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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006  

Knowing Where to Look

In response to my last post, someone e-mailed to say that he wanted to use the Outlines module, but wasn't sure where to find it. So here's a quick rundown of how the Resource palette is organized.

First, we make a major distinction between Texts and Tools:

Texts are basically primary works, works that you study for their own sake. This obviously includes the Bible, but it also includes such extrabiblical works as Josephus, Philo, Pseudepigrapha, Apocryphal Gospels, Mishna, Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls), etc. On the resource palette, Texts are distinguished by the scroll icons, and are divided into three categories: English texts, Greek texts, and Hebrew texts. English texts is really something of a misnomer, because it includes any texts which use the Latin alphabet, such as French, German, Spanish, etc.

Tools are secondary resources — that is, works that you study in order to gain insight into the texts you're studying. For example, a Greek lexicon sheds light on the words used in a Greek text; while a commentary examines the meaning of the Biblical text. No one reads a Greek lexicon or a commentary for its own sake; rather, we read them for the sake of better understanding the Bible.

Because there are so many different tools available, we had to find some way of subdividing them. We could have subdivided them according to genre, distinguishing things like devotional, historical, and theological works; but there are two problems with such classifications. (1) Some books could fall into multiple categories. For example, is the Creeds module theological or historical? (2) You might classify a particular module differently than we would, in which case you might go looking for it in the wrong place.

To avoid these ambiguities, we decided to categorize the various tools by the way those tools are organized. In other words, we make distinctions according to structure rather than according to genre:

  1. English tools are those organized alphabetically in English. This includes all English Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias, topical Bibles, and our Bible Lands PhotoGuide (which is organized by site name). English tools are distinguished on the Resource palette by the blue book icon with the English letter "A."
  2. Greek tools are those organized alphabetically in Greek. Obviously, that includes your Greek lexicons. Greek tools are distinguished on the Resource palette by the blue book icon with the Greek letter Alpha.
  3. Hebrew tools are those organized alphabetically in Hebrew. Hebrew tools are distinguished on the Resource palette by the blue book icon with the Hebrew letter Aleph.
  4. Reference tools are those organized by verse reference. This is where you'll find all of your commentaries, cross references, translator's notes, study Bibles, and the Outlines module I mentioned the other day. Reference tools are distinguished on the Resource palette by the blue book icon with the one-colon-one (1:1).
  5. General tools are those which do not fit into any of the other four categories. Basically, this will include any book organized by chapter and section rather than alphabetically or by verse reference. Here is where you'll find Creeds, Hymns, Systematic Theologies, Histories, Journals, etc.
If you think for a moment about the way a tool is organized, you'll always know where to look for it. Tomorrow, I'll talk a little more about this system of organization, and perhaps even hint at some upcoming enhancements to it. Stay tuned!

David, I'm curious where you went to seminary. Is that public information or classified? Thanks for the helpful blog entries.


I attended Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando for several years on a very part time basis, but never graduated. It's amazing how getting a job you love and having several children in rapid succession can change your education plans. Thankfully, working on Accordance has helped me retain more Hebrew and Greek than I probably would have otherwise, and my work on the Atlas, PhotoGuide, and Timeline have taught me more about the Bible than I ever learned in seminary. (That's not meant to take anything away from RTS; it's just one of the many reasons I love working for OakTree.) Anyway, if you're interested in more of my personal background, please check out my personal blog.

Thanks so much for making an Accordance blog. I am saving for a new notebook (switching to mac) and look forward to purchasing the Accordance software. Thanks for all your helpful hints to us newbies! Cass

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