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

Tuesday, October 24, 2006  

Do you really need the Aramaic Targums?

In my last post, I talked about some of the ways that Accordance has moved into specialized areas of scholarship that are way beyond my own personal level of expertise. We've been quietly doing this almost from the beginning, working with Dr. Martin Abegg to develop a tagged Qumran module years before it occurred to any other Bible Software developers to add extrabiblical texts. In recent years, other developers have realized the importance of these materials and have begun to make them available. In some cases, we've cooperated with other developers to offer the same texts to our respective user bases. Sadly, there have been other cases where such cooperation has just not been possible, and where competing developers have released competing versions of the same texts. (With respect to Greek texts, Ken Ristau has written an excellent review which looks at the differing pedigrees of the resources available for various programs.)

The number of users who actually need this kind of material is relatively small, and since they are being used for scholarly research, the need for accuracy in these texts is high. In many cases, we have paid qualified scholars to clean up the tagging of texts which other developers have rushed to market, but which just aren't up to our standards. If you do really need the Aramaic targums or some other ancient text for research purposes, you can rest assured that the Accordance version of that text is at least equal to, and typically much better than, equivalent texts in other programs.

Because the audience for these resources is small and because we invest so much to ensure the relative accuracy of these texts, some of these materials can get a little pricey. One of the ways we've tried to reduce those costs is by bundling related materials together at a discount. You can see the various ancient text bundles and their discounted prices here. If you need these kinds of materials, be sure to take advantage of these discounts.

One of the things we don't do is try to reduce costs by artificially expanding the audience for these materials. I always find it amusing when I see developers trying to convince non-scholars that they really need some obscure text or resource. Let's face it, unless you're a specialist in textual criticism or you're exploring parallels between biblical and extrabiblical texts, your money will be better spent on Anchor Bible Dictionary, the IVP Collection, a good commentary, or even one of several critical apparatuses than on some arcane original language text. If you really need the Aramaic Targums or the Qumran scrolls or the Hebrew Mishna, those resources are readily available to you on the Scholar's Collection. But if you don't need them, we're not going to make you pay for them in order to get something you do need, and we're not going to try to convince you that it's something you should want. It may not make sense from a business standpoint, but I take pride in the fact that our sales staff will often talk customers out of buying stuff they don't need rather than pushing them to buy more. . .

Then again, when I recently bought Accordance for a friend, they did manage to upsell me the PhotoGuide and the Training DVD. I guess they thought he really needed them! (And they do have a point . . . doesn't everybody need the PhotoGuide and Training DVD?) ;-)

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