Reading & Digital Notetaking

I’ve read with paper and pen, but these days if I am taking notes while reading, I use GoodNotes and a 9.7” iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. I don’t know how many times I’ve been working with someone and wanted to check my notes but didn’t have the right little notebook with me. That’s no longer a problem.

Text

There are three elements to this way of reading: print text, lexicon, and iPad. If I’m reading Greek or Hebrew, I prefer to read from a print text — NA28, BHS, Loeb, or a reader’s text. I don’t mind reading on my iPad, I just prefer a print text for this type of literature.

Lexicon

It’s a different story for the lexicon: about half the time I use a digital lexicon on my iPad and other times I prefer a concise, print lexicon. The lexicon varies depending on the medium.

If I’m using a print lexicon, then it is either Clines’ Concise Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, Danker’s Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Liddell and Scott’s Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, or for the Septuagint, either LEH or Muraoka’s.

If I’m working off my iPad, then it’s either HALOT and Clines’ CDCH, BDAG, or LSJ in Accordance. It’s never really just one, and that’s the big benefit of a digital lexicon — you can easily switch between HALOT, BDB, CDCH, and DCH.

GoodNotes

GoodNotes is the distinctive feature. GoodNotes allows me to reap all the benefits of taking notes by hand, while simultaneously storing my notes in a digital platform I can access anywhere. The cherry on top is that GoodNotes automatically recognizes the text of your notes — even cursive — and you can search them. Unfortunately, it does not recognize Greek or Hebrew, but what app really does a halfway decent job with that apart from ABBYY FineReader. It would be unreasonable to expect GoodNotes to turn handwritten Greek or Hebrew into digital text, but one can dream.

You can pinch zoom on the GoodNotes paper and write, but I recently started using the zoom window, which allows me to have a larger writing line, while also letting me see more of the page.

As far as what type of notes I write down, this is my rule: If I look it up for any reason, I write it down. Usually it’s vocab notes, sometimes notes from a grammar, and occasionally something more reflective.

There are times when I use Accordance and GoodNotes in split screen. Because of the auto-advance feature of the zoom window, I can write continuously even though I have a relatively small space, half of a horizontal 9.7″ screen. You can see an example and more explanation of this feature at the bottom of this page, but check this out, too.

I can also copy and paste right along side my hand writing, and if I don’t like the way something looks, I can erase and rewrite it or cut and paste it somewhere else — yes, even the handwriting.

Wrapping up

I read at odd times throughout the day. Maybe it’s in the thirty minutes I have just before the students come streaming in, or maybe it’s while they are taking a quiz. Coffee shop, office, whatever — no matter when and where, I have my notes with me. Being able to share my notes with others is pretty sweet, as well.

GoodNotes and the Apple Pencil work so well together that taking reading notes sometimes feels like art. I can’t imagine a better digital notetaking environment.

A couple more pics:

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