Aug 24, 2009 David Lang

Which Languages Should You Know?

As the back-to-school season begins, pastors- and scholars-in-training are embarking on the daunting task of learning new languages. Many seminary students are already taking their first courses in Biblical Greek and Hebrew, while Ph.D. students may be adding French, German, Latin, and any of a number of ancient Semitic languages. Learning the languages is important, which is why Accordance spares you the added burden of having to learn a programming language.

For example, if you want to find all Greek verbs in the present tense, you need only spell out [verb present] in brackets and click OK. Now, there are some syntax rules you need to observe here. You need to enclose the grammatical details in square brackets and you need to begin with the part of speech. In other words, it must be [verb present] rather than [present verb]. Beyond those simple rules, Accordance is pretty flexible. For example, to find present imperatives you could enter [verb present imperative] or [verb imperative present]. Accordance is smart enough to know what you're looking for either way.

You can also abbreviate the grammatical characteristics. As long as each tag has enough characters to uniquely identify it, Accordance will accept the abbreviation. So [v pr impera] will work just fine.

As you can see, all of this can be done using language familiar to any first-year Greek student. You don't need to remember an arcane string of single-character abbreviations which must be entered in the correct order with question marks to hold the place of any unspecified parameters. If that last sentence sounds complicated, you should see how it looks. Users of other Bible software programs routinely have to deal with such gobbledegook, while Accordance users are happily spared having to think like a computer.

Now, to be fair, few Bible software users today actually enter such search parameters themselves. Most programs, including Accordance, present users with an interface where they can choose the grammatical characteristics they want to find and have the software put together the proper search syntax. As we'll see tomorrow, even this easier interface is easier in Accordance.

The Macintosh Bible is a book about Macs which has been around for as long as I've been using them (and probably longer). When I read it years ago, it had a chapter entitled "Easy is Hard." It basically made the case that Macs are easier to use than PCs because Apple had done the hard work necessary to make things easier for the end user, while other computer makers made it easy on themselves by demanding more from the user. While it is certainly harder to create a search syntax that doesn't force the user to speak computerese, we would rather you concentrate on learning the languages of the Bible.

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