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Friday, May 09, 2008  

How to Do a Topical Study, Part 3

In my previous two posts, I've been looking at ways to do a topical study using Accordance. In the first post, we opened Nave's Topical Bible and did a search for "Love." We then followed the links under the subheading "Love of Man for God." In the second post, we manually went through each of those 65 verses, marking the ones which made some connection between loving God and keeping his commands. Once we had finished marking the relevant verses, we placed those verses in a separate reference list window for future study.

Today, I want to back up and look at how I might have automated the process of looking for verses which equate loving God with keeping his commands. Rather than reading all 65 verses and manually marking the ones which spoke of keeping God's commands, wouldn't it be easier to search those 65 verses for the word "commands"? Certainly it would.

To do this, I will add all 65 verses to a Reference List, then search those verses using the CONTENTS command. The CONTENTS command enables me to take the list of verses from one window and use them as part of a search argument in another window. If you're following along, here's what to do (I'll go all the way back to the beginning just so we're all on the same page):

  1. Open Nave's from the English Tools pop-up of the Resource palette.
  2. Search the Entry field for "Love."
  3. Command-click any of the verses under the heading "Love of Man for God."
  4. In the text window that appears, select all the verses by clicking in the text pane and choosing Select All from the Edit menu (or using the keyboard shortcut command-A).
  5. Add all those verses to a new Reference List by choosing New Reference List from the Add Selection To submenu of the Selection menu.
  6. Open a new Search window containing whatever Bible text you wish to search.
  7. Click the Search for Words radio button, then enter "commands", the AND command (shift-command-A), and the CONTENTS command (shift-command-C).

    Note: If there is more than one valid window open, Accordance will ask you which window you want to use the contents of. Choose the Reference List window listing the verses from Nave's.
  8. Click OK to perform the search.

When I search the HCSB this way, I get 11 verses which contain the word "commands." Obviously, there are more than 11 verses in the whole Bible which contain the word "commands," but by using the CONTENTS command, I have restricted my search to the 65 verses Nave's listed as pertaining to the love of man for God. Think of the CONTENTS command as a way to create a custom search range out of any list of verses.

Now that I have these 11 verses, I can select them all and add them to a new Reference List which contains only verses which speak of loving God by keeping his commands.

In this post, I've shown how you can use Reference Lists and the CONTENTS command to sift through a list of verses from a topical Bible. Using this strategy, we found the 11 verses which speak of "commands" much faster than we would have using the previous post's strategy of reading through each verse and marking the ones of interest.

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