Sample Accordance Bible Study
If you are new to the Bible, new to Accordance, or both, welcome to this, the first article in a series designed to acquaint you with the basics of how to study the Bible using the software as a tool. Studying a passage from the book of Mark with a hands-on approach, you will learn techniques and methods you can apply to any passage to bring to light the teachings of Scripture.
Mark 1:1-13 contains the introduction to the gospel of Mark, the story of John the Baptist, and the baptism of Jesus. Open up your Accordance program, type the reference into the search box and click OK. You may choose any version of the Bible you prefer; this study will primarily use the New International Version (NIV). Read the passage carefully, noting any observations you make.
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Sometimes it is helpful to ask yourself questions about the passage you are reading. These questions may be answered in the passage itself, but if not, they will provide direction for you as you continue your study. Who wrote the words you read and what was his purpose? From where is the quote in Mark 1:2-3 taken? Who is John the Baptist, and how does his story relate to the quote above? Ask questions of your own and watch for the answers as you read and study.
Another helpful tool in studying the Bible is reading multiple translations of the same passage, side by side. Accordance makes this operation easy, using parallel panes. On the right side of your workspace window, you will see an Add Parallel option. The drop-down menu gives you the choice of different translations. Choose as many as you want, and read them carefully, along side of each other, noting differences and similarities. If you want to close a pane, simply click the grey X above it.
Let's read through two translations, the NIV and the King James Version (KJV). Sometimes, just the different wording of the translations is enough to spark a new line of thought, new question, or new observation.
The first verse is the same in both versions. In the second verse, a difference arises. Where the KJV says "As it is written in the prophets…" the NIV says "It is written in Isaiah the prophet…." It seems the NIV is giving us a bit more specific information about where Mark's quote came from. We will note this difference and come back to it a bit later.
Moving on, we see that the next few verses are similar. One difference we can note in verse 4 is that the KJV says that John's baptism was for the "remission of sins" and the NIV says it was for the "forgiveness of sins." Because those words seem important to the meaning of the passage, we should note that difference as well. Later on, we will see that by using other tools available in Accordance, we can look up the exact meanings of those words.
In verse 6, "girdle of skin" in the KJV translates "leather belt" in the NIV, making clear the meaning. Verse 8 uses the terms "Holy Ghost" in the KJV and "Holy Spirit" in the NIV. And verse 12 translates the word "wilderness" in the KJV as "desert" in the NIV. These are a few of the words, phrases, and meanings that can differ from one translation to another. By reading the same passage in several versions, you will get a clearer, fuller picture of the verses.
Try using some other versions, comparing them with your favorite. Are there important wording changes? Is one version easier to read than another?
Using Bible Notes
Many of the Bible translations in Accordance offer notes as a general reference tool. These notes will shed light on difficult verses or give you other Bible references to look up that are related to the passage you are studying. You can open these notes in a parallel pane, just as you did for alternate translations. Again, click Add Parallel and find the notes for your favorite version. You will see that much interesting information is provided. As you scroll through the passage, the notes will move, too, keeping current with the verse at the top.
Now, if you have the Zondervan Essential Bible Study Suite, you will be able to open the NIV study notes by scrolling down to NIV New Study Bible in the Reference Tool menu. The study notes are very extensive and contain footnotes on almost all the verses we are studying. They provide interesting and useful background information, other verses that are alluded to in the passage, and definitions of words. Explore these notes, clicking on hyperlinks to find out more. Study Bible notes are always a good place to deepen your study of the Bible.
Let's look at one hyperlink in the NIV study notes. Click on the second one you see: "Introduction: Special Characteristics." It will take you to the beginning of the notes on the Book of Mark. You can read Special Characteristics and learn that Mark wrote his gospel in a way that focused more on what Jesus did than what he said. By reading the Outline, you will gain an overview of the book as a whole, helping you gain perspective. Explore the notes thoroughly; they will come in handy.
So far, you have learned to ask questions about the passage you are studying, to use parallel panes to read it in different translations, to note important differences in different versions, and to use Bible notes, including Study Bible notes. All of these functions are easily accessible to you and will provide the starting place for your study. As you explore the passage further through this series, you will learn more about studying the Bible in depth and the tools Accordance offers to help you do so.