searching the scriptures (without google’s help)

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In many colleges and universities, we have already reached the point where a students (or professors!) first impulse when confronted with a desire for new information is to Google it. With the increasing power of small mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets, students are rarely more than a few taps away from whatever online information sources they choose to access. The ubiquity of Google searches poses at least two specific challenges for biblical studies courses: (i) it enables students to rely more heavily than ever on secondary sources rather than primary sources, and (ii) it conditions students to rely less on memory and more on quick access to indexed information. Using a digital Bible instead of a paper Bible can accommodate and even redeem the second challenge while somewhat counterbalancing the first. In this presentation, I will describe how I have leveraged the ubiquity of smart devices to teach and test digital Bible search skills in Religion 101: The History and Religion of Israel. I will share specific apps and exercises used to help students climb the scaffold from Bible search novices to more skilled navigators of digital Bibles. Originally presented to the Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies unit of the Society of Biblical Literature at the Societys Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, November 2013.


  • 1. Searching the Scriptures (Without s Help) Chris Heard, Pepperdine University
  • 2. BYOD Spread 1% 1% 66% 18% 0.35% 22% 5% 1% 73% 13% Aggregate over three semesters.
  • 3. BYOD Options
  • 4. BYOD Options $19.99 $144.99* $14.95 $6.95 $9.99 $6.50 Free * In a bundle.
  • 5. Single Words and AND Find a Bible verse that connects your tribes name to its symbol.
  • 6. Single Words and AND Hits Hits Reuben 58 Asher 36 Reuben AND herbs 1 Asher AND tree 0 Simeon 38 Issachar 34 Simeon AND city 1 Issachar AND donkey 1 Levi 42 Zebulun 37 Levi AND lampstand 0 Zebulun AND ship 0 Aaron AND lampstand 3 Zebulun AND ships 1 Judah 635 Ephraim 142 Judah AND lion 3 Ephraim AND helmet Dan 53 Manasseh Dan AND scales 0 Manasseh AND bull 0 Naphtali 48 Manasseh AND ox 0 Naphtali AND doe 1 Joseph AND ox 1 Gad 66 Benjamin Gad AND tent 0 Benjamin AND wolf 2 132 121 1
  • 7. Words and Phrases "ery chariots"
  • 8. Words and Phrases 2 Kings 2:11 2 Kings 6:17 ery chariots 5 5 2 "ery chariots" 1 2 1
  • 9. Combining Boolean Operators crushed AND (heads OR body) crush AND (head OR body) crush (head body)
  • 10. Combining Boolean Operators Ps 74:14 crushed AND (heads OR body) crushed AND heads OR body crushed heads body Ps 89:10 5 7 3 371 381 279 1 1 0
  • 11. Wildcards/Fuzzy Searches r?d* AND cloud* ride AND cloud ride cloud
  • 12. Wildcards/Fuzzy Searches Deut 33:26 Ps 68:4 Isa 19:1 Heb 12:1 "rider on the clouds" 0 0 0 rider AND clouds 4 4 0 ride AND clouds 5 4 0 rid* AND clouds 5 5 3 rid* AND cloud* 5 5 4 r?d* AND cloud* 8 8 8 r*d* AND cloud* 16 16 16 0 on Windows
  • 13. Design-a-Search (Explicit) In Jonah 4:2, Jonah complains (!) that God is merciful and compassionate , very patient, full of faithful love. With slight variations (like truly faithful instead of faithful love), the same statement appears at least seven other times elsewhere in the Tanak (more if you allow for more variation). Please devise a search that will allow you to locate ve of those other verses.
  • 14. Design-a-Search (Explicit) Exod Num 34:6 14:18 Neh 9:17 Ps Ps Ps 86:15 103:8 145:8 Joel 2:13 merciful 38 315 38 merciful AND compassionate 11 11 11 merc* AND compassion* 24 23 28 128 132 128 8 8 8 10 11 10 "faithful love" merc* AND compassion* AND faith* "very patient"
  • 15. Design-a-Search (Implicit) Earlier in this course, you learned that biblical prophets typically intercededbefore God on their peoples behalf, and that people might come to a biblical prophet toinquireof God. Therefore, you might be surprised to encounter two unusual circumstances: ! God rebuffed some elders who came to inquire of God through the prophet _________. God told the prophet _________ not to intercede for his people.
  • 16. Design-a-Search (Implicit) Jer 7:16 Ezek 20:1 interceded 7 7 1 intercede 7 7 6 inquired 14 14 0 inquire 14 14 6
  • 17. Student Reactions Before this class we didnt know how to search the Bible to nd things related to a specic topic, person, or place, but now we are familiar with the Bible Search Apps and the skills needed to specify our searches. Using the Olive Tree Bible Study Application we were able to efciently navigate the Bible. We are now able to nd information in the Bible that we wouldnt have been able to nd before. One thing we learned that is super helpful is the Olive tree Bible app. We learned how to create specic searches to nd exactly what we want. We are able to learn how to use the Bible Reader app, which will help us to read and understand the Bible in the future.
  • 18. Student Performance 75 & 60 | 45 * 30 &| &* 15 0 Simple Search Boolean AND Boolean OR AND/OR vs. Wild Phrase Search
  • 19. Future Developments Multi-verse searches Delimited search ranges Topical searches Complex searches?
  • 20. IP Credits Image by user Simon via Pixabay, PD/CC0 Ancient sculptor; photograph the Louvre; fair use asserted Image by user molumen via Open Clip Art Library Painting by Raphael; image obtained from Wikipedia; public domain (age) Image via, uncredited Unsigned; sculpture at Dom St. Peter, Worms, Germany; photo by Rebecca Kennison; CC-BY Image by user Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons Painting by Rembrandt; image obtained from Wikipedia; public domain (age) Image via, uncredited Photo by Dave Edmonds via stock.xchng Icons by Jason Engle for Crossroads board game; used by permission Unknown photographer via iStock Movie poster Warner Bros., image obtained from Wikipedia, fair use asserted Art by Jeremy McHugh; copyright holder unclear (publisher out of business) Photo by Patrick Hajzler via stock.xchng Photo by anonymous user via stock.xchng OS and app logos/icons via the respective publishers/manufacturers. This presentation by Chris Heard in 2013; CC-BY. Slideshow version 1.3