This Tyndale House project aims to provide the very best Bible software tools to far-flung believers with few resources. These will be available free of charge and capable of working on phones and low-spec computers (with little or no internet facilities). The STEP Project aims to grant these believers access to a wealth of resources previously only available to specialist scholars.
Geography. Tyndale House owns one of the two known map sets of the unpublished 1:20,000 Ordnance Survey of Palestine in the 1930’s, recording a landscape almost unchanged for thousands of years, before the modern urbanisation and the farming revolution. The project includes the preservation and display of this valuable and rare archive.
Historical timeline of all datable people, events and eras, expandable to all the detail the Bible gives us
Newly edited Encyclopedia of Bible places, people, events and teachings
Translation Aids including interlinear texts, grammatical information, and full-text lexicons
Bible Comparison Aids, with various versions, variant readings and explanations of translation differences
Articles and Books, selected for usefulness and scholarly integrity, and classified by subject
For example, the Geography module combines rare high-scale maps at Tyndale with GoogleEarth satellite images including geographical features and local photographs. Below we see Mt Carmel, where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal, near the modern town of Haifa. The old maps show agricultural details, traditional placenames and old pathways which have now disappeared under concrete. These two technologies complement each other to give the Biblical events new depth and reality.
What resources will be included?
Almost all important ancient texts are now available in an English translation, and some are already on the web, but copyright restrictions and inaccessibility make them difficult for non-specialists to use. STEP aims to provide access to:
Ancient Near Eastern texts and inscriptions
Archaeological photos linked to satellite maps and Google Earth
High scale unpublished British army maps from pre-urbanised Israel
Ancient rabbinic texts from the 1st to the 4th century
Dead Sea Scrolls, Pseudepigrapha & Apocrypha
Greek and Roman classical texts, letters and inscriptions
Tools to integrate the Bible with geography & history
The Bible will be linked to these ancient texts and maps by a series of tools:
Links to specific texts and maps based on previous scholarship
(collated from Scripture indexes, lists of parallels, historical works etc)
Collaborative tools whereby users can add links which are shared with others
A Contextual Analysis Search Engine (CASE) for finding new parallels.
Computer analysis combining information from lexicons, social context and shared language which searches for texts referring to similar ideas or events.
The project has five main components:
1) Building a secure website as the basis for integrating Bible texts with their context,
Assembling a web-based Bible with English, Greek & Hebrew facilities
incorporating language tools – grammatical analysis & lexicons
basic Bible context tools – cross-references and topical concordances
2) Preservation, archiving, display and cataloguing the historic map collection
collating and cataloguing the maps, including research of provenance
scanning the maps and construction of map interface for the web
preservation & archiving, and construction of specialist map storage & display
3) Integrating out-of-copyright material, cross-referenced to Bible texts
collating and constructing sets of cross-references
collecting and serving up the texts as originals with parallel translation
integrating or creating search facilities for those materials
4) Integrating copyrighted material to securely supply ‘fair use’ quantities
collecting and occasionally creating electronic copies of published works
constructing security to restrict users to just the relevant passages for the text
integrating GoogleBooks and others for searching modern books and articles
a legal opinion from a specialist copyright lawyer on the limits of ‘fair use’
5) Addition of a Contextual Analysis Search Engine (CASE)
marking up texts according to social categories
researching linguistic markers for social categories
marking up Greek & Hebrew vocabularies with semantic fields
constructing algorithms for contextual comparisons between texts
The benefits of the project
When complete STEP will provide the single most valuable freely available resource for Biblical Studies. Several benefits will result for Tyndale House and the wider Christian community:
Preservation of valuable and rare maps and making them available for research
Easy accessibility to Bible-affirming scholarship for believers and seekers who cannot reach a library
A new impetus for scholars to study the historical and geographical context
Directors: Dr Peter Williams & Dr David Instone-Brewer
Consultant: Mr Troy Griffitts – trained Biblical linguist, director of CrossWire.org, and author of web-based projects for Christian, multinational, and government bodies.