Yesterday I waxed philosophical about how it is more important to read English well than to know Greek and Hebrew. My point, in brief, was that the best exegetes are those with literary acumen and a firm grasp of how people communicate through the spoken and written word. That skill is developed in one’s native language and, once acquired, can easily be applied to the original languages. Conversely, no amount of learning in Greek or Hebrew can overcome the lack of that skill.
If we are to exegete the Scriptures well, we need to be deliberate in our efforts to slow down and really read the text, not merely so we can cull it for the information it contains, but so that we can develop a full-orbed understanding of its meaning. Unfortunately, the many helps we have available to us can actually get in the way of such efforts.
It is ironic that every tool created to aid in Bible study can actually interfere with the process of exegesis. When verse numbers were added to the text, they made it much easier to locate specific passages, but they also broke up the text in such a way that we sometimes read Biblical passages as a series of self-contained units rather than as continuous narratives. Concordances enabled us to find passages that contained a specific word, but they also made it easier to wrench those verses out of context. And, of course, Bible software is both the best and the worst in this regard. Programs like Accordance place a wealth of information at your fingertips, but all of that information can actually distract you from really reading the text.
We take those dangers seriously, and we’ve tried to design the Accordance interface in such a way that the text of the Bible always remains your central focus. All of Accordance’s many resources are a click away through the Resource palette, and the menu bar and contextual menus contain a whole host of options, but we do our best not to hit you over the head with all the bells and whistles. We want you to turn to those bells and whistles when they’re needed; not to be distracted by them when they’re not.
We’ve also tried to facilitate reading the text by offering unparalleled control over the text’s appearance. You can hide verse references and footnote markers to remove distractions, format the text as paragraphs or separate verses, control the leading, background color, text color, and more. These options have all been added to facilitate your interaction with the text. Over time, we’ll be bringing more of these display options over to Accordance for iOS as well.
Finally, we’ve got some cool options to help facilitate reading whole passages rather than isolated verses. One is the auto-scrolling feature that slowly scrolls the text like a teleprompter. Another is the ability to select text and click the Speak button in order to have the text read aloud. Using either of these features can help you see or hear things in the text you might otherwise have missed.
Great exegesis begins with reading a passage as it was meant to be read, not as a disjointed series of verses, but as a continuous narrative with a coherent message. The text of the Bible is not just meant to be dissected, but to be digested.