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!
The first three options all have to do with the look and behavior of workspace zones. The active zone in a workspace is highlighted with a certain color. You can change this color by choosing a new one from the pop-up menu labeled Active Zone Color.
The next option lets you specify the maximum number of zones that can be opened in any given workspace. If you have a small screen, you may find that the third, fourth, or fifth zone that opens is too just too small to be useful. If you set the Default Maximum Zones pop-up to two, then Accordance can open no more than two zones in that workspace. If you open a resource that requires a third zone, Accordance will display that new zone in a separate workspace.
Now, even if you choose to set a maximum number of zones, that only prevents Accordance from opening more than that number of zones in a workspace. You are still free to drag a tab into a separate zone in order to create more zones than your default maximum.
Another option for small screens (or even those with large screens who like to save a little space) is Hide tab area if only a single tab. When you check this option, Accordance will show only a small title area for zones that only contain a single tab. As soon as a second tab is opened in that zone, the zone title area will increase in height to accommodate the two tabs.
Workspace with "Hide tab area" option unchecked
Workspace with "Hide tab area" option checked
The next three options have to do with how the Library and Instant Details panels operate. First, you can choose to have the Library always open as a popover rather than as a panel. Whenever you have a workspace that is too narrow or has too many zones to allow room for the Library to open as a panel, Accordance will automatically open the Library as a panel. If you want the Library to appear that way no matter how much room there is, simply check this option. Whatever your preference, you can always override it by holding down the shift key when you click the Library icon in the toolbar. In other words, if your default is to have the Library display as a panel, you can always force it to display as a popover by holding the shift key. If your default is to have it display as a popover, you can likewise force it to display as a panel.
Workspace with Library displayed as a panel
Workspace with Library displayed as a popover
If you would like the Library to be open whenever you create a new workspace, leave the previous option unchecked and check Add Library to new workspaces. If you would like the Instant Details to be displayed whenever you create a new workspace, check Add Instant Details to new workspaces.
The final option is to Limit window size of new workspaces. With this option checked, Accordance will open new workspaces at a specific size rather than having them fill the screen. If you have a really large monitor and you want Accordance to remain in one portion of the screen, you might want to consider this option.
It happens every week: Sunday rolls around and my main Accordance workspace is filled with tabs and zones related to my current work projects. But I have to teach Sunday school, and I want to present the passages and visual aids related to my lesson without closing—or showing—the other stuff I've been working on. Obviously, I'll want to open an additional workspace and do my lesson preparation in that, but how do I make sure my class doesn't see my main workspace?
The easiest thing to do is simply to hide my main workspace using the Hide command. You'll find that command in the Window menu, and choosing it does just what you would expect: it hides, or makes invisible, the front window without actually closing it.
When you hide a window, its name will still appear at the bottom of the Window menu. A diamond will appear next to the name to indicate that the window is hidden. To show the window again, simply select its name, or choose the Show All command.
It's that easy, and you can use the Hide command any time you want to reduce clutter without actually closing something.
I've written before about how varied my use of Accordance tends to be. I use it for my own research projects, to do quality control checks of modules which are nearing release, to help with the occasional tech support question, in family devotions, in teaching a Sunday School class, and more. This usually means that I have dozens of tabs open at any given time, and it's rare for all of them to be focused on the same task.
Since I've been using Accordance 10, I've noticed an interesting shift in my workflow. Where previously I would use a single workspace with a hodgepodge of tabs devoted to different tasks, I now tend to open a new workspace when I shift from one task to another. For example, my main workspace is devoted to a big research project I'm currently working on, but when I need to prepare my Sunday school lesson or lead a family devotion, I now go to the File menu, choose New Workspace, and then dedicate that separate workspace to the new task. By using separate workspaces for different tasks, I can be sure the resources I need for my Sunday School lesson don't get mixed up with the ones I need for my research project.
The strange thing about this shift in workflow is that it happened naturally when I began using Accordance 10, even though I could have done the same thing (but didn't) in previous versions of Accordance. Ever since we introduced the Workspace window way back in Accordance 6, you have been able to open multiple workspaces and dedicate them to distinct purposes. I just never did so until now.
I'm not sure what it is about Accordance 10 that prompted this change in behavior, but I suspect the move to a single-window interface has made the idea of opening multiple workspaces seem less daunting to me. Put another way, perhaps the integration of all those palettes has made managing multiple workspaces seem more palatable. (Pardon the pun!)
When I think about it, it wasn't any harder to manage multiple workspaces when the Library window, Resource palette, and Instant Details Box stayed put in their respective places on my screen, but perhaps the presence of those separate floating windows made me feel like it would be harder to keep track of more than one workspace. Now that those palettes are integrated into each workspace, it is as if I can simply switch between two or more self-contained study environments. I therefore find myself doing that more and more.
This is just one example of how improving the design and aesthetics of a program can also enhance its usability.
What about you? Do you find the changes in Accordance 10 have affected your workflow in surprising ways?
This is the last in a series of posts on using Accordance's Slide Show feature. Part 1 explored how to set up a workspace with separate tabs for each Bible passage you plan to cover. Part 2 showed how to add a map. Part 3 demonstrated how to add a series of images from a resource like the PhotoGuide. Finally, Part 4 showed how to use the Search All window to search your entire library for just the right graphic. Once all the pieces of your slide show are assembled, all that's left to do is to present it. In this post, I'll explain how to do that.
Remember that the Slide Show feature takes every tab in a workspace and turns it into a separate "slide." The one caveat is that the workspace must have a single zone, so while preparing your workspace, you may need to drag the title bar of one zone into the tab area of another, thus combining all the tabs in a single zone. When finished, your workspace should look something like this:
To start the Slide Show, simply select Slide Show from the Window menu, or use the keyboard shortcut command-option-S. Accordance's palettes, search interface, as well as the OS X dock will all be hidden and the current tab's contents expanded to fill the screen. Like this:
A small slideshow control palette will fade in and out as you mouse over its location at the bottom of the screen. This palette includes buttons to go to the first slide, the previous slide, the next slide, or the last slide. The stop button will stop the Slide Show and return Accordance to normal operation. You can also press the escape key on the keyboard to exit the slide show, or use the command-option-S shortcut again.
In addition to these controls, the Slide Show palette also includes a pop-up menu listing the name of every "slide." You can quickly move to the slide you want, no matter where it appears in the sequence, by selecting its name from this menu.
To make it easier to find the slide you want from this menu, it's always helpful when preparing a slide show to rename tabs to reflect their actual content. You can do that by control- or right-clicking the tab and choosing Active Tab Name… from the Set Tab submenu of the contextual menu.
When in Slide Show mode, the Instant Details box will appear whenever you mouse over an item with more information to display. Thus, when showing Bible text, you can mouse over a word in a Key number Bible to show its Greek or Hebrew equivalent. When showing an Atlas map, you can mouse over any point to show its elevation and coordinates. When you move your mouse off of this kind of content, the Instant Details box will once again fade away.
If you haven't used Accordance's slide show mode in a teaching environment, you really should give it a try. While it does not offer the effects and transitions you get with dedicated presentation software like Keynote, it has the advantage of offering dynamic Bible study-related tools in an attractive, full-screen view.
In this series of posts, I've been relating how I used Accordance's Slide Show feature to teach a Bible study on the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. I began by creating separate workspace tabs for each passage I wanted to read. Next I added a tab with a map showing the location of Mount Carmel and the political boundaries at the time. Then I showed how to add a series of pictures from the PhotoGuide. In this post, I want to show how I did a broader search to find just the right image.
In addition to showing pictures of Mount Carmel from the PhotoGuide, I wanted an image that would show how Mount Carmel receives more annual rainfall than the surrounding areas of Israel. My point was that Elijah chose a site known for its rainfall and lush vegetation for a showdown between the God of Israel and Baal, the Canaanite god of the storm and fertility. In essence, he was giving Baal a kind of "home field advantage."
Hoping to find some map of annual rainfall in Israel, I opened a Search All tab, selected Caption from the Language pop-up menu, and entered "rainfall." Within seconds, I found several such maps, including this one from the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible.
Using methods such as these, I was able to assemble a series of helpful visual aids in a matter of minutes. When it came time to teach the Bible study, I simply chose Slide Show from the Window menu and then accessed each "slide" in turn. I'll show how I did that in my next post.
In this series of posts, I've been relating how I used Accordance's Slide Show feature to teach a Bible study on the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. I began by creating separate workspace tabs for each passage I wanted to read. Next I added a tab with a map showing the location of Mount Carmel and the political boundaries at the time. Today I want to show how I added tabs for the various images I wanted to display.
First, I wanted to show photos of Mount Carmel itself. The best place to find location photos is the Bible Lands PhotoGuide, and for me the best way to access the PhotoGuide is by double-clicking a place name on the map. (You can link the PhotoGuide to the Atlas in this way in the Map Tab Display settings of the Preferences.)
As I scanned the PhotoGuide article on Mount Carmel, I found several photos I wanted to show: a view of the summit, a photo of the Mukhraka monastery which commemorates Elijah's showdown there, an area below the summit where the people might have stood, etc. Clicking on one of the thumbnails will open a picture tab containing the full-size picture.
Picture tabs are usually recycled, which means that if I go back to the PhotoGuide and click a second thumbnail, that same tab will be re-used to display the new picture. Recycling windows avoids a proliferation of unwanted tabs, but when you're preparing a workspace for a slide show, you want a separate tab showing each picture you want to display. You can turn recycling off in any tab by clicking the green recycle icon at the top right. So to open a number of separate Picture tabs, you could click a PhotoGuide thumbnail, disable the recycling of the tab, return to the PhotoGuide, click another thumbnail to open a new picture tab, disable the recycling of that tab, and so on.
Now, you know there's got to be a more streamlined workflow than that, right? Here's the shortcut: simply command-click a picture thumbnail to open it in a picture tab with recycling turned off. That way you can simply command-click multiple thumbnails in the PhotoGuide to open each picture in a separate tab. Using this trick, you can very quickly assemble the picture slides of your slide show. Give it a try.
In my next post, I'll show how I found additional pictures in other resources.
In my previous post, I began showing how I taught a Bible study using the Slide Show feature of Accordance. This feature lets you present any workspace with tabs as a series of "slides," with each tab constituting one "slide." The only caveat is that all the tabs have to be in a single zone, so you may have to drag one into another before you use this feature.
In setting up the workspace I would present as a slide show, I began by assembling the various passages I would be reading. My main passage was the story of Elijah's showdown with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18, but I also wanted to read a few related passages. I set each passage up in its own tab so I could quickly turn to each one without scrolling or navigating. Again, see my previous post for details on how to do that.
Next I wanted to add some visuals: a map showing the location of Mount Carmel (the setting of this story), photos of the location, images of Baal, etc.
To get the map, I simply selected the word "Carmel" in my main passage and clicked the Map button on the Resource palette. A map opened with Mount Carmel highlighted. Because this story took place during the period of the Divided Kingdom, I chose to overlay the Divided Kingdoms region layer on my map.
Now, here's where I used a little power-user trick. Because I had searched for Mount Carmel, the name Carmel was highlighted on my map in red. When I added the Divided Kingdoms region layer, the kingdom of Israel was shaded pink, and the combination made the Carmel label difficult to read. So I decided to change the red text to black.
To do that, I simply chose Set Map Display from the Display menu. In the dialog that appeared, I chose Extra Region Names from the main pop-up menu, then changed the Color pop-up from Red to Black.
By the way, the Extra Site Names and Extra Region Names in the main pop-up refer to site and region labels which have been added to the map as the result of a search. They are "extra" in the sense that they appear on the map regardless of whether or not they are actually included in the currently displayed map layers. Accordance gives you the ability to customize those extra labels independent of other map elements.
When I clicked OK to close the Map Display settings dialog, my map now looked like this:
During the course of the Bible study, while I was presenting the map, I realized that I wanted to remove the Divided Kingdoms region layer so people could better focus on the topography. If I had anticipated that need, I could have set up a second map tab with a different set of layers and simply switched to it. Because I hadn't done that ahead of time, I had to exit Slide Show mode in the middle of the Bible study, tweak the map to look the way I wanted, and then enter Slide Show mode again. Fortunately, exiting Slide Show mode is as easy as hitting the escape key, and entering it again merely requires choosing Slide Show from the Window menu. The entire process only took a few seconds.
If you use the Slide Show feature a lot, you should also learn the keyboard shortcut command-option-S, which will toggle the Slide Show on and off.
In my next post, I'll demonstrate how I gathered the images I wanted to present in my slide show.
For a while now, I've been attending a Wednesday night Bible study which uses a DVD series showing sites in Israel and discussing the Biblical events which happened there. This past Wednesday, the normal teacher was out of town and I was asked to fill in. Rather than using the DVD series, I chose to teach a lesson of my own, but to maintain consistency I focused on explaining a Biblical passage with reference to its location. I chose for my text 1 Kings 18: the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.
I wanted to bring out a number of interesting aspects of this story, such as why Mount Carmel was the perfect location for this showdown (see my blog post, Why Mount Carmel?) and how the name of Elijah is used as a motif throughout this story (see my post, "What's in a Name?"). Explaining the importance of Mount Carmel required giving some background information about the Canaanite deity Baal and the fact that Mount Carmel is the rainiest location in that part of Israel. I wanted to be able to show images of Mount Carmel and Baal, as well as a map of Israel, so I decided to use Accordance's Slide Show mode.
If you're unfamiliar with Accordance's Slide Show feature, it turns each tab in a workspace window into a separate "slide," expanding the content to fill the entire screen and hiding interface elements such as the search entry box, the various palettes, etc. You can activate it by choosing Slide Show from the Window menu.
The first step to creating a slide show is simply setting up the various tabs you want to display. The one thing to keep in mind when setting up your workspace is that Accordance's Slide Show feature does not yet support workspaces with more than one zone. So as you open maps, images, and various resources, they may open in additional zones, but you'll need to combine all those tabs into one zone before you start a slide show. This is most easily done by dragging the title bar of one zone into the tab area of another. When you release the mouse button, all the tabs from the dragged zone will be added to the destination zone.
I started with a tab containing my default Bible and navigated to 1 Kings 18. Realizing that I would need to explain the background of King Ahab's idolatry, I scrolled back until I found the passage on his accession to the throne: 1 Kings 16:29-33. Because I didn't want to scroll back to this passage during the Bible study, I decided to put it in a separate tab. That way, I would have another "slide" I could easily switch to. The easiest way to create a new tab with this passage was to select the verses I wanted and then click the Context button on the Resource palette. This opened a Text window showing the verses I selected in the context of the entire Bible. But I didn't want the surrounding context, so I just unchecked the Show all text checkbox. That left me with a tab showing just 1 Kings 16:29-33.
To make it easy to distinguish this tab during the course of the slide show, I right-clicked the tab itself and chose Active Tab Name… from the Set Tab submenu of the contextual menu. I then changed the name of that tab to "Ahab's Idolatry."
Next I knew I had to summarize Elijah's role in the three-and-a-half years of drought which preceded the episode in 1 Kings 18. So I repeated these same steps for 1 Kings 17:1-10, naming that tab "Elijah No Rain". Finally, I wanted to read Jesus' reference to Elijah and the widow of Zarephath in Luke 4:23-30, so again, I created a new tab containing this passage and renamed it "Jesus in Nazareth." My resulting workspace now looked like this:
I now had the passages I intended to use all ready to go. Next I needed a map and a number of images to show. I'll show you how I set that up in my next post.
This week's installment of The Pastor's Study comes from Steve Bauer, Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in West Newton, Pennsylvania.
The people at Accordance have asked me to include a section on how I make use of Accordance in my sermon preparation. There is no doubt that some of this will overlap with what others have written. But I hope that as you travel through this with me you’ll learn to use Accordance in ways you haven’t thought of before, or in ways that might help save you some time in preparing for your sermons.
Do the Gruntwork
Whether you are not using a computer at all or using Accordance, there’s always the tedious gruntwork that is involved when preparing for a sermon. So, before we get to the fun, we need to get the gruntwork done.
Get the parsing into the user notes
Accordance has a separate, little file for each verse. So, the first task is getting the original language words into our notes so that we can make our own notes and comments on each word. Here’s the process I use:
- Drag your cursor over the words in a verse to select them
- Click the “parsing” button.
- A nice-looking table will appear. Copy the contents of this window (commmand-a, command-c)
- Close the parsing window.
- open up the user notes file for that verse (click back into the verse that you highlighted and then use the key combination, command-u)
- The user notes Edit window now opens. Paste your parsed words into your user notes (command-v).
Ok, we have the words in the user notes. But wouldn’t it be nice to have some space in beween the lines so we could write some notes? The proper answer is ‘yes---most definitely yes!’
- Drag the cursor from the end of one line to the beginning of the next line to highlight a linebreak.
- Copy it (command-c)
- within the user notes editor open up the find window (command-f).
- Make sure the “Latin characters only” button is not checked!
- Click the “Find” field and paste once (command-v)
- In the “Replace with” field paste twice (command-v twice)
- Click the “Replace All” button in the window.
What you should have now is a nifty looking window with vertical spaces between the lines. The great part about this is that after you have put the parsed words into each user note for each verse, all you have to do is open up the find window (in each user note window editor) and hit ‘Replace All’ to have these spaces added for each verse.
I walk through these steps for all my sermons. It doesn’t take much time. And if I don’t have much time to prepare (e.g. funeral sermons), I have the words formatted in the user notes so that I can move on to my exegesis.
Getting your windows to work for you
Some time ago, Accordance added Favorite Workspaces. That’s what that big, yellow star is for on your Resource palette. Those are where your Favorite Workspaces appear. Dr. Jenney has provided a good overview of workspaces in his podcast, but briefly, you can set up a workspace with all the tools you need for a given task and then save it for use at any time. I put my Grammars and Lexicons into these workspaces. I also put some of the user tools I have made (or have been given) into workspaces.
We will talk more about using workspaces a little later on. But if you haven’t put together some workspaces with collections of your precious tools you use most, now would be a good time to watch that podcast and make some workspaces.
Do the Exegesis
You’re on your own
This is the part of the post where I need to be a little blunt. I can’t teach you how to do exegesis. I went to school for five years to learn the biblical languages (greek and hebrew). I went to our seminary for four more years to learn how to use the biblical languages.
Accordance can’t teach you the languages. And when you learn the languages, Accordance can’t teach you how to use the languages. But, if you have gone to a good school, Accordance can be a valuable tool in your teaching and sermon preparation.
Highlighting can help
Once you have done a faithful text-study and have learned what the words mean, the next task is to figure out how to organize your thoughts and communicate them. There are many books written on this topic.1 But highlighting can help to show the flow of thought, the parallelism, repeated phrases, etc.
In order to get this done, I made two collections of highlights. The first highlighted relationships within one verse. The other set highlighted relationships between words spread out throughout several verses. Perhaps some examples would help.
- In this first example I highlighted instances of the same word (παραιτήσησθε...παραιτησάμενοι) or contrasting words (ἐπὶ γῆς...ἀπ᾿ οὐρανῶν)
- Likewise, since The Writer to the Hebrews carries this theme of shakable-unshakable throughout these words, I thought it would be a good idea to track it (ἐσάλευσεν... σείσω... σαλευομένων... σαλευόμενα... ἀσάλευτον)
I’ve found this pattern useful not just for NT stuff, but also for OT texts as well. Especially in Hebrew poetry, which relies on parallelism so much, highlighting can be a useful (and fun?) way of charting the flow of the words.
In the provided screenshot you’ll notice the parallelism highlighted within the verses. But, I also make use of highlighting to chart the connections between the verses.2
The whole point of this is to find how the words flow and speak so that the pattern you find in the words can give shape to your flow of thought in your sermon.
Protect your Humility
One of the troubles and temptations of preachers is to go beyond what either linguistically or contextually the text is actually saying. Here is where the workspaces come in handy. (If I have time) after I have finished my exegesis, I start at the beginning and use my custom workspaces to see if I might have gone too far in my translation. I highlight the verse3 and then click the ‘star’ icon to open up my workspace with my grammars, lexicons and tools. The workspace then spills out every time the verse you have highlighted is cited in your tools. This can be very helpful...
I may be alone in this, but I like it when grammarians rant. Sometimes the points they make I miss, simply because they hide them with five-syllable words. But when they start ranting, then I know I’m getting to the good stuff. Take for example what I came across in preparation for my last sermon. In Luke 11:4, Wallace offers this vivid commentary:
Fourth, as the colloquial aphorism goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” The results of the traditional approach are almost comical. Exegetical and expository literature in the past several decades is filled with statements that are less than credible. Applying the traditional canon to Eph 5:18 results in: “Stop being drunk with wine, but continue to be filled with the Spirit” (μὴ μεθύσκεσθε, πληροῦσθε). On this view, one could ask, “Why stop getting drunk if it does not prevent one from getting Spirit-filled?” Further, if Ephesians is a circular letter, why are specific judgments made in it? Note, for example: “Stop provoking your children to wrath” (μὴ παροργίζετε in 6:4); “Stop grieving the Holy Spirit” (μὴ λυπεῖτε in 4:30); “Stop being foolish” (μὴ γίνεσθε in 5:17).14 Or consider John 5:8: “Take up [aorist: ἆρον] your mattress and continue walking [present: περιπάτει].” But how could the lame man continue walking if he had not done so for thirty-eight years?15
In sum, the basic force of the aorist in commands/prohibitions is that it views the action as a whole, while the basic force of the present in commands/prohibitions is that it views the action as ongoing process. This basic meaning may, of course, be shaped in a given context to fit, say, an ingressive idea for the aorist. Thus if the conditions are right, the aorist prohibition may well have the force of “Do not start.” This is an affected meaning or specific usage. But to call this the essential idea is not correct.4
But wait, the ranting continues in the footnote:
15 Other texts are equally absurd, if the traditional canon is followed. The following examples include translations that are patently ridiculous. For the present tense, note, e.g., Matt 4:10 (“Continue to go away, Satan”); 5:44 (“Continue to love your enemies” [when the audience had not yet begun]); Matt 7:23 (“Continue to depart from me”); Mark 5:41 (“Continue to rise”); 7:10 (“Let the one who speaks evil of his father or mother continue to die”); Luke 8:39 (“Continue to return to your home”); John 10:37 (“If I do not do the works of the Father, stop believing in me”); 19:21 (“Stop writing” the title on the sign above Jesus’ name—v 19 states that this was already a completed act). For the aorist, note, e.g., Mark 9:43 (“If your hand offends you, begin to cut it off”); Luke 11:4 (“Begin to forgive us our sins”)5
There will always be this temptation to make the immediate words we are translating say more than what they are saying. There are times that the grammars can keep us in check.
Prevent the Timidity
On the one hand, there is a temptation to say too much. But on the other hand, there is a temptation to say too little. Here again, Accordance can help.
In my sermon for Easter 5 - Cantate, my text was Hebrews 12:25-29;13:4-6. Robertson provides this comment on Hebrews 13:5:
Even οὐ μή was not strong enough sometimes, so that we have οὐδέ and οὐ μή in Heb. 13:56
There is no more extensive and emphatic way of saying ‘no’ in the NT than the strong future negation. Robertson’s note is worthy of considering in your heart and preaching from your lips. If οὐ μή wasn’t enough for the writer to the Hebrews, should it be enough for us?
What I mean is this: If the writer to the Hebrews tells us that God will never, ever, ever leave us nor will he ever, ever, ever abandon us, isn’t that a point we should emphasize in our preaching?
With “ancient and widespread” Variants
Ever since Accordance added the Nestle-Aland textual apparatus (and then later the CNTTS) the variant readings have been more accessible than they ever have been before. But, what do we do with them? Here is where the old phrase Ancient and Widespread comes into play. Yes, it sounds like a poorly crafted punchline to a joke about your grandma or mother-in-law. But it’s not. It’s how we attempt to find the original text (the autograph).7 So, if we look at Hebrews 13:5, we find this variant:
- Option 1: οὐ μή σε ἐγκαταλίπω (aorist subjunctive)
- Option 2: οὐ μή σε ἐγκαταλείπω (present subjunctive)
As with all the variants in the NT, they don’t change the doctrine in the bible. However, they might change the emphasis in your preaching. In support of the base reading in the Nestle Aland text (ἐγκαταλίπω) we find Bezæ (D) and a whole bunch of later minuscules:
However, we find that earlier and more widespread witnesses have the second option (ἐγκαταλείπω):
If the variant (ἐγκαταλείπω) is the better option, the next question is “why should I care?” What difference in translation and preaching would the aorist subjunctive vs. the present subjunctive make? Although I can’t prove this with sufficient detail, my conclusion is that the writer has chosen the present subjunctive deliberately to show that God’s promise of never abandoning doesn’t just apply to the distant, abstract future. It applies now. If this is true, then it provides a good emphasis in preaching which I might have overlooked if I didn’t look at the variants.
This is my Sermon Preparation Workflow. I get the verses in the user notes and do the exegesis. If time permits, I use the workspaces to quickly and efficiently grind through the grammars, lexicons and other tools to see where these verses are cited. If there is still a little more time, I have a look at the variants to see what the most ancient and widespread witnesses wrote.
All of this serves two purposes:
- Save time in the areas I don’t want to be spending time (paging through dusty old tomes, trying to see what they might say about my text)
- Costing time in the areas I want to be spending time. I want to translate these verses faithfully. I want to ponder them. I want to avoid saying too much. I want to avoid saying too little.
I hope this little walkthrough hasn’t taken up too much of your time and has given you some ideas of how you might use Accordance in better ways than I do.
1 perhaps the best out there right now is Bryan Chappell’s, Christ-Centered Preaching.
2 עֶבֶד In Is. 49:3 and Is. 49:6
3 not the words in the verse---just the verse number!
4 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: an Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 717.
5 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: an Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 725.
6 A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Accordance electronic ed. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1919), 1175.
7 Some might point out that this phrase and approach to solving variants is not what they were taught. My point here is only to concisely provide a format for dealing with variants. This method is what I was taught. And over the years I have become convinced that this is the only way of dealing with the variants in an objective manner.