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

Friday, January 11, 2008  

Christmas Challenge Results, Part 2

Last week, I began summarizing the various approaches used by those who responded to my "Christmas challenge." The challenge was to use Accordance to find out why most modern translations of Luke 2:14 read so differently from the KJV's familiar "peace, good will toward men." All those who responded discovered that the difference in wording stems from a single-letter difference between the Greek text behind the KJV and the Greek text behind most modern translations.

In my last post, I looked at three of the most common methods used to discover this textual difference: consulting the NET Notes, consulting Metzger's Textual Commentary, and comparing the Greek texts directly. Here are a few other approaches people took:

Search All. One user simply did a Search All for every module which contains a reference to Luke 2:14. This is a bit like drinking from a firehose, but it will get you a lot of information about Luke 2:14.

This user also pointed out a couple of issues which make such a search even broader than he thought necessary. First is the fact that there is currently no easy way to search for references to a single verse. A search for Luke 2:14 will find every reference to Luke chapter two or any range of verses which includes Luke 2:14. There is a trick you can use to get around that, but it's not exactly convenient. The ability to exclude ranges of verses from such a search is an enhancement we have planned for a future version of Accordance.

This user also pointed out what he saw as "false positives": references to the end of Luke chapter 1 in certain commentaries and notes modules. Believe it or not, this is a feature, not a bug. When searching the main reference field of Reference Tools, Accordance will take you to the nearest possible reference to the verse you searched for. That way, if a commentary doesn't have a comment on a specific verse, you are at least taken to the nearest relevant section of the commentary. In the Search All window, you can preview the results of a Scripture search and skip the false positives.

EBC Notes. The twelve-volume Expositor's Bible Commentary comes in two modules. EBC contains the main body of the commentary, while EBC Notes contains the more detailed technical information of the footnotes. One user, after comparing the Greek texts and looking at the NET Notes, turned to the EBC Notes and found a wealth of information there:

[EBC Notes] lists the two readings with respect to their age, discusses the likelihood of the addition or deletion of the final sigma, mentions textual critical canon: "prefer the more difficult reading," notes several finds from the Qumran caves that confirm the phrasing of the genitive, and references Metzger's suggestion that the genitive reading is "more in accordance with the doctrine of grace" than the other reading. On this verse, the EBC Notes yield an excellent collection of data.

Print commentaries. The previous example shows what a good commentary can give you. One user began his response to the challenge in Accordance, and then turned to a favorite print commentary:

BDAG settled the question of why modern translations have something like "peace among those with whom he is pleased.", but I was left with the question of why the KJV used a different translation. I suspected a different Greek manuscript was the reason, but that was only a guess.

At this point I had to leave Accordance to consult a commentary. I realize this may disqualify me since I abandoned Accordance at this point, but the truth is that most of the commentaries I use are not offered in Accordance modules. In this case I consulted what I consider to be the finest commentary on Luke in English, the two volume work by Joseph Fitzmyer.

[Fitzmyer] solved the rest of the puzzle . . .

Far from thinking this user should be "disqualified," I think he gave us an excellent example of how Accordance can be used in conjunction with other study aids. While he might have found the answer faster by consulting the NET Notes or some other Accordance module, he used Accordance as a springboard for further study elsewhere, and that's a strategy all of us may have to use at one point or another.

There are still more strategies to cover, but again, this post is getting pretty long. So look for part 3 of this series next week.





Comments:
When searching the main reference field of Reference Tools, Accordance will take you to the nearest possible reference to the verse you searched for. That way, if a commentary doesn't have a comment on a specific verse, you are at least taken to the nearest relevant section of the commentary.

It seems to me that this behaviour makes search all to be much more like drinking from a fire hose than it needs to be.

In the Search All window, you can preview the results of a Scripture search and skip the false positives.

A bit painful. I'd prefer to start out with the most focused results (excluding those verse ranges too), and then have a button at the bottom a la Google "Get even more results that were excluded from this search".

One wants to start a search focused and then branch out as a last resort. Not be immediately squirted with the fire hose.
 

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