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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008  

Hiding Red Letter

Many print Bibles highlight the words of Jesus in red. Some people love this feature, while others hate it. Those who object to it argue that since there were no quotation marks in the Greek, it is not always clear which words are direct quotations from Jesus and which are not.

For example, in John 3, most Bibles interpret verses 10-21 as being directly spoken by Jesus. However, some interpreters think the quotation ends after verse 15, and that verses 16-21 are an explanation by the author of the Gospel. Having all those verses in red, or even enclosing them in quotation marks, is an interpretive decision made by the translators.

Those who are red-green color-blind object to red-letter Bibles for an even more fundamental reason: for them the words of Jesus disappear altogether!

Whether your reasons for objecting to red-letter Bibles are philosophical or ophthalmological, Accordance allows you to hide the red-lettering in any Bibles which include it. Simply use command-T (the one keyboard shortcut you absolutely must learn) to open the Set Text Display Dialog box for a given Bible, and check the Hide Red Letter option. You can also do this for all Bibles by going to the Text Display settings in the Preferences.

Even if you like red-letter Bibles, there may be times when you want to hide it. Today I ran into one of those. I did a search which seemed to find the phrase "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" in Matthew 23:39. I say "seemed to find" because the search I had done should not have highlighted all the words in that phrase. I was confused until I realized that the Bible I was searching (the HCSB) places the words of Jesus in red and boldfaces Old Testament quotations in the New Testament. Of course, Accordance highlights search hits by making them red and boldfaced, so I was mistakenly assuming that this phrase was part of my search result, when in fact it was merely part of that particular Bible's formatting. When I changed the display settings to hide the red letter, I could then distinguish my search hits from the OT quotations spoken by Jesus. Alternatively, I could have chosen to leave the red letter turned on, and chosen a different color and/or style for my search hits.

Regardless of your reasons for customizing the appearance of a Bible text, it's nice to have the flexibility to do so.

I am colour blind and the 'words of Jesus' pale into lesser significance. However I have a more theological objection to the 'words of Jesus in red'... I prefer versions which have the words of the Spirit in black. Putting the words of Jesus into red may indicate a less than orthodox view of verbal inspiration. To suggest that the 'words of Jesus' are somehow more significant than those of Paul or Peter undermines the truth of verbal inspiration.

This is a good feature of Accordance that I for one take full advantage of.

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