Accordance Bible Study –– 7. Consulting Commentaries
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Sample Accordance Bible Study

K. Allison Brannon

Introduction to Reference Works

So far in these articles we have focused mainly on ways to study the Bible for ourselves, going deeper into the text we are studying using key numbers, maps, Bible dictionaries, notes, and context. But there is a wealth of knowledge, research, and information available for us from the minds and pens of scholars who have gone before. By using the reference works, particularly the Bible commentaries Accordance provides, we will gain access to their wisdom, their opinions, and their years of study.

Accordance offers numerous commentaries in different packages, such as Matthew Henry's Commentary, The People's New Testament Commentary, and, especially useful to our study, a commentary on Mark by the Very Rev. Chadwick. Reference works include book outlines and text notes, such as those found in the Ryrie Study Bible and others. All of these tools are located in the Resource Palette under Tools. The book icon with the 1:1 on the front designates these reference works.

Basics of Reference Works

The reference works can be opened the same way any tool can. You can open them by clicking on the desired name in the pop-up menu, and typing in what you want to search for. You can triple-click in the reference in the Bible text to open your first Reference tool. Or you can hyperlink to them by choosing a word or phrase you want to search for, and then opening straight to it. Remember that your cursor will change to a magnifying glass when a word is selected; this means when you open the commentary, outline, etc, it will immediately do a search for the word you have selected.

Like the other features we have learned about, opening a given reference work will open a new tab in the workspace, or a new window with options to search within it, to examine details, and to open other commentaries in that same window. (There is a pop-up menu on the upper left corner that will let you change the commentary you are currently viewing.)

Note that you will always search only the category shown in the field pop-up menu, which is located in the top center of the window. You can change this so the commentary will be searched in terms of title, verse reference, English content, etc. These changes will help you broaden or narrow your search, and find exactly the information you want.

For example, if you search for Mark in Matthew Henry's Commentary in the Reference field, it will bring up every entry on the book of Mark. If you change the field to Scripture it will find every place in that commentary where a Scripture in the book of Mark is cited. These will be highlighted in red. (Remember that if you want to skip through and see all the hits found, you can do so by clicking the up and down arrows marked Mark at the bottom of the window, thus moving through the passage one hit at a time).

Beginning in Mark_7_1

(click image to see at full size)

If you change the field to Titles and again search for Mark, it will bring you to any place the word Mark is used as a title – in this case, only twice. Now search for Mark under English Content. Here you will see highlighted any time in the body of the commentary that Mark is mentioned by name or the word mark is used. Try the other fields to practice finding the information you are looking for.

The Browser

The Browser icon () at the top left of the text pane offers ways to move through the commentary by book or chapter, and the means to search within a specified area of the commentary. Open the Henry commentary for example. If you click on the Browser icon , it will open a pane next to the commentary. You will see all the books of the Bible that this commentary covers, and by clicking on Mark, you will be able to access the chapters in Mark. Click on chapter 1.

Option-clicking on a section in this pane will limit your search to that part. This is shown by the red line next to the title. Click on Mark 1 and search for baptism, with the field range at the top set to English Content. This will highlight the use of the word in this section. If you want to remove this limit to your searching, simply move your cursor to the left side of the pane and option-click on the line (your cursor will become a red X).

Beginning in Mark_7_2

Commentaries and Mark 1:1-13

We can learn numerous things by looking up what commentaries say about our passage in Mark 1:1-13. This is an important passage in the book of Mark for several reasons: it is the opening for the book, it introduces Jesus and John the Baptist, and it sets the scene for Jesus' ministry. Because of this, many commentaries spend time on this passage.

For example, select the word beginning in Mark 1:1. Then open Mark (Chadwick). His commentary on the beginning of Mark compares the prologue of this book with the prologues of the other gospels, showing us that Mark focused more on the public acts of the Savior than His origin, leaving it up to us to learn where He came from, based on the miracles He worked.

The commentary goes on to explain in depth the meanings and Scripture behind the whole beginning of this gospel. As usual, other Scripture references are hyperlinked for easy access. When you scroll over them, your cursor will turn into a magnifying glass and the verse will appear in the instant details box at the bottom of the screen. Read through what Chadwick has to say about the beginning of Mark, and search for other words of interest as well (Jordan and temptation work well for this passage and the one immediately following). Or you can just read through chronologically, or scan the headings and read the parts that are of interest.

Try looking up another commentary such as Henry. You can search for the book of Mark to read his interesting thoughts on the Baptism of Jesus and, in the passage that follows the one we are studying, His temptation and the beginning of His preaching ministry.

Other Reference Works and Mark 1:1-13

Other useful reference works include such things as outlines and notes. We have already discussed Bible notes in another article, but it will serve us well to remember that they give short, information-packed notes connected with specific Scripture verses. They often clarify, explain, or expand upon a given verse, sometimes cross-referencing, sometimes going back to original translations of the words.

The outlines give a basic overview of a specific book or passage, highlighting the important events and happenings. If you select Mark and open the outlines, you will see the entire book in outline form with references to each part. This is useful in gaining a sense of where the book is going. It is also helpful if you want to find a particular event in Mark or another book and cannot remember exactly where to find it.

Recap

In this article, we have gone deeper into the reference works, especially the commentaries. There is virtually no end to the information, teaching, explanations, and depth of understanding you can reach if you explore the great wealth of commentaries available to you on Accordance. The words of these scholars, preachers, and learned men will add much to your study of the Bible.

(Article content and images updated September 2013)

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