Want to impress your professors? Show them that you know how to do original/independent research using the INFER command in Accordance. Discover intertextuality not only between the books of the Bible, but also between the Bible and related literature of the time period.
One of the more challenging tasks a student in biblical studies will face is that of pursuing original research. Easily, we can ask, after 2,000 years of Christian study of the Bible--and even more than that for Jewish study--can anything original truly be found? At one time that question might have been more difficult to answer, but with features like the INFER search in Accordance Bible Software, there continue to be opportunities to make new discoveries.
Let’s start with just the Bible itself. As far back as I can remember, I had access to a Bible with cross references. These references that run parallel with a biblical text indicate where there is a similar theme, quotation, or allusion. This is fairly straightforward and most who have spent any time with any copy of the Scriptures are familiar with cross references. What many do not realize, however, is that most of these kinds of tools were created in a pre-digital age. That means someone had to read through the Bible, and based on his or her knowledge of the entire Bible, wrote down these cross references. Obviously, that is not a perfect system because our brains are not perfect.
Truth be told, though, when we’re discussing the Old and New Testaments, odds are probably against finding allusions or quotations that no one else has seen before. This is where that 2000 years of history works against us. However, the sister of original research is independent research. At the very least, you can use the INFER search to verify not just cross references but also works such as Beale & Carson’s Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. In your paper, to show your instructor your independent research—or your original research if you do happen to make a new discovery—you can write something like “Using the INFER search in Accordance Bible Software, I verified…” [or “…I discovered…”].
So what, exactly, does the INFER search do? The INFER search can be used to find allusions or quotations between two independent bodies of literature. This can be done not just between books of the Bible and the testaments of the Bible, but more importantly, between the Bible and extrabiblical literature. As an example of the latter, a couple of years ago at a conference, a doctoral student approached me with a question about how to use Accordance to find any allusions in the extrabiblical Dead Sea Scrolls to a very particular passage in Leviticus about which he was writing. Since we not only have the Hebrew Bible in Accordance, but also the sectarian DSS, I used the INFER search and found multiple passages for him to explore. In recent years, I’ve heard about students and scholars finding these kinds of parallels that had been previously overlooked back in the era when this had to be done simply with the eye and the limits of one’s recall.
I hope I’ve whetted your appetite about using the INFER search. It’s one of the more powerful searches in Accordance, first introduced in Accordance v. 8, but often overlooked by those who don’t know about it. I’m not going to go into detail here about how to use the INFER search since it’s been covered fairly well elsewhere, but I will provide you a few helpful links.
INFER and SEARCH BACK (Lighting the Lamp Video Podcast #89)
And, of course, don’t forget the Accordance Help System. Really solid instruction for the INFER search can be found in the Help at Biblical Research and Analyses > Search Criteria > Search Commands > [INFER 6 ?]
Final tip for the INFER command: as you follow the steps laid out in the links above, don't forget the very import SEARCH BACK command as your final step.
Don't miss previous installments in our Strategies for Students series!
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.
In describing his workflow, Pastor Levi Durfey mentioned a feature he uses to explore cross-references to a passage. It's a little known feature, and there is another related to it, so I want to go over Scripture links in detail.
Of course, you all know that when you're looking at a series of Scripture links in a tool, you can hover over each one to see it in the Instant Details box, or you can click the link to open the passage in a separate window. But what if you want to see all the cross-references in a separate window? Do you have to click each link in turn? Of course not. This is Accordance!
If you simply hold down the command-key while clicking any Scripture link, every link in the paragraph will automatically be opened in a text window. So if you're looking at a cross-reference tool, command-clicking any of the cross-references will show you all of them. Or if you're looking at a dictionary, command-clicking one reference will show all the references in that paragraph.
Now, what if you want to view more than one link, but not all the links? Say you're looking at an article in BDAG that lists a string of five references as examples of a given usage. You want to see those five references without the noise of all the other references in the paragraph (which may refer to other usages). To do that, simply drag a selection from some point inside the first Scripture link to some point inside the last link you want. Like this:
As long as you start and end your selection inside different links, all the Scripture links inside the selection will be opened in a text window. This is the tip Pastor Durfey mentioned as one of his favorite features.
Learn these two simple tricks—command-clicking a Scripture link and selecting multiple links—and you'll be able to see exactly the verses you want to see.
It's been a while since our last installment of The Pastor's Study, but I'm grateful for some other pastors who have chosen to contribute to this series. This new installment comes from Levi Durfey, Pastor-Teacher of the First Baptist Church of Baker, Montana.
How I Use Accordance in My Sermon Preparation
While I use Accordance’s user notes feature for short notes and quotes, I use iWork Pages for the writing of my sermon notes. This is partly because I like writing in one tool instead of using two and transferring from one to another, and partly because Accordance notes do not support Mac Services (Which I depend on for a very good clipboard utility named PTH Pasteboard and Joe Weak’s Accordance services for copying and pasting verses from Accordance into documents).
So one of the first things I do is create a new Pages document. (If needed, I create a separate document for each chapter of the Bible.) This document is 5.75 inches wide so that it fits nicely beside Accordance. I then paste in the sermon text in English and Greek (using the Accordance services that Joe Weaks made). I use the parsing function in Accordance and print out the parsing for the passage for easy reference.
I also copy the English and Greek texts to another document, which I call my “Observation Worksheet.” There I double-space the text and print it. At the beginning of my study, and continuing throughout the study, I use this sheet to jot down little bits of information, draw connecting lines, mark key words, etc. I find that my mental juices flow more easily at times with good old-fashioned pen and paper.
Cross-Word-Dictionary and the C.I.A.
I work through the text systematically, verse by verse. First, I read the whole passage aloud or silently and jot any new insights onto my Observation Worksheet (I do this after each verse).
Then I precede through the verse systematically, using the phrase, “Cross-Word-Dictionary and the C.I.A.” as my guide. As insights come to me, I write them down in my notes. Here’s my Accordance and Pages layout:
1. CROSS-references: One of my favorite Accordance features is how you can hover your mouse over a list of cross-references. When you do, it turns to a magnifying glass. Then you can click and select some or all the references. When you release the click, all those references open in a separate window. From there you can easily read through all the references without hovering over each one and reading it in the Instant Details box.
In terms of my study, doing cross-references first helps me see the wider Biblical picture first, before I get into the details of the verse. For my sermons, I usually pick only a few: ones that the congregation knows or should know or ones that would make a good Biblical illustration.
2. WORD studies: This step actually includes several parts. I work through the Greek, using the parsing sheet that I printed earlier. I look for any grammatical insights and connections.
Then I may look up some of the words in a lexicon. For in-depth study, I have a separate “Greek Lexicons” workspace with all my main lexicons opened in separate tabs. All I have to do is select the word, click on the “Favorites” icon and select the “Greek Lexicons” and it opens my lexicons to the appropriate word.
I often do a word search on the word to see how it is used elsewhere (right click on the word and select “Search For”). I have a tab named “Greek Search” set on recycle so it is used for every Greek search I make. Accordance allows me to open a parallel English text alongside the search results in Greek, so it isn’t a hassle to quickly scan my search results.
This is also the step where I compare translations (for which I have a separate tab in Accordance) to see what other translators did with the word definitions and grammar in the verse.
3. Bible DICTIONARY: Is there an obvious topic or a cultural question? I try to make my first stop a Bible dictionary rather than a commentary. I have the IVP Dictionaries in Accordance as well as the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. I’ve put these into a group called “Dictionaries,” so all I have to do is click the search icon on the Resource Toolbar to search all my dictionaries. It's nice that I don't have to wade through the whole article of each search hit in each dictionary, as the Search All window will just show the relevant parts of the articles where a hit was found.
Next I move on to the C.I.A.
4. Commentaries: I have separate tabs for the commentaries in Accordance. I don’t want to see them too early in my study, so I don’t keep them visible. I try not to just copy and paste. I read, and then try to put whatever interested me (or answered a question) into my own words.
5. Illustrate: It’s miserable to get done with your sermon study and then have to find illustrations. If the week was too busy, you end up skipping them. So I try to illustrate as I go. I am not trying to find a neat story to entertain people, I want to illustrate the points and principles that I am finding in the text.
6. Apply: What are the implications for us? Again, I don’t want to be left on Saturday trying to figure out applications, so I make it a point to try and find them as I go through the text.
After I work through a verse, I go back to my Observation Worksheet and read the text again to keep sight of the forest and start the process over with the next verse.
Another step, after I’ve worked through the passage completely and if I have the time, is to use FoxTrot Personal Search to search my past sermons and other articles and sermons that I’ve collected.
I will Search [All Tools] in Accordance. I love how I can search for a range, like Romans 9:19-24, and Accordance will pick up single references like 9:20 and 9:21, or even phrases like “verse twenty-two.”
As a final step, I refine the notes and shape them into sermon form. I copy information that I don’t need to the end of the document. I usually put Pages into full-screen mode for this, as I like being able to focus on just the sermon.
One inspirational quote that I keep before me is this (I’ve lost the reference):
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a gifted expositor who saw preaching not as “preaching a sermon for each service, but simply [as] continuing where he was in the ongoing exposition of a book of the Bible.”
That’s what I want to do. Accordance, because of its speed, its tool set, and its ability to help me focus on the Bible, is an integral part of my own ongoing exposition of the Bible.