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

Friday, June 27, 2008  

Deissmann's Bible Studies

[Today's guest blogger is Rick Bennett, one of the members of our module development team. I asked Rick to write a brief blog post about the value of Deissmann's Bible studies, one of the new modules included in the Scholar's Standard level. He responded by writing a full-blown book review. Enjoy.]

One of the newest additions to the Scholar's Collection is Dr. G. Adolf Deissmann's renowned work, Bible Studies: Contributions Chiefly from Papyri and Inscriptions to the History of the Language, Literature, and the Religion of Hellenistic Judaism and Primitive Christianity. Originally published in German as two separate works, Biblestudien (1895), and Neue Bibelstudien (1897) our version represents the 1901 English edition translated by Alexander Grieve and published by T & T Clark.

The importance of this work is evident in the number of times it is cited (over 100 times in BDAG, and 150 in WBC-NT), and in the praise it has received from New Testament scholars. In commenting upon the place of New Testament Greek within its larger linguistic context, Dan Wallace writes:

... in 1895, Adolf Deissmann published his Bibelstudien—an innocently titled work that was to revolutionize the study of the NT. In this work (later translated into English under the title Bible Studies) Deissmann showed that the Greek of the NT was not a language invented by the Holy Spirit (Hermann Cremer had called it "Holy Ghost Greek," largely because 10 percent of its vocabulary had no secular parallels).

Deissmann demonstrated that the vast bulk of NT vocabulary was to be found in the papyri. The pragmatic effect of Deissmann's work was to render obsolete virtually all lexica and lexical commentaries written before the turn of the century (ExSyn, 25).

In this brief article I will outline the basic contents of the book and give an overview of the enhancements and advantages of the Accordance version.

Summary

The book is divided into seven chapters, the first two of which originally comprised Biblestudien, and the latter Neue Biblestudien. In his Prolegomena to the Biblical Letters and Epistles, Deissmann sets out to distinguish between letters and epistles, and to answer the question: "Was Paul a letter-writer or an epistolographer?" (42).

Chapters two and three comprise the greatest portion of the book and function both as a grammar and lexicon. For this reason we've made some interesting enhancements to how we handle the Greek words and phrases (see below).

It is these chapters that gave Wallace the basis for his praise of Deissmann's scholarship. Deissmann has selected key words and phrases and, by way of a commanding knowledge of the papyri and inscriptions published during his time, defined them on the basis of their Biblical and extra-Biblical context.

In addition to chapters two and three, chapter four, An Epigraphical Memorial to the Septuagint, is relevant not only to New Testament studies, but to Septuagint and Cognate studies as well. In this chapter Deissmann gives a full transcription, translation, and line-by-line explanation of an inscription which "has been influenced in the most marked degree by the ideas of Greek Judaism, or, what is practically the same, of the Alexandrian Old Testament" (273).

In the final three chapters, Deissmann focuses on some specific areas of Biblical studies that can be aided by his investigations in the papyri and inscriptions.

Chapter five contains a description of select Biblical persons and names aided by both epigraphical and papyrological sources.

Chapter six gives a unique look into the various ways the Tetragrammaton (Hebrew designation for the sacred name of God) has been transcribed in Greek. This chapter will have a modern appeal to those who are interested in the recent links debated between the transcription of the Sacred Name and the Christian preference for the nomina sacra (see, for example, Larry Hurtado's work, The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins).

Chapter seven ends with some final gleanings from the papyri and inscriptions regarding some Biblical difficulties such as the unique statements by Paul in his closing of Galatians 6, and the literary history of 2 Peter.

Enhancements

As is common with all Accordance tools we have indexed it according to standard fields such as Titles, Scripture References, and Greek and Hebrew Content. In addition, we have fields for Manuscripts, Page Numbers, and Transliteration. By far, one of the most notable enhancements is the addition of the 'Greek Entry' field. For the most part the book is arranged by chapter so we have grouped it as a general tool. But, Bible Studies represents a unique amalgam of both a general tool and a Greek tool. To adjust for this we added the Greek Entry field common in Lexicons and dictionaries so that you can amplify from any tool or text containing Greek and search for one of the many entries Deissmann has defined. Not only can you amplify from your favorite Greek text or tool, but you can also use the browser to scroll through the list of entries.

Increase your productivity even more by creating a custom workspace containing your favorite lexicons and add Deissmann to it. With this new feature in version 8 you can amplify to this workspace and instantly search both Deissmann and your favorite lexicons for a particular word or phrase.

In addition, we've made some minor editorial changes to increase the usability of the book. In the original table of Principle Abbreviations (xv), many of the descriptions simply contained an entry that directed the reader to another page and footnote to find out the source of an abbreviation. In our edition we've integrated the footnote descriptions with the table itself, and hyperlinked all abbreviations to the table making them viewable in the Instant Details box.

We also made a bit of an artistic change. In Deissmann's gleaning on the literary history of 2 Peter he included a two-column comparison of 2 Peter 1.3ff with a Decree of Stratonicea (361-362). In the print version he emphasized the similarities of the two texts with a series of underlines and dots. As can be guessed, these were not carried over in the electronic text, so we highlighted these in colors where the matching colors correspond to the parallels.

With these enhancements it's easy to see the advantages of the Accordance version over the print edition. Deissmann's Bible Studies represents the best in the Biblical scholarship of old, with a timeless relevance for the scholar or student of Greek.





Thursday, June 26, 2008  

Library Window Tips

By now many of you have played around with the new Library window in Accordance 8. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of it.

As you already know, you can find any module simply by entering the first few letters of its name. If there is more than one module matching what you typed you can jump to the next match by clicking the arrows which appear to the right of the Find box, or by using the keyboard shortcut command-G.

Once you've found the module you want, you need only hit Return on your keyboard to open it. So, for example, if I wanted to open Keil & Delitzsch I need only type "ke" + Return.

The Library Find feature also takes into account any folders you have set up to organize your modules. For example, I have a folder named "Classic Commentaries" in my Reference Tools. Simply typing "cl" is enough to bring it up. To open one of the commentaries in this folder, I can hit the tab key to select the folder, then use the down-arrow key until I get to the module I want, and hit Return to open it. (Or, of course, I could simply double-click it with the mouse.)

If I want to open more than one module at once, I can command-click or shift-click to select them and hit Return.

The options to add a folder or divider line, to remove an item, or to alphabetize items have all been placed in the gear menu at the bottom of the window. Each of these functions has a keyboard shortcut so that you don't have to dig through that menu if you don't want to.

If I want to close a folder but can't see its disclosure triangle, I need only drag my mouse over to the left edge of the Library window. The cursor will change to a black X, and if I click, the current folder will be closed. There's no need to scroll up to see the actual folder and its disclosure triangle. (This works in the Browser of the Tool window as well.)

To change the size of text in the Library window, go to the Appearance settings of the Preferences and choose a size from the Browser Text font-size pop-up. This will also affect the size of text in the Tool Browser and Search All window.

To collapse all the folders in the Library window, option-click any top-level disclosure triangle which is open. To expand all the folders and subfolders, option-click any top-level disclosure triangle which is closed.

I hope at least some of these tips will be helpful to you.





Tuesday, June 24, 2008  

Please be patient -- we are swamped

The Newsletter went out yesterday and the orders are flooding in, and flooding in, and flooding in! If you call and leave a message we will get back to you as soon as we can. If you email we will answer also as soon as we can. But if everyone floods us with double and triple messages, it takes that much longer to sort them all out and we waste time trying to get hold of people who have already succeeded in placing their order.

As I stood in line today at a very slow checkout, I tried to turn it into an opportunity to practice patience. Please do the same for us, and give us 48 hours to get back to you before attempting to contact us again.




 

The Many Faces of Accordance

Over on the Accordance User Forums, someone posted a screenshot of how he has Accordance set to start up, and asked others to do the same. The series of screenshots supplied has been fascinating, and I've been amazed at the variety of looks and arrangements. After following the thread for a while now, here are a few of my own observations:

First, it's remarkable how many people are already making extensive use of the new background color and leading options. Some even have alternating panes with lighter and darker background shades of the same color. It's a cool look, though I imagine it would force you to keep displaying your texts in a certain order.

It's also interesting to see the various ways people choose to display the Resource palette. A lot of people prefer the horizontal orientation, and while most put the horizontal Resource palette at the top of the screen, a few place it at the bottom. Most people who have posted screenshots seem to prefer the icon buttons, but some have chosen the text button option. If you haven't discovered these options yet, you can set them in the Appearance settings of the Preferences dialog.

The position and orientation of other palettes, like the Instant Details Box, the Highlight palette, and the Text Palette, were also interesting to see. Since the Highlight palette can be oriented vertically or horizontally, people used it in a variety of shapes, sizes, and locations. Likewise the Instant Details box was sometimes placed at the top of the screen, stretched across the full width of the bottom, or even hidden using the Auto-fade option.

Most people seemed to use a single workspace, but a few people chose to have a main workspace and separate windows side-by-side or tiled on screen. I don't think I saw anyone using more than one workspace window, but it can certainly be done.

A wide variety of fonts was used, and it made for some very attractive looks. I am sometimes amazed that something as simple as changing the font is still difficult or even impossible in other Bible programs. It's a simple change that can make a huge visual impact.

As an Accordance developer, I sometimes wonder if our users are actually discovering and using all of the various options available to them. It's gratifying to see that many of our users are going beyond the default settings and window arrangements to tailor Accordance to their specific needs. If you're still looking at black text on a white background with underlined verse references, be sure to check out this thread and draw inspiration from the many faces of Accordance.





Friday, June 20, 2008  

Another Free Update

Accordance 8.0.2, a free update for users of Accordance 8, is now available for download. This release fixes various bugs which have been discovered since the release of Accordance 8.





Thursday, June 19, 2008  

Still Want More? How About Joüon-Muraoka?

Sometimes important new module announcements can get lost in the excitement of other announcements: you know, little things like a major program upgrade, new DVD with updated collections, etc. Such is the case with poor Joüon-Muraoka, an important Hebrew reference grammar which was quietly made available as an unlock on the new Primary Collections DVD. To find out more about this valuable resource, please check out the following article as well as the module detail page.





Tuesday, June 17, 2008  

Searching with Symbols

Whenever I conduct Accordance training seminars, I spend a little time going over how to use Symbols to develop powerful and flexible searches.

First I'll show the asterisk wildcard, which can represent any combination of characters. So, for example, "lov*" can find everything from "love" and "loves" to "lovingkindness" and "lovemaking."

I'll then show the question mark, which is a wildcard representing any single character. So, for example, "l?ve" will find "love" and "live," but not "leave," since the question mark can only stand in the place of one letter.

Next I'll show how you can use parentheses after a question mark to specify which characters that question mark can represent. For example, "?(aeiou)*" will find any word beginning with a vowel. The question mark represents the first letter of the word, and in the parentheses I've listed only vowels. The asterisk then represents all the rest of the characters in the word.

Finally, I'll take this one step further to show how wildcards can be used to search for repeated characters. I'll enter the following search argument: "????(=2)?(=1)". The five question marks limit this search to all five letter words. The parentheses with "=2" specifies that the fourth letter must be the same as the second letter. Thus, if the second letter is "a", the fourth letter must also be "a". Likewise, the parentheses with "=1" specifies that the fifth letter must be the same as the first letter. Thus, this search will find all the five-letter palindromes in the search text. Most English Bibles will return words like "Halah," "level," and "Aziza."

The seminar attendees are usually impressed, but I then voice the question I know all of them are thinking: "Why in the world would you want to search for palindromes in the Bible?" The answer, of course, is that most of us wouldn't. However, I'll then switch to Hebrew and show where this repeated character search is actually useful: it makes it easy to find all geminate verbs.

I then explain that a geminate verb is one in which the final two letters of the lexical form are the same. HLL, which means "to praise," is the most well known example of such a verb. To find such a verb, I need only enter the following: "(2=)???". I will then select VERB from the Enter Grammatical Tag submenu of the Search menu, and click OK to dismiss the dialog box without setting more specific tag details. When I click OK to perform the search, I get the following result.

If I want a listing of all the geminate verbs which were found, I need only click the Details button of the Search window and look at the Analysis tab.

By this time, the seminar attendees are suitably impressed with the power provided by a few basic wildcards. If you haven't done much with Search symbols, download the Quick Reference Guide PDF and check out the table on page 8. Accordance Search symbols enable you to create very powerful searches without requiring you to learn some complicated programming language.





Thursday, June 12, 2008  

Fuzzy Amplifying

In a recent comment on my post about the INFER command, Rick Mansfield wrote:

Let's say I have a specific phrase in the Greek NT that I'm studying and I'd like to see where similar phrases occur in non-biblical works such as Philo and Josephus (Greek texts).

How would I do that kind of infer search?

Rick then answered his own question in a follow-up comment, where he surmised that this kind of search was better suited to the new FUZZY command.

Rick is exactly right. The INFER command is designed to look for any phrases which are similar between two texts. It's a broad search designed to reveal literary connections you may not previously have noticed. If you already have a particular phrase in mind, a FUZZY search will let you find similar phrases in other bodies of literature, without distracting you with other hits you're not interested in.

Okay, so how do you do it? Let's say I'm looking at the phrase monogenous huiou tou Theou ("only-begotten Son of God") in the Greek of John 3:18, and I want to find similar phrases in other Greek texts. The quickest way to do it is to select the phrase, then hold down the shift key while selecting another Greek text to search from the Resource palette.

If I do this and choose an extrabiblical text like the tagged Pseudepigrapha (Pseud-T), I find four instances of the phrase, "Son of God," but none contain the word monogenes, "only-begotten." The same is true of the Apostolic Fathers: many occurrences of "Son of God" but none with "only-begotten." The tagged Apocryphal Gospels (AGosp-T) have a couple of occurrences of the complete phrase, both of which appear in the Acts of Pilate. In the tagged Apologists (APOL-T), Irenaeus uses the phrase "only-begotten Son" (without "of God"), as well as the very specific "Only-begotten Son of the only God."

Holding down the shift key while selecting Greek texts from the Resource palette enabled me to do a FUZZY search to locate similar phrases very quickly.





Wednesday, June 11, 2008  

Just When You Thought We Were Done Listing New Features

Two weeks ago, I used several posts to list the major and minor features of Accordance 8. But there are two minor features of Accordance 8 which I didn't tell you about then. That's because you couldn't try out those new features until we released modules which took advantage of them. Now that we've released the Library 8 and Scholar's 8, I can tell you about them without making you wait too long to try them.

Accordance 8 now supports two new kinds of hypertext links in tools: (1) links to other Accordance modules, and (2) links to web URLs. The new Library and Scholar's feature a handful of modules which take advantage of these new links, and we'll be updating our existing tools to support them over time. For now, a good example of these links in action is the updated Hymns module.

Hymns is a collection of hymn lyrics which has long been included in the Introductory Level of the Library. Each hymn includes information about that hymn's author, tune, and a corresponding Scripture reference. The new Hymns module now has hypertext links from the author's names to the Hymn Writers module which is also included in the Introductory Level. Thus, when you're looking at "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," and you click on the name Martin Luther, the Hymn Writers module will open to the entry on Luther.

Even cooler is the Hymns module's use of web links. Under each Hymn title, there is a link which reads "Search iTunes store." Click that link, and iTunes will open to the iTunes store and find every version of "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." You can then sample and purchase renditions by various choirs and contemporary artists.

Right now, only a handful of new resources include these links. The Holman Book of Biblical Charts, Maps, and Reconstructions has links to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. A. W. Pink's Works has links to Calvin's Institutes and Commentaries, the Creeds and Confessions, etc. Robertson's Greek grammar has some links to Burton's Moods and Tenses and Deissmann's Bible studies. Spurgeon's little discussion of Commenting and Commentaries includes a few links to Calvin, Henry, Clarke and JFB. There are a few other modules which include these kinds of links, but we obviously have a lot more work to do.

In the grand scheme of things, these two new kinds of links are relatively minor new features, but the more we implement them in Accordance tools, the more integration you'll see among Accordance resources and between Accordance tools and internet resources.

By the way, if you'd like to give us your ideas for ways we can utilize web links, I've started a forum discussion about it here.





Tuesday, June 10, 2008  

Library 8 and Scholar's 8 Now Available

I'm very excited to announce the release of our new Primary Collection 8 DVD, which features new Library and Scholar's Collections.

Before I tell you about all the new modules in our two primary collections, let me tell you a little about the DVD itself. The Primary Collection DVD offers all the material in the Library and Scholar's collections, along with all the material formerly on the Bible Unlock and Bible Reference CD-ROMs, all on one convenient disc. Not only is there no longer any need to insert similar-looking discs to install, but our new unified Intel-native installer makes installation much easier. Rather than picking from a long list of options, you simply enter the unlock codes you've purchased, and Accordance automatically builds the list of packages and modules to install.

Okay, easier installation is nice but it's not very sexy (can I use that term on a blog about Bible software?), so let's talk about the new stuff.

The new Library 8 adds new Bibles and high-quality modern reference works at every level. In fact, we've even added a new level at the low end. The new Entry level is just $59 and includes everything you need for basic English Bible study. When you consider that the cost to download the Accordance 8 application is $49, an extra ten bucks gets you a nice little suite of study tools.

With respect to improving the existing levels of the Library, we chose to focus on adding up-to-date volumes of widely recognized value. The new Library 8 Introductory level therefore includes the New Living Translation, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Life Application Study Bible, Experiencing God, and Experiencing God Day by Day, along with classic devotionals like F. B. Meyer's Daily Homily and Bagster's Daily Light on the Daily Path.

The new Library 8 Standard Level adds the English Standard Version with Strong's, along with the corresponding Greek Keys and Hebrew Keys dictionaries. The ESVS is a work in progress: the tagging of the New Testament is complete while the tagging of the Old Testament is still in the preliminary stages. Still, the ESVS now makes it possible to explore, search, and highlight the original Greek and Hebrew behind the ESV.

In addition to the ESVS, the Standard Level adds Renn's Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, and The Holman Book of Biblical Maps, Charts, and Reconstructions, along with Christianity and Ethics, A History of American Christianity, and Berkhof's Summary of Christian Doctrine.

The Premier level adds the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Keil & Delitzsch's 10-volume Commentary on the Old Testament, and Hendricksen's 18-volume New International Biblical Commentary on the New Testament. Also included in the Premier are selected works of John Owen, Andrew Murray, F. B. Meyer, and A. W. Pink.

The new Scholar's 8 now offers varying levels of content like the Library, and each level lets you choose to unlock one, two, or three modern Bibles.

The Scholar's Introductory Level is aimed at the budget-conscious student who needs a tagged Greek New Testament, tagged Hebrew Bible, some basic lexicons, and a few English Bibles.

The Scholar's Standard is a step up from the previous Scholar's Core Bundle, offering an additional unlockable Bible along with A. T. Robertson's massive Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament, Deissmann's Bible Studies, Burton's Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek, and William Scott's Simplified Guide to the BHS.

The Scholar's Premier Level adds the tagged Septuagint with Brenton's English translation, Spicq's Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Jenni-Westermann's Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament, Steven's Greek grammar, Ross's Hebrew grammar, plus your choice of an additional modern English Bible.

While we don't offer huge everything-but-the-kitchen-sink packages, we do offer bundle prices if you buy the Library Intro with Scholar's Intro, Library Standard with Scholar's Standard, and Library Premier with Scholar's Premier. The Premier bundle costs just $559 and includes the equivalent of $9620 worth of print resources!

We're very excited about this latest upgrade to the Library and Scholar's packages. In this post, I've only mentioned some of the new modules in passing. In upcoming posts, I'll discuss them in more detail.





Friday, June 06, 2008  

It's Quiet, Too Quiet

After blogging every day last week, I've somehow managed to let this one nearly slip by without a single post. Sorry about that. The reason I've been so quiet is that we've been so busy.

First, we've already released a free update to Accordance 8. Accordance 8.0.1 fixes a number of minor bugs that were discovered once Accordance 8 was released.

We used the transition to Universal as an opportunity to make sweeping updates to the Accordance codebase, which has been in constant development since the early nineties. Making all those low-level changes will help us to adapt to the future of Mac OS X, but there's always the risk that you'll introduce major bugs into a program which has been remarkably stable. Knowing that, we beta-tested version 8 more thoroughly than we have any previous version, and I'm very pleased to say that it seems to have paid off. The bugs which were fixed in version 8.0.1 were all relatively minor, and many of you probably haven't even run across them yet. Nevertheless, you'll want to download 8.0.1 if you haven't already.

Second, we've been busy finishing up the next major upgrade to our primary packages. For the first time ever, we'll be releasing our two primary collections—the Accordance Library and the Accordance Scholar's Collection—on a single DVD. The new Scholar's Collection will feature new bundles designed to offer better value at a variety of price points; while Library 8 will include additional Bibles, modern dictionaries and commentaries, artistic reconstructions, and lots of other cool stuff. The new DVD should be ready soon, and I'll tell you more about the package upgrades then.

Finally, we've been busy working on the new web-site design. As if releasing a new version of the program and new packages wasn't enough, we also decided to do a major redesign of the Accordance web-site. So far, we've gotten very positive feedback on the new look and improved navigation, but we're still tweaking things and updating pages.

Whew! I'm getting tired just talking about everything we've been up to in the past week. Once I catch up on some lost sleep, I'll be back next week to talk more about the INFER command and other new features of Accordance 8.