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The "Logos" Problem


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#1 jarcher

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 11:37 PM

As a dedicated Accordance user I’ve been thinking a lot about how Logos’ Mac version will affect Accordance. Although I love Accordance, Logos’ massive library could pose some threats to Accordance’s user base. Recently, I encouraged a friend of mine to purchase the Scholar’s Package. After receiving the package and installing it his first comment was “You sure don’t get much for $200.00.” This got me to thinking and I think he is right, especially when comparing Logos’ Original Language Package. I love Accordance but I must also face the reality that Accordance is expensive! How then can Accordance keep their dedicated user base in spite of the cost? Here are a few recommendations that I have for how Oaktree can stay competitive.

Logos has distinguished themselves by the large number of published works they offer. Accordance will have a difficult time competing with Logos’ massive library. It seems best to me that Accordance should focus on creating a superior exegetical tool (such as BibleWorks’ business plan). Here are a few ideas to that end…

1) Include discourse and syntax analysis tools such as phrasing or arcing and integrate it with the sentence-diagramming module.
2) Alter the pricing of the Scholar’s package to make it more comparable to Logos’ Original Languages Library. This will at least make more users who plan on using Accordance as an exegetical tool consider both applications based on their features only. The inclusion of the textual apparatus here, additional Greek texts, and at least 2-3 English translations would be an easy way to jump ahead of the game.
3) Make Accordance more customizable to meet the diverse needs of the user base. Options… options… options. More export, copy and paste, and formatting options will make Accordance easier to use with other tools.
4) Fine-tune the user tools and notes modules of the application. Include more options, editing features, hyper linking, inclusion of pictures and other objects that may be imported from other resources or the web. Allow users to create their own translations (I think I read that this was in the works) and notes with links to other resources within their library.
5) Expand Accordance to include more options for comparing English translations w/ the original texts.

Just a few ideas! I’m sure you folks at Oaktree have already considered the “Logos” problem and have some great ideas for the future!

Peace,

Jeremy Archer

#2 David Lang

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 01:13 PM

Jeremy,

I find it rather amusing that the number of this thread is 666 (look up in the address field of your browser)! Coincidence? I think not! ;)

Okay, all kidding aside, I appreciate the fact that you're trying to think of ways to help us deal with the Logos juggernaut. You've certainly got some good ideas, a few of which are already being planned for version 7. We're also evaluating our pricing and packaging, as we normally do with each major upgrade.

That said, I think you may be underestimating Accordance's competitive advantages.

1. Accordance is currently available for the Mac; Logos for Mac keeps getting delayed.

2. Accordance is designed by people who know and use the Mac.

3. Accordance is already widely recognized as the best exegetical tool available (on any platform), and version 7 will continue to extend that lead.

4. Logos' library is indeed massive; but we're no slouches in the number-of-available-resources department either. As far as I know, we are second only to Logos with respect to the number of resources available. We also have a fair number of materials which Logos does not have, such as numerous tagged original language texts; Zondervan's various collections; and, of course, our own Atlas, Timeline, and PhotoGuide. While we have no intention of trying to offer every book that Logos does, we aren't ready to cede all but the exegetical market to them. Our biggest problem right now is that we've got more new resources to get out the door than we can keep up with.

All things considered, we're confident that we're well-equipped to face the Logos challenge. The real question is this: Are they ready for the direct comparisons with Accordance which, until now, they've been shielded from because of the platform difference? :)
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#3 Ken Han

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 01:26 PM

Have you considered letting 3rd party developers produce content / modules for you? Would this not easily increase the number of available texts and resources for you and for the users? Surely a way could be found for the Accordance team to reap financial benefit directly (for distribution, etc.) as well as indirectly (attracting more attention to the software)? Just some thoughts.

Ken

#4 jarcher

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 01:32 PM

BTW, the Atlas and Timeline (mentioned in you post) are huge advantages which I really enjoy. Great job on them...

Edited by jarcher, 29 March 2006 - 01:42 PM.


#5 Helen Brown

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 01:51 PM

Have you considered letting 3rd party developers produce content / modules for you? Would this not easily increase the number of available texts and resources for you and for the users? Surely a way could be found for the Accordance team to reap financial benefit directly (for distribution, etc.) as well as indirectly (attracting more attention to the software)? Just some thoughts.

Ken


We are always open to content that is offered to us for Accordance, though we do need to screen it for quality and relevance to our mission. However, producing tool modules is a very complex job that takes years to learn. We have to put a lot of time into cleaning up the etexts that we receive from other sources, and converting them to our format.

If it were that easy, we would have much more already available, but we cannot compromise our standards. We try to identify each scripture reference, even the incomplete ones, and add the hypertext link. We try to get the Greek and Hebrew correctly converted from whatever font and format, and correct the errors that others have let slip. We expend a lot of effort in dividing the tool into the correct fields, making the browser hierarchy, allowing complex internal hyperlinks and much else.

It should seem easy and obvious to the user that if you amplify from a Greek word to a tool, it will search only the Greek words in the tool, but it takes an enormous amount of skilled preparatory work to make that happen seamlessly. Yes, we wish we had more people to do the job, but unless you want to come here for 6 months training, I do not think you can help us.
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#6 Ken Han

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 02:26 PM

Thanks for the insight, Helen. And I for one enjoy Accordance precisely because of the painstaking care that goes into each module. And I can't even begin to imagine the complexities involved in readying a module for release!

And yet I wonder if some kind of a graded-level approach cannot be put in place? For example, let the 3rd party developers do the kinds of prep-work that can be accomplished with a detailed instruction, and then have the Accordance team handle more complex prep-work? The Accordance team rightfully would have the final saying in which texts / modules should receive priority, and over all other business/road-map related issues. Still, I think there's something inspirational about the CCEL kind of mindset where the community is actively involved in making valueable works available to the wider community. And my guess is there are at least a few people on this forum who, either individually or cooperatively, would be glad to work on their most important texts/theologians/etc. Granted, approaches like this will not yield an immediate explosion of the number of the available works. So this is for people who are in this for the long-haul.

Well, I am in it for the long-haul. Accordance is important to me. I use it everyday. I'd like to see it become better and better for many years to come. Thanks.

Ken

#7 Brent Lawrence

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 03:39 PM

I bought a Mac over a year ago because of what Logos was promising, especially since I had just bought their Pastor's Library. However, I am staying with the Mac because of Accordance. I used to think that it was all about the resources until I started using Accordance, but now I realize that it's about what the program allows you to do with those resources. By the way, the User Tools function is awesome. With Logos, you pay a hefty price just to get any of your own material into an LDLS format and then you have to pay a yearly subscription to keep that going.

I don't see Logos as being a "problem." Challenge? maybe. The most obvious reason is what David pointed out that Logos for Mac keeps slipping. I will admit, that I spend very little time in Logos for sermon preparation (even when I know there are resources not available for Accordance). Would I love my dependable Pulpit Commentary as an Accordance module? or the Bible Knowledge Commentary? Indeed I would. But I have EBC (not available for LDLS), NIBC, etc. I am looking forward to more of those new releases. Another reason why I don't see Logos as a problem is that in business, competition is usually a good thing. Furthermore, Accordance has been proven on the Mac platform and we know it's fast. Libronix (Logos) is very slow even on high end PC's.

For Oak Tree to appeal only to the scholarly sector would be tragic. Though I want Greek and Hebrew tools, I'm not a scholar (I try, but...). I appreciate the volumes that have been trusted over the years that are currently available for Accordance and those yet to be released all toward the end of helping me carry out the ministry in the most effective and efficient way possible. My only regret is that I didn't jump on board with Accordance sooner.

Keep up the good work Oak Tree! I pray for your continued success.

#8 R. Mansfield

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 04:00 PM

I think the interface is a huge issue too.

When Logos first announced their Mac version, I was curious, so on the promise that anything I bought now would run in the Mac version when it was released, I bought one of their reference tools that was not available in Accordance (and didn't think ever would be).

I run all of this in VirtualPC, of course, but the Libronix user experience is never pleasant--especially when compared to Accordance.

I'm not even going to take the time to try to put it all in words. Accordance is just hands down an easier interface to use, and it is much more intuitive than the Logos interface. Despite the VirtualPC/Windows slowdown, it takes twice as long for me to do meaningful searches in Libronix compared to Accordance.

Since then I also bought the TLJ vols. 7 & 8 for Libronix since it was stated here in the forums that it would be some time before they were available in Accordance. Although it's nice having them in addition to vols. 1-6 that I have in Accordance, I hate having to search or retrieve articles from the Libronix editions.

In fact, once Accodance does publish these volumes, I will immediately put my Libronix editions on eBay.
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#9 jarcher

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 12:55 AM

Somehow I deleted part of my original reply so I’ll try to recreate what I remember here in addition to some additional thoughts.

Let me first say that I think David’s comments were really good. Furthermore, my intention was not to offend anyone or to insult Oaktree’s work. If I did so, I apologize. Everything I write is as a pleased customer who greatly values the fruit of Oaktree’s work.

Brent touched on exactly why I think the “Logos” problem is going to be a real problem and shouldn’t be dismissed too easily. He said, “I used to think that it was all about the resources until I started using Accordance, but now I realize that it's about what the program allows you to do with those resources.” That thinking is what is going to lead to one piece of Oaktree’s business being affected by Logos entering market.

It seems to me that that there are at least two aspects to Oaktree’s revenue – revenue generated by existing users who purchase new modules and those users that are new to Accordance and buy one of the packages (Intro, Standard, Scholar’s, etc) as their first-time purchase. I suspect that Oaktree will be impacted significantly more on the second group than the first. As so many of you have rightly stated, Accordance is the premier package and nearly everyone I know that has used both Accordance and Logos agrees that Accordance is the superior tool. However, for those new users that have not experienced the same feature-rich, Mac-friendly application, many (I suspect) will choose Logos. Although I know nothing of how Oaktree operates I suspect that this drop in revenue from new users will also affect Oaktree’s ability to provide new resources for existing users since a good portion of their revenue generating power will be lost to Logos.

I think we must be conscience of the fact that most of the benefits described by users of Accordance in this thread are features and benefits that only existing or new users will experience after having purchased and used the product. Prospective customers will likely not see those same benefits. Instead, they will be comparing other factors (such as price and included modules). On paper Logos appears to be the better choice (IMHO, of course). See these links for the details: Accordance / Logos. As dedicated users of Accordance, and former Logos users, we know that that is not true. The question then becomes how does Oaktree address this. For the price conscience pastor or lay leader I think you’ll have a hard time convincing them that the user interface is worth hundreds of dollars (if not closer to a thousand dollars) more.

Of course, nearly everything here is just speculation but that’s what makes this fun!


Peace,

Jeremy

Post-Post Thought: To put all of this into another concise thought, the race isn't always to the better product but to those that can market their product better. Mac users should know this better than anyone. ;-)

Edited by jarcher, 30 March 2006 - 01:08 AM.


#10 Brent Lawrence

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 09:58 AM

Jeremy and others,
You are right. It is fun to speculate how things will play out when if Logos gets the product out the door.

Please also know, I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I think you misunderstood my comment about "what the program allows you to do with the resources." This is where I believe Oak Tree doesn't have to worry because Accordance blows away the competition (Mac or Windows). But (I think this is where you are coming from) how will the new user contemplating the two Mac based programs know this?

IMHO, you hit the nail on the head on a couple of points in your last post. When you mentioned that the cost-concious pastor or layperson may simply look at how many resources they can get for their money and may opt for the Logos product, not because it's better, but because the list of resources is longer. I respect Oak Tree for saying they will not compete with the thousands of resources already available in LDLS format; and I agree that they have a significant number of resources now. I think that many of the thousands of titles Logos has are also limted market titles. In fact, many resources I have in LDLS will never be referenced because I have no use for them. The question is, how do you get that cost-concious pastor or lay person to consider the great value of Accordance over other products?

When you referred to marketing, this is where I would love to see Oak Tree move forward a bit. For instance, yesterday I was in an Apple Store here in Skokie, IL and noticed the Quickverse White Box edition on the shelf. Knowing that the Findex Company "dumbed down" Quickverse on the Windows side, I wouldn't go near the Mac version, especially after reading some of the reviews. However, I was impressed with the fact that it was on the shelf in the Apple Store. I thought to myself, this is where Accordance should be. At least a basic product that a home user could pick up and take home with their new Mac. The economics of marketing can be shaky. Do you take away from development just to have get the product more well known? A question for minds bigger than mine.

One small recommendation for Oak Tree's offering to new users coming to Accordance. Make the training DVD available (which I haven't bought yet, but plan to since I missed the seminar in Wheaton) with certain packages for $9.99 or throw it in for free to help people get started. If not the whole DVD, trim it down so parts of it will fit on a CD and include it with all packages. I find myself going back to the demo at the website and watching that from time to time.

Just some thoughts. I will push Accordance to any Mac user I can. Often word of mouth is a great marketing tool.

Edited by Brent Lawrence, 30 March 2006 - 10:03 AM.


#11 Martin Shields

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 04:06 PM

2. Accordance is designed by people who know and use the Mac.

I have not used Logos at all, but I assume they're developing with XCode and using Interface Builder and that they have a Mac developer actually building the Mac version. These suggest that the end result may be more Mac-like than the Windows version of their software suggests. Furthermore, they would be able to release a Universal Binary and take advantage of the features of Apple's own development environment (for example, were Accordance a Cocoa app the "history" menu could relatively easily include Greek or Hebrew text).

Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy with Accordance. I am a little concerned that, as future versions of MacOS X are released, there may arise problems for old Carbon apps built using CodeWarrior which apparently will not be updated any further.

I am also looking forward very much to Accordance v. 7.

#12 mythrenegade

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 04:36 PM

Maybe this is a pipe dream, but the single best news I could get regarding Accordance & Logos would be that they signed a contract with Logos agreeing that neither product would offer "exclusive" modules. What I mean by that is this: If a particular commentary, let's say EBC, is available on Accordance, Logos would not be prohibited from creating an EBC product of their own, and vice versa.

It seems there are a lot of PC users with two or more bible programs on their computer because that was the only way to get certain resources. I am fine with that if the reason is simply time or demand (for example, OakSoft has stated they don't WANT to do Big Kittel because of the demand vs. time, which annoys me but that's their choice and it's their business, so ok...), but I don't think it benefits ANYBODY when the reason is an exclusive arrangement (let's just say in the aforementioned example, OakSoft wanted to offer Big Kittel but could not because Logos had an exclusive agreement on it.)

I distinctly remember a time when the only way to get the NASB was to buy "Biblemaster" which couldn't even PRINT it was so basic. We beta tested BibleMaster for years, and it was never a very good product, but being a church that used NASB exclusively, we didn't have any choice. Today I can buy NASB for Accordance, and I am very happy. The Lockman foundation gets their money without having to pay for software developers and tech support, and I get to use a far superior product. Win win.

Having to use multiple products to get your work done is very cumbersome, and ultimately is bad for users. For a time I used MacSword for Hebrew, and the two program approach got so annoying that I bought the scholars bundle...

Joel

Edited by mythrenegade, 30 March 2006 - 04:38 PM.


#13 David Lang

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 05:13 PM

Okay, Jeremy, I can see you're not going to settle for, "Yes, we're aware of the issues. We're working to deal with them. And the sky isn't falling." As for this being "fun," armchair-quarterbacking is always fun for the armchair quarterback; but it's never as enjoyable for the real quarterback. ;)

With respect to the issues you've brought up, I would point you to an article I wrote for CMUG a year ago: http://www.cmug.org/pulpit/Ports.html. In it, I state that I'm not worried about our existing users dumping Accordance for Logos, that I recognize that many of our users will supplement their Accordance libraries with Logos materials, and that the greatest threat Logos poses is in the battle to win new users:

Where the increased competition has the most potential to "hurt" my company is in lost sales to Mac users who are buying Bible Software for the first time. If we fail to communicate why Accordance is still the best choice as a Mac user's main Bible study program, or if we are not careful to stay competitive with respect to price, those users may well opt for one of these new programs instead.

Believe me, we're well aware of the issues.

As Mac users, we're well aware that the better product doesn't always win out over the better marketed product. You're right that we need to be as competitive "on paper" as possible, so that our interface advantage can be the deciding factor for the new user. We're doing our best to do that, and we've got some surprises in store which, I think, will do that very effectively.

Of course, if better marketing always wins, even that won't be enough; because we'll never be able to market as effectively as Logos does. But there is another factor in the equation which should not be overlooked: the backlash Logos will certainly get if they foist a poor Windows port on Mac users. In the aforementioned article, I mention the challenges these Windows developers will face in transitioning to Mac. If Microsoft couldn't succeed with Word 6.0, then no company is big enough to convince Mac users to buy a clunky port of a Windows product. Negative reviews and word of mouth can derail even the slickest marketing campaign. That's one reason I'm confident that the sky isn't falling just yet.

Of course, I'm also counting on positive word of mouth from our users. Unlike other software companies, we allow our users to post complaints, questions, and concerns in a public forum; but that can have its downsides. When this forum topic comes up in someone's Google search a year from now, I'm afraid this little bit of armchair quarterbacking may not help us much. If you'd like to e-mail me at dlang [at] accordancebible [dot] com, I'll be happy to discuss this further, but I'd prefer to avoid discussing the specifics of how we deal with a competitor here. Suffice it to say that we're ready for all comers! :)
Sincerely,
David Lang
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#14 jarcher

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 05:27 PM

David,

I would like to apologize for my comments. I think that they may have been received in a matter other than intended. Regardless, I feel bad for creating what could eventually be "bad press" for Oaktree. I do not think that "the sky is falling" and I am very certain that Oaktree will do very well.

Furthermore, I don't want any would-be Google-searcher seeing bad comments about Accordance any more than you. Therefore, I will remove my original posts.

Once again, thanks for creating a remarkable product.

Jeremy Archer

EDITED: Okay.. so I guess I can't remove my old posts. However, if the administrator (Helen?) would like to do so they have my full consent (not as though you need it anyways).

Edited by jarcher, 30 March 2006 - 05:33 PM.


#15 David Lang

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 05:39 PM

I have not used Logos at all, but I assume they're developing with XCode and using Interface Builder and that they have a Mac developer actually building the Mac version. These suggest that the end result may be more Mac-like than the Windows version of their software suggests. Furthermore, they would be able to release a Universal Binary and take advantage of the features of Apple's own development environment (for example, were Accordance a Cocoa app the "history" menu could relatively easily include Greek or Hebrew text).


Martin, that's a lot of assumptions to make. Even if Logos is developing with XCode and Interface Builder and so on, are they going to change their entire interface philosophy? Being Mac-like is more than just using the right Aqua interface widgets, and a Windows developer who ports to Mac still has to maintain consistency with its Windows product.

With respect to being Universal Binary, Logos may well be Universal Binary before Accordance. Accordance runs so well and so fast under Rosetta that we've got time to decide on the best way to make the Intel transition. The main advantage of being Universal Binary is one of speed rather than features. Anybody wanna place bets against Accordance in the speed department, even when running under Rosetta? :)

Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy with Accordance. I am a little concerned that, as future versions of MacOS X are released, there may arise problems for old Carbon apps built using CodeWarrior which apparently will not be updated any further.


At this point, I'd be more worried about losing old Carbon programs like Photoshop! ;)


Jeremy,

No need to apologize. I appreciate that our users are rooting for us and trying to offer helpful suggestions. No offense has been taken over any of this, and I'm happy to discuss it. I'd just prefer to do it by e-mail to avoid the hypothetical Google searcher taking something out of context. :)
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#16 David Lang

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 06:04 PM

Joel,

Logos and OakTree could arrive at any number of agreements, but not the one you're envisioning. EBC--as well as NIDNTT, NIDOTTE, and numerous other resources--are available for Accordance and not for Logos because Zondervan is willing to work with us on the Mac side while preferring to create their own software engine on the Windows side. Logos has the big Kittel because they did the e-texting themselves, and thus far, they have not been willing to license that e-text to any of their competitors. Consequently, our only choice would be to e-text it ourselves, and that's an expensive proposition for an older lexicon which has been roundly criticized by more recent scholarship.

In a perfect world, users could pick the resources they wanted and the software engine they wanted to use. But alas, that is not a foreseeable reality. This is partly due to software developers using the resources they offer as a means of distinguishing themselves, but it's also largely due to factors beyond our control.
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David Lang
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#17 Robb Brunansky

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 08:50 PM

David,

I've read in several places on the forums that TDNT has been criticized roundly by recent scholarship. I don't doubt the validity of your statement, but I would like to know where I could read some of the criticisms that have been mentioned. Please don't take this as putting you on the spot to prove what you've said. I truly just have a curiosity to read in more detail what current scholars are saying about Kittel. If you could point me (and others who might be curious) to an article or two, it would be much appreciated! Thanks!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Robb Brunansky

#18 jpkang

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 10:25 PM

I hope I can save David a little work, since semantics is one of my research interests:

A quick search for "Kittel" and "TDNT" at sbl-site.org reveals a citation of this recent piece:

Wayne A. Meeks, “A Nazi New Testament Professor Reads His Bible: The Strange Case of Gerhard Kittel,” in The Idea of Biblical Interpretation (Brill, 2003). I actually found a link to a PDF of the piece at Yale.edu (not sure if it is identical to the version in this Kugel Festschrift).

James Barr also treats Kittel's dictionary in The Semantics of Biblical Language (Oxford, 1961), especially chapter 8, "Some Principles of Kittel's Theological Dictionary."

Moisés Silva also treats some of the issues of Kittel's approach, but I do not have the citations handy (perhaps his Biblical Words and Their Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics [Zondervan, 1994]).

I personally get the sense that while G. Kittel's importance for the history of interpretation certainly cannot be gainsaid, the general approach is so fraught with methodological issues that the entire project ends up getting taken with a grain of salt.

A possible analogy for OT studies might be the Mitchell Dahood's work on the Psalms (above all in the Anchor Bible volumes), which frequently assumed linguistic relationships between Ugaritic and Biblical Hebrew that were never demonstrated, but simply assumed.

Edited by jpkang, 30 March 2006 - 10:26 PM.

J. P. Kang, Ph.D. (Bible)




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