Preachers and students of the bible once made tedious use of concordances, church libraries, and multi-volume editions of well worded reference sets as they slowly prepared sermons, researched topics, and wrote their own books. It was almost impossible to own everything a real student of Scripture needed. It was more than impossible to have your library with you, wherever you went. With the introduction to the information age, the bible and bible study has taken a new form. Rather than heavy books, stacked library shelves, and hidden resources wasting many hours that could be devoted to actual research, the computer promised new ways to insure bible study was quick and relatively painless. After all, digital pages rarely leave students with papercuts.
Let me give you some technical details before I proceed. I run Accordance 11 on my (late 2012) Mac, with 8Gb of ram. I have several current bible study software programs, but this post will try to avoid comparisons. I run the Accordance iOS app via my iPad 3 and iPhone 5c. I have spent considerable time learning and testing Accordance 11, which was given to me free of charge for an honest review.
Straight out of the box it downloaded and installed quick, easy, and without pain to my Mac. Rather than the titles needing to be indexed, each title is pre-indexed — meaning there is no lag time in using a freshly purchased, or updated, module. Indeed, Accordance beats nearly every program I have in operation speed, agility, and resource management. Those are big words for “It fits like a glove” with my Mac. This is extremely important for me, because it means my Mac and I will be able to use Accordance 11 for sometime without having to worry about excess loads causing damage to my machine. Start-up, close-down, and moment to moment operation happens without crashes, glitches, or lags. Even native Apple apps sometimes do not meet this goal.
Like any software program, updates are required. Accordance updates are the easiest of all of the bible programs I own. I am not sure of what happens behind the scenes, but if there is an update, it tells me when I open up the program. The downloads are quick. The installation is even faster. Once they are installed, there is nothing else to do. Simply, there is no requirement of the program to index the new updates. There is no load placed on your machine.
I’m not going to review every feature of Accordance 11, but highlight those that matter to me. You can find the full list here.
One of the features I really like is the way you can categorize your resources. This comes in handy when, say, I want to organize my Greek sources or, in the future, my Wesleyan resources. If I want to create a category removing all devotional material, without removing them from my library, I can do that so that I no longer have to worry about having them searched. I can create a category, say for Wesleyan modules/tools, and search only that category. I can, perhaps, discover that Outler improperly named the third leg “Experience” when he should have named it “Assurance.”
Speaking of searches, Accordance 11 has 2 types of search available to us. The first is flex. It allows you to take a shot in the dark. It is like google, but for the bible. What I mean is this: you ever think you know what you want to search for, but do not know how it is phrased? Sometimes, searches require you to make an accurate guess. I rarely ever get this to work for me because I am always hearing things differently. I mean, if you read Scripture in a variety of translations, you will eventually mesh this together. Flex search prevents that and allows you to look for close connections to what you are searching. It also changes numbers and senses so you aren’t stuck with “search for plane” (when you mean “search on the planes”).
The second type is the exact search. When they say fast, they mean fast. Granted, my library is (for now) small, but the search feature seems almost instantaneous. Added to this, you can modify the exact search to look for tags, syntax, and other varieties. This is not the flex search, as it is really geared to the original languages.
A related feature is the topic search. Thank of Nave’s, but better and faster. A lot faster. Sort of like a highway in Montana. You type in a topic — say, baptism. You will get verses associated with baptism (ranging from dipping to baptism). If there isn’t a topic exactly like you want, there are usually others provided that come close to it. Accordance bills this as perfect for topical preachers. That’s fair, but it is also helpful for students who want to follow a thought around Scripture while working on their dissertation. This feature is actually new in Accordance 11.
A new feature, important for several reasons, is the Research Tool (formerly Search All). The first reason is because it allows you to maximize your library. Second, it shows you just how fast Accordance 11 is (albeit, this may not be your primary reason for using this tool, much like buying a Corvette is not simply because the leather seats look cool). I searched several words (sex, suicide, Jesus) and quicker than I’ve just typed this sentence, I had my entire library combed through, with the results presented to me in prompt fashion. Again, the speed in which this happened is astounding.
This is what it looks like:
The Research Tool makes something like journals beneficial, efficient, and usable. You can see the results, scrolling through them, almost immediately. This is greatly helpful in cutting down the time wasted in exploring every resource individually to find what you want.
Original Languages Collection
The Original Languages Collection is designed to provide a better-than-entry level package enabling novices, students, and seasoned learners the ability to learn, relearn, and maintain the ability to study Scripture in its original languages.
A huge draw for me here is the New English Translation of the Septuagint (which only a few of the bigger bible software systems have available). Unlike other programs, the NETS is divided into two different modules (sold together), allowing the user to focus either on the introductory material or the text of the Septuagint itself. The introductory material is important to the NETS and to the study of the LXX.
Other modules include the basic English translations such as the King James, the English Standard Version, and the New English Translation. Like the NETS mentioned above, the NET includes copious notes, highly prized among textual studies students. Added to this are commentaries such as the IVP New Bible Commentary and the Eerdmans Dictionary. Included as well are German, Italian, and Spanish bibles.
But, that’s not really the goal of the Original Languages Collection. While the focus seems to be on the Greek side of Scripture, the collection includes several Hebrew modules as well:
BHS Latin Key
KM Hebrew Dictionary
Not only are several modules directed to the LXX in the original Greek but there are numerous modules aimed at the Greek New Testament, including lexicons, dictionaries, and critical texts. One of my favorites is the Louw and Nida Semantic Domains set.
Also include are resources aimed at bringing all parts of Scripture together, such as Gospels parallels and a tool designed to show how the NT uses the OT.
The entire package is $299.00 before any applicable discounts (if there are any) with the print value topping $2000.00. Not only is the cost nice, especially for students, but so is not having to use the space these books in print would occupy. Added to these factors, the tools included herein come in quite handy if you are going to engage in serious study of Scripture in its original languages, not to mention how Scripture uses and reuses itself (or, perhaps, how one author would reuse another author).
There are numerous types of discounts available to the purchaser. You can find them and the process here. My only issue with the discounts program is that the price, once the discount is approved, is does not show up on the product page. The discounted price is available only in the cart. This is more of a convenience thing, really. There are also payment plans available.
Accordance 11 gives me, in an affordable way, the ability to have my library at my fingertips. While it is expansive, it does not overload my Mac. Rather, it acts very much like a native Apple app (if not better in many instances). I cannot express this enough, really. The speed, efficiency, and resource management Accordance 11 offers is, by far, the best in the business. Added to this is a non-taxing learning curve, Accordance 11 is ideal for anyone seeking to engage Scripture and biblical studies in the 21st century while building a library that is expansive, manageable, and always present.