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

Friday, October 27, 2006  

New in 7: Text Comparisons

As I think I've mentioned previously, we're planning on releasing a free update to Accordance 7 some time in November/December. As with most of our free updates, version 7.1 will include some major new features in addition to minor enhancements and bug fixes. I took a peek at the list of new features in 7.1 and was amazed that we're merely calling this a point-one update. Like a kid in a candy store, I can't wait to start talking about the new features here on this blog, but since we don't traffic in vaporware, I (and you) will just have to wait a little while longer.

Of course, in my eagerness to talk about as-yet-unveiled features, I'm embarrassed to realize that I have yet to finish describing all the new features in version 7.0! Guess I should finish those first. :-)

The one major new feature in 7 I've neglected to discuss in detail is the Compare Texts feature. This is one of those features which is so easy to use that, on the surface, there's not much to say about it. Yet if you explore all the options associated with this feature, there's so much to deal with that I've admittedly procrastinated getting into it.

So let's look at this feature now. The compare texts feature is designed to help you compare two parallel translations or original language texts by highlighting the differences between them. To do this, you need to go through a very complicated process:

  1. Open the More Options section of the search window.
  2. Click the Compare texts checkbox.

For those who shudder at the thought of two mouse-clicks, you can also control- or right-click on the More Options section of the Search window and then choose Compare Texts from the contextual menu.

Either approach will immediately highlight the differences between the first two panes of the same language in the Search window. Oh and by the way, it does this for the entire Bible (assuming you have the entire Bible displayed) and it does it pretty much instantaneously.

In the following screenshot, you can see that I have a window with four panes displaying the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), the KJV, the tagged Hebrew Bible (BHS-W4), and the tagged Samaritan Pentateuch (SAMAR-T).

As you can see, the differences between the two English Bibles are highlighted, as are the differences between the two Hebrew texts. If we were to add a third English Bible, that pane would not be included in the comparison.

Why don't we compare more than two versions of the same language? Because we didn't merely want to highlight differences between texts; we wanted to help you process the kinds of differences between them.

Look for example at Genesis 2:2. The HCSB reads, "By the seventh day," while the KJV reads "And on the seventh day." At this point, neither translation contains additional text which the other does not, they've merely chosen a different wording. Such differences are highlighted with a cyan strikethrough.

In Genesis 2:3, however, the KJV contains some additional words which the HCSB does not: "And" at the beginning of the verse, "had" before "rested," and "all" before "His work." Such "additions" are highlighted with a blue underline, and the corresponding "omissions" in the HCSB are highlighted with a vertical red bar.

This simple system lets you zero in on the kinds of differences which exist between two texts or translations. We considered allowing comparisons among more than two translations, but when you do that, you have to specify one text as the "base" against which all the other translations are compared. You can show the differences in the other texts, but you can't show "additions" or "omissions" in the base text, because you're not doing a simple one-to-one comparison. Besides, the more texts you try to compare at one time, the more likely you are to get confused. To compare a different translation with the HCSB, all you need do is switch the translation displayed in the second pane. What could be simpler?

Next week, I'll get into all the different options associated with this feature, but before I end this blog post, let's just look for a second at the two Hebrew texts. Most of us are more aware of textual issues in the Greek New Testament than those in the Hebrew Bible, but in Genesis 2:2, we find a fairly well-known textual difference. Where the Masoretic text reads ha sh'biy'iy, "the seventh" day; the Samaritan Pentateuch has ha sheshiy, the "sixth" day. Both essentially mean the same thing, that God finished his work on the sixth day and rested from his work on the seventh; yet the Masoretic wording and the KJV's translation of it could be taken to mean that God did some work on the seventh day. Interestingly, the HCSB gets around this little textual conundrum by saying that God completed his work "By the seventh day."

As I said above, there's a lot more to the compare texts feature, but even at this point, we've seen how a single click can help us find important translation and textual differences, and even help us narrow down what kind of differences they are.

Thanks for giving the thought-process behind why only two texts of the same language can be compared at once. I had wondered about that, but it makes good sense now that you've explained it.

I think other users have asked this question before: What fonts do you use for your text and references?

Does this only work with certain texts? Clicking on "compare texts" does absolutely nothing for me.

Years ago, we changed the format of our Bible modules slightly to support text styling and other features not supported in the earliest versions of Accordance. If you're using a REALLY old Bible module that hasn't been updated, the text comparison feature won't work with that text. You can update your modules by running the installer on the latest version of the Bible Unlock CD-ROM.

Robb, I use Adobe Garamond as my font for text and references.

Thanks, David!

If you're using a REALLY old Bible module that hasn't been updated, the text comparison feature won't work with that text.

How old is old? I'm looking at NRSV 2.7 and KJV 1.5, with "Compare Texts" checked, and I see nothing.

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