New Testament scholar Jim Meek has held many roles, including the role of dean at two seminaries, as well as a serving as a pastor and church planter. He has used Accordance Bible Software for over 20 years, especially in the study of the New Testament use of the Old. Jim Meek offers two recent examples of using Accordance to understand what Jesus was trying to communicate when he prayed that his disciples would be one (John 17:11) and also to clear up questionable teaching on Psalm 23.
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Is it possible to study issues of intertextuality between the Old and New Testaments without consulting G. K. Beale these days? Personally, I don’t think so. I admit up front that I’m a fan of Beale’s writings. My enthusiasm has its roots from my reading of Brevard Childs in my seminary studies in the nineties. Childs advocated interpreting the Bible by viewing it in its context as a completed work. Inherent to this is understanding how the individual writings of the Bible fit together to make up the final form of the Canon.
If one attempts to read the Bible as a whole—in a canonical context—analysis of intertextuality is a key. What is intertextuality? The Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek defines it as “the repetition, interweaving or reworking of biblical texts, ideas or motifs; or the embedding of portions of or allusions to one passage (called a subtext) within another” (p. 74).
For the study of intertextuality, one of my favorite resources is Beale & Carson’s Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. This work analyzes every quotation and allusion of the Old Testament in the New Testament. And because I can search it by Scripture reference, I can even use it in reverse order by searching for Old Testament passages to see how they are treated in the New Testament. This has become one of my favorite titles in the Accordance Library, and I don’t feel as if I have fully studied a passage if I have not consulted this title.
Thus, I am thrilled to see G. K. Beale’s A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New released for the Accordance Library. Here is the publisher’s description of this title:
In this comprehensive exposition, a leading New Testament scholar explores the unfolding theological unity of the entire Bible from the vantage point of the New Testament. G. K. Beale, coeditor of the award-winning Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, examines how the New Testament storyline relates to and develops the Old Testament storyline. Beale argues that every major concept of the New Testament is a development of a concept from the Old and is to be understood as a facet of the inauguration of the latter-day new creation and kingdom. Offering extensive interaction between the two testaments, this volume helps readers see the unifying conceptual threads of the Old Testament and how those threads are woven together in Christ. This major work will be valued by students of the New Testament and pastors alike.
This volume by Beale should not be confused with a standard New Testament Theology that analyzes the theology of the Bible, book by book. Instead, Beale focuses on what he calls the storyline of the New Testament. Beale argues that every idea in the New Testament is rooted in the Old Testament, and this volume examines these ideas, one at a time, exploring the relationship between the New Testament with the Old.
Click on the image above to see a larger view of Beale's New Testament Biblical Theology
The Accordance developers have painstakingly analyzed the text of Beale’s A New Testament Biblical Theology and have tagged content according to the following fields: Titles, English Content, Scripture, Greek Content, Hebrew Content, Transliteration, Manuscripts, Bibliography, and Page Numbers. These fields allow you to quickly narrow your search of this title for the specific content you need to access.
If you have the most recent update to the Theological Journal Library, be certain to check out the review of Beale’s A New Testament Biblical Theology in the Winter 2012 issue of The Southeastern Theological Review (pp. 299-302).
G. K. Beale’s A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New will regularly sell for $49.90, but through June 8, Accordance users can get introductory pricing of $41.90.
In the video below, G. K. Beale discusses A New Testament Biblical Theology.
One of the most powerful and unique features of Accordance is the INFER command, yet it's quite possible you've never even heard of it. This command is designed to let you search two different passages for "inferences" from one to the other.
An inference can be a direct quotation, a paraphrase, or even a relatively vague allusion—really any use of similar language. For example, the gospel of John begins with the phrase "in the beginning," a clear allusion to Genesis 1:1. Understanding that connection helps us better understand what John is saying. In the same way, a Hebrew scholar might want to find where the book of Isaiah alludes to the book of Deuteronomy.
Historically, finding such allusions has been tricky. Scholars had to trust to their own ability to spot similar language by memory, which required an intimate knowledge of the texts they were comparing. We can spot the connection between John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1 because we are quite familiar with those two verses, but imagine trying to spot any allusion to Deuteronomy in the entire book of Isaiah! With the INFER command, researchers now have a way to find measurable data on relevant inferences.
Okay, so you're not writing a dissertation on "intertextuality"; what does the INFER command have to offer you? Well, let's say you're teaching a Bible study on Genesis 12:1-3, God's call to Abram to leave his home and travel to the land of Canaan. Do other parts of the Bible allude to this passage? You can find out in seconds using the INFER command.
To use the INFER command, you first have to set up a Search tab containing your "base" text: in this case, Genesis 12:1–3. To do this, just click the Verses button, enter Gen 12:1-3 in the search box, and hit Return. Your Search tab should now display only those three verses in the Bible text you chose to search.
Now you need to create a second Search tab where you'll search for inferences to your base text. I find the easiest way to get this second tab is duplicate the first one using the keyboard shortcut command-D. This will open a tab using the same Bible text. Now just click the Words button in this second tab, then choose INFER from the Enter Command submenu of the Search menu (or use the keyboard shortcut shift-command-I). A dialog box will appear asking you which Search tab you want to use as your base text, and offering a variety of options you can choose from.
Just click OK to use the default settings. Your search argument in this second tab should now look something like this:
When you click OK to perform the search, Accordance will search the entire Bible for any place that uses similar phrases to those found in Genesis 12:1-3. In some cases, you may find that these phrases consist of very common words and the connection with Genesis 12:1-3 may just seem coincidental at best. In other cases, you'll find some very interesting connections. Rather than analyze those for you, let me just ask those of you who have tried this yourselves: which of the passages found by this search strike you as the most interesting? Let us know in the comments on this post.
This is, of course, one very simplistic use of the powerful INFER command, but I hope it gives you a taste of what "the rest of us" (non-scholars who know little about "intertextuality") can do with it.