On June 16-18, I attended the conference “The Bible and Computers: Present and Future of a Discipline” in the suburbs of Madrid, Spain. At this conference, a group of people from many different nations interested in the intersection between Biblical studies and computer technology gathered together to hear presentations on current research. Most of those present were university professors.

There were three types of talks presented. The first group involved research that academics are doing that produce databases that will eventually be—if they have not already been—incorporated into Bible software packages. It was exciting for me to hear some of what is on the horizon. For example, I am interested in Hebrew syntax, so I enjoyed listening to presentations by representatives of two different groups that have been working on syntactically tagging the entire Old Testament. The second group of talks revolved around the progress and state of existing Bible software packages. I got to hear about the latest bells and whistles on a variety of Bible software programs. Finally, the third group focused on the results of using Bible software packages, from successful strategies for teaching Hebrew and Greek more effectively with the use of Bible software to the results of research enabled by Bible software. It was gratifying to hear how Bible software is helping professors in their teaching and research of the Bible.

I presented a talk at the conference entitled “Displaying Hebrew and Aramaic on Handheld Devices That Lack Proper Complex Script Support.” In my talk, I set the stage by discussing the way in which complex script technology has improved on personal computers in recent years, but these improvements have not yet been extended to mobile devices. I then discussed some possible strategies for overcoming these limitations on mobile devices, giving the positives and negatives of each approach. Finally, I discussed the approach we at Olive Tree took in successfully overcoming these obstacles—to my knowledge producing the first aesthetically pleasing Hebrew and Aramaic texts with all the desired vowels, cantillation marks, and symbols on mobile devices. My talk was warmly received by the audience of scholars. I supplemented my presentation’s screenshots by showing off BibleReader’s Hebrew and Aramaic display to many of the conference’s participants on an actual Windows Mobile device.

Here is a list of our products that use this innovative display technology: BHS, BHS Add-On – Groves-Wheeler Westminster Hebrew Morphology, and Qumran (non-biblical texts). You can see my previous blog posts about it here, here, and here.

~Drayton B.