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

Thursday, August 17, 2006  

User Notes: A Personal Example

On Tuesday, I listed what I consider the primary advantages of using Accordance's note-taking and highlighting features as opposed to marking up an actual print Bible. Today, I'll give a few examples of how I personally use Accordance User Notes. In an upcoming post, I'll get into the nuts and bolts of using user notes and highlighting.

Now, I must confess that I am not the most systematic note-taker in the world, so I'm not sure how helpful my own use of user notes will end up being. I have a number of different user notes files which have been started at various times and for various purposes, only to be left to languish. But perhaps my discombobulated note-taking habits will help to illustrate just how flexible the user notes features of Accordance actually are.

My two most comprehensive user notes files are my Study Notes and Textual Notes. Study Notes is loosely dedicated to any literary, exegetical, and interpretive notes I happen to make on a given passage. Scrolling through them now, I am surprised at how many notes I've actually made, and it's readily apparent that most of the notes I've made have centered around Sunday School classes I've happened to be teaching. When I was asked to sub one week for a class on Nehemiah, I recorded my observations on chapter 5 in my Study Notes, and left little instructions to myself colored in red.

By the way, these helpful prompts got me into a bit of trouble when I was doing a demo to a predominantly Jewish audience at Brandeis University. My pastor has a great affinity for the "Christian hedonism" of John Piper, so when Nehemiah prays in 5:19 that God would remember him with favor for all that he's done for the returning Jews, I jotted a note to myself to "Talk about Nehemiah as a Christian Hedonist." What I meant, of course, was not that Nehemiah was a "Christian," but that I should show my Sunday School class the parallels between Nehemiah's prayer and the approach to life which Piper describes as "Christian hedonism." When a Jewish user at Brandeis saw my note to self, he naturally found it a little disturbing, and I was at a loss to explain what the note meant without completely derailing the demo. Fortunately, a colleague came to my rescue and offered me a graceful way out!

Embarrassing moments aside, I've found the user notes to be an especially helpful teaching tool. I can display them in a pane alongside the text of the Bible, and I can include links to related Scripture references, so that everything I need is right at my fingertips.

Although the bulk of my study notes were created for the purpose of teaching, I do have other notes which were created in the course of my own personal study. This is especially true of my Textual Notes, a separate notes files dedicated to recording my thoughts on important textual variants or translation issues.

In the example seen here, my notes file has become a kind of repository for the information I've uncovered in the course of my study. Here I compare translations, reference BDB, consider the reading in the Greek Septuagint, and discuss Paul's quotation of this verse in Ephesians. One can almost follow the way I've moved through Accordance in the course of this study, from parallel text panes to amplifying to a lexicon to consulting the OT in NT parallel, and so on. Each discovery gets recorded in this particular user note.

Now, I'm obviously not always that careful to record every observation in my notes, but that day, I must have felt the need to write in order to collect my thoughts. On other days, my notes might be more staccato and disconnected: "See BDB on ragaz," "See Ephesians 4:26," etc.

By the way, observe how when I referenced BDB in this note, I included the Hebrew word to look up. That way, all I need do is triple-click that Hebrew word or select it and choose BDB from the Resource palette to look it up. Likewise, I've hypertexted the link to Ephesians so I can easily see that as well. When taking notes like this, I try to think about how I can arrange them so that they will be a ready launching pad to other resources.

While I'm hardly a model of good note-taking practice, I have found the user notes feature of Accordance to be a valuable tool for teaching and personal study. Because they're flexible, interactive, and fully integrated with the rest of my Accordance library, I can employ Accordance user notes for a wide variety of purposes.

Nehemiah as a "Christian Hedonist"? David, I'm liking you more all the time. ;-)


David, what font and size are you using for texts and for notes?

I'm using Adobe Garamond. I have the text of the Bible set to 16 pt, and the references set to 14 pt, italicized, and using the new teal color. The notes are also Garamond, but 12 point, simply because that's what I used to use before OS X. (OS X has seemed to make every font size look smaller.)

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