Mac Apps for Theological Students

Every student at Moore College has to serve on a committee that contributes something to the corporate life of the College. I’ve been placed in the Computer Committee.
So, for anyone who’s interested, these are some of the computer programs that I use every day and have found helpful so far in theological study.

Any other suggestions would be warmly received.

Accordance

: is easily the cornerstone of any suite of theological applications for the Mac. It is the acknowledged leader when it comes to tools for the study of Biblical Language. It also works as an electronic library.
With a tagged Greek New Testament all you need to do is hover the cursor over a word to see complete parsing information. Accordance Bible Software(My Greek lecturer would see this as a huge disadvantage for people who are seeking to learn the language well, right Con?) The real use of this tool is that it allows language searches from the root of a word not just the form that it has in the text. The search results can be displayed in all sorts of ways and analysed further.
The Library component is made up of modules ranging from Bible Translations, to commentaries, dictionaries, atlases, and text books. I have the both the Zondervan Scholarly Study Suite which includes several of my college textbooks, Mounce’s Greek Grammar, and Wallace’s Grammar; and the IVP Essential Reference Collection, including the New Bible Dictionary and Commentary, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, and a bunch of other Dictionaries. The beautiful thing is that it is significantly cheaper to buy these books in electronic format, they take up less space, and you’ve always got them handy.

My favourite little feature of Accordance is the widget that comes packaged with the program. This allows you to type a reference in any document, highlight the reference, jump into the dashboard where the widget retrieves the passage, and then hit ‘enter’ to paste the text back into your application. The process takes about 1 second when you’ve become proficient. It allows me to put the full text of Biblical quotes into any notes I take in lectures.

Accordance is available from Oak Tree Software. There is a demo available and cost depends on the package you buy. It is also available from Moore Books for those in Sydney.

Curio

: Curio is a essentially a mind-mapping program which I have found immensely useful for taking lecture notes. It is a program that only returns its full reward after a fair amount of time getting used to the layout and short-cuts. However, once you know it well, it provides an unlimited ‘idea space’ and the ability to type any where on the page, then drag textual units around to demonstrate logical relationships. My recommendation with this program is that you take some time to read the help documentation.
To give you a sense of how I use Curio, this is my structure for taking notes in a lecture:
Zengobi - CurioI paste a copy of the class lecture outline into the idea space, then write a running commentary in a series of indented boxes down the middle of the page. On the right-hand side I insert the text of any Biblical quotes (using my trusty Accordance widget) or other material to which the lecturer refers. I also colour code the notes as I go, and make little heading and summaries for sections.
At the end, I have something from which I can extract much more information at a glance – and it looks nice!

Curio is available from Zengobi software, there is a demo and then there are a couple of different featured/priced packages.

ProVoc

Provoc

: ProVoc is a language training tool, not specifically designed for Biblical Languages, that features a number of different drilling methods, the ability to design your own training regime, and which looks pretty to boot. At the moment, I probably spend more time with this little gem than any other program.
ProVoc is from Arizona Software and it’s Free!

NetNewsWire

: One of my interests is blogging… (no really…)
and I love reading other people’s blogs. NetNewsWire is an RSS agregator that allows you to subscribe to other people’s blogs so that you don’t need to continually check to see when their webpage is updated.
NetNewsWireNetNewsWire looks prettier than most other RSS Readers, and it has better integration with Safari. But, for me the winner feature is the built-in tabbed browser. When the RSS feed is incomplete this allows you to easily get straight to the original site.
NetNewsWire is available from Newsgator Online. There is a free ‘Lite’ version but I thought it was worth the upgrade.

Delicious Library

: This is easily my favourite application for the Mac. It is actually quite useful, but more importantly, it is a huge amount of Fun. Delicious Library is a fairly simply Library system for your books, which is enhanced by the brilliant use of the MacBook’s built in isight camera.Delicious Library The camera is turned into a bar-code scanner which means you can simply scan the code on the back of your book for the program to get the details, check them against Amazon and display the relevant infomation. It saves the tedious labour of typing in Author, Title, Publisher, etc. Delicious Library then displays all the covers of your books on a set of shelves so you can browse your collection.
If a friend wants to borrow one of your cherished books, you can create a library card by simply dragging the book cover onto their details in the contacts pane (this is generated from your address books – so still no typing). You then choose a Due Date, and can set for an automatic email to be sent to remind them. How much fun!
Playing Librarian.
Delicious Library is available from Delicious Monster, there is a free demo.

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6 thoughts on “Mac Apps for Theological Students

  1. Can I sugggest Books as an alternative to Delicious Library – it's not as pretty, but it includes better lookups – not just Amazon, but also the British Library, the Library of Congress and the Australian National Library (because I asked the programmer to add support for it).

    BTW – what's better about NetNewsWire compared to Safari's built-in RSS reader?

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  2. Hi!

    Thank you for interesting blog. I found that you recommended some mind mapping software, so I decided to suggest you to test one interesting application ConceptDraw MINDMAP http://conceptdraw.com/en/products/mindmap/overvi…. It is easy and versatile and is integrated with iPod, so you can look through your notes wherever you are. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.

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  3. Thanks Tim,
    I've checked out Books before – I think I still have it on the system somewhere. I found that the scanning feature was a bit below par.
    I do agree that the broader support for lookups is a big feature.
    I emailed the Delicious Library developers about it and got an interesting response saying that they had avoided doing this because they doubted the legality of the manner in which programs like Books operate in their lookups. Apparently, it scams whatever images it can find from a search regardless of the copyright issues involved. I'm not sure what copyright issues there are with book cover images, but I hadn't really thought about it before. It could also be that Delicious Library has some commercial relationship with Amazon that makes it profitable to restrict the lookups to that site.
    (Although they do claim to donate the proceeds of referrals to charity)

    Hi Olga,
    I get the feeling that your comment is actually an advertisement for your company (if anyone actually buys your product from here you'd better give me money 😉 ) – but thanks for letting me know.

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  4. I don't think that Books pulls images from anywhere but Amazon, but the libraries it uses have publicly available programming interfaces specifically designed for apps like Books. I also emailed Delicious Library about the wider support sometime, but all I got was a "sorry, we don't do that"

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