Anchor Yale Bible Commentary in Accordance

The Anchor Yale Bible Commentary (AYBC) is commonly thought of as a full-scale critical commentary covering the Old Testament, Apocrypha, and New Testament, but it is more than that. I value AYBC because, while it is a great example of a critical commentary, its full-scale nature means the authors frequently offer multifaceted readings and insights.

In this post, I want to show you four examples of the type of commentary found in AYBC and one example of how you can easily move from text to commentary in Accordance. AYBC is 50% off at Accordance for one more day.

Insightful Readings

When I think of AYBC, I immediately think of how Joel Marcus frames Jesus’ cries from the cross. Let me set it up and show you a couple of quotations.

Joel Marcus, AYBC: Mark 8–16
Joel Marcus, AYBC: Mark 8–16

Marcus explains how in Qumran literature the Angel of Darkness was thought to be responsible for astronomical phenomena and could play a part in “the depression that darkens the mood of God’s chosen ones” (Mark 8-16, p. 1063). He notes how one of Satan’s goals is to get God’s people to curse him and die. With this context, Marcus writes,

And if Jesus will cry out “with a loud voice” here and in 15:37, that is exactly what people who are demonized—and only they—do elsewhere in the Gospel (1:26; 5:7; cf. 9:26 and Strelan, “Recognizing,” 493–501). Although Mark does not say so explicitly, therefore, the inference from his narrative may be that Jesus, on the cross, suffers such a sudden and intense Satanic assault that he becomes in some ways like a man possessed (cf. Danker, “Demonic Secret”).

Joel Marcus, Mark 8–16, p. 1063

For Marcus, this isn’t just a novel interpretation or a neat way to find parallels to Qumran literature. There is some interprative payoff and theological insight:

With his cry, and with the death that follows, Jesus has achieved the purpose of his mission: complete identification with humanity’s slave-like, accursed condition, and a corresponding form of decease, “even death on a cross” (cf. Phil 2:7–8). The cry of dereliction, then, is in a strange way the Markan counterpart to the Johannine cry of triumph, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)—the goal has been achieved, humanity has been redeemed, and Jesus can therefore die. (Mark 8–16, p. 1064)

Joel Marcus, Mark 8–16, p. 1064

I remember reading this in seminary and being blown away by the thought of Jesus being demonized. It has impacted my reading of Mark ever since. These are just a couple of snippets; Marcus soars in this section. His comments on Jesus’ death (Mark 15:33–41) span fifteen pages.

Interpretive History and Options

One great benefit of a monumental series like AYBC is that some volumes are of the life-work, magnum opus type. Raymond Brown’s John commentary is a great example.

Raymond Brown, AYBC: John 13–21
Raymond Brown, AYBC: John 13–21

I appreciate the way Brown interacts with the text from multiple perspectives. He looks at it critically and devotionally, and he does not neglect the history of interpretation. I recently turned to Brown’s commentary for insight on the giving of the Spirit in John 20:22.

He first discussed the text in light of the Gospel of John itself and noted echoes of Genesis 2, Wisdom 15:11, and Ezekiel 37:3–5. Brown then turned to the history of interpretation, discussing the debate over the text at the Second Council of Constantinople and the view of Theodore of Mopsuestia. He discusses Chrysostom’s view “who relates the gift of the Spirit in John 20:22 to the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit in Acts to the power to work miracles and raise the dead” (p. 1038). Finally, he comments on how critical scholars respond to the text.

This is just one tiny glimpse of what makes Raymond Brown one of my all-time favorite commentators (right up there with R. T. France).

Textual Criticism

A friend and I were recently talking about Hebrews 8 when a text critical issue arose in 8:8. Does the author of Hebrews say that (a) God found fault “with them and said …” or does it say (b) God found fault “and said to them?” THGNT and NA28 are different here.

Hebrews 8:8a
μεμφόμενος γὰρ αὐτοῖς(THGNT)/αὐτοὺς(NA28) λέγει·
Craig Koester, AYBC: Hebrews
Craig Koester, AYBC: Hebrews

AYBC is the type of series that you can turn to for text critical commentary as well. Supporting αὐτους (finding fault with them) and against αὐτοις (says to them), Craig Koester comments,

[Reading “says to them”] does not fit the author’s style, however, since he regularly introduces biblical quotations with a form of legein to say or similar word and no indirect object (2:6, 12; 3:7, 15; 4:3, 7; 6:14; 9:20; 10:5, 15; 12:5, 26).

Craig Koester, Hebrews, p. 385

Because the manuscript evidence is so split, I thought Koester’s argument based on the author’s style was helpful. Not the final word, but a helpful comment.

Devotional Insight

Today, I found especially helpful Victor Paul Furnish’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 7:2.

Victor Paul Furnish, AYBC: 2 Corinthians
Victor Paul Furnish, AYBC: 2 Corinthians
2Corinthians 7:2
Χωρήσατε ἡμᾶς· οὐδένα ἠδικήσαμεν, οὐδένα ἐφθείραμεν, οὐδένα ἐπλεονεκτήσαμεν.
Make room for us. We wronged no one. We corrupted no one. We defrauded no one.

As I read early this morning with the day’s first cup of coffee, I wondered what exactly Paul might have in mind. Why was he telling them he had done nothing and corrupted and defrauded no one? I tapped on the verse reference on my iPhone, selected amplify, and was immediately taken to Furnish’s commentary:

The emphatic profession of innocence (No one did we wrong … corrupt … defraud, 7:2b) can only have been prompted by charges or at least by insinuations to the contrary. Since the apostle seems to presume that a simple denial will suffice, one learns very little from this passage about the nature of those charges. The third denial, however, no one did we defraud, provides an important clue. The same verb (“to defraud”) is used in 12:17–18. From that passage and its context it would appear that the apostle has been suspected of duplicity and fraud in the matter of the collection for Jerusalem …

Victor Paul Furnish, 2 Corinthians, p. 369

I was struck by the humanity of Paul. In 2 Corinthians he isn’t he a powerful hero type character. He’s vulnerable and human, and like Jesus, he too knows what it was like to be slandered. It is always good to see your world reflected in the real world of scripture.

Furnish’s comments weren’t in and of themselves explicitly devotional, but it helped bring me to a very meaningful, devotional reflection.

Here is an example of what it looks like to jump from a Bible text to a commentary on an iPhone:

Moving from text to commentary in Accordance on an iPhone

Conclusion

While AYBC is a full-scale critical commentary — in that way similar to Hermeneia — it is much more. The contributing authors are specialists in their field and frequently offer multifaceted insight into the text.

Right now you can get the Accordance version of AYBC for 50% off. The sale only lasts for one more day, and they do offer payment plans. Check it out the sale here.

A Reading Workspace in Accordance

Over the past few weeks, I’ve settled into a reading workspace in Accordance that I really like. A recent post on the Accordance forums prompted me to do a quick screen recording to demonstrate and explain the setup. I didn’t take the time to edit or polish it, but I hope it is helpful in giving you ideas for your own reading workflow.

NIC in Accordance – Three Posts

This weekend I finished the third and final post on the New International Commentary (45 vols.) in Accordance Bible Software. The goal was to demonstrate both the high quality content of the commentary and how Accordance is a fanstastic platform on which to access the work.

In the first post, NICNT in Accordance Bible Software, I featured the following NT commentaries:

  • R. T. France on Matthew
  • Doug Moo on Romans
  • David deSilva on Galatians

I also note two of my favorite ways to access commentaries in Accordance:

  • Setting up a saved workspace that opens the series in fullscreen
  • Reading a commentary at length on an iPad with a two column layout

In the second post, NICOT in Accordance Bible Software, I featured the following OT comentaries:

  • Victor Hamilton on Genesis
  • John Oswalt on Isaiah
  • Tremper Longman on Ecclesiastes
  • Daniel Block on Ezekiel

At the end of this post, I illustrated two more ways of accessing commentaries in Accordance:

  • Triple-clicking a reference to jump to your preferred commentary
  • Using the info pane for quick reference when you don’t want to read extensively

The third post, NIC and Other Commentaries in Accordance, looks at the way the NIC commentary explains “law of liberty” in James and compares it to the way the term is handled in the New International Greek Testament Commentary, the Anchor Yale Bible Commentary, and Hermeneia.

The occassion that prompted this series of posts is the deeply discounted Eerdmans sale happening at Accordance until midnight Monday, 9/21.

Thank you to Accordance for providing a copy of NIC for review.

NIC and Other Commentaries in Accordance

This is the third and final post on NIC in Accordance Bible Software. Here are links to the first and second.

In this final post on the New International Commentary (NIC) in Accordance Bible Software, I want to demonstrate how the NIC commentary compares to other major commentary series. The idea for this post arose naturally in the course of regular Bible reading.

As I read, I wondered about “law of liberty” (νόμος ἐλευθερίας) in James 2:12, and I checked a few commentaries for what they might say about the context of phrase. The goal was to get a better understanding of the conceptual world with which James might have been operating when he chose those particular words.

Let’s take a look at NIC, the New International Greek Testament Commentary, the Anchor Yale Bible Commentary, and Hermeneia.

NIC on “law of liberty”

Scott McKnight is the author of the NICNT James commentary. He has one short section on the phrase in his comments on James 2:12. He states,

By attaching ‘of liberty’ to ‘law,’ though, James changes the game of the yardstick by which one is judged. Yes, Torah observance is the yardstick, but James’s Torah has been clarified by Jesus … the law of liberty is the law of loving your neighbor as yourself (2:8) … There are no substantive differences, then, between James 2:12 and Matthew 25:31–46.

p. 220

The reason this section is so short, however, is because McKnight devoted four pages to the expression when it first occurred in 1:25.

In his commentary on 1:25, McKnight surveys three options of interpretation. He summarizes the three views this way,

First, there is a (supposedly) Hellenistic Judaism view: it refers to a free life in accordance with reason, with “reason” being a way of describing the Law of Moses. Second is a nomistic Judaism view: it refers to the Law of Moses as that which brings freedom to the obedient. Third is a Christian Judaism view: it refers to the Law of Moses as understood by and interpreted by Jesus in accordance with the double commandment to love God and others.

p. 155

In explaining the first option, McKnight cites Philo and 4 Maccabees, Epictetus and Seneca. For the second view, he discusses Psalms, 1QS from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Mishnah, and Leviticus. Finally, for the third view he discusses Eusebius and several New Testament passages.

The main observation I want to make here is that McKight cites and discusses the primary literature in support of each position. Here’s how he concludes his discussion:

James’s point is this: those who look into the Law as understood by Jesus, which an be called the “word,” is “perfect,” and brings “liberty,” and persevere in their following of that understanding of the Law, are those who will be blessed (1:25c).

p. 158

NIGTC on “law of liberty”

In his NIGTC commentary on James 2:12, Peter Davids comes to essentially the same conclusion as McKnight, stating concisely,

This certain judgment will be according to (διά, as in Rom. 2:12) “the law of liberty,” which, as has already been observed (cf. 1:25), is nothing less than the law of Moses as interpreted (and to some extent altered) by Jesus and the early church, which took its cues from Jesus.

p. 118

Davids, too, devotes more attention to the issue at 1:25. There, he has about a page surveying the interpretive options, whereas McKnight had four pages. Instead of citing and discussing the key passages, Davids merely provides parenthetical lists of references. His conclusion is that “law of liberty/freedom” should be understood as “the OT ethic as explained and altered by Jesus.”

AYBC on “law of liberty”

At 2:12, Luke Timothy Johnson points directly to his comments on 1:25, where he devotes a paragraph to the issue. He also cites Jewish parallels and mentions the Stoic context.

Johnson writes,

The position that obedience to the law renders a person free reminds some commentators … of the Stoic principle that only obeying the law of nature makes a person truly free and that, therefore, only the sage is truly free … but the idea is widespread enough—as the examples from Jewish literature attest—to make direct dependence on Stoic ideas unnecessary.

p. 209

Hermeneia on “law of liberty”

Hermeneia offers a much more extensive discussion of the Stoic context, while citing and discussing the parallel Jewish literature, as well. Dibelius’s commentary is a classic and provides a discussion of “law of liberty/freedom” similar in length to that of McKnight.

Of all the commentaries surveyed here, Dibelius provides the most throughout discussion of both the stoic context and that of Philo. When he cites ancient literature, he provides the key words in the original language and in translation.

Dibelius’s discussion is around four pages, but he offers no definitive conclusion on the context of our phrase. He writes,

Stoic concepts such as those sketched above could easily have influenced this formulation—especially by way of Diaspora Judaism, whose missionary terminology, just like any missionary terminology, made every effort to accommodate the needs of those to whom its mission was directed. But such a hypothesis does not exclude the other possibility that in adopting the expression Jas is looking back already to Paul’s struggle over freedom from the Law. Now, since misunderstandings of the Jewish Law are no longer a threat, Jas ventures to call the Christian norm “law” again, albeit “perfect law” and “law of freedom”—somewhat in the sense of Gal 5:13.

p. 120

Conclusion

No commentary is going to answer every question. I do, however, think McKnight’s commentary is likely the most helpful for most people. McKnight offers the most robust discussion of both the interpretive options and the broader scriptural context, emphasizing the way scripture reshapes the concept of law around the advent of Jesus.

I hope this three post series gives you a better idea of the content the NIC series offers and the benefit of accessing it in Accordance. The sale runs through midnight Monday, 9/21/20. Until that time, the entire 45 volume series is available for $599.

NICOT in Accordance Bible Software

This is my second post discussing NIC in Accordance Bible software. The first post is here. The third post is here.

The New International Commentary is wonderfully helpful resource, and it is currently deeply discounted in Accordance. It’s a sale that is worth your consideration. This post focuses on the Old Testament volumes and ways in which they are easily accessible in Accordance.

Who are commentaries for? Commentaries are helpful to anyone who regularly reads their bible — whether layperson, student, or scholar. It is the kind of resource that you want to be accessible when questions arises, and that is why I prefer to have them in a digital format.

One feature of commentaries like NIC that can easily be overlooked, however, is their introductions. Each work provides much more than verse-by-verse comment on the biblical text. The introductions at the beginning of each work offers a thourough overview issues related to authorship, literary structure, theological themes, and more. These introductions are often as valuable as the commentary itself.

Victor Hamilton on Genesis

The introduction to Victor Hamilton’s Genesis commentary, for example, is just over 100 pages, overviewing the title, structure, composition, theology, problems in interpretation, canonicity, the Hebrew text, and offering a twenty-five page bibliography. Granted, for the average reader the bibliography is not going to be quite as useful, but the other seventy-five pages of the introduciton are substantial and very helpful.

Reading a commentary introduction is ideal for teachers or preachers when prepping for a class or a sermon series. When I taught Sunday School, I would either (a) work through a portion of an introduction like this each week before prepping the lesson or (b) read straight through a commentary introduction before the first week’s lesson.

Reading through a robust commentary introduction provides a tour of the unique issues scholars discuss with a particular book of the Bible. Knowing the issues is helpful and important because I found that by becoming acquainted with the scholarly discussions I was able to stand and speak with more confidence. It helped allay lingering doubts of what I might be missing or overlooking. Secions like Hamilton’s “Problems in Interpretation” are especially helpful in this regard.

John Oswalt on Isaiah

In my post on NICNT, I mentioned spending six months teaching through Romans with Moo’s volume as a constant companion. We did the very same thing Isaiah and Oswalt. Oswalt’s Isaiah commentary is one of my favorite single commentaries on any biblical book. Isaiah is difficult, and readers genuinely need help understanding the text. While teaching through the book, I would regularly point people toward Oswalt for help. Sure, there are more succint treatments out there, but Oswalt’s volumes would answer my questions more often than the others.

To provide another example of what an NIC introduction looks like, Oswalt’s two volumes begin with seventy-five pages discussing the title, background, unity of composition, date and authorship, occasion, canonicity, Hebrew text, theology, problems in interpretation, analysis of contents, an outline of the book, and closing with a bibliography.

With a book like Isaiah, it is often difficult to track with the flow of the discourse. Apart from the rich commentary itself, I have regularly benefitted from Oswalt’s detailed outline of the Isaiah. The outline itself spans five pages.

While some might not agree with Oswalt’s arguments regarding the authorship of Isaiah — he argues for a single author — the book pays close attention to the text, the literary structure, the flow of the argument, and the book’s theological contribution to the canon. These are, I think, the issues for which most people turn to commentaries.

Oswalt’s commentary stands out because his writing is so clear. Here’s one example, an extended quote, from comments on Isaiah 2:12–17:

It seems extraordinary that many commentators have difficulty seeing anything but a literal reference here (so Cheyne, Skinner, Gray). It is hard to understand why God should be against anything in nature merely because it is strong or tall. The various attempts to explain this view are all strained and all verge upon the figurative (cedars of Lebanon used to build great buildings, nature under punishment for mankind’s sin; cf. Delitzsch, Cheyne). Clearly, what God opposes is human arrogance and pride. It is these which the prophet is attacking (vv. 9, 11, 17, 19–22; cf. Mauchline). Moreover, Isaiah regularly uses nature, and particularly trees, in a symbolic way (1:30; 6:13; 9:9 [Eng. 10]; 10:33–11:1; 44:14; 60:16; cf. also Ezek. 31:1–18 for an extended figure). There is thus every reason to see the passage as figurative (although not allegorical, where each element must represent one specific thing). The prophet has chosen a number of items that visually represent the spiritual condition of Israel. Kaiser has suggested that he has visualized a windstorm, accompanied by an earthquake, sweeping down from the north (God’s home, 14:13; cf. UT, 51:iv:19–20; ANET, p. 133), and reaching all the way to the southernmost anchorage at Elat. All that is great and impressive is knocked down. So it will be with human pride on the day when the Lord acts. As surely as the wind uproots the trees and knocks down the ship, as surely as the earthquake moves the mountains and cracks the walls, so will the terror of the Lord remove all human pomp and pretension.

pages 126–127

Tremper Longman on Ecclesiastes

One of the first text books many college and seminary students read is John Walton’s Survey of the Old Testament or Tremper Longman’s Introduction to the Old Testament. These two books are classic, evangelical text books, and so many will be intruiged to see that Longman is the author of the NIC Ecclesiastes volume.

Longman’s introduction covers fifteen topics in fifty pages.

Reading through an introduction like this in digital format is ideal on an iPad. The iPad screen provides plenty of space for reading with Accordance’s multi-column view and clicking on references to look at the text in the original language.

Longman’s commentary is written with a balance of argumentative rigor and devotional insight. For example, listen to his closing words:

The book of Ecclesiastes must in the final analysis be understood by the modern reader in the light of the full context of the canon. For the Christian that context includes the NT. For this reason, now that we have looked through the book as a whole, I commend the rereading of the introduction, particularly the sections that concern the theological message of the book. The idea is presented there that Jesus Christ is the ultimate answer to Qohelet’s conclusion of meaninglessness under the sun. Jesus emptied himself of his divine prerogatives to subject himself to the world “under the sun” in order to free us of the chaos to which God subjected the world after the fall into sin (see Gal. 3:3 and Rom. 8:18–27).

page 284

Accessing NICOT in Accordance

One of the easiest ways to access NIC in Accordance is to simply triple click on a Bible verse reference to amplify straight to the commentary. On MacOS, a triple click on Ezekiel 1:1 takes you directly to volume one of Daniel Block’s fantastic Ezekiel commentary. This is yet another example of a magnum opus in the NIC series.

Another simple way to quickly access commentaries in Accordance for MacOS is to use the info pane.

I usually prefer a two column layout with texts on one side and lexicons on the other. When I want to take a quick look at a commentary and not necessarily read extensively, adding the info pane from the “Add Parallel” shows me which resources comment on the verse I’m looking at. As I scroll, the info pane automatically updates. Long-holding on one of the book cover images gives me a pop-up, which though not full screen is helpful for quickly reading a commentary on one particular verse.

Conclusion

I think NIC is the best overall commentary for most people, and Accordance is a fantastic platform on which to access it. When you are thinking of investing in a series like NIC, quality control is very important. Accordance regularly release updates to their modules to correct occasional typos that slip in during the digital production process. If there is one software company that consistently demonstrates concern for quality control, it’s Accordance.

Currently, Accordance is having one of the best sales they have ever offered. This Eerdmans sale offers some of the deepest discounts I’ve ever seen. All 19 volumes NICNT are on sale for $299, and the 29 volumes set of NICOT is $399. The entire NICOT/NT set is $599 at 60% off. If you are on the fence and such a large purchse is difficult to do all at once, Accordance offers payment plans making the deeply discounted sale price even more affordable.

In the next post, I’m going to take a look at the NIC commentary on one particular verse and compare it to other major commentary series.

Apollos OT Commentary in Accordance

The Apollos Old Testament Commentary (10 vols.) is distinguished by its devotedly Christian approach to scripture while at the same time being thoroughly conversant with the broader field of biblical scholarship. This is what I love about it. To compare it to other commentary series, it is more like the Word Biblical Comentary than Anchor Bible, Zondervan Exegetical, or Crossway Expositional Commentary. It is more IBR and less TGC.

Authors & Volumes

Here is a list of the ten volumes currently available:

  • Exodus, T. Desmond Alexander (2017)
  • Leviticus, Nobuyoshi Kiuchi (2007)
  • Deuteronomy, J. G. McConville (2002)
  • Joshua, Pekka M. A. Pitkänen (2010)
  • Ruth, L. Daniel Hawk (2015)
  • 1 & 2 Samuel, David G. Firth (2009)
  • 1 & 2 Kings, Lissa M. Wray Beal (2014)
  • Ecclesiastes & Song of Songs, Daniel C. Fredericks and Daniel J. Estes (2010)
  • Daniel, Ernest Lucas (2002)
  • Haggai, Zechariah, & Malachi, Anthony R. Petterson (2015)

In what follows I will explain the way in which the authors of Apollos approach scripture and why it is one of my favorite commentary series.

Perspective

The author of the Exodus volume is T. Desmond, an established scholar who has published academic and popular work focused on the Pentateuch and bibilcal theology. The introduction to this commentary is concise and readable and illustrates well the author’s intention to explain how Exodus fits within the broader biblical portrait of God and his work in the world, while at the same time interacting with and integrating bilical scholarship.

Alexander is clear about his goal and his Christian presuppositions:

Amid the welter of opinions expressed on Exodus, this commentary gives priority to explaining its theological significance … I write from a position of believing that the book of Exodus carries an authority that is of divine origin, being more than simply the product of a human author. This conviction arises out of my Christian faith, and it undoubtedly influences how I approach Exodus.

p. xi

Regarding Exodus biblical theology and literary context, Alexander writes,

YHWH’s coming to live among the Israelites brings to an apt conclusion a book that is dominated by the theme of knowing God personally. Through both actions and words YHWH makes himself known, from first appearing as a flame of fire to Moses (3:2) to his fire-and-cloud glory descending upon the newly erected tent-sanctuary (40:34–38). From start to finish Exodus explores how YHWH takes the initiative in order that the Israelites and others may know him more fully. The Exodus story is a multifaceted diamond that witnesses to God’s compassion, faithfulness, glory, holiness, justice, majesty, mercy and power … What happened in Egypt becomes a paradigm for what God will do in the future. ‘Isaiah saw a day when Israel would again return from Egyptian (and Assyrian) exile akin to the exodus of old (Isa. 27:12–13; 40:3–5; 43:1–7, 14–21; 44:21–23; 48:20–22; 49:8–13; 51:9–11).’

pp. 2–6

Some scholars with similar convictions and concerns, however, do their work with little attention to the broader field of biblical scholarship. This is not the case with the Apollos series. I appreciate Alexander’s cautious statement regarding the authorship of the Pentateuch:

Almost nothing can be said with any certainty about the authorship and date of composition of Exodus. The book itself does not identify the author responsible for organizing and shaping its contents, although it is implied that he is omniscient and reliable. A few explicit statements credit Moses with recording in writing specific parts of Exodus, but the narrator does not claim that Moses is the author of this material (24:4; 34:27–28). Other statements attribute the composition of important sections of Exodus to God (e.g. 20:1–18; 20:21–24:2; 25:1–31:18). Miriam might have composed the song in 15:1–18 (see comment on 15:21).

p. 10

Scholars study Exodus for a variety of reasons, and these reasons affect how they understand authorship. Some approach the text primarily interested in the literary sources behind the book. Some focus more on literary readings that are heavily reliant on a particular reconstruction of the composition process, while others focus on literary readings without giving any attention to the composite nature of the text. Alexander briefly surveys the perspectives and brings his section on authorship to a close with this very reasonable conclusion,

The idea of Israel’s coming out of Egypt and entering into a covenant relationship with YHWH at Mount Sinai has every appearance of being a long-standing tradition. As regards the dating of these traditions, in the light of the limited evidence available, scholars ought to be exceptionally restrained about making absolute claims (Sommer 2011: 85–108). This leaves open a wide range of possibilities regarding the dating of Exodus.

p. 11

How does Alexander himself approach the text?

In approaching this commentary on Exodus I have deliberately sought to give due respect to the book’s author, the author being understood as the individual responsible for shaping the MT of Exodus as we now know it … Exodus may be helpfully compared to a literary collage … Rejecting the pursuit of novelty, the present commentary strives to honour the genius of the one who gave the book of Exodus its definitive form. In this regard it has more in common with the commentaries of Jacob (1992), Houtman (1993; 1996; 2000), Dohmen (2004; 2015) and Fischer and Markl (2009), than those of Scharbert (1989), Propp (1999; 2006), Dozeman (2009), Albertz (2012; 2015) and Utzschneider and Oswald 2015.

p. 14

Some might think that because Alexander is reserved in his statements on authorship and composition this means that he believes Exodus is a work of fiction. He is very clear that this is not the case.

It is impossible to view Exodus as both fiction and divine revelation … Modern readers may harbour reservations about the historicity of what Exodus claims, but numerous references in the OT to the Israelites coming out of Egypt strongly suggest that ancient readers understood these events as having occurred.

p. 17

Some will find that statement too conservative, others will find it unsatisfactory to assuage their concerns that the work isn’t conservative enough, but that’s my point. Apollos is helpful in that it avoids the extremes of a historical approach that refuses to treat the Bible as Scripture and the other extreme of reading the Bible with no concern for scholarship.

Alexander’s volume is a good example of how the authors in this series approach the text. Each author is conversant with scholarship and treats the text as Christian scripture.

Other volumes

A couple comments on a few other volumes:

Pekka Pitkänen’s work is my go-to volume for Joshua.

Enest Lucas’ work on Daniel is particularly interesting because much commentary on Daniel focuses either on identifying the book’s figurative language or on debates regarding authorship and date. Lucas focus on the theological meaning and significance of the text, and he saves much of what you might expect to find in the introduction for the epilogue. He intentionaly fronts the text and commentary. I love this move, and I appreciate his tempered conclusion regarding the date of authorship:

This brief survey shows that the evidence regarding the date of the book of Daniel is not clear-cut. It is possible to make a reasoned, and reasonable, defence of a late sixth-century or early fifth-century date for the book. However, in the characteristics of the language of the book, the literary forms used and the affinity with apocalypses, there are pointers to a later, even possibly second-century, date for the final form of the book. We have seen that acceptance of both a late sixth-century date and a second-century date are consonant with belief in the divine inspiration and authority of the book.

p. 312

McConville’s work on Deuteronomy is one of the first commentaries I turn to (Tigay’s in JPS is fantastic as well). This is another example where the Apollos editors have chosen a true expert, a specialist, both with respect to Deuteronomy and Old Testament theology.

Scope

Some commentaries focus on issues of authorship, date, and audience to such an extent that their actual introductions take up half the work, leaving the treatment of the text itself to be somewhat shallow. I appreciate how the introductions to these works are readable and, on average, are only about thirty pages long. In one sitting, a pastor or teacher could sit down and read an introduction to understand where the scholarly converstaion is regarding a particular book.

The commentary sections follow a consistent pattern:

  • the author’s translation
  • notes on the translation
  • the form and structure of the section
  • commentary on each verse
  • an explanation section that offers a synthesis of the comments in light of what the text has to say about God and humanity.

Here is one snippet from the final explanation section of Daniel Fredericks and Daniel Estes’ volume on Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs:

The end and summary, not only to Ecclesiastes, not only to the wisdom literature, but to all of revealed instruction, is to fear God by obeying him. This is not ‘changing the subject’; it is the subject of Ecclesiastes. If Qoheleth says anything, it is that one should fear the sovereignty of God and apply the Shepherd’s revealed principles of wisdom and righteousness (3:12).

p. 251

Accordance Version

The Accordance digital version is fantastic because it is extensively hyperlinked and searchable and integrates with the rest of your digital library. Here you can see the various ways the text has been tagged and can be searched even on mobile devices:

I especially appreciate the abilty to pull up the commentary in parallel to the text of Scripture while reading. I usualy read a print text, but I have Accordance open on my phone or iPad for reference.

On the Mac, commentaries are integrated with the info pane, which makes accessing all your reference resources extremely easy. Accordance has a helpful video on the info pane here.

Finally, Accordance makes it easy to cite page numbers. Here is a picture of the quotation cited above from Fredericks and Estes. You can see the page number on the first line of text in blue font:

Conclusion

The Apollos series provides thorough yet concise commentary. It is a fantastic example of scholarship that combines rigorous interaction with biblical scholarship and Christian devotion. I hope we are able to see more volumes in the near future. The Accordance digital version is the ideal way to read and reference the Apollos volumes.

Accordance is currently selling the 10 volume set for $199, which is a fantastic deal. You can also save 40% on all individual volumes with code JulyVols40 at checkout.

Thanks to Accordance for the complimentary copy for review.

Twitter Discussion on the THGNT Ending of Mark

This post on Twitter, the content of which I wrote up and expanded in a blog post on the Ending of Mark in THGNT, led to an interesting discussion.

In a conversation with Charles Sullivan, Dirk Jongkind provides links to manuscript images in the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room.

Inepti Graeculi asks a question regarding Eusebius’ position on the ending.

Charles Sullivan asks about the origin of minuscule 1, which leads to …

Some info I found by following the link trail embedded in the hyperlinks of the THGNT apparatus module in Accordance and …

Rick Brannan provides the Virutal Manuscript Room ID for the relevant minuscule.

Jeremiah Coogan offers some very helpful comments here and here.

Fr. Thomas Sandberg questions why the textual note is included in light of the fact that the mansuscripts that include it are from the tenth to fourteenth centuries, and Jeremiah responds.

And by the way, we love this, Dirk.

Lexicon Preferences in Accordance

I have always wanted to setup Accordance so that I can jump straight to BDAG if I am in the GNT but jump to LSJ if I’m in the Septuagint. It just dawned on me this evening that the live click feature makes this possible. You can triple-click to jump to one lexicon, or you can use the live click feature to jump to another.

I explained it below with text and pictures, and I embedded a short video, too. This would of course work for Hebrew if you wanted to go to HALOT for Biblical Hebrew but DCH for the Dead Sea Scrolls.

If you are new to live click you will want to make sure the preferences for live click are set to “Sort by library (entry).” You can find out more about live click here.

Lexicon 1 — Preferences, Amplify

Open your Accordance preferences, go to the Amplify section, and set your primary Greek lexicon. For me, that’s BDAG. This is the lexicon you will jump to if you triple-click.

Lexicon 2 — Library Order

Now, whichever other lexicon you would like to be able to jump to can be placed at the top of the Greek lexicon section of your library. For me, that’s LSJ. This is the lexicon you will jump to if you single click using the live click feature.

That’s all there is to it. I don’t know why I didn’t realize this earlier. Make sure live click is active. Single-click to go to LSJ and triple-click to go to BDAG.

Video

2 Chronicles Göttingen LXX in Accordance

Accordance is the only software that has Hanhart’s 2 Chronicles Göttingen edition. V&R published the print edition in 2014, and Accordance released their electronic edition in 2018.

Currently, Accordance has their Göttingen LXX on sale for the lowest price they have ever offered. The 2 Chronicles volume is available apart from the bundle, but the individual volume is not currently on sale.

In this post, I want to demonstrate a few of my favorite ways to use this resource on MacOS, iOS, and iPadOS. This will give you a better idea of what it looks like to work with an electronic edition of Göttingen on each platform.

MacOS

On the Mac, I use the Göttingen volumes more for reference than reading. I find it helpful to save each Göttingen volume in its own workspace and then jump to that workspace when I want to reference it. This setup allows me to reference a Göttingen volume without the need to open the text module, open the apparatus module, and then adjust the size and position of each.

The following video shows you how to setup and save a workspace for the 2 Chronicles module:

Saving a workspace for 2 Chronicles Göttingen LXX

After you have a workspace setup for the Göttingen volume, you can then jump to it easily by two-finger clicking on a verse reference and selecting the workspace name from the context menu. Check it out:

Jumping to the 2 Chronicles Göttingen LXX workspace

Before looking at the module on the iPad and iPhone, I want to show you another way I reference the Göttingen volumes on MacOS. You can set up the Göttingen volumes in a workspace alongside other ancient witnesses and jump to that workspace when you want to quickly look for other readings. I named my workspace OT Texts. In this video, here’s what I do:

  • I jump from 2 Chronicles 1:1 in the the Hebrew Bible
  • to my OT Texts workspace
  • to the 2 Chronicles Göttingen volume
  • and back to the Hebrew Bible where I started.
HB > OT Texts > Göttingen > back to HB

iPadOS

In this section, I just want to share some screenshots of what the 2 Chronicles volume looks like on iPad OS. There will be another post that continues my “Ways of Reading” series, and in that post I’ll talk about reading Göttingen 2 Chronicles on the iPad and using a print lexicon.

Göttingen text with apparatus:

12.9” iPad Pro 2018

Gottingen text with NETS as diglot:

12.9” iPad Pro 2018

Now, let’s take a look at what it looks like to actually jump to a few lexicons while reading the text on an iPad. In this video, here’s what I do:

  • I start with the 2 Chronicles Göttingen text,
  • open the instant details by long pressing on χιλίαρχος,
  • jump to BDAG,
  • switch to LSJ,
  • switch to LEH,
  • and go back to the Göttingen text.
12.9” iPad Pro 2018

iOS

Last but not least, just a couple screenshots on the iPhone.

Göttingen text only:

iPhone 11 Pro Max

Göttingen text with apparatus:

iPhone 11 Pro Max

Göttingen text with instant details:

iPhone 11 Pro Max

Conclusion

The laptop/desktop software allows you to reference the Göttingen volumes in unique ways. You can quickly jump to the Göttingen volume with the apparatus already open and positioned correctly. You can also setup and jump to a workspace that allows you to see the Göttingen volume alongside other ancient witnesses. The iPad and iPhone versions allow you to more comfortably read the text and reference your Göttingen volumes on the go.

I hope this post gives you a better idea of how you can use the electronic edition of the Göttingen Septuagint in Accordance.

Electronic Editions of the Göttingen LXX

Academic bloggers and tweeters show up for International Septuagint Day like no other day. Today, my timeline has been filled with tweets about the Septuagint, and I love it. I wanted to add to the chorus by clearing up some confusion regarding electronic editions of the Göttingen LXX in Logos and Accordance.

Volumes

You have two options for electronic Göttingen LXX editions: Logos and Accordance. I’ve owned it on both platforms for several years, but until tonight I did not realize the nature of differences between the packages. I knew Logos started out far ahead in the number of volumes they offered, but Accordance has consistently released more and more Göttingen volumes the past few years. Here’s where we stand.

Logos has 5 volumes that Accordance doesn’t have:

  • Judith
  • Tobit
  • 3 Maccabees
  • Wisdom of Solomon
  • Susanna, Daniel, and Bel et Draco

Accordance has 1 volume that Logos doesn’t have:

  • 2 Chronicles

Here is a full list of the volumes included in each package:

AccordanceLogos
GenesisGenesis
ExodusExodus
LeviticusLeviticus
NumbersNumbers
DeuteronomyDeuteronomy
RuthRuth
2 Chronicles
Esdras 1Esdras 1
Esdras 2 (Ezra, Nehemiah)Esdras 2 (Ezra, Nehemiah)
EstherEsther
Judith
Tobit
1 Maccabees1 Maccabees
2 Maccabees2 Maccabees
3 Maccabees
Psalms & OdesPsalms & Odes
JobJob
Wisdom of Solomon
SirachSirach
12 Prophets12 Prophets
IsaiahIsaiah
Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations, Epistle of JeremiahJeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations, Epistle of Jeremiah
EzekielEzekiel
Susanna, Daniel, Bel et Draco

Even though Accordance has fewer volumes than Logos, Accordance has continued to develop and release Göttingen modules, whereas I don’t think Logos has added to their offerings since their initial release. This pattern suggests that in the coming years Accordance will catch up and surpass Logos in the number of volumes offered.

Price

There are other pluses and minuses to consider besides which books are included. For example, Logos’ package is significantly cheaper. Right now, Accordance is offering their Göttingen package for $599, but that is a sale price and it’s the cheapest it has ever been. The normal Accordance price is $850. Logos normally sales their package for $699, but oddly enough you can find the Logos’ Göttingen LXX in this expansion pack for $329.

Features

Both Accordance and Logos include morphological tagging, but each platform has a way that it one-ups the other.

If a Göttingen volume has two apparatuses —one for the transmission history of the Old Greek and one for tracking differences in other Greek translations besides the Old Greek—Logos splits apparatus 1 and apparatus 2 into different modules. This makes seeing the text and the content of each apparatus far easier than including both apparatuses in one module. Accordance does this for all its modules except the Pentateuch volumes. For whatever reason, in Accordance the two apparatuses for the Pentateuch volumes are together in one electronic module. There is so much info in apparatus 1 that it makes it hard to see the actual text of a passage and scroll down far enough in the apparatus module to see the apparatus 2 information. You scroll down to the apparatus 2 information, but because the apparatus and text modules are linked, now your text module has jumped a verse or two ahead. This is a bummer because the Göttingen Pentateuch volumes are the ones I reference most frequently. I wish the developers would split the Pentateuch volumes into separate text modules and split apparatuses 1 and 2 like they do for the rest of the series.

Accordance however includes one very significant feature of the print volumes that Logos does not have: the Kopfleiste. This is a header that that appears on each page of the print volumes and tells you exactly which witnesses include the text that appears on that page. Without it, finding this information in the introductions is possible but very difficult.

Quality

Finally, the issue of quality control. It isn’t as simple as you might think. Older editions of the Göttingen volumes do not have digital files. These volumes have to be converted in some way to make digital resources. The Göttingen volumes make this very difficult to do well because of the insanely dense apparatus and the numerous uncommon sigla used.

So which platform pulls this off the best? It’s hard to say. At one point, Abram noted that the Logos editions seemed to be more accurate. I think this was based mostly on a close reading of the Isaiah volume. When I reviewed the Job volume for Accordance, I found many typos in the apparates and introduction. The Accordance developers, however, were all over this and fixed all the typos very quickly. When I read 2 Maccabees in the Logos Göttingen edition, I found many typos in the parsing. These have been fixed, as well.

While this category of comparison is significant, it is really hard to say which platform is more accurate.

Conclusion

I’m sure there are still typos in the electronic editions on both platforms, but to me the most useful Göttingen LXX is the one that I have with me when I want and need it. For this reason and many more, I prefer electronic editions over the print volumes. If I were still doing academic research in this field on a regular basis, I would certainly check a print edition before stepping up to the mic at SBL. For the purposes of reading and everyday study, the electronic editions are amazing. And no matter what time of the year it is or what sale is happening, the electronic editions are so, so much cheaper than the print volumes.

Here on LXX Day 2020, cheers to you, Logos and Accordance. Thank you both for years of fun reading and research. I hope to see both of you develop electronic editions of every Göttingen that has been and will be published. Prioritize these, please.

— a happy Göttingen reader

Postscript

Please note that V&R just published Peter Gentry’s Ecclesiastes edition, and we would love to see this in electronic form by LXX day 2021.