Saturday, April 16, 2005

Bibles In the Ether

I had been planning to post about an add-on tool for e-Sword that I have found, which allows one to import some additional Bibles and make them available for use on the Tablet.

At the moment, though, there is quite a discussion going in the e-Sword group on Yahoo about the legality of using this tool, particularly with regard to the NIV. While I think that the tool is still useful and that the use of it is probably both legal and ethical as long as one follows some guidelines, I am going to hold off on that topic until later so that I can follow the discussion and think and pray about the issue.

Instead, I want to point out a couple of on-line Bible resources that do give you access to some additional translations and that I have found useful for filling in some translation gaps. Unfortunately, I still can't find a place with The Modern Language Bible (Revised Berkeley Translation) in any electronic form except for a Pocket PC or Palm Pilot. If anyone knows of this translation available electronically, please let me know.

The first of the two web sites I want to point out is called The Bible Gateway. The Bible Gateway is a portion of a larger on-line ministry called which has numerous types of resources available. The Bible Gateway is a collection of searchable Bibles, with 20 English translations, and one or more Bibles in each of 37 other languages. Among the English translations are the NIV, NASB, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, the King James Version, and the Amplified Bible. Some of the translations are available in an audio format as well. The URL for this site is

At The Bible Gateway, which has been in existence since 1993 by the way, you can search for passages by keyword and by passage reference, and you can search and browse by topic. There are a number of other resources on The Bible Gateway, too, such as study tools, commentaries, downloadable PDF Bibles for a dozen non-English languages, and dictionaries.

The commentary authors include Calvin, Wesley, Darby, Spurgeon, Matthew Henry (concise and complete), Luther, Wesley, and J. Vernon McGee, as well as several others. They are a little buried on the site, though. The link directly to these commentaries is The on-line dictionaries are Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary, Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary, and Smith's Bible Names Dictionary.

Quite a lot of good stuff here.

The other on-line Bible resource that I want to mention is Like, it is more than just a Bible resource site and these other aspects are worth exploring.'s Bible search page allows for the searching of 22 English translations and the Latin Vulgate. As far as I know, no other languages are available here.

In addition to Bible searches, the site hosts 11 commentaries with a degree of overlap with The Bible Gateway's commentaries. Among the distinct commentaries this site hosts are Scofield's 1917 reference notes, the People's New Testament, and Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Crosswalk has all the dictionaries that the Bible Gateway has, plus three additional ones.

In addition, Crosswalk hosts an encyclopedia, Greek and Hebrew Lexicons, four concordances, several histories, and other types of references and helps including a two translation parallel Bible for searches where the user gets to pick the two translations.

Although there is significant overlap in the resources offered on these two sites, both are worthy additions to your browser's favorites list if you are interested in Bible Study. Both also can provide the source text for independent Bible study on your Tablet as I discussed in The Student, the Fish, Agassiz and the Tablet.

If anyone knows of other such on-line Bible resources (especially if it has the MLB!) please leave a comment and let us know. With so much garbage on the Internet, it is nice to know that there are such worthwhile sites as well.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Grow Your Own Library

In my last posting, I wrote about Microsoft Reader and Adobe Acrobat Reader being great tools for reading a variety of books and other documents on the Tablet. I mentioned a couple of sites where you could download books in either Reader's .lit format or Acrobat's .pdf format. Unfortunately, the selection of free books in these formats is fairly limited. There are other sites with many free books, such as Project Gutenberg which has over 15,000 texts on-line, but they are all straight text--not very good for reading on a Tablet. It's the old round hole, square peg dilemma.

Fortunately, this is a peg that can be made to fit the hole by changing the shape of the peg. There are two free tools that I use that (relatively) easily convert text or certain other types of documents into one or the other of the formats that I prefer for reading on my Tablet.

The first of these is the "Read in Microsoft Reader" add-in for Microsoft Word. This add-in should work properly for all versions of Microsoft Word 2000 or later. You can download this file here.

To install the program, make sure that Word (and Outlook, if you are using Word as your email editor in that program) is closed, then run the executable that you downloaded. Installation is straightforward, requiring only a few clicks or taps to confirm settings and agree to the license. When you are done, running Word will show a new icon in the standard toolbar and a new menu choice, Read..., under File. The icon shows the Reader logo, a small "r" with what looks like three green leaves above it. (I tried to find the icon on the Microsoft Reader web site so that I could link to it, but interestingly they don't display it there anywhere.)

Once the program is installed, it is just a matter of loading a document into Word, formatting it if necessary (it probably will be), and clicking this icon. You should verify that the Title, Author, and Filename fields contain appropriate values on the dialog box that displays, then click OK. The program will create the .lit file, place it in the default directory for Reader documents, and optionally load it in MS Reader.

If your document is in Rich Text Format (.rtf), or Word's native format (.doc), you are probably in luck and little or no formatting will be needed. Unfortunately for our purposes, the files at Project Gutenberg are all in plain text. While they can be opened in Word and converted immediately, some formatting to identify titles and headings is helpful at a minimum. If you are adept with Word, you can create quite a nice Reader file by doing more extensive formatting.

The files at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library are in various formats, but only the ThML version (a version of XML) can easily be opened in Word. Some formatting will definitely be required for these files, as they contain special markup tags that must be removed. Again, someone good with Word can create a macro to do this clean up, but I haven't found it too bad to do manually either.

You will likely find other documents of interest either as web pages or as text files. For example, I was looking for a poem by Robert Browning and couldn't find it at either of these two sites. By searching for the title, I was able to locate the entire poem on-line as a web page. Either web pages or straight text files can be opened in Word and converted, although some web pages use certain style sheets that the converter will not handle. These would need to be cut and pasted into a new document. This was the case with the Browning poem, so I just cut and pasted it into Word. Documents that span multiple web pages are best handled that way, too, in my experience. Just open a blank document in Word and the first web page in a browser and cut and paste away, navigating the web pages as needed to get the complete document. It is less bothersome than it sounds, generally.

One nice feature of the Reader converter is that documents that have linked internal bookmarks in Word will likewise have the links in Reader. This means that you can create a Table of Contents that works in Reader by putting bookmarks at chapters, for example, and creating a list of chapter titles that are hyperlinks to these bookmarks.

Another nice feature is that you can select cover art for your document. By default, the converter will place an image showing the Microsoft Word logo as the cover art, but any .jpg image can be used for this.

There are also third-party tools that can do this conversion, some free, some commercial, some basic, some more full-featured. They can be located with a web search engine. I tried several of them when I was first looking for a converter, but I quickly found that the Word add-in suited my needs the best. Plus, once again, the price was right. (Free fits my pocket book really, really well.)

Some documents require a fixed layout to look good, so Reader isn't a good vehicle for them. For these documents the Adobe Acrobat format is good. The tool I use to convert these files is PrimoPDF, one of many PDF printers that are free for the download. A PDF printer, when installed, shows up in your list of printers so pretty much any application that prints can create an Acrobat PDF file. This includes Web pages, though I find that Internet Explorer doesn't always do a good job of formatting web pages for printers, including this one.

PrimoPDF is available from Download and run the executable to install it, once again a very straightforward process. I have had very good success with PrimoPDF, though others have a decided preference for others, such as CutePDF, PDFCreator, or PDF995. I haven't used any of them, so I can't recommend for or against them.

With just these two tools, you should be able to expand your Tablet library to your heart's content for no cost as long as you are content with books on which copyright has expired. There is a whole world of great reading out there, just waiting for you.