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Accordance is a powerful, thorough, and a complete Bible study package for the Mac that will turn any student of the Word into an instant scholar.
While powerful, Accordance is difficult to understand how to tap into many of the features at first, as it is not intuitive how to access them. No Internet integration for updates within the application itself.
The Bottom Line
Even with the few weakness that would prevent most users to just hit the ground running in using the power of this amazing Bible software, once you comprehend how to utilize this incredible study tool, you’ll never look at any other software in you studies again.
I came across OakTree Software’s Accordance Bible program some years ago at Macworld. I was awed with its power and features. Having been a long time PC Bible software user, I had yet to find a program for that platform as powerful as the one before my eyes running on a slick white iMac. “Incredible,” I thought as I observed the demo of Accordance’s features. I was hooked and ready to buy until I saw the price. “Yikes!” was my next thought and sadly my budget wouldn’t allow me to go home that day a happy camper ready to dive into God’s Word via my PowerBook.
I never forgot about Accordance and found myself comparing it with other software packages for both the Mac and PC. I also researched it and the company to get an understanding for its high price. It’s not uncommon to find Mac software priced a bit above its PC counterpart, but this was more than a bit. There had to be another reason for it. There was.
Roy Brown, founder of OakTree Software, coded one of the first Bible programs for the Mac, ThePerfectWord, back in 1988. It was later purchased from Brown and then renamed MacBible but is no longer available today. Brown wasn’t done with aiding people with bringing God’s Word to the Mac and thus he started work on Accordance in the early 90s. Brown’s idea when he started was to create something powerful for pastors and Bible scholars. With every new release, Brown’s vision is that more magnified. He has easily accomplished this task and thus, the reason for Accordance’s price.
That said it’s good to note that this application is made for the masters more than for the casual users. But don’t let me scare any one away from this program for if you can afford it, than continue reading.
OakTree Software graciously sent us the core application, Library 6 Standard on CD-ROM ($169) with 2 free Bibles. We were then giving a code to install the updated version 7 ($39) which we downloaded and installed from Oaktree’s site. Also included in our package was the Timeline ($39) module, Bible Lands PhotoGuide Version 2 ($69) and Accordance Atlas ($89).
I installed all the software twice because I didn’t pay attention to the notes that accompanied the CDs. Because things didn’t work like they should, I had to uninstall and reinstall following the directions to get everything to work. Basically, I ended up checking boxes of components I didn’t have codes for and that’s where the problems really came from. Just check the boxes that apply to what you purchased and you’ll do fine. Don’t get over zealous like I did thinking I could later put in the code if I decided to go with that option. Doesn’t work that way. So be careful.
After I was done with the install, I was excited to open it up and see all of that cool stuff I had witnessed back at Macworld. The program quickly opened on my MacBook Pro and there was Genesis 1 right before me. Accompanying the text was some other floating windows that would become the key to the power of this potent application.
The main window, or your Workspace, is where Bible text, maps, commentaries, and such will display. Like nearly all web browser have today, you’ll find your various items open with its own tab. This keeps things very neat and tidy yet giving quick access to your information. If you, however, desire to compare texts, view cross-references, or view the Bible notes for that version of text, you can add them to your current tab or pane. Accordance does a good job of placing the various study helps in a way that it does clutter your pane or distract from your work.
At the top of the Workspace you’ll find a large box with a single asterisk in it. This is your search box. This vast empty space emphasizes the cliché “looks are deceiving” and may make one think it is limited in its ability. You can either search for words or verses using the search tool.
One feature I loved about the verse search is the ability to search for a selection of verses. For example, if I type in “heb 2:1-5 heb 3:1” in to the search window, up would come the entire selection of He\brews chapter 2 verses 1 through five in addition to Hebrews chapter 3, verse 1. This is an excellent way to compare multiple verses from anywhere in the Bible.
Fear not if you search for a word and you left your selector on Verse, Accordance will tell you that that book could not be found and ask if you meant to search for a word(s) instead. Now of course, if you’re searching for the word Joshua, it may just put you in the book of Joshua, but for the most part, Accordance will catch your mistake.
When searching for a word, say “father”, you’ll be able to find more than just the nearly 1,100 hits from the NAS95S version but you’ll also be able to find other versions of the word father from the original text. In other words, with just an Option click, you’ll be given the number for the word father and you’ll see when Genesis 4:18 mentions the word father in our modern translation, it really means “gave birth”. This powerful feature is called Key Numbers. Do note you’ll need to be in a “keyed” Bible version in order for this powerhouse feature to work. If you’d rather just search for the word by number, simply input to the search frame “father@[KEY father]” (minus the quotes) and it’ll give the same results.
Ever wonder just where the word father, or for that part any word, is most mentioned? With Accordance mass wealth of tools, you can now easily find out by simply clicking the Details button just under the search area. What appears is a graph displaying the various books with marks of popularity in it. Clicking the Table tab will give the exact figures by book, the Concordance a list of where that word exists, and an overview of your results can be found in the Analysis tab. (As one would expect, Genesis wins with 219 references to “father”.)
If you’re interested in the difference of various texts, you can click the More options triangle down to reveal the Compare texts check box. Once checked, you’ll see blue highlights and red lines. These indicate the differences. Blue highlights different translation of the original text. A red line denotes missing words where the other translations have words there.
The key to an easy to use program is navigation. Getting around Accordance isn’t quite the easiest thing in the world to pick up. As previously stated, with power comes the need for RTM (Read The Manual.) Luckily, we had some help from OakTree itself and thus we got a quick start on how to get around. (On the by-and-by, you too can get help from OakTree as it offers classes in length of eight hours. Take advantage of this if you’ll be seriously using this software.)
As any software worth its weight in gold, it’ll use context menus and Accordance does extensively. Right click on a word and up comes a variety of choices for you to select. If we use the word Jordan from within Joshua, you’ll get Search For (with the choice of Word or Key Word), Search In (various texts), Look Up (Dictionary, Commentary, Parallels, etc), Search All (All, All Bibles, All Tools), to just name a few items from the top of the menu. The Search All (All Tools) will do just as it says, it’ll search for everything related to Jordan. Up will come pictures* of the Jordan, the Greek and Hebrew word for Jordan, all the commentary entries on the word, and on and on it’ll go. (*Only installed components will display results.)
In addition to the powerful right click, you also have the Resource Palette. There you can do many things you can with the right mouse button but have it in a single spot floating next to your window. Further, it puts much of the tools into a context that will help aid your study.
Maps, Timelines, and Photos
A picture can speak a thousand words and for those not familiar with the region they may be reading about or even the history of it in a larger context, Accordance swoops into rescue. With its powerful resources such as maps, timelines, and photos, you can immediately flick on that light in your dim room if something isn’t just clicking. The resources are also excellent visuals, which you can use to share during your teaching with others to help emulate their rooms as well.
You can pull up a map of a place or region right out of text via the right click context menus “Look Up”. Up will come a map of what you selected and with it comes many options. You can change the view from 2D to 3D, view ancient or modern roads, and view various empires regions and so forth. But the key here is, you know where the place is that you are reading about is immediately. No fumbling on Google Maps, no opening another program, no using a dusty heavy book. It’s all right there for you with a simple click of a button.
One amazing feature of the maps is its ability to animate an event. OakTree showed me how to display the War of Gideon. Right there before my eyes could see the war be acted out via lines showing positions and movement. Much like watching an opponent playing Risk.
While in the map, you can double click on a region or city and up comes the PhotoGuide. There you’ll see the Hebrew or Greek of the name with a brief definition or summary of the item clicked. A handful of pictures for your viewing is also displayed which allow you to open up in a separate tab and zoom in if desired. It really brings more light to your subject. With each picture having its own caption, a popular place like Corinth, you could find yourself immersing yourself in the history of a place without even realizing how much time has passed when you reach that last picture.
I remember timelines from elementary school and looking back, I realize now just how important they are as a visual aide. There is a lot of action going on in the Bible and you can find yourself out of the loop, so to speak. In history, a book may jump a few hundred years from the last one you read. Having a complete timeline available for you to really understand the journeys of Paul gives you a better foundation for what he did for the early church. Moses journey in time is another example where a timeline helps. Couple that with other aspects of history such as the Roman Empire, and you’ll be able to quickly understand the who, what, where, and when in one glance.
Summing up this Bible resource is a bit difficult as it really isn’t like any other resource I’ve ever seen. Having worked with many different Bible programs on the PC for the past 10 years, I can tell you I have never seen one that really comes close to Accordance. Yes, PC users are going to be disappointed to find out that this is a Mac only application (you can find emulators to run this if you desire) but if you’re such one user, this may be reason enough to move the Mac platform. The power of Accordance is an amazing aspect to this program that should tempt, in a good way, any user of any platform to purchase this resource.
If you’re a pastor or someone in ministry, without a doubt, this is a valuable tool that you really should not be without. If you’re a casual user, then the price may be your deciding factor and not the content of the program. As explained in the start of our review, Accordance doesn’t start off cheap and to really gain from its power, you need to purchase the other modules. It’ll add up fast. However, even for the casual user, this will be such an incredible tool in aiding you in your personal time and devotions with your family that it just may the best money you’ve spent on God’s Word in electronic format.
Price: $170 (Standard Install w/Two Bibles)