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May 8, 2014 David Lang

Accordance and the Birth of a New Translation

Today, in lieu of our regular Throwback Thursday post, we're pleased to present this guest post by James F. Davis, PhD. Part of the translation and editorial team of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), James reflects on how their use of Accordance helped them develop a completely new translation (as opposed to a revision of an earlier translation).



Accordance and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)


In their book, HCSB: Navigating the Horizons in Bible Translation, editors E. Ray Clendenen and David K. Stabnow describe the origins, development and philosophy of the HCSB. In the introduction they state, “In all the committees, the Bible study program, Accordance®, took center stage beside the translation itself.” As a part of the original HCSB translation and editorial team in the late 90s and early 2000s, I thought I would flesh out in more detail how the tool of Accordance revolutionized what we did as Bible translators and editors, going way beyond what translations of earlier times had available.

Before I do this, for the record I would just like to mention how the connection of Accordance and the HCSB came to be. The first official General Editor of what we now know as the HCSB was Dr. Arthur Farstad. Dr. Farstad had been a close friend of the originator of Accordance, Dr. Roy Brown, and when the translation was being considered the use of some computer aids was a given. So the team started to purchase Apple Macintosh computers simply because Accordance at that time only ran on the Macintosh platform. Sadly, four months into the project, Dr. Farstad passed away.

hcsb Lifeway Publishers then appointed Dr. Edwin Blum as the new General Editor. Under Dr. Blum's direction, our team of editors, translators, and English stylists moved forward on the translation, equipped with Macintosh computers and fully loaded Accordance programs with all the latest tools and texts needed for original language work in the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament and Greek New Testament. We used Accordance every work day and always had the program open before we did any serious translation work. In my case, I had the privilege of doing this for over five years helping to develop the translation to get it to the point of publication. I would summarize how Accordance aided the HSCB in three areas: speed, accuracy, and unique analysis.

Speed: Time is money, especially when you have teams of committees trying to develop a brand new translation. Using Accordance dramatically increased the speed of simple tasks such as looking up a word in a lexicon or finding a particular verse reference. Someone proficient in performing these tasks manually might be able to accomplish them in a minute or so—that is, if he or she is successful on the first try (good luck with that Hebrew root on a manual search!). With Accordance, these tasks take only a few seconds. Words were looked up thousands and tens of thousands of times—almost always in multiple lexicons—so Accordance dramatically increased our speed in making good decisions. The time for other research such as concordance searches on Greek and Hebrews words was so fast that we routinely did them as we went along. Performing such searches manually would have slowed the whole team down waiting for some result.

Accuracy: We always had up to date lexicons in our Accordance arsenal including Louw and Nida’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains (1988) and initially the second edition but then the third edition in 2000 of Danker’s updated A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BDAG). For the Old Testament, we had Koehler and Baumgartner’s The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, only recently translated into English (2000). All these lexicons were fully searchable for words or verses on any word meaning issue that we were looking at. For more complete word studies lexical information was coupled with concordance search analysis. For comparison purposes we also had access to all the major English translations, new and old (as well as major foreign languages), that could easily be laid out in Accordance in parallel columns next to original language texts. In the Synoptic Gospels we used gospel harmonies in Accordance to help ensure that similar Greek phrases were rendered the same while differences were also noted and treated as such. Bible dictionaries such as the Anchor Bible Dictionary and Hebrew and Greek Grammars were also used as research and evaluative tools.

Unique Analysis: Computer Bible programs in general have been a tremendous asset to all translations done in the past decade or so, but Accordance was used in one more critical way that probably gave us a significant edge in developing a new translation. As the translation was getting underway, Dr. Brown trained me to develop Accordance modules for draft books and editions of the HSCB. Later, I trained another team member to help do this. So as each book of the Bible was sent in or revised I could convert the work into a usable draft edition module of the HCSB that our team could install in its Accordance programs. In this way, we could check and revise our own work for accuracy and consistency in the developmental stage of the translation. This proved to be a very powerful tool in making the HCSB the translation that it is today.

Lastly, I would say that Accordance made the HCSB translation process much more enjoyable than it would have been if we would not have had it. That’s because for Bible scholars and students who like Bible study, Accordance is fast and fun.

Sincerely,
James F. Davis, PhD

 


Were you aware that Accordance played such a pivotal role in the development of the HCSB translation?


 

Aug 12, 2013 David Lang

It Was the Serpent!

In preparing for a Sunday School class, I was reading the account in Genesis 3 of God's interrogation and sentencing of Adam, Eve, and the serpent. I've read this passage many times before and am pretty familiar with it, but the English translation I was reading helped me notice something new. After Adam lays the blame for his sin on Eve ("the woman") and even on God ("You gave to be with me"), Eve likewise blames her sin on the serpent. However, most translations render Eve's confession as a simple statement of fact: "The serpent deceived me and I ate." Thus, while Adam comes across like a cornered child defensively casting about for a scapegoat, Eve seems more calm and up front about her sin. That is, until you read the HCSB's rendering: "It was the serpent. He deceived me, and I ate." It's not a huge difference, but by splitting Eve's statement into two sentences, the first of which simply points the finger at the serpent, the HCSB makes Eve's response sound closer in tone to that of Adam.

Because I was so used to the typical rendering of this verse, the HCSB's rendering caught me by surprise and led me to ask, "Is that really what the Hebrew says?"

By the way, this is why it is always helpful to use a variety of translations when studying a familiar passage. When a translation departs from what you're used to, it can expose you to nuances in the text you may have missed before. At the very least, it may prompt you to dig deeper.

For me, digging deeper meant opening the Hebrew text in a parallel pane and examining Eve's response. Cross-highlighting between my English Bible with Strong's Numbers and the tagged Hebrew made identifying the corresponding Hebrew words incredibly easy.

Serpent1

The Hebrew simply has the noun "the serpent" followed by the verb "deceived" with the direct object "me", which would seem to justify the typical translation of "The serpent deceived me." How then, I wondered, could the HCSB justify rendering this simple sentence as two sentences? Were the translators taking liberties with the text?

Then I remembered that in Hebrew, the subject typically follows the verb. In cases like this, where the subject comes before the verb, the subject is generally being emphasized in some way. So the HCSB is not taking liberties with the text, but is bringing out a subtle nuance of the Hebrew which typically gets lost in translation: Eve's emphatic pointing to the serpent as the one to blame.

Now, that naturally got me wondering where else the subject appears before the verb in the Hebrew Bible. In my next post, I'll show you how to use the Construct window to find other occurrences of that construction.


 

Jan 13, 2012 David Lang

Magic Bullets

hcsb For several years now, I've been using the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) as my primary translation. At the risk of offering an overly simplistic evaluation, I find it offers good, readable English while still preserving much of the wording and structure of the underlying Greek and Hebrew.

Another thing I like about the HCSB is that, in addition to footnotes and cross-references, it includes relatively inconspicuous bullets in front of terms which are likely to need a little explanation. In the print editions, you can look up these bulleted terms in an alphabetized listing of "Bullet Notes," but in Accordance, these bullets are automatically linked to the included HCSB Bullets module. Hover over one of these "magic bullets," and you'll see a brief explanation of the accompanying term in the Instant Details box.

For example, in yesterday's post I wrote about reading Psalm 83 with my family. The superscription of that psalm says that it is a psalm of Asaph, and the name Asaph is bulleted. By hovering over the bullet, I get a quick reminder that Asaph was appointed by David "to oversee the music used in worship at the Temple" and that eleven other psalms are attributed to him.

Other bulleted terms in Psalm 83 include "Selah," "Yahweh," and "Most High." In each case, the bullet notes are clear, concise, and extremely helpful.

Now, if you prefer another translation, you can always look up terms like these by triple-clicking them, or by selecting them and choosing a resource to consult in the Resource palette, or by right-clicking and choosing a resource from the contextual menu. Any of these methods will look up the selected word in the chosen resource. Still, it's nice that the HCSB anticipates the terms you're most likely to look up, and the "magic bullets" give you more info without even having to click.

The HCSB (and other English Bibles) are currently on sale for just $19.99, and a version of the HCSB tagged with Strong's numbers can be purchased for just $39.99.

By the way, the HCSB was actually developed with the help of Accordance. To find out more about the contribution Accordance made to this translation, open the HCSB Notes module and search the English Content field for "Accordance."


 

Apr 2, 2010 Rick Bennett

Searching for Frequently Used Words

Today on Twitter a friend of mine from seminary posted this question: "can I get a list of frequent words from a passage of scripture?" The question was for a particular class where the professor assigns different biblical passages for which the student must apply his hermeneutical method. I tried a couple quick searches for this in Genesis 22, and then posted a screen shot with my preliminary results. Since the screen shot needed a bit of explanation, I thought I would write a blog post to describe what I did.

BHS word frequency search

In this example in the BHS text I ­started my search with any word *, and added two qualifiers linked with @ to exclude particles and specify a frequency count.

The first qualifier excludes all particles. To do this select Search > Enter Grammatical Tag > Particle... . In the dialogue box you can select all of them by leaving it blank, then click OK. Next, type a minus before the bracket: [PARTICLE]- @*.

Next, I added the COUNT (⇧ ⌘ U).  You can obviously tweak the frequency count here, but I assumed that if the word occurs 3 or more times, it is important.

I then added the range. But, note here that I defined a custom range (⌘ R) for Gen 22. The reason I did this is because I wanted the frequency count to be restricted to this passage only. If I had simply used the Range command with Genesis 22, it would have based the frequency count on the entire Hebrew Bible, which is not what I wanted. To use the the custom range, simply click the more options disclosure triangle and select it. Note, after creating a custom range it will automatically be selected.

Lastly, click on the Details button, then Analysis tab to view the results (I selected Sort Down as well). Here we can see the most frequently used words in this passage.

HCSBS word frequency count

In this example in the HCSBS, I replicated the same search. (Hint: to duplicate a tab use the shortcut ⌘ D). Then, I just changed the search text to the HCSBS, and edited the qualifier.

Since this is a key number text, and only the more significant words in the Old Testament are assigned a key number, I qualified my word search to include any word with a key number. To do this select Search > Enter Command > Key. Then enter * for any key number. You can also use the shortcut ⇧ ⌘ K.

If this was in the New Testament (or with a non-key number text) it would include a lot of extra hits. You can easily eliminate these by adding the appropriate words in parentheses: -(a, and, the, but, to, in, with, he, I, you).

Now, just click on the details button, and analysis tab to view your results.

Whether you perform this search in Hebrew or English you can see that in a quick amount of time you can identify the most frequently occurring words in a particular passage. Oh, and if you're tempted to drool, just don't get any on your keyboard!


 

Mar 29, 2010 Rick Bennett

The Holman CSB, Updated and Enhanced with Key Number Tagging

Over the weekend we released the newest key number tagged-text in our arsenal, the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSBS). With this release, we now offer seven key number texts; the greatest number offered by any Bible software company.

The HCSBS key number tagging was completed by its publisher, but optimized for use within Accordance to take advantage of Key Number highlighting with original language texts, and amplification to our dictionaries via triple-clicking. This text reflects the most recent revisions made by the translation committee, which are not yet available in the majority of print versions, making this the most up-to-date digital edition of the Holman CSB.

If you already have the HCSB in Accordance you should have noticed that we released an update to this as well, along with the Notes and Bullets. The most noticeable update to the notes is the addition of the pericope headings included in the text.

HCSBS screenshot

 

The ease of searching by key number, and displaying the text in parallel with your favorite translation or commentary will make this a popular choice for many. Pair this with a tagged original language text such as the Greek New Testament or Hebrew Bible to create a combination that far outweighs any interlinear available.

Instead of going into detail on how you can take advantage of the many benefits of a key number text such as the HCSBS, I will refer you to one of our recent podcasts on this exact topic.

For more information on the Holman CSB, see this article. Also, hot off the press is a blog post on This Lamp by Rick Mansfield with some highlights on the updates to the text of the HCSB.