Inductive Bible Study with Accordance
Someone on our user forums recently asked how to do inductive Bible study with Accordance. If you're like me, you heard the term "inductive Bible study" tossed around long before you understood what it meant. So let me first explain what it means.
Inductive reasoning is reasoning from particular observations to general conclusions or principles. For example, if I observe that every time I drop something it falls to the ground, I can inductively arrive at some expression of the law of gravity. The scientific method is essentially a form of inductive reasoning, because it moves from testable observations to the formulation of general scientific principles.
In much the same way, inductive Bible study is the process of examining a Biblical text, making observations about the text, and then using those observations as the basis for understanding how best to interpret and apply the text. Essentially, we're engaged in some form of "inductive Bible study" any time we exegete a passage without reading into it some preconceived notion as to what it means. Yet the term "inductive Bible study" has come to be equated with various Bible study methods designed to ensure that we avoid reading into the text.
Just as the scientific method is designed to ensure that scientists base their theories on testable observations, so inductive Bible study methods are designed to ensure that exegetes base their interpretations on accurate observations of the Biblical text. While there are several variations of formal inductive Bible study methods, the best known is the method popularized by Precept Ministries. They offer a helpful summary of their method here, as well as classes and a variety of Bible study materials for purchase. You can also find other formal inductive study methods by doing a Google search for "inductive Bible study."
Most formal inductive Bible study methods include some system of marking up the text to aid in the process of observation. The Precept summary linked to above encourages using different colors to highlight every mention of a book's author and recipients, key words in the passage, references to people and places, time references, etc. In Accordance, it's a simple matter to set up various highlight styles, colors, underlines, boxes, etc. and then to mark up the text with those styles.
Most inductive methods then encourage you to jot down short summary observations drawn from the process of marking up the text. For example, the Precept summary shows a list of observations on suffering which are drawn from each mention of suffering in the text. If you were doing this with a print Bible, you would jot down those observations in the margins or on a separate sheet of paper. In Accordance, the obvious place to jot these things down is in a user note file.
In the following screenshot, you can see how I've mimicked the markup done in the Precept example and created a user note file for recording summary observations.
I'll explain how to do each of these things in upcoming posts, but for now, I hope this will get your wheels turning as to how you could use Accordance to do inductive Bible study.