Accordance Blog
Mar 3, 2015 Richard Mansfield

Witherington's Letters & Homilies

Dictionary of Jesus & the Gospels definition of socio-rhetorical criticism In tracing my family history, I’ve discovered a number of ancestors who fought in the American Civil War. One individual stands out, though: my second great grand uncle, James Marion Kelzer, who was a doctor tending to the injured. He stands out because of a number of letters that he wrote his wife Mary Ann. The letters are fascinating because they provide details of events that his service record would never include. His request for his wife to kiss their son for him, confirms the birth of Allen “Harry” Kelzer, who was my first cousin, 3x removed.

What’s fascinating about letters like this is that looking at them a century and a half later requires me to make many assumptions and inferences, often “reading between the lines” of particular details of events. I’ve noticed, for instance, that often James Kelzer, who normally writes with vivid details, seems to become more vague when writing about the actual battles, toning down the brutality of war so as not to overly concern his wife, Mary Ann.

Unfortunately, my Uncle James was killed during the Battle of Murfreesboro in 1863 and was buried in a mass Confederate grave. He never made it home to his beloved wife, Mary Ann. Nevertheless, his letters to his wife remain valuable testimony to the events surrounding his military service as well as his relationship with his wife even if they do sometimes require a bit of historical analysis to fully understand their contents.

In a similar way, Ben Witherington has been reading between the lines of New Testament letters for the past few years and has become the authoritative voice for socio-rhetorical criticism. What exactly is this method for understanding ancient writings? The Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek defines socio-rhetorical criticism as “The discipline concerned with the interpretation of the biblical text with special sensitivity to the way in which an author uses forms, traditions and rhetorical or literary devices to connect with an audience and communicate.”

The first edition of The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels provides an example of socio-rhetorical criticism in Mark’s Gospel:

Mark is found to be a biography depicting the career of a disciple-gathering teacher who enacted a system of thought and action. Mark portrays Jesus as a composite of the biblical prophets and the Greco-Roman philosopher-teachers. In so doing he makes Jesus understandable and identifiable to first-century Mediterranean society.

I’ve stated before that my favorite kind of biblical commentary is a backgrounds commentary. In reading some of Witherington’s previous works, I’ve found his socio-rhetorical analysis to be somewhat of a “sister” approach in looking at the text. Whereas backgrounds analysis looks at the history and culture surrounding the content of a passage, socio-rhetorical analysis does the same thing with the specific words the writer uses. It’s an analysis of the writer’s method of persuasion in conjunction with the particular audience to whom he is writing.

Letters & Homilies_120 Today, we are pleased to announce the release of Ben Witherington’s Letters and Homilies series for the Accordance Library. Witherington has divided these volumes according to the socioreligious context for which they were written, shedding new light on selected New Testament letters and their provenance, character, and importance. Two volumes focus on Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians, covering the letters to Titus, 1-2 Timothy, 1-2 Peter, and 1-3 John. Additionally, Letters and Homilies for Jewish Christians provides commentary on Hebrews, James, and Jude.

Throughout, Witherington shows his thorough knowledge of recent literature pertaining to these texts and focuses his attention on the unique insights brought about through socio-rhetorical analysis that either reinforces or corrects those gleaned from other approaches.

Letters & Homilies Screenshot

These titles are available with introductory pricing of $74.90 for all three volumes.

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Indelible Image In addition, we are placing Witherington’s two-volume treatment of the theological and ethical thought world of the New Testament, The Indelible Image, on sale for $62.90.

For even more information on this module, see this release announcement.

Together, these works will give the reader an unrivaled understanding of the New Testament message.

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Regular price is $79.90
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The sale prices for these modules are good through March 9, 2015 (11:59pm EST) and cannot be combined with any other offers.




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Feb 27, 2015

Endorsement: Tommy Wasserman

Tommy Wasserman, Associate Professor of New Testament Exegesis at Örebro School of Theology and longtime Accordance user, describes how he uses the software for personal research and in teaching introductory Greek courses.

Wasserman is also an editor and contributor for the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog.


Feb 26, 2015 Timothy Jenney

The Ziggurat of Babylon (Lighting the Lamp Video Podcast #118)

The Tower of Babel is one of the best known Bible stories, but rarely read in its literary and cultural context. In this podcast, Dr. J draws on his knowledge of the Ancient Near East and the images in Accordance to retell the story as its original hearers might have understood it, complete with some timeless applications.

For more Lighting the Lamp podcasts, visit our website or subscribe through iTunes.


Feb 23, 2015 Richard Mansfield

Bibliotheca Sacra Archive (1844 - 1933) added to TJL 16

BibSac1844 When we released the 16th edition of the Theological Journal Library last fall, I described it as "800 Years of Scholarship in the Palm of Your Hand" (I recommend that post to you as a good summary of the benefit of adding journals to your Accordance Library). And yet some of you have been waiting patiently for a missing century or so of that scholarship. Fortunately, we can finally announce that the full Bibliotheca Sacra Archive has now been added to TJL 16. If you have already purchased this journal collection, all you have to do is to go to Easy Install in Accordance to download the additional volumes dating all the way back to 1844!

Many may not realize that Bibliotheca Sacra is the oldest theological journal in the United States, and it is still being produced today. "It was founded at Union Theological Seminary in 1843, and after publishing three issues moved to Andover Theological Seminary (now Andover Newton Theological School) in 1844, to Oberlin College in 1884, and to Xenia Seminary in 1922. Dallas Theological Seminary (then the Evangelical Theological Seminary) took over publication in 1934" (source: Wikipedia).

The opening paragraph of the inaugural February, 1844, issue of Bibliotheca Sacra stated that the journal would be published quarterly, each volume would consist of 800 pages, and the cost would be $4/year, "payable in advance" (the price has gone up since!). The next paragraph outlines the scope of the journal:

It will embrace the subjects, which are included under Theology in the wider acceptation of that term, namely, Biblical Literature, Doctrinal Theology, and the History of the Church, including that of the principal doctrines of Christianity. Particular prominence will be given to Biblical Literature, in respect to which there is a large and constantly increasing amount of valuable materials. Certain collateral subjects will receive a share of attention, particularly classical philology and mental science.

A couple of years ago, my wife gave me a digital version of National Geographic--every issue of the magazine, going all the way back to 1888. I found it fascinating to read articles about people and geography from the previous two centuries--even if some of that information is out of date now. I found the same fascination with some of the articles from the earliest days of Bibliotheca Sacra. I admit that sometimes I can be biased towards more recent scholarship, but going through the oldest issues in the BibSac archives reminded me that there is no expiration date on competent insight into theology and biblical literature.

BibSac Search Accordance users have always recognized the benefit of having all volumes of a particular journal title together in one file. This makes for easy searching in a specific journal across thousands of articles. Of course, putting nearly 170 years' worth of articles together would make for one extremely large file and test the limits of computers with less memory installed. Therefore, we have divided the Bibliotheca Sacra Archive into two files: 1844-1880 and 1881-1933. And of course, the TJL 16 also includes issues from 1934-2012, which was already available. See the TIP at the end of this post for searching all BibSac volumes at once.

The Bibliotheca Sacra Archives has been thoroughly examined and tagged by our developers so that you can perform searches by the following specific fields: Titles, English Content, Scripture, Greek Content, Hebrew Content, Transliteration, Manuscripts, Arabic Content, Authors and Page Numbers.

Again, if you have already purchased the Theological Journal Library, 16th edition, you can simply launch Easy Install to download the BibSac archives. If not, you can purchase or upgrade to the complete set of journal titles.

Tip: If you want to search across all 168 years of Bibliotheca Sacra, create a Research Group with all three BibSac Accordance modules

BibSac group 2


Feb 19, 2015

Endorsement: Darrell Bock

Hear Darrell Bock, Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, discuss his longtime use of Accordance and offer his unreserved endorsement of the program.


Feb 18, 2015 Richard Mansfield

Important Update for Mac App Store Accordance Users!


10.4.6 MAS

If you purchased your copy of Accordance in the Mac App Store, there was a very important update released a few days ago that you need to download. Accordance v. 10.4.6 will prep your copy of Accordance for the imminent release of v. 11 in the Mac App Store.

Please update to 10.4.6 as soon as possible. We will make another announcement as soon as Accordance v. 11 is available through the Mac App Store.

If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below.


Feb 17, 2015 Richard Mansfield

Why Study Extrabiblical Greek Texts?


A while back, I was asked to preach a sermon at my church explaining the idea of canon, that is, the list of writings accepted as sacred or inspired in my faith tradition. I titled my sermon, “What’s in Your Bible?” making a play on the phrase, “What’s in your wallet?” from the ongoing series of credit card commercials on television. Although I can never be certain since our church originated in the 1830s, I’d like to think that I may be the first person who ever read from the Pseudepigrapha in the pulpit at our church! No, I was not submitting apocalyptic literature attributed to Enoch as canon, but I was trying to give our church members a taste for ancient writings outside the standard 66 books in the Protestant canon.

Seriously, though—why do extrabiblical ancient writings like the Pseudepigrapha, the writings of Josephus and Philo, or the Apostolic Fathers even matter? As a student of mine once asked, “Isn’t the Bible enough?” Well, setting that question aside since we would have to determine “Enough for what?” let me instead suggest three reasons for wanting to study extrabiblical Greek texts in addition to the Bible:

(1) Extrabiblical Greek writings improve our own understanding of biblical Greek. When I took introductory Greek classes, we had two kinds of practice sentences to translate: simple sentences from the New Testament, and simple sentences made up by the writer that never actually occurred anywhere in ancient literature. Some of the made up sentences were rather odd in hindsight such as "βάλλει τὸ ἱμάτιον αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τοῦ λίθου” ("He throws his clothing on the stone”)—what? I’ve seen a much better trend in some Greek intro workbooks in recent years in which the authors include actual sentences from other Greek writings such as the Apostolic Fathers, the Septuagint, Josephus, or even the Enchiridion.These works give a greater context to the language and help us sharpen our understanding of koine Greek. They give us good practice.

(2) Extrabiblical Greek writings give us insight into the mindset and popular beliefs of people in New Testament times. Psalms of Solomon 17 from the Pseudepigrapha gives us great insight into the contemporary expectation and popular understanding of the Messiah’s role by the time Jesus arrived on the scene in the first century. Josephus and Philo give us two very different interpretive schools of thought for understanding the Old Testament in a time roughly concurrent with the writing of the New Testament. Jude even quotes from 1 Enoch! No writing, including the Bible, was written in a vacuum. These other writings help give us understanding of the context in which the New Testament was written.

(3) Extrabiblical Greek writings are invaluable for the serious student of history. The writings of the Apostolic Fathers, the Apologists, Eusebius, and even apocryphal New Testament documents including Nag Hammadi writings such as the Gospel of Thomas, give us insight into the growth of the church and different movements that rose and fell after the time of the Apostles. Certain writings such as the Didache, Shepherd of Hermas, and 1 Clement were held by some early Christians to be Scripture. Although they didn’t make “the final cut,” it’s important to actually read them (as opposed to just reading about them) to see for ourselves why some may have held them to be divinely inspired and others did not.

If any of the three reasons I mentioned above for studying extrabiblical texts appeal to you--or if you have other reasons of your own--you will want to consider adding the bundles below to your Accordance Library. Most of these texts come with translations as well, so you can read Greek and English side-by-side in parallel columns that scroll together.

Early Greek Christian Add-on: Apocryphal And Other Early Greek Christian Writings
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective!), the ancient world was not as obsessive about record-keeping as we are today. We have lots of questions about the growth of Christianity after the details provided in the Book of Acts and New Testament epistles. We are fortunate, however, to have the record set forth by Eusebius of Caesarea (AD 260/265 – 339/340) of the events from the New Testament to his day.

In addition to Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, you will also receive Athanasius' Incarnation and Against the Gentiles, Christian Apologists (Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Theophylus of Antioch), Apocryphal Gospels, Apocryphal Apocalypses, and NT Apocryphal Acts.

Eusebius in parallel

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Apostolic Fathers

The Apostolic Fathers is a fascinating collection of works because these are the "second generation" writings immediately after the record left in the New Testament. As mentioned earlier, certain works in the Apostolic Fathers like The Didache and the Shepherd of Hermas were even considered by some early Christians as Scripture. Nevertheless, while these works remain an important collection of writings revered by early Christians, in the end, they were not included in the final canon of the New Testament.

This add-on includes both the Holmes and the Lightfoot versions of the tagged Greek Apostolic Fathers as well as corresponding English translations.

Didache in parallel on iPhone

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The Pseudepigrapha is "A collection of ancient Jewish and Hellenistic writings that were written during the intertestamental period but are not part of the canonical OT or the Apocrypha [...]. This collection includes various types of literature, some of it attributed to biblical persons, such as Enoch, Ezra, Baruch, Elijah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but in reality these names are pseudonyms" (IVP Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies). Still read as popular literature in New Testament times, the Pseudepigrapha is invaluable for understanding the mindset and expectation of both Jewish and Christian believers in the first century.

This massive bundle includes the tagged Greek texts and a new translation of the Greek by Craig Evans, the classic compilation and translation of R. H. Charles, and the critical Charlesworth edition with parallel versions and notes.

Pseudepigrapha in parallel-Mac

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Writings of Philo

Philo was a first century Jewish philosopher living in Alexandria, Egypt. His writings demonstrate a Hellenized allegorical form of interpretation of the Old Testament. Although Philo was Jewish and not Christian, the allegorical method of interpretation was very influential upon the early church. Papias, whose writings are included in the Apostolic Fathers Add-on referred to Philo as “an ancient interpreter of the church” and “contemporary of the Apostles" (Pap 13:1).

This set includes all the extant Greek texts of Philo and the translation by C.D. Yonge.

Philo in parallel

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Writings of Josephus 
Having initially fought against the Romans before defecting to their side, Josephus will forever remain a controversial figure to history. Nevertheless, his writings are invaluable not only for understanding the culture of conflict between the Jews and Romans but also for insights into interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Josephus recorded Jewish history with special emphasis on the first century AD and the First Jewish-Roman War, including the Siege of Masada. His works provide valuable insight into first century Judaism and the background of early Christianity.

This set offers the 1890 Niese Greek text with the Whiston translation and extensive notes.

Josephus in parallel

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Writings of Epictetus

The writings of Stoic philosopher Epictetus (recorded by his student Arrian) did hold influence with some in the early church who tried to find common ground with Stoic teachings and Christian thought. However, that fact is often not why the writings of Epictetus (AD 55 - 135) are often so valuable to the student of the New Testament. Rather, his writings are an excellent example of koine Greek contemporary with the New Testament.

These writings currently include The Enchiridion, or Handbook of Epictetus, a manual of Stoic ethical advice, the first of four surviving Discourses, and the recently added preface to the Discourses by Epictetus’ student, Arrian. The Greek text is designed to run in parallel with Elizabeth Carter’s English translation.

Epictetus in parallel - iPad
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CompNTcover-sm One more thing... Having all the titles above is great, but what's missing is something to tie them all together. Have you discovered the Comprehensive Bible Cross References? Lots of Bibles come with cross-references to connect related passage together, but this is a full biblical and extrabiblical cross-reference system.

This unique set of modules includes cross references for the entire Old and New Testaments listing 40,000 parallels from contemporary writings. Additional modules provide parallel scripture references for Apostolic Fathers, Josephus, Philo, and the Qumran literature, as well as NT translation and Notes with a simple apparatus. The Comprehensive Bible Cross References can also be used in conjunction with the new Info Pane in Accordance 11 so as to easily tie in extrabiblical works to any passage in Scripture!
Complete Cross Reference
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Feb 16, 2015 Richard Mansfield

Using the INFER Command with Extrabiblical Greek Texts

One of the more powerful--but probably somewhat underused--commands in Accordance in the INFER search. You would want to use the INFER search most often when you are looking for issues in intertextuality—that is, where a text quotes another text either directly or through allusion. The INFER command is probably most often used in looking for places where the New Testament is quoting the Old Testament, but did you know it can be used with extrabiblical texts as well?

As I’ve already mentioned, the INFER command is one of the most powerful commands in Accordance. When Dr. J last covered this kind of search in the Lighting the Lamp podcast, he said that the INFER command is also one of the most customizable kinds of searches. This blog post is not designed to offer a tutorial in all the nuances of the INFER command, but I do want to give you a very straightforward example using the Greek New Testament and an extrabiblical Greek text. I would encourage you to pay around with the various settings of the INFER command and try it out on different texts for yourself.

In this example, I want to determine what kind of quotations or allusions exist between the Didache, a late first century/early second century document purporting to be the teaching of the apostles, and the Greek New Testament. As you can see in the image below, I have placed the Greek New Testament on the left in a zone and the Apostolic Fathers (of which the Didache is a subset) in a zone on the right.

Did you know you can define ranges for more than just books of the Bible? To narrow my range, I have defined a new range as the Didache and have moved it down so that it appears below Revelation. Note that the book order is based on the Apostolic Fathers.

Infer Screenshot 1

There’s more than one way to enter the INFER command, but I have done it just by going to the Search menu, selecting Enter Command, and then INFER. Accordance asks me which text I want to include in my search. I only have the Greek New Testament open with the Apostolic Fathers, but if I had multiple texts open in other zones or tabs, I would want to be careful I selected the correct one. Going with the default settings of a six word phrase, my search field now populates with the information seen below.

Infer Screenshot 2

After I hit the Return/Enter key on my computer, I can see my highlighted (blue in the example below) results in the zone on the right.

Infer Screenshot 3

Now, I have my results, but really this is only half the process. Finding phrases in the Didache that appear in the New Testament gives me some information, but not enough. I really need to know where the information comes from in the New Testament. To achieve this, I can use the SEARCH BACK command. First, I simply highlight the phrase I want to examine. In this case, I am highlighting καὶ τότε φανήσεται τὰ σημεῖα τῆς from Did 16:6, roughly translated as “And then there will appear the signs.” This sounds as if it might be apocalyptic, perhaps from the Book of Revelation, but I won’t know for certain until I run the SEARCH BACK command. Right-clicking on my highlighted phrase will allow me to select the command from the contextual menu.

Infer Screenshot 4

Running the SEARCH BACK command gives me a result in the Greek New Testament, not from Revelation, but rather in Matthew 24:30. At first glance, I might think that the phrase in the Didache is not actually an allusion but just a similar use of words. However, when I read the context of the passage in the Didache, specifically down to 16:8, I see that it is actually an expansion on Matthew 24:30.

Infer Screenshot 5

I encourage you to play around with the very powerful INFER search command. You can get information on it from the Accordance Help System. Go to Help: Accordance Help and simply run a search for “Infer.” The first entry in the Help search results will be “[INFER 6 ?].” This will get you started as well as include links for various customizable features of the search command.

You can also watch two of the older Lighting the Lamp podcasts that cover the INFER command. Although they were created using earlier versions of Accordance, the instructions and concepts with the INFER command in these podcasts are essentially the same as they are in Accordance 11. See either link below for more information.

#89) [INFER] and Search Back
#3.5) Commands & Symbols, Part 5: INFER and Search Back


Feb 16, 2015 David Lang

Ancient Wisdom for Head and Heart

What do the church fathers have to teach us today? Two new Accordance resources apply the wisdom of the fathers to the study of theology and the practice of personal devotion.

Ancient Christian Doctrine

Similar in format to the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Ancient Christian Doctrine is a five-volume commentary on the Nicene creed. The theological concepts articulated in each phrase of the creed are examined and illuminated with passages from various early church fathers.

For example, the section on the term “Almighty” begins with a discussion of its historical context. The term began as a title for the God of Israel expressing his rule over all things. Over time, this concept led to discussions of the extent of God’s power and ability—an articulation of the attribute of omnipotence.


This introduction to the historical context of the term “Almighty” is then followed by excerpts from such fathers as Theophilus of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Cyril of Jerusalem, etc. Because each one looks at divine omnipotence from a slightly different angle, we learn to appreciate that attribute in all its multi-faceted splendor.

When it comes to exploring historical theology, there is perhaps no more convenient way to go “to the sources” than with Ancient Christian Doctrine.

Ancient Christian Devotional

What Ancient Christian Doctrine does for the head, the Ancient Christian Devotional does for the heart. This devotional presents the current week’s readings from the Revised Common Lectionary, followed by prayers and inspirational commentary on those readings from the fathers.


This week’s devotion begins with an opening prayer from the Gregorian sacramentary, followed by a reading from 2 Kings 2 which records the assumption of Elijah. The reader is then given excerpts from Origen and Augustine discussing the meaning of Elisha’s request for a “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit. The New Testament and Gospel readings are likewise followed by interesting and inspirational reflections from the fathers.

Whether you’re looking for ancient wisdom for the head or for the heart, these resources enable you to drink deeply from the teaching of the early church fathers.

Ancient Doctrine

Ancient Christian Doctrine

Five Volumes

  • We Believe in One God
  • We Believe in One Lord Jesus Christ
  • We Believe in the Crucified and Risen Lord
  • We Believe in the Holy Spirit
  • We Believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

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Ancient Devotional

Ancient Christian Devotional

Three Volumes
  • Lectionary Cycle A
  • Lectionary Cycle B
  • Lectionary Cycle C

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Ancient Christian Devo/Doctrine

Ancient Christian Doctrine / Devotional Set
(Special Offer through February 23, 2015)

This bundle will only be available during this special offer period.

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Feb 5, 2015 Timothy Jenney

List All & Report a Correction (Lighting the Lamp Video Podcast #117)


It’s the "little things, the attention to detail that characterize a great product. In this podcast, Dr. J covers three of the “little features” that help make Accordance the world’s premiere Bible software: List All Text Differences, List Book Names, and Report a Correction. [Accordance 11: Intermediate]

For more Lighting the Lamp podcasts, visit our website or subscribe through iTunes.