Accordance Blog
Feb 15, 2013 David Lang

Teaching Greek with Accordance and an Apple TV

My wife and I homeschool four of our five children. (At four, Jo Jo hasn't begun formal schooling yet, although he seems to be learning more than all the rest of us combined.) To satisfy the older kids' high school language requirement, I've been teaching the whole family Greek using Bill Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek. Since I have the textbook on Accordance, I've been viewing it on my laptop and projecting it to our Apple TV using Airplay Mirroring.

My basic set up is a workspace with two zones. One contains Mounce's grammar and the other contains the Greek New Testament. I spend most of my time just showing the grammar, and I make it full screen by choosing Enter Reading Mode from the Gear menu of the Tool tab. Since I want them all to be able to read along with me, I crank the font size up quite a bit using the text size buttons.

TeachGreek1

Occasionally, I find I want to explain something by typing a little Greek myself. So I've created a user tool named "Greek Class" which I basically just use as a kind of scratch pad. When I want to type some Greek, I display that user tool and then choose Edit User Tool from the Selection menu. In the user tool edit window, I choose the Helena font and a large font size (30 point) and just begin typing what I need. Because Accordance automatically handles the correct placement of accents and final forms, it's relatively easy to show them anything I want to.

For example, when trying to explain that sigma takes a different form at the end of a word, I began typing the word ἀπόστολος. When I typed ἀπός, I pointed out that Accordance inserted the final sigma because it was currently the last letter of the word, but that as soon as I typed another letter, Accordance changed the final sigma to a medial sigma. Seeing that dynamic on the screen helped to solidify in their minds the difference between the two forms.

Several days later, we worked through an exercise in which we were supposed to divide various Greek words into syllables. I typed each of those words ahead of time, and then after we discussed where each word should be divided, I simply inserted a vertical bar (|) into each word to show the syllable divisions. Doing it this way was quick and easy, and it visually reinforced the point of the lesson.

Now we're beginning to learn some vocabulary, and Bill Mounce's included audio pronunciations of each word are proving helpful. I'm not sure why, but somehow hearing Dr. Mounce pronounce the words seems more authoritative to my family than when I do it!

At the end of each lesson, I switch to the Greek New Testament where we've been memorizing the beginning of the Gospel of John. We've got verses 1 and 2 down pretty well now, and we started on verse 3 today. As we recite, I show the verses on the screen and try to drag my cursor over each word as we read it.

TeachGreek2

Each word is highlighted as I hover over it so it's a bit like one of those follow-the-bouncing-ball sing-along videos for children. Reading and reciting a real Greek passage is helping to solidify their understanding of the Greek alphabet and Greek pronunciation. I've also used this passage to introduce them to the concept of noun case endings, to explain accents and breathing marks, etc. This way, they're getting exposed to the language inductively as well as deductively.

While Jo Jo is generally playing during these lessons, even he is picking up a few things. He can recite John 1:1-2 as well as any of us, and just the other day, I asked him to turn on the φῶς. His only question was which "light" I wanted him to turn on!


 

May 11, 2012 David Lang

Finding Your Highlights

The other day I showed how you can hide any highlighting you've done to avoid being distracted by it. Today I want to show you how to find any highlighted verses—even when you've chosen to hide the highlighting.

To search for highlights, select Style from the Enter Command submenu of the Search command. Replace the selected question mark inside the Style command with the name of the highlight style you want to find. In my first post in this series, I defined a highlight style to tag verses with the label "Joy," so I'll simply type "joy" to replace the question mark. (Actually, since none of my other highlight styles start with the letter "j", simply typing a "j" would be sufficient. Accordance only needs enough of a style name to distinguish it from all other style names.)

When I hit Return to perform this search, all of my "joy" verses will appear. Even though I had Hide verse highlighting checked in the text display settings, Accordance automatically unchecks that setting for the purpose of displaying the results of a Style search.

SearchHighlights

You can even use other commands and search criteria in combination with the Style command. For example, let's say I want to search all my "Joy" verses for the phrase "in the Lord." I'll simply add an AND command (by choosing it from the Enter Command submenu of the Search menu or using the keyboard shortcut shift-command-A) followed by the phrase "in the Lord" (the quotes are unnecessary). Here is the result:

SearchHighlights2

As you can see, using your highlight styles as the basis for a search can make it easy to search only your "tagged" verses.


 

May 9, 2012 David Lang

Hiding Your Highlights

Have you ever highlighted extensively in a print Bible, then tried to re-read a passage you previously highlighted? I always found that once I had highlighted a passage, it became hard to see anything new in that passage. It was as though the highlighting permanently defined how I read that passage, and I began to find it distracting.

If you highlight a print Bible and later find the highlights distracting, your only option is to buy another Bible. But if you highlight in Accordance, you always have the choice of whether to show or hide the highlighting.

Last week, I showed how you can use Accordance's Highlighting feature to set up a system for "tagging" verses with specific categories, topics, etc. In my second post in the series, I showed how to apply highlight styles to entire verses or selected words in a translation. Highlight just a few verses in this way, and you'll soon wind up with passages that look something like this:

HideHighlight1

Again, all that highlighting is great when you want it, but it's a distraction when you don't. To hide it, simply choose Set Text Pane Display from the Display menu (or use the keyboard shortcut Command-T).

HideHighlight2

In the dialog that opens, simply check Hide verse highlighting. If you've done any Word Highlighting, you can check Hide word highlighting as well. When you click OK to close the dialog, the highlighting will no longer appear.

Of course, the highlighting is still there; it's just hidden. You can show it again by using Command-T and unchecking the Hide highlighting checkboxes. You can even search for your highlights while they're hidden—something I'll show you how to do in my next post.


 

May 4, 2012 David Lang

Use Verse Highlighting to Tag Verses, Part 2

In yesterday's post, I began to show how you can use verse highlighting to "tag" verses with specific categories, topics, etc. In that post, I showed how to create a new Highlight File and define the styles which represent your "tags." Today, I want to show how to apply those styles to specific verses.

Once you've created a highlight style, applying it to a verse or a selection of words is easy: simply select the text you want to highlight, then click the desired style on the Highlight palette. To apply a highlight style to an entire verse, simply select some of the verse reference, then click the desired style. This is called verse highlighting, and it will appear in every Bible text you display which contains that verse.

If you select text in a portion of a verse and apply a style to it, that is called word highlighting. That highlighting will only show up in that particular Bible text, since other Bible texts may not have the exact same wording. In the screenshot below, you can see that I've applied one style to Psalm 146:1–2, and those verses appear highlighted in both the HCSBS and the KJVS. I've also applied a different style to the words "Do not trust in nobles" in Psalm 146:3 of the HCSB. Yet because this is word highlighting which is specific to that translation, this highlighting does not appear in the KJV.

VerseAndWordHighlighting

If you select text across multiple verses and apply a highlight style, Accordance assumes you want to highlight all of the selected verses. In this way, you can very quickly "tag" large blocks of verses.

MultipleVerseHighlighting

To clear a highlight style, simply select the highlighted verses or words, then click the Clear button on the Highlight palette.

We've now seen how to use highlight styles to "tag" verses with specific categories such as "Joy," "Encouragement," and "Worship." In my next post, I'll show how to hide all that highlighting when you don't care to see it, and how to find all the verses you've tagged with a certain style.


 

May 3, 2012 David Lang

Use Verse Highlighting to Tag Verses

We got an interesting suggestion today on our User Forums. Someone asked for a way to "tag" verses with information. For example, he wrote, "I may want to add the tag 'Joy' to a verse that speaks 'joy' to me, but doesn't have that word actually in the verse."

While Accordance does not currently offer "tags" per se, one way to accomplish this right now is to use verse highlighting as a kind of tagging system.

To use Accordance's highlighting feature, the first thing you'll need to do is open the Highlight palette. You do this by selecting Highlight palette from the Window menu.

HighlightMenu

 

In most Accordance installations, the Highlight palette will open with one predefined set of Highlights (My Highlights) containing one predefined style (a yellow style named Important). You can then add more styles to that highlight set, or you can create a new set of highlights for a specific purpose. In this case, let's create a new set of highlights named Tags that we'll use for tagging verses.

To do that, choose New Highlight File… from the pop-up menu at the top of the Highlight palette. In the dialog box that appears, enter the name "Tags" and click OK. The Define Highlight Styles dialog box will then open automatically so you can define the various styles it will contain. Once again, the default style is a yellow highlight named Important, but we'll rename this first style Encouragement, change its Color to Cyan, and change its Shape from a thick bar to an underline.

DefineTagHighlights

As you can see, by changing the various pop-ups, you can create boxes, dashed lines, strikethroughs, etc. Once you have this first style set the way you want it, click the New button to add a second style. I'll call this second style Joy, select Magenta as the Color, and leave all the other pop-ups the same. Next I'll create a third style, call it Worship, and give it the color Purple. When I click OK to close the dialog box, my Highlight palette will now look like this:

TagHighlights

I now have three "tags" that I can apply to the verses I read. In my next post, I'll show you how to apply those tag styles to individual verses.


 

Jun 22, 2011 Steve Bauer

The Pastor's Study: Detailed Accordance Workflow

Study This week's installment of The Pastor's Study comes from Steve Bauer, Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in West Newton, Pennsylvania.

Background

The people at Accordance have asked me to include a section on how I make use of Accordance in my sermon preparation. There is no doubt that some of this will overlap with what others have written. But I hope that as you travel through this with me you’ll learn to use Accordance in ways you haven’t thought of before, or in ways that might help save you some time in preparing for your sermons.

Do the Gruntwork

Whether you are not using a computer at all or using Accordance, there’s always the tedious gruntwork that is involved when preparing for a sermon. So, before we get to the fun, we need to get the gruntwork done.

Get the parsing into the user notes

Accordance has a separate, little file for each verse. So, the first task is getting the original language words into our notes so that we can make our own notes and comments on each word. Here’s the process I use:

  1. Drag your cursor over the words in a verse to select them
  2. Click the “parsing” button.
  3. A nice-looking table will appear. Copy the contents of this window (commmand-a, command-c)
  4. Close the parsing window.
  5. open up the user notes file for that verse (click back into the verse that you highlighted and then use the key combination, command-u)
  6. The user notes Edit window now opens. Paste your parsed words into your user notes (command-v).

Ok, we have the words in the user notes. But wouldn’t it be nice to have some space in beween the lines so we could write some notes? The proper answer is ‘yes---most definitely yes!’

  1. Drag the cursor from the end of one line to the beginning of the next line to highlight a linebreak.
  2. Copy it (command-c)
  3. within the user notes editor open up the find window (command-f).
  4. Make sure the “Latin characters only” button is not checked!
  5. Click the “Find” field and paste once (command-v)
  6. In the “Replace with” field paste twice (command-v twice)
  7. Click the “Replace All” button in the window.

What you should have now is a nifty looking window with vertical spaces between the lines. The great part about this is that after you have put the parsed words into each user note for each verse, all you have to do is open up the find window (in each user note window editor) and hit ‘Replace All’ to have these spaces added for each verse.

I walk through these steps for all my sermons. It doesn’t take much time. And if I don’t have much time to prepare (e.g. funeral sermons), I have the words formatted in the user notes so that I can move on to my exegesis.

Getting your windows to work for you

Some time ago, Accordance added Favorite Workspaces. That’s what that big, yellow star is for on your Resource palette. Those are where your Favorite Workspaces appear. Dr. Jenney has provided a good overview of workspaces in his podcast, but briefly, you can set up a workspace with all the tools you need for a given task and then save it for use at any time.  I put my Grammars and Lexicons into these workspaces. I also put some of the user tools I have made (or have been given) into workspaces.

We will talk more about using workspaces a little later on. But if you haven’t put together some workspaces with collections of your precious tools you use most, now would be a good time to watch that podcast and make some workspaces.

 

Do the Exegesis

You’re on your own

This is the part of the post where I need to be a little blunt. I can’t teach you how to do exegesis. I went to school for five years to learn the biblical languages (greek and hebrew). I went to our seminary for four more years to learn how to use the biblical languages.

Accordance can’t teach you the languages. And when you learn the languages, Accordance can’t teach you how to use the languages. But, if you have gone to a good school, Accordance can be a valuable tool in your teaching and sermon preparation.

Highlighting can help

Once you have done a faithful text-study and have learned what the words mean, the next task is to figure out how to organize your thoughts and communicate them. There are many books written on this topic.1 But highlighting can help to show the flow of thought, the parallelism, repeated phrases, etc.

In order to get this done, I made two collections of highlights. The first highlighted relationships within one verse. The other set highlighted relationships between words spread out throughout several verses. Perhaps some examples would help.

Greek_Example

  • In this first example I highlighted instances of the same word (παραιτήσησθε...παραιτησάμενοι) or contrasting words (ἐπὶ γῆς...ἀπ᾿ οὐρανῶν)
  • Likewise, since The Writer to the Hebrews carries this theme of shakable-unshakable throughout these words, I thought it would be a good idea to track it (ἐσάλευσεν... σείσω... σαλευομένων... σαλευόμενα... ἀσάλευτον)

I’ve found this pattern useful not just for NT stuff, but also for OT texts as well. Especially in Hebrew poetry, which relies on parallelism so much, highlighting can be a useful (and fun?) way of charting the flow of the words.

Hebrew_Example

In the provided screenshot you’ll notice the parallelism highlighted within the verses. But, I also make use of highlighting to chart the connections between the verses.2

The whole point of this is to find how the words flow and speak so that the pattern you find in the words can give shape to your flow of thought in your sermon.

Protect your Humility

One of the troubles and temptations of preachers is to go beyond what either linguistically or contextually the text is actually saying. Here is where the workspaces come in handy. (If I have time) after I have finished my exegesis, I start at the beginning and use my custom workspaces to see if I might have gone too far in my translation. I highlight the verse3 and then click the ‘star’ icon to open up my workspace with my grammars, lexicons and tools. The workspace then spills out every time the verse you have highlighted is cited in your tools. This can be very helpful...

With rants

I may be alone in this, but I like it when grammarians rant. Sometimes the points they make I miss, simply because they hide them with five-syllable words. But when they start ranting, then I know I’m getting to the good stuff. Take for example what I came across in preparation for my last sermon. In Luke 11:4, Wallace offers this vivid commentary:

Fourth, as the colloquial aphorism goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” The results of the traditional approach are almost comical. Exegetical and expository literature in the past several decades is filled with statements that are less than credible. Applying the traditional canon to Eph 5:18 results in: “Stop being drunk with wine, but continue to be filled with the Spirit” (μὴ μεθύσκεσθε, πληροῦσθε). On this view, one could ask, “Why stop getting drunk if it does not prevent one from getting Spirit-filled?” Further, if Ephesians is a circular letter, why are specific judgments made in it? Note, for example: “Stop provoking your children to wrath” (μὴ παροργίζετε in 6:4); “Stop grieving the Holy Spirit” (μὴ λυπεῖτε in 4:30); “Stop being foolish” (μὴ γίνεσθε in 5:17).14 Or consider John 5:8: “Take up [aorist: ἆρον] your mattress and continue walking [present: περιπάτει].” But how could the lame man continue walking if he had not done so for thirty-eight years?15

In sum, the basic force of the aorist in commands/prohibitions is that it views the action as a whole, while the basic force of the present in commands/prohibitions is that it views the action as ongoing process. This basic meaning may, of course, be shaped in a given context to fit, say, an ingressive idea for the aorist. Thus if the conditions are right, the aorist prohibition may well have the force of “Do not start.” This is an affected meaning or specific usage. But to call this the essential idea is not correct.4

But wait, the ranting continues in the footnote:

15 Other texts are equally absurd, if the traditional canon is followed. The following examples include translations that are patently ridiculous. For the present tense, note, e.g., Matt 4:10 (“Continue to go away, Satan”); 5:44 (“Continue to love your enemies” [when the audience had not yet begun]); Matt 7:23 (“Continue to depart from me”); Mark 5:41 (“Continue to rise”); 7:10 (“Let the one who speaks evil of his father or mother continue to die”); Luke 8:39 (“Continue to return to your home”); John 10:37 (“If I do not do the works of the Father, stop believing in me”); 19:21 (“Stop writing” the title on the sign above Jesus’ name—v 19 states that this was already a completed act). For the aorist, note, e.g., Mark 9:43 (“If your hand offends you, begin to cut it off”); Luke 11:4 (“Begin to forgive us our sins”)5

There will always be this temptation to make the immediate words we are translating say more than what they are saying. There are times that the grammars can keep us in check.

Prevent the Timidity

On the one hand, there is a temptation to say too much. But on the other hand, there is a temptation to say too little. Here again, Accordance can help.

With Workspaces

In my sermon for Easter 5 - Cantate, my text was Hebrews 12:25-29;13:4-6. Robertson provides this comment on Hebrews 13:5:

Even οὐ μή was not strong enough sometimes, so that we have οὐδέ and οὐ μή in Heb. 13:56

There is no more extensive and emphatic way of saying ‘no’ in the NT than the strong future negation. Robertson’s note is worthy of considering in your heart and preaching from your lips. If οὐ μή wasn’t enough for the writer to the Hebrews, should it be enough for us?

What I mean is this: If the writer to the Hebrews tells us that God will never, ever, ever leave us nor will he ever, ever, ever abandon us, isn’t that a point we should emphasize in our preaching?

With “ancient and widespread” Variants

Ever since Accordance added the Nestle-Aland textual apparatus (and then later the CNTTS) the variant readings have been more accessible than they ever have been before. But, what do we do with them? Here is where the old phrase Ancient and Widespread comes into play. Yes, it sounds like a poorly crafted punchline to a joke about your grandma or mother-in-law. But it’s not. It’s how we attempt to find the original text (the autograph).7 So, if we look at Hebrews 13:5, we find this variant:

  1. Option 1: οὐ μή σε ἐγκαταλίπω (aorist subjunctive)
  2. Option 2: οὐ μή σε ἐγκαταλείπω (present subjunctive)

As with all the variants in the NT, they don’t change the doctrine in the bible. However, they might change the emphasis in your preaching. In support of the base reading in the Nestle Aland text (ἐγκαταλίπω) we find Bezæ (D) and a whole bunch of later minuscules:

 

Variant Option 1
Date Ita/Gaul Asia Minor Syria Palestine Egypt
50-100
100-200
200-300
300-400
400-500 D
500-600

 

 

However, we find that earlier and more widespread witnesses have the second option (ἐγκαταλείπω):

 

Variant Option 2
Date Ita/Gaul Asia Minor Syria Palestine Egypt
50-100
100-200
200-300 M M P46
300-400 M M ‏א
400-500 M M A02,C04
500-600

 

 

If the variant (ἐγκαταλείπω) is the better option, the next question is “why should I care?” What difference in translation and preaching would the aorist subjunctive vs. the present subjunctive make? Although I can’t prove this with sufficient detail, my conclusion is that the writer has chosen the present subjunctive deliberately to show that God’s promise of never abandoning doesn’t just apply to the distant, abstract future. It applies now. If this is true, then it provides a good emphasis in preaching which I might have overlooked if I didn’t look at the variants.

Conclusion

This is my Sermon Preparation Workflow. I get the verses in the user notes and do the exegesis. If time permits, I use the workspaces to quickly and efficiently grind through the grammars, lexicons and other tools to see where these verses are cited. If there is still a little more time, I have a look at the variants to see what the most ancient and widespread witnesses wrote.

All of this serves two purposes:

  1. Save time in the areas I don’t want to be spending time (paging through dusty old tomes, trying to see what they might say about my text)
  2. Costing time in the areas I want to be spending time. I want to translate these verses faithfully. I want to ponder them. I want to avoid saying too much. I want to avoid saying too little.

I hope this little walkthrough hasn’t taken up too much of your time and has given you some ideas of how you might use Accordance in better ways than I do.

 


1 perhaps the best out there right now is Bryan Chappell’s, Christ-Centered Preaching.
2 ‎‫עֶבֶד In Is. 49:3 and Is. 49:6
3 not the words in the verse---just the verse number!
4 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: an Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 717.
5 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: an Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 725.
6 A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Accordance electronic ed. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1919), 1175.
7 Some might point out that this phrase and approach to solving variants is not what they were taught. My point here is only to concisely provide a format for dealing with variants. This method is what I was taught. And over the years I have become convinced that this is the only way of dealing with the variants in an objective manner.


 

May 19, 2011 David Lang

Finding Repeated Words in a Passage, Part 4

This week we've been discussing the interpretive value of looking for repeated words in a passage of Scripture, and I've been showing how to do this using Accordance's highlighting tools and other shortcuts. Yesterday, I showed how, having noticed a repeated word, you can quickly search for other occurrences of that word and highlight the results with one click. But I ended that post by discussing the challenges of searching for repetition in a translation rather than in the original Greek or Hebrew:

In most cases, the repetition of a word in a translation actually reflects the repetition of a word in the original Greek or Hebrew, but that's not always the case. It may be that a Greek or Hebrew word is translated by different English words in the same passage, in which case our search for repetition in English would miss instances of repetition in the original. Conversely, it may be that the same English word is used to translate different Greek or Hebrew words, in which case we would be seeing repetition in the English which is not actually present in the original.

So if you're working in English, how can you be sure you're finding repetition which occurs in the original texts? The answer is to use an English Bible tagged with Key numbers that link you to the original Greek and Hebrew words. Accordance has quite a few such texts available (ESVS, HCSBS, JPSS, KJVS, NAS95S, NKJVS, NRSVS, NIV-G/K, and even the Spanish RVR60S), so you likely have at least one such text already.

Yesterday, I did a search for every occurrence of the word "sent" in 2 Samuel 11, and I found 9 occurrences in the HCSBS. How can I be sure that all nine occurrences translate the same Hebrew word? Well, I could hover my cursor over each occurrence and see which Hebrew word appears in the Instant Details box, or I can simply click the Details icon of the Search window and select Analysis from the pop-up menu.

AnalysisinMenu

If I do the latter, an Analysis tab will appear listing all the words that were found by my search, as well as all the Key numbers attached to those words. This tells me right away that all nine occurrences of "sent" translate the Hebrew word shalach.

AnalysisSent

Now, how can I be sure that my search for the English word "sent" found every occurrence of shalach in 2 Samuel 11? The easiest thing to do is to search for the Hebrew word itself. We can do that by right- or control- clicking the English word "sent" and choosing Key Number from the "Search for" submenu of the contextual menu.

SearchforKey

This will open a new tab showing every word in the entire Bible which has been tagged with the Key number representing shalach. Since I'm only interested in the occurrences of this word in 2 Samuel 11, I would then limit the search by specifying that chapter as the search range.

Now I can see clearly that my English search actually missed two additional occurrences of the Hebrew word shalach. If I want to highlight those additional occurrences, I can simply shift-click my highlight style again to apply that style to all the hits from this Key number search.

Obviously, I would have saved a step if I had searched by Key Number to begin with, and I'd recommend you make a habit of searching by Key Number rather than by English word. I began with the English word search in yesterday's post purely for teaching purposes.

Now that I've found all eleven times the Hebrew word shalach is used in 2 Samuel 11, I'm ready to begin analyzing each occurrence to see how it develops a theme and decide what that theme communicates. Again, using Accordance to speed up the process of finding all this repetition frees me to do the work of interpretation that no software can do for me.

So far, we've been using an English translation as a gateway to study the original Hebrew, but those of you who are comfortable working in the Hebrew directly can go even further. In tomorrow's post, I'll show you an even more sophisticated way to find repeated words in a passage.


 

May 18, 2011 David Lang

Finding Repeated Words in a Passage, Part 3

This week we've been discussing how finding repeated words in a passage can make you aware of its major themes and motifs. On Monday, I showed how to use Accordance's highlighting tool to highlight key words so you can begin to notice patterns. Yesterday we applied this method to 2 Samuel 11, highlighting every mention of cleansing and then unpacking how those key words are used to develop a particular theme. Today I want to look at another oft-repeated word in 2 Samuel 11 and show you a few helpful shortcuts along the way.

SentHighlight If you work your way through 2 Samuel 11 and just begin highlighting the actions taken by the main characters, a pattern very quickly emerges. Can you see it? In this handful of verses, the word "sent" is used over and over again.

The advantage of highlighting key words as you work your way through a passage is that it can alert you to repeated words like this. But once you've noticed a pattern, there is no longer any point in working your way through the text looking for every remaining occurrence of that word. Once the pattern has emerged, that's the time to switch gears and have Accordance complete the pattern for you.

In other words, now that we know the word "sent" gets repeated, we want to find all other occurrences of the word "sent" as quickly as possible. That way, we can move immediately from gathering the relevant data (observation) to analyzing that data (interpretation).

One obvious way to find all the other occurrences of "sent" in 2 Samuel 11 is to search for it. You can do that by right- or control-clicking the word "sent" and choosing Word from the "Search for" submenu of the contextual menu.

SearchforWord

This will open a new tab showing every occurrence of the word "sent" in the entire Bible. Since I'm only interested in the occurrences of this word in 2 Samuel 11, I would then limit the search by defining a range for 2 Samuel 11 in the Range pop-up menu or by using the Range command. Either approach will show me that "sent" is used no less than nine times in this chapter.

Searching for the word "sent" in this way has two advantages. First, it's instantaneous (as most Accordance searches are), where reading through the passage looking for each occurrence is time-consuming. Even more importantly, I can be confident that every occurrence of the word has been found, where I might easily miss one or more occurrences when trying to spot them myself.

Now that I've found every occurrence of "sent," I can instantly highlight the ones I haven't already highlighted by hand. To do this, simply shift-click the desired highlight style on the highlight palette. Shift-clicking a style will apply that style to every "hit" word resulting from a search. Using this method, you can very quickly highlight key words in a passage. And once again, the advantage of such shortcuts is that it moves you more quickly from the work of observation to the more engaging process of interpretation.

Up to now, I've been looking for repeated words in an English translation (the HCSB). For most of us, that's how we have to work through a passage, and that's perfectly fine. In most cases, the repetition of a word in a translation actually reflects the repetition of a word in the original Greek or Hebrew, but that's not always the case. It may be that a Greek or Hebrew word is translated by different English words in the same passage, in which case our search for repetition in English would miss instances of repetition in the original. Conversely, it may be that the same English word is used to translate different Greek or Hebrew words, in which case we would be seeing repetition in the English which is not actually present in the original. In my next post, I'll show you how to make sure the repetition you're seeing is really present in the original.


 

May 17, 2011 David Lang

Finding Repeated Words in a Passage, Part 2

Yesterday I described how you can use Accordance's highlighting feature to mark key words in a passage. Using different highlight colors for different key words enables you to see clearly which words and concepts are oft-repeated, which in turn can help you identify important themes or motifs. Today I want to show you how this works by looking at a specific example: the story of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11.

Cleansing Everyone knows this story begins with a bath, so let's start by going through this passage and highlighting every mention of bathing or cleansing. Here's what you should end up with:

If we examine these three mentions of bathing, we notice several important aspects of the narrative. First, Bathsheba's act of bathing leads quickly to the act of adultery. Yet it is described without any moral judgment on the part of the narrator. There is no indication that Bathsheba was intentionally trying to be seen or that David made a habit of rooftop voyeurism. At this point, only the essential facts are given: Bathsheba was bathing and David saw her.

Second, the explanation that her bathing was an act of purification from menstrual uncleanness introduces an element of irony and foreshadows the trouble to come. The irony is that an act of cleansing from menstrual impurity led to the far greater defilement of marital infidelity. (There's even an easy double alliteration for you preachers!) The foreshadowing comes from the fact that the end of the period of purification would have been the time when Bathsheba was most likely to conceive. For all his calculated scheming, David failed to take that into account until it was too late.

Finally, David attempts to cover his sin by sending Uriah home with the encouragement to "wash his feet"—a euphemism for enjoying all the comforts of home. Yet Uriah refuses to "wash," and thereby manages to be the only person in this story who remains clean. (If you're looking for more double alliteration for your sermon, I personally think maddening integrity works well.)

As you can see, I've just highlighted three words which develop a theme of cleansing, and already I've got the basic outline of a sermon! What's more, it's a sermon which derives its points directly from the text and which lends itself to a variety of applications.

Obviously, not every motif in every passage will lend itself so easily to serving as the foundation of a sermon, but I hope you can see how powerful these simple observations derived from the simple act of highlighting really can be.

Now you try it. Highlight all the times the word "house" is mentioned in this passage. Then ask yourself how each occurrence of that key word helps to develop a theme. What is that theme and how does it give you insight into the narrative as a whole? You're welcome to share your observations in the comments if you'd like.

Tomorrow we'll look at another oft-repeated word in 2 Samuel 11, and I'll use that to show you an easy way to highlight every occurrence of a word in a given passage.


 

May 16, 2011 David Lang

Finding Repeated Words in a Passage, Part 1

Whether you're a pastor, scholar, or inductive Bible study afficionado, one of the best ways to identify key ideas or themes in a passage is to look for repeated words and concepts. One way to do this is by going through the text and highlighting key words in various colors. Then you can easily see the words which get repeated most often.

If you've never used Accordance's highlighting tools, you can open a palette showing all your highlight styles by checking Highlight Palette in the Window menu. By default, Accordance supplies one predefined highlight style labeled Important, but you can easily define other styles for various purposes. To do that, go to the Display menu and choose Define Highlight Styles….

DefineHighlights

In the dialog box which appears, you can simply click New to add a new style, then give that style a name and choose its color, intensity, shape, and pattern. You can create styles that look like color markers, that draw boxes around selected words, that underline or strikethrough the text, etc. For highlighting key words in a text, you could create styles labeled simply "Key Word 1," "Key Word 2," etc., or you could assign specific roles or functions to each style, such as "Protagonist," "Antagonist," "Actions," "Places," etc. Accordance gives you the flexibility to develop whatever system works best for you.

HighlightsDefined Once you've defined several different highlight styles, click OK to dismiss the dialog box. All those styles you defined should now appear in the Highlight palette. To highlight some text in a passage, you simply select it and then click the style you want in the palette. You can also use the keyboard shortcut command-8 to apply the most recently selected highlight style to a selection. Command-8 is a great shortcut to remember when you want to work your way through a text highlighting every occurrence of a specific key word.

In tomorrow's post, I'll give you a specific example of how highlighting repeated words can give you insight into a passage. Later in the week, I'll also show you some powerful shortcuts for finding repeated words in a passage.