. I pulled the app from the App Store but it would take 24 hours to fully take effect.

I posted a message on the home page of www.laridian.com and wrote a blog article to explain what I knew about the problem. I set up a response on our tech support ticket system that pointed affected users to the blog article for more information. I pulled the update announcement I had made on Thursday from Facebook and our blog. I posted a status update on Facebook pointing to the blog.

Over the next five or six hours I tracked down two related problems in the Apple code. I was able to fix one of them fairly easily because the 15 places in the code that were affected were all in the same file (or, for you programmers, the same class).

Other problems were related to UIAlertView (messages that pop up in the middle of the screen, usually with an “OK” and a “Cancel” button) and UIActionSheet (windows that pop up from the bottom of the screen and contain a simple caption and a column of buttons). I found these to be used in 294 places in the code. Each of these instances had to be reviewed to see how to best work around the problem. In some cases, I changed the implementation to use an alternative method of doing the same thing. But in most cases there was no better alternative.

After doing some research on the Web (programmers use a site called stackoverflow.com to confer, converse, and otherwise hobnob with their fellow wizards) I found a good work-around that required only a simple change to the code in about a dozen places.

By Saturday afternoon I was ready to put the program in the hands of some beta testers. I posted a call for testers on the blog and on Facebook. I knew this would be tough going into Sunday morning, but I got a small number of testers from around the world to run the program through its paces. (I apologize to my fellow church members for taking a few minutes during the announcements to pull out my laptop, add three new beta testers to the provisioning profile, re-sign the program and upload it to the website.)

Interestingly, the only problems they found were bugs that have probably been in PocketBible since version 2.0 or maybe earlier. I made some effort to fix those but under the circumstances didn’t want to take more time than necessary to get the program back up on the App Store.

By Sunday evening, about 48 hours after discovering these debilitating bugs, I was ready to upload the program to the App Store. At the same time, I filed a request for expedited review with Apple. It took them 10 days to review the last version; they’ve taken as little as 2-3 days in the past. I was hoping they’d agree to expedite it, because even after it was approved it would take 24 hours to propagate to all of Apple’s servers. Apple approved the expedited review on Monday morning and an hour later the app itself was approved.

By Tuesday morning everyone was seeing the update (version 3.2.3) and reporting that it was working.

I apologize for the inconvenience. Here are a few FAQs:

What are the symptoms? “Manage My Data”, “Shop for Bibles and Books” and many other menu items don’t do anything. This is especially problematic, since the program tells you that you need to go to “Manage My Data” to update your data due to the program itself being updated. But Manage My Data doesn’t work. Other selections, such as “Copy Passage” and “Register Now” cause the program to crash.

Version 3.2.0 seems to be working on my iPhone. Should I be worried? The problem seems to be limited to the iPad.

Should I remove the program from my iPad? No. When you download the fixed version (3.2.3), it will overwrite the bad version and everything will still be there (books and user data). It is OK to leave it installed and even run it. It’s just that certain functions are disabled. You might also have it crash if you interact with any pop-up choice boxes like the registration prompt. Just leave it installed for now.

Why does PocketBible require you to go to Manage My Data anyway? Previous versions of PocketBible tried to maintain the integrity of your user data (notes, highlights, bookmarks, etc.) by detecting when you have logged into a different account, then asking you to say how you wanted to handle your existing data with respect to the new account (i.e. replace your local data with the data on the server or merge your local data with the data on the server). Unfortunately, it assumed that simply changing your password meant you were logging into a new account. This new version of PocketBible uses the same technique as PocketBible for OS X, which records the customer ID you use when you sync your data, then compares that customer ID to the one you are logged into. That way you can change your password or even log out and log back in, and PocketBible won’t get confused. Since the old version did not keep track of your customer ID, and since you may have logged in with your email address instead of your customer ID, PocketBible has to log into your account and ask the server for your customer ID. This is quick and painless — unless you can’t get to Manage My Data to do it!

I’m a programmer. What’s really going on? Apple changed the way that UIPopoverController, UIAlertView, and UIActionSheet dismiss their views. In each case, we previously could assume that after dismissing those views we could display another modal view or otherwise act as if the view was gone (whether it was actually gone from the display at this point is irrelevant — I know that takes another cycle through the run loop). But some recent update to the SDK made it so that dismissing UIPopoverController resulted in any modal view displayed after that to be dismissed along with the requested UIPopoverController.

UIPopoverController does not notify its delegate when it is programmatically dismissed, only when it is dismissed by a tap outside its view. So we have no way of knowing when it is done. There are various techniques to discover whether or not the view has been dismissed. I chose a very simple polling technique that doesn’t make assumptions about whether or not it takes only one pass through the run loop, as other solutions do. For UIAlertView and UIActionSheet, I changed the delegate method I use to act on a button press from the “button pressed” delegate method to the “dismissed with button press” delegate method. This assures that the view has been dismissed before we continue.

 

PocketBible 1.4.2 – New Navigation, History and more!

Posted on: April 15th, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 6 Comments

PocketBible for Android version 1.4.2 has been released to the Google Play Store. If you downloaded the app from Google Play, you should be automatically updated. If you are using a Kindle Fire (or other non-Google Play device), you can download the latest version by browsing to http://lpb.cc/android while on your device.

The new version 1.4.2 update adds a Book Navigation Assistant (bottom toolbar) to the app. This new toolbar includes the following new and previously-released options:

  • Backward/Forward – the separate left and right pointing arrows will take you backward and forward respectively through your movements in the app.
  • NEW! Recent Verses – the list/clock icon will give you a list of recently visited verses and allow you to return there by choosing the verse reference.
  • NEW! Bible/Commentary Sync – the stacked arrows icon will immediately sync your verse-indexed books, such as Bibles and commentaries, to the same verse.
  • NEW! Strong’s Numbers On/Off – the Omega icon will toggle Strong’s numbers on/off in your open Bibles that contain them.

The new bottom navigation bar can be hidden along with other toolbars by double-tapping the screen. Your toolbars can be set to optionally show/hide this way via Settings | Control Settings in the PocketBible app.

Additionally, cross-references will now be reported in search results (where applicable) as “Referenced Here.”

New to Advanced Features! For those who own the Advanced Feature Set, a new library search option is now available on the overflow menu that lets you search all your downloaded books at once for a word or phrase. We have also added the option to turn off My Special Offers notifications in the Control Settings.

The PocketBible Bible Study App for Android is free. The optional Advanced Feature Set can be purchased at the Laridian web site or inside the app for $9.99.

Two Ways a Topical Bible is Better than Searching

Posted on: April 7th, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 6 Comments

Topical Search

One of the main benefits of PocketBible is being able to locate things quickly in the Bible. The GoTo feature in PocketBible takes you directly to a specific book | chapter | verse in the Bible. For the times you don’t already know the location, you have the Search feature. Just put in a few words or a phrase and PocketBible will present a list of possible matches.

But what if the item you are looking for is not actually mentioned in the Bible (e.g., Trinity)? Or there are different ways to describe it (e.g., marriage and betrothal)? PocketBible can get you there!

Finding the Un-Mentioned

When you know something is mentioned in the Bible but you can’t find it with a PocketBible search for the exact word(s), consider using a topical Bible like Nave’s Topical Bible (a free resource). Nave’s leads you to the applicable Bible verses for over 20,000 topics. For example, a search for the word trinity will bring up zero hits in your PocketBible Bibles but exploring this topic in Nave’s will lead you to dozens of related Bible verses.

Finding the Indirectly Mentioned

Sometimes a search will bring up some of the verses you are looking for or it may bring up different verses in different Bible translations. An example would be if you were interested in finding all the verses about marriage. If you use the Find feature to locate the word “marriage” in the NIV, you would find 46 verses. Search for it in the KJV and you find 18 verses. In the NASB, it’s 32 verses. Why the difference? Each translation may use a different word or phrase to describe marriage for various verses. Instead of “give me the girl in marriage” it may say “give me the girl as my wife.” Thus, the results of a word search will vary depending on the translation.

With a topical Bible, you are reviewing the entire topic of marriage without respect to how the verse is phrased. The topic of a particular Bible verse is going to be exactly the same no matter which Bible translation you are using. Even though the descriptive words may be different, the topic stays the same.

A topical Bible like Nave’s presents topics along with all the related verses. The Nave’s topic for “marriage” is further divided into 26 subtopics. Each sub-topic includes links to verses. And related topics such as divorce, husband and wife are also referenced and linked.

In addition to Nave’s Topical Bible, the following topical Bibles and similar titles are available for use with PocketBible.

If you find Nave’s or the other topical Bibles helpful in your studies, we’d love to hear how! Please share in the comment section below.

Which PocketBible Bible is Right For You?

Posted on: March 17th, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 12 Comments

There are many reasons to choose a specific translation of the Bible. People often use what their pastor or church recommends. For many people, the Bible and King James Version (KJV) are synonymous. In fact, Christianity Today reported last year that the KJV is still the most popular and fastest growing Bible translation.

While we provide the King James Version for free with PocketBible, there are many other translation options available. One of the major features of PocketBible is the ability to compare translations or create your own parallel Bible. Thus, you don’t have to be limited to one translation as you are with a printed book. This makes it easy to look at how a verse is worded in multiple translations to gain insight into its meaning.

Which Translation is Best?

Bible translations are usually categorized as to whether they provide a “word for word” translation from the original manuscripts (most accurate) or more of a “thought for thought” translation (easier to read). While the “best” translation will always be somewhat subjective, you can still find the one that is “best” for you. In addition to comparing translations for insight, you may find that you like one translation for your Bible reading and prefer another for study purposes.

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BookBuilder – Create Your Own PocketBible Books

Posted on: March 12th, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 2 Comments

BookBuilderIcon512Laridian BookBuilder gives PocketBible users the unique ability to convert virtually any electronic text into a book that can be read by PocketBible on any of our supported platforms. Whether you want to have access to any of the tens of thousands of public domain Bible reference texts you an find on the Web or you want to create original reference materials from your own studies of the Bible, BookBuilder gives you the ability to view them side-by-side with your other PocketBible Bibles and books using the same tools we use in-house to create the add-on Bibles and books you can buy at our site.

Laridian has long had a commitment to creating an open ebook ecosystem, starting with our founders’ involvement in the creation of the only industry-wide binary standard for Bible software, the Standard Template for Electronic Publishing (STEP) in 1995, and in the definition of the Open eBook Publication Structure (OEBPS) in 1999, which later became EPUB. When it became clear that a common binary standard for Christian publishing was politically impossible and that OEBPS/EPUB wasn’t interested in extensions to support Bibles and Bible reference materials, Laridian went in a different direction: Releasing as a commercial product the tools needed to create electronic books for its readers.

While most Bible software companies provide some method for Christian publishers to convert large quantities of text to their proprietary format (often for thousands of dollars per title), Laridian is one of the few (maybe the only) commercial Bible software companies to offer an end-to-end publishing solution for everyone from individual PocketBible users to multinational Christian publishing houses — and to do it for only $49.99.

BookBuilder is available for both Windows (desktop) and now for Mac OS X. The Standard edition ($19.99) contains the ability to convert tagged text to a Laridian Book for personal use. The Professional edition adds two additional tools, DocAnalyzer and VerseLinker, and gives you the option of creating a book that can be sold or given away to other PocketBible users (including hosting your book on our server for easy distribution to users of our iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows Store, and Mac OS X versions of PocketBible who download books from within the program). In addition, the Mac version allows users to launch PocketBible on each successful build of their book for easier proofreading.

User-created books live side-by-side with Laridian PocketBible reference books and have all the same features as the books you purchase from our site. You can do sophisticated word and phrase searches, synchronize your user-created commentary to scroll alongside your Bible, look up words in your own dictionary, link to the Bible or other reference books from within your books, etc.

As an individual user of PocketBible, you might consider these uses for BookBuilder:

  • Convert your PocketBible notes into a commentary. You can log into your account at our website and download a fully tagged version of your Bible notes that is ready to be converted into a commentary for PocketBible. You only need the Standard edition of BookBuilder to do this.
  • Convert reference material you find on the Web into a PocketBible book. This could be anything from your pastor’s sermons to classic Christian reference material that is in the public domain. The Standard edition of BookBuilder will work for this, though the additional tools in the Professional edition come in handy when working with files that you did not originally author using the BookBuilder tagging format.
  • Create books for distribution to others either for free or at a price of your choosing. Unlike other Christian ebook publishing solutions, there is no royalty paid to Laridian on sales or distribution of your books. You’ll need the Professional edition to do this. Note that this doesn’t mean that Laridian will sell your books, but rather that you can sell them. You can host them on our server for easy distribution, but they don’t show up in our catalog.

Books you create for PocketBible have to contain special tags that tell us how to format the book. The basic tags are what you would recognize from HTML: <b>…</b> for bold, <p> and </p> around paragraphs, etc. To those we add some special tags to tell PocketBible what kind of book it is (commentary, dictionary, etc.) and to define the book’s table of contents (which we do using HTML heading tags, not a separate table-of-contents file as you might see in some other electronic publishing formats). You do all this using your own text editor, then run the text through BookBuilder to create a Laridian Book (LBK) file. This file is then copied to the appropriate location on your device or desktop computer so that PocketBible can find it.

If you’re going to distribute your books, you’ll need the Professional version of BookBuilder. Once your book is finished and proofed, you send it to us and we’ll assign it a unique publisher ID and book ID so that it can co-exist with other books in users’ Laridian library without interfering with other books there. We’ll host it on our server and tell you how to authorize other PocketBible users to download it. This authorization is normally done manually (you log into your account and manage your books from there) or it can be automated if you have the ability to write the appropriate script for your website to send us a special command via HTTP POST. It should be noted that most people can’t do this. Generally if you’re not already confident you can do this as you read this, you can’t. But the capability is there if you need it.

You can read more about BookBuilder here:

Here’s an introduction to the Mac OS X version of BookBuilder:

I record these videos in my kitchen; hence the folk art painting in the background. :-)

Narrow Your PocketBible Searches With Strong’s Numbers

Posted on: March 11th, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 5 Comments

Two of the major features of Strong’s Concordance are that it provides an exhaustive list of the words used in the Bible and it links those words back (via the assigned number) to the original language root. If you add Strong’s Concordance to PocketBible, you can search for occurrences of the root word in the Bible using its Strong’s number. We offer three versions of Strong’s Concordance for use with PocketBible: KJVEC, NASEC and HCSBEC.

What is the benefit of using Strong’s Numbers in my searches?

Some things are not apparent in the English translation.

For example, in John 21, Jesus asks Peter three questions, “son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” (v15); “son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” (v16); “son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” (v17). While the KJV translates “lovest” the same each time, Strong’s assigns a different root word to Jesus’ first two uses of “lovest.” Strong’s indicates a root word of agapao (which is assigned the number 25) in the first two questions and then phileo ( which is assigned the number 5368) to that last use of “lovest.” When Peter responds to Jesus’ questions, each time he he uses the word phileo (G5368) to convey his feelings for Jesus.

You could look at the definitions for these Strong’s words and find out what others say about the meaning of these two words. But you could also explore these words in context for yourself with PocketBible. How are these two forms of love used elsewhere in the New Testament? How were they used by Jesus and Peter elsewhere? While your dictionaries may cite some verses where these words are used, the PocketBible search feature will provide you with an exhaustive list of usage.

How can I use Strong’s Numbers in my PocketBible searches?

Simply input the Strong’s number (i.e. G25 or H157) into the PocketBible search field to search for occurrences of that word in a Strong’s-numbered Bible.

To continue with our example, let’s use the PocketBible search feature to find out more about the word “lovest.” The search results presented below are from the KJV and the search is limited to the New Testament since we are talking about a Greek word. The bolded text is what is entered in the search field in PocketBible (or the syntax needed to get the results mentioned).

  • lovest – PocketBible reports this specific word form occurs 4 times in the KJV New Testament (KJVNT)
  • lov* – a second search (with a wild card) tell us that there are 202 variations of the word lov* that occur in KJVNT. The asterisk that follows the letters “lov” is a wildcard which tells PocketBible to search for all endings of the word (wildcards are not needed in the Android and Mac versions of PocketBible as they automatically report all word variations).
  • G25 – 109 verses in the KJVNT use this Greek word with the Strong’s number 25 (which we know from our dictionary means agapao).
  • G5368 – 21 verses in the KJVNT use this Greek word with the Strong’s number 5368 (which we know from our dictionary means phileo).

Thus we now know that while a form of the word “love” is used 202 times in the New Testament, only 109 of those times is the root word agapao and 21 times, phileo. That really doesn’t tell us much except to say that G25 is more commonly used in the New Testament. Given that we also want to know context for these words and how Jesus used them, we could re-run our searches and limit them to the Gospels. From there we could browse through the list to consider how these words were used in the reported verses.

For example, PocketBible reports that G5368 is assigned to the word “kiss” in Luke 22:47, referring to Judas kiss. In addition, G5368 is the root used for the word “loveth” in John 5:20 – “For the Father loveth (G5368) the Son…” So phileo is the root word used for Judas kiss and also to describe how the Father loves the Son. Hmm…this is the time I would be checking Vine’s or the Complete Word Study Dictionary to see what they have to say on this.

You can also use PocketBible to find a particular English word only when it’s translated from a specific Greek or Hebrew word. For example, love:G5368 will find all instances of the word “love” where it is translated from the Greek word 5368. To find a particular English word only when it’s not translated from a specific Greek or Hebrew word, using the format, love:-g5368, will find all instances of the word “love” where it is not translated from the Greek word 5368. To find a particular Greek or Hebrew word only when it’s not translated as a particular English word, using the format, -love:g5368, will find all instances of the Greek word number 5368 where it is not translated into English as “love.” This last search should give us Luke 22:47 where g5368 was used for the English word kiss (as we found above).

Related articles: Accomplishing Word Studies in PocketBible, How can I use Strong’s Concordance in PocketBible? and Shortcuts for turning on/off Strong’s Numbers in PocketBible Bibles.

What Can Cultural Background Add to Your Bible Study?

Posted on: February 24th, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 2 Comments

Cultural bias refers to “interpreting and judging phenomena by standards inherent to one’s own culture” (wikipedia). Whether we like it or not. Whether we realize it or not. We see the world through a lens that is colored by where, and with whom, we live. Cultural background is designed to help remove that lens when looking at the Scriptures.

My husband tells a story of meeting with a group of IT contractors who were not from the US and their being asked to put together a ballpark figure of what their services would cost based on the discussion. The lead contractor had never heard that term and showed complete bewilderment as to what that could mean.

It is a reminder that we use words or phrases daily that don’t mean what they literally say (i.e. cold feet, green thumb, backseat driver). And if those of us living in the same era have challenges in communication, we can expect it to be challenging to understand what was written to a specific audience in the past that lived in a culture that is not familiar to most of us.

According to Craig Keener, author of the IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament:

“Knowing ancient culture is critical to understanding the Bible, especially the passages most foreign to us. Our need to recognize the setting of the biblical writers does not deny that biblical passages are valid for all time; the point is that they are not valid for all circumstances. Different texts in the Bible address different situations. (For instance, some texts address how to be saved, some address Christ’s call to missions, some address his concern for the poor, and so on.) Before we can determine the sorts of circumstances to which those passages most directly apply, we need to understand what circumstances they originally addressed.”

Cultural background attempts to put you in the place or time where the text was written. To give you insight as to how the events and words would have been understood by those who were there.

In John 4, Jesus talks to the Samaritan women at the well. We understand this is unusual because it says that right in the text: Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. But with the help of the IVP Bible Background Commentary, our understanding of this can be expanded:

“That this Samaritan woman comes to the well alone rather than in the company of other women (and at the hottest hour of the day, when she would not run into them) probably indicates that the rest of the women of Sychar did not like her, in this case because of her marital history (cf. comment on 4:18). Although many Jewish teachers warned against talking much with women in general, they would have especially avoided Samaritan women, who, they declared, were unclean from birth. Other ancient accounts show that sometimes even asking water of a woman could be interpreted as flirting with her; this might be especially the case if she had come alone at an unusual time. Jesus breaks various conventions of his culture here. In addition, Isaac (through his agent, Ge 24:17), Jacob (Ge 29:10) and Moses (Ex 2:16-21) met their wives at wells; such precedent created the sort of potential ambiguity at this well that religious people wished to avoid.” – comment on John 4:7 (IVP Bible Background Commentary NT)

Compare this to what an expository commentary like Bible Knowledge Commentary has to say on this same verse:

“With His disciples in the city buying food, Jesus did a surprising thing: He spoke to a Samaritan woman, whom He had never met. She was of the region of Samaria, not the town of Samaria. The woman was shocked to hear a Jewish man ask for a drink from her. The normal prejudices of the day prohibited public conversation between men and women, between Jews and Samaritans, and especially between strangers. A Jewish Rabbi would rather go thirsty than violate these proprieties.”

Background commentary is not meant to replace expository or explanatory commentary. Rather, you’ll want to use it in conjunction with your other commentaries so you get the meaning of the Bible text in light of what the original reader would have known or understood. While most commentaries sprinkle background in where needed, a background commentary provides greater depth on culture and history while leaving interpretation and application to the traditional commentaries.

Having this type of background information in a commentary format is especially helpful because you have pertinent information available for the verse or passage as you are studying.

We offer two background commentaries for use with PocketBible:

Another good source of cultural and historical background for the Bible are Bible dictionaries. For more in-depth treatment of the type of information mentioned in background commentaries, consider the following specialized dictionaries:

Finally, another good source for Bible culture is the New Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible.

PocketBible for Android: What Can Advanced Features Do For you?

Posted on: February 13th, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 12 Comments

If you are using PocketBible on your Android OS device or Kindle Fire, here are some good reasons to upgrade to the Advanced Features (and how to do it).

Why upgrade?

The Advanced Features available for PocketBible on Android smartphones and tablets offers some handy additions to the basic features of PocketBible.

You can watch an overview of the Advanced Feature Set below:

Autostudy – Verse, Word or Today

Autostudy makes it easy to pull information out of your library on a specific verse or passage. Choose a verse and AutoStudy will put together information about that verse from your PocketBible Bibles, commentaries, cross-references, etc. on one page. It can even give you a definition from your installed dictionaries for every word in the verse. You can get more details on this feature in our article: Have you discovered Autostudy? You can also do a today Autostudy that puts all your Bible and devotional reading for “today” on one page.

Autoscroll

Autoscroll will scroll the text of a Bible or book for you for easier reading. You can adjust the speed at which the text moves along. This feature is great for public or devotional reading.

Listen to the Bible

Would you like to have PocketBible read the Bible to you? The Advanced Feature Set adds the ability to do this using the text-to-speech voice already installed to your Android device. These voices are synthesized which means they are electronic and therefore not always perfect in pronunciation or inflection. However, they don’t take up as much space on your device as an “audio Bible”. There are many benefits to listening to the Bible. I have found this feature extremely handy for keeping up with my Bible reading in the car, as I clean the house, on a run — time that might otherwise be wasted can be reclaimed for a good purpose.

Journal Notes

Even if you are not a prolific note-taker, you will enjoy the new Journal feature. PocketBible already lets you add a note to any Bible verse or book passage. Now you can create multiple free-form notes not attached to any book, that can be used for any purpose you’d like.

Customize your colors

New color options include the ability to rename your highlight colors. For example, you could change the label for salmon to love and use your highlights to collect and categorize specific verses (see video of this). We’ve also added an option you can use to create your own personalized color scheme for the app (see video of this).

How to upgrade

If you are already using PocketBible 1.4.0 or later:

  1. Purchase the Advanced Feature Set at our web site for $9.99 (it is also available in-app – choose Buy/Apply upgrade from the menu).
  2. Open PocketBible on your Android device and the Advanced Features should be automatically applied – a quick message will flash across letting you know this. If you miss the message, you can double-check on the menu | About PocketBible. It will say it is using the “Advanced Feature Set” there if it is installed.

If you are still using PocketBible 1.3.0 (or earlier) for Android, you can update by visiting our Google Play Store page or following the instructions for installing from our website for Kindle Fire and other devices not connected to Google Play.

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