We have a special gift for you this Christmas! Using Paratext, you can quickly generate a compilation of the Christmas story from the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John. If you have never used Bible Modules before in Paratext, this is a perfect way to learn what they are capable of with a real example you can test. You will need a Paratext project that has these passages translated already:
- Matthew 1 and 2
- Luke 1:5-80; 2:1-40; 3:23–37
- John 1:1-18
A Bible Module allows you to arrange Scripture passages differently, with bridge text added in between for context if needed. The module will extract the specific passages from your Paratext project and display them for printing.
If you have a list of Scripture references, you can create one fairly easily. For this Christmas story we only needed to add a few additional codes to create the module from a list of Scripture references. Here is what the title and first passage look like in the module code:
\\rem A Harmony of the Gospel Accounts of the Christmas Story \\mt1 A Harmony of the Gospel Accounts of the Christmas Story \\rem The Word Became Flesh \\s The Word Became Flesh \\r ($(JHN 1:1-18)) \\ref JHN 1:1-18
Here is an example from this module with the title/section heading translated:
\\rem A Harmony of the Gospel Accounts of the Christmas Story \\mt1 Haala pinaaɗe Iisaa Almasiihu, geɗe Matta, Luuka e Yuhanna \\rem The Word Became Flesh \\s No Konngol Laamɗo laatorii neɗɗo \\r ($(JHN 1.1-18)) \\ref JHN 1:1-18
And this is what the printed output looks like:
What do these codes mean?
The full syntax for creating a Bible module is explained here and in the help files of Paratext. We’ll explain the codes used in this module below:
\rem is a remark that can contain instructions for the person who will be editing the module file. In this module we use \rem lines to show the text that needs to be translated into the vernacular in the next field.
\mt1 is a standard format code for the main title. Here you will translate the title. Any format codes in the USFM standard can be used in a Bible module.
\s is a standard format code containing the section heading above the first set of references (translate it from the previous \rem marker)
\r is also a standard format code for showing a parallel reference. It is used to display the reference for the Scripture text inserted below. The most complicated piece of all this is what is inside the parentheses:
$(JHN 1:1-18) – This is a significant line of code because it tells Paratext to display the local book name and reference format as specified in the Scripture reference settings for the project in Paratext (Project menu > Paratext settings > Scripture reference settings). In other words, for a French project it would display Jean 1.1-18.
Note: If the module does not display the references in the local language, then the Scripture reference settings are incomplete.
\ref is where the magic happens, and Paratext copies the markers and text for a verse or verse range from a project, inserting them in this location in the module.
How to Use Bible Modules
Now you know how this compiled Christmas story module works. The next piece is how to use it. There are two ways.
Use Bible Modules in Paratext
The first way involves using Bible Modules inside of Paratext, and you can learn how that tool works here. Since Christmas is not far off though, we have a simpler method that shouldn’t take long to set up.
Use a Bible Module with PTXprint
PTXprint is excellent for all Scripture printing. It can also process a Bible module directly to produce a nicely formatted PDF.
Here are the steps to use the Christmas Story Bible Module in PTXprint:
- Download and install PTXprint.
- If you already have PTXprint installed, we recommend installing the latest update (PTXprint is constantly being improved).
- Download this text file: The Christmas Story Harmony.
- Edit the SFM file in a text editor to add the translation of the titles and section headings in the language you will print the Christmas story in.
- Recommended: Save this edited file in a Modules folder under your Paratext project folder: My Paratext 9 Projects > XYZBible > Modules
- You can create the Modules folder if it doesn’t exist already.
- Open PTXprint.
- If PTXprint is in Mini view, set it to Basic view using the view level option at the bottom left of PTXprint:
- Click the Basic tab (#1 below):
- Choose your Paratext project from the dropdown menu (#2 above).
- Select “Bible Module” and click Choose:
- It will show the files in the project’s Modules folder by default. If you saved the Module file somewhere else, navigate there instead.
- Select the Bible Module that you want to print.
- Click Open or press Enter.
- Optional: Adjust settings like font and page size.
- Click Print (Make PDF), lower right-hand corner.
If all of the included passages have been translated, you should now have the complete Christmas story from the three gospels! You can adjust the layout, font, spacing, etc. in PTXprint. Then click Print (Make PDF) again to check your changes. It shouldn’t be long before the Christmas story is ready to print and share!
For more training on how to use PTXprint, see these resources:
More Bible Modules
If you’d like to try more Bible Modules, you can find a list here. Just edit them and put them in your Modules folder to use them!
If you have Bible Modules that you would like to contribute, please email us at email@example.com.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The Paratext Support Team