Accordance Blog
Dec 12, 2014 David Lang

Commentaries Go To 11, Part 2

In this series of posts, I’ve been talking about how the newest version of Accordance takes various features and ”turns them up to 11”. My last post discussed how the Info Pane makes it easier to discover which commentaries in your Accordance library actually discuss your current passage. I ended that post by promising to help you arrange your commentaries in the Library to get the most out of the Commentaries section of the Info Pane. Here goes:

How the Info Pane Displays Commentaries: The Info Pane displays your commentaries in the order they appear in your Library, except that it skips any commentaries which do not include a comment on the current verse. For example, let’s say I have an Old Testament commentary like Keil & Delitzsch at the top of my list of commentaries. As long as I am looking at a New Testament verse, Keil & Delitzsch will never appear in the Info Pane. If my first ten commentaries only cover the Old Testament, then my eleventh commentary will be the first to appear in the Info Pane whenever I am studying a New Testament verse.

Recognizing this can help you to arrange your commentaries in such a way that the Info Pane will present you with commentaries you might otherwise overlook. Below is a screenshot of my current system of organization—color-coded so you can see the relationship between the Library and the Info Pane.

OrganizedForInfo

From Narrow to Broad: Prior to the advent of the Info Pane, I tended to organize my commentaries so that those which covered the entire Bible came first, followed by partial or specialized commentaries. The problem with such a broad-to-narrow arrangement is that I never see those partial or specialized commentaries in the Info Pane, since all those complete commentaries appear in the first five, ten, or even fifteen spots. That’s a shame, because we have some really fantastic commentaries which only cover a small portion of the Bible.

For example, Bruce Waltke’s commentary on Genesis has quickly become my favorite commentary on that particular book. Likewise, I love Beale and Carson’s Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, which only covers a specific set of Old and New Testament passages. Since those commentaries will only appear in the Info Pane when they actually cover my current passage, it makes sense to move them toward the top of the list, ahead of all those commentaries that cover the entire Bible and will therefore always show up.

Using Folders: If you group your commentaries into folders, those folders will not show up in the Info Pane, but they will appear in the Library and as submenus in your Commentaries menu. Since I don’t want to scroll past every partial or specialized commentary to get to my mainstays, I created a folder named “Specialized/Partial” to contain them all. I then put that folder near the top of my commentaries for the reasons mentioned above. After that I have other folders grouping my more complete commentaries by type. A folder named “Expository” contains all those commentaries that give you a basic sense of a passage’s meaning without getting bogged down in too many technical discussions. Below that are my “Technical” commentaries: those thick-volumed sets that dig into every jot and tittle of the text. Further down the list I have “Background” commentaries, “Application” commentaries, “Patristic” and “Classic” commentaries, etc. These categories helps me find the commentaries that best suit my purpose at any given time.

Mixing Things Up: There’s one major downside to the way I’ve grouped my commentaries into these categories. In each category, I have a few favorite commentaries, followed by commentaries I don’t use as often. I might do better to add a Favorites folder to contain my favorites from each category. That way, the Info Pane might present me with a better mix of Expository, Technical, and Classic commentaries.

Starting With a Summary: When I’m studying a passage, I try to put off turning to commentaries as long as possible. It’s too easy to begin reading a passage through the lens of a commentary, so I try to wrestle with the passage on my own before consulting one. When I do turn to commentaries, I tend to look for as little help as possible, so I’ll begin with the more general “Expository” commentaries. Only when I am really struggling with an interpretive question will I delve into my more “Technical” commentaries. Because I like to get as little help as possible, I’ve placed Fee and Stuart’s How To Read the Bible Book by Book at the very top of my commentary list. It’s a helpful reader’s guide which gives a brief overview of each passage with hints of literary features to watch for. I often find that is all the help I need. If you don’t have that, you might consider starting with a Bible Handbook or a good set of Study Bible notes.

Speaking of Study Bibles: Study Bibles are basically super-concise commentaries, but they are now automatically placed in a separate Study Bibles folder in the Library. Nevertheless, they will show up in the Info Pane if you display enough commentaries. For me, I have to show about 35 book covers before the first Study Bible will appear. Of course, I could always move a few favorite Study Bibles up so they show up in the Info Pane sooner. I could either move them into the Commentaries folder somewhere, or I could create a Favorites folder that grouped my favorite commentaries and study Bibles together. The new Library gives you that level of flexibility, and the Info Pane offers a strong incentive to prioritize your favorite resources.

Personally, I’m still experimenting with how to organize my commentaries in order to get the most out of the Info Pane. I hope you find some of these suggestions helpful in developing your own system. By optimizing the way commentaries appear in the Info Pane, you can turn your commentaries “up to 11” and experience Bible study that really rocks.


 

Dec 10, 2014 David Lang

Commentaries Go to 11

In this series of posts, I’ve been talking about how the newest version of Accordance takes features like the Library and triple-clicking and ”turns them up to 11”. In today’s post, I want to focus on how commentaries now “go to 11.” I also want to offer some tips for how to organize your commentaries to get that “extra push over the cliff.”

Accordance has long enabled you to view commentaries in parallel panes that scroll alongside the Bible, or to open them in separate tool tabs to browse and search them. Unfortunately, short of doing a global search for a verse reference, there was no way to tell which commentaries actually included a comment on your passage of study. You therefore always ran the risk of opening a commentary that wasn’t relevant to your current study.

Accordance 11 has now introduced the Info Pane to solve that problem. The Info Pane acts as a clearing-house of information about your passage. To open it, simply select Info Pane from the Add Parallel pop-up menu.

InfoPaneMenu

The first section of the Info Pane shows you the covers of the first five (or more, depending on your settings) commentaries which contain a comment on the verse at the top of the window. As you scroll through the text, the information in the Info Pane will update to reflect the current verse.

InfoPane

Previewing and Opening Commentaries: If you hover your mouse over one of the commentary book covers, you’ll see a preview of the comment in the Instant Details box. That way, you can quickly skim through your commentaries to see which are most helpful. Once you find one you want to explore further, simply click the book cover to open that commentary in a parallel pane. Hold down the shift key while clicking a cover to force the commentary to open in a vertical pane, or hold down the command key (on Mac) or Ctrl key (on Windows) to open the commentary in a separate tool tab.

Customizing the Info Pane: You can customize how your commentaries appear in the Info Pane by selecting Set Info Pane Display from the Gear menu.

InfoPaneSettings

In the dialog that opens, you can set the size of the covers and text, hide the covers altogether, and specify how many commentaries you want to appear when you first open the Info Pane. Once you’ve made your changes, be sure to click the Use As Default button to make the changes permanent.

Organizing Your Commentaries for Best Results: This is where I’m going to show you how to get that “extra push over the cliff” I promised. Unfortunately, this post is already getting long, so it will have to wait. In my next post, I’ll give you advice for how you can arrange your commentaries in the Library to get the most out of the Commentaries section of the Info Pane. Stay tuned…


 

Feb 1, 2013 David Lang

EBC Revised Now Complete

EBC R When it rains it pours. The past couple weeks I have been doing my best to keep up with a flood of new Accordance modules which have come to me for final checks. Be looking for lots of new goodies to appear very soon. In the meantime, you can enjoy one of these new releases today: the Revised Edition of Expositor's Bible Commentary is now complete.

We released the New Testament volumes of the Revised EBC last October, with a promise to release the Old Testament volumes "in a few more weeks." As weeks stretched into months, we've received more and more "When?" questions via phone, email, and forums. If you've ever wondered why we are usually so reluctant to forecast release dates, now you know: it's just too easy for those dates to slip, and we are unwilling to sacrifice quality just for the sake of meeting a deadline.

On the other hand, I'm personally encouraged that we received so many requests for the release of the Old Testament volumes. It shows that many of you are preaching and teaching portions of the Hebrew Bible, rather than neglecting it in favor of the New Testament. Those of you who are should be very pleased with the addition of these new volumes, while those of you who are currently focused on the New Testament will also benefit from this update, which now includes extensive hyperlinking to other Accordance resources.

All in all, those of you who have already purchased the Revised EBC will find that your patience has been rewarded with an excellent commentary in a super-convenient form. Just choose Check for Content Updates… from the Accordance menu to download the completed commentary.

As for those of you who haven't yet picked up the new EBC, what are you waiting for?


 

Oct 1, 2012 David Lang

Baker Exegetical Commentary Now Available

BECNT-Matt-sm I'm pleased to announce that the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT) is now available as an Accordance module. BECNT has long been one of our most requested commentary series, and it's no wonder. Bestcommentaries.com ranks more than half the volumes in this series among the top three commentaries on their respective books of the Bible, and most of the other volumes rank in the top ten. For more about the series and its individual volumes, see this detailed article.

The BECNT is available now for $699.99.


 

Jun 14, 2012 David Lang

Baker Serves Up Beale-Carson; More Cooking

Beale&Carson-cover-sm We are very pleased to announce a new partnership with Baker Academic to bring new commentaries and reference works to Accordance. The first confectionary delight served up by this partnership is available right now: The Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson. The next batch of goodies will include two other commentaries: The Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series and the New Testament Commentary series by William Hendricksen and Simon J. Kistemaker. While those others are still cooking, let's take a moment to savor the sweetness of the Beale & Carson Commentary.

I've been excited about the prospect of getting the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament ever since it was first released in print. I haven't been the only one, either: it has consistently been among the commentaries most frequently requested by our users. If you've ever read a New Testament quotation of an Old Testament passage, then been puzzled when you read the quoted passage in context, you'll understand why. The New Testament writers quoted their sources far more freely than we are often comfortable with, especially given our expectations of scientific precision and journalistic accuracy. Sometimes they quote a passage and interpret it in a way that seems questionable, and we struggle to understand what is going on.

For example, Paul quotes Psalm 68:18 in Ephesians 4:8, yet changes personal pronouns from "you" to "he" and speaks of giving gifts to people rather than receiving gifts from them. What are we to make of such changes? How would people react to us if we changed the wording of Biblical passages to suit our arguments?

For this passage, as well as every other New Testament quotation of the Old Testament, the Beale & Carson commentary examines the New Testament context in which the quotation is used, the original context of the quoted passage in the Old Testament, how the quoted passage was understood by contemporary Jewish interpreters, and any text-critical issues which may be affecting how the original passage was quoted. All of these factors are then taken into account to assess and summarize how the quotation is being made. Finally, the theological implications of the author's use of that quotation are considered.

In a case like Ephesians 4:8, there is actually a surprising amount of information to unravel. For example, one Greek manuscript of Psalm 68:18 actually changes some of the pronouns from "you" to "he," just as Paul did. That may indicate that Paul was quoting from a particular textual tradition that had already made this change, but it may also be that a scribe copying the Greek of Psalm 68:18 may have accidentally changed the pronouns because of his familiarity with Paul's quotation in Ephesians 4:8! Similarly, Jewish interpretations of Psalm 68:18 show an interesting parallel to Ephesians 4:8 in that they view Moses as the one ascending to heaven to receive the law and in turn give it to the Israelites. Was Paul aware of these interpretations and deliberately arguing that it was Christ rather than Moses who ascended in order to give the Spirit rather than the law?

Of course, you'll have to read the commentary to see what the authors conclude about this passage, but I think you can see from this example why a Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament is so helpful and in demand.

The Beale & Carson commentary is currently on sale, so be sure to get it while it's fresh out of the oven.


 

Mar 28, 2012 David Lang

Fire Bible and Acts Commentary

Fire Bible Last week saw a spate of new Accordance module releases. Among them were the notes to the Fire Bible: Global Study Edition. Originally titled The Full Life Study Bible, it began in the early 1980s as a missionary project by the late Don Stamps (1938-1991). While Rev. Stamps was serving in Brazil, he recognized a great need among pastors and lay workers for a study Bible written from a Pentecostal perspective. Later published as the Life in the Spirit Study Bible, it was first called the Fire Bible by believers in mainland China after they received Bibles in their own languages. Often referred to as a one-book Pentecostal library, the Fire Bible contains 77 theme articles, 45 maps and charts, introductions to each book of the Bible, and Pentecostal study notes.

acts-horton-cover-sm In addition to the Fire Bible notes, we also released a commentary on the book of Acts by Pentecostal scholar Stanley Horton. This commentary is very readable and features study questions after each major section, so it is suitable for personal and group study. It is also copiously footnoted, and just skimming the footnotes gives the impression that Horton has read and interacted with every commentary on Acts ever written. Since many of the distinctives of the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition are derived from the book of Acts, this commentary will prove extremely helpful both to those who belong to that tradition and those who wish to understand it better.

Both the Fire Bible Notes and Horton's Commentary on Acts are on sale through March 31.


 

Mar 27, 2012 David Lang

A Commentary To Help You Craft Better Sermons

Phillips-set-sm If you're a preacher or teacher, your work is only half done when you've finished exegeting a passage. Next you face the daunting task of organizing what you've discovered into a meaningful sermon or lesson. Unfortunately, most commentaries focus on helping with the task of exegesis, but do little to help with the challenge of communication. The Exploring Commentary Series by John Phillips is different: it focuses on presenting the books it covers in a way that can be easily communicated with others.

First, Phillips organizes his commentaries around extensive alliterative outlines of each book. If your congregation expects you to alliterate every point and subpoint of your sermon, Phillips' outlines alone will be an enormous help. Here's an example of how Phillips outlines the book of Mark:

 

PhillipsOutline

 

Even if you're not a big fan of such extensive use of alliteration, you'll likely find that Phillips' outlines help you divide a passage up into individual sermons or lessons, present the passage in a way your listeners can understand, and avoid getting side-tracked by minor points and rabbit trails.

In addition to his gift for outlining the books he covers, Phillips also has an engaging narrative style. He weaves helpful background information together with interesting stories and illustrations in a way that draws the reader into the text rather than taking the reader's focus off of the text.

For example, when commenting on Romans 1:20, Phillips quotes Longfellow to illustrate the power of nature to reveal God. He then follows it up with a quote by F. W. Boreham discussing the self-deception of the man who claims that "he does not need a church in order to worship. He finds God in nature." Boreham's point is that such a man finds God only in nature's beauty and must conveniently ignore its cruelty—a point which Phillips then goes on to illustrate with a poem by Robert Louis Stephenson. Phillips finally draws this discussion to a close in a way that clearly reinforces the message of Romans 1:20.

Phillips' commentaries read like the kinds of sermons and Bible lessons we would all like to hear. Preachers and teachers would do well to soak in the richness of Phillips' narrative style.

Phillips' Commentary consists of twenty-seven volumes covering Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Daniel, the Minor Prophets, and every book of the New Testament except Jude. It lists for $650.00, but you can pick it up for just $169.99 from now through April 3.

If you're looking for a commentary that can help you organize your material, craft better sermons and lessons, and illustrate them with engaging stories, you'll find Phillips Commentary to be an indispensable resource.


 

Jan 10, 2012 David Lang

New Testament Translators’ Handbooks Now Available

UBS Hand-Heb-cover I'm pleased to announce the release of an Accordance edition of the United Bible Society’s New Testament Handbook Series, a twenty-volume set of commentaries designed to provide practicing translators with “valuable exegetical, historical, cultural, and linguistic information” to help them render the New Testament text in other languages. This will obviously be a welcome resource to the many professional translators who rely on Accordance, but the UBS Handbook Series is also a fantastic resource for the rest of us.

The UBS Handbooks differ from other commentaries in that they don't just stop at analyzing the meaning of a passage. Instead, they go one step further to suggest the best way to convey that meaning in a target language. That's not just the kind of help professional translators need; it's the kind of thing every preacher and teacher of the Bible must do. For each phrase or expression in the text, the UBS Handbooks will suggest specific wordings, caution against renderings which might lead to misunderstandings, show how a literal rendering might actually be misleading, etc. Since preachers and teachers are looking for clear ways to explain the meaning of the text to contemporary Bible readers, these discussions are immediately applicable to the teaching task.

Another advantage the UBS Handbooks have over other commentaries is that they cannot just focus on the major aspects of a passage while glossing over the minor points. SInce a translator must know how to render every single phrase of a passage, even minor expressions receive serious attention. If you're preaching on some minor aspect of a passage, you may find that these handbooks offer more help than more traditional commentaries.

One of the most surprising things about these commentaries is that they are much more accessible than you might expect. After all, their primary audience is professional translators who must have an in depth knowledge of the original Greek. These commentaries could easily have been written for that level of technical expertise, but happily, they're written at a level anyone can understand. Commentary begins not with the Greek text, but with a typical English translation of the text. The structure of the underlying Greek is usually dealt with indirectly, and when it is discussed explicitly, the Greek text is transliterated.

The UBS Handbooks list at $600 but are currently on sale for just $199.99, and can be downloaded directly to your Mac or iOS device. You can order them here.


 

Jan 4, 2012 David Lang

Want Individual Volumes of NICOT? No Problem!

NICOT-Num-cover-sm

Many people like to buy multi-volume commentaries as complete sets, and doing so generally results in the lowest price per volume. Accordance offers a number of these large sets, such as Word, NAC, NIGTC, Pillar, Hermeneia, Tyndale, NICNT, NICOT, etc. Purchase just one or two of these sets and you'll have a commentary library that would require several bookshelves to house all the print volumes. In addition to saving money on bookshelves (and the time it takes to assemble them!), buying these sets in Accordance is typically much cheaper than buying them in print.

Still, even the Accordance editions of these commentary sets often require a significant investment, and it can be hard to justify spending hundreds of dollars on a complete set when all you really need are the volumes on the books of the Bible you're currently studying. A pastor preaching through Isaiah, for example, could spend the money for the complete NICOT series and get one commentary on Isaiah, or he could take that same money and buy just the Isaiah volumes from a half-dozen different commentary series. When finished with Isaiah, he can then do the same thing with the next Bible book he preaches from.

Last month, we released the New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT) as a complete set, and the folks who buy commentaries that way have been snapping them up. Now we're offering individual volumes for purchase to accommodate those of you who prefer the volume-by-volume approach. As with all the commentaries for which we offer individual volumes, we'll still give you a discount for purchasing three or more volumes together. See this page to purchase individual volumes of NICOT and other commentary series.

Do you prefer buying complete commentary sets or individual volumes? Why?

Any bookshelf-assembly or had-to-move-my-print-library horror stories you want to share?


 

Oct 3, 2011 David Lang

Easily Get the Best of Both Worlds

In my previous post, I explained the difference between opening a commentary in a pane alongside your Bible text and opening it in a separate zone. In brief, opening a commentary in a pane has the advantage of automatically scrolling with the text, while opening a commentary in a separate zone lets you search and navigate the commentary itself. I also showed how you can manually tie the scrolling of a commentary in one zone with a Bible text in another: effectively giving you the best of both worlds. In today's post, I want to show you an even easier way to do that.

If you amplify from a Bible text to a commentary, the commentary will open in a separate zone which is automatically tied to the Bible text you amplified from. To see how this works, start with a Bible text and select any portion of a verse reference. Then select the desired commentary from the Reference Tools pop-up menu of the Resource palette.

AmplifyRefToolMenu

Not only will that commentary open in a new zone and display the commentary on the selected verse, it will also be tied to your Bible text so that it will scroll along with it. It's just that easy.

AmplifyRefTool