Mar 18, 2009 David Lang

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.

Bookmark and Share

Archived Comments


March 22, 2009 6:55 PM

Love this post... really pushes and stretches Accordance. It is, IMHO, the best tool out there thus far to do this kind of inductive study!

That said, this exercise also shows the (current) limitations of highlighting, despite their current HIGHLY flexible capabilities. When it comes right down to it, one of the things I really like about the Precept approach is the ability to put symbols over words to visually communicate meaning. Color and pattern alone are just lacking meaning in all a but a few rare cases. 

Wouldn't it be great if you could highlight using a symbol font for the shape+pattern? Then I could highlight using a heart, a cross, a red X (the symbol I use for sin in my inductive study bible), a triangle (I use a blue one for God the father) and so on.  

What do you think David?

bible sweepstakes

March 26, 2010 6:19 AM

really informative and helpful. Thanks for the post.

[email protected]

April 08, 2010 5:58 PM

I am really impressed with this I am presently using E-Sword but this one might be worth me changing over to. I was also looking at Logos but they were really expensive.



Mike S.

August 11, 2010 11:47 AM

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.

I am trying to find the follow-up post(s) regarding how you set up Accordance for this type of study.  What worked, what didn't?  I would like to try this out but I am a little overwelmed with how to start.

Helen Brown

August 11, 2010 1:52 PM

Mike, I don't think David ever did get to follow up on his good intentions. However, there are a couple of Podcasts on Inductive Bible Study available on this page:, though they may be from a different perspective.

sunday school classroom

March 20, 2011 5:29 PM

Excellent explanation of how the Accordance software. After reading what you showed will be easier for each reader make a more precise evaluation of the program is capable of.I hope your ideas of inductive method can help many people to study the bible.

wing tsun leipzig

April 18, 2011 7:41 AM

Hello, I'm a christian from Leipzig / Germany and recently heard about this program that should help someone to study the bible better. I will tell my priest about Accordance and hope that it helps me with my Bible study. Steve