When I took my Greek and Hebrew courses at seminary in the nineties, I went through lots of paper. I kept a notebook for the exercises at the end of every chapter, and I also painstakingly worked out my translations by hand in the more advanced classes. I believe I still have all that work packed away in a box somewhere. It’s too bad I can’t easily access it for review whenever I want.
Of course, people have different ways of studying. I certainly don’t discount the value of being disciplined to write things out by hand, especially practice writing Hebrew and Greek characters. Having said that, however, I am also glad that I have other options because of the power of Accordance.
One of the new features in Accordance 11 is the ability to take notes anywhere. Perhaps you’ve already enjoyed the freedom of adding your own notes to commentaries or theologies in addition to the biblical text. Have you ever thought about how this can be applied in Greek and Hebrew grammars?
There are actually two benefits for using biblical language grammars in Accordance. Some of printed grammars that still sit on my shelf are filled with my notes in the margins that came from the insights of my instructors. And yet margins are ultimately limited. Some of my notes went into notebooks, but that actually put these comments in two separate places. In Accordance you can take notes anywhere; so if your instructor is elaborating on a specific point in the grammar, you can click on the little pencil icon to the right of the text in Accordance and add your instructor’s comments or your own reflections.
More importantly, you can answer the exercises that are at the end of chapters in most grammars. Again, click on the pencil icon to the right of the text and add your answers to the questions and problems in the excercises. You can add your answers to the header above the entire exercise or each numbered exercise individually—whichever way works best for you.
And here’s a tip: copy the question or the text to be translated into your notes and add your answers underneath. This will be especially helpful if you need to export your work out of Accordance to turn in for a homework assignment.
This ability to add your own content to grammars currently works in Accordance 11 on Windows and Macintosh; it will eventually be added to Accordance Mobile. In the meantime, if you want to go with the tablet experience, consider using a Windows tablet that offers the best of both worlds (see our post with tips for using Accordance on Windows tablets for ideas on how to make this experience even better).
In preparing for a Sunday School class, I was reading the account in Genesis 3 of God's interrogation and sentencing of Adam, Eve, and the serpent. I've read this passage many times before and am pretty familiar with it, but the English translation I was reading helped me notice something new. After Adam lays the blame for his sin on Eve ("the woman") and even on God ("You gave to be with me"), Eve likewise blames her sin on the serpent. However, most translations render Eve's confession as a simple statement of fact: "The serpent deceived me and I ate." Thus, while Adam comes across like a cornered child defensively casting about for a scapegoat, Eve seems more calm and up front about her sin. That is, until you read the HCSB's rendering: "It was the serpent. He deceived me, and I ate." It's not a huge difference, but by splitting Eve's statement into two sentences, the first of which simply points the finger at the serpent, the HCSB makes Eve's response sound closer in tone to that of Adam.
Because I was so used to the typical rendering of this verse, the HCSB's rendering caught me by surprise and led me to ask, "Is that really what the Hebrew says?"
By the way, this is why it is always helpful to use a variety of translations when studying a familiar passage. When a translation departs from what you're used to, it can expose you to nuances in the text you may have missed before. At the very least, it may prompt you to dig deeper.
For me, digging deeper meant opening the Hebrew text in a parallel pane and examining Eve's response. Cross-highlighting between my English Bible with Strong's Numbers and the tagged Hebrew made identifying the corresponding Hebrew words incredibly easy.
The Hebrew simply has the noun "the serpent" followed by the verb "deceived" with the direct object "me", which would seem to justify the typical translation of "The serpent deceived me." How then, I wondered, could the HCSB justify rendering this simple sentence as two sentences? Were the translators taking liberties with the text?
Then I remembered that in Hebrew, the subject typically follows the verb. In cases like this, where the subject comes before the verb, the subject is generally being emphasized in some way. So the HCSB is not taking liberties with the text, but is bringing out a subtle nuance of the Hebrew which typically gets lost in translation: Eve's emphatic pointing to the serpent as the one to blame.
Now, that naturally got me wondering where else the subject appears before the verb in the Hebrew Bible. In my next post, I'll show you how to use the Construct window to find other occurrences of that construction.