Jan 22, 2009 David Lang

Organizing Your Reference Tools

���ReferenceTools.jpg (xl, l, m, s)Last week, I went through my Library window and showed you how I organize my Text Modules, my English Tools, and my Greek and Hebrew Tools. I put off going into Reference Tools because there are so many different modules of different kinds. So today we'll tackle Reference Tools.

Remember that these tools are called "reference" tools not because they are "reference works," but because they are organized by verse reference. In other words, Reference tools all follow the book, chapter, and verse order of the Bible or other Text module corpuses. This is where you'll find things like commentaries, study Bibles, translator's notes, critical apparatuses, cross-references, book outlines, etc.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I find it helpful to group these various kinds of modules together into subfolders. At the same time, I do not place my most-used modules into subfolders, because I don't want to have to dig through a submenu in order to access them. From the screenshot, you can see how I apply those principles to my Reference Tools. First, I leave all of my most-used modern commentaries at the top-level of the menu. I talked at length in my first post about why I have the Expositor's Bible Commentary set as my default commentary. You can see here, however, that I have it in a folder containing other Zondervan commentaries. Note how even though EBC is enclosed in a folder, Accordance still recognizes that it is at the top of my list of reference tools, and therefore uses it whenever I triple-click a verse reference. Beneath EBC, I have other modern commentaries like NIGTC and Word Biblical Commentary.

At 58 volumes, Word is really too big to include in a single module, so we've divided it into two modules containing the Old Testament and New Testament volumes. Because of that, I've grouped them back together in a folder.

By the way, Word just went on sale for a mere $399.00, which works out to be less than $7.00 per volume! Sorry to take a commercial break at this point, but that's an incredible price, and I don't want you to miss it.

Just as I've grouped my Zondervan and Word Commentaries in folders, I've done the same for all the commentaries from InterVarsity Press. I also have all of my classic commentaries like Calvin, Henry, Keil & Delitzsch, etc. grouped together in a folder.

By the way, you can see from my system of organization that I give modern commentaries pride of place. I am not, however, one of those who sees older commentaries as hopelessly outdated. For example, I regard Calvin as one of the most insightful commentators I've ever read. It is not unusual for me to consult modern commentaries on a given passage and come away unsatisfied with any of their interpretations. Then I'll consult Calvin and find that his understanding of the passage is simple, clear, and remarkably insightful. Similarly, I regard Keil & Delitzsch as one of the better Old Testament commentaries available. Don't fall into the trap of chronological snobbery. Older commentaries may not have the benefit of recent scholarship, but I'm continually amazed at how relevant and helpful they can be.

After the commentaries, I have Outlines, Bible Art, and the MT-LXX Parallel. If I were really organized, I might put these modules into various folders, but since they are each fairly unique, I probably would just end up with three folders (named something like "Literary Structure," "Art," and "Septuagint Studies") containing one module each. Since that would add an unnecessary layer of complexity just for the sake of putting these tools into categories, I've simply left them dangling there below the commentaries.

Next I have folders for the Study Bibles (of which there is no shortage), Critical Apparatuses (of which there is no shortage), and Cross-References. The Word Studies folder contains works like Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, and Rogers & Rogers' New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament. The Difficult Passages folder is where I've placed IVP's Hard Sayings of the Bible and Zondervan's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. The Notes folder is where I keep all the translator's footnotes associated with various Bible translations.

For convenience sake, I've grouped all of my Jewish Resources together. These include the Jewish Study Bible and JPS Torah Commentary, both of which I could easily have placed with other study Bibles and commentaries. I find the JPS Torah Commentary to be especially helpful, since it often summarizes rabbinic interpretation of a given passage, and because it can help me to see the text from a fresh perspective.

The last folder I have is labeled ExtraBiblical. This is where I place tools which are organized by the reference system of non-Biblical corpuses, such as the Qumran Index, Neusner's translation of the Babylonian Talmud, etc.

As you can see, Reference Tools includes a wide variety of resources, and I've grouped them in a way that makes it relatively easy for me to find the modules I want. The next category of Tools is even more varied, so I'll cover General Tools in an upcoming post.

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Archived Comments

January 22, 2009 11:21 AM
It's great to see the creative ways you come up with to sneak in little teasers of upcoming modules, such as, in this post, the Hermeneia OT Commentary!

David Lang

January 22, 2009 1:56 PM
Oops! I meant to remove all the pre-release modules before taking the screenshot and missed Hermeneia. At least we've already announced that it's coming. Thankfully, I did remember to remove another more secretive project we're working on! ;-)