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Thursday, November 30, 2006  

The Year in Review (Part Two)

On Tuesday I began a look back at all the new goodies that have been released in the past year. There was so much to talk about, however, that I ran out of steam by the end of May. Today, I'll pick up where I left off and finish out my "year in review."

Shortly after we released Accordance 7.0, we released a tagged version of the Samaritan Pentateuch, Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, and an upgrade to Koehler-Baumgartner's Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT).

In August, we released new editions of our primary collection CD-ROMs: the Library 7 and the Scholar's Collection 7. The Library added as many as 37 new modules, including the NET Bible with its extensive collection of notes, a gallery of classic artwork, Manners and Customs in the Bible, ISBE, additional commentaries and works of theology, and for the first time ever, a grammatically tagged Greek New Testament! See this page for a complete listing of what's new in the Library 7.

The Scholar's 7 added a few new unlockable modules which had already been released for download, but the real news with this release was an expanded Core bundle and additional Add-on bundles, all of which give you more bang for the buck when it comes to buying original language resources. In addition, we began offering a special combination offer of $60 off when you buy the Library 7 Premier and the Scholar's Core Bundle.

At that time we also introduced our Atlas Sampler, an introductory Atlas package for those who want an Atlas but are reluctant to buy our full Atlas CD-ROM.

In September and October we were hard at work on all the new releases we've just announced: version 7.1, Word Biblical Commentary, NIGTC, Syriac, the Babylonian Talmud, etc.

As you can see, it's been quite an eventful year, chock full of program updates and new modules. And there's more to come next year . . . LOTS more!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006  

The Year in Review (Part One)

Yesterday I listed some of the new resources which were just announced: Word Biblical Commentary, NIGTC, Syriac, new Greek texts, Neusner's translation of the Babylonian Talmud, Semeia journal, etc. But that's just the latest in a series of new releases and upgrades we've offered this year. Here's a look back at everything we've released in the past year:

Updated PhotoGuide: In mid-December of last year, we released a major upgrade to our Bible Lands PhotoGuide featuring nearly double the number of photographs at increased resolution. Each photo is carefully annotated, making the PhotoGuide a treasure-trove of information about the geographical and historical background of the Bible.

3 New Zondervan CD-ROMs: In December of last year we released two new collections from Zondervan, and in September of this year we added a third.

The Zondervan Essential Bible Study Suite for Macintosh features the NIV with G/K Numbers, the NIRV, the TNIV, the new NIV Study Bible, the NIV Student Bible, NIV Dictionary, NIV Commentary, NIV Nave's, and more for just $69.

The Zondervan Personal Growth Bible Study Suite for Macintosh features the TNIV, NIV Thematic Study Bible, New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words, the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, A Dictionary of Cults, All the Men in the Bible, All the Women in the Bible, Streams in the Desert, and more for just $49.

The Zondervan Scholarly Bible Study Suite for Macintosh is the largest of the three collections, and features some of Zondervan's best reference materials for just $149. Included are the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (ZPEB); Mounce's Greek Grammar, Morphology, and Analytical Lexicon; Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics; several additional tools for analyzing the Greek and Hebrew of the Bible; Carson and Moo's Introduction to the New Testament; Dillard and Longman's Introduction to the Old Testament; The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology; The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church; Vanhoozer's Is There a Meaning in This Text?; and commentaries by Lightfoot, Westcott, Hort, Eadie, and Godet.

In addition to the material included in each of these CD-ROMs, you can also unlock Expositor's Bible Commentary, the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (NIDNTT), and the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDOTTE).

By the way, Accordance is the only Bible program, other than Zondervan's own Pradis software for Windows, which offers these materials.

Updated Bible Atlas: In February of this year, we released a major upgrade to our Bible Atlas, which at the time was still the most advanced Bible software atlas available. The New Atlas features ten times the resolution of the old Atlas, new color backgrounds (Light Browns and Satellite), modern sites and boundaries, and new pre-defined layers showing every available route and region.

If you're still wondering whether you should bother upgrading to the new Atlas, let me offer this little but of anecdotal support. Every person at ETS/SBL who asked to see the new Atlas was ready to upgrade immediately upon seeing the improved resolution, and was completely "sold" when I showed the modern sites and boundaries. It's a huge improvement, and only $39 to upgrade from the old Atlas.

Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Also in February, we released the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture by InterVarsity Press. A compilation of the comments of early Christian writers on the text of the Bible, this CD-ROM includes 12 print volumes and covers 33 books of the Bible.

Thompson Chain Reference Bible: In March, we released the new, revised, and expanded Thompson Chain Reference Bible from KirkBride. This resource is only available for Windows through WORDSearch, but WORDSearch teamed up with Accordance to make it available to Mac users.

Center for New Testament Textual Studies Critical Apparatus: The CNTTS Greek Apparatus project was delayed by Hurricane Katrina, but in May we were able to release a major upgrade which included Acts and the General Epistles in addition to the four Gospels. Although this valuable text-critical resource will be available for Windows software next year, it is currently only available for Accordance (are you beginning to see a theme here?).

Mac StudienBibel CD-ROM with NA27 and BHS Apparatuses: Although we had been selling a pre-release version of this CD-ROM for months, May also saw the official release of the Mac StudienBibel CD-ROM by the German Bible Society. This CD-ROM, while of obvious importance to those wanting German lexical resources, is important for the rest of us because it includes the NA27 and BHS textual apparatuses.

Mac Bibel Bibliothek CD-ROM: Also by the German Bible Society, the Mac Bibel Bibliothek CD-ROM offers a new range of German Bibles and the option of a German language version of Accordance 6.9.2. Four of the Bibles are lemmatized to allow the user to find every form of a German word, two have dictionaries, and most have translator's notes or cross references.

New Living Translation Second-Edition (NLT-SE): Also in May, we released the second edition to the New Living Translation as a separate module. Users of the old NLT can upgrade for just $10, and can use the new Compare Texts feature in version 7 to compare the two editions.

Accordance 7.0!: Boy, May was a busy month for us! In addition to the new modules and CD-ROMs mentioned above, we released version 7.0 of the Accordance application with a ton of new features. I won't go into all those here again, since I've already talked about them in detail, but version 7 was, quite possibly, our most extensive upgrade ever.


Whew! I intended this post to be a "year in review," but six months into the year and this post is already getting too long. I'll have to cover the new developments from June through November in tomorrow's post. Until then, it should be clear that 2006 has been an extremely productive year for us, which means an extremely goody-laden year for you. :-)

Monday, November 27, 2006  

For Your Wishlist

It's the gift-giving season, and my children have already started combing through catalogs and creating their wishlists. We grownups have to be more subtle about it, but let's face it, this is the time of year to drop hints to our loved ones about what we really want for Christmas or Hanukkah. To assist you in this effort, let me tantalize you with the latest goodies available for Accordance.

New Commentaries:

Word Biblical Commentary: We're currently putting the finishing touches on this 58-volume critical commentary from Nelson, but you can pre-order it for just $599 (half the suggested retail price of $1199). That pre-release price works out to be about $10 per volume. And just think of all the shelf-space you'll save!

We hope to be shipping Word in the next or month or so, and of course your card will not be charged until the product actually ships.

New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC): NIGTC is a detailed verse-by-verse commentary based on the original Greek, with exegesis that is sensitive to theological themes as well as to the details of the historical, linguistic, and textual context. You can buy the entire set of 13 volumes (including the commentary on Matthew which is not available in any other electronic edition) in a single module for $499, or you can purchase individual volumes.

Scholar's Collection 7.1: The newest edition of the Scholar's Collection CD-ROM includes a number of new original language modules available for unlock:

New Testament Syriac: A while back I blogged that we were now adding texts to Accordance which I can't even read, but I coyly refused to tell you which ones. Now I can openly announce the addition of the Syriac Peshitta (careful how you pronounce it!) and Old Syriac Gospels. Naturally, that means the addition of a new Syriac font, appropriately named Peshitta.

As an aside, the more scholarly among us objected to the name "Peshitta" for the font because they felt the name should reflect the fact that this is the Estrangela Syriac script and because it would be used for other Syriac texts beside the Peshitta. But since even guys like me know enough to associate the name "Peshitta" with Syriac and since no one but a specialist knows what "Estrangela" means, we decided to let scholarly accuracy slip when it came to the naming of the font. Fortunately, that's the only place we've let scholarly accuracy slip!

When you buy the Syriac texts, you get the Peshitta (fully tagged), and the Curetonian and Sinaitic texts of the Old Syriac gospels (untagged). These three texts are available in the Syriac script mentioned above, but also transliterated into the Aramaic block script familiar to anyone who reads Hebrew. We did this so that even those who struggle to read the Syriac directly can nevertheless make use of these texts. All six of these modules can be displayed in parallel with the Greek New Testament.

Codex Vaticanus: Since Accordance was first released more than a decade ago, we have always made available eclectic, edited editions of the Greek New Testament, starting with Nestle-Aland, and followed by the textus receptus, Majority text, Westcott-Hort, and Tischendorf editions. Last year, we introduced our first transcription of an actual Greek manuscript: Codex Bezae. This year, we have added Codex Vaticanus (the B you see in various critical apparatuses of the Greek New Testament). Fully tagged and displayed in our uncial font called "Stephanus," it can be displayed in parallel with any other Greek New Testament and compared using the new text comparison feature of Accordance 7. There is also a new option in Accordance 7.1 to hide the spaces between words in a text like Vaticanus (or Bezae) to be able to view the text as it would have appeared in the actual manuscript. If you're doing serious text-critical work, these uncial manuscripts are extremely valuable.

Byzantine Greek New Testament: We've also just released the Robinson-Pierpont 2005 edition of the Byzantine textform of the Greek New Testament. This is an important edition of the Greek Majority text, complete with grammatical tagging and textual notes.

Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot Edition: We've offered a tagged modern edition of the Apostolic Fathers in Greek for several years now, but the older Lightfoot edition is now available for those who want the Apostolic Fathers in Greek at a more affordable price (or who want to be able to compare the two editions). The Lightfoot edition is also grammatically tagged.

The Babylonian Talmud: Jacob Neusner's English translation and commentary on the Babylonian Talmud is now available as a Reference tool, and can be displayed in parallel with the Mishna. The module includes the complete 22 volume set which lists in print for $895, and is priced at just $199.

Semeia: Subtitled An Experimental Journal, this journal published by the Society of Biblical Literature explores experimental approaches to biblical criticism, including insights from linguistics, folklore studies, contemporary literary criticism, structuralism, social anthropology, and other such disciplines and approaches. The module contains all 92 issues from 1974 to 2002, and costs just $79.

By now I hope your holiday wish list is starting to take shape, and so far I've only mentioned the stuff we've released this November! Tomorrow I'll remind you of some of the other things we've added just in the last year.

Friday, November 24, 2006  

The Not So Little Company That Could

In this morning's post, I described OakTree Software as a "Mom and Pop" company that develops exclusively for the Mac and said that I sometimes feel we're a "David" trying to compete with "Goliath Windows developers which are many times our size." Those statements prompted the following anonymous comment:

I'm curious... given this clearly evident popularity, why is Accordance a David in the marketplace? I mean I understand that the PC market is substantially larger than the Mac market but it seems to me there are niche Mac companies like yours that are able to grow into significant companies. Is there actually a desire not to grow much beyond the "Mom and Pop" operation?

Also, why does Oak Tree so fervently resist going into the PC market with such a powerful product? Wouldn't this allow you to grow your company and start on a road to compete more favorably with the libraries offered by certain other companies? Isn't that in your interests, your customer's interests, and in the general interests of biblical scholarship and learning?

Those are certainly good questions, so in this post, I'll clarify what I mean by "Mom and Pop" company, and talk a little about the issue of porting Accordance to Windows.

First, when I describe OakTree as a "Mom and Pop" company, I don't mean it in any pejorative or negative sense. We're "Mom and Pop" in the sense that OakTree is very much a family business and we're still small enough to deal with our customers in a very personal way. That doesn't mean we haven't grown into a "significant company." We actually have employees scattered across the United States and in Canada, we sponsor a professorship, and we have many thousands of users.

As for the blank stares I get when I mention Accordance Bible software, I'm referring to the average person I talk to in my own non-academic and non-Mac-using circles. The average person at my church doesn't bother to keep up with the latest developments in Bible software, and I might get the same blank stares if I mentioned many popular Windows products. These people have usually heard of one or two programs, and those are not necessarily even the most widely used or most widely known, so it comes as little surprise that they've never heard of the leading Bible program for the Mac.

In the world of Biblical scholarship, however, the Accordance name is well known and highly respected. That's precisely why we're such a formidable presence at ETS and SBL. And among Mac users in general, the Accordance name is fairly well known and becoming familiar to more and more people.

Now, let's turn to the question of why we "so fervently resist going into the PC market"? First of all, I'm not sure this is something we're "fervently resisting," it's simply something we have little desire to do. We've asked ourselves repeatedly over the years whether we should port to Windows, and we always come up with plenty of reasons not to.

The biggest reason we're not porting to Windows is that we're smart enough to know what our strengths are and to focus on leveraging those. We know the Mac. We know how to develop for the Mac. We know how to support the Mac. We know how to relate to Mac users. Few of us actually use Windows and I'm not sure any of us really wants to. Life is simply too short. So why would we waste our limited resources trying to enter a market we have no real experience with? For the promise of more money and greater name-recognition? Those are not the reasons we got into developing Bible software in the first place, so they're hardly enough incentive to tempt us to divert our focus from doing the things we're best at.

Besides, the Mac market is growing, and growing in precisely those demographics which we have always tried to reach: education and consumers. The iPod generation is now entering theological seminaries and religious studies programs. Any guesses where those MacBook-toting students are turning for Bible study software? :-)

Additionally, consumers who have long felt chained to Windows PCs are now switching to Intel Macs and escaping the viruses and .dll headaches they always thought were just a necessary evil of using a computer. Many of those who use Bible study software are switching because they can run their Windows programs under Parallels or BootCamp. But there's a funny thing about people who switch to Mac from Windows. Once they realize how much better-designed and easy-to-use Mac software is, they become the most rabid Mac advocates, and soon they begin looking for Mac-native programs to replace the few remaining Windows programs they still use. Why else would Bible software developers which only know Windows be tempted to forget their strengths and attempt to port to Mac? It's likely not philanthropy, but a fear of losing customers.

As for needing to "grow [our] company and start on a road to compete more favorably with the libraries offered by certain other companies," I think we're doing that quite nicely already. OakTree Software is growing, and Accordance is competing favorably with the libraries offered by other companies. At this point, the breadth of material we offer is (unless I'm missing something) second only to that of one other company which has made quantity of books its primary focus. Number of books has never been our primary focus, yet we offer the second largest Bible study library in the world, and that library is going to be growing significantly in the coming years. All of that is happening in spite of, and even because of, the fact that we only develop for the Mac. If our business strategy is working, why fix something that is clearly not broken?

So far, I've talked about our philosophical and business reasons for developing exclusively for the Mac, but I haven't mentioned perhaps our most important reason for developing for the Mac. The Mac lets us do things we either could not do, or could not do as well, on the PC. Mac interface standards still set the bar in consistency and ease of use. The Mac platform is more stable and easier to support: developers can concentrate on making great software rather than dealing with the inconsistencies and complexities steadily flowing out of Redmond. As much as we sometimes have a love-hate relationship with Apple, they mostly make it possible for us to develop Bible study software which is "insanely great." And it's that which gets us up in the morning and keeps us working hard; not the promise of more money or better name-recognition in a larger market.


The Little Company that Could

When I tell people that I work for a Bible Software developer, they naturally ask, "Oh really, which one?" When I say, "Accordance Bible Software," I'm always a little amused by the blank stare I get. I then explain that we're basically a "Mom and Pop" company which develops the software for Macintosh computers.

This lack of name-recognition admittedly has me feeling a little like David trying to compete with Goliath Windows developers which are many times our size. That is, until I come to the annual conventions of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). At ETS/SBL, from which I've just returned home, the tables get radically turned, and I feel a bit more like Goliath than David. Here are a few examples of what I mean:

The Accordance booth covers an area of 30 feet by 10 feet, with no less than seven computers available for doing demos. Though the exhibit hall traffic certainly ebbs and flows, with less activity during major sessions and around lunch time, we're almost always busy. At peak times, we're absolutely mobbed, with nearly all the computers being used for demos (often with two or more people gathered around them), with two or three sales stations working feverishly to help all the customers making purchases. At the same time, there might be customers hanging around the booth getting help with installations, publishers standing in the hallway chatting with our people who handle licensing, and other people just trying to figure out what all the fuss is about.

Occasionally I would walk the show floor and cast a not-so-furtive glance at how our competitors were doing. Most of the time they would have at least one or two customers, but never did I see anything approaching the kind of activity happening at the Accordance booth. I'm sure our competitors did well and found the show worthwhile, and they certainly could have been busier at the times I didn't happen to be strolling by, but anecdotal evidence sure seemed to indicate that our booth was consistently the most active.

By the way, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that one of our Windows competitors, with whom we're on quite friendly terms, consistently referred Mac users to our booth. We're grateful to be able to support one another where we can, and we were glad to hear that they too had a very successful show.

Another bit of anecdotal evidence of Accordance's Goliath-like stature at these shows came from the Biblical Archaeology Society booth which was located right next to us at SBL. The second morning of the show, Hershel Shanks, the editor of Biblical Archaeology Review and president of BAS, strolled into the booth and asked the girl working there how the show was going. She told him that things were going great because "that Accordance booth" next door brings in a lot of traffic. There was a time when we would have been pleased to be next to BAS because of the traffic they would bring to us, so it was a great compliment to hear that we are now the heavy hitter drawing traffic their way.

Speaking of heavy hitters, the Accordance booth is the place to be if you're a student wanting to make the acquaintance of big name scholars. I'll resist the temptation to name-drop, but the list of people who drop by the Accordance booth every year reads like a who's who of Biblical scholarship. Even well-known scholars who don't use Accordance (usually because all they know is the PC and they fear they're too old to learn new tricks) stop by the booth to see the latest things we're offering. It really is quite remarkable.

Without a doubt, my favorite thing about ETS/SBL is seeing the reaction of new customers who never even realized the kinds of things that are possible with Accordance. Many of them have been hearing about Accordance from their colleagues and have been skeptical that Accordance could really be that powerful and easy to use. A few minutes into the demos these folks are sold, and when I keep showing them feature after feature, they just start shaking their heads and wondering why they took so long to learn about Accordance. Other people just stumble across our booth and are amazed to discover all that Accordance has to offer. Still others come by with specific challenges, such as "I want to find all hapax legomena in Luke and then search for those words in the Septuagint book The Wisdom of Solomon." "Oh, sure," I say, and in a few minutes I've shown them just how easy it is to do.

Basically, there's so much positive energy and so many excited customers in the Accordance booth that I always leave ETS/SBL feeling excited and encouraged. Our competitors may be larger and better known in other markets, but in the little pond of Biblical scholarship, it's the little fish that is making the biggest waves.


P.S.: Thanks to all of you who came by and expressed appreciation for the Accordance blog. Now that ETS/SBL is out of the way, look for more frequent postings.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006  

Accordance 7.1 Available for Download

We're pleased to announce the release of a free update to Accordance 7. Accordance 7.1 features a number of new enhancements—so many, in fact, that it's probably false modesty on our parts to label this a point-one release. New features include:


  • Spell checking in Edit windows.
  • Citation page in Preferences allows the user to set specific options for copying as a citation.
  • The AccUpdater widget can now automatically download and install some module updates.
  • Pressing option when adding a new Tool or User Notes pane adds it to the top row.
  • Pressing option when opening the Tool browser opens all levels for the article at the top of the pane.
  • Edit window Find and replace can now be limited to Latin characters.
  • The HITS dialog box now offers the options of further definition.
  • Command right and left arrow keys move the cursor to the beginning or end of the line.

Original language

  • The Construct window supports the HITS, COUNT, and Character items, and allows searching in both directions.
  • A new Character palette identifies and enters all the special characters in the Accordance fonts.
  • Syriac text is displayed and searched using Peshitta font, and supported throughout the program like Hebrew.
  • The Parsing window is displayed in columns.
  • Additional Hebrew tags are added for the verbs in the Samaritan Pentateuch.
  • Option to hide the spaces in the text display (intended for uncial manuscripts such as Vaticanus).
  • Entry of Hebrew tags now allows some details, such as those for gender, to be set without specifying another detail first.
  • Automatic entry of diacritical marks is supported in Rosetta, Sylvanus and Peshitta.
Note: A necessary update to the Preference files makes them incompatible with version 7.0.x. If you want to be able to go back to an earlier version please make a backup of the user/Library/Preferences/Accordance Preferences folder. Saved windows including the Timeline or the Parsing windows are also not backwards compatible.

I'll describe some of these features in greater detail in upcoming posts. In the meantime, you can download the update here and begin playing with all the new features today.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006  

Happily Highlighting Hapax

Someone recently asked on the User Forum how he could highlight all the hapax legomena in a text. What the heck is a hapax? It's a fancy Latin term for words which only appear one time in a given text. I guess we could call them "one-timers," but saying things in Latin always makes you sound smarter!

Anyway, to find words which only appear one time in a given text, all you need to do is use the COUNT command. You'll find this powerful command (and many others) in the Enter Command submenu of the Search menu. Select COUNT from the menu (or use the keyboard shortcut shift-command-U) to insert this command into the search entry box. Then simply replace the highlighted question mark within the command with the number "1." Your search argument should now look like this: [COUNT 1]. Click OK, and every word which appears only one time in the text you're searching will be found.

At this point, you could click the Details button to see a Graph of which portions of the search text have the greatest concentration of hapax, or to get an Analysis of all the words which only appear once. That's not what the user who posed the question wanted to do, but hey, it's so cool I thought I'd mention it! :-)

The user who posed this question wanted to be able to highlight all the hapax legomena with a highlight style. To do that, make sure the Highlight palette is visible. If it's not, you can open it by selecting Highlight Palette from the Window menu. With the palette open, all you need to do is hold down the shift key and click the Highlight style you want to use. The style you select will automatically be applied to all the hit words found by your search.

For those who prefer contextual menus to palettes, you also have the option of control- or right-clicking one of the hit words, going to the Highlight All Hits submenu and then choosing the style you want to use.

Highlighting all the hapax legomena in this way is a cool idea, because whenever you're studying a passage, you'll immediately be able to see which words are unique to that passage and used nowhere else. Identifying such words can help you to focus on a passage's unique emphases and find possible key words.


P.S.: Doh! Someone just pointed out to me that hapax legomena is Greek, not Latin! So while it's still true that saying things in Latin makes you sound smarter, it is also true that saying something is Latin when it's really Greek is sure to make you look stupid! :-)

Friday, November 03, 2006  

Compare Text Preferences

Last week, I talked about the Compare Texts feature which is new in version 7. Today I want to highlight the different ways you can customize the way Accordance compares texts. To do this, you simply need to open the Preferences (command-comma) and select Compare Text in the list at the top left corner of the dialog box. You'll see something like this:

Let's start from the bottom and work our way up. At the bottom of the window, you can specify which color you want to use for "replaced," "inserted," and "deleted" words. Personally, I played around with different colors and found myself going right back to the defaults. Cyan is light enough to highlight a word without making it hard to read, yet dark enough to stand out. I found other colors either to be too dark or too light. Red and blue are bright enough to make the vertical line and underline styles stand out, so I've kept them as well. But hey, if you find other colors work better for you, the option is there to change them.

In the middle section of the dialog, you can specify whether or not you want certain word attributes to be ignored. At times, you may want to highlight differences in case (is it "Lord" or "lord," for example), but in most cases, it's an incidental difference that should be ignored. The same goes for punctuation, Greek accents and breathing marks, Hebrew vowel points, and Hebrew cantillation. Depending on what kinds of differences you want to focus on, you can include or exclude any of these attributes from consideration.

Where things really get interesting is with the Compare pop-up at the top of the dialog. The default setting is to compare Words. That means that Accordance will highlight the differences in words as they appear in the text. Here's an example of a text comparison of Matthew 1 in the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament (GNT-T) and the Textus Receptus (GNT-TR).

Because I have the Compare pop-up set to Words and the Ignore Greek accents and breathing marks unchecked, Accordance highlights words like egennesen in the GNT-T and egennese (lacking the final nu) in GNT-TR. It also highlights names like Phares and Zara in verse 3, which only differ in the way they are accented in each text.

Now look what happens when I change the Compare pop-up in the Preferences from Words to Lemmas.

As you can see, there are far fewer differences highlighted, because Accordance is only looking for words which differ with respect to their lemmas or lexical forms. Consequently, the eggenesen/eggenese difference is ignored, because both words are tagged with the lexical form gennao. The names which have remained highlighted are those in which the lexical form differs between texts.

Not only can you compare Words and Lemmas in grammatically-tagged texts; you can also compare the tagging itself. Here's what happens when I choose Tags in the Compare pop-up of the Compare Text Preferences:

Here, even though the Words and Lemmas may differ at many places, the only differences which are highlighted are those words which are actually tagged differently. In this case, that only includes the GNT-TR's addition of ho Basileus in Matthew 1:6. For a somewhat different example, take a look at Luke 2:14:

In the GNT-T, eudokia, "good will," appears in the genitive case, while in the GNT-TR it is nominative. This little difference in case is why the KJV (which is based on the TR) reads "peace, goodwill to men," while newer translations based on the Nestle-Aland text read something like "Peace among those with whom he is pleased" (literally: "peace to men of goodwill").

The ability to change the basis of text comparisons from the words as they appear in the text to the lexical forms and grammatical characteristics with which they have been tagged is perhaps the most powerful aspect of Accordance's text comparison feature. If you're interested in comparing parallel texts and translations, be sure to play with all the options in the Compare Texts Preferences.

Thursday, November 02, 2006  

Using Constructs with Commands

One of the little known features of the Construct window is that it can be joined with other search criteria in the Search window to which it is linked. I tried a particular combination today which some of you may find useful.

Over on the Better Bibles Blog, Suzanne McCarthy is writing a series of posts on Romans 16:7: "Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow countrymen and fellow prisoners. They are outstanding among the apostles" (HCSB). This seemingly innocuous greeting is often used in debates about the role of women in the Christian church, since a woman, Junia, is mentioned as being "outstanding among the apostles." The question, of course, is whether this means that Junia is an "outstanding apostle" or merely "of outstanding reputation to the apostles."

To examine this question myself, I decided to create a simple Greek construct to find all examples of the preposition en (in, among) followed by an article and a dative plural noun. Here's what I came up with:

This search found 225 occurrences in the Greek New Testament, and when I examined the results, it was clear that the vast majority of them are prepositional phrases which emphasize place or time: "In the synagogues," "in those days," etc. Not wanting to wade through all 225 occurrences to find the handful of instances which speak of being "among" a certain group of people, I clicked the Details button and looked at the Analysis tab to see a list of the nouns which appear in this construction.

Scanning the list, I was quickly able to zero in on nouns like apostolos "apostle," ethnos, "Gentile," oikonomos, "manager, steward," etc. which referred to people rather than places or times.

Now, of course, I wanted a quick way to zero in on where these words occurred in my en tois construction. At first, I modified my Construct to specify that the noun had to be a certain lexical form (using the LEX item), but that was a little clumsy to constantly keep changing. So instead, I went to the Search window to which my Construct was linked, and added a WITHIN command with the number of words set to zero. I then simply dragged the word I wanted to focus on from the Analysis window into the Search window and dropped it after the WITHIN command. The end result looked like this:

This search found only those occurrences of my Greek construct which contained the word ethnos, and all I had to do to examine other words was to change the word after the WITHIN command to something else.

If you're doing a construct search and want to modify it further, try joining it with other search commands and search criteria. You'll be amazed at some of the things you can do.