[sword-devel] EarlyFathers Genbook and the ability to search genbooks

Jonathan Morgan jonmmorgan at gmail.com
Sun Jun 8 19:27:43 MST 2008

On Mon, Jun 9, 2008 at 11:46 AM, Daniel Owens <dhowens at pmbx.net> wrote:
> I don't personally have a strong opinion about identifying the EarlyFathers
> Genbook as containing heretical material, though I think Eeli is right that
> the wrong notice would only look ridiculous to the kind of people who would
> make use of this.
> Regarding the question of breaking up the module, if there aren't major
> performance problems with keeping it together, there is good reason to keep
> it as one module. It was published as a set and would be easier to download
> as a set, but the more practical reason for me is that it makes it easier to
> search the module. I am working on a paper on the ethics of lending in the
> OT, so to find out what patristic interpretation of the issue was I decided
> to search for the word "usury" using BibleTime. It turned up 82 hits. Being
> far from a theological library, I was elated to see that I could do some
> reasonable primary source reading on that issue for my own paper. On the
> other hand, I noticed that Augustine's comments on the Psalms are in there,
> and I agree it would be nice to have them in commentary form. My suggestion
> is to keep a complete module available and then when someone wants to have a
> work from that set as a commentary he or she can do the work to spin it off
> for that purpose.

If the only reason to keep it together is so that you can search it as
one entity, doesn't that suggest instead that applications should
allow searching more than one commentary/genbook at the same time.  I
can see that a work like EarlyFathers might be construed to belong
together, but if you wanted to do a similar search to find what all
commentaries and genbooks say about usury I don't believe you could.

> That brings me to another issue: the ability to search genbooks and
> commentaries. I have a vague memory of comments on this forum to the effect
> that such a feature isn't necessary or desireable, but the Father's module
> is a prime example of the kind of genbook that one would want to be able to
> search. This isn't just useful for scholars but for your average person who
> wants to know what different writers have said about "holiness" or
> "creation" or "the Holy Spirit." I use that feature all the time in several
> other Bible software programs because it saves me time having to read
> through a lot of material to find what I am looking for (and is also the
> reason why theological libraries subscribe to ATLASerials and such). I don't
> know what kind of load that puts on the engine (creating indexes and such),
> but it seems to me it ought to be a basic part of the functionality of the
> Sword front-ends. Not everyone would make use of such a feature but many
> would, and apparently the engine supports it if BibleTime does. It would
> just be nice to have a general search dialog that gave the option to search
> in all genbooks and commentaries and maybe even dictionaries.

To me, searching of Genbooks and commentaries makes a lot of sense.  I
do also think that searching for a word or phrase in all commentaries
/ genbooks / dictionaries / Bibles makes a lot of sense (OT: have you
ever wanted to find a verse, but been unable to find the right words
to type for the particular version you are using - having synonym
suggestion using something like wordnet is another thing that might be
worth looking at).

In this context, deep referencing like SwordSearcher does
(http://www.swordsearcher.com/how-to/using-bible-margin-links.html) is
also another interesting feature, showing how the verses you are
reading are talked about in the different commentaries.  I'm concerned
about the amount of screen space they are taking, making it harder to
actually read the Bible, but it is certainly an interesting idea.


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