OT and NT Library from Westminster John Knox, Now in Accordance

This week Accordance Bible Software has released a massive 68-volume bundle from Westminster John Knox Press: the Old Testament Library and New Testament Library.

The whole bundle, which is also available in component parts, includes a full set of 31 Old Testament commentaries, a series of 15 New Testament commentaries, and topical monographs for both Testaments. Here’s an article from Accordance on the release. In this post I interact with the bundle, as well as provide a short video demonstration of how to smartly search the modules via different search fields.

 
 

Sample Passage: Mark 12:13-17 (Among Others)

 
 

Nothing against commentaries that draw on an established translation, but I appreciate commentaries (like this one) where the author offers an original translation with explanatory footnotes.

Here’s Mark 12:13-17 in Eugene M. Boring’s original translation:

12:13 And they are sending some of the Pharisees and Herodians to him, to set a verbal trap for him. 14 And they come and say to him, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful and answer without regard to what people may think, for you show no partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it right to pay the poll tax to the emperor, or not? Should we pay it, or should we not?” 15 But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and show it to me.” 16 And they brought one. And he says to them, “Whose image is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Give back to the emperor the things that belong to the emperor, and to God the things that belong to God.” And they were utterly astounded at him.

This section reads well enough. Note that Boring translates the beginning of the verse

Καὶ ἀποστέλλουσιν πρὸς αὐτόν τινας τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ τῶν Ἡρῳδιανῶν

as

And they are sending some of the Pharisees and Herodians to him….

The “and” is translated (better, I think) in other versions as “then” (NRSV) and “later” (NIV). And I don’t find compelling reason in an English translation to preserve Greek’s “historical present” (ἀποστέλλουσιν) as “they are sending,” when the passage is describing a past narrative event. Formal English narrative prose wouldn’t be expected to use historical present. So, too, with verse 14’s, “And they come and say to him….” But that doesn’t overshadow Boring’s exegetical prowess!

For the second part of verse 13, ἵνα αὐτὸν ἀγρεύσωσιν λόγῳ, Boring provides a nice explanatory footnote:

The dative / instrumental logō, without preposition or pronoun, can refer either to what the inquirers say, “with a question,” or what they try to get Jesus to say, “in what he said.”

The translations throughout the OT and NT Library are strong in this regard—the authors highlight other options and why they chose what they did, focusing on lexical and grammatical challenges as they arise.

OTL and NTL are full of historical background:

While in the Markan story line the whole scene is part of the effort to find grounds on which Jesus may be arrested, the question itself, and Jesus’ response to it, is also inherently important for Mark. It was a live issue in his own time, in which the relation of Christians to the demands of the Roman government was not an abstract problem.

And more:

The denarius was a Roman coin, bearing the image of the emperor and an inscription declaring him to be divine and pontifex maximus (high priest). Not only the image, but the inscription, would be offensive to Jewish sensibilities.

In addition to focus on grammatical-historical detail, the series is refreshingly theological in a way that keeps the wider biblical witness in view for a given passage. Here’s more of Boring on this passage in Mark:

There is no paralleling of Caesar and God. God is God and Caesar is not God, in direct opposition to the image and title on the coin. The world is not divided into two parallel kingdoms. There is no encouragement in this text for dividing the world into “secular” and “sacred,” with Caesar ruling the one and God the other, nor is there any “balancing” of civic obligation to the state and religious obligation to God. Obligation to God overbalances all else (cf. 12:44, which concludes this section). Caesar is relative and God is absolute, so the two statements are not on the same plane; the second relativizes the first. Even the conjunction kai that joins them is not coordinating but adversative (as, e.g., Rom 1:13). Caesar does have a kingdom, and Jesus’ followers live in it, but God is the creator of all, and God’s kingdom embraces all, including that of Caesar. Thus while the saying itself calls on Jesus’ hearers to give both Caesar and God their due, it is not directed to those situations in which one must choose between God and Caesar as Lord. When those situations arise, devotion to God must clearly take precedence over Caesar; God demands all (12:29–30; cf. Acts 5:29). But the saying does not tell the hearer in advance how to discern what those situations are.

(His honesty and humility are refreshing!)

Again, the attention given to the passage in its wider literary-biblical context is a hallmark of the series. Here is Stephen E. Fowl on Ephesians 4:1 (“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received”):

Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians is that they walk in a manner worthy of their calling. The use of the term “to walk” to characterize a way of life already appeared in 2:2, to refer to the Ephesians’ moribund way of life outside of Christ. In 2:10 it is used to speak of the manner of life that God has prepared for believers, further connecting chapters 1–3 and 4–6. Here in chapter 4 the initial admonition to the Ephesians is to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” The standard to which the Ephesians’ common life should conform is the “calling with which they have been called.” This calling is first mentioned in 1:18, but it is really in 2:1–10 and 11–22 where the shape of this calling is developed. Recall that in chapter 2 the Ephesians learn of their deathly state in God’s purview and outside of Christ, yet also of how God has graciously delivered them from death into life in Christ so that they may walk in the good works that God has prepared for them. Hence, Paul is not setting some new standard for them. Rather, he is reminding them of what God has already done on their behalf.

When it comes to critical issues like authorship, the volumes I’ve interacted with take a balanced approach. Here’s Fowl, again, on Ephesians:

The overwhelming majority of people read Ephesians for broadly theological reasons. That is, they read Ephesians because it is indisputably a part of Christian Scripture, and Christians by virtue of their identity are called to a lifelong engagement with Scripture as part of their ongoing struggle to live and worship faithfully before the triune God. Christians read Scripture in a variety of ways and in a variety of contexts to deepen their love of God and love of neighbor. Given the ends for which Christians engage Scripture theologically, the issue of authorship is not particularly relevant. Ephesians plays the role it does in the life and worship of Christians because it is part of the canon, not because it is written by Paul or not written by Paul. The text is canonical, Paul is not.

There are some real standouts in the series: Gerhard von Rad on Genesis, Brevard S. Childs on Exodus and Isaiah, Leslie C. Allen on Jeremiah, Adele Berlin on Lamentations, Luke Timothy Johnson on Hebrews, and more. I wish I’d had this Berlin volume as I preached through Lamentations last Lent! (I did access some pages via Google Books preview.)

 
 

VIDEO: Using Search Fields in Accordance

  

How about the OT/NT Library in Accordance specifically? In April I made a 12-minute screencast (just for fun… and for free!) that explains how to read a book in Accordance. I highlight four features that you won’t find on Kindle or that aren’t possible in print. (Here’s the link.) All that I highlight in that video is true of just about any tool in Accordance.

In the below video, I take a shorter time (if you don’t have 12 minutes) to highlight just one feature that sets Accordance apart from other software: search fields.

 
 

 
 

Where to Get It

  

For a few more days, the OT/NT Library is on sale through Accordance.

The OT/NT Library is also available as individual commentaries, if you want to pick up just the volume covering whatever book you’re studying or preaching on now.

You can read more about the new release here, which includes hyperlinks to the full bundle, the smaller bundles, and individual volumes. And be sure to check out Wes Allen’s review here!

 


 

Thanks to the PTB at Accordance for providing me with free access to the OT/NT Library in exchange for a review. This provision did not influence my assessment of the series! See my other Accordance posts (there are many) gathered here. I recorded the video using the app Capto.

Brand New Accordance Webinar I’m Leading Tomorrow on the Septuagint

 

Tomorrow I am leading a brand new Accordance Bible Software webinar: Studying the Septuagint with Accordance.

The session will cover as many of these topics as we’ll have time for in an hour:

• Septuagint resources in Accordance
• Setting up an LXX and Greek NT Workspace
• The New Testament’s use of the Old Testament
• LXX Reading for vocabulary acquisition
• Reading the Septuagint with Göttingen editions
• Advanced: Hebrew-Greek translation equivalents and the MERGE search (as time permits)

I’m looking forward to this one. Sign up info is here.

 

How to Read a Book in Accordance (Screencast)

I’ve recorded a 12-minute screencast on how to read a book in Accordance Bible Software.

I highlight four features:

  1. Hyperlinks, hyperlinks, hyperlinks!
  2. The expandable/collapsible Table of Contents sidebar
  3. Search Fields to better focus your search
  4. Advanced: Amplify/Research to get from the book you’re reading to the rest of your library

You’ll never read or study a work of theology or biblical studies the same way again. Accordance makes Kindle look like a codex.

Here’s the video:

 

 

I mention these resources:

And there are Interpretation Bible studies. More about these exciting new additions to Accordance can be found here.

Thanks for watching!

 


 

Thanks to Accordance for access to the Interpretation modules shown in this screencast review. See my other Accordance posts (there are many) gathered here. I recorded the tutorial using the app Capto.

Logos 7: Review, Screenshots, Video

Image via Logos
Image via Logos

 

Bible software nerds, rejoice! Today Logos 7 comes into the world.

I’ve been using Logos (alongside Accordance and BibleWorks) since Logos 4. There hasn’t been a major interface overhaul since that version, but Logos has been steadily adding loads of features since then.

From a few weeks of beta testing, I offer here my initial impressions of Logos 7, as well as a look at its features in action.

Here’s the best of what’s new in Logos 7.

 

1. Interactives (Again)

 

The Interactives were my favorite feature in Logos 6. The addition of more Interactives makes it the part I most like about Logos 7.

Here is a screenshot of all the Interactives, which you can pull up from your library with the search: “type:interactive”.

 

Logos 7 Interactives
Logos 7 Interactives

 

Some of those were in Logos 6, like the Bible Outline Browser, which shows you all the Bible text outlines you have in your library for the passage you’re considering.

 

 

The Hebrew Cantillations Interactive in Logos 7 has seen improvement since its release in Logos 6 (it wasn’t ready for prime time initially):

 

 

Logos 7 adds the Septuagint Manuscript Explorer, which students of the Göttingen editions will especially appreciate:

We’ve cataloged information about Septuagint manuscripts, including contents, date, language, holding institute, and more. With this interactive, discover the earliest Septuagint manuscripts see how many contain the book of Psalms, and even view scanned images of many fragments, like Codex Sinaiticus.

 

 

My most used Interactive at the moment is the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. I would have made great use of it when I took a seminary course by that name. There are lots of ways to get access to what OT passages the NT is using (commentaries, Bible text footnotes, words searches), but this Interactive consolidates and sorts the data in a highly convenient way.

You can sort by allusion, quotation, echo, and citation. I always thought allusion and echo were more or less the same—though the use of terminology is itself at issue in the field! At any rate, the authors of the Interactive define their terms:

• Citation: An explicit reference to scripture with a citation formula (e.g. “It is written,” or “the Lord says,” or “the prophet says”).

• Quotation: A direct reference to scripture, largely matching the verbatim wording of the source but without a quotation formula

• Allusion: An indirect but intentional reference to scripture, likely intended to invoke memory of the scripture.

• Echo: A verbal parallel evokes or recalls a scripture (or series of scriptures) to the reader, but likely without authorial intention to reproduce exact words.

This Interactive probably deserves its own post. You can change what versions it displays, and even set it so that the English NT and OT passages are displaying alongside Greek (NT) and Greek and Hebrew (OT). (Getting this part set up was not really intuitive to me.) You can even hover over Greek and it cross-highlights the corresponding English, and vice versa:

 

 

If software programs had Pulitzers, the NT Use of the OT should win one for best feature. Here’s what it looks like, including the sidebar, which allows you to focus your study using a ton of criteria. You could easily find, for example, all the times Matthew cites or alludes to an OT passage with Jesus in mind.

 

 

2. Sermon Editor

 

I have worked hard to get a sermon writing workflow I really like. (Detailed article at CTPastors.com forthcoming!) So I doubt I will use the new Sermon Editor much, but it looks pretty awesome, if you want to use Logos for sermon writing. In the image below, the Sermon Starter Guide (introduced in Logos 5) is next to the Sermon Editor.

 

 

Not only does the Sermon Editor offer rich text writing and multiple Export options, if you mark your Headers, it automatically generates a Powerpoint slide show for your text. It’s also got a Handout option, which allows you to easily generate a one-pager to accompany your sermon, as well as to automatically set up a handout with blanks to fill in.

AND… if you type in a Scripture reference, the Sermon Editor automatically creates a slide with the text of that Scripture, even fitting text to multiple slides if necessary. Watch:

 

 

You can also save a step and have the slides auto-generate with just a keyboard shortcut, after typing in the reference. Amazing.

 

3. QuickStart Layouts

 

This is not a ground-breaking feature, per se, but it is a time-saving addition. Now the Layouts option in the Logos toolbar offers access to “QuickStart” saved layouts that get a user up and running for various tasks.

 

 

The Greek Word Study layout, for example, is nicely executed:

 

 

4. Systematic Theologies in the Passage Guide

 

The Passage Guide has been around a while, but Logos keeps adding to it. Logos 7 features a Systematic Theologies guide, an admittedly subjective but still helpful aggregator of theology resources in your library, keyed to the verse you’re studying. You can sort it by theology subject (Christology, pneumatology, etc.) or by denomination.

 

 

5. Everything Is (Still) Hyperlinked

 

The hyperlinking seems to have improved since I was last using Logos regularly when Logos 6 launched. (Only now with a recent laptop upgrade does Logos run well on my Mac.) Of course the Scripture verses are hyperlinked, but commentaries are also hyperlinked to previous sections they mention. As here:

 

 

Improvements That Weren’t

 

Logos 7 is cutting-edge software, impressive in its innovation and a huge time saver from a task standpoint. The designers and developers clearly created it with real users in mind.

However, even on a new and higher-end Mac, Logos 7 is system resource intensive. It’s a CPU hog, a battery drain, and uses significant energy.

I can always tell if I have Logos open on my laptop because the computer is almost always warm when it is—and almost never warm with any other combination of apps open.

 

 

 

 

This has been my (and others’) enduring criticism of Logos since at least Logos 4, and I continue to fail to understand why program sluggishness is not Code Red at Faithlife HQ. My slightly educated opinion is that Faithlife (makers of Logos) is “going for more” instead of “sticking to the core” (to quote a Harvard Business Review article). Lots of spin-off apps and ideas and focus on marketing and shipping frequent feature updates have hindered development of the core product—at least where speed is concerned. Wanting to get at the info in the Passage Guide, for instance, can be an exercise in patience (and frustration):

 

 

Logos 7 is far more responsive and fast in searching on my newer Mac machine than it was on my previous MacBook (a 2008!). Though, for that matter, both Accordance and BibleWorks ran fast on the 2008—one shouldn’t have to buy a new machine to use Logos well, though I don’t think that stops some users from doing it, especially when they feel they’ve invested a lot of money in building their library.

 

In Conclusion

 

Speed and massive CPU usage and battery drainage are the Achilles’ Heel of Logos Bible software. I hope—for their sake and for the sake of their user base—that they shift their development focus back to whatever they need to do with the code to ensure a speedier user experience. The developers I’ve interacted with on the forums seem great—it appears to be an issue of larger company focus and resources.

It’s often not slow. (Though it’s always a CPU and battery drain.) For the couple of hours that I use Logos for sermon prep, I can search and open and highlight individual resources with ease. The feature set and Interactives are innovative and cut out unneeded research steps for users. The app itself is powerful, and does a good job of getting users into even larger libraries to cull the most relevant information for tasks at hand. Their accompanying iOS app is really good, too. Users should just be ready–even with the new Logos 7–to check email while they wait for a Passage Guide or Sermon Starter Guide to return results.

If you’re a happy Logos 6 or 5 user, should you upgrade? Definitely. The so-called data sets and features in Logos 7 are a significant step up. If you are on Windows or if your Mac is handling Logos fine and you want to keep using it, Logos 7 is a creative step in a good direction.

Never used Logos and trying to decide if you should get it? (Especially with other Bible software options available?) Then ask away in the comments below, and I’ll respond there.

Logos 7 launches with a 15% off discount. If you go to Words on the Word’s landing page, you get the discount, and the blog gets a small commission if it’s a first-time purchase. The landing page also includes links to more information about Logos 7.

 


 

Thanks to Logos for the chance to beta test and review. I received early access to Logos 7 as well as a package of library resources to test, for the purposes of this review. That did not, however, influence my objectivity…as I expect is clear. 🙂

IVP’s 5-Volume Ancient Christian Doctrine in Accordance, On Sale this Week

Ancient Christian Doctrine

 

This week Accordance Bible Software has put their five-volume Ancient Christian Doctrine (IVP) on sale for $129 (normally $199). Ancient Christian Doctrine is a full-blown compendium of early church commentary on the Nicene Creed. I write more about the resource here.

If you’re teaching or preaching on the Creed, this is possibly the best resource to start with. (And, of course, it’s likely available for free in print at your local theological library.)

The related Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (covering the entire OT and NT) is also included in the sale.

Here‘s the link to find Ancient Christian Doctrine at Accordance.

 


 

This week’s blog sponsor is MailButler, the feature set you always wished your Mac Mail had (and that I’m glad mine does). Find out more about it here or download and try it free here.

 

Alfred 3 (for Would-Be Mac Power Users) Just Released

Alfred Logo

 

Alfred can be an intimidating Mac app, but its capabilities are pretty unparalleled when it comes to automating workflows. They’ve just announced the release of Alfred 3:

After months of intense development, polishing and testing, Alfred 3 is here and ready for you!

It’s been a thrill to add new features to Alfred, and improve existing ones. We already can’t live without these new features, which add so much to our workday productivity; Amazingly flexible workflows, snippet expansion, multimedia clipboard and more.

You can download Alfred 3 to get started right away.

We’ve highlighted a few of the new features below. We also published a post answering some of the commonly asked questions for Alfred 3; upgrading your Powerpack, migrating your preferences and more, so take a look for details.

The download of the app itself is free, and then you can pay for an upgrade to get the full set of features.

The snippet expansion is perhaps the most exciting feature to me. Much as I and others owe TextExpander a dept of gratitude, its new monthly subscription model suffered from a hasty (and probably overpriced) roll-out. Alfred, at any rate, can expand keyboard shortcuts and much more.

Find out more here.

OmniOutliner for Mac and iOS, Reviewed

OmniOutliner-for-Mac-1024The rise of the brilliant app 2Do notwithstanding, I continue to utilize OmniFocus as my task management hub. I was eager, then, to try out The Omni Group’s outlining app, OmniOutliner.

Think of OmniOutliner as a thought structuring app, suitable for both creating and organizing content. You can use it for any of the following scenarios:

  • making a grocery list
  • taking notes in class
  • writing a paper (and re-arranging sections easily)
  • planning and following through with a project
  • tracking and categorizing expenses
  • writing and editing your podcast script

There are multiple other uses for the app–I’ve made good use of it in sermon preparation, as you’ll see below. Right away the Mac and iOS apps take you to a templates screen so you can get started without delay:

 

Templates
On this and all images in the post, click or tap to enlarge

 

What’s Awesome About OmniOutliner

 

Getting content into OmniOutliner is fairly easy. It’s not as intuitive as just opening a blank Word document and typing, but it’s simple enough to open an outline and start writing.

Once you’ve gotten your outline going, being able to fold and unfold (collapse and expand) entire parts of the outline is a huge asset. If I’ve broken a book review down into parts, for example, I can just collapse the sections I don’t want to see at the moment:

 

Book Reviews Two Columns

 

Then there is the organizing power of OmniOutliner: you can take any node and indent or outdent it. You can drag sections of the outline around to quickly re-order them. And you can make batch edits when selecting multiple parts of your outline.

Perhaps the most helpful feature to me has been the ability to add notes to content, which you can then either hide or show. In this simple outline, I’ve set the note at the top to display (in grey), while the one toward the bottom remains hidden.

 

OmniOutliner Simple

 

You can show the sidebar, which allows you to move back and forth between a lot of content in one outline. When preaching on David’s odious sin against Bathsheba and her husband, I utilized an outline that included both my sermon structure and accompanying research. You can see that reflected in the sidebar, at left, even while my Topic column could remain focused on a smaller portion.

 

Outline in OmniOutliner

 

You can add media (audio recordings and video) to your outline. Your files would be huge, but if you wanted to use OmniOutliner for classroom notes, you could also add a live recording of the session, straight into your outline.

And then there is the styling. My goodness. You can tweak every aspect imaginable of your outline.

OmniOutliner Style PaneI found this feature set to be impressive but overwhelming. For my purposes, I didn’t need to do a whole lot by way of formatting, but the options are there should you need them.

To that end, the help files for OmniOutliner are incredible. So is their support team! There are user manuals you can download in multiple formats, and they are outstanding. In a couple of sittings, I read some 100 pages of the iBook version of the OmniOutliner for iOS manual. Yes, it was that interesting! Other app developers should take notes.

OmniOutliner is also available as a universal iOS app, working on both iPhone and iPad. You can sync across devices using Omni’s own server or your own.

The keyboard shortcuts available for iPad make OmniOutliner a serious contender for best writing app for those who are trying to make a serious go of it on iPad instead of computer. Omni Group’s Ken Case announced the shortcuts last November.

This means that the iOS OmniOutliner app is close to parity with the Mac app. This rarely seems to be the case with other apps, where iOS versions tend to lag behind their desktop counterparts.

OmniOutliner has had Split View and Slide Over in iOS for just about as long as iOS 9 has been released.

One other really cool thing: you can import the OPML file format from a mind map to move from mind mapping straight into OmniOutliner.

 

MN and OO with note

 

If that workflow interests you, read more about it here.
 

What’s Lacking

 

A few things are lacking in OmniOutliner:

  • I’ve experienced a couple of crashes when exporting my outline to other formats
  • The precision and plethora of styling options makes the app feel wooden and clunky at times, especially when you want to just sit down and write
  • If I want constant access to, say, a section of text in the second half of my outline, while I work on the first half, there is no way to split the screen or freeze a section so I can see easily disparate parts of my outline at once
  • There is no word count feature (!). Omni has indicated this could come in 2016, but not having it has kept me from making OmniOutliner my go-to writing app
     
    (Note: if you have OmniOutliner Pro for Mac (twice the price of the regular OO), you can go to the forums for an AppleScript that will help you with word count, but this is more than the average user should be expected to do.)

 

More Info

 

Byte for byte, OmniOutliner is worth your considering as your primary writing app. If you don’t need to be as structured with your writing, it may not be your top choice. Its integration across iOS and OS X, though, make it a possible go-to repository for collecting and organizing information.

You can find out more about OmniOutliner here and here.

OmniOutliner for iOS (Universal) is $29.99.

OmniOutliner for OS X is $49.99. OmniOutliner Pro includes a few more features and is $99.99.

You can get a free trial of Mac app here.

 


 

Thanks to the fine folks at The Omni Group, the makers of OmniOutliner, for giving me downloads for the Mac (OmniOutliner Pro) and iOS apps for this review. See my other AppTastic Tuesday reviews here.