Contributed by guest blogger Ken Ristau
OakTree Software, Inc. 498 Palm Springs
Drive, Suite 100, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701, 2001. http://www.accordancebible.com. (877) 339-5855.
Accordance Library, available at Introductory, Standard, and Premier Levels, is intended for use primarily by lay users with no knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. Most of the modules in these levels are based on public domain texts and available online for free at numerous Bible websites. OakTree, however, adds value to these texts by correcting them, adding mark-up and hyperlinks, and integrating them into a superior bible software program.
Introductory Level. The Introductory Level is a great value; the core program and the parallel databases are alone worth the low cost of $69. The most important research modules at this level are the KJV Bible with Strong's numbers as well as Strong's Hebrew and Greek
Dictionaries, the KJV Dictionary, and Wigram's Hebrew Verb Parsings. These essential primary texts and tools are complemented by several additional reference tools and devotional titles; users can also choose one $30 Bible. I recommend users select a modern Bible, preferably the
NAB, NIV, NJB, or NRSV.
At this price range, the collection, which includes traditional favourites such as Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary and Easton's Bible Dictionary, is quite generous. There are also several useful tools that collect and organize Scripture references: Nave's Topical Bible, Exhaustive Cross-References, Bible Outlines, Classic Bible Passages, Daily Bible Readings, and the Parables and Miracles of Jesus. These tools make it easy to locate Scripture passages and prepare Bible studies. I would, however, like to see the Revised Common Lectionary made available at this level as well as some of the modules of the Accordance Catholic Collection CD-ROM. These additions would correct the Protestant, non-liturgical bias in the collection.
Standard Level. The Standard Level is also a great value at $169. It includes everything in the Introductory Level and adds twenty-five modules. The centrepiece of this level is the NAS95 Group, which includes the modern NAS translation (1995) keyed to Strong's numbers, NAS Notes, and NAS Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries. This group is a contemporary counterpart to the KJV research modules in the Introductory Level. At this level, users can choose two $30 Bibles. Again, I would recommend users choose from the NAB, NIV, NJB, and/or NRSV Bibles.
The Standard Level has improved considerably with the addition of the Bishop and Douay-Rheims Bibles, Smith's Bible Dictionary, Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary, Barnes Notes on the New Testament, Vincent's Word Studies on the New Testament, and Berkhof's Introduction to the New Testament.
OakTree has also added a short essay by Adam Clarke on the Wesleyan doctrine of Entire Sanctification; in my opinion, OakTree should not develop tools such as this one as they add little value to the collection and users can easily import them from the Internet as user tools. In fact, it is misleading to advertise this short essay as a module as many potential users are likely to assume it is a significant resource. Clavis Biblica, also by Adam Clarke, would have been a more substantial and preferred addition to this level. Perhaps, if Clavis Biblica is added in the future, the essay on Entire Sanctification could be turned into an appendix of that work.
The new additions to the Standard Level are complemented by older modules in this level, such as Luther's commentary on Galatians, the JFB Commentary of the Whole Bible, Webster's Revised Unabridged 1913 Dictionary and various other Bibles, reference tools, and devotional classics. On the whole, the improved Standard Level is worth the upgrade from the Introductory Level. There is a strong New Testament bias, however, in this level. I would like to see that offset in future releases with the addition of Barnes Notes on the Old Testament and Keil's Introduction to the Old Testament.
Premier Level. From the Premier Level, I only received review copies of two modules: the Greek New Testament Textus Receptus and Thayer's Lexicon. These resources are both keyed to Strong's Numbers, making them very useful complements to the KJV and NAS Groups. I highly recommend both resources, especially for users accustomed to using Strong's Numbers to work in the original languages. Of course, these two new resources only whet the appetite for more. I hope OakTree will add Strong's Numbers to a Hebrew Old Testament text and the Brown-Driver-Briggs Abridged Lexicon; and perhaps also add them to a Septuagint module and the LEH Lexicon. This will make all the major original language texts of the Bible accessible to all users.
Without a review copy, I will reserve my comments on the rest of the Premier Level, except to suggest some additional modules:
- City of God by St. Augustine
- The Confessions of St. Augustine
- The Bible History Old Testament by Alfred Edersheim
- The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim
- Beyond Words by Frederick Buechner
- The Sermons of Charles Spurgeon
- Selected Works of Soren Kierkegaard
In addition to these new modules, I recommend that OakTree split the Selected Works of John and Charles Wesley into two separate modules: the Hymns of Charles Wesley and the Sermons of John Wesley. I also recommend that Accordance remove the St. Patrick of Ireland module from this level. Just like Clarke's Entire Sanctification, it is misleading in my opinion to offer this module; it is too small and adds very limited value to this level.
Final Thoughts. As an aspiring scholar, these sorts of standard, public domain text collections irritate me. Knowing that Bible Software companies are simply responding to the demand, it makes me shudder that so many Christians, especially pastors, would rather refer to Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke, or Albert Barnes than even reformation scholars such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Huldrich Zwingli, and John Knox (of which only the former two are represented in these collections)--never mind referring to Karl Barth or contemporary theologians and homiliticians. Sadly, this is the state of Christian education in North America. Still, because Accordance actually puts the Bible front and center with its interface and search and amplify features, I, at least, take solace in knowing that those who buy one of the Accordance Library Collections will have, despite some of its resources, a program that can enable and facilitate a greater engagement with Scripture. In short, the Accordance Library 6 Collections are good value packaged with a premier Bible Software program and I can recommend them.
For those interested in learning more about the Accordance software engine, I have a thorough, newly updated review of Accordance 6 on my website. For those interested in a collection of books for Accordance that in general reflect better (still conservative) scholarship, please refer to my previous blog entry on the Essential IVP Reference Collection.