In the last couple posts I told you the story of my Hebrew Verses and Bible Review series. That leads into this story, how the e-Sword Tutorials happened. I'd been using the e-Sword Bible software in my personal times of study for years and there were many things I liked about it. It could show me in an instant how a verse was rendered in dozens of different versions. So for instance it showed me that "Christ is the end of the law" can be translated as the "goal of the Torah" and not the termination of it. I could also look up Hebrew and Greek words and it would give me a list of every place they occurred and the different English words they was translated into, which was fun. Who'd a thunk the word for "celebrating" the Sabbath was the same word for some of the less-than-PG behaviours in the book of Ezekiel? Another thing I loved about e-Sword was that I could see what my two favourite commentators, the great Christian Hebraists Dr. John Gill and Prof. Franz Delitzsch, had to say about every verse. Oh and it was nice that it was free too. Like really nice.
I found myself frequently using e-Sword during my Hebrew Verses studies. Of course, with my commitment to not just give my students fishies but to teach them how to find the Hebrew fishies for themselves, there were a couple times when I slowed down to explain how I was using the program, but this was in passing and didn't even mention the e-Sword app which, to be honest, I had never used myself. I got the idea in the fall of 2018 to create an e-Sword course showing in a more comprehensive way how to use both the software and the app, and on October 23 I decided to go for it. I spent the next three months in a deep creative streak preparing the course. Originally I planned to do five videos for the software and just one for the app, but after using the app for only a couple minutes I was awestruck by its quality and capacities and realized it would need a full five vids too. I released the first tutorial in the middle of January 2019 and the final one came out three months later in April. About halfway through the filming I lost my winter beard, as you can see from the screenshots. (What do you think, should I have kept it?) I'll give you a quick summary of the tutorials and then share some of my thoughts and feelings on the project.
In the FIRST tutorial I answered the question "Why is this Bible software different than all other Bible softwares?" and explained why I recommend e-Sword over the other free and paid programs out there. Then I showed how to download and install it and tweak the settings for the best look and use. In the SECOND I showed how to use e-Sword to read God's Word anytime, anywhere. That included how to get where you want in the Scriptures, search keywords, bookmark passages, and copy verses for sharing. For the app tutorial I also showed how to use the audio Bible to listen to God's word on the go which is a lifesaver if you're busy or don't like reading. In the THIRD tutorial I demonstrated how to compare verses in different translations, gave a quick overview of the versions available through e-Sword and my personal recommendations, and told the secret of how to get Bibles not available directly through the app. In the FOURTH I explained how to use Strong's to search original words and then told another secret, how to get resources not available through the app such as Gesenius's genius lexicon and an interlinear Hebrew/English Bible. And finally in the FIFTH tutorial I introduced the three best Bible commentaries coming from a Hebraic/Messianic perspective and mentioned how to access other resources like Josephus and the Church Fathers.
Whew! That was intense. My nerdy side definitely came out in full force for this course. So did my sense of humour. For instance, to demonstrate how to navigate to a passage we went to the verse that I told people in my teens with a straight face was my favourite, 1 Chronicles 1:25: "Eber, Peleg, Reu." I also showed how I had scribbled out every single section heading in the old NASB Bible I used in my twenties because they were inserted by the publishers and I just wanted a pure text. And I played a long clip from YouTube of Kovu the blind old hedgehog while I talked about tech details that some of my viewers may have found boring. My passionate side came out too in the verses I used to demonstrate how to do all the e-Sword things. Matthew 5:17 where Christ said he wasn't doing away with the Torah and spoke positively of its commandments. Romans 3:31 and 7:12 where Paul said pretty much the same thing. James 2:2 where the early churches were called "synagogues" but the translators covered it up. Ezekiel 40-48's description of a future world that most Christians are not ready for. All the verses where God said his Sabbath and feast days are "forever". And a Jewish Jesus wearing tzitzit on the four corners of his garment.
I'll share a couple more things just because, well if you read this far you must be into it. It was scary teaching this course for the same reason raising children is scary. The problem with teaching people how to fish is they don't need you anymore. You get attached and part of you doesn't want them to grow up and leave you. If I taught these skills to my students maybe they'd leave their old Hebrew dad and I'd end up in the poorhouse. Or I'd lose financial support because some of them wouldn't be interested in the course and would unsubscribe before I could get back to the other series. I also had a hiccup that caused me some consternation. My main laptop was in the shop and I was using my little backup, but it caused the audio and video to be slightly out of sync for the first couple videos. I took a poll and most people said they were fine so I decided not to redo them, but it still bothers me. I do have to say that I was really happy getting to introduce the intoxicating commentaries of Dr. John Gill to my students after having enjoyed them for years. I was also really happy to discover the e-Sword app which I now use regularly, along with several resources that I either found or developed with my team including vowel-pointed versions of the Hebrew OT and NT and the Gesenius lexicon. Since then I also discovered the Abbott-Smith lexicon which shows the Greek NT/LXX equivalents to Hebrew words and I wish I could have included that in the course! But I just told you about it here so my life is now complete.
You can see the tutorials for yourself here: https://holylanguage.com/esword and for the app here: https://holylanguage.com/app I deeply love God and his holy word and I hope this course will continue to light many people up with that same love and inspire them to come closer to Yeshua in his original Jewish context. Please pray with me that this will be the case, ken yehi ratzon (may it be God's will!)