[Milton-L] textbook

Nancy Charlton pluscachange at comcast.net
Wed Nov 15 09:05:38 EST 2006

If I were teaching a course on the Bible as Litt--and I do this 
informally as part of my reader coaching--I would be sure my students 
used the Blue Letter Bible, http://www.blueletterbible.org

This is an online Strongs Concordance, but with a difference. There 
is a choice of  eleven English translations and the Latin Vulgate, 
with the KJV being the default. You pick a book from a list, enter 
the verse and enter. It takes you to the verse, but all the verses 
are displayed. Beside each verse is a group of buttons. I use "C" for 
"Concordance" the most, which brings up the verse in unpointed Hebrew 
or unaccented Greek. Then the verse is parsed, with each word linked 
via Strong's number to Strong's, with an organized summary of 
Biblical uses. What takes it beyond mere citing of Strong's, IMHO, is 
that the word pages link to Thayer's Lexicon, which functions like a 
mini-OED, with notes on extra-Biblical uses. I find it helpful to 
know whether a given word goes back to Homer or Hesiod, or whether it 
came from liturgy formulated 500 years after the Bible was written. 
Of course this could get into the whole question of textual history, 
but for literary purposes, we have what we have, and the text of the 
KJV or RSV or whatever is what we are dealing with is where we have 
to start--and probably end.

Of course, for people who don't or won't take the trouble to learn 
something of another language including Early Modern English, this 
might not be so attractive. The might find the "V" for "Versions" 
button more useful, as it allows one to see comparative translations. 
This is well-balanced between literal and paraphrased translations; 
while it doesn't have the NEB or Moffatt (which are not to be found 
online at all, perhaps because of copyright issues), at least it 
doesn't have "The Message."  The "L" button gets you a "List" of 
available commentary. Matthew Henry's notes are the most consistently 
useful, albeit not the most readable in an age where advertising has 
tried to dumb us all down to inability to comprehend a periodic 
sentence. BLB has quite a range of commentaries, and recently they 
put up Isaac Newton's notes on the Bible, which seem to stem from his 
inquiries into alchemy.

The Milton Reading Room cites the BLB, with the warning that its 
purpose is distinctly evangelical. I have at times referred people to 
the notes here, especially for PL, for light on Bible passages.

Last Sunday via a link I came upon an extraordinary (and unfinished) 
book online, downloaded and printed out is pdf version. The author is 
Ken Power, an evangelist who is a bonafide Bible scholar even though 
he has also co-authored some racy end-time novels and who has 
well-defined evangelical aims. However "The Owner's Manual" subtitled 
"The Law of Moses: What it is, and what are we supposed to do with 
it" is an impressive oeuvre. The examines the 613 Mitzvot in groups, 
with extensive explication and crossreferencing. Few might agree with 
his conviction that the Koran preaches hatred and terror, but this is 
lightly touched upon and he sticks to his subject. I like it anyway: 

Hope this might be useful.

Nancy Charlton

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