The Zondervan Scholarly Bible Study Suite for Macintosh
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English Studies

Rubén Gómez

Introduction

Zondervan's previous packages for Macintosh (Essential Bible Study Suite and Personal Growth Bible Study Suite) belonged in the category of General English Studies, while this newly released CD-ROM has more of an academic, yet accessible, slant. Note, however, that The Essential Bible Study Suite CD-ROM, with its core reference and study resources, is the natural complement to this Scholarly Suite. Combine the two and you will get an excellent English, NIV-based library that will allow you to delve into studying the Biblical texts in the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

As many of you may know, Zondervan's products are noted for enabling users to build their original language studies around the New International Version (NIV). This is very useful for those who do not feel confident enough to follow an all-out Hebrew or Greek approach, and/or who rely heavily on the NIV for their study, teaching, or preaching. Whatever the case, the combination of Zondervan's excellent resources and Accordance's ease of use and powerful features make for an outstanding reference and study package.


Content and Features

The Zondervan Scholarly Bible Study Suite for Macintosh includes many of the titles available in the Zondervan Scholar's Edition for Windows powered by Pradis.

The package, which includes one English Bible (KJV) and untagged versions of the Hebrew Old Testament (BHS) and Greek New Testament (GNT-NA), offers a very balanced assortment of contemporary Bible introductions, classic and modern commentaries, Hebrew and Greek reference tools, Greek grammars, dictionaries and encyclopedias, among other modules. Besides, The Expositor's Bible Commentary (EBC & EBC Notes), the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (NIDNTT), and the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDOTTE) are also included on the CD-ROM and may be unlocked for a fee.

But the real question here is not "What is the content?" but rather "What can you do with the content that is made available?" And here is where one can see that the Accordance-based version really excels.

For one thing, text and graphical searches are easily performed, while the tight integration between Bible texts and tools, coupled with the proverbial flexibility and power of Accordance's amplify feature, allows users to be "up and running" in no time. Moreover, Bible study and research can be pursued in combination with any of the growing number of Accordance-compatible CD-ROMs currently available, thus enhancing even more one's options.

The fact that in Accordance all the modules and specialized tables -- i.e., verse-based tools -- can be searched by different fields, and its content copied and pasted (something the PC version cannot do), opens up the way to some very specific and exciting avenues in the study of Scripture.

As a case in point, let us assume that we are reading Mark 3:4 in the KJV, and the expression "do good" catches our attention. If we have two other text panes open, one Greek NT (GNT-NA) and a Reference Tool (Exhaustive Analysis GNT), we will immediately be able to see not only what the original word(s) is/are, but also the corresponding G/K number(s) being used. In this instance we'll easily discover that the English translates the Greek combination of the verb poieo (G4472) and the adjective agathos (G19).

One of the things we can do then is open a Tool window with Exhaustive Analysis GNT, set the search field to G/K Number and write g4472 g19 in the search entry box. Since we are interested in spotting other verses with the same construction, this should return some of verses where the two terms are used in close proximity to one another, irrespective of the order.

Once we have performed this search, the number of things we can do next is quite amazing, and will very much vary depending on our study strategy. We may want to place the cursor on the Bible reference (which is a hyperlink), and read the verse in the Instant Details Box, in the default Bible version of our choice, or click on it to open a new window and amplify our study to a commentary on that particular verse via the Resource palette, Amplify menu or context menu (only if we have version 7), or check all the references to that portion of Scripture found in a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia (like the 5-volume Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, no less!),

 

Or it may be that we wish to pursue our word study and place the cursor on any of the hyperlinks (e.g., the abbreviations describing the part of speech each word belongs to, or the G/K number itself), or simply check what the lexical Greek form is, and how many times is appears in that book or in the whole NT.

Or we could also open a Greek lexicon to learn more about the word(s) we want to focus on.

agathos throughout the New Testament. We can simply search the Exhaustive Analysis GNT for the word in Greek, and click the Details and Graph buttons.

Or we could... well, you get the idea.

And all of the above can be done by studying an English Bible! Needless to say, the addition of the NIV tagged with G/K numbers (NIV-G/K) and the NIV lexicons (NIV Greek and NIV Hebrew), plus the NIV Exhaustive e-Concordance (NIV Concordance), all of them included in the Essential Bible Study Suite, simplifies the whole process even more and, at the same time, allows us to follow more powerful and exciting paths in our study of the Bible.


Excursus #1: The place (and need) for English-based scholarly tools

True exegesis is always based on the original languages of Scripture. There is no question about that. If you are really serious about reading Shakespeare, you would not use a German translation of his plays. Similarly, you would want to read Don Quixote in the language it was originally penned in by Miguel de Cervantes. However, does that mean that unless you know English or Spanish you are barred from reading these renowned authors? I do not think so.

Some scholars frown upon the use of any tools that will stand in the way of examining the original texts as they appear in the various critical editions currently available. Any tagging or numbering schemes (Strong's, Goodrick-Kohlenberger's), interlinears or similar resources are frequently dismissed as "crutches," something less than desirable, or even in stronger terms, something to be avoided like the plague. I respectfully disagree with those who take this stance.

I do believe that all professional scholars, ministers, Bible translators, and so on should know the biblical languages, and that a cursory knowledge (or a total lack of knowledge!) of these languages can easily lead one to commit all sorts of exegetical fallacies. But that does not imply that only the elite should have access to the original texts. Informed people can also do it if they are given the right tools. Software cannot instill common sense and balance into anyone, but at least it can provide a good amount of tools that make it possible to work at the original language level while using English as a bridge between the "there and then" and the "here and now". I'm not sure the gap between these two will ever be closed, at least fully, but these tools are a big step in that direction.

There are a number of reasons why I think English-based scholarly tools should be developed and their use encouraged, but I will simply mention three of them.

  • Not everybody has the ability or opportunity to study Greek and Hebrew.
  • Even many of those who at one point or another took Greek and Hebrew, are not proficient enough to avoid altogether any reference to modern language translations or study aids.
  • Scholars are a very small minority when compared to the millions of people who engage regularly in the study of the Scriptures.

Excursus #2: Numbering Systems

There are three different types of numbering schemes available in Accordance, i.e., Strong's numbers (used in KJVS and linked to Greek Strong's and Hebrew Strong's), revised Strong's (used in NAS95S and linked to NAS Greek and NAS Hebrew), and Goodrick-Kohlenberger's (used in NIV-G/K and linked to NIV Greek and NIV Hebrew).

The common goal of all these numbering systems is to allow users who are not particularly acquainted with Greek and Hebrew to carry out their own personal research based on the underlying original terms behind some English translations of the Bible. In order to do that, they just have to look up the English word they want to focus on in the corresponding lexicon (that's what amplifying from a keyed Bible texts is basically designed for in Accordance). Once this information has been gathered, it is really easy to find out more relevant information by following up the references to the number assigned to that particular word, or by performing further searches in the keyed texts themselves.

This cleverly designed system started back in 1890, when Dr James Strong, professor at Drew Theological Seminary, published his mammoth work The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. It was the result of a 35-year period marked by a lot of hard work and the collaborative effort of more than a hundred colleagues. This Concordance, based on the King James Version, and thus on the Textus Receptus, included a number beside most English words that was "attached" to the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek term identified in that original text of the Bible. The numbers themselves referred the reader to one of the two dictionaries (lexicons) located at the back of the book, where one could find the original word, an English transliteration, the proposed etymology and the various ways the same term had been translated elsewhere in the KJV.

A hundred years later, in 1990, Edward W. Goodrick and John R. Kohlenberger III published an Exhaustive Concordance based on the New International Version (The NIV Exhaustive Concordance). They assigned one number to each Hebrew word used in the Old Testament (according to the Hebrew alphabetical order), and one number to each Greek word used in the New Testament (again, following the order of the Greek alphabet). This new system made it possible to indicate quite precisely which English word(s) had been used in the NIV to translate the original base text. Unlike Strong's numbers, Goodrick and Kohlenberger based their work on the eclectic text used by the committee who translated the NIV.

Irrespective of the system used, the fact remains that this is a reasonably good way to make a head-start into original language study. Many reference works use one or more of these numbering schemes, and despite the variations in the numbers assigned to each head term, there are conversion tables that help correlate one system to another.

In Accordance, you can easily define a Search All Group with the lexicons related to the keyed Bible texts and give it a name like Lexicons (Keyed Texts), or something like that. If you have them all, the group should include these modules: Strong's Greek and Hebrew, NAS Greek and Hebrew, and NIV Greek and Hebrew. Once you have created the group, you will be able to access it via the Resource Palette or Amplify Menu (or context menu if you use version 7). The great advantage of following this approach is that whenever you option amplify to this Search All group from a word in KJVS, NAS95S or NIV-G/K you will find all the fields in each lexicon where the original term (rather than the English translation) appears. If you then open the hits, you will see the full entry in a regular tool window. And if you know the number you can also write it in the Search entry box (making sure the Language pop-up menus is set to English) and run a global search.

Alternatively, you may define two Tool Sets (one for the OT and one for the NT) and amplify to the appropriate set when necessary. In this case, only the Entry field will be searched and displayed when a word in a keyed Bible text is selected and the user option-clicks on the Tool Set button of the Resource palette.


A final piece of advice

The Zondervan Scholarly Bible Study Suite includes Accordance version 6.9.2. For an even more enjoyable and powerful user experience, I recommend you update to the latest version (7.0.3). It will only cost you a nominal upgrade price, but the benefits are numerous. Accordance keeps improving all the time, and it is always a good idea to use the latest point version available. As usual, if you already own version 7.x, you can upgrade to 7.0.3 at no cost.


Conclusion

Accordance Bible Software and Zondervan have once again teamed up to deliver a truly remarkable array of tools that are bound to meet the needs of the many users who have the NIV as their Bible of choice and/or who want to use some quality English tools as a way into the original languages, while providing at the same time some of the best grammatical and lexical aids for learning biblical Greek and Hebrew.


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