A Heaven-Sent Study Tool
BY TIMOTHY E. RAPSON
After five years of IBM and Macintosh dominating the world of computerized Bible study, a concordance program arrives for the ST. With power, Simplicity and a load of special features, Spiritware's Bible Concordance has earned its rightful place in any Bible student's software collection. (Editor 's Note: The version reviewed here is 2.0. The latest version is 2.1 and features the entire Bible in either the King James or New International versions.)
In The Beginning
A concordance is an alphabetical list of the principal words in a book with references to the passages in which they occur. For example, it lists the book, chapter and verse of each appearance of the word "sin." Spiritware's Concordance translates this concept to floppy disk quite handily. It assists a Bible-study project like no other study tool available.
Bible Concordance's search ability is well implemented. Here it has
found the only biblical reference of gnat: Matthew 23:24.
I speak from experience. When I was a seminarian, a concordance was critical for effective study of the Bible. A program like Spritware's would have been, well, a godsend.
Concordance's effectiveness can be best illustrated with a recent example. The Sunday school class I attend is called the Children of Abraham. I was curious about this name, so I asked Concordance to find the phrase "children of Abraham." Seconds later I had my answer:
"Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." -Galatians 3:7
Without Concordance, I would have had to look in a regular Bible concordance and read all the verses in the New Testament on which "Abraham" is referenced until I found the whole phrase.
Seek And You Shall Find
You can run Concordance as is, or from an AUTO folder. Once the program loads, you're ready to work with three friendly, fully functional GEM windows: Search, List and Text.
In the Search window you can type any word or combination of words. The size of the string for which the program searches appears to be unlimited. I actually typed in a whole verse. Type "gnat," for instance, and Concordance will find the following:
"Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." -Matthew 23:24
In the List window, you'll see the verse reference, Matthew 23:24. Normally, several verses are listed and the first occurrence is displayed in the Text window on the right. In fact, the entire text of the Bible is in this window. Use the GEM scroll bar to page through it.
Concordance can also search for several words at once with the "or" and "and" commands. Say you want to find all the verses with the word love, but you know that the word charity is often substituted. Type "love/charity" ([/] = "or") and Concordance automatically finds all verses in which either word appears.
To find a verse that mentions how the poor in spirit arc blessed, use the "and" command. Type "poor,blessed,spirit" ([,] = "and") to find any verses that contain all three words. If you can't decide whether the verse you want uses the word blessed, blest, blessing or just bless, a wild-card function looks for all of them just as a word processor would. Simply type "poor, bles + ,spirit" ([+] = wild card).
The wild-card function also combines any or all of the "and," "or" or wild cards in a search. Complicated searches take more time (10 to 60 seconds), but imagine how long it would take to look it all up ourseif. If this were all Concordance did, it would he more than worth the price.
15211 15th Ave. NE
Seattle, WA 98155
New International Version: $40
King James Version: $30
Bible students will find
All verses can be saved to disk in ASCII text format so you can load them into a word processor or desktop publisher. You can save either the list of verse references (i.e., John 3:16) or the actual text ("For God so loved the world...") of any or all of the verses you search.
Printing involves dumping an ASCII file to the printer, so no special drivers are necessary.
The manual is an unexpected delight, complete with tutorial, illustrations, index and a useful appendix showing some of the various spelling conventions.
The Final Judgment
The Concordance does exactly what it is supposed to do: it uses the power of the computer to make a specialized kind of research tool faster and more efficient. The text is available in English only. It's probably more than wishful thinking to see the Greek and Hebrew texts included, but it would be nice.
The final judgment? Concordance is fast, friendly and inexpensive - no other Bible-study tool on the ST comes close. But though zealots will argue that everyone needs the Bible, clearly not every ST user needs Concordance. This is not to say interest in the Bible should he limited to those religiously inclined. The many books of the Bible are rich in powerful text that has influenced the entire course of world history and, without the religious connotations, makes for a pretty good read. But Concordance was intended as a study tool only. Those with a casual interest would do better to pick up a copy of the Bible at their local bookstore.
Timothy E. Rapson is former seminarian. He has owned his ST since 1985 and is a member of seven computer clubs and organizations.