Feb 1, 2013 David Lang

EBC Revised Now Complete

EBC R When it rains it pours. The past couple weeks I have been doing my best to keep up with a flood of new Accordance modules which have come to me for final checks. Be looking for lots of new goodies to appear very soon. In the meantime, you can enjoy one of these new releases today: the Revised Edition of Expositor's Bible Commentary is now complete.

We released the New Testament volumes of the Revised EBC last October, with a promise to release the Old Testament volumes "in a few more weeks." As weeks stretched into months, we've received more and more "When?" questions via phone, email, and forums. If you've ever wondered why we are usually so reluctant to forecast release dates, now you know: it's just too easy for those dates to slip, and we are unwilling to sacrifice quality just for the sake of meeting a deadline.

On the other hand, I'm personally encouraged that we received so many requests for the release of the Old Testament volumes. It shows that many of you are preaching and teaching portions of the Hebrew Bible, rather than neglecting it in favor of the New Testament. Those of you who are should be very pleased with the addition of these new volumes, while those of you who are currently focused on the New Testament will also benefit from this update, which now includes extensive hyperlinking to other Accordance resources.

All in all, those of you who have already purchased the Revised EBC will find that your patience has been rewarded with an excellent commentary in a super-convenient form. Just choose Check for Content Updates… from the Accordance menu to download the completed commentary.

As for those of you who haven't yet picked up the new EBC, what are you waiting for?


 

Oct 1, 2012 David Lang

Baker Exegetical Commentary Now Available

BECNT-Matt-sm I'm pleased to announce that the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT) is now available as an Accordance module. BECNT has long been one of our most requested commentary series, and it's no wonder. Bestcommentaries.com ranks more than half the volumes in this series among the top three commentaries on their respective books of the Bible, and most of the other volumes rank in the top ten. For more about the series and its individual volumes, see this detailed article.

The BECNT is available now for $699.99.


 

Jun 14, 2012 David Lang

Baker Serves Up Beale-Carson; More Cooking

Beale&Carson-cover-sm We are very pleased to announce a new partnership with Baker Academic to bring new commentaries and reference works to Accordance. The first confectionary delight served up by this partnership is available right now: The Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson. The next batch of goodies will include two other commentaries: The Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series and the New Testament Commentary series by William Hendricksen and Simon J. Kistemaker. While those others are still cooking, let's take a moment to savor the sweetness of the Beale & Carson Commentary.

I've been excited about the prospect of getting the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament ever since it was first released in print. I haven't been the only one, either: it has consistently been among the commentaries most frequently requested by our users. If you've ever read a New Testament quotation of an Old Testament passage, then been puzzled when you read the quoted passage in context, you'll understand why. The New Testament writers quoted their sources far more freely than we are often comfortable with, especially given our expectations of scientific precision and journalistic accuracy. Sometimes they quote a passage and interpret it in a way that seems questionable, and we struggle to understand what is going on.

For example, Paul quotes Psalm 68:18 in Ephesians 4:8, yet changes personal pronouns from "you" to "he" and speaks of giving gifts to people rather than receiving gifts from them. What are we to make of such changes? How would people react to us if we changed the wording of Biblical passages to suit our arguments?

For this passage, as well as every other New Testament quotation of the Old Testament, the Beale & Carson commentary examines the New Testament context in which the quotation is used, the original context of the quoted passage in the Old Testament, how the quoted passage was understood by contemporary Jewish interpreters, and any text-critical issues which may be affecting how the original passage was quoted. All of these factors are then taken into account to assess and summarize how the quotation is being made. Finally, the theological implications of the author's use of that quotation are considered.

In a case like Ephesians 4:8, there is actually a surprising amount of information to unravel. For example, one Greek manuscript of Psalm 68:18 actually changes some of the pronouns from "you" to "he," just as Paul did. That may indicate that Paul was quoting from a particular textual tradition that had already made this change, but it may also be that a scribe copying the Greek of Psalm 68:18 may have accidentally changed the pronouns because of his familiarity with Paul's quotation in Ephesians 4:8! Similarly, Jewish interpretations of Psalm 68:18 show an interesting parallel to Ephesians 4:8 in that they view Moses as the one ascending to heaven to receive the law and in turn give it to the Israelites. Was Paul aware of these interpretations and deliberately arguing that it was Christ rather than Moses who ascended in order to give the Spirit rather than the law?

Of course, you'll have to read the commentary to see what the authors conclude about this passage, but I think you can see from this example why a Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament is so helpful and in demand.

The Beale & Carson commentary is currently on sale, so be sure to get it while it's fresh out of the oven.


 

Mar 28, 2012 David Lang

Fire Bible and Acts Commentary

Fire Bible Last week saw a spate of new Accordance module releases. Among them were the notes to the Fire Bible: Global Study Edition. Originally titled The Full Life Study Bible, it began in the early 1980s as a missionary project by the late Don Stamps (1938-1991). While Rev. Stamps was serving in Brazil, he recognized a great need among pastors and lay workers for a study Bible written from a Pentecostal perspective. Later published as the Life in the Spirit Study Bible, it was first called the Fire Bible by believers in mainland China after they received Bibles in their own languages. Often referred to as a one-book Pentecostal library, the Fire Bible contains 77 theme articles, 45 maps and charts, introductions to each book of the Bible, and Pentecostal study notes.

acts-horton-cover-sm In addition to the Fire Bible notes, we also released a commentary on the book of Acts by Pentecostal scholar Stanley Horton. This commentary is very readable and features study questions after each major section, so it is suitable for personal and group study. It is also copiously footnoted, and just skimming the footnotes gives the impression that Horton has read and interacted with every commentary on Acts ever written. Since many of the distinctives of the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition are derived from the book of Acts, this commentary will prove extremely helpful both to those who belong to that tradition and those who wish to understand it better.

Both the Fire Bible Notes and Horton's Commentary on Acts are on sale through March 31.


 

Mar 27, 2012 David Lang

A Commentary To Help You Craft Better Sermons

Phillips-set-sm If you're a preacher or teacher, your work is only half done when you've finished exegeting a passage. Next you face the daunting task of organizing what you've discovered into a meaningful sermon or lesson. Unfortunately, most commentaries focus on helping with the task of exegesis, but do little to help with the challenge of communication. The Exploring Commentary Series by John Phillips is different: it focuses on presenting the books it covers in a way that can be easily communicated with others.

First, Phillips organizes his commentaries around extensive alliterative outlines of each book. If your congregation expects you to alliterate every point and subpoint of your sermon, Phillips' outlines alone will be an enormous help. Here's an example of how Phillips outlines the book of Mark:

 

PhillipsOutline

 

Even if you're not a big fan of such extensive use of alliteration, you'll likely find that Phillips' outlines help you divide a passage up into individual sermons or lessons, present the passage in a way your listeners can understand, and avoid getting side-tracked by minor points and rabbit trails.

In addition to his gift for outlining the books he covers, Phillips also has an engaging narrative style. He weaves helpful background information together with interesting stories and illustrations in a way that draws the reader into the text rather than taking the reader's focus off of the text.

For example, when commenting on Romans 1:20, Phillips quotes Longfellow to illustrate the power of nature to reveal God. He then follows it up with a quote by F. W. Boreham discussing the self-deception of the man who claims that "he does not need a church in order to worship. He finds God in nature." Boreham's point is that such a man finds God only in nature's beauty and must conveniently ignore its cruelty—a point which Phillips then goes on to illustrate with a poem by Robert Louis Stephenson. Phillips finally draws this discussion to a close in a way that clearly reinforces the message of Romans 1:20.

Phillips' commentaries read like the kinds of sermons and Bible lessons we would all like to hear. Preachers and teachers would do well to soak in the richness of Phillips' narrative style.

Phillips' Commentary consists of twenty-seven volumes covering Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Daniel, the Minor Prophets, and every book of the New Testament except Jude. It lists for $650.00, but you can pick it up for just $169.99 from now through April 3.

If you're looking for a commentary that can help you organize your material, craft better sermons and lessons, and illustrate them with engaging stories, you'll find Phillips Commentary to be an indispensable resource.


 

Jan 10, 2012 David Lang

New Testament Translators’ Handbooks Now Available

UBS Hand-Heb-cover I'm pleased to announce the release of an Accordance edition of the United Bible Society’s New Testament Handbook Series, a twenty-volume set of commentaries designed to provide practicing translators with “valuable exegetical, historical, cultural, and linguistic information” to help them render the New Testament text in other languages. This will obviously be a welcome resource to the many professional translators who rely on Accordance, but the UBS Handbook Series is also a fantastic resource for the rest of us.

The UBS Handbooks differ from other commentaries in that they don't just stop at analyzing the meaning of a passage. Instead, they go one step further to suggest the best way to convey that meaning in a target language. That's not just the kind of help professional translators need; it's the kind of thing every preacher and teacher of the Bible must do. For each phrase or expression in the text, the UBS Handbooks will suggest specific wordings, caution against renderings which might lead to misunderstandings, show how a literal rendering might actually be misleading, etc. Since preachers and teachers are looking for clear ways to explain the meaning of the text to contemporary Bible readers, these discussions are immediately applicable to the teaching task.

Another advantage the UBS Handbooks have over other commentaries is that they cannot just focus on the major aspects of a passage while glossing over the minor points. SInce a translator must know how to render every single phrase of a passage, even minor expressions receive serious attention. If you're preaching on some minor aspect of a passage, you may find that these handbooks offer more help than more traditional commentaries.

One of the most surprising things about these commentaries is that they are much more accessible than you might expect. After all, their primary audience is professional translators who must have an in depth knowledge of the original Greek. These commentaries could easily have been written for that level of technical expertise, but happily, they're written at a level anyone can understand. Commentary begins not with the Greek text, but with a typical English translation of the text. The structure of the underlying Greek is usually dealt with indirectly, and when it is discussed explicitly, the Greek text is transliterated.

The UBS Handbooks list at $600 but are currently on sale for just $199.99, and can be downloaded directly to your Mac or iOS device. You can order them here.


 

Jan 4, 2012 David Lang

Want Individual Volumes of NICOT? No Problem!

NICOT-Num-cover-sm

Many people like to buy multi-volume commentaries as complete sets, and doing so generally results in the lowest price per volume. Accordance offers a number of these large sets, such as Word, NAC, NIGTC, Pillar, Hermeneia, Tyndale, NICNT, NICOT, etc. Purchase just one or two of these sets and you'll have a commentary library that would require several bookshelves to house all the print volumes. In addition to saving money on bookshelves (and the time it takes to assemble them!), buying these sets in Accordance is typically much cheaper than buying them in print.

Still, even the Accordance editions of these commentary sets often require a significant investment, and it can be hard to justify spending hundreds of dollars on a complete set when all you really need are the volumes on the books of the Bible you're currently studying. A pastor preaching through Isaiah, for example, could spend the money for the complete NICOT series and get one commentary on Isaiah, or he could take that same money and buy just the Isaiah volumes from a half-dozen different commentary series. When finished with Isaiah, he can then do the same thing with the next Bible book he preaches from.

Last month, we released the New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT) as a complete set, and the folks who buy commentaries that way have been snapping them up. Now we're offering individual volumes for purchase to accommodate those of you who prefer the volume-by-volume approach. As with all the commentaries for which we offer individual volumes, we'll still give you a discount for purchasing three or more volumes together. See this page to purchase individual volumes of NICOT and other commentary series.

Do you prefer buying complete commentary sets or individual volumes? Why?

Any bookshelf-assembly or had-to-move-my-print-library horror stories you want to share?


 

Oct 3, 2011 David Lang

Easily Get the Best of Both Worlds

In my previous post, I explained the difference between opening a commentary in a pane alongside your Bible text and opening it in a separate zone. In brief, opening a commentary in a pane has the advantage of automatically scrolling with the text, while opening a commentary in a separate zone lets you search and navigate the commentary itself. I also showed how you can manually tie the scrolling of a commentary in one zone with a Bible text in another: effectively giving you the best of both worlds. In today's post, I want to show you an even easier way to do that.

If you amplify from a Bible text to a commentary, the commentary will open in a separate zone which is automatically tied to the Bible text you amplified from. To see how this works, start with a Bible text and select any portion of a verse reference. Then select the desired commentary from the Reference Tools pop-up menu of the Resource palette.

AmplifyRefToolMenu

Not only will that commentary open in a new zone and display the commentary on the selected verse, it will also be tied to your Bible text so that it will scroll along with it. It's just that easy.

AmplifyRefTool


 

Sep 30, 2011 David Lang

Opening Commentaries in a Zone Versus a Pane

In Accordance, you can open a commentary (or any other reference-based tool) in a pane within your Bible search tab, or in a separate zone. So what are the strengths and weaknesses of each approach?

To open a commentary as a pane, select it from the Reference Tool pop-up menu on the right side of the Search window.

RefPaneMenu

The primary advantage of opening your commentary as a pane is that it will appear alongside your Bible text and scroll in sync with it. All you need to do is select the commentary you want and Accordance does the rest. You never have to worry about manually tying or syncing the two.

NICNT in parallel with Matthew

Opening a commentary in a pane is like creating a study Bible where the commentary follows along with the text. The primary means of accessing the commentary becomes the text itself: you navigate to the desired passage and the commentary follows along. Yet what if you want to focus more intently on the commentary itself: to search it, to use its table of contents, etc.? It is then that you'll want to open your commentary in a separate zone.

By opening your commentary in a separate zone, you have access to the search entry box at the top of the window, as well as the Browser pane and other features. The only downside of opening a commentary this way is that it will not automatically scroll in sync with your Bible text as it would in a pane.

You can, however, make it sync with your Bible text by tying the scrolling of the two windows. To do this, simply go to the Set submenu of the Window menu and choose the name of the resource you want to Tie with the current resource. For example, if your commentary zone is active and you have another zone with the HCSBS as the main Bible text, you would go to the menu and choose Tie to “HCSBS.” From that point on, your commentary will scroll in sync with the HCSB, just as if you had opened it as a pane in the HCSB window.

TieCommand

In my next post, I'll show you how you can open a commentary in a separate zone and have it tied to your Bible text automatically. Until then, let me remind you that the introductory sale on NICNT ends today. Buy it today and you save a hundred dollars off the regular price, so don't miss out.


 

Sep 29, 2011 David Lang

Commentary Where You Least Expect It

In my last post, I weighed the advantages of purchasing entire commentary sets rather than individual volumes, and I promised to show you how larger sets can be mined for hidden gems.

Imagine for a moment that you're preaching through Ephesians 4, a passage which is concerned with the need for Christians to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” You go to your bookshelf, which contains every volume of Word Biblical Commentary (isn't imagination fun?), and pull out the volume on Ephesians. You turn to the section on Ephesians 4, and read all about “The Church’s Calling to Maintenance of the Unity It Already Possesses.” When you're done, you return the volume to the shelf. Not once have you consulted any of the other volumes of that massive commentary set. That's the way a print commentary is typically used.

Here's the thing about the folks who write commentaries: they rarely confine their comments to the passage they've been asked to write about. And that's as it should be. The really good commentators help you connect the passage they're commenting on with other passages. Most of the time they'll just mention several related verses, but sometimes they'll write an extended excursus about a related passage or a major theme which recurs throughout the Bible. Those are the hidden gems that you'll never find by grabbing the relevant volume of a print commentary.

Accordance commentaries are divided into different kinds of information called "fields." These typically include the Reference, which is the verse reference of the passage being commented on, the article Titles and body Content, and the Scripture field, which includes any Scripture references cited in the body of the commentary. By searching one or more of these fields, you can find discussions of your passage of study in the most unexpected places. To show how this works, I'll use the Word Biblical Commentary: Old Testament module (WBC-OT), which contains 32 volumes of commentary. I'll change the field pop-up menu to Scripture and enter Eph. 4 in the search entry box. Doing that alone would find me every reference to Ephesians 4 in these 32 volumes, but I don't just want the casual references to Ephesians 4; I want to find the places where Ephesians 4 is mentioned in connection with the idea of "unity." To do that, I'll open the More options section where I can search an additional field. I'll choose Content from the pop-up menu and enter the word "unity" in that entry box. When I perform this search, I get eight hits.

UnityEphesians

The first set of hits comes in the commentary on Nehemiah, where the author uses the unity of the Jewish people in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem as "an exemplary illustration of much NT language about unity in the Church." Would you have thought to look in the commentary on Nehemiah 3 for a discussion of unity in Ephesians 4? Neither would I!

The next set of hits comes from the comments on Psalm 86:11:

V 11c is a “penetrating climax” (Kidner, II, 312), a key statement in the psalm. A reverent and obedient response to God involves a “united heart” (i.e., “mind” or “will”) toward God (cf Jer 32:39–41; Ezek 11:19–20). The uncentered and divided will toward Yahweh is destructive (cf Ps 12:3; IQH 4.14; James 1:8; 4:8). There is a unity in Yahweh himself (a “oneness”) which is complemented by a “oneness” in his people’s response to him (cf Deut. 6:4–5; 10:12; Eph 4:1–6).

Once again, we've found an interesting connection with Ephesians 4 that we would never have found with a print commentary. And that's just one half of one commentary set. Searching WBC-NT or another commentary series will turn up additional comments on Ephesians 4 in volumes which are not specifically focused on Ephesians.

It is these hidden gems which were largely missed by previous generations of pastors, students, and scholars who knew only to go to a specific volume of commentary. Accordance's ability to find those gems quickly and easily is another reason to consider purchasing commentary sets as opposed to individual volumes.