Comparing OT Texts in Accordance

After saving a workspace, you can launch it with just a couple clicks. This is one of my favorite features in Accordance. As I show below, it only takes a minute to set up, and a second or two to launch. I regularly use this feature to quickly see several ancient versions of the Old Testament in parallel.

Set up the texts

Open your Hebrew Bible, and use the Add Parallel button to add the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls and all the other ancient versions you have in your library.

Save the workspace

Order the columns however you like, and then go to File > Open Workspace > Add Workspace and name it something like OT Texts.

Next time

Now, the next time you are in an OT text and want to check the readings of other ancient witnesses, simply two-finger click (or right-click) on the verse reference and go to My Workspaces > OT Texts. This will open a new workspace in a separate window with all the ancient versions in parallel. When you are finished, close that window and your back to your text.

Video Example

Göttingen Job in Accordance

“The Septuagint says …”

You can’t responsibly finish that sentence without checking a Göttingen edition. If there is no Göttingen edition for a particular book, then we usually turn to Rahlfs, but his edition was never intended to be the last word on the Old Greek (“Septuagint”) text.

Why Göttingen?

This point is not widely understood, even among students at universities and seminaries: The big blue book most people think of when they hear the word “Septuagint” is primarily based on three uncials — Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Alexandrinus. The Göttingen volumes, however, are based on all the extant witnesses to the Old Greek translation of each book. The Göttingen Septugaint is a full scale critical edition, and Rahlfs is just a starting point for a critical edition. Rahlfs and Hanhart themselves called it a handbook or pocket edition (Handausgabe).

At the end of the day, the differences between Göttingen and Rahlfs are often few when you consider the percentage of words that differ between the two editions. Nevertheless, if you want to finish the statement “The Septuagint says …” as accurately as possible (especially if you are doing academic research) you must have access to the Göttingen volumes.

Furthermore, the Old Greek translation of Job is significantly different than the form of Job we see in our Hebrew Bibles and English translations. Claude Cox states,

The translator, in a brilliant way, gives us an edited version of the story of Job; the text is reworked to such an extent that we might say he adopts the stance of an epitomiser, commentator, interpreter. (Claude Cox, “Job.” In T&T Clark Companion to the Septuagint, ed. James K. Aitken. Bloomsbury, 2015)

To support a statement like this concerning the how-and-why of differences between the Hebrew and Greek versions of Job, it is important to work from texts based on all the available evidence, and this is what Göttingen provides.

The Accordance Edition

Accordance recently released their edition of Göttingen Job, and it can be purchased as a part of a Göttingen collection ($800) or individually ($80). These prices are cheaper than buying print copies, and Accordance occasionally runs sales during which you can get the Göttingen modules even cheaper.

Using the Add Parallel button you can easily add both the first and second apparatuses to the text so that all three scroll together.

Like almost all of their original language texts, Accordance has lemmatized and morphologically tagged all the Göttingen volumes. This means you can search the text for the lexical form of a Greek word (e.g., ἔχω) and find every occurrence of the word in all its various forms (e.g., ἔχει, ἐχόμεναι, ἔχεται).

Or you can find every instance of ἔχω as a present participle by searching for the following:

ἔχω@ [VERB present participle]

Accordance has also tagged the apparatus modules so that they can be searched in unique ways.

It is pretty awesome to be able to search the apparatuses for all references to Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. You see, in the Göttingen volumes the first apparatus notes variants within the transmission of the Old Greek translation itself, but the second apparatus catalogues differences between the Old Greek translation and later ancient Greek translations — such as those of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. So by searching the second apparatus using the Manuscripts search field one can highlight places where the editor notes differences between the Old Greek and later Greek translations.

To search the second apparatus for all references to Aquilla, Symmachus, and Theodotion, open the second apparatus in a separate tab, select the Manuscripts search field, right click on the search entry area, and select Enter Word.

Simply type “s” and you will see the abbreiations α´, σ´, θ´ in the word list. Select each and hit enter. To navigate within the search results to Job 1:1, simply type Job 1:1 in the navigation box at the bottom right, as you see in the picture below, and hit enter.

Typos

Over the course of about an hour, I checked the Accordance modules against the print edition of Göttingen Job, and I found about 10-15 typos in the digital edition. This is highly unusual for Accordance and is due, no doubt, to the fact that (1) this edition was first published in 1982, which means the initial digital text had to be produced by a scan, and (2) the Göttingen editions present any typesetter with the ultimate challenge. There is absolutely nothing like them. The number of obscure abbreviations and symbols and the combination of various langauges in these volumes is like nothing else I’ve ever seen. So the struggle is understandable.

Some of the typos I found in the Accordance modules were issues with difficult-to-reproduce characters like the μ-characters you see below. The picture below is from version 1.0 of the Accordance module, and in that version the little boxes were actually pictures. The module has already been updated to 1.1. Others were places where the scan didn’t accurately reproduce the dense notes found in the first and second apparatuses.

But in typical Accordance fashion, they have already fixed the typos I reported. Within a couple days of my reports, Accordance had already released version 1.1, which you can see below with the corrected μ-characters.

You can also check out this post where they fixed similar issues with another resource within two days of my reports.

Conclusion

If you are serious about studying the Septuagint, the textual history of the Hebrew Bible, or the New Testament authors’ use of Scripture, the Göttingen Septuagint is essential. It is impossible to carry a shelf of Göttingen volumes with you everywhere you go, and despite the typos found in this volume and the inevitable remaining typos yet to be discovered, I think the Accordance edition is the way to go. The price, portability, search capabilities, and morphological tagging, combined with the company’s commitment to producing quality resources, make Göttingen Job in Accordance the best digital option available.

Accordance Lite & Logos Basic

I highly recommend Accordance Bible Software. The company prioritizes the development of original language resources and works hard to produce quality, reliable software the first time.

I no longer recommend Logos Bible Software. I loved it for years, was frustrated with it for years, and finally sold all of it I could. Logos has some wonderful people working for them — several of whom are friends — but the company’s focus and my interests parted ways. You can find my posts in their forums if you want details. I do, however, still use the software a few times a week because they have Croy’s Greek grammar, which is one of the grammars I teach from, and they also have Steve Runge’s and Rick Brannan’s and Ken Penner’s awesome work. If it weren’t for Accordance — and especially the way the program developed between versions 10 and 11 — I would probably still be using and recommending Logos.

Both Accordance and Logos have recently released free versions of their programs, and I think this is fantastic. Now, the top two Bible software companies have free versions that give the average person studying the Bible what they need most — a searchable text — and both platforms allow users to expand their electronic libraries to their hearts’ content.

When many people first consider Bible software, they just want a searchable English Bible. But they know there is this thing out there called Bible software that promises to help them in many more ways than by simply providing a searchable text. They know they will likely want more in the future, but for now they just want a free searchable text. Now, they can take that first step with either or both of the two best options. They can explore and see which one they like better, and if the time comes to expand, they will already have the two best options on their computer — or more likely their tablet and phone.

Check them out yourself:

Accordance Lite

Logos Basic

TDOT for Accordance Bible Software

The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (TDOT) stands out from other Old Testament lexical works in at least three important ways:

  • TDOT provides a responsible discussion of the etymology and ancient Near Eastern background of most biblical Hebrew words — it doesn’t just list related words (cognates).
  • TDOT is much more thorough than the similar New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDOTTE).
  • TDOT explains a word’s interpretive significance from a broader theological perspective than NIDOTTE.

The Accordance version allows one to easily access this 15 volume work and seamlessly move from text, to standard lexicons, to TDOT, and back to the text again. I will explain each of these points below.

What is TDOT?

TDOT is an English translation of the 15 volume Theologisches Wörterbuch zum alten Testament. The English translations have followed the German publications relatively quickly, unlike the New Testament counterpart TDNT, which was published in German in the 1930s and didn’t begin to be translated until the 1960s . You can see the publication information concerning the first and fifteenth volumes of TDOT below:

TDOT for background

TDOT is the best place to turn in order to find an actual discussion of a particular Hebrew word’s etymology (besides journal articles, which are not accessible to most). The standard lexicons will usually list the relevant cognates, but TDOT actually discusses how etymology is relevant for understanding a word’s meaning. And it does so in a responsible way. A word’s etymology is sometimes debated and the relevance of etymology is often maligned because of the way scholars sometimes allow etymology to skew their explanations of particular words. Etymology is important, however, and should not be disregarded all together.

For example, the NRSV mentions “ghosts” in Isaiah 19:3, but other English translations do something different here:

NRSV: the ghosts
ESV: the mediums
KJV: them that have familiar spirits

I’ve highlighted the word in Hebrew and each of the English versions below:

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In this case, etymology significantly affects one’s translation. HALOT lists some related words from various languages but provides no discussion:

screenshot 2

This is where TDOT can come to the aid of everyone from students to pastors to scholars. Below you can see the beginning of the entry for אוֹב and the etymology section in TDOT.

I highlighted three prominent views concerning the origin of the word:

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
ly discuss the ancient Near Eastern background of the word and its use in the Old Testament. The entire “ghost” article is about four pages long.

TDOT is more thorough

Compare the אוֹב articles in TDOT and NIDOTTE:

First, note the length of the sections on etymology and ancient Near Eastern background in each:

  • TDOT: about 1,000 words
  • NIDOTTE: about 150 words

Second, notice the red text in NIDOTTE pictured above. The ANE section of the אוֹב entry in NIDOTTE is essentially a summary of TDOT.

The articles on “God” provide another good example:

First, NIDOTTE only discusses the occurrences of the word in the OT, while TDOT has several sections discussing the background of the word before turning to the OT occurrences. You can see the subsections of the TDOT article in the blue hyperlinked text pictured above.

Second, the אֱלֹהִים article in TDOT is significantly longer:

  • TDOT: 18 pages
  • NIDOTTE: less than 1 page

TDOT is more diverse

TDOT is the standard theological lexicon/dictionary for biblical studies, broadly conceived, whereas most of the contributors to NIDOTTE write from an evangelical perspective. TDOT can, however, help evangelicals fill in what is lacking in the brevity of the NIDOTTE articles and can provide insight into how mainstream scholarship views the interpretive significance of individual words.

TDOT on Accordance for iOS

I do not know of another app that allows one to seamlessly and easily move from the biblical text, through various lexicons, and back to the text of scripture.

The video below (no sound, less than a minute) shows how one can use the Accordance iOS app to move from text, to preferred lexicon, to HALOT, to TDOT, and back to the text.

Conclusion

TDOT is the best place for students, pastors, and scholars to find background information on Old Testament words, and the Accordance version is the most versatile, easily accessible format in which one can access TDOT. This post focuses on the features that make TDOT stand out from other lexical works. More could be said about the way in which TDOT handles the use of words in the OT and other literature. In short, TDOT should be the first place one turns for more information than the standard lexicons provide — whether one is looking for background information or discussion of a word’s theological significance.

I did experience a few program freezes while navigating the pre-release version, and there were a few places where I could not get certain transliterated characters to display correctly though I tried several different fonts with broad glyph coverage. Accordance will likely have these bugs worked out before the resource is released or they will work out the bugs shortly thereafter. Since Accordance released the Göttingen Septuagint volumes, I and several others noted typos in the extremely complex apparatus formatting. Accordance fixed these issues promptly, and I have no reason to think they would do differently with whatever small issues users discover with TDOT.

UPDATE 3/15/16: Accordance has fixed the transliteration issues I noted. You can see what the issue was by looking at the bottom of the picture above showing the etymology section of the אוֹב entry in TDOT. The picture below shows that, less than two days after I reported it, it is fixed.

Note: Accordance gave me a pre-release copy of TDOT for a review focusing primarily on their digital production of the print work.

Accordance Unicode Font

Accordance has a new unicode font in the works. It includes characters for English, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, and more — even DSS transcription like you see listed here. And it includes bold, italic, and bold-italic.
They announced this on the Accordance forums. Unfortunately you need a forums account to see the page.

Here are a couple words I typed in Mellel:

screenshot

Now if that qamets would just slide a bit to the right underneath the daleth, like this אָדָם.

I’m particularly impressed with the fact that all the different language characters are sized appropriately (no gigantic Hebrew and Syriac in comparison to English and Greek):

Here is a PDF where you can see more of the characters included.

Matthew 1-8:1 – Text & Vocab

This PDF includes the text and vocab of Matthew 1-8:1. Each line of the text has enough room to write parsing notes or a translation below it. Vocab is listed alphabetically in the back and includes words that occur 30 times or less in the New Testament.
Finishing the second half of Croy’s Greek grammar and reading 1 John wasn’t enough for my eighth grade girls. We’ve made it through the first two chapters of Matthew and are going to try to get all the way through the Sermon on the Mount by the end of the year! HLS students rock.

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HB in the DSS using Accordance 11

Here is a video showing how you can use the INFER-search to find direct or indirect references to the Hebrew Bible in the DSS. The steps are the same as those listed yesterday for the NT in the Didache post. There is audio in this one. Steps:

  1. Open a tagged Hebrew Bible, limit your search as you would like, type an asterisk and press ENTER to find all the words in the range you prefer.
  2. Open your non-biblical DSS and run an INFER-search. You can also right-click and use the search back feature, as I showed yesterday, but that isn’t relevant for this video since I limited it to one verse in the Hebrew Bible.

NT in the Didache using Accordance 11

Here is a 2 minute video (no sound) showing how to use the INFER-search in Accordance to find potential citations and allusions to the NT in the Didache. You can open the video in a new tab by clicking in the top right of the embedded video.
The steps:

  1. Type an asterisk and press ENTER to search a tagged NT for all the words it contains.
  2. Open an Apostolic Fathers tagged text, limit the search range to the Didache, and run an INFER-search on the NT window.
  3. Highlight a string of hits in the Didache, right click, and shift+click on “Search Back Linked Text” to find NT texts that contain the same words.

1 John – text and vocab

The linked file includes the text of 1 John with vocab at the back. The vocab includes only words that occur in 1 John and appear 50 times or less in the New Testament. It isn’t a reader style layout; the vocab is listed alphabetically in the back. This is something you could easily print and handout to a first year Greek class to get them started reading a NT text. The text was copied and pasted from Logos and the vocab was generated from Accordance using this search syntax: [COUNT 1–50] <AND> [RANGE 1 John]

The font used throughout is GFS Didot, and it is awesome.

screenshot screenshot

Martin G. Abegg on Electronic Dead Sea Scrolls

One person stands behind all electronic versions of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Martin G. Abegg, professor and co-director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute at Trinity Western University.

His name and infamous Mac computer are mentioned in almost every history of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but we wanted to give him the opportunity to tell a little of his story in his own words.

Ken Penner: When did you first start creating a database of Dead Sea Scrolls texts?

Martin G. Abegg: The database began in the Spring of 1988 when I took Prof. Ben Zion Wacholder’s Qumran Sectarian Literature course at Hebrew Union College. I had typed several extended passages into MS Word in order to more conveniently search them and realized that I should find a way to collect these and future additions. Apple’s Hypercard became my first search engine.

KP: What kind of computer equipment and software did you initially use and why?

MA: I started my grad studies in the fall of 1984 at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It was sometime early in that first semester that Steve Pfann took me down to the new computer labs on the Mt. Scopus campus. The PC and Mac rooms were next door to one another. The PC room was nearly empty but the Mac room was a buzz of activity. So armed with Steve’s home-made Masora font (see the first and second fascicles of the Preliminary Editions) I dove in. In the fall of 1987 I purchased my own Mac SE as part of a ploy launched by my Mom to entice me to move back from Israel and continue my studies in the States.

KP: What kinds of controversies did this project land you in?

MA: Nothing at this early stage. The events leading up to access to the Preliminary Concordance and the September 1991 publication with Prof. Wacholder brought a bit of controversy and have been well documented by Ed Cook (Solving the Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls: New Light on the Bible, Zondervan, 1993) and Jason Kalman (Hebrew Union College and the Dead Sea Scrolls, HUC Press, 2012).

KP: How did you connect with Accordance to bring these texts to that platform?

MA: I met Dr. Roy Brown (creator of Accordance) in Nov. of 1991 at a Mexican restaurant in Kansas City while there for SBL. I had known of his “Perfect Word,” and “Mac Bible” and he was in the early stages of writing new software to take advantage of the morphologically tagged Hebrew databases that were just then becoming available. I began “tagging” my text files and working with Roy to use Accordance to search them. It was several years before we released my data. Roy invested 100s of hours as we both worked out the bugs in both my data and Accordance itself.

KP: How and when did other Bible software makers begin to publish your database?

MA: I believe Olive Tree was the first software—aside from Accordance–to license the data for the “Sectarian” data base. Followed by Logos and BibleWorks. Eventually this data became the basis for Brill’s Electronic Library publication (the second edition shepherded by BYU). And of course the DSS Concordance vol. i.

KP: What are some examples of discoveries made possible by such databases?

MA: Wow, this could be a lengthy research project in and of itself. Emanuel Tov’s work has leaned heavily on my data (e.g. Scribal Practices and Approaches). His queries about how to search for various phenomena in the data have also improved various functions within Accordance itself.  Ebert Tigchelaar sends me regular corrections, so I know the tagged data is an important part of his arsenal of tools. The folk at ThWQ have indicated that I have made their work much easier. Lange and Wiegold’s recent Biblical Quotations and Allusions in Second Temple Jewish Literature used the Accordance infer function and my data to produce the Qumran lists.

KP: What has improved over the years since your database was first released?

MA: The database itself was updated rather dramatically after the publication of the first concordance to accord with DJD. Aside from that the main updatings have come on the side of the search software and the speed of computers. And of course we have moved on to the DSS Biblical mss (Accordance modules DSSB-C/M), the refuge caves (Accordance JUDEAN), and Hebrew Ben Sira (Accordance SIRA-C/M).

KP: What are the next developments you foresee in electronic DSS research?

MA: Rob Holmstedt (University of Toronto) and I developed a tagging scheme for syntactic analysis and with the help of Roy Brown have been working the bugs out of an Accordance syntax search function. With a group of TWU students I have syntactically tagged some 20 major Qumran documents. I read my first paper describing the project and initial results at IOQS in Munich this past summer. This means of searching the text promises to replace the “cherry-picking” approach to Qumran grammar and to provide us with a detailed and scientific description of Second Temple Hebrew.

Thanks for taking the time to give us the short version of this story; I’m sure you could write a book about it! We know recognition for this kind of tedious and meticulous work can be hard to come by (as you say, there’s “no honour in databases”), yet we all are the beneficiaries of this passion of yours.