Accordance Blog
Jun 27, 2013 David Lang

Accordance to Keynote, Part 1

In the probably-bit-off-more-than-I-can-chew department, I've recently begun teaching a Sunday School class on "Understanding the Old Testament." My intention in this class is to give folks a birds' eye view of the Old Testament, exposing them to parts of the Bible they rarely visit and often struggle to understand. To do this effectively, I can't afford to spend a lot of time going into depth on individual passages. So naturally, I've spent the last six weeks or so going through Genesis 1 and 2! At this rate, I may finish when I'm sixty!

My inability to skim the surface aside, I've been preparing a Keynote slide show each week to help focus my class's attention on the main points I want to get across. And since I tend to procrastinate, I'm thankful for great Accordance resources and a few simple tricks that make preparing this slide show a snap!


First, let me talk about some of the resources I'm using.

Bibles: As readers of this blog are probably aware by now, my preferred translation is the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). It offers a good mix of readability and fidelity to the original languages, and is generally unafraid to offer a fresh translation of those well-known passages most translations are unwilling to modify (John 3:16, Psalm 23, Matthew 5-7, etc.). Of course, when I want to bring out an aspect of the text which is made clearer in another translation, I won't hesitate to use it. For example, when I want to bring out the structure of the underlying Hebrew text, I'll generally turn to the English Standard Version (ESV). When I wanted to discuss whether Genesis 1:1 should be translated "In the beginning God created" or "When God began to create", I used the Jewish Publication Society translation (JPS) as an example of the latter rendering.


Finally, while I don't show the underlying Hebrew text to my class, I do use the tagged Hebrew text in my own preparation to teach.

Commentaries: While I'm going into the first three chapters of Genesis in some depth, I am not doing a lot of verse-by-verse exposition. Rather, I'm focusing on bringing out the literary structure of these texts and the way they would have been understood by their original audience. Consequently, I don't often turn to expositional and critical commentaries when preparing for my class. Instead, I tend to go to background commentaries like the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary on the Old Testament (ZIBBCOT) and the IVP Bible Background Commentary on the Old Testament. I once read a review by a New Testament scholar I admire who panned the use of background commentaries because any more traditional commentary worth its salt will usually provide the relevant historical background information. While that's certainly true, the challenge is often finding those nuggets amid all the verse-by-verse exposition. I love these background commentaries because they're focused on the kind of information I most want to bring out.

For much the same reason, I often find myself turning to Study Bible notes before full-blown commentaries. Study Bibles like the ESV Study Bible often have concise but highly relevant information, as well as helpful charts and images that can easily be incorporated into a Keynote presentation.

Graphic Resources: Some of the commentaries and study Bibles already mentioned are a great source for visuals that can be dragged into Keynote slides. ZIBBCOT had a great illustration of the three-tiered cosmology which most ancient peoples assumed to exist, and it made such concepts as water above the sky much easier to explain.


The ESV Study Bible offered a concise chart of the days of forming and filling in Genesis 1 that helped me think through how to structure that particular slide of my presentation.

Another graphic resource I use heavily is The Accordance Gallery of Bible Art. Filled with great classic artistic depictions of various Biblical episodes, I tend to use the images in this tool to illustrate broad concepts and to add visual punch to title slides. While I'm still a little early in the Old Testament to make much use of the Bible Lands PhotoGuide, I did use the view of Israel from atop Mount Nebo to illustrate my slide that talked about the Old Testament being "The Story of a Land."


I likewise used an image of the high priest offering incense from Carta's Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem for the slide on the Old Testament as "The Story of Redemption."


While I will turn to other Accordance resources from time to time, this combination of Bibles, background commentaries, study Bibles, and visual resources has served me well in quickly putting together my Keynote presentation each week. In my next post, I'll show you some of the tricks I use to get the information out of Accordance and into Keynote as quickly and painlessly as possible.


Sep 6, 2012 David Lang

IVP OT Dictionaries: A Personal Recommendation

IVP-PentateuchCover-sm When we first released the IVP Dictionary of the OT: Pentateuch and IVP Dictionary of the OT: Historical Books in May of this year, I blogged about how useful they are and how excited we were to be able to offer them. Since then, I've found myself turning to these dictionaries more and more in my own research, and I just wanted to offer a quick personal recommendation.

As I've been writing about various aspects of Old Testament narratives—worship practices, pagan religion, daily life, etc.—I've been looking up subjects that are not always easy to get clear information about. Many of these things are shrouded in mystery or clouded in the uncertainty of scholarly debate. General Bible dictionaries tend to focus on what we know for certain, which means they often lack the depth or detail I'm looking for. The larger, more encyclopedic dictionaries offer greater depth and detail, but even the most recent are typically several decades old. If I'm dealing with something that is still being debated or reevaluated in the light on ongoing discoveries, I want the most recent information I can get.


That's where the IVP Old Testament dictionaries have proven really helpful. When I look up Canaan or Baal, for example, I find a concise summary of more recent discoveries and what they mean for the current state of the discussion. It's detailed enough that I feel I can understand and evaluate various arguments, yet concise enough that I don't get bogged down in the scholarly minutiae.

In short, I've been extremely impressed with how helpful these dictionaries are. If you're preaching or teaching through the Pentateuch or Historical Books and you want solid information about the people, places, events, and practices they mention, do yourself a favor and pick up these two dictionaries.


May 10, 2012 David Lang

Three New IVP Dictionaries Available

I'm pleased to announce the release of three new Bible Dictionaries from InterVarsity Press: the Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters, Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, and Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books. Each of these ground-breaking dictionaries weighs in at around 1000 pages in print, so carrying all three around would be an exercise in body-building! Loading the Accordance editions on your laptop or iPhone won't do nearly as much for your biceps, but you'll be much more likely to have them available when you need them!

IVP-MajorInterpretersCover-sm The Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters introduces you to the principal players in the history of Biblical interpretation, their historical and intellectual contexts, their primary works, their interpretive principles and their broader historical significance. Many of the differences between religious traditions, academic schools of thought, and leading theologians are rooted in the assumptions and interpretive methods these people bring to the Bible. This helpful dictionary enables you to appreciate where these major interpreters were coming from so that you can better understand their conclusions.

The two volumes of the Dictionary of the Old Testament follow the same award-winning formula as IVP’s highly regarded New Testament dictionaries (which have long been available in our IVP Essential Reference Collection). They present you with an accessible summary of current scholarship in the “Pentateuch” (the first five books of the Bible) and the “Historical Books” (Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah). If you've already used IVP's New Testament dictionaries, you already know how useful these Old Testament volumes will prove to be. The wealth of New Testament commentaries and dictionaries make it relatively easy for us to interact with the current state of New Testament scholarship, but when we're studying or preaching through books of the Hebrew Bible it can be much more difficult to find information which is not already out of date. This series of dictionaries fills a much-needed void.IVP-PentateuchCover-sm

For example, I recently read Psalm 110, a Messianic psalm which mentions the priesthood of Melchizedek, an enigmatic figure mentioned in Genesis 14. Psalm 110's mention of Melchizedek later gets used by the author of Hebrews to argue that the priesthood of Christ is greater than that of the levitical priesthood. Since many New Testament dictionaries and commentaries seem to read the Genesis passage through the lens of these later passages, I was curious to see how a dictionary specifically focused on the Pentateuch would approach the subject of Melchizedek. The article on Melchizedek in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch discusses each aspect of the Genesis description of Melchizedek, then examines how that passage had come to be associated with messianic expectations. It concludes by setting those later interpretations aside to consider the meaning of this passage in its original context of the narratives about Abraham. From there, I decided to see if this dictionary had an article on "Messiah" which specifically focused on messianic expectations in the Pentateuch. I was not disappointed.

Now through May 24, you can get all three of these dictionaries for a special bundle price of just $99.99. Once you've purchased them, they can be downloaded immediately through Easy Install.


Apr 10, 2009 Rick Bennett

Maximizing your Hebrew Potential, II

In my last post, I discussed the Hebrew workspace I use in my Hebrew Syntax class, and how you can use Accordance to enhance your Hebrew experience. In this post we'll continue working through the tabs in that workspace.

Hebrew Workspace

The second tab (from the left) is used to display the results of word searches. Since I'm addicted to right-clicking (old habits die hard), I use that method to do word searches within the text I'm working on. You can also use the drop down menu, or resource palette to accomplish the same task.

BHS Word Search

By clicking on the details of the search, I can quickly view the distribution of hits across the Bible. In my prefs (cmd ,), I've set it to display the Table everytime I access the details of a search. In the Table you can see that this word occurs primarily in the Psalms. In the Hits Graph, I can triple-click on the part of the graph representing the hits in the Psalms and my search results will drop down down to those hits.

Search Window Prefs

Table of Hits

The next tab, labeled 'TC', is setup to display some text-critical resources available in Accordance.

Text-Critical Resources

One thing I've done to save from having to re-enter the verse reference I'm working in is Tied the contents of this tab to my main BHS tab.

Tie Tab

One could probably write an entire article on what is going on in this verse, but I'll restrict my discussion here to a brief description of the resources displayed, and in the following post I will describe how to interpret some of the data that can be mined from this workspace.

At the SBL Annual Meeting in 2007 we unveiled the Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Manuscripts modules (see announcement here, and article on the importance of these texts here). This represents the first (and still only available) morphologically-tagged edition of the Biblical finds from Qumran. In addition, we also have the English translation, and Notes (DSSB-E).

In this tab I have the DSSB-C (a collated module of all the fragments in canonical order) displayed in parallel with the BHS text, and the LXX. Below that I have the Notes for the DSS English translation, the BHS apparatus (see the previous post for a description), and the Revised CATSS MT-LXX Parallel Database. Just like I've done with the BHS Apparatus, I have set the DSSB-E Notes module to display all Scripture refs in the DSSB-E text. By hovering over any link in the Notes, it will display the verse in the Instant Details box.

Dead Sea Scrolls Bible

In this workspace tab you can clearly see the wealth of information that is readily accessible in Accordance. In the case of the Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical manuscripts, and the Revised MT-LXX Parallel Database, these resources are not available anywhere else. In my next post I will explain in more detail the textual features and variants of this passage using the compare text feature, and the other resources.