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

Thursday, February 16, 2006  

Search All in Self-Defense

In yesterday's post, I described two features of the Timeline which help to give you the big picture of the historical circumstances surrounding various Biblical narratives. As an example, I pointed out that David was able to expand his empire precisely because he ruled at a time when the great empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians, and Hittites were in decline and disarray. In response, Ken Ristau posted a comment which read simply, "David's empire??"

Now, I'm not sure exactly what Ken meant by this, but since he's working on a Ph.D. in Ancient History and since he strikes me as a stickler for precision, I'm assuming he's questioning my use of the word "empire" in connection with King David.

True, as empires go, David's was certainly not a very large one, and he never actually took the title of "emperor." But according to 2 Samuel 8:1-18, he conquered and exacted tribute from the neighboring Moabites, Edomites, Arameans, and Amalekites. He seized territory from the Philistines and Ammonites, and established alliances with the kings of Phoenicia and Hamath. My use of the term "empire" was meant in the general sense of an expanding kingdom built through conquest.

Still, Ken is the professional historian, not I, so his question had me wondering if I was stretching the term "empire" a little too far. I decided to see if anyone else had referred to David's kingdom as an empire by using the Search All feature of Accordance.

Accordance has had the ability to search every module in a single pass since version 3.0, but it's not really a feature we talk about a lot, since most of the time, you want to narrow a search rather than having to drink from the proverbial firehose. Still, when you do want to do a broad search like this, all you need to do is open a Search All window by selecting "Search All" from the New submenu of the File menu (or just use the keyboard shortcut command-F). In the Search All window, you can choose from a few predefined groups of modules, such as [All], [All Bibles], and [All Tools], or you can define your own custom groups of modules to search. Since I was pretty sure the Bible never speaks of David's kingdom as an "empire," I decided to limit my search to [All Tools]. I then performed a simple search for David* WITHIN 3 WORDS empire. Here's what I found:

As you can see, the word "empire" is frequently used to describe the expansion of David's kingdom. To explore these hits further, I need simply click on the name of each tool to view my search results in a tool window. A quick scan of the results revealed the use of such terms as "Davidic empire," "David's empire," and "empire of David." So while there may still be some technical reason why Ken objects to my use of the term, at least I can comfort myself with the knowledge that I'm not the only one to use it.

Now, I've been picking on Ken throughout this post, and I hope it's clear that this has all been in good fun. After all, I'm not even sure he meant his comment in the way that I took it. I just thought it made for a good example of how to use the Search All window in Accordance.

Now, if only I could have found a way to use Accordance to help my team beat Ken's team in the Orange Bowl . . .

I love the Search-all function in Accordance. Rarely do I actually use it to search everything I have, but I have several groups that i like to search from time to time. One of the most useful groups I have is a group of my Greek texts (GNT-T, LXX1, LXX2, AF). It makes for an easy way to find any word or phrase in all of these sources in one shot, rather than looking at the LXX, then the GNT, and then AF. It's also nice to be able to scour the theological journals, although, as David pointed out, it can be a bit like drinking from the proverbial firehose on those. But it's nice to at least have the option.

Great article... I truly enjoyed the way you used the comment as a jumping off point to explain features in Accordance.

I suppose I should clarify what I meant. It was actually a bit tongue-in-cheek in that historians of ancient Israel today--your hits notwithstanding--would shy considerably from a statement such as David's "empire", especially given that there are scholars--a minority to be sure--who even question the very existence of the man. It was really just a bit of reflex from other debates at other blogs, offered more in fun to keep you on your toes than anything else.

Regarding the search all feature... I really hope it is improved in Accordance 7 to include hit-in-context snippets or some sort of better way of delivering the results of the search.

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