Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ultimate Bible Commentary Tool

Open source projects use version control systems so that a lot of people can work on individual parts of the code and send it in, but if anything doesn't work we can go back to the previous version and start from there. Yeah, it's a bit more complicated than that, but it's enough of an explanation for the following.

Imagine being able to drill down all the way to word level and get commentaries at each level. If for instance, someone suggests the word really shouldn't be kingdom, but it should be reign, and wants to tell us why, well why not? We could have each possible translation of the word, comments explaining that certain phrases are actually idiomatic and meant something very different to those hearing them in Jesus' day. We could have global commentaries that touch on the whole thing. We could link up everything, from the Talmud, N.T. Wright, the Roman Catholic Catechism, etc... to the scripture verses to which they refer.

In the paper world, the problem was the sheer amount of time spent handling the physical material. In the electronic world the problem is wading through the ton of stuff we can generate. Obviously, under such a system, someone could choose to make absolutely inane comments all through the work. But the point of all this is to research something and see what has been said about it, so as we process through our search we will necessarily begin narrowing down the sources of comment. The random atheist who insists on writing odes to the flying spaghetti monster makes himself irrelevant to most searches, and if his comments do show up in a search through coincidence, we can turn them off.

Meanwhile, we'd have one incredibly awesome crossreference and teaching tool. How incredibly simplifying for dealing with odd biblical ideas that pop up all the time in America. Just search for the biblical verses the latest hack used to justify his claims. Chances are, someone's already thought of that silliness and it was condemned at some ecumenical council somewhere.

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