Accordance Blog
Dec 27, 2013 David Lang

The PhotoMuseum: An Odyssey of Learning

PhotoMuseum_120 On Monday, I announced the release of the Bible Times PhotoMuseum, a richly illustrated guide to the people of the Bible along with the activities they engaged in and the objects they used. Today I want to tell you about how this unique new resource was conceived and developed.

Dr. J was apparently the first to suggest that we develop a resource similar to the Bible Lands PhotoGuide that would focus on Biblical people, activities, and objects rather than places. It was a great idea. We already had a huge collection of photos that we couldn't really use in the PhotoGuide, but that would be perfect for a resource like Dr. J had suggested.

Since I had written the original PhotoGuide years ago, I was asked if I would like to tackle this new resource focused on Biblical objects. On the one hand, I was excited at the prospect of writing the PhotoMuseum. I learned so much about the Bible in writing the PhotoGuide, and I knew researching all these Biblical objects would be a fantastic learning experience. On the other hand, I well remembered the massive amount of work involved in writing the PhotoGuide and the challenge of trying to get it ready for release. I was admittedly a little hesitant about taking on another project of that magnitude, and my employers were a little hesitant about assigning it to a perfectionist notorious for missing deadlines!

In spite of the hesitations, the PhotoMuseum was assigned to me and I began wading through thousands of photos of ancient artifacts: weapons, coins, weights, altars, seals, inscriptions, artwork … you name it. Based on the photos I had available at that time, I sketched out a tentative list of articles and began researching the various topics.

Writing the PhotoMuseum has been a very organic process. Sometimes I would start by writing on a given subject. I'd do my research, write my article, and then begin combing through our photo collection for images which illustrate what I had written. At other times, it was the images which inspired the writing or led me to explore things I hadn't thought about before. Usually it was a combination of both, with writing leading me to photos which prompted additional writing which in turn led to more photos! Often my search for pictures to illustrate one article would lead me to pictures that would illustrate other articles. It seemed that at every turn I was learning something new and, much to my chagrin, finding new topics I felt I needed to include.

I began writing the PhotoMuseum just over two years ago, and in that time we've added thousands more photos to our collection. Consequently, "completion" of the PhotoMuseum became something of a moving target. This initial release of the PhotoMuseum is really just the beginning. Those who purchase it can look forward to additional content and photos in future updates. And I can look forward to continuing my odyssey of learning.


 

Dec 23, 2013 David Lang

What in the World is a PhotoMuseum?

PhotoMuseum_120 I'm very pleased to announce the release of a unique new Accordance resource: The Accordance Bible Times PhotoMuseum. What in the world is a “PhotoMuseum”? I'm so glad you asked.

Many of you are familiar with our Bible Lands PhotoGuide, which is essentially a richly illustrated guide to Biblical places like Gibeon, Hazor, and Jerusalem. Set the PhotoGuide as the tool to link to when you double-click a place name in the Accordance Bible Atlas, and the Atlas becomes infinitely more useful. (You can do that in the Map Tab Display settings of the Preferences.)

Where the PhotoGuide covers Biblical places, the new Bible Times PhotoMuseum covers ancient peoples (Edomites, Moabites, Philistines), along with the objects they used (Altars, Houses, Weapons) and the activities they pursued (Fishing, Music, Personal Grooming). It's a bit like an illustrated Bible dictionary, but it's like no Bible dictionary you've ever seen.

You see, most Bible dictionaries offer a general treatment of a subject and then illustrate it with a picture or two. The PhotoMuseum is unique in that it begins with the artifacts themselves, treating each subject by exploring the actual archaeological finds which inform our knowledge of that subject. In other words, it lets you look at the actual clues so you can better understand how they help unravel the mystery of the Biblical world.

For example, 2 Samuel 2:14-16 relates how the generals Joab and Abner chose twelve pairs of young soldiers to duel one another for the entertainment of the troops. Each of these soldiers then "grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his sword into his opponent’s side." Commentaries on this passage sometimes mention a stone relief found in the Aramean city of Sam'al which shows two men dueling in exactly this way, indicating it may have been a stylized form of combat. Yet no commentary I saw included an actual picture of this relief. Because we began with the artifacts themselves, combing through thousands of photos for artifacts which illustrate the Bible, we found this relief (which is unassumingly displayed in a museum alongside dozens of similar reliefs), and immediately recognized its importance. You'll find it illustrating the article on "Sword and Dagger."

PhotoMuseum1

This is just one example. The PhotoMuseum is packed with nearly 600 high quality illustrations of important Biblical artifacts, and the significance of those artifacts is thoroughly explained and related to the Biblical passages they help us understand. Anyone familiar with the PhotoGuide knows that it is far more than a collection of photos of Biblical sites. In the same way, the PhotoMuseum has been carefully researched and designed to give you another window into the Biblical world.

PhotoMuseum2

I'll be blogging more about the PhotoMuseum throughout the week: detailing how it was conceived, how it was developed, some of the things that make it unique, and our plans to expand it further. We're really excited about this new resource, and hope it will be as well-received as the PhotoGuide has been.

The Accordance Bible Times PhotoMuseum is on sale now through January 3, 2014 for just $47.99, a savings of $12.00 off the regular price of $59.99. It is immediately available to be downloaded through Easy Install. Treat yourself to an early Christmas present and start exploring it today.


 

Dec 7, 2012 David Lang

Organizing Your Library: English Tools

Last week, I showed you how I organize all the Text modules in my Accordance Library. Today we'll look at how I organize my English Tools. This is, of course, simply the way I organize my modules. You may find my system worthy of emulation, or you may decide it isn't for you. Whichever is true, I hope this series will get you thinking about how best to organize your own Accordance library.

Remember that you can open your Library in Accordance 10 simply by clicking the Library icon on the Toolbar. To filter your library so that it only shows the Tools, click the Tools button at the bottom of the Library panel. To view your English Tools, simply click the disclosure triangle for that category.

OrganizeEnglish1

What are English Tools? They are not merely study aids primarily written in English, but rather resources which are organized by the English (or more properly the Latin) alphabet. So this is where you'll find all your Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias, word study books, topical Bibles, alphabetized collections of quotations, etc. If it's a book arranged in English alphabetical order, then you'll find it under English tools.

Since dictionaries are the most obvious kind of resource in this category, I have all my more general kinds of dictionaries pushed to the top of the list. With the exception of the dictionaries from InterVarsity Press, which I keep grouped in a folder, I leave most of my dictionaries at the top level of the English Tools category. That way, when I open the corresponding English Tools menus throughout the program, I don't have to navigate through a submenu to access my most used dictionaries.

As far as the order of my dictionaries is concerned, I have Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary at the top of my English Tools so that it will be the dictionary that opens whenever I triple-click an English word. Below that I have other general Bible dictionaries, followed by the aforementioned IVP folder. Inside the IVP folder, I start with a general reference, the New Bible Dictionary, followed by the more specialized Old Testament and New Testament dictionaries and dictionaries devoted to specific topics. The various IVP Pocket Dictionaries are at the bottom of this list. After the IVP Dictionaries, I have the Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. If I didn't have Anchor, Eerdmans would likely be higher up in my list, but since it is similar to Anchor in scope and perspective, yet not as exhaustive in its treatment of each subject, I've placed it here.

After that I have an admittedly odd chain of connections. The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism comes next because it is by the same publisher as the Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. After that, I have the JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words—different publisher, but loosely related subject matter. I say "loosely" because the Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism offers a scholarly level treatment of Judaism during the period between the fourth century BC and the second century AD. The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, on the other hand, defines modern Jewish expressions and practices, such as hanukkah and mazel tov. Still, it seems fitting to me to keep these two together. After that I have some lesser used dictionaries including older Bible dictionaries, Webster's English Dictionary, and some Zondervan dictionaries which are basically abridgments of the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible (ZEB).

OrganizeEnglish2

Beneath these more general dictionaries, I have folders for more specialized kinds of alphabetized resources. These include Word Studies, which contains various books dealing with key biblical concepts and the Greek or Hebrew words behind them. Next I have History/Biography, Geography (where I keep the Bible Lands PhotoGuide), and Quotes. Note that Quotes contains collections of quotes which are alphabetized by subject matter. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, which is arranged chronologically rather than alphabetically, is a General Tool and so does not appear in this category. Finally, I have Topical resources, and a folder named Translations. This contains glossaries and other alphabetized helps which are usually included with a particular translation of the Bible. For example, the HCSB translation includes bullets beside key words which point to a glossary in the back of most print editions. We include the HCSB Bullets glossary as an English Tool. I've placed it, and similar resources, in this Translations folder.

Last of all, I have the Latin Dictionary and the database of Accordance Module Info. These don't really merit a folder of their own and I rarely consult them, so I just have them floating at the bottom of the list.

That's how I have my English Tools arranged, and I hope it helps some of you think through your own systems of organization. If you have a different system you'd like to share, feel free to do so in the comments on this post.


 

Mar 30, 2012 David Lang

IVP Pocket Dictionaries and Baptism Views

Pock-Hebrew-cover-sm As I mentioned on Wednesday, last week we released a bunch of new Accordance modules. Among them are several new books by InterVarsity Press: three new pocket dictionaries and a book exploring three views of baptism.

The pocket dictionaries include The Pocket Dictionary for the Study of Biblical Hebrew, The Pocket Dictionary of Church History, and the The Pocket Dictionary of Ethics. These concise dictionaries are all priced under ten dollars and offer helpful definitions of important terms in their respective fields of study. A bundle of all three dictionaries is currently on sale for just $18.99.

Baptism: Three Views Baptism3-cover-sm offers helpful discussion among proponents of three different views of baptism. Bruce Ware presents the "Believer’s Baptism" view, Sinclair Ferguson offers the "Infant Baptism" view, and Anthony Lane puts forward a "Dual-Practice Baptism" view. Each participant in the discussion offers a response to the other views presented, and the entire discussion is conducted with a collegial tone. If you're struggling to understand the long-standing debate between credo-baptists and paedo-baptists, you'll find this book extremely helpful. It too is currently on sale, along with a number of other resources of pastoral interest.

Be sure to grab these helpful resources before the sale ends.


 

Aug 11, 2011 David Lang

The Pastor's Study: Cross-Word Dictionary and the CIA

StudyIt's been a while since our last installment of The Pastor's Study, but I'm grateful for some other pastors who have chosen to contribute to this series. This new installment comes from Levi Durfey, Pastor-Teacher of the First Baptist Church of Baker, Montana.

How I Use Accordance in My Sermon Preparation

Preparation

While I use Accordance’s user notes feature for short notes and quotes, I use iWork Pages for the writing of my sermon notes. This is partly because I like writing in one tool instead of using two and transferring from one to another, and partly because Accordance notes do not support Mac Services (Which I depend on for a very good clipboard utility named PTH Pasteboard and Joe Weak’s Accordance services for copying and pasting verses from Accordance into documents).

So one of the first things I do is create a new Pages document. (If needed, I create a separate document for each chapter of the Bible.) This document is 5.75 inches wide so that it fits nicely beside Accordance. I then paste in the sermon text in English and Greek (using the Accordance services that Joe Weaks made). I use the parsing function in Accordance and print out the parsing for the passage for easy reference.

I also copy the English and Greek texts to another document, which I call my “Observation Worksheet.” There I double-space the text and print it. At the beginning of my study, and continuing throughout the study, I use this sheet to jot down little bits of information, draw connecting lines, mark key words, etc. I find that my mental juices flow more easily at times with good old-fashioned pen and paper.

I use my observation worksheet to jot down my observations about the text.

Cross-Word-Dictionary and the C.I.A.

I work through the text systematically, verse by verse. First, I read the whole passage aloud or silently and jot any new insights onto my Observation Worksheet (I do this after each verse).

Then I precede through the verse systematically, using the phrase, “Cross-Word-Dictionary and the C.I.A.” as my guide. As insights come to me, I write them down in my notes. Here’s my Accordance and Pages layout:

My Accordance and Pages Layout

1. CROSS-references: One of my favorite Accordance features is how you can hover your mouse over a list of cross-references. When you do, it turns to a magnifying glass. Then you can click and select some or all the references. When you release the click, all those references open in a separate window. From there you can easily read through all the references without hovering over each one and reading it in the Instant Details box.

In terms of my study, doing cross-references first helps me see the wider Biblical picture first, before I get into the details of the verse. For my sermons, I usually pick only a few: ones that the congregation knows or should know or ones that would make a good Biblical illustration.

2. WORD studies: This step actually includes several parts. I work through the Greek, using the parsing sheet that I printed earlier. I look for any grammatical insights and connections.

Then I may look up some of the words in a lexicon. For in-depth study, I have a separate “Greek Lexicons” workspace with all my main lexicons opened in separate tabs. All I have to do is select the word, click on the “Favorites” icon and select the “Greek Lexicons” and it opens my lexicons to the appropriate word.

Accordance Sermon Prep 3

I often do a word search on the word to see how it is used elsewhere (right click on the word and select “Search For”). I have a tab named “Greek Search” set on recycle so it is used for every Greek search I make. Accordance allows me to open a parallel English text alongside the search results in Greek, so it isn’t a hassle to quickly scan my search results.

This is also the step where I compare translations (for which I have a separate tab in Accordance) to see what other translators did with the word definitions and grammar in the verse.

3. Bible DICTIONARY: Is there an obvious topic or a cultural question? I try to make my first stop a Bible dictionary rather than a commentary. I have the IVP Dictionaries in Accordance as well as the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. I’ve put these into a group called “Dictionaries,” so all I have to do is click the search icon on the Resource Toolbar to search all my dictionaries. It's nice that I don't have to wade through the whole article of each search hit in each dictionary, as the Search All window will just show the relevant parts of the articles where a hit was found.

Accordance Sermon Prep 4

Next I move on to the C.I.A.

4. Commentaries: I have separate tabs for the commentaries in Accordance. I don’t want to see them too early in my study, so I don’t keep them visible. I try not to just copy and paste. I read, and then try to put whatever interested me (or answered a question) into my own words.

5. Illustrate: It’s miserable to get done with your sermon study and then have to find illustrations. If the week was too busy, you end up skipping them. So I try to illustrate as I go. I am not trying to find a neat story to entertain people, I want to illustrate the points and principles that I am finding in the text.

6. Apply: What are the implications for us? Again, I don’t want to be left on Saturday trying to figure out applications, so I make it a point to try and find them as I go through the text.

After I work through a verse, I go back to my Observation Worksheet and read the text again to keep sight of the forest and start the process over with the next verse.

Concluding Steps

Another step, after I’ve worked through the passage completely and if I have the time, is to use FoxTrot Personal Search to search my past sermons and other articles and sermons that I’ve collected.

I will Search [All Tools] in Accordance. I love how I can search for a range, like Romans 9:19-24, and Accordance will pick up single references like 9:20 and 9:21, or even phrases like “verse twenty-two.”

As a final step, I refine the notes and shape them into sermon form. I copy information that I don’t need to the end of the document. I usually put Pages into full-screen mode for this, as I like being able to focus on just the sermon.

One inspirational quote that I keep before me is this (I’ve lost the reference):

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a gifted expositor who saw preaching not as “preaching a sermon for each service, but simply [as] continuing where he was in the ongoing exposition of a book of the Bible.”

That’s what I want to do. Accordance, because of its speed, its tool set, and its ability to help me focus on the Bible, is an integral part of my own ongoing exposition of the Bible.