Who's Your Daddy?
Accordance's Church Fathers with Church History CD-ROM includes 37 volumes of the Early Church Fathers in English, along with Philip Schaff's eight-volume History of the Christian Church. Priced at just $129, this massive collection of material is available for less than $3.00 per volume. At that price, this add-on is a no-brainer for anyone interested in patristics, church history, or the history of interpretation.
Yet once you have all this material available within Accordance, how do you get the most out of it? In this series of posts, I'll offer some tips you may find helpful.
The Early Church Fathers series is so massive we had to divide it into three separate modules. These correspond to the three major subdivisions within the series of books. Thus, CF-AN includes the nine volumes of the Ante-Nicene Fathers series. CF-NPNF1 includes the fourteen volumes of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series 1, and CF-NPNF2 includes the fourteen volumes of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series 2. The first series of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers basically covers Augustine and Chrysostom, perhaps the most prolific and respected luminaries of the Western and Eastern churches respectively. Knowing that helps me keep the three modules straight in my mind. Basically, any father before Augustine will be found in CF-AN, Augustine and Chrysostom are in CF-NPNF1, and all the later fathers are in CF-NPNF2. So, for example, if I want to find the writings of Origen, I would open CF-AN and search for Origen. If I want to find Gregory of Nyssa, I would open CF-NPFN2 and search that.
If you don't want to bother keeping all that straight, you can search all three modules (and therefore all 37 volumes) at once by setting up a search all group. To do that, open a Search All window by selecting Search All from the New submenu of the File menu, or use the keyboard shortcut control-command-F. At the top of the Search All window, you'll see two pop-up menus. The first lets you choose the language of your search argument. Leave this set to English. The second pop-up lets you choose which groups of modules you want to search. Click this pop-up and choose Define Group.
In the Define Groups dialog which appears, click New to create a new group, name it Church Fathers, then find the three CF modules in the list of Tools. You can add these three modules to the list of Group items by double-clicking each one, or by selecting all three and clicking the button above the list of tools. Click OK to dismiss the dialog box and create this new search all group. This new group will now be selected in the Group pop-up menu of the Search All window. To find references to Gregory of Nyssa, just enter Nyssa and click OK.
When you use the Search All window, it will search every field of each module in the Group for the word you entered. In this case, it finds references to "Nyssa" in the English content field of all three modules and in the Titles field of CF-NPN2. It's the Titles field search we're really interested in if we're wanting to find works by this particular father, so click that result to open the CF-NPN2 module to the volume on Gregory of Nyssa.
In this post, we've seen how to find any father without having to remember which module contains his writings. In an upcoming post, I'll show how to narrow a search to the works of a particular father, or even to a particular subset of his writings.