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

Thursday, July 05, 2007  

Teaching with Accordance

I have a confession to make. I was never much for doing my homework. I always did pretty well in classes which let me just show up, take the tests, and write the papers; but in those classes which gave you "free points" for turning in tedious busy work, I always seemed to struggle. These days, I'm no longer taking classes, but I am leading a couple of Bible studies, and I'm afraid I still don't do all the homework I should before showing up for class.

The one saving grace is that I use Accordance in teaching, so I often look like I've spent many hours doing research. Here are a few of the strategies I use in teaching with Accordance.

First, I'll set up a search window in Verse Mode with an asterisk entered in the argument entry box. This means that the entire text of the Bible is displayed. I'll then enter the passage I'll be teaching from into the Go To Box at the bottom right corner of the window. This automatically scrolls the text to that passage, but enables me to quickly scroll to any other part of the Bible if I suddenly need to look up other passages. For more on this strategy, see the blog entry Getting to the Verse You Want.

Depending on the passage and whether or not I feel the need to talk about the original text, I may open a parallel pane containing the Hebrew Bible or the Greek New Testament. That way, I can easily see the Greek or Hebrew words behind the English, and, with the help of the Instant Details Box, parse them on the fly. Even if I didn't intend to get into the original text, if the class discussion demands it, it is a simple matter to add a pane containing the Greek or Hebrew and find the answer I need.

By the way, I only discuss the Greek and Hebrew text in a Sunday School class or Bible Study when I feel I absolutely have to. The last thing I want to do is give the impression that I have access to some secret knowledge that the other members of the class can't get with a good English translation. But when difficult questions arise and the original text needs to be examined, I think it is helpful for them to see me work through the text for purposes of exegesis. With Accordance, I can do that quickly and easily without getting bogged down or dragging the class to a screeching halt.

Another strategy I'll use is to open a commentary in a parallel reference pane. Again, I usually only do this when a question arises which I can't answer with confidence. Turning to a good commentary at those points can usually help me find a satisfactory answer without just speculating wildly.

When I do prepare notes ahead of time, I'll either place them in a User Notes file (if I'm teaching through a passage) or I'll create a User Tool containing my class outline and main points. I'll then display the User Notes in a parallel pane beside the text, or I'll keep a tab open with my User Tool. Either way, I can quickly consult my notes if I get stuck.

So far, I've basically just suggested that you view the text in Accordance and use parallel panes to keep the original text, commentaries, and notes readily available. I'll talk about some other strategies in upcoming posts. The main thing I hope you can see at this point is that Accordance is useful for getting quick answers and additional information on the fly. No matter how much or little you do your homework in preparation to teach, if you allow any kind of class discussion, you can bet that at some point the conversation will go in a direction you didn't anticipate. At those times, Accordance can enable you to "fly by the seat of your pants" and look good doing it.

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