[Editor’s Note: We just welcomed David to our marketing team, and asked him to plunge right in with a blog post as a newbie.]
Today I installed Accordance 11 Essential Collection, and the complete Cornerstone Biblical Commentary by Philip W. Comfort, General Editor (Tyndale House Publishers). This acclaimed 20-volume set, based on the New Living Translation, retails in print for $666.80, but is available from Accordance Bible Software for only $199 (introductory price, regularly $399).
As a brand-new Accordance user, I decided to see what Cornerstone has to say about Scripture passages featuring Jewish women in three very different conditions: esteemed, scandalized, and abhorred.
First, George M. Schwab (Ph.D., Westminster Theological Seminary) writes about the esteemed (virtuous) woman, who is misunderstood by many contemporary Bible readers. After the full text of Proverbs 31:10-31, Schwab presents 45 detailed Notes. Each Note addresses a specific word or phrase in this famous passage, which I already had studied at length, but now understand in important new ways.
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Best of all? Schwab’s Commentary. It is not enough to know a plethora of fascinating facts. Schwab offers substantive meaning to each aspect of this acrostic poem, including its different placement within the Septuagint and Masoretic manuscript traditions. This latter discussion finally answers two burning questions I have had for years. This within 20 minutes of downloading. Amazing!
Second, Grant Osborne (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) writes about the scandalized (adulterous) woman, who is dragged before Jesus as he teaches in the Temple early one morning. After the full text of John 7:55 – John 8:11, Osborne presents a single very detailed and lengthy Note about this excursus. It is not enough to know that most ancient Greek manuscripts do not include this riveting narrative. Osborne lays out the evidence and convincingly offers two important conclusions.
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In his Commentary, Osborne begins by asking and answering the pressing question: How does one teach or preach on a text that very well may be true, but almost certainly is not canonical? He then unpacks the narrative’s setting, context, and timing (the woman probably was detained overnight, which only intensifies her plight).
Osborne goes on to analyze the motives and misstatements of her accusers, describes what Jesus does and suggests why he does so, and summarizes a range of scholarly theories about what he writes in the dust. Osborne concludes by unpacking what Jesus means (and does not mean) when he speaks to the woman herself in this passage’s last two verses.
Third, Allison A. Trites (D. Phil., Oxford University) writes about the abhorred (deformed) woman, who was perpetually doubled over, suffering excruciating pain for 18 years. After the full text for Luke 13:10-17, Trites presents three detailed Notes. Each Note helps the reader see this particular passage within the broader scope of the four gospels.
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Then Trites offers his Commentary. The first and larger paragraph sheds light on the five distinct features of this narrative, which appears only in Luke’s gospel. By the end, I could almost see Jesus touching the poor woman’s back, healing her, bringing her to an upright position, and honoring her before all who were present. If I had not been inspired and deeply moved by this biblical passage before, I certainly am now.
So far, I have read what this 20-volume set says about only 40 of the 31,180 verses from Genesis to Revelation in the NLT. Then again, I am hooked and plan to use it frequently from here on out. My writing, teaching, and preaching will never be the same.
Again, the complete 20-volume Cornerstone Biblical Commentary retails in print for $666.80, but is available from Accordance for only $399.
Cornerstone Biblical Commentary (20 Volumes)
List Price $667; Regular Price $399
You’ve probably heard the universal maxim of the “three rules” of real estate: “location, location, location.” Similarly, it could be argued that three crucial rules of Biblical interpretation are “context, context, context.”
One of the very first things a good English teacher will teach you is to find the author’s intent in literature. Whether it’s Lord of the Flies, Dr. Seuss, or the Bible, we should be asking ourselves, “What is the author trying to say here?”
It seems that the overall “feel” of our post-modern culture has reduced the importance of context and hermenuetics in favor of an “I think, I feel” style of interpretation. “I feel that this passage is ______, I think this could be applied ______.” To suggest that there is an objective meaning to a passage can even offend some people!
If we believe these writings — and their authors — have a sacred quality to them, we dare not ignore the important contextual surroundings that help us to grasp what the author is trying to convey to us. Understanding the vantage point from which he writes is almost as crucial as understanding the nature of the text itself.
Romans, for example, is a letter, in which Paul builds an argument brick-by-brick. He spends the first half discussing the bad news of the human condition, and suddenly erupts with exuberant hope and good news in chapter eight. If you stopped reading at chapter seven, you would think the book is fatalistic and depressing. If you only read chapters eight to sixteen, you’d be confused as to why this news would even be “good” at all.
Song of Songs is a poem, Proverbs relies on the reader having some common sense, and James is addressing a moral problem in Jerusalem.
We see the symptoms of this cultural context ignorance in the typical anti-theistic activist or “vocal” skeptic, who points to laws in Leviticus and cries foul that we’re not still slaughtering bulls and goats. Thinking they’ve dismantled the Bible’s credibility as a whole, what they’ve really done is demonstrated sloppy scholarship and lack of attention to… yes, you guessed it, context.
Beyond just demonstrating the ancient Israelite context of ceremonial laws or the allegorical nature of Revelation, Accordance can help you go deeper — way deeper, and glean incalculable riches from the Word.
What makes the Bible both a unique and challenging study experience is its broad range of historical, social, cultural, and religious contexts. It can often be overwhelming, even to the scholar. Some things may be confusing or downright contradictory. In our tough stuff sale, we want to encourage you to study divergent opinions on difficult texts and interpretations. These will help you to “solve” some of those passage predicaments.
Dr. J has just recorded an excellent podcast which demonstrates how and why to study a passage in context:
It’s enough to make the heart of the dedicated scholar or pastor burst for joy. But, er, don’t take me out of context there.
We at Accordance believe that our software is so much more than just a tool to study the Bible. It's a means of community and creativity. We've created Workspace Wednesday because we want to give you a chance to show us your creative workflow in Accordance.
Watch the video to find out how you can participate:
Join us on social media to post your workspace:
How it works:
- Take a screenshot of your workspace
- Post the screenshot to the comments section of our Workspace Wednesday post every Wednesday
- Hashtag the post with #work_wed
- Eagerly await sweet victory
How to take a screenshot of your desktop:
Mac users: the keyboard shortcut ⌘Cmd+Shift+3 will take a screenshot of your screen and place the image file on your desktop. If done correctly, you should hear the sound of a camera taking a snapshot.
Windows users: the keyboard shortcut ⌘Win+PrntScrn will take a screenshot of your screen and automatically save it in the Screenshots folder within your pictures folder.
For more information on how to take screenshots with earlier versions of Windows, follow this link.
May the best workspace win!
My first experience with Accordance was as philosophically enlightening as it was informative.
As a new employee with Accordance, I had the opportunity to join the team in Atlanta for a training seminar of the application. In other words, they let loose a fire hose of information on me — in a good way.
The first thing that I noticed upon walking into the classroom was the wide spectrum of attenders. I saw women and men, pastors and scholars, plaid-donning seminary students with gauged earrings and some “seasoned” enough to be my grandparents — it was a full house. Well, I thought to myself, I suppose Accordance is for everyone.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise because the Scriptures are for everyone, and making the Word of God accessible and applicable to all is what Accordance does best. Mark, our teacher, was approachable yet intimidatingly knowledgeable, both in Bible study and Accordance use. He spared us not a moment as we got right down to the nitty gritty of Accordance use.
As we plowed down into the search commands, the keyboard shortcuts, and the modules, I began to understand the point of the application. A wise businessman once said that technology is best when you forget you’re using it. Meaning, a tool reaches the fullest realization of its purpose when it's not an obstruction to achieving a goal, but the unconscious means to do so.
Accordance does just that. It’s not meant to be a piece of showmanship--an app for app’s sake (though it is pretty)--it’s meant to be a lens by which the pastor, scholar, or layperson can gaze through to further experience the unfathomable fruits of the Bible. That’s what’s important to the users and that’s what’s important to Accordance.
As the day pressed on, we drilled down deeper and deeper into the immense power of the program. The amount of available texts and tools was staggering. I’m sure I had the geekiest grin on my face while watching Paul’s missionary journey animated on a 3D map in Atlas view, and by the time we got to the User Tools and Notes, my mind was reeling at the customization potential.
Though the theological portion of my brain was firing off synapses of nerdiness like nobody’s business, what really caught my attention was the underlying, vibrant passion of the developers.
When you read a historical literary work, any good English teacher will tell you the key to success is to understand the “author’s intent.” Well, as the day’s eight-hour training session waned to a close, I began to see the developers' intent in creating Accordance--put simply, a love for the Word of God and a desire to see others infected with the same passion.
On my lunch break, my fiancée back in my hometown of Orlando shot me a text to check up on me. I responded, rather cryptically (as is my tendency): “I think Accordance is going to help my walk.”
Is it odd to say that a computer application will make me a better student of the Scriptures? Maybe, but it’s absolutely true.
Every so often there are those individuals who are so enamored with the Bible that they embark on a journey to unearth its meaning and message in fresh new ways for the church as a whole. This describes Timothy and Jerry Clontz, the editors of The Comprehensive New Testament, who spent over a decade translating the New Testament and mapping out 40,000 cross references from the Bible to a vast array of secondary literature.
The stated goal of the editors in their Cross Reference Index is summarized as follows:
To better understand how the New Testament answers questions for us today, it is helpful to see how the New Testament answered questions in its ancient setting. That ancient world still exists in whole libraries of documents which are cross referenced in an extensive index. The cross references are arranged by topic, passage, and verse. The cross reference index is designed to be used with the topical reference index to facilitate locating references for common New Testament topics. The cross reference index includes over 40,000 references for:
Old and New Testaments
Old Testament Apocrypha
Apostolic and Patristic Writings
Dead Sea Scrolls
Epic of Gilgamesh
Golden Verses of Pythagoras
Nag Hammadi Library
New Testament Apocrypha
The Egyptian Book of the Dead
Works of Josephus
Works of Philo
Works of Plato
The Accordance edition is interlinked with all texts currently available in our Library, and contains separate modules that index the cross references from the Bible to secondary literature. In addition we created separate modules that go from Josephus, Philo, Apostolic Fathers, and Qumran to the Bible and other works. Finally, we have the English translation and Notes.
If you're interested in understanding the Bible in its broader context, then the Comprehensive Crossreferences modules are a must have — and a steal at only $49.99.
For a closer look at these modules in action, check out this short screencast and see why this release was an instant favorite for scholars and pastors alike at the recent ETS/SBL meetings.