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Thursday, July 31, 2008  

Sometimes You Gotta Fix the Fixes

The other day, we released a free update to 8.0.3 which fixed a number of bugs. Unfortunately, 8.0.3 also introduced a bug in the rendering of 3D Maps. We've corrected that problem and released Accordance 8.0.4 for download.

By the way, in response to my last post, some people asked about the possibility of an auto-update feature within Accordance. It's coming. :-)





Tuesday, July 29, 2008  

Another Free Update

A new update to the Accordance application, version 8.0.3 has just been released for download. It is free to all users of Accordance 8, and fixes a number of minor bugs, as well as two serious crashes on some Intel Macs. One occurred when printing to certain HP printers from OS 10.5.3 on the iMac. The other happened on opening the 3D Map window on Macs which use an NVidia graphics chipset with OS 10.5.2 or above. These issues should now be corrected, and the warning on Intel when opening the 3D has been removed.

In addition to the bug fixes, 8.0.3 also includes a minor extension of a feature introduced in Accordance 8: namely, the option to open a module when a selected word cannot be found. Let's say you have an English word selected, and you go to the Resource palette to open a Greek or Hebrew text. Instead of just getting an error message telling you that the language of the word you selected is not used in that module, Accordance will now give you the option to open the module without searching it.

Obviously, this update is recommended for all users of Accordance 8.





Friday, July 25, 2008  

An Accordance Case Study, Part 2

In yesterday's post, I recounted a study I did of the word meaning "desire" in Genesis 3:16. An internet discussion had prompted me to examine a popular interpretation first proposed by Susan Foh in 1975: namely, that the "desire" spoken of in this verse does not refer to sexual desire, but a desire for mastery or control.

I began my study by consulting a variety of lexicons and looking at every place I could find that this word is used, including extrabiblical texts like the Qumran sectarian manuscripts. Doing that gave me a good sense of this word's semantic range, but it did not really provide any certainty as to whether Foh's interpretation is correct. So I decided to look at a few commentaries.

The easiest way to do this was to go back to my window containing Genesis 3:16, and add a parallel commentary pane. Since it had been alleged that Foh's interpretation is suspect because of its novelty, I was curious to see how this verse had historically been understood. I therefore started with the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (ACCS), which includes comments by a variety of church fathers. Unfortunately, when I added the pane containing the ACCS, I discovered a mistake where a reference to Numbers 3:16 is mistakenly tagged as Genesis 3:16, and since the parallel panes always go to the last comment on a verse (since that is usually the most specific one), I found myself looking at the comments on Numbers rather than Genesis!

Embarrassing as this is, particularly since I'm the one who worked on the ACCS and so am responsible for the mistake, I mention it to help you learn how to get around such tagging errors. One option would be to open the ACCS in a separate Tool window and then browse or search for Genesis 3:16 in the Reference field. Another option, and the one I chose, is to keep working with the ACCS as a parallel pane, and to scroll the Bible text back until the ACCS pane jumped back to Genesis. Since the mistagged reference in Numbers was to Genesis 3:14-20, I only needed to scroll back to Genesis 3:13 to get the ACCS pane to sync back to Genesis. Then I just selected the ACCS pane and used the scroll bar to scroll down to the comments on Genesis 3:16. It's not the most elegant solution, and I'm sorry about the mistake, but I hope this negative example helps you to understand how to forge past our faux pas.

The comments in the ACCS were interesting. Most focused on the first half of Genesis 3:16, which deals with pain in childbirth, and did not seem to address the nature of the woman's desire. Those that did seemed to understand desire in a sexual sense. The ACCS was actually more helpful in elucidating other aspects of the creation story and the relationship between the sexes. The interesting thing is to see which interpretations of this passage are still being discussed today, and which rise out of perspectives and assumptions which are largely foreign to us.

Another commentary which was interesting from a history of interpretation perspective is the JPS Torah Commentary, which surveyed the perspectives of two Medieval rabbis before giving the modern commentator's perspective. The rabbis both seemed to view the desire in a sexual sense, while the modern commentator suggested that it was descriptive of economic dependence.

I then turned to Calvin, who understood the woman's desire as a kind of psychological orientation leading to her "subjection" to her husband. To use a modern psychological term, we might describe it as a form of "enablement." Calvin observed the parallel with Genesis 4:7 and emphasized a "battle of the sexes" dynamic in Genesis 3:16 (though he obviously didn't use that terminology).

When looking at Old Testament passages, I always consult Keil and Delitzsch. Although written in the nineteenth century, it is in depth and technical, and I usually come away feeling like I have a better grasp of the Hebrew in a passage. Keil and Delitzsch understood teshuqah as a "violent craving" and a "desire bordering on disease." Their conclusion was similar to Calvin's that this desire contributes to the woman's subjection by her husband.

At this point, I began turning to modern commentaries, such as Expositor's Bible Commentary and Word Biblical Commentary. EBC, which contains the main text of Expositor's Bible Commentary, offered a good summary of the passage, but the EBC Notes (which contains the text of the footnotes) offered an excellent technical discussion of the passage. Word also offered a good technical discussion. Both EBC and Word understood the woman's "desire" to be a "desire for control," and Word actually cited the article by Susan Foh which the internet discussion I had been following had mentioned. It turns out that the article was published in the Westminster Theological Journal, which is included in the Theological Journal Library. So I opened TJL-Westminster and browsed to the article cited.

The article in question actually surveyed historical understandings of "desire" in Genesis 3:16, including those of Calvin and Keil and Delitzsch which I had already read, and showed how they had not fully taken into account the parallel usage of teshuqah in Genesis 4:7. Foh's argument was actually more sophisticated than I had assumed. Rather than arguing that teshuqah always refers to a desire for control, Foh emphasized the fact that Genesis 3:16 and 4:7 both use the exact same sentence structure, and asserted that the two passages should therefore be understood in the same way. Whether Foh's argument is correct, it certainly struck me as sound; and it appears to have been highly influential—at least on modern conservative commentators.

Again, my point in recounting this study is not to focus on the theological discussion in question, but to offer a kind of case study for how Accordance can be used to examine various interpretive stances. First I did my own study of the word in question, examining lexicons and then exploring the usage of that word in whatever contexts I could find. Because teshuqah is a rare word, I ended up turning to extrabiblical texts, like Qumran, which most people don't have and which they probably don't need. For most words, a search for every occurrence in the Biblical text is more than sufficient to give a good handle of its usage in context. And if you don't have the Hebrew or Greek texts, you can right-click a word in a Strong's number text and Search For Key Number to look up every occurrence of the Greek or Hebrew word.

Once I had studied the word in question on my own, I began turning to commentaries. I don't always do the kind of historical survey I described in this post, but since it had been alleged that Foh's interpretation is excessively novel, I thought it appropriate in this case. There are certainly other commentaries I could have surveyed. For example, the NET Notes and IVP Bible Background Commentary on the Old Testament might also have been helpful, and of course there were numerous other classic commentaries I could have consulted.

When I got to the modern commentaries, I found a reference to Foh's article and realized that I had access to it from within Accordance, so I was able to examine it for myself.

All of this took maybe a half hour to forty-five minutes to do, and most of that time was spent reading Foh's article. Obviously, the more Accordance modules you have, the more likely you are to find helpful information, and I hope this case study has helped expose you to resources you may not have known were available. But the kinds of things I've done in this study are easily done with even a basic package of Accordance modules.





Thursday, July 24, 2008  

An Accordance Case Study

Recently, an internet discussion prompted me to look at the meaning of the Hebrew word translated "desire" in Genesis 3:16. Someone remarked that a popular understanding of that passage results from a "completely new and never before written" interpretation introduced by Susan Foh in 1975. Curious to find out more, I naturally turned to Accordance.

Now, my intention in recounting my course of study is not to focus on a particular theological debate so much as to highlight ways Accordance can be used to examine any interpretive stance. I would ask that any comments on this post be restricted to a discussion of the use of Accordance in this study and that you avoid giving us your thoughts on the debate in question. There are other forums devoted to such theological debates.

Okay, now that I've made the necessary disclaimers, let's look at different ways to examine the meaning of Genesis 3:16.

The interpretation proposed by Foh is that the woman's "desire" for her husband is not sexual desire, but a desire for mastery or control. To examine this, I turned to the passage in question: Genesis 3:16. Viewing this passage in an English text with Strong's numbers, I dragged my mouse over the word "desire" and discovered that the Hebrew word in question is teshuqah. To look this word up in a Hebrew lexicon such as HALOT, I selected the English word "desire" and held down the option key while selecting HALOT from the Resource palette. Had I not held down the option key, Accordance would have searched HALOT for the English word "desire," which would have found any Hebrew word with that meaning. By holding down the option key, I tell Accordance to look for the Hebrew word represented by the Strong's number with which the English word is tagged.

HALOT defines teshuqah as "desire, longing," but it says nothing about what kind of desire is in view. So I turned to other Hebrew lexicons. In hindsight, I should have just chosen "All Hebrew" from the Hebrew Tools pop-up rather than choosing HALOT by itself, and I could then have cycled through each open lexicon tab (using the keyboard shortcut control-tab to cycle from tab to tab). Since I didn't do that at first, I could select the word teshuqah in HALOT and do it now, or I could just cycle through my Hebrew lexicons using the current window. To do that, I would use the keyboard shortcut control-plus to switch to the next lexicon, and hit return to perform the search.

From a quick survey of the available lexicons, I found that NIDOTTE offered the most thorough discussion. It addressed each usage of teshuqah and dealt with the interpretation advanced by Foh.

The thing I love about NIDOTTE (along with NIDNTT for Greek) is that it surveys the usage of a word in extrabiblical contexts and other periods of time. For example, the article on teshuqah dealt briefly with the usage of this word in Ancient Near Eastern literature and its translation in the Septuagint. Unfortunately, all it told me was that teshuqah appears in Samaritan and Mishnaic Hebrew, and that the LXX apparently translates a different Hebrew word! Add this to the fact that teshuqah only appears three times in the entire Hebrew Bible, and there aren't many examples of its usage.

Still, perhaps there are examples of teshuqah in other Hebrew texts that NIDOTTE did not mention. It's easy enough to find out. I merely selected the word teshuqah and chose All from the Hebrew Texts pop-up menu of the Resource palette. This enables me to find any appearance of teshuqah in the Mishna, Qumran, Ben-Sira, Aramaic texts like the Targums and Elephantine Papyri, even Hebrew translations of the New Testament!

The results of this search were interesting. In Biblical texts like the Samaritan Pentateuch and Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, I found Genesis 3:16 and 4:7, as expected. But in the Qumran sectarian manuscripts, I found eleven occurrences of teshuqah, most of which were translated as "longing" or "desire." Interestingly, in most of these cases the object of desire was something negative or in some way related to destruction. The desire spoken of was not clearly a "desire for control," but it certainly seemed to connote some kind of negative longing or obsession.

Another Hebrew text in which teshuqah was found was the Delitzsch Hebrew New Testament (DHNT). This is a nineteenth century translation of the New Testament into Hebrew by Franz Delitzsch (of Keil and Delitzsch fame). Delitzsch used teshuqah to translate epipothesis in 1 Corinthians 7:11, a word meaning "deep yearning for, longing." While interesting, this usage of teshuqah can only tell us what Delitzsch understood it to mean. It doesn't really tell us anything about what the original audience of Genesis understood it to mean.

At this point, I've already found out more about this word than is available in the standard lexicons, and I've only explored a few of the resources available to me. Tomorrow, I'll discuss the rest of my study of how teshuqah is used in Genesis 3:16. Until then, I hope you've been able to glean a few tips for how to use Accordance to do this kind of study.





Wednesday, July 23, 2008  

Oh Yeah, Version 8 is Also Faster

Someone on the user forum recently complained about the speed of Accordance 8:

One problem with the new version (i.e., 8): I'm wasting time waiting for the search to process and display the results. I enter my search arguments and hit return, and then wait, and wait for the results to display... only to discover that they already have been before my eyes refocus from the search box to the text box! This new version is really fast! (My students thought v 7 was fast on my *8 year old* TiBook (300 MHz!); wait until they see v 8 on a MacBookPro this fall!

As you can see, this tongue-in-cheek "complaint" was that Accordance is now even faster than before. Obviously, the fact that Accordance 8 is Intel-native has made things faster for those on Intel Macs, but we also improved the speed of basic search routines, so that everyone can enjoy the speed boost. We've never gotten complaints about Accordance's speed, and we don't typically list such under-the-hood enhancements with our new features, but if you needed one more reason to upgrade to Accordance 8, now you have it. :-)





Monday, July 21, 2008  

Cool Atlas Tricks (and one for the Timeline)

Someone asked me recently if there is a more elegant way to zoom into an area of the Atlas than using the In and Out buttons. Of course there is! In fact, there are several ways to zoom.

First, you can hold the Shift key down while clicking the In and Out buttons to zoom in and out more quickly. You can also hold the Option key while clicking the Out button to instantly zoom out far enough to see the entire map.

If you don't want to use the buttons at all, you can hold down the Shift and Command keys while clicking any point on the map to zoom in on that location.

My favorite way to zoom in on an area is simply to drag my mouse to draw a marquee around it (a marquee is one of those flashing selection boxes) and then to double-click anywhere inside the marquee. Doing this will essentially fill the window with the area you've selected. So if you're zoomed all the way out and you drag a tiny box around some portion of Israel, you'll immediately zoom in to that area.

Another favorite Atlas trick of mine is the ability to option-drag to measure distances. When you option-drag from one point to another on the map, the distance between those points will be given in the Instant Details box. If, while doing this, you click the mouse button and drag in a different direction, the distance will continue to accrue, so that you can follow along with a route to measure its real distance. For example, if you display Paul's Second Missionary Journey and then option-drag-click-and-drag to follow each change of direction, you'll discover that he traveled more than 700 miles from Syrian Antioch to Troas. If we could only measure the distance between those points as the crow flies, we would get a very misleading distance of 585 miles.

By the way, you can also option-drag across the Timeline to measure temporal "distance." For example, you can option-drag from the beginning of David's life to the various events in his life to find out how old he was. Drag to his adultery with Bathsheba and the age you get might surprise you.





Friday, July 18, 2008  

Pasting City Maps Onto Atlas Maps

In yesterday's post, I highlighted some of the graphics which are available in various Library 8 modules. I talked especially about how much I like the reconstructions of ancient cities in the Holman Dictionary and Holman Charts modules. Then it occurred to me that it would be cool to take those graphics showing city-level detail and display them with the Accordance Bible Atlas. To do this, you simply need to copy those images from their various sources and paste them into a User Layer of the Atlas.

User Layers are sort of an unsung feature of the Atlas, but if you really want to create custom maps, they open up an incredible range of possibilities. A User Layer works just like the pre-fab Site, Region, and Route layers included with the Atlas: you simply select a user layer from the User Layer pop-up and whatever features it contains will appear on your map. The difference is that the features included in a user layer are those which you have drawn or otherwise created yourself.

The first thing you need to do is to create your user layer. This is done simply by selecting Define User Layers... from the User Layer pop-up menu of the Atlas window. In the dialog box which appears, click the New button to create a new layer, enter the name you want to appear in the pop-up menu, and click OK. I'll name this layer "First Century Cities."

Now that I've created a user layer, Accordance automatically displays that layer on the map, because it assumes I will want to edit that layer right away. To edit my user layer, I simply choose Edit User Layer from the user layer pop-up, or I can use the keyboard shortcut command-U (the same shortcut you use to edit a user note or a user tool). This will open a palette of drawing tools which I can use to draw lines, shapes, bezier curves, text labels, etc. In this case, I don't want to draw anything, I just want to paste in some pictures. For example, I copied the reconstruction of "Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus" from the Holman Charts module, and then pasted it into my user layer just above Jerusalem. I also did the same with the reconstruction of New Testament Jericho as well as a picture of the Qumran caves I found in the Holman Dictionary.

When you paste an image into a user layer, it will scale with the map as you zoom in and out, so it's important to paste it into the layer at a zoom level that will be appropriate. For example, if I zoom way out before pasting my Jerusalem image in, that image will appear at a very large scale, likely covering a large portion of the map. As I zoom in, it will get even larger. Since I want the Jerusalem image to appear near Jerusalem without taking over the entire map, I will zoom way in to Jerusalem before pasting my picture in. Now the image will get smaller as I zoom out, and come into greater and greater focus as I zoom in.

In the screenshot above, you can see what the images look like when I'm zoomed way into Jerusalem. Notice that I dressed them up a bit by drawing a thick black line around the edges of each picture, as well as a line from each image to the site it represents. In the following screenshot, you can see what these images look like when I've zoomed out and combined my user layer with a region layer like New Testament Palestine.

Once I'm done editing my user layer, I just click the Done button on the drawing palette to save my changes. Now, any time I place my "First Century Cities" layer on the map, those images will appear; and whenever I don't want them, I can simply choose not to display that layer. Pretty cool, huh?





Thursday, July 17, 2008  

Worth a Thousand Words

I love all the Bible texts, translations, commentaries, and lexical aids that I have access to in Accordance, but I get especially excited about those resources that offer images and other visual aids. The Accordance web-site lists those modules which are particularly focused on graphics—such as our Atlas, our PhotoGuide, and our Timeline—but it doesn't list every resource which includes photos, maps, or other useful graphics. In this post, I'd like to focus on those resources in the new Library 8 which offer images "worth a thousand words."

Holman Dictionary. The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary is included in the Introductory Level, and includes more than 700 color photographs, maps, charts, and illustrations. The photographs are not as high-resolution as those in the PhotoGuide, but most will still look good when projected on a large screen. The maps include excellent artistic renderings and even 3-D views. By far my favorite images are the artistic reconstructions of ancient cities (like Jerusalem, Jericho, and Rome), structures (like the Tabernacle, various temples, Israelite houses, etc.), and weapons (such as a Roman ballista or siege engine). You can search the caption field for "reconstruction" to find most of these.

NET Notes. The Notes to the NET Bible include about a dozen 3-D maps of various regions within Israel, along with some simple line-drawn maps.

Bible Art. The Accordance Gallery of Bible Art is one of my favorite Accordance modules. It is a reference tool containing artistic depictions of Biblical scenes. It includes paintings, engravings, mosaics, and sculptures by such masters as Doré, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Rubens, Rembrandt, etc. Because it's a reference tool, you can display it in a pane alongside the text of the Bible to create your own illustrated Bible. I use it to help "flesh out" Bible stories for my children, and to find images which can be used in slide shows, documents, Christmas letters, etc.

Holman Charts. The Holman Book of Biblical Charts, Maps, and Reconstructions is included with the Standard Level of the Library 8. In print, this book was designed to take the best illustrations from Broadman and Holman's various reference works and publish them all in a large, flip-chart style format that would be useful in a small group study setting. It's divided into three sections: Charts, Maps, and Reconstructions. The charts are all colorful tables covering everything from ancient numbering systems and archaeological periods to the doctrinal differences among various Christian denominations to the family trees of various Biblical figures. The maps are relatively simple, and I don't think they're as attractive as those in the Holman Dictionary, but they're still quite useful. Again, the reconstructions are my favorite part of this module. Many of these are identical to those in the Holman Dictionary, but there is not complete overlap. You'll find reconstructions in the Dictionary which are not in the Charts, and vice versa. At the end of the Charts module, a cross-reference includes links from each chart, map, or reconstruction to the articles in the dictionary which contain them. So you can search or browse the Charts module and then jump to the dictionary for more in depth information.

Other Sources: Other modules included in various Library 8 packages contain images, but not to the same extent that the modules just mentioned do. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) has a fair number of older black-and-white photos and line drawings. If you ever need an image of someone like Spurgeon or Calvin, many of the modules which contain the selected works of certain authors will include portraits of those authors on the title page.

Along with our various Graphic Resources like the Atlas and Timeline, the new Library 8 provides a great deal of visual material which is worth many thousands of words.





Friday, July 11, 2008  

Quick! To the Bat-Phone!

When I was a kid, I loved to watch Adam West as Batman. I had no idea it was all a campy spoof of my favorite superhero; I watched it in all seriousness. I would run around the house with a towel safety-pinned around my neck, punching the air and shouting things like "Biff!" and "Ker-plowie!"

One of the things I remember from that old TV-series is that Commissioner Gordon had a red Bat-Phone which gave him a direct line into Wayne Manor and the Bat Cave. It never occurred to me to ask why, if he had the Bat-Phone, he still felt the need to fire up the Bat-Signal, but hey, I was only five!

Why am I telling you all this? Because it occurs to me that Accordance users have their own version of the Bat-Phone: it's called the Accordance User Forums.

Yesterday, I told you about a little-known option which was added to Accordance 8. I told you that this option was added in response to a user request, but I didn't tell you that the user posted the request on our user forums.

It's actually striking how many of the new enhancements in Accordance 8 have come in response to requests made on the forums. Color backgrounds, custom colors, and the ability to adjust the leading were all requested in a forum thread which I believe generated a fair amount of discussion. Copy as Lemmas, Paste and Match Style, Finding Exact Scripture references in Tools, Default font sizes for printing, and more were also requested on the forums. If you want to have a voice in the ongoing development of Accordance, the Forums are your best, er, forum!

We receive feature requests in a variety of ways: via e-mail, by phone, from training seminar attendees and people we run into at shows. We do our best to take all these suggestions seriously, but the forums have the advantage of being a very public venue where someone can make a suggestion and others can chime in. If an idea gets a lot of "amens" or "dittos" on the Forums, we know right away that it is probably worth implementing. If it passes without comment, we may decide that there is not sufficient interest to justify the effort.

The danger of a post like this is that we may suddenly get scores of new feature requests on the Forums. That's not necessarily the response I'm hoping for! ;-) Nevertheless, if you haven't yet joined our very active community of users, I'd encourage you to begin participating in the Forums. It's like your direct line into the Bat Cave.





Thursday, July 10, 2008  

More Than Just a Mouse-Click

Buried in the Preferences of Accordance 8 is a new option which some of you may find helpful. As you know, whenever you select some text and then choose a resource from the Resource palette, that module you choose will automatically be searched for the word you selected. This is a process of rapid searching we call "Amplifying." What you may not have realized is that all you have to do to select a word is merely to click on it with the mouse. As long as the cursor is blinking inside a word, Accordance sees that word as selected.

So let's say you inadvertently click your mouse button while moving the mouse across the screen, and in doing so, you place the cursor inside the name "Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz." You don't even realize that you've got ol' Maher's name selected. Next you decide you want to open a map, so you click the Map button of the Resource palette. To your chagrin, you get an error message telling you that the name you selected cannot be found on the Map. You then have to dismiss the dialog and either deselect the name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz or hold down the control key while clicking the Map button to override the Amplify feature.

Some users responded to this situation by saying, "Look, when I want to look up a word, I usually double-click to select the whole word; I never just click inside it. Can you make it so that Accordance only amplifies when I've made an actual selection?" That seemed like a reasonable enough request. So we did it.

In the General settings of the Preferences, you will now find a checkbox which reads "Require selection for amplifying." Check that box, and Accordance will no longer search for any word in which the cursor happens to be blinking. It will only amplify when you have actually made a selection of text.

Hopefully this little option will make life easier for some of you.





Tuesday, July 08, 2008  

In Depth INFER-mation

A while back, I wrote about how to use the default settings of the new INFER command to look for literary connections between various passages, such as between the books of Amos and Deuteronomy. Today, I want to show you how you can go beyond the default settings to narrow and expand your search.

You'll remember that to use the INFER command, you need to begin by establishing your base text. I'm going to set up a Search window with the BHS-W4 as my search text and an English Bible like the HCSB in parallel. I'll set this window to Search for verses, and then I'll enter Proverbs 9:10.

Now, by using a single verse as my base text, I'm limiting my inference search to a very specific set of phrases, but I'm interested in finding other places in the Hebrew Bible which express ideas similar to "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom."

Having set up my base text, I'll duplicate this window using the keyboard shortcut command-D. In this new window, I'll switch to searching for Words and then enter the INFER command by using the keyboard shortcut shift-command-I. This will insert an INFER command which links to my first window and which defaults to searching for any six-word phrases from Proverbs 9:10. When I click OK to search using the default settings, the only verse I find is . . . Proverbs 9:10!

By using the default settings of the INFER command, I found only the verse I started with, which seems rather disappointing at first. But if we look again at Proverbs 9:10, we'll see why this is the case. In Hebrew, there are only 8 words in the entire verse, and I'm looking for all six-word phrases derived from that verse. No other verse in the Hebrew Bible matches Proverbs 9:10 quite that closely, so I need to loosen up my search just a bit.

The easiest way to do that is by reducing the length of the phrase the INFER command is looking for. By replacing the "6" in the INFER command with a "5," Accordance finds Proverbs 2:5: "then you will understand the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God."

If we reduce the phrase length to "4," we find 4 more verses, most of which deal with the phrase "the fear of the LORD." If we reduce it to "3," we find nearly 1000 verses, and at that point, we've probably made our search too broad! As you can see, the shorter the phrase you're looking for, the more likely you are to find matching phrases.

Now, if you've been following along, you may have noticed that when we entered a "3" in the INFER command, our results showed a series of two-word phrases. By default, the INFER command actually allows for the possibility that one word may be dropped from, or inserted into, each phrase from the base text. So if Proverbs 9:10 contains the phrase yir’at yhwh w "fear of the LORD and," the INFER command finds "LORD God and" (dropping "fear" and adding "God") in Genesis 3:1 and "LORD and" in Genesis 4:16. In addition to varying the phrase length, we can also vary the number of words which may be dropped from and/or added to a phrase. We can even specify that we want to ignore the actual order of words in the phrase.

To tweak these additional aspects of the INFER command, we can either enter additional parameters into the syntax of the INFER command, or we can select those options from a dialog.

The INFER dialog appears whenever there is more than one window which could be used as the base text for an inference search. To force the INFER dialog to appear, therefore, I'm going to duplicate my second window (using the keyboard shortcut command-D), hit the tab key to select the contents of the argument entry box, and then use the keyboard shortcut shift-command-I to insert a new INFER command. Since it is unclear whether I want this INFER command to point to my first or second Search window, a dialog appears asking me which window I want to use as my base text. I'll choose the first window (BHS-W4).

This dialog also lets me tweak the various parameters I just mentioned. I can use the default phrase length of 6, or enter a new number of words. For now, I'll leave this set to 6.

Since BHS-W4 is a tagged text, I also have the option to look for inferences based on the lexical forms (lemmas) of each word in the phrase, or to base my inference on the actual inflected forms (words) which are used in Proverbs 9:10. Let's go ahead and set this option to Words.

By checking the Use advanced settings checkbox, I can change the number of "source words ignored" and the number of "destination words added." Let's broaden this search by setting both of those options to 2 words. Lastly, there's the option to ignore word order. This means that Accordance will find similar phrases even if the word order is slightly different. So, for example, even though "wisdom" comes before "knowledge" in Proverbs 9:10 (our source), checking the option to ignore word order will find similar phrases in which "wisdom" comes after "knowledge." To see how this works, let's go ahead and check that option.

When we click OK, the dialog will close and a new INFER command will be inserted into the argument entry box with all the right syntax.

The syntax is really very simple. The "=i" after the INFER command indicates that the inference will be based on inflected rather than lexical forms. The first number after the INFER indicates the number of words in the phrase, the second is the number of source words ignored, the third is the number of destination words added, and the plus indicates that the word order will be ignored. If any of these parameters is missing, the default setting will be used. Now that you know the syntax of the INFER command, you can simply type in whichever optional parameters you wish, and if you ever get confused, you can always force the dialog to open by making sure you have at least two windows to which a new INFER command could point.

Okay, so now that I've told you about all these optional parameters, shown you how to select them from the dialog, and explained the syntax to you, let's click OK to see the results.


When we originally did an INFER with the default phrase length of 6 words, we found nothing but the verse we started with, Proverbs 9:10. By choosing to base our inference on inflected rather than lexical forms, we made our INFER search even more stringent. But by expanding the number of words from the source which could be missing, as well as the number of words in the destination which could be added, we broadened the search. By ignoring word order, we broadened it even further. Thus, this search finds Proverbs 2:5, 15:33, and 30:3 in addition to Proverbs 9:10.

If I now go back and delete the "=i" parameter so that this search uses lexical forms, I'll find four other verses (Isaiah 11:2; 33:6; Proverbs 1:7; and 1:29).

As you can see, the INFER command has a variety of "knobs" you can tweak to vary and refine your results. We tried to make the default behavior of the INFER command as simple and easy to grasp as possible, but if you want to go deep, these options promise to give you all the control you could ask for.





Thursday, July 03, 2008  

A Chance Discovery

Yesterday, I stumbled across something I wasn't aware that Accordance could do. I was looking at BDAG's entry on agapao, and wanted to check out a reference to 1 Clement 56:4 in the tagged Apostolic Fathers (AF). So I selected the reference in BDAG and copied it, intending to open the tagged Apostolic Fathers and paste in the reference. However, when I selected AF from the Greek texts pop-up menu of the Resource palette, Accordance automatically amplified to the selected reference. I didn't have to paste the reference into the entry box and hit OK; Accordance automatically presented me with that verse.

Obviously, I knew I could select a Greek word and amplify to the AF module to search for all occurrences of that Greek word, but I was unaware that Accordance would do the same when I selected a reference.

Now, this only works when Accordance recognizes the book abbreviation used by BDAG. So for example, Accordance cannot look up references to Hs for the Shepherd of Hermas (since the Accordance module's name for this book is "Shepherd" rather than "Hermas"). Likewise, when referring to Josephus, BDAG separates chapter and verse using a comma, where Accordance expects a colon. So you can't select "Ant. 7, 269" and amplify to Ant. 7:269 of the tagged Josephus module. You can, however, select the chapter "Ant. 7" and amplify to see the whole chapter.

Now that Accordance 8 makes it possible to link from tools to other Accordance modules, I hope that one day we'll update modules such as BDAG to include links to these various extrabiblical texts. Don't ask me when that will happen. I have no idea at this point. But in the meantime, you can amplify to some of these resources by reference.





Tuesday, July 01, 2008  

Horizontal Panes and Key Number Highlighting

For years now, we've gotten requests, usually from people migrating from other Bible programs, for an "interlinear" view. That is, rather than viewing multiple translations in parallel vertical columns, they wanted to be able to view them in horizontally oriented rows. In Accordance 8, we've added the option to toggle between vertical and horizontal panes. Just click the pane orientation icon to the right of the Details button.

If you want to be able to read more than a verse or two at a time, Accordance's default of vertical columns is really your best bet. However, horizontal panes come in handy when you want to compare small sections of text in a wide variety of texts. By displaying a single verse or two in horizontal rows, your eye can vertically scan to find corresponding words among different translations. Consider the following screenshot for example:

In this window, I have four Bible texts with key numbers (the ESVS, NAS95S, KJVS, and NIV-G/K), one English Bible without key numbers (the HCSB), and the tagged Greek New Testament. As you can see, I'm using key number highlighting to make it easy to see which words in each translation correspond to the Greek word under my cursor (biastai). Yet even in the translation without key numbers (the HCSB), my eye can very quickly find the corresponding word "violent."

While I usually favor vertical panes, horizontal panes are extremely useful for these kinds of word by word comparisons among texts.