Tag Archives: apps

How to use SBL BibLit on an iPad

Screenshot of Pages on iPad using SBL BibLitWait, wait, I know what you’re thinking: “You can’t add fonts to an iPad!” Well, that’s what I thought, too, until I learned about AnyFont, an amazing iOS utility app by Florian Schimanke. AnyFont does just what the name implies: it allows you to import any font (well, any TrueType or OpenType font) onto your iOS device and use it in iWork apps, Office apps, or any other app that uses the iOS font chooser. Of course, the first font I tried to install in this fashion was SBL BibLit, and it works like a charm in Pages. Even vowel points line up properly.

Now, to actually type those vowel points, you’ll need either an external keyboard (which will follow the Hebrew layout native to the Mac OS) or a software solution like the Davka Nikud on-screen keyboard (which is effective, but slow, since you have to switch character sets (not keyboards) each time you want to type a vowel point. You can also copy and paste pointed text from Accordance or Olive Tree’s Bible app (which, after many years of being called “Bible Reader,” has gone through a perplexing number of name changes in the last few years). I don’t currently know of any way to type cantillation (trop) marks on the iPad. Accordance seems to strip the cantillation marks when you copy text, but Olive Tree’s Bible app preserves them, so that option exists if you need the marks in your iOS word processor.

But this talk about vowel points digresses from the main point: AnyFont enables you to use SBL BibLit and other third-party fonts on iOS. And to me, that’s a very big deal and a very good thing.

Searching the scriptures (without Google’s help)

Bible+-by-Olive-Tree-app-iconMost of my students nowadays carry around tiny computers that afford them almost instant access to practically limitless information. Many of us now use Google (or similar search engines) as our starting point in any quest for existing data. Skill and good judgment in accessing and using data have outstripped memorization of data as core competencies for modern life. However, defaulting to Google or Wikipedia searches to find material within the Bible can actually distance users from the Bible, by placing the biblical text itself behind a nearly limitless wall of secondary sources. To help my students better appreciate the value of enaging primary sources and to help them develop more sophisticated searching habits, I switched a year or so ago to requiring students to use digital, searchable Bibes in my introductory courses. I’ll share some of my experiences using Olive Tree’s Bible Study App (a.k.a. BibleReader or Bible+) to teach this type of “searching the scriptures” at the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Baltimore this November. I don’t yet know the specific schedule, but I’ll make this presentation in one of the sessions put on by the Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies unit.