Dec 2, 2010 David Lang

Have You Put Accordance in a Box?

InABox At Thanksgiving, I was not so busy stuffing turkey in my mouth that I was unable to insert my foot as well. For some reason, the subject of career placement tests came up during our dinner conversation. You know the tests I mean: the ones that high school guidance counselors and college advisors administer to help young people pick a major and potential career path. I had always found such tests a little pointless, and I said as much when the subject was broached. One relative quickly contradicted my assessment, and I realized that he had been encouraging his teenage daughter to take just such a test! Oops.

As I thought about this little exchange, I realized that my dislike of these tests had more to do with my own personality than with any objective assessment of their value. As a kid who was something of a jack-of-all-trades, I tended to chafe at being categorized and put into a box, and those tests felt like an attempt to do just that. I didn't want to be told what my "aptitudes" were by a standardized test; I wanted to pursue a variety of interests and see where they led me.

Today, I help to develop a software program which is also something of a jack-of-all-trades, and I wonder sometimes if even our most enthusiastic users occasionally categorize Accordance too narrowly. At times I've been surprised to hear scholars who swear by Accordance recommend less robust programs to their students. Why would they do this? Because they know Accordance only as a high-end research tool, and they assume it would be overkill for most pastors and laypeople. Likewise, I've seen those who use Accordance primarily for simple word searches in English assume there's little more that Accordance can do. Because they have never personally explored Accordance beyond a few basic features, they completely miss the depth and power for which it is well-known.

To some extent, this myopia on the part of some users is a sign of success. After all, our goal has always been to design Accordance in such a way that it enhances your personal study of the Bible without distracting you with features and modules you might find superfluous. That's why we divide our product line between resources for English Bible study (the Library collection) and original language study (the Scholar's collection) rather than forcing scholars to buy some huge package which includes Morning & Evening or encouraging laypeople to buy an expensive package which includes the Syriac Peshitta.

The danger of this approach is that some users miss Accordance's breadth as a Bible study platform and end up putting it in too narrow a conceptual box. Alas, such is the cross borne by every jack-of-all-trades.

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