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Get More from Your Bible Study with the Accordance INFER Search

One of the most powerful search features in Accordance Bible Software is the INFER command. This search allows you to compare different texts (biblical or extrabiblical) against each other and find quotations and allusions (both of which we’ll refer to as “inferences” for the rest of this newsletter). For the Bible, this can relate to finding inferences in the New Testament related to the Old Testament. Or you can look for inferences in Isaiah to the Pentateuch or a specific book like Genesis. You can also use the INFER command to determine when an extrabiblical work like the Apostolic Fathers is quoting the New Testament.

The INFER command takes a phrase —the length of which you can determine—in one text, and compares it to phrases in another text. An executed INFER search may involve hundreds of thousands of calculations, based on the size of the texts being compared, but most are completed in the blink of an eye or perhaps a few seconds even on older computers.

At first glance, the INFER command may seem like an advanced feature in Accordance. And it is, kind of, but it doesn’t take long to master. And you don’t have to know biblical languages, but if you do, you will be able to make even more use of the INFER command in your research. Over the years, we’ve created a number of videos and blog posts to help you learn how to use the INFER command. Here is a brief run down of some of our more popular ones.

INFERENCES for the Rest of US

If you’re just getting to know the INFER command for the first time, this classic blog post from nearly a decade ago is still a great introduction. In this easy-to-follow example, phrases in the call of Abraham (Gen 12:1-3) is compared against the rest of the Bible.

Correcting the Curriculum with the Accordance INFER Search

In helping his son with his homework, David Lang discovers what is clearly a mistake in a question meant to relate the book of Daniel to a verse in Genesis. But the reference given clearly has nothing to do with the passage being studied in Daniel. In order to find the correct Scripture reference, it was the Accordance INFER command to the rescue!

INFER Search Beyond the Basics

The INFER command offers a lot of optional parameters to fine-tune your search. This blog post dives into these options by taking Proverbs 9:10 as a base text (“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…”) to see where similar ideas are found in the Hebrew Bible (English is in parallels so anyone can follow). By tweaking the optional parameters, a number of different results are found. This is a great post for learning how to get more accurate results with the INFER command.

Using the INFER Command with Extrabiblical Greek Texts

As already mentioned, the INFER command can be used with more than just biblical texts. The instructions in this blog post will demonstrate how to pinpoint inferences in the Didache (from the Apostolic Fathers) and the Gospel of Matthew. The principles outlined in this post can be applied to comparing other texts such as Josephus, Philo, extrabiblical Dead Sea Scrolls and more to the biblical canon.

And if you want to learn even more about the INFER command, keep an eye on our free weekly Accordance Webinars schedule. Every few weeks we offer an hour-long, interactive session that explores some of the examples mentioned above and a whole lot more.