This last tip (for now) in our Strategies for Students series is a very basic one that I hope you’re already employing in your academic use of Accordance. If not, read on because your use of Accordance may be about to become much more efficient!
A while back, a user asked me for help in something he was trying to do in Accordance. He opened up his own laptop, launched Accordance, and began with, “This is something I do nearly every day.” Just to get to his question, he first had to build this very elaborate Workspace with multiple texts and reference works. After watching him do this, I said, “Wait—before we get to your question, let me ask you one. Do you create this Workspace every time you use Accordance?” He confirmed that he created this Workspace or one like it most of the time. Moreover, he started each launch of Accordance with his default Search Text. I introduced him to saved Workspaces and he still thanks me for it whenever I see him.
Every Accordance installation comes with five examples Workspaces: English Study, NT Study, Research, Simple Construct, Theme Sampler, and Translation Comparison. You can access these premade Accordance Workspaces from the Workspaces icon in the Toolbar, in the Library Pane under My Stuff: My Workspaces, or File menu: Open Workspace. Any Workspace you create in Accordance doesn’t have to be discarded when you're through with it. If it’s a Workspace you’re apt to use over and over, consider saving it. The easiest way to do this is to go to the Workspace icon in the Toolbar and select “Add Workspace.” Now your newly saved Workspace will appear under the Workspace icon in the Toolbar and in the My Workspaces folder.
Although every Accordance user can benefit from saving Workspaces, students will find this especially helpful. Consider that the way you use Accordance will be different in a preaching class than in a New Testament Intro course or beginner’s Hebrew. You’re going to use Accordance differently in every one of those situations, so why not save an Accordance Workspace for each class? This will save valuable time each time you sit down to study.
By default, all Workspaces are saved in Documents: Accordance Files on your computer’s main drive. These saved Workspace files will remain unchanged from the first time you saved them, unless you save them again from the File menu. That means you can change them as much as you want, but always start back at the same Workspace, unless you save those changes.
Accordance Bible Software has always been highly customizable. When you customize a specialized Workspace and then save it for repeated use, you've also made Accordance quite personal for your use. And saved Workspaces are something you can continue to use long after you finish school.
Bonus tip: Workspaces don't have to be saved in your Accordance Files folder. I have hundreds of Workspaces saved in folders dedicated to particular projects I was working on at the time. If I need to revisit a particular area of research, not only do I have my notes, I have my Accordance Workspace there, too!
Don't miss previous installments in our Strategies for Students series!
In the 1990s I took a New Testament textual criticism class under John B. Polhill as an elective in my MDiv studies. Looking back, it remains in my recollection as one of the best classes I experienced during that time. I learned more about the origin and transmission of the New Testament in that course than in any other class I took. I found everything about the subject fascinating and still do.
At that time, although Accordance was newly available, this was still the early days for Bible software. There were biblical texts—both original languages and translations—as well as many of the standard lexicons and other reference works, but not too much beyond that. In my class, we primarily depended on the print works of scholars like Bruce Metzger as well as the immense knowledge of Dr. Polhill on the subject.
Although I trusted both Metzger and Polhill, that dependence I mentioned above was very real. We could ask questions in class and consult related reference works, but there wasn’t much more we were able to do on our own. In the previous Student Strategies blog post, I discussed using Accordance for doing one’s own research (as opposed to depending on the research of others) with the INFER search. In this post I’d like to introduce (or remind) students to the features in Accordance that allows them to do their own text critical work. While perhaps not the same as holding an ancient manuscript in your hand, Accordance’s text-critical resources may just be the next best thing.
I’m going to use the Greek New Testament for the examples that follow, but note that we also have resources for textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible.
Let’s assume you don’t want to reinvent the wheel by traveling all around the world and examining all extant manuscripts for yourself, allowing you to create your own eclectic text. More than likely, you would start with the apparatus for the UBS 5 or Nestle-Aland 28 New Testament. Perhaps then, from what you find in the apparatus, you might want to consult a particular manuscript yourself. Although we obviously can’t give you access to every extant manuscript, we do provide the tools for examining the major witnesses that form the basis of the NA/UBS New Testament.
If you want to see what the image itself looks like, you’ll want to check out the Greek MSS Images from CSNTM, which contains the following manuscripts: Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex 2882, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Washingtonianus (note that for study of the Hebrew Bible, we offer images for the Dead Sea Scrolls, Leningrad Codex, and Codex Sinaiticus).
Above: Matt 1:19 - 2:2 from Codex Washingtonianus. This image was exported from Accordance at 2600 x 4000 pixels.
These manuscripts, reproduced at high resolution, allow you to zoom in and look closely at these ancient texts. This is especially helpful for debated readings. Rather than citing a third party, you can write in your class paper, “Having looked at a high-resolution facsimile image of the codex, I conclude… .” And you can also copy or export the images for illustration in your paper or in a presentation using software like PowerPoint or Keynote.
In addition to these images, Accordance also offers a set of fully digitized text, Codex Add-On, corresponding to the physical manuscripts. This set uses an uncial (capital) font designed specifically for the included manuscripts: Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Bezae, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Washingtonianus, as well as a Greek New Testament Papyri module based on the 2nd edition of Comfort & Barrett’s The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts. The uncial font can be used in your work as well to represent the text of the ancient manuscripts.
Above: Codex Washingtonianus with spaces (left column) and without spaces (center column) in parallel with the NA28 Greek New Testament. Note Crossover Highlighting between all three texts.
These digitized texts are morphologically tagged and have line breaks corresponding to the end of the line in the original codices. There are even representations of the Nomina Sacra used these manuscripts. Moreover, spaces between words can be turned on and off. Since the earliest manuscripts did not include spaces between words, removing the spaces gives you a better idea of what the original readers viewed--but in a much more readable digital font! The images can be viewed and scrolled in parallel with the digitized texts, as well as the UBS or NA Greek New Testament. Since the uncial texts are morphologically tagged, crossover highlighting works between them the UBS/NA texts.
I’m still amazed to have this kind of access to ancient texts. Yes, all the standard reference works are indispensable, but there’s nothing quite like doing your own textual criticism and verifying readings for yourself (and it will impress your instructors, too!).
There are many more resources in Accordance related to textual criticism, including alternative apparatuses—too much content to go into here. However, check out Tim Jenney’s webinar from a couple of years ago, “Greek New Testament Textual Criticism,” to see some of these tools in action and to be introduced to some of the other text-critical resources not mentioned here.
Don't miss previous installments in our Strategies for Students series!
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!
Using a tool as powerful as Accordance Bible Software while learning a biblical language can be like walking a fine line: you want to harness the power and time-saving benefits of using Accordance, but you don’t want to shortcut the learning process, or worse become dependent on Accordance instead of actually learning the language. Let’s face it, studying any language requires a lot of memorization. And my own experience echoes what I’ve always heard—memory is like a muscle; the more you use it, the better it becomes.
I remember that in both my introductory Greek and Hebrew classes, I spent a lot of time looking up words in lexicons. Having instantaneous access to all the major lexicons is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how Accordance can help you in your biblical language classes. We’ve already covered getting Accordance versions of textbooks (be certain to check whether or not your Hebrew or Greek grammar is available for Accordance!). Here are just a few of the ways Accordance can help you while you study Greek and Hebrew.
Translation is the main task of any language class. In the multiple biblical language classes I took years ago, I wrote my translations out by hand and carried sheets of paper to class. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I have very little of that work today. I probably translated the majority of the New Testament and much of the Old Testament when I was in school. I wish I had my translation and notes saved digitally, but it wasn’t an easy option back then.
Regardless of whether you want to work out a translation by hand or directly on the computer, consider saying your translation work (the translation itself and your syntax notes) in an Accordance User Notes file. This set of notes can be viewed in parallel with the original language text as well as popular Bible versions.
Need to turn your translation in as homework? Select the text you need to turn in and from the contextual menu choose Print Selected Text. Or if you need to format it or submit it electronically, copy and paste it into the word processor of your choice.
Don’t be surprised if you’re referring to these notes for years to come! And it’s also good practice to continue saving this kind of work when you’re teaching or preaching after you graduate.
Using Accordance is like having Greek or Hebrew super powers: with just a mouseover, you can get instant morphological and syntax information. However, I regularly tell users, “Use your Accordance super powers for good, not evil.” So, you don’t want to use Accordance to do your parsing homework for you. However, you can use Accordance to check your parsing homework.
In some cases parsing a Greek or Hebrew word can be interpretive. If your personal parsing work doesn’t line up with what you find in Accordance, don’t just correct your work according to what you’ve found in the software. Instead, try to figure out why Accordance is giving you different information than what you found on your own.
In addition to moving your mouse over the tagged original language text, you can also create a Parsing Chart. Begin by highlighting the text (this can be individual words, verses, or entire passages), and from the contextual menu, select Lookup: Parsing. If you want to save your chart, make certain it is the active tab, and from the File menu, choose Save Active Tab.
Diagramming sentences has really made a strong comeback in recent years after being neglected for an entire generation of students. There’s no real substitute for diagramming a sentence to understand not only syntax, but also the thought process and logic of the biblical writer.
Accordance has a built-in diagramming feature that’s extremely flexible. You can create your own diagrams and save them for later use in Accordance. Save your diagrams in Accordance and re-edit them later if necessary. Print them out to turn in for homework or take a screenshot to paste them in a word processor. If you want to incorporate a diagram with your Translation Notes (see above), take a screenshot of your diagram and add it to your notes.
You can create as many diagrams as you want in Accordance; however, we also have a Greek Diagrams module available for sale in the Accordance Store. If you purchase these diagrams while taking a class, though, remember proper use of your super powers! You will want to use the purchased Accordance Diagrams to compare and check the diagrams you have already created.
Word Charts (Syntax Practice)
Many Accordance users may not even know they have access to Word Charts from within the software. Select a passage in an original language biblical text, and from the Amplify Menu, choose Language: Word Chart.
This will give you a table with columns for the biblical word (inflected form), lexemes (lexical form), parsing, function, translation, and comments. By default, the function and comments sections are blank. These tables are completely editable, so double-clicking a blank cell will allow you to add your work to it.
If you really want to challenge yourself, double-click any of the cells that already have content and delete what’s there. Test yourself by figuring out on your own information such as lexical form, parsing, and translation. These charts can also be saved for later reference. With the Word Chart as the active tab, select the File menu: Save Active Tab.
And here’s a tip for the profs: follow the same procedure in the paragraph above to create a quiz that can be printed out for your students to fill in the missing information.
Beginning Hebrew and Greek students live or die by memorizing vocabulary. Here’s how to create a vocabulary list in Accordance. Since almost every intro Hebrew class translates the Book of Ruth, we’ll use it as an example in the steps below.
With a Hebrew text set to search for words, type this into the search field: [RANGE Ruth] <AND> *
Note that because Hebrew is a right to left language, your search argument will appear reversed from what you see above, but that’s okay. In fact, you can enter the elements of this search in any order as long as <AND> is in the middle. The asterisk is the wild card symbol used to find every word in Ruth.
After you run your search, you should see every word in Ruth appear in red because every word is a hit resulting from the wild card (*). Click View Analytics immediately above the text and choose Word Count Totals: Analysis.
Click on the Display Settings (gear icon) for your Analysis tab and make certain the first column shows the LEX. Set Sort to Count Down, Secondary Sort to Alphabetical, the Count to None (to remove the numbers), and check Show Root with LEX and Show Gloss with LEX. Click OK.
Print the list or Copy it from the Analysis window to a word processor or whatever app you intend to use with your vocabulary.
Learning an ancient language is tough enough, but Accordance Bible Software gives students a tremendous advantage with tools for diagramming sentences, creating word charts and vocab lists, checking parsing homework, and translating the Hebrew or Greek text itself.
Don't miss previous installments in our Strategies for Students series!
In any student's hands, Accordance is an incredible mobile research library. Gone are the days of having stacks of books on the desk as you write your research papers. Instead, Accordance users have access to an immense number of journals, commentaries, monographs, and other reference works right on their own devices!
However, as any student knows, all sources must be cited. All modern commentaries in Accordance have bibliographic information at the beginning of titles that can be used in crafting a citation, but Accordance actually provides a much easier way to incorporate citation information in a paper.
Click/tap the image above for a larger view of how to copy citation information in Accordance.
If you’re going to use a source from Accordance in your paper, simply highlight the content in the source, and from the contextual menu choose Copy As: Citation. Then, in a word processor such as Microsoft Word, paste your text. Three things simultaneously happen: (1) the content you copied is pasted into your document, (2) a footnote is added at the end of the copied text, and (3) a citation in proper format is inserted into the footnote section of the document. There may be some minor formatting tweaking you may have to perform, but the content you need is there, including the ever-important page number.
Click/tap the image above for a larger view of a footnote inserted into MS Word from Accordance.
This method works even in titles with multiple authors such as a multivolume commentary--only the author and bibliographic data for the content you are using is correctly included in the footnote. Accordance users can choose between SBL and Turabian style guides, as well as other settings in Accordance Preferences: Bibliography.
Such easy methods for creating citations is just another way that Accordance delivers an efficient research experience and allow you to get your papers turned in with plenty of time to spare before the deadline!
Bonus tip: If you use a citation manager such as Endnote, Zotero, Bookends, and others, you can export citation information into a standard format RIS file that can then be imported directly into your citation manager. From your personal Accordance Library, choose Export Selected Data and provide a name for the resulting RIS file. If the Accordance module contains an entire commentary series with multiple authors, the RIS file will include information to create separate records for each volume.
These days, Accordance is a lot more than biblical texts—it’s an entire mobile reference library for biblical studies. And in case you didn’t know, there are also quite a few textbooks available in Accordance for Greek, Hebrew, biblical studies, theology, church history, and more!
What’s the advantage of having a textbook in Accordance instead of a print copy?
- Textbooks in Accordance weigh a lot less than print textbooks. No more backaches from an overstuffed bookbag!
- Accordance textbooks integrate with your entire personal Accordance Library for amplifying and searching through multiple titles. Also, it’s extremely convenient to have your textbooks and your entire biblical research library—journals, lexicons, commentaries, etc.—in one convenient workspace.
- Taking notes in an Accordance textbook is a lot more practical than taking notes in a print textbook. For one thing, you’ll never have to worry about running out of room in the margins!
- Highlighting text in Accordance textbooks can take advantage of our many highlighting styles and symbols. You can even create your own! Highlighting text in a physical textbook is always dependent upon which highlighters you remember to throw in your bookbag.
- Searching for a word or phrase in an Accordance textbook is much more convenient than hoping the index in the back of a print textbook covers exactly what you’re searching for.
- With a textbook in Accordance, you can answer workbook exercises or chapter questions in User Notes and then export them to turn in.
- All those notes and answered exercises can be placed in parallel with the content of the textbook for easy study for the next exam.
- Since Accordance can be installed on up to five devices (Mac or Windows laptops, iPads, iPhones, and eventually Android), never worry about accidentally leaving your textbook at home again (assuming you bring at least one of your other devices).
- Need to quote your textbook in an assignment? Copy and paste is much easier than typing it all out!
- Some of our Greek and Hebrew grammars include built-in voice annotations so that you can hear original language pronunciations. Print will never be able to do that!
- The Accordance store is never closed! No more waiting for the store to open to get the books you need!
To paraphrase the ending of Ecclesiastes, “Of the writing of textbooks, there is no end…” so we may not have every textbook required for your classes in the next semester. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if we offer quite a few of them.
In the example image above (click/tap for a larger view), Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek (3rd ed.) textbook is on the left. The corresponding workbook is on the right. A User Notes file has been created to answer the workbook exercises. These exercises can be exported to turn if the assignment requires it, but they're always right there with the text instead of in a separate place that may or may not be convenient to access at any time.
So, how do you find out if your required textbook is available for Accordance?
As soon as you find out your required textbooks for the semester, go to the Accordance website and enter each textbook title (one at a time) in the search field at the top right of the web browser. As a student, you’re eligible for an academic discount, but you may also want to check to see if your school or professor has worked out any group discounts for your class.
Know what books are necessary for next semester? Why not add them to your personal Accordance Library now and get a head start?
Create a workspace for each class that includes your textbook, textbook User Notes, and class notes User Tool. Add it to your saved workgroups for easy access from the Accordance toolbar.
When I began my M.Div classes in the early '90s, laptops were a luxury most of us could not afford, and powerful Bible software like Accordance was non-existent (Accordance 1.0 was released in 1994). In class, I took my notes by hand with pencil and paper. Then, I went home and transcribed them onto my computer in Microsoft Word. Although this repetitive method was actually a good way to reinforce what we had covered in class, it was also very time consuming.
If I were a student taking classes today, I would simply create a User Tool in Accordance and take my notes in the application itself.
What are the advantages of taking class notes in Accordance?
- Accordance User Tools are fully editable on the fly. With each new session, open the class notes User Tool and pick up where you left off in the previous class.
- Since you're already in Accordance, take advantage of quick access for copying content from the Bible, whether in Greek, Hebrew or in a translation.
- All Scripture references can be hyperlinked, and you can also create links to other content in Accordance, including textbooks in your Accordance Library.
- A class notes User Tool is fully searchable according to the kind of content it contains: Scripture references, Greek, Hebrew, English, etc.
- Your class notes are integrated into Accordance and can be used to Amplify to or from other content in Accordance.
- You can create a searchable Group of all your class notes or combine them with other titles in your personal Accordance Library for comprehensive searches in Accordance’s Research feature.
- If your professor creates a chart or diagram on the whiteboard, take a photo of it with your smartphone and drop it into your class notes in Accordance.
- Create a Table of Contents around the structure of your notes for a running outline.
- Share your Accordance class notes with your classmates who also use Accordance.
Really, the sky’s the limit for the many different ways your class notes can be used in Accordance. I still have all my class notes in ancient MS Word formats, but they’re all isolated as separate files. Maybe one day I’ll take the time to convert all my class notes into Accordance User Tools, but if you’re a student now, consider using Accordance as your ultimate note-taking tool for classes revolving around biblical studies, theology, and church history.