Thursday, July 08, 2004

Exploring New Testament Greek web site

I've had a look and notice that the companion web site for Exploring New Testament Greek (see previous blog entry) is now live:

The Queen's Foundation: Greek

This is essentially a site designed for users of the book, providing recommended books and web sites, tables, a specimen answer and material for further study. There are some useful materials here and I would like to commend Paula and Peter for an excellent way of helping new students of Greek to find "a way in". In particular, the encouragement to use internet resources has to be a real plus. As regular readers will know, I am a fan of providing helpful companion web sites for books in this way, so many congratulations on this.

I would like to make some suggestions for ways of improving this web site. In particular, some serious attention needs paying to the following:

(1) The standard of accuracy on the site is at present pretty low. There are many typos and it does not look like anyone has given it a basic read-through. The English has not gone through a spell-checker; the URLs have not been tested (e.g. the NT Gateway link, for which I am grateful, misses off the all important ".com" and so returns an error page); bibliographical conventions are unevenly applied throughout; words collide into one another and so on. Indeed, at present the page provides a good illustration of one element in David Clines's excellent article, Publishers: Who Needs Them?, that the accuracy of on-line materials tends to be way below the accuracy of their printed counterparts. But on this kind of page, it is especially important to try to ensure as high a level of accuracy as possible, not only because students need to be able to access the web sites that are being linked, but also because a relatively low level of accuracy among scholars can encourage sloppiness in students. However, the good news about on-line materials is that one can adjust them speedily and produce ever more accurate versions, so here's some encouragement for the site to go through some careful checking and correcting.

(2) In particular, the Greek needs work. The importance of accuracy here, in a companion site to an introductory book, hardly needs stressing. But having cast my eye around the site, there are multiple cases where Greek has been entered incorrectly, most clearly over the iota subscript, which is often represented in a mix of SPIonic and GraecaII fonts, thus: twæ. The site specifies SPIonic as the font of choice, so all the encoding needs to be in that font. Those who do not have GraecaII font installed on their machine (including me) will see "æ" here and not an iota subscript. The encoding in SPIonic is "|", thus "tw|" which will produce tw|. The specimen answer, which reverts to the symbol font, has many errors. It may be that that is because it is a student's work, but if so it is probably not a particularly useful specimen to use.

A couple of more minor points: in the section on web sites, Tony Fisher's Greek New Testament is not mentioned though I'd regard that as one of the best. On the Unbound Bible, the authors comment, "The main difficulty with this site is the strange way you have to transliterate Greek words into English letters." But there's an easy way around this, particularly useful for the newcomer: just click on "Non-English search" and then choose Greek and then you can mouse-click the relevant letters.

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