New Recommended Software: ScrollTag

A very powerful new Bible software program was released this weekend, with a special introductory sale beginning today.  The best introduction is the preview video at the ScrollTag website.  You can also get a quick sense for some of the program’s strengths and value from the Q&A below, which is a mixture of information from the website and my own reflections.


What is ScrollTag, briefly?

ScrollTag is a Bible program which enables users to organize all of their notes, markings and tags on Biblical texts. Notes are tagged directly onto Hebrew, Greek, or English words, phrases or entire verses to allow easy retrieval and revision…

How does ScrollTag differ from Logos, Accordance, and other Bible programs?

ScrollTag has been designed to meet a need which we saw no other Bible programs meeting adequately (Tagging, Organizing, Block Diagramming and Marking the text). ScrollTag does not intend to directly compete with these other major software packages which focus on other strengths. We intend to keep our focus on what we do well, and not branch out to try to do everything.

The answer to this next question is increasingly important to me as my children get older and begin serious Bible study.

How many users can share a single copy of ScrollTag?

ScrollTag is licensed per household…

What does this program have to do with biblical places?

First, anything that helps us to understand the Bible better gets us excited.  We love the Bible first and the “places” second.  Next, the program includes three very high-resolution satellite maps.  The high resolution allows you to zoom in and use the maps for a variety of purposes. 

Third, we have known the author of this program for many years.  The programming genius is immediately obvious to those who watch the demo and read the notes, but we can attest to his love for people, his passion to know God’s Word, and his absolute integrity.  We marvel at the skill and hard work that he has used over the years to create ScrollTag.

Why does the program cost $150?

The introductory special reduces the cost to $125.  That includes paying required royalties for the various English, Hebrew, and Greek translations (e.g., USB4, AGNT, NASB, WHM).  You can also get just a taste for the amount of work involved by this explanation of the origin of the Greek text that the author did not even end up using. 

In addition, ScrollTag includes three high-resolution maps, a Hebrew Chartbook, and a Greek Chartbook.  The full name of these books: Charts for the Acquisition of Biblical Hebrew/Greek: A Natural Approach to Language Learning for the Biblical Exegete.  These two chartbooks contain a wealth of unique information and are recommended for students with or without ScrollTag (available separately here).  The collection is a tremendous value for all that you get.

What can I get for free?

The three satellite maps are available in medium-resolution.  The significantly improved Westcott and Hort electronic text is available here.  There are also several ways you can enter to win a free copy of ScrollTag.


Weekend Roundup

Israel has surpassed the 3-million-tourist mark for 2010, breaking the annual record for tourists set in 2008.  More than 60% of tourists are Christians and the nation’s goal is to reach 5 million tourists a year by 2015.

Last week’s annual meeting of the Near East Archaeological Society was attended by Ferrell Jenkins, who provides summaries of many of the lectures.  Aren Maeir has posted his observations of one day of the ASOR meetings.

The Magdala excavations are continuing around the calendar and photos are now posted from November.

Israel is calling on the Palestinian leadership to reject the “study” that the Jewish people have no right to the Western Wall.

The PBS Special “Quest for Solomon’s Mines” is now available online, though viewing in some
countries is not permitted.  UCSD’s role in the feature is discussed in a campus news story.

I have not yet seen it, but a trusted reader tells me that Anson Rainey’s Teaching History and Historical Geography of Bible Lands: A Syllabus that I mentioned here before “consists almost entirely of the text of biblical passages, without any commentary or other notes.”  You might browse it before you buy.

This week I read A Promise Kept, a new book produced by Insight for Living.  Subtitled “A Pictorial Journey of the Coming of Christ,” the beautifully illustrated and superbly written book was just what I needed to start the Christmas season.  It’s available this month for a donation and will be on sale in the IFL store in December.


ESV Bible Atlas Give-Away

This week’s free item is the ESV Bible Atlas.  I mentioned many of the great features I liked about this atlas when it was imagereleased five months ago.  One of the stand-out qualities is the free CD included with the atlas with more than a hundred of the maps in electronic format.  A friend wrote recently to ask how to get the beautiful reconstruction diagrams (many by Leen Ritmeyer) without scanning them one by one.  Scanning is particularly difficult because of the diagrams’ large size and the seam in the middle.  (I’ve cut the binding off of a number of books in order to get good quality scans, but this does make the book less use-able.) 

There is a good solution.  All of the ESV Bible Atlas drawings are included in the ESV Study Bible (plus a few extra).  The study Bible is now available in digital form in Logos Bible Software.  Thus for $40 you get all of the diagrams in ready-to-use PowerPoint format, plus all of the extensive study notes (which I use frequently in my study).

In other words, you get a wealth of resources with the combination of the ESV Bible Atlas (with CD) and the Logos version of the ESV Study Bible.

UPDATE: After writing the above, I stumbled upon a previous post which reminds me that the printed version of ESV Study Bible includes online access to the notes and diagrams.  Thus you can choose whether the printed or electronic Bible best fits your need, knowing that either way you get the diagrams in digital form.

For this week’s give-away, we have a free copy of the ESV Bible Atlas.  The rules: enter your name and email address by Monday noon (PST).  The winner will be contacted by email for a shipping address and all other names and email addresses will be deleted.

UPDATE (11/29): The True Random Number Generator at has selected #14. 

Congratulations to Keith.


Archaeology Update, October 2010

Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg has written an “Archaeology in Israel Update—October 2010,” posted now at The Bible and Interpretation.  The update focuses on three items: the 20th anniversary of the Israel Antiquities Authority, the mosaic floor at Tel Shikmona, and the passing of Ehud Netzer.

Ehud Netzer is also the focus of the latest two broadcasts of The Book and the Spade.


Jerusalem Post Erects Pay Wall

I was disappointed to see this morning that the Jerusalem Post has erected a pay wall for some of their content, including the weekend magazine and the “Christian Edition.” 

Dear reader,
The Jerusalem Post is pleased to introduce its Premium Content, featuring online editions of the daily "Jerusalem Post" electronic paper, "The Jerusalem Report," our youth magazine "Dash", The Jerusalem Post’s "Christian Edition" and our easy-Hebrew magazine "Ivrit" and more (click for more details). This service is available exclusively by subscription, for US$8 per month. 
As an introductory offer, if you register now you will get free access to these products for the first week of use.

Though the pay model was widely considered a failure in online journalism some years ago, a few news organizations are trying to revive it.  I doubt that many will consider the paid content in the Jerusalem Post worth $8 per month, especially as most would be interested in only one of the “editions.”  Perhaps the content will improve and more will be attracted to it.  Another approach that I believe would work better is the use of “micropayments” to view individual articles.  Fortunately, it appears that previous articles can still be accessed from links in this blog.


The Joy of Discovery

The Gilgamesh Epic is an ancient account with remarkable parallels to the Genesis story of Noah’s flood.  The “Flood Tablet” was first deciphered in 1872 by George Smith, an assistant in The British Museum.  According to the museum, when he first read the text, Smith

jumped up and rushed about the room in a great state of excitement, and, to the astonishment of those present, began to undress himself.

There’s a photo of the object below.  If you’re at work, you may want to refrain from viewing it until you’re in a safe environment.

HT: Gunner

Flood tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic, db061600


Roman Bathhouse Discovered in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced today the discovery of a second-century Roman bathhouse in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.  The excavation was being conducted in advance of construction of a ritual bath (miqve).  According to archaeologist Ofer Sion:

It seems that the bathhouse was used by these soldiers who were garrisoned there after suppressing the Bar Kokhba uprising in 135 CE, when the pagan city Aelia Capitolina was established. We know that the Tenth Legion’s camp was situated within the limits of what is today the Old City, probably in the region of the Armenian Quarter. This assumption is reinforced by the discovery of the bathhouse in the nearby Jewish Quarter which shows that the multitude of soldiers was spread out and that they were also active outside the camp, in other parts of the Old City.

Roman bathhouse in Jewish quarter, IAA

Roman bathhouse in Jerusalem.  Photo courtesy of IAA.

The discovery of a paw print on one of the roof tiles created some excitement:

Another interesting discovery that caused excitement during the excavation is the paw print of a dog that probably belonged to one of the soldiers. The paw print was impressed on the symbol of the legion on one of the roof tiles and it could have happened accidentally or have been intended as a joke.

Dog print in Roman tile, IAA

Dog paw print in Roman tile.  Photo courtesy of IAA.

Yuval Baruch, Jerusalem district archaeologist, explains the larger significance:

What we have here is a discovery that is important for the study of Jerusalem. Despite the very extensive archaeological excavations that were carried out in the Jewish Quarter, so far not even one building has been discovered there that belonged to the Roman legion. The absence of such a find led to the conclusion that Aelia Capitolina, the Roman city which was established after the destruction of Jerusalem, was small and limited in area. The new find, together with other discoveries of recent years, shows that the city was considerably larger than what we previously estimated. Information about Aelia Capitolina is extremely valuable and can contribute greatly to research on Jerusalem because it was that city that determined the character and general appearance of ancient Jerusalem and as we know it today. The shape of the city has determined the outline of its walls and the location of the gates to this very day.

The press release and three high-resolution photos (including the two photos above) are available at the Israel Antiquities Authority site (temporary link).  The story is also reported by the Jerusalem Post, Arutz-7, and CNN.

UPDATE (11/23): The Jerusalem Post now features a 2.5 minute video of the discovery.  Several new photos are posted at CBS News.


Weekend Roundup

Chris Harrison has several interesting graphics at “Visualizing the Bible,” including one entitled “Biblical Social Network (People and Places).”

I love the work of Biblical Backgrounds, Inc., and was excited to see their new website on a recent visit.

Raphael Golb was sentenced to six months in prison for his internet crimes related to the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Robert Cargill has posted his response to the sentencing.

In a paper to be presented at SBL, James Davila has posted his SBL paper online: What Just Happened: The Rise of “Biblioblogging” in the First Decade of the Twenty-First Century.”

Ferrell Jenkins has posted an interesting quote about “Rachel’s Tomb” from the father of historical geography, Edward Robinson.

A documentary shot in 1969-70 linked at Leen Ritmeyer’s site has stunning aerial footage of Iran, including Persepolis and Susa.

PBS will be premiering “Quest for Solomon’s Mines” on November 23.  You can watch a preview online.  Luke Chandler wonders how the Khirbet Qeiyafa excavation will be treated.

HT: Joe Lauer


Scientists Drilling under Dead Sea

From Haaretz:

Drilling is to begin Wednesday half a kilometer into the bed of the Dead Sea to study hundreds of thousands of years of geological history, in the largest-scale scientific drilling ever carried out in Israel.
The material to be extracted will form a column only a few centimeters thick – but 500 meters long. Through it, scientists will be able to document the climate in the region to a precision level of within a few years, and learn about the earthquakes that shaped the landscape during this time.
The sponsor of the project, the International Continental Drilling Program, is a consortium of several countries that conducts two scientific drillings a year, and finally chose the Dead Sea area after repeated requests over recent years. Locally, the project is being supported by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the Tamar Regional Council.
The drilling, which is expected to cost approximately $2.5 million, is a regional project, implemented jointly with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, as well as with Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Japan and the United States.

The full story is here.

Dead Sea shore with salt crystals, tb010810100

Dead Sea shoreline

Calendar Give-Away

This week marks the first give-away from  If all goes well, we hope to have about one a week through the end of the year.  For this first one, we have a beautiful 2011 calendar produced by Lamb & Lion Ministries (previously described here).  The calendar features our photos of gates of the Old City of Jerusalem.  Three winners will be selected from those that enter by Sunday 5:00 pm. 

Enter your name and email address below.  After the drawing, only the winners will be contacted and all other names and email addresses will be deleted.