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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007  

Reading the Bible Without Distraction

I've run across several blog posts recently talking about The Books of the Bible, an edition of the TNIV translation which presents the text in a single column without chapter and verse numbers, footnote markers, section headings, and the like. The thinking behind this is that those things tend to break up the text of the Bible, so that we read it as a series of individual aphorisms rather than as a continuous narrative or coherent argument.

While I think the folks behind The Books of the Bible are on the right track in many respects, my first thought when I saw it was, "Big deal, I've been able to do this with Accordance for years!" I hope my Accordance snobbery can be forgiven. I realize that a lot more went into The Books of the Bible than a simple formatting change. I also realize that reading the Bible in software is a different experience than reading it in print. Nevertheless, Accordance offers such flexibility in the way you format the text of the Bible that you can easily remove those elements which distract from continuous reading. Better still, you can enjoy that format in any translation. Heck, you can even view the same translation in side-by-side panes in two different formats!

Ever since version 1.0, Accordance users have been able to remove verse references from the text entirely. In translations which have paragraph markers (most, but not all, do), users could also format the text so that it flows in continuous paragraphs rather than the default format of displaying each verse on a separate line. In later versions, we added the capability to remove superscript characters from the text, to remove poetic formatting, to remove the red letter formatting for the words of Jesus, and even to hide your own highlighting (without removing it permanently). All of these options are available in the Set Text Display dialog box, which is accessible via the one keyboard shortcut you absolutely must learn, command-T.

When we overhauled the Accordance interface in version 6, we realized that many people had never really discovered all of these different formatting options, and that a lot of users wanted to be able to format the text in a way that was more conducive to reading. So we took some of those options which had always been available in the Set Text Display dialog and put them right in the Display menu, so that you could quickly reformat the text of the Bible.

The Show text as submenu lets you choose whether you want the text displayed as Separate Verses or continuous Paragraphs. You can even choose to hide the text and just show the references!

The Hide Verse References option lets you toggle the references on or off on the fly. That way, you can have them when you want them and quickly hide them when you don't.

In the following screenshot, you can see that I've removed the verse references and formatted the text as continuous paragraphs with space before and after each paragraph. I've also hidden all the superscript characters.

As you can see, even though the references are hidden, I can still tell what verse is at the top of the window pane by looking at the Go To box in the bottom right corner of the window. Thus, I still know generally where I am in the text, but the text is not chopped up by all those additional markings. Now if I use the auto-scroll feature of version 7, I can read the text with ease, without being distracted by all the helpful features which have been added to our Bibles over the last 500 hundred years.

Pretty cool, huh?





Comments:
It's definitely one of my favorite things about Accordance. I've encouraged others to try this in their devotional reading.

Good tip.

Grace and peace,
Tim
 

Now, you just need to print that out! Here's my Bible study notebook I "made" a few months ago. HERE.

It's been a great way to read and study the Bible. I believe I printed my version out with MacSword, but as you have shown, It's perfectly easy to use Accordance to do this, and it's more flexible in formatting to boot. The only other trick you will need is something to print out in booklet format. For this you will need CocoaBooklet.
 

For what it's worth, the folks who put The Books of The Bible together (meaning my coworkers and I) recently purchased Accordance and were thrilled to be able to turn the verses off, and on our Mac's no less! Bravo!
It's a great first step. Now how about a button that shows the literary marco structure of books? Maybe one that recombines and reorders to books?
 

Yes! And....

Could you please add the option to change the background color of the windows? Staring at a white screen all day is hard on the eyes and uses more energy.

Thank you! I do love Accordance.
 

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