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:
- Open the More Options section of the search window.
- 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.
We're Not Ignoring You . . . Really!
I regret to inform you all that our mail server has been down since early Wednesday morning and we have been unable to receive e-mail. Modwest is working to correct the problem, and hopefully it will be fixed by the time many of you read this. If you've tried to contact us by e-mail and are wondering why we haven't responded yet, it's because we have yet to receive your message. After the server is back up, we should receive all the delayed messages and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. If you can't wait, you can always contact us by phone. Sorry for the inconvenience!
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?) ;-)
Just Can't Keep Up Any More
OakTree Software exhibits at the conferences of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Society of Biblical Literature every November, and with the exception of 1996 (when my second son was being born), I've worked every one of these shows since 1995. Though it typically means a tiring week away from my family, I nevertheless look forward to these shows. That's because there's nothing to keep you motivated like seeing people's eyes sparkle and their jaws drop when you show them just a few of the things Accordance can do.
My favorite kinds of demos are the ones where someone comes up and says, "I want to do this kind of original language search that I can't figure out how to do with product X or Y. Can you guys do it?" Then it's a challenge both to vindicate Accordance and to stretch my seminary-level Greek and Hebrew far enough to understand what in the world this person is wanting to do.
For some time now, we've been producing resources which go way beyond seminary-level Greek and Hebrew. Qumran scrolls, the Mishna, Hebrew and Northwest Semitic Inscriptions, the Apostolic Fathers, Apocryphal Gospels, Pseudepigrapha, Codex Beza, etc. People come to our booth excited about these resources that I personally know very little about. I'm conversant enough with Greek and Hebrew to avoid looking like a complete idiot, but if they ask me any in depth questions about these resources, I have to defer to others with more expertise.
At last year's SBL, I remember pausing for a second and looking around at all of those working the booth. Two spoke fluent Hebrew, one had done post-graduate work in Qumran literature, one was working on his doctorate in Hebrew, one was a Greek professor, and, with the exception of the sales manager, every one of us could read Greek and Hebrew. It hit me at that moment just how much Accordance has branched out into specialized areas of Biblical scholarship, many of which I know very little about. I realized that I just can't keep up any more with everything we're doing.
Last night, I got my first glimpse of a new project which should be released at this coming SBL: our first ancient text in a language other than Greek or Hebrew. Now, not only are there Accordance resources I know very little about; there will soon be an Accordance text which I can't even read! When it comes to that resource, I won't even be able to fake my way through an SBL demo.
Ah well, I guess a little humility never hurt anybody! ;-)
Searching for Crasis
The other day, a user asked the following question on the Accordance forums:
I am trying out the Greek tags in GNT-T and I have entered egw@ [PRONOUN personal first singular nominative] using the ENTER TAG > PRONOUN option.
I get 423 hits which include kagw
How do I find all the instances of egw without kagw?
Ka’go is an instance of what Greek grammarians refer to as crasis and what English speakers typically think of as a "contraction." Just as we shorten "do not" into "don't" and "it is" into "it's" (not to be confused with "its"!), the Greek New Testament often contracts kai ego into ka’go. In the GNT-T, every occurrence of "crasis" is tagged with the lexical forms of both words which form the contraction. In other words, ka’go is tagged with the lexical forms kai and ego and will be found whenever you do a search for either one of those lexical forms.
But what if you want to exclude instances of crasis from a search? The user who asked this question originally tried to use the NOT command with the lexical form kai. The trouble is, that excludes any occurrence of ego which appears anywhere within the same verse as kai. The user eventually figured out that he could use a combination of the commands NOT, PRECEDED BY , and WITHIN 1 Words to filter out only those occurrences where kai immediately precedes ego, but even that doesn't quite do the job. You see, that search will also exclude any instances of kai ego which are not contracted into ka’go.
Fortunately, there is a special "crasis" tag which can be used to find or exclude instances of crasis in the GNT. Simply type the word "crasis" in quotation marks and join it to the word you're searching for using the at (@) symbol, like this:
This search finds all occurrences of ego when it is tagged as a nominative first person singular and when it is not (note the minus sign after the @) an instance of crasis. Admittedly, the "crasis" tag looks kind of funny in Greek letters, but the point is, it works!
You can, of course, remove the minus sign to find ego when it is contracted with another word. You can also just search for the "crasis" tag by itself to find all occurrences of crasis regardless of which words are contracted.
Pretty cool, huh?
Some time ago, I told you about cocktail trivia, useless bits of information which come in handy when trying to impress people at social functions. At the time, I mentioned that one of my favorite bits of cocktail trivia is the word "triskadekaphobia," the fear of the number 13.
Well, if you've ever wanted to use that word, today is your day to do it. It's Friday, October 13—a day when triskadekophobia reaches epidemic proportions. In honor of the day, and perhaps to prove that I do not have an unreasoning fear of the number 13, here are some triskadekaphilic things you can do in Accordance.
Let's start by searching for all the thirteen-letter words in the Bible. To do that, simply enter 13 question marks (?) into the search entry box and click OK. The question mark is a character wildcard. That is, it represents one character of any kind. So entering 13 question marks will find every word with exactly 13 letters. In the HCSB, this search turns up 142 different forms. To see them all listed, click the Details button and then look at the Analysis tab. Some scary 13-letter English words are "controversies," "extermination," "transgressors," "imprisonments," "self-condemned," and "untrustworthy." What might Dan Brown make of that? If we do our search in the Greek New Testament, we get words like agenealogetos, "without genealogy," anexichniastos, "untraceable, inscrutable," antagonizomai, "to struggle against," katadynasteuo, "to oppress," and pseudomarturia, "false testimony." I can almost hear Dan feverishly starting to type!
I keep mentioning Dan Brown because The Da Vinci Code famously reminded us that the superstition surrounding Friday the 13th can be traced back to the coordinated "extermination" of the Knights Templar on Friday, October 13th, 1307. We can find out more about that by doing a search for oct* <WITHIN 2 Words> 13 in all of our Tools.
To do this, open a new Search All window from the File menu or by using the keyboard shortcut command-F. Make sure the Language pop-up menu is set to English, select [All Tools] from the Group pop-up menu, and then enter the search just mentioned. Here are a few of the tidbits that search turned up for me:
In Philip Schaff's eight-volume History of the Christian Church, I was able to read all about the destruction of the Templars. In The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) I learned that Nero began to reign on October 13, 54 (don't know if it was a Friday). Smith's Bible Dictionary attests that this is also the date that Nero's mother poisoned her husband Claudius. (Coincidence? I think not!) The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament tells us that the city of Babylon submitted to Persian rule on October 13, 539 B.C.
Hmmm, Nero, the Knights Templar, the Fall of Babylon—maybe we should be a little afraid of this day!
But the news isn't all bad. In The Life and Diary of David Brainerd included in the new Edwards module, we read that on October 13, an ill Mr. Brainerd "found divine help and consolation in the precious duties of secret prayer and self-examination, and [his] soul took delight in the blessed God." In Streams in the Desert, the devotion for this day reminds us not to be "anxious," and in Spurgeon's Morning and Evening, we are reminded on this day that "love is as strong as death.
If you're feeling triskadekaphobic this Friday the 13th, be sure to face your fears by doing a few searches in Accordance. ;-)
A User Talks About the Dallas Training Seminar
Robb Brunansky is a pastor in Wichita, Kansas and an enthusiastic Accordance user. He traveled quite a way to attend the recent training seminar at Dallas Theological Seminary, so I asked him to share his experiences and his thoughts on whether or not it was worth the trip.
This past weekend I had the privilege of attending an Accordance training seminar. I live in Wichita, KS, and the seminar was at Dallas Theological Seminary. I traveled over 700 miles round trip and spent money to stay in a hotel room the night before just to be able to attend this eight-hour session. Was the training seminar worth that much time and money? Without hesitation, it was.
One of the best aspects of being at an Accordance training seminar is being able to get questions answered instantly on virtually anything related to Accordance by the people who design the software. Imagine having a question about a feature in OS X. What if you were able to get an answer from Steve Jobs as he stood at your computer and showed you how to use the system? At the training seminar the people who write the software are there to look at your Mac, see what you are doing, and immediately answer your question. And they don't merely tell you how to do a given task; they show you how to do it on your own Mac. Usually not only do they answer your burning question, they open up new worlds you never knew existed in Accordance. That kind of help is priceless for the serious student of the Bible.
At the particular session I attended, Dr. Roy Brown was the instructor. It was incredible to see the different types of searches that can be constructed in Accordance. How would a person go about finding all geminate verbs in the Hebrew text (verbs where the last two consonants are the same)? By using a simple wild card search. How do you add your own custom people and events to the timeline and have them display by default with all the standard timeline items? That question is too complex to answer in a review, but it's pretty simple when Dr. Brown is there to show you the answer! When would you use the options All Text, Articles, and Paragraphs in the tool window? Sure, you could read the manual to see what those settings mean, but watching those settings as they are applied to different tools and searches will give you a better understanding and appreciation for them. Have you ever wanted to add dividing lines to your search ranges to separate, for example, the Old Testament books from the New? There is no "add divider" feature in the Define Ranges dialog box, but there is a way to do it. The training seminar can show you how.
There are many other benefits to attending a training session, such as seeing modules you don't own being demoed, being able to pick up a new CD-ROM, or upgrading a CD-ROM without having to pay shipping costs. The one drawback to a general seminar is that everyone in attendance has different questions and different needs. Some aspects might seem a little basic for some users, while other aspects might be too advanced for another group of users. Some might want more Greek or Hebrew searches, while others might feel like they saw more than enough Greek and Hebrew to last them a lifetime. But whatever level you're at, you'll leave the seminar with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for Accordance. And I think you'll find it worth your time, even if you have to drive over 700 miles to attend.
I want to thank Robb for taking the time to tell us how it went. We're going to continue offering these seminars at different locations around the country, as well as in the UK, in the coming months. You can find out more about them here. I hope many of you will be able to take advantage of them.
Joe Knows Keystrokes
I'm afraid I'm not much of an automation guru. I've played with Automator a bit, and I tried QuickKeys briefly way back in my Classic Mac OS days, but I'm strictly a rank amateur. Not so Joe Weaks of the Macintosh Biblioblog. Joe is an expert Accordance user and an inveterate tinkerer. He's tried out various methods of automation, applied them to Accordance, and shared the results with other Accordance users.
Joe recently posted a set of automated actions for use with the QuickSilver launcher and automation utility. If you want to speed up aspects of your Accordance workflow and improve the integration of Accordance with other applications, be sure to give Joe's QuickSilver actions a try.
For more on using QuickSilver with Accordance, see this discussion on the Accordance User Forums.
I hope this is helpful to some of you. If it is, be sure to send Joe a word of thanks.
The Two Keys You Absolutely Must Use
On this blog and in the Accordance training seminars, I talk repeatedly about the one keyboard shortcut you absolutely must learn. For those of you who have missed it, that shortcut is command-T, which lets you change the display options for nearly every Accordance window. Get in the habit of using command-T, and you'll discover a world of features and options you may never have known were there.
Today, I want to talk about two keys (not key combinations) which are fairly obvious, but which you may not always think to use. These two keys, which I am hereby dubbing the two keys you absolutely must use, are the Tab and Return keys.
If you think about it, you already know what these keys do in other programs. The Tab key is used to cycle between text fields in a dialog box, web-form, and database record. That way you don't have to click on each field with the mouse before continuing to type your information. The Return key (or Enter key) is used to initiate some kind of action. In a dialog box, you'll usually get a Cancel and/or OK button, and one of those buttons will be active and pulsing by default. Hitting the return key is equivalent to clicking that pulsing button. Or think of a web form. How many of us actually go to Google, enter a search, and then click the button labeled "Google Search"? (Did you even know that button was there?) Most of us just type our search and then hit return, and Google performs the search.
Now that I've taken all this time explaining how to use two keys you probably use every day, you'll be happy to know that they do the exact same thing in Accordance.
Hitting the tab key on the keyboard will select the contents of each entry field in an Accordance window: namely, the search entry box and the Go To box. If you want to enter a search in an Accordance Search, Tool, or other window, just hit the tab key once. The entire contents of the search entry box will then be highlighted, so you need only start typing your new search. (In other words, you don't have to delete the previous search.) If you want to enter a verse in the Go To Box, hit the tab key twice and then type away.
Hitting the return key is equivalent to clicking the pulsing OK button. If you enter a search in the top of an Accordance window, the OK button beside that entry field will start to pulse to indicate that a new search has been entered but not yet performed. Hitting return will perform the search and dim the OK button. If you enter a verse in the Go To Box, that OK button will start to pulse, so hitting return will take you to the verse you entered.
I know, as Accordance tips go, I've now descended to the level of explaining the obvious. But if you're like me, the obvious is something you occasionally miss. If you're not habitually hitting tab and return in Accordance, I want you to be aware of the the two keys you absolutely must use. :-)
Verse Search vs. Go To Box
Yesterday I reiterated a previous post recommending the use of the Go To Box to get to the verse you want, rather than doing a verse search for a particular set of verses. A user left a comment saying that he had tried entering Luke 1:1-3 in the Go To Box and had gotten an error message. He then said something about Accordance not letting him "search" for more than one verse. Let me therefore clarify the relationship between the search entry box at the top of the Search window and the Go To Box at the bottom right.
The search entry box at the top of the window is where you specify the words or verses you wish to "find." If the Search for radio button is set to verses, the Search window will only display those verses which you enter at the top of the window. If you enter Luke 1:1-3 and click OK, the text display pane at the bottom of the window will only display those three verses and nothing else. If you enter an asterisk and click OK, the text display pane will show the entire text of the Bible from beginning to end.
The Go To Box at the bottom of the window is a navigation tool. It lets you quickly jump to any verse which is currently displayed in the text pane. If you've done a search at the top of the window for Luke 1:1-3, and you then enter Romans in the Go To Box, Accordance can't jump to Romans because Romans is not currently displayed in the window. All it can do is scroll to the verse which is nearest to Romans, which in this case would be Luke 1:3. This is why I recommend leaving the verse search set to the asterisk and then using the Go To Box to get around. By keeping the entire text of the Bible displayed in the window, you'll always be able to navigate to any verse by entering it in the Go To Box.
Because the Go To Box is a navigation tool rather than a means of doing a "search," it can only accept a single verse. The user who entered Luke 1:1-3 in the Go To Box unwittingly told Accordance to scroll to three verses at the same time, so Accordance returned an error message. If he had just entered Luke 1:1, Accordance would have jumped to that verse, and he would have seen verses 2 and 3 as well.
I've probably written way too much to clear up a minor misunderstanding, so let me see if I can encapsulate the distinction I am trying to make:
Verse Search: Entered at the top of the window. Accepts any range of verses. Changes what verses are displayed in the window.
Go To Box: Entered at the bottom of the window. Accepts only one verse (though you can simply enter a book or chapter to go to the first verse of that book or chapter). Does not change what verses are displayed in the window; Simply scrolls to the verse which has been entered.
Where's the Back Button?
At Saturday's training seminar here in Orlando, one of the attendees asked if there was a "back button" that would let you go back to previous passages you've looked at or previous searches you've done. A similar question was raised last night on the Accordance User Forums. I'm not sure, but maybe this is something I ought to talk about here! ;-)
When you're working in a Tool and you follow an internal hypertext link or click on an article title in the browser, you do get a button that will take you back to the place you just came from. At such times, a left-facing arrow labeled Prior will appear to the left of the Go To Box in the bottom right corner of the window. If you click the Prior button to go back a step, a right facing arrow labeled Next will appear. These buttons operate just like the Forward and Back buttons in a web browser.
These buttons do not appear in the Search window, however. When you're dealing with the Bible, how do you get back to a passage you were just looking at?
Well, there's always the History pop-up just above the OK button. If you want to go back to a previous search, just select that search from the History pop-up. The History even remembers whether a search was done in Verse or Word Search mode, so all you need to do is to click OK to perform the search again.
While the History pop-up is quick and convenient, it's not much help when you want to get back to a specific passage you were just looking at. For example, let's say you're in a Bible study and the main passage is Genesis 22. At one point, the Bible study leader references Hebrews 11, and then later returns to Genesis 22. How do you quickly move from one passage to another?
I dealt with this question in a previous blog entry entitled Getting to the Verse You Want. Basically, I suggested that rather than entering Genesis 22 in the search entry box at the top of the window, in which case the window only shows Genesis 22, you leave the search argument set to the asterisk (*). The asterisk means that you want every verse of the Bible to be displayed in the window, which is more convenient when you need to move quickly between passages. I then suggested that you use the Go To Box at the bottom right of the window to quickly jump to each passage.
That's helpful, but it's still not as convenient as a Back button. So here's a little known feature of Accordance you can use: the Bookmark. If you hold down the option key and drag the cursor over a verse in a Bible window, you'll notice the cursor changes from an arrow to a bookmark. Click on a verse and you'll see a blue bookmark appear beside that verse. You'll also notice two new text access buttons in the bottom left corner of the window labeled Mark.
Let's go back to our hypothetical Bible study on Genesis 22. You leave the search set to the asterisk and then enter "Gen 22" in the Go To Box. When the Bible study leader tells you to "turn to Hebrew 11," you option-click Genesis 22:1 to bookmark it, then enter "Heb 11" in the Go To Box. When you're done looking at Hebrews 11 and ready to return to Genesis 22, you just click the up Mark arrow to jump back there in one easy step. If you think you might come back to Hebrews 11, you might want to bookmark it before leaving.
One thing to be aware of with bookmarks: They will only remain until you do a new search in the window. As long as you leave the search set to the asterisk, your bookmarks will remain and you'll be able to navigate quickly to any bookmarked passage. But if you change the search argument and click OK, your bookmarks will disappear.
So what if your Bible study leader starts talking about the word "tested" in Genesis 22:1 and references other passages which talk about testing? You might be tempted to do a search for "test*" (without the quotes) to find every verse which has the words "test," "tested," "testing," etc. But if you do that in the current search window, you'll lose your bookmarks. The thing to do at a time like this is to duplicate the window or tab you're looking at by using the keyboard shortcut command-D. Now you've got a second search window with the same search argument and parallel panes as your first search window. Now just click the Search for words radio button and do your word search. If you need to go back to any of your previously bookmarked passages, all you need to do is switch back to your first search window.
By the way, if you're using the tabbed Workspace, you can cycle back and forth between your two Search window tabs using control-tab and shift-control-tab. If you're not using the tabbed Workspace, use option-tab and shift-option-tab to cycle between your two Search windows.
I hope this is helpful for some of you.