Accordance Blog
Apr 24, 2014 David Lang

Throwback Thursday: A Capital Offense

When Accordance was first released, our logo looked like this:

OriginalLogo

Pretty cool, right? The almost completely curved letters of the typeface stood out from all the other text on our brochures. This font was also somewhat similar to the Chicago typeface used throughout the Macintosh interface. The use of lowercase for the initial "a" further reflected the playfulness and approachability of the Macintosh platform. At the same time, the capitalization of the second "c" drew attention to the "Cord" part of the name—a play on the name of The GRAMCORD Institute, which initially was our sole distributor. "GRAMCORD" was itself derived from the idea of a "GRAMmatical conCORDance," and the name Accordance likewise called to mind the idea of a concordance.

As you can probably guess, I personally liked that logo. Unfortunately, not everybody understood why we capitalized that second "c." We eventually discovered that some people were pronouncing the name as ay-cee-Cordance, which of course was nonsensical. We therefore had to redesign our logo when Accordance 2.0 was released so that the initial "A" was capitalized and the rest of the name was lowercase.

RevisedLogo

The new look was arguably a little less avant garde, but it had the advantage of helping folks realize that "Accordance" should be pronounced normally.


 

Apr 23, 2014 David Lang

A Literary Approach to Genesis

Waltke-Genesis For some time now, I've been teaching through the book of Genesis in my Sunday School class. About the time I got to the Abraham cycle, one of our developers finished a new commentary on Genesis by Bruce Waltke, and it was submitted to me for final checks. This fortuitous timing led me to begin using the pre-release module in my Sunday School preparation.

Like many of you, my main method of using commentaries in Accordance is to view them in a parallel pane together with the Biblical text. When I first opened Waltke on Genesis in a parallel pane, I was rather surprised at the brevity of the verse-by-verse commentary.

Watke-Genesis1

Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the comments, while helpful, are more what you would expect from a good study Bible than a commentary that devotes more than 600 pages to a single book of the Bible. That's because Waltke's verse-by-verse exposition of Genesis was originally written for the New Geneva Study Bible. In spite of this (ahem!) genesis, Waltke on Genesis is far more than just a set of repackaged study Bible notes.

Rather than opening this commentary as a parallel pane, I'd recommend opening this commentary in its own zone so you can access its Table of Contents. The simplest way to do this is to select a verse of Genesis and then amplify to Waltke-Genesis by selecting it from the Reference Tools submenu of the Amplify menu. That will open the commentary right to the verse and automatically tie the commentary to the Bible text so that the two will scroll in parallel (just like a parallel pane). When we look at the Contents pane of the commentary, we'll begin to see its strength:

Watke-Genesis2

As you can see, the verse-by-verse exposition is just a small part of this commentary. The bulk of the commentary developed from Dr. Waltke's classroom lectures on Genesis, in which he divided the text of Genesis into 12 "books" (based on its well-known toledoth structure) which are further subdivided into "acts" and "scenes." This attempt to "model a literary approach to Genesis" is designed to help readers "discover its rich literary treasures".

If you look again at the screenshot above, you'll see that Genesis 18:18 is part of "Book 6, Act 2, Scene 3". The "Exegetical Notes" on this scene are preceded by a "Literary Analysis" of the scene as a whole. They are also followed by a series of "Theological Reflections" on the scene. Thus, the brief exegetical notes are only a small part of the commentary on this verse. The Literary Analysis of the scene explains the literary structure and narrative techniques used by the author to communicate meaning. The Theological Reflections then develop various applications of that meaning, which is very helpful for busy pastors and Sunday School teachers who need to distill these narrative episodes into communicable lessons.

Watke-Genesis3

Of course, this one "scene" is interwoven with other scenes in the "act" and other acts in the "book". Waltke does a masterful job of demonstrating the literary and theological connections among all these narrative episodes. Of course, this approach can admittedly make it hard to feel like you've done your due diligence simply by reading the commentary on the current "scene". Because I began using this commentary when I was already a good third of the way through Genesis, I find myself feeling like I may be missing things by not exploring Waltke's literary analysis of those passages I've already covered. Still, I look at that discomfort as a good thing. After all, shouldn't every commentary encourage you to explore the wider context of your passage?

Even before I picked up Waltke's commentary on Genesis, I marveled at the literary artistry of the first book of the Bible, and I found myself wishing I had a deeper understanding of the literary techniques utilized by the author. Waltke's "literary approach" to Genesis offered the very help I was looking for. If you're reading or teaching through Genesis, I think you'll find it helpful too. Just be sure to explore all the sections of commentary rather than stopping with the admittedly brief exegetical notes.

For one week only, Waltke-Genesis is on sale for just $33.99.


 

Apr 22, 2014 Matt Kenyon

Workspace Wednesday

We at Accordance believe that our software is so much more than just a tool to study the Bible. It's a means of community and creativity. We've created Workspace Wednesday because we want to give you a chance to show us your creative workflow in Accordance.

Watch the video to find out how you can participate:

Join us on social media to post your workspace:

FacebookIconTwitterIconGoogle+YouTube icon

How it works:

  • Take a screenshot of your workspace
  • Post the screenshot to the comments section of our Workspace Wednesday post every Wednesday
  • Hashtag the post with #work_wed
  • Eagerly await sweet victory

How to take a screenshot of your desktop:

Mac users: the keyboard shortcut ⌘Cmd+Shift+3 will take a screenshot of your screen and place the image file on your desktop. If done correctly, you should hear the sound of a camera taking a snapshot.

Windows users: the keyboard shortcut ⌘Win+PrntScrn will take a screenshot of your screen and automatically save it in the Screenshots folder within your pictures folder.

For more information on how to take screenshots with earlier versions of Windows, follow this link.

May the best workspace win!


 

Apr 22, 2014 Matt Kenyon

New Modules on Sale -- Something for Everyone!

We've got a diverse collection of fascinating new modules this week, each one at a special introductory price. You have just one week to save on the excellent titles below.

News for the Anchor Bible Commentary-Old Testament: the second section, 12 volumes from Joshua to Esther, is now available for Easy Install to those who have purchased the OT or the complete set. More volumes are heading your way very soon.

JSB

New Testament scholar J. Scott Duvall and Old Testament expert J. Daniel Hays wrote Living God’s Word to help Christians consider how their lives can be integrated into the story of the Bible, thus enabling them to live faithfully in deep and important ways. They survey the entire Bible through broad themes that trace the progression of God’s redemptive plan.

Regular Price: $34.99 Sale Price: $29.99

JPSS1

Paul & Union with Christ

Paul and Union with Christ---a thorough exegetical exploration of the Greek phrases Paul used to express the idea of union, or participation, with Christ---injects solid biblical insight into ancient and recent debates on the topic. Constantine Campbell’s careful handling of the Greek text flows into theological and pastoral reflection on the importance of the believer’s union with Christ.

Regular Price: $34.99 Sale Price: $29.99

Waltke-Genesis

Genesis: A Commentary

Exploring the first book of the Bible as 'theological literature,' Bruce Waltke illuminates its meanings and methods for the pastor, scholar, teacher, student, and Bible-lover.

Regular Price: $39.99 Sale Price: $33.99


Torah Modern Commentary_120

Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology

Introducing the New Testament is an outstanding guide to the writings of the New Testament for readers ranging from Bible students to those approaching the Christian Scriptures for the first time. Written by three leading Bible specialists, this book discusses in a clear and balanced way the New Testament's literature, its message, and the issues raised by a careful reading of its pages.

Regular Price: $43.99 Sale Price: $34.99

The above introductory sale prices are good through April 28, 2014 (11:59pm EDT) and cannot be combined with any other discounts.


 

Apr 17, 2014 David Lang

Throwback Thursday: Weighing Anchor

In my previous Throwback Thursday post, I told you about my first experience of demonstrating Accordance at the 1995 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. We were offering attendees a sneak peek at Accordance 2.0, which was released the following April. I spent most of 1996 preparing modules for the initial release of Accordance 2.0, as well as for our first CD-ROM release later that same year. Little did I realize it at the time, but my next project would prove to be a major turning point in the development of Accordance tools.

Anchor-sm Early in 1997, I was given an e-text of Anchor Bible Dictionary and told to prepare a prototype module for Accordance. Compared to the previous tool modules we had released, Anchor presented a significant increase in complexity, with a wide variety of hypertext links, images, tables, transliteration, etc. Each time I would run across a new aspect of Anchor which our current tool implementation could not support, we would have to do programming to support it. Many of the cool features in Accordance tools today are the direct result of our early efforts to support Anchor.

The time I spent developing Anchor was risky, because at that point we did not have a signed contract with the publisher. At that time, Anchor was published by Doubleday, and while Doubleday was open to working with us, we were still a relative newcomer in the Bible software market. We therefore needed to "sell" Doubelday on our ability to represent Anchor Bible Dictionary well, and the best way to do that was to show them how it would function as an Accordance tool. The risk to us was that if they ultimately decided not to license Anchor to us, a lot of work would have been wasted.

Some time around the summer of 1997, we made a trip up to New York City to meet with Doubleday and show them our sample module. This was my first trip to New York, and I remember being surprised that Doubleday was housed in a huge building right off Times Square. After ascending to whichever ridiculously high story of the building our meeting was in, we were ushered into a waiting room, where I began to get nervous about the prospect of demonstrating Accordance to a couple of publishing executives.

As it turned out, the demo wasn't the hard part. They made a few suggestions for additional minor features, but they were generally very impressed with our implementation. Much more difficult were all the questions they had about the size of the Macintosh market, the size of our user base, how we would market the product, etc. Prior to the meeting, I had made a few fumbling attempts at market research, but I certainly didn't have a lot of hard statistics I could rattle off. I realized half-way through all this that I was basically being asked to sell the viability of the Macintosh platform.

On the other hand, the only reason Doubleday was even considering working with us was because Accordance was Mac-only. They had already licensed Anchor to one Windows developer, and they had no desire to work with any competing Bible software programs. Because we served a different computer platform, they were willing to consider licensing to us as well.

Though our meeting with Doubleday went well, it was some time before the contract for Anchor was finalized, so I had to shelve a partially developed module and move on to other projects. When we finally did get the go-ahead to produce an Accordance version of Anchor, I had to pick up where I had left off and then hurry to get it done. Anchor Bible Dictionary was finally released in the Fall of 1999—I believe in conjunction with Accordance 3.6 or 4.0.

Looking back, Anchor was well worth the risks we took, the time we invested, and even the long wait for the contract to be finalized. In the short term, the work we did in developing Anchor laid the groundwork for many of the improvements in Accordance 3.0, and we were now able to support other resources with complex hyperlinks, tables, and images. When Anchor was finally released, Doubleday was very happy with the finished product, and we enjoyed an excellent working relationship with them over the years. That relationship ended up giving us added credibility with other publishers, so that they were much easier to sell on the advantages of working with Accordance. Likewise, having Anchor Bible Dictionary gave us credibility with users. For years we had customers drawn to Accordance because we offered Anchor where most other programs did not. In addition to all those benefits, the information in Anchor was of invaluable help to us when we developed other products such as our own Atlas, Timeline, and Bible Lands PhotoGuide.

All in all, landing Anchor Bible Dictionary turned out to be a significant factor in the growth and development of Accordance. Today, Yale University has since acquired the Anchor brand, and we are very excited to be able to offer the Anchor Bible commentary series in addition to the dictionary.

What about you? What has having Anchor Bible Dictionary in Accordance meant for you in your own study and research? Let us know in the comments on this post.


 

Apr 15, 2014 David Lang

Crucifixion: Forget What You Think You Know

PhotoMuseum_120 Of all the articles I planned to write for the Bible Times PhotoMuseum, I figured the article on Crucifixion would be relatively easy. After all, I already had a pretty good idea of who invented the practice (the Romans), how crucifixion was practiced (nails through hands and feet, fully assembled crosses raised to position, etc.), and how it caused death (by asphyxiation as the crucified became too tired to lift himself up to breathe). When I started doing my research, however, I was shocked to discover how little we actually know about crucifixion.

First, I was surprised at the scarcity of evidence for crucifixion. Though crucifixion was widely practiced in the Roman world, ancient writers appear to have seen it as distasteful to discuss in detail. Even the authors of the Christian Gospels, who regarded the crucifixion of Jesus as a pivotal event, offer almost no details about the crucifixion itself. They simply read, "they crucified him" (Matt 27:38; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:33; John 19:18). Even a detail as important as that Jesus was nailed to the cross is omitted, except for the fact that the scars from the nails are mentioned later (John 20:25).

Not only are there few literary descriptions of the practice of crucifixion, there is a shocking lack of archaeological evidence for it. To date, only one set of remains has been discovered which clearly belonged to someone who was crucified. Discovered in a tomb outside Jerusalem in 1968, the remains of a first-century man featured a heel bone with an iron nail driven through it. Such nails were usually pulled out and re-used, but this nail could not be removed because it had become bent.

NailedHeel

Even though we now have one crucified skeleton, the question of exactly how that man was nailed to a cross is debated among scholars. Some say he was nailed through the wrists and his legs were twisted so that a single nail was driven through both heels. Others say his arms were tied to the cross and each heel was nailed to opposite sides of the upright beam. The PhotoMuseum article lets you see both reconstructions.

Also debated among scholars is what exactly caused the death of someone who was crucified. Most people have heard that victims of crucifixion died of asphyxiation, but this theory was only proposed in the 1950s and is based on limited evidence. More recently, a forensic pathologist has concluded that crucified people likely died of a very different cause.

So forget what you think you know about crucifixion. Much of what you've heard is less certain than you've been led to believe. If you want to learn what we do know for sure, check out the article on Crucifixion in the PhotoMuseum. There you'll learn that for all the questions surrounding the practice of crucifixion, the ancients who witnessed it were certain of one thing: it was "the most lamentable of deaths" (Josephus).


 

Apr 10, 2014 Matt Kenyon

5 Things About Passover You Probably Didn't Know

For Orthodox Jews, the Passover is a weighty, yet joyous celebration bringing to memory the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. Over the course of many centuries, the Passover feast has been contextualized to modern man, and while maintaining aspects of its traditional roots, has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon. Here are five interesting things you probably didn't know about how the world does Passover in 2014.

Soda with Seder?

Coca-Cola knows how to celebrate Passover (while also turning quite a profit).

In the old days, Coke was made with real cane sugar. Only after the 1970's did it follow the path of countless other processed foods and adapt high-fructose corn syrup as its main sweetener. During Passover, Ashkenazic Jews are forbidden to eat a category of grains known as kitniot, which includes corn. The sugar-sweetened version is distributed in areas of heavily Jewish populations, but is being snatched up not only by Jewish people, but by many foodies who simply claim, "It tastes better!"

Honest Abe

We all know the iconic story of John Wilkes Booth's dramatic assassination of Abraham Lincoln, but did you know that it happened during Passover? As a result of hearing the news, many Jewish rabbis replaced melodic Passover songs with Yom Kippur hymns and wept openly at their pulpits.

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Oven

The world’s largest matzo ball was unveiled in 2010 at the Jewish Food Festival in Tucson, Arizona, weighing in at 488 pounds. Ingredients included more than 1,000 eggs, 25 pounds of chicken fat and 125 pounds of matzo meal. If you're gonna go kosher, you may as well go big.

Remembering Egypt

Particularly pious Persian Jewish communities have a tradition of whipping each other with scallions during their Passover celebration. The tradition takes place during the singing of “Dayenu”, symbolizing the Egyptian slave masters who likewise whipped their Israelite ancestors during their captivity under Pharaoh.

Making Waves

In the Polish town of Gora Kalwaria, Hasidic Jews mark Passover by re-enacting the crossing of the Red Sea. To make it as realistic as they can, they pour water on the floor, lift up their coats and recite the names of the towns they would cross. They also make sure to raise a glass at each mention of a town and offer thanks to God for being able to reach their destination. (Source - TIME Magazine)

Tags: No tags.

 

Apr 7, 2014 David Lang

Answering a Question with a Question

Yesterday in my Sunday School class, I was teaching through Romans 8:31-39. In that passage, Paul reflects on whether anything can separate those who "love God and are called according to his purpose" (v. 28) from the "love of God that is in Christ Jesus" (v. 39). He does this by asking a series of questions such as "Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect?" (v. 33), "Who is the one who condemns?" (v. 34), and "Who can separate us from the love of Christ?" (v. 35). He answers each of these questions by eliminating every potential accuser, but it has always bothered me that in most English translations of this passage, Paul's answers don't quite seem to fit the questions.

In this video, I use highlight symbols to illustrate the pattern of questions and answers in this passage, and then I look at the underlying Greek to understand what is going on. I then argue that two answers in the text would be better rendered as questions. I hope you find it helpful.

Answering Questions with Questions from Accordance Bible Software on Vimeo.

 


 

Apr 3, 2014 David Lang

Throwback Thursday: Demoer and Demoee

In my last Throwback Thursday post, I talked about the development of the very first Tool modules for Accordance 2.0. Although version 2.0 was not yet ready for release in November of 1995, we were planning to offer a preview of all the new features to attendees at the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in Philadelphia. I did not accompany my employers to ETS, since it was a smaller conference and they could manage the booth without me. I flew in to join them for the start of the larger SBL meeting. I had used that extra time at home to whip out a couple more prototype modules, so I arrived at SBL with some Accordance tools to demonstrate which my employers hadn't even seen yet.

Today when we attend a conference, we bring laptops and relatively portable flat-screen monitors. Back in 1995, laptops were not nearly as ubiquitous as they are today. They were expensive, and they had significant drawbacks such as tiny screens or limited speed compared to desktop computers. Fortunately, airline passengers could check more baggage back then. I had to lug my desktop Mac in one box and my 14-inch CRT monitor in another, along with my suitcase, to the airport and hope it all made it to Philadelphia without getting broken, lost, or stolen. Then I had to schlep all that stuff to the hotel and exhibit hall to get it set up. Once it was all set up, I had to be without my computer for the duration of the show.

At that time, we exhibited Accordance under the auspices of the GRAMCORD Institute, which served as the exclusive distributor of Accordance. Basically, we formed the Macintosh side of the GRAMCORD booth.

I actually found an old photo on the GRAMCORD website of Dr. Rex Koivisto, our associate Greek scholar (right), demonstrating Accordance 2.0 to Frederick Danker (the D in BDAG, center) at that very conference. If you look closely at the background, you can see me seated with my back to the camera, demonstrating Accordance to someone else. This was my very first time demoing Accordance to the public, and it was fun to be able to show scholars and students some of the cool stuff we had been working on.

Today when I demonstrate Accordance at ETS and SBL, I can only show a tiny portion of what Accordance can do. It is therefore rare that we offer a sneak peek at any not-yet-released features. Back then, however, we were the new kid on the block, doing our best to show people Accordance's potential as a Bible study platform. In those early days, we would demonstrate what the current version of Accordance could do, then offer a look at what was coming in the next version.

In the evenings, I got to be part of meetings where we would discuss new feature ideas or new resources we hoped to license, such as the massive Anchor Bible Dictionary. It was all pretty heady stuff for a young kid still in seminary.

One of the most memorable moments of this conference was when I got to tag along to a meeting with a gentleman who had high-resolution atlas data of Israel. As with laptops, such data was far less ubiquitous back then, and this gentleman was looking to establish partnerships to develop computer applications that could utilize his data. This gentleman did not have a booth in the exhibit hall. Instead, he had booked a hotel suite where he was meeting with potential partners. I remember entering his suite and seeing a Silicon Graphics workstation on the desk. Beside it was a large set of goggles. It was in this meeting that I went from the demoer to the demoee. The gentleman handed me the goggles and joked that I should be careful not to drop them, since they cost a substantial amount of money. If I remember correctly, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $15,000. Needless to say, I was very careful not to break them!

Looking through the goggles I saw a three-dimensional image of some portion of Israel. These days I might actually recognize it, but back then it was just an unfamiliar series of hills and valleys. If I remember correctly, it was just a wireframe image, but it was at a resolution that required some serious computing power to generate. Next I was shown a simulated 3D flyover. This was done without the goggles, and I seem to recall that it used actual satellite imagery rather than a mere wireframe. This felt snappier than the wireframe image as well, but that was because it was essentially a pre-rendered animation rather than a 3D image being rendered on the fly. The downside of this was that you couldn't really navigate the flyover to go wherever you wanted; you merely went where the animator had decided to take you.

This was all very cutting-edge stuff, and I must have seemed like a kid in a candy store. Our discussions centered around how we might use this data to provide Mac users with a 3D Bible Atlas. After all, there were far more people with Macs than with graphics workstations. Apple had recently begun incorporating 3D technologies into the Mac operating system, so the possibilities were tantalizing, but we also knew it would be challenging to deliver acceptable 3D performance on a personal computer.

That meeting helped get us thinking about adding an Atlas component to Accordance, but that wouldn't actually happen until Accordance 3.5 was released in July of 1998. I'll tell you the rest of the story behind the Accordance Bible Atlas in a future Throwback Thursday post.

I returned home from that first SBL Conference exhausted but excited about the future of Accordance. At that point I was still only working for Accordance part-time, but I was now officially hooked. I was getting to be a part of the creation of something truly cutting edge, and I had seen how Accordance was changing the lives of its users. Since 1995, I have exhibited Accordance at SBL every year except 1996 (when my second son was born). To this day, I return home from SBL each year both exhausted and excited about the future.

How about you? Were any of you at the 1995 SBL or ETS meetings in Philadelphia? If so, did you stop by for a demo of Accordance?


 

Apr 2, 2014 Matt Kenyon

Hashing out the Hashtags (And Applying Some Apps)

FacebookThumb

 

What does the term "social media" mean to you?

Perhaps you think it’s a tremendous waste of time, or maybe you don’t quite understand it and you’re afraid it’s too late to learn. Maybe you think it’s a fun way to pass the time, but nothing that should be taken too seriously. Perhaps for some of you, the fact that you’ve actually navigated away from Facebook to read this post is a miracle in and of itself.

Whatever social media is, it’s clearly the future. You don’t need to be a marketing guru to know this. Facebook is 1 billion strong, the best way to start a revolution is to "hashtag" it, and kindergarteners are learning on iPads.

As Bob Dylan mused in the 60’s: “The times, they are a-changin’.”

Here at Accordance, we don’t shy away from change; we embrace it. Our passionate team constantly seeks to adapt to new technologies and create an even more powerful tool for Bible study and research.

In this "brave new world" of social media, we can now go beyond merely interacting with you when you make a purchase or need support; we can actually get to know you as real people.

Perhaps this is why social media is so attractive for businesses, bands, brands and everyone in between. It’s a democracy. The environment of social media is one where the user is highly empowered. Pushy shenanigans and sheisty sales tactics need not apply. We believe this is a very good thing.

Now more than ever, we want to get to know you. We want to converse with you, dialogue with you and hear your ideas. We want to know what works with our software and what doesn’t. After all, our mission is to serve you with an excellent product.

So come on in. Put up your feet, and stay a while. The conversation is only a click away.

Click the icons to join us on our respective social media channels:

FacebookIconTwitterIconGoogle+YouTube icon