STEP Bible Software v.2.0 Released

Many Christian scholars from overseas who have spent time studying in the UK return to their own countries find their ministry of training others to understand the Bible frustrated. This is because the in-depth Bible Study resources, so readily available in universities in the UK, are now out of their reach – both physically and financially. This is even more frustrating when one realises that about 85% of the evangelical churches in the Two Thirds World are led by people with no theological training at all. It is a problem that I have been aware of for many years – indeed it was the inspiration behind Theology on the Web – “making biblical scholarship accessible” which led me to launch my first website in 2001.

STEP Bible version 2.0

The folks at Tyndale House in Cambridge share this vision and are working hard to meet the need for biblical resources. For me it is always a pleasure to visit there and meet members of the team working on their Scripture Tools for Every Person (STEP) project. This software, now in Beta version 2.0, is already one of the most powerful original-language Bible study tools available and is intended to be made available free of charge. There are plans to add hundreds more Bible translations, secondary literature and other resources – see the slideshow here. If you haven’t already visited the website – stepbible.org – I would strongly recommend that you do.

The STEP Bible in action

Here is a short video that gives a helpful introduction to just some of the things the STEP software can do:

Tyndale House Cambridge Launches Beta-version of Scripture Tools for Every Person (STEP), a new free Bible study resource

Today the STEP development team of Tyndale House Cambridge launched the Beta-test version of a new free Bible study resource at www.StepBible.org.

STEP software is designed especially for teachers and preachers who don’t have access to resources such as Tyndale House Library, which specialises in the biblical text, interpretation, languages and biblical historical background and is a leading research institution for Biblical Studies.

The web-based program, which will soon also be downloadable for PCs and Macs, will aid users who lack resources, or who have to rely only on smartphones or outmoded computers.

About STEP

The project began when STEP director Dr David Instone-Brewer created the Tyndale Toolbar for his own use. It became popular among researchers at Tyndale House and is now used by thousands of people across the globe. The Beta launch of STEP invites users to try out the new tools and give suggestions for improvement.

“STEP represents the most comprehensive yet user friendly tool for Bible Study I have seen in over 35 years of research,” said Dr Wesley B. Rose. Tim Bulkeley, a contributor to the project, said “I wish I was just starting to teach in Kinshasa now, with STEP and a smart phone. Students would find learning Hebrew and Greek, to read the Bible directly, so much easier.”

Almost a hundred volunteers worldwide have contributed to this work, including 75 who helped to align the ESV, used with the kind permission of Crossway, with the underlying Greek and Hebrew. All their work will now be freely available for other software projects. There are many exciting features in the pipeline for others to get involved with.

Try it out at www.StepBible.org.

Further information

The special problems of the Majority World have inspired some unique technical solutions. The whole database-driven program is designed to be downloaded onto computers as diverse as decade-old desktops and Android phones. This download, which is still being tested, enables it to continue working when internet access goes down.

Ten language interfaces are available and another 83 are ready for volunteers to work on. Bibles in many languages are already present and agreements are in place with the United Bible Societies and other organisations to add hundreds more. Someone using a Swahili browser can see buttons, menus and Bibles in their own mother-tongue.

Some of the features are unavailable on any other software, and the ease of use belies its extraordinary complexity. Even in Basic View you can get answers to questions like: Which other verses use the same original word found here? This works for every Bible in all the available languages without requiring knowledge of any Hebrew or Greek. In Advanced View one can see multiple interlinear texts with word-by-word alignment in English, Chinese, Hebrew and other languages. Information about grammar and dictionaries is also given at three levels so that someone wanting quick information isn’t overloaded with the complex details, which are also available.

Blog Interview with Rev Dr David Instone-Brewer

I am very pleased to be able interview Dr David Instone-Brewer about Tyndale House’s S.T.E.P. Project – an initiative that I have been indirectly involved with for several years. In the video below David introduces the Project:

Interview

Thanks David for agreeing to be interviewed about the STEP Project. First of all, can you tell me what S.T.E.P. stands for.

Scripture Tools for Every Person. Actually we toyed with the idea of being for “….Every Pastor” but then we realised that everyone else wanted these tools too.

Does the change in the project’s name indicate a development its scope? [Pastor —> Person]

We are making tools which busy pastors can use, interested untrained people, and also well-informed scholars. So “Every Person” is more accurate.  We also wondered about making it “… for every Platform” because part of the idea is that anyone can use them on anything from a phone to a beefy server, but we thought that was too geeky.

Will you need an Internet connection for the software to work properly?

We want to especially help those guys who don’t have reliable internet connections, so we are aiming to make almost everything installable from an SD card or downloadable.

At what stage are you at now?

Some things are working, some things are at prototype, and lots of things are being developed. This is an exciting time.

How can people be involved -­ what do you need help with?

Mostly we need people with good English who can work meticulously and who love the Bible. There are all kinds of projects that need help with all kinds of skills, language work and programming skills to good English editing skills. Have a look at www.TyndaleHouse.com/STEP to explore the different modules,
and click on “we welcome offers of help” to see the variety of skills we are looking for.

How many copies of the software do you plan to distribute and how will this be done?

We have arrangements in place with missionary organisations to distribute tens of thousands to named individuals, but these will just be seeds. All copies can be freely copied and distributed by any means – internet, attachments, SD cards, memory sticks – whatever. And all our data modules will be free for use in other free software.

This means that any work done on this project will benefit the whole church worldwide.

Thank you David for taking the time to share this project with us.

Visitors can find out more about STEP here.