It’s not everyday that you realize you’ve outgrown the bible software program you’ve used for years. You wake up, roll out of bed, slip into your slippers, and stroll on out to your favorite recliner in the living room and settle in with your laptop, ready for another day of wandering through the near limitless halls of your digital Seminary, only to discover there is a sign on every door going forward.
“Closed for Repair.”
“Not Open. No ETA.”
I’ve been using the Accordance Program for a few weeks now, and I thought it was high time for a detailed review and comparison between a paid bible program and a free one.
You can read all of my reviews here.
Let’s get started….
When I started using bible software in 2010, I moved from a duffel bag full of reference books and countless hours spent with several of those books open at the same time, each laying on top of the other, as I shuffled through, turning page after page, making manual reference lists, typing odd bits of data into an old Thinkpad running Windows 95. Do you realize that computer has a fraction of the power my android phone has today?
When I switched to bible software, the duffel bag disappeared, and I gave all those heavy, back breaking books away. I first started with the Online Bible, then switched over to Theophilos (which is now at a dead stick), quickly moved on to E-Sword, and then found the holy grail of free bible sofware: TheWord.
I remember when I downloaded it for the first time. It was like a light switched on in my brain. Whole knew vistas seemed to open up for me. The flexibility. The intuitive nature. The simplicity of design. The fundamental framework underpinning the entire system was so elegant, so basic. Bible modules were based on a single txt file with basic html coding. Book modules were a little more complicated, but there was an external tool allowing you to convert E-Sword modules to theWord modules near perfectly. This meant my current library was completely transferable. No loss and all the world to gain.
I quickly made the switch and never looked back, especially when I discovered theWord would be getting the Apostolic Bible Polyglot as a new FREE Interlinear module. Before that I had been using Green’s Interlinear with disappointment. There’s nothing wrong with Green’s (it dropped his name after awhile), but I have grown a preference for the LXX over the years and I had discovered the existence of the APB several months before that.
Now armed with the entire Greek Bible in Interlinear format, I was hooked. I had all the tools I could find. Hundreds of modules, all free for the collecting. That was ten years ago and I’ve ran the tires off that software program since. I’ve watched videos on Youtube on how to tweak it and twist it so it does just what I need it to do. And it has been a tremendous help for me in opening up the Scriptures all these years.
But, the time came recently, where I realized I’d outgrown her. My studies were no longer simple searches and contextual readings. They involved more and required more than just word studies and referring to Commentaries. I was starting the process of learning to read Greek, and I wanted the ability to parse any passage in the bible, LXX, TR, CT, even the Hebrew Masoretic. But, theWord simply couldn’t perform these kinds of tasks.
Now, throughout most of my journey in life as a believer, I’ve held pretty strongly to the conviction that bible software should be, on principle, free. It certainly shouldn’t cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars! But, I found myself in a dilemma. Did I have to keep the same limited program or could I really upgrade to a paid one?
Surely, I thought, theWord could meet the challenge. I just needed to learn new features, get some advanced training on it. So, I hit Youtube with a vengeance, looking for “advanced” videos that went beyond the basics of how to setup workspaces and how to run a bible search. Unfortunately, there were none. I turned to the help files online at the main website, and yet, still, just the basics were covered. Finally, I went to the forums. Surely they would have others talking about these more advanced features that would allow me to search my entire library for all references to Romans, or at least search all modules for the same reference (i.e. Romans 3:1, which, technically, you can’t do because each module has a different reference format).
What I found on the forums was disheartening to say the least. I, actually, did find others voicing the same desires I had. Yet, those requests were basically being rejected by the software creator. His typical responses were, “I don’t think that would be a feature that needs to be implemented” or “I’m not sure how we could do that” or “I’ll have to look into that, it seems like it would be really difficult” or “theWord is a mature program and stands as is.”
I couldn’t believe it. There was no hope theWord would ever grow beyond its current limitations. It would stand on its current accomplishments and stretch no further.
So, what could I do?
Why a Paid Program?
Luckily, at this point in my life, I had achieved a few lifelong goals I had been working toward. First, after years of skimping and saving and delaying gratification, I managed to get myself 100% out of debt. My house was completely paid for. My car was paid for. My job was as secure as any job could be in this day and age (hey, I’m still working during the Covid-19 shutdown, how’s that for stability), and I’m able to live comfortably on 50% or less of my take home pay. This basically meant I had money to spend.
So, I decided to just take a look at what else was out there. After all, what better way to spend disposable income than to spend it on bible software, right? Oh, feeding the hungry? Oh, sending bibles overseas? Right. For some reason I didn’t think of that.
The reality was, though, I had some fundamental beliefs that were being challenged. Were paid programs really worth the money they cost. I mean, some of these packages cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars! What could you really do with a program like that? Did it compare at all with theWord and the other free programs out there? How many different ways can you really slice bread, after all?
I wanted to find out.
So, I started to research bible programs online and quickly discovered there were only three programs in the running. Logos (of course), Bibleworks, and Accordance. While I found many videos online comparing one of these programs with one of the others (or comparing all three), there were ZERO videos or blog posts or reviews comparing any of the paid programs with any of the free programs (one of the reasons I’m writing this post today).
I was pretty certain of one thing. These programs were not really that much different than theWord in feature and function. How could they be. The reality was, the companies behind the expensive software were just flock fleecers, right? They were just out to get money from unsuspecting Christians who didn’t know any better. So, I put them (and theWord) to the test.
I started watching how-to videos on the name-brand software programs (there were really only two, since BibleWorks had shuttered its doors a few years back), and tried to replicate their processes with theWord. And the results were rather interesting. Some of the processes were easy to replicate. I would watch a video where they would do something in Accordance or in Logos and then I would do it in theWord.
Well. At least, until it wasn’t all that simple.
When it got to more advanced techniques, there just was no facility in theWord to accomplish the same task. Not even a similar process. Some tasks just couldn’t be done.
TheWord is a Great Program
Now, don’t get me wrong. TheWord is a great bible software program. In fact, in its category (free), it is at the top of the list as far as I’m concerned. It runs circles around the Online Bible, and the same for E-Sword. Bible Analyzer – give me a break. No comparison!
TheWord allows you to pretty much do whatever you want (within reason). There are just two types of module windows, with three types of modules. Fluidity. Flexibility. Searching ability. Tool tips when hovering over a word or a Strong’s number reference, or a hyperlinked reference. You can convert E-Sword modules, and now, with the help of Simple Bible Reader, you can convert a whole host of other bible software modules, and convert theWord modules for use in MySword (on Android phones).
Toward the end of my use of theWord, I had organized my workspace so there was a single bible window open on the screen with the font size rather large (it’s hard for me to read small print anymore), and everything is opened and closed by either mouse hover or keyboard shortcuts. I could get dictionary and lexicon entries immediately for any work. A key toggled Strong’s numbers. Another key toggled the English equivalents (when viewing the Greek). This format made it really easy to read the Greek or the NKJV for my daily reading, and a short key combination revealed a window with the TSK cross references, or any other book module, and another keyboard shortcut showed links for all commentaries that had a listing for that particular verse.
The problem, of course, was I wanted to dig deeper. Dig deeper into the Greek. Dig deeper into the syntax of the Greek language. I wanted less opinion and more lexical explanation. I cared less for what someone thought the bible text meant and wanted to know more about why they thought what they did. I wanted explanation for translation choices. Don’t just tell me what you did, tell me why you did it. I’ll make up my own mind on what it all means.
I also started using theWord’s clipboard monitoring feature much more regularly. When this feature is turned on, it checks your system clipboard so every time you copy a reference or a paragraph with references in it, a window will pop up and display those references. It could be just one reference or it could be ten. No matter what you were doing on your computer (reading an academic article, reading an ebook, reading a blog post, writing your own article and needing a reference), you just copied a reference into the clipboard and the verse would be displayed.
Of course, this was not without its issues. If you were not actively engaged in study, if you happened to copy something that had a reference in it (even if you didn’t care about the reference) you still got the popup (if theWord was running). This would require you to stop what you were doing, click it to close, and then half the time you would be thrown back to theWord main screen. It was really frustrating!
A better solution would be to separate this feature entirely from the software and allow it to reside in your System Tray, with the option to turn it on or off as needed.
Likewise, despite my attempts to liven up the interface, it was still kind of drab. You know what I’m talking about. Rember that 90’s style drab interface look. It’s hard to stare at that for hours on end, especially when your trying to do daily readings. Selecting a different font helped, but not much.
Another big limitation for theWord was the lack of any real Analytics. In fact, this was something I didn’t even know I wanted or could have until I started using the other software programs, especially Accordance. Similarly, I had the desire to parse the Greek text on the fly, something else I had no idea I could even do.
There was no way to view search results in context without throwing it to your main screen. This was frustrating, since my main screen often had a reference already on it, and I wanted to view the new reference while keeping my place. Yes, theWord has bookmarks, but I’m not at all fond of those features.
In addition, there was no reading mode other than what was there on the screen. I was able to circumvent this a little, but it was all or nothing. I could create different Layout Displays, but that grew cumbersome and I often wouldn’t use them.
No citation capture capabilities. This was another feature I didn’t even know I wanted or could have. Believe me, it really speeds up the research workflow when you don’t have to locate the title of the resource you’re using, then find it in Amazon, use a Firefox extension to format the citation, then copy and paste it into the word processor. I want to grab a paragraph from a module, use a keyboard shortcut and paste into the word processor with the citation at the end of the paste.
When I say I do daily readings, I’m not being entirely accurate. It’s actually daily listening as I listen and follow along with either a NKJV audio bible (Word of Promise) or a Greek Audio Bible (from Youtube). There is no built in mechanism for smoothly incorporating this with theWord. It is possible to do it if you know a few bits of HTML and have a lot of time on your hands, but why bother. Just set up a playlist on your favorite MP3 player, choose the chapter you’re reading, start it, and then switch over and follow along. For awhile I was insistent I needed the cursor to follow along as I read, but after paying $40 for a program that would do this on my phone and computer, I discovered I don’t really care too much for it. So, I guess this really isn’t much of an issue. But, if you really want smooth audio bible features, theWord simply doesn’t have it.
Another issue was the lack of paid modules. It’s not really even an option to upgrade; not in feature set or in module sets. There are a few available, such as the New International Commentary, but that’s about it.
So Why Not Try Logos?
When I took the plunge and actually started exploring these paid programs, Logos never really even made it out of the starting gate. To be honest, I watched a comparison video between Logos and Accordance (this is how I found out about Accordance), and there were several challenges with Logos that I simply couldn’t live with.
For starters, Logos was apparently a resource hog. As someone who has used bargain basement laptops for the last twenty years, I knew this was not going to work. It was possible my new laptop would run Logos, but I didn’t want to risk it.
Secondly, Logos was known for frequent updates and download issues. This infuriates me to no end. It is one of the biggest issues I have with Windows. In fact, as I write this, there is a tiny icon in my Sys Tray telling me that I have a Windows Update to perform. Give me a break! Like I said, infuriating!
But I will admit, after getting set up with Accordance, and suffering from what I can only describe as a honeymooner’s buyer’s remorse, I went ahead and downloaded Logos free on my computer and tried it out. I was disappointed. At first glance it was complicated. Non-intuitive. I already had that with Accordance. I didn’t need another. After about an hour of playing around, I went to my Control Panel and deleted it. I guess it’s Accordance or Bust, baby (or back to theWord)!
Singing Accordance Praises
I downloaded the free version of Accordance and have been playing around with it the last several weeks, but I’ve also made a point to lurk on the forums, and see what others had to say about the software (before I really make a commitment).
I will say, the marketing claims on the website and in Youtube videos are top notch. Their offer is an all-in-one, all-you’ll-ever-need software platform that you can customize to suit your needs, that you can grow with over time, and really make an “investment” in. My first reaction to their packages was a mixture of shock and hilarity.
$37,000 for the top package?
You know, I’ve read a few marketing books in the past, too. I’ve even spent a large part of my life self-employed. I know the tactic of offering a few options, a bargain basement price, a middle price, and then an astronomical price. Psychologically, this will, at least in the aggregate, raise your average purchase price because people will tell themselves, “Hey, I can buy the middle package because I’m not spending $37,000!” It’s also proven there are two other types of people in the world. Those who ALWAYS pay the cheapest price possible no matter what and then those who ALWAYS get the most expensive package no matter what.
But, $37,000? Who really pays that amount for bible software? Will a church pastor really think so little of his congregation and spend their hard earned money like that? I suppose if there are pastors who buy private jets then maybe Accordance is making out like bandits on that top tier package. Who knows. Oh, yeah. That’s right. God knows. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what kind of verdict comes in on Judgment Day.
I will say, Accordance does run smoother (make that quicker) than Logos and it does not appear to hog the resources like Logos does either. There are reviews on Youtube comparing the two, and Accordance comes out on top in the areas of startup speed, general operational speeds, and the frequency of updates (meaning, Accordance doesn’t harass you nearly as much with more updates).
It does have a ubiquitous reference search capability that I’ve never really seen before in bible software, especially for non-bible tools, like commentaries and dictionaries and general books. If I do a search for Romans 1:23, it will return every instance that particular verse appears in the text. But, if I do a search for Romans 1, it returns ALL references found in the book that correspond to the entire chapter. A search for Romans and you get every reference from Romans! This cannot be done in theWord. More importantly, you can’t even search the same reference in multiple books in theWord, due to the inconsistency found in Reference formatting between modules.
Searching can be executed from the Research tab or from individual module panes. The results in individual panes show up in context, with the search criteria highlighted in red font. There are some issues to note, though. User Tools do not always translate into accurate search abilities, with different words sometimes being highlighted, etc. Another issue noted on the forum was the keyboard shortcut used to move from one search hit to the next abruptly stops working and only a computer system restart seems to reactivate the feature.
Sticking with searching, Accordance proffers a “Research” function that basically works as a “search all” mechanism. You can search a single book, single bible, preset collection of titles in any combination, or you can search ALL your titles – your entire library – including all imported titles. The results are displayed on a pretty impressive results pane that shows the items on the left, and an excerpt on the right for each one. Scroll through the results to find what you’re looking for, expand the result to read more, or open the result in the tool itself when you’ve found what you’re looking for. This is similar to theWord search functionality, but is a bit more robust, has a more attractive results display, and allows again for ubiquitous reference searching (want to find where Jude 6 is referred to throughout your entire Accordance library? You can do it in one search). This feature basically renders all tools as contextual commentaries, side-stepping the ridiculous prices on commentaries from the Accordance in-house store. This works if you can find the title as an ebook or pdf file, of course.
Speaking of which, Accordance has an almost impressive import tool that accepts PDF, HTML, and TXT file formats. If they offered support for EPUB and MOBI this would be a pretty versatile feature. Currently you have to convert those formats to one of the accepted formats. On the forum there is quite a bit of chatter about the low success rates for conversion during import. There are apparently issues with converting PDF files, a little less importing HTML, and a much higher success rate importing text files. But, of course, if you import nothing but text files, you lose the ability to import titles that make use of Greek or Hebrew. The typical solution provided by forum member and staff: import as text file then copy and paste the foreign languages back into the module.
I can’t begin to describe how obtuse an answer like this is. Most titles that have a biblical language typically have a lot of biblical language in them. You might as well just copy and paste the entire book. For a paid program (especially for the prices they charge) this should not be the solution. Work the problem. Find a solution. One suggestion made on the forum (which, apparently has fallen on deaf ears) would be to abandon import and develop readability, meaning, provide an e-reader within Accordance that allows for more format support and context searches throughout. They have tried this with an internal browser, which has pretty much been a complete failure. No bookmarks. No open option. But it does look up references within the browser window, so that’s something.
On a positive note, Accordance has a great Reading Mode feature. The stroke of a key will expand virtually any pane (except for the Research results pane) into a fullscreen, borderless display, with expanded font size, customizable features, etc. You can also turn on Interlinear mode from within Reader mode with any text. This is a huge improvement over theWord, which is difficult to use as a devotional or daily reader. I make frequent use of Reading Mode, since most of my regular panes are small with small print (so I can fit more panes on the screen). When I want to read something for any length of time, I immediately open in Reading Mode. While studying, I bounce between multiple windows throughout my workspace.
There is an audio book option for Accordance, but, in reality, why bother? TheWord had no option for this, but with a little knowledge of HTML, I was able to link the first word in each chapter of my reading bible with the local MP3 file. This system I quickly abandoned (that’s a lot of editing). For a price, you can have this done for you with Accordance, it just opens in a separate parallel pane with the audio links. Currently, I listen to my audio bible in a media player playlist. I start it where I last left off, quickly switch over to Accordance, bring up that chapter, and key-combo into reading mode. Done.
One feature that many have found very useful is the “copy as” option. Highlight a section of bible text, a section from a dictionary, a lexicon, a commentary, or a book, select Copy As and you can choose simple copy, copy w/ Bibliography, copy with citation, copy as references, copy as interlinear, etc.
The bibliography provides proper citation as you’ve set in the preferences. It’s a great time saver. Copy as citation provides the bible reference for any verse or section you copy (also helpful). Copy references will provide only the references but not the text, and copy as interlinear is great for when you want to copy the displayed interlinear (usefulness with this will vary).
In Accordance you can set up multiple workspaces and these are treated as separate instances of the software, so, technically, you can open multiple workspaces and even link the panes and zones between them. Want to conduct a word study instantly with every word you lookup? You can do it in Accordance. Set up your first workspace with a bible search pane, then set up a second workspace that has open all the different dictionaries, lexicons, and technical tools you typically use. Link everything in Workspace #2 to the bible search pane in Workspace #1. When you then do a word search in Workspace #1, not only do you see every place that word is used in the biblical text, but you also get the entry for that work in every tool you use in Workspace #2. Of course, this could also be done (and I would say more effectively) in the same Workspace by opening a separate zone in Workspace #1 and running a linked or manual search for that word in the Research tab. This will produce the same results, but it will be in a tightly packed results window that you can sort through and expand at will.
Expediency is usually the way to go, unless you have too many Zones open already in your normal Workspace, then the first setup might be better.
Of course, trying to manage more than two workspaces at the same time might prove a little chaotic.
Formatting is something that has to be acknowleged in Accordance. There is something to be said for a commercial product. The modules – all the ones I’ve seen so far anyway – have been professionally formatted and uniformly so. They all use the same reference formatting (not that it matters anyway with the universal reference search feature) and footnotes in some modules (like the Church Fathers) are maintained, as well as references updated from the archaic Roman Numeral system.
Analytics are a really nice feature in Accordance. TheWord has no analytics at all, save for percentages of hits in each bible book that shows up in the search results window.
Accordance, on the other hand, has a robust set of analytics features, from charts and graphs that are customizable and copyable to detail and customizable breakdown of original language words and phrases. On playing around, I was even able to create a frequency list for the entire LXX and the entire NT. This would work wonders for creating customized flash cards when learning Greek.
Along those same lines is the instant Parsing feature that is executed from the right-click context menu. Highlight any verse or passage and select Parse, and you immediately get a window that shows the parsing of every word highlighted. The results are customizable and quite professional in look and usability.
Lastly, we have to talk about a feature that really sold me on Accordance, and that is the Dynamic Interlinear.
With this feature, Accordance doesn’t just provide the traditional interlinear like most software programs do. TheWord provides the interlinear based on the module in question. The ABP is one module that contains the Greek text, the English equivalent, and the Strong’s numbers. If you want to compare the LXX with the Hebrew or with the NKJV or with the NIV, you’re out of luck.
But, with Accordance, their Dynamic Interlinear feature allows you to do just that…well…sort of.
Start with a base text, either English, or Greek, or Hebrew. Then you can quickly add an additional line, whether it be another translation, the built in gloss definitions, the syntax, or compare the Hebrew against the Greek (requires a special module add-on). Not only does it create the perfect interlinear of your choosing, but it also works in Reader Mode, so it’s easy on the eyes.
One major problem users have found (and have voiced criticism for in the forum) is the shabby way the company has implemented the Interlinear for the LXX.
Instead of it working like all the other versions, the LXX is not capable of being used in the Interlinear until you purchase an add-on called the MT-LXX. You need this to link the LXX to the Masoretic text. From there you can include the LXX in Interlinears, but the Hebrew has to be present. This is similar in the parallel pane setup. You can have the LXX and Hebrew text in parallel, but if you want the LXX in parallel with the NKJV or some other modern translation, you have to keep the Hebrew open. Why they didn’t just fix the LXX correctly is beyond me. But, it does work, at least in theory, even despite its patchy add-on like functionality.
Overall, you can get a pretty decent assortment of tools for around $350-$400. If you wait until a store-wide sale occurs, your savings might be even more.
It was noted on the forums, you really need to analyze the packages being offered against what you really need. They are not designed to save you money. They are designed to maximize their average ticket price. A detailed analysis of what I wanted revealed I could get it for literally hundreds of dollars less by buying a lower tier and then include additional add-ons, rather than choosing the package that had everything I needed. I find this rather disingenuous. Stop trying to fleece the flock already. Provide value. You are not making these modules from scratch. You are cleaning them up (sometimes) and then selling the same digital product again and again. You don’t need to rip people off while doing it.
So, What’s Wrong With Accordance?
To be fair, Accordance appears, at least at first glance, to be a really capable software program. But, that doesn’t mean it is perfect. It also doesn’t mean there aren’t some really fundamental and persistent issues an deficiencies.
One glaring feature the program lacks is a clipboard monitoring option, or more specifically, a way to monitor and display references outside of Accordance.
Many users, at least I would assume many, and after a look at the forum I would argue at least some users, spend quite a bit of time reading articles, academic papers, ebooks, and websites online and offline in multiple different formats.
You cannot import all of these into Accordance. And, though you can read the online articles in the internal browser, some have argued for the option to copy a reference and have it display in an external window or popup of some kind.
Accordance does have the Get Verses feature, which will copy a verse or paragraph or series of verses (in any combination) and paste it into a wordprocessor. That’s great. But if you just want to view the text and move on, you are out of luck.
This feature is available in theWord as a clipboard monitor. Any time you copy a verse or a paragraph that contains references, a popup window appears and displays those verses. It works rather well.
Another lacking feature is the ability to copy part of the Instant Details or the popups. If I do a Alt+click on a hyperlinked reference or on a reference number in a bible view, it shows as a popup of the text. If it’s multiple verses and I only want to copy one verse, I have no option to do that. You only get a copy to clipboard button. I have my Accordance setup so when I Alt+Shift+Ctrl+Click a verse reference in the bible view, the NET notes display as a popup. It would be really nice to have the option to choose only part of the entry to highlight and copy, rather than the entire entry itself. I think this was initially an oversight that has now turned into outright stubbornness on the company’s part.
An addition option that is not available is the ability to set in preferences to show the popups with a mouse hover instead some kind of click combination. When looking through a series of hyperlinked references, it becomes really annoying having to click on each one to view. Yes, there is the option to hover view in the Instant Details pane, but I do not use Instant Details, since it takes up too much real estate.
Like the keyboard shortcut for hits navigation is often buggy and unreliable, so too are the key combinations for viewing the popups. Sometimes they work as expected. Sometimes just tapping on the mouse displays the popup. Sometimes they don’t work at all. To be honest, I’ve been very surprised at how buggy a commercial product like this really is. There is no excuse for such sloppy work.
There was one complaint in the forum that the popups would come up half way off the screen, rendering any hyperlinked verse reference checked three-quarters of the way and over to the right side of the screen were unreadable (this has been fixed in the latest update).
Many other users seem to have trouble with the basic functionality of Accordance. Windows do not open in an intuitive way. There appear to be strict rules governing how and where a window will open, often requiring users to jerry-rig solutions to resolve their problems, when the company really should put a little more flexibility into the program itself.
Stability is also a voiced concern on the forums. There were numerous new users (and I experienced this as well) who, after the initial install, the program immediately crashed. When attempting to contact Technical Support, the call went straight to voicemail. Email support finally answered, but only after I had resolved the problem myself (still not sure how I did it).
If a commercial company is going to advertise technical support you really should provide a live person who actually answers the phone. Also, the tendency to push users with issues to the help files or to the forum is not providing adequate customer service. If you can’t provide what you advertise, maybe you should reconsider your business model.
I’ve found a rather steep learning curve with Accordance since downloading it. It certainly is not intuitive or logical. But, once you get the hang of it, it does seem to work pretty well.
Lastly, I wanted to talk about the hostility that appears to be prevalent among Accordance staff and those on the forum (not sure if they are staff, too, or just other users). This kind of hostility is very noticeable elsewhere online among so-called Christian circles, so I’m not certain if this is an Accordance thing or just a Christian thing. But any time a question is asked that in any way is skeptical of the product, its feature, or points out a limitation, there is concerted backlash, letting you know it’s not an issue with the product but an issue with you. Maybe this is just an issue of paid employees defending their livelihoods, or it’s a telling condition of the Christian profession, I don’t know. I will say, for at least some, it was not a warm and friendly reception into the “tribe.”
What Are Some Important Differences?
TheWord is 100%, no strings attached, no intentional limitations imposed, FREE software. It is a true gift to the body of Christ and a genuine tool of evangelism for the entire world. Accordance, on the other hand, though it may be a superior program in several ways, it is designed and marketed to affluent, first world people.
You will pay less – much, much, much less – for the software and the tools by using theWord. Even the for-purchase tools are a magnitude less expensive in theWord than for Accordance. There is no other way to state it than the management of Accordance is fleecing the flock. A commentary does not cost $1500. Now, let me play devil’s advocate. Maybe it does. Maybe you must charge $1500 for the New International Commentary (that you can get for theWord for $1000, interesting). So, rather than offer just the NIC, maybe offer along side it a public domain commentary (Lange, Poole, Cambridge, etc) as a free option. But, Accordance is not alone in the fleecing. Logos has the same NIC for over $2000! Get a grip! I’ve mentioned it before. No package should cost anywhere near $37,000!
A huge difference between these two programs is the training offered. TheWord has a handful of tutorials on Youtube, and a rather detailed (but basic) online manual. But, Accordance leaves theWord in the proverbial dust when it comes to training, as it not only has several detailed videos available, a similar manual (still rather basic and has a lot of holes in explaining the intricacies of the program), but it also offers free online webinars, free (I think) in person training sessions around the country, and a dedicated how-to podcast with hundreds of videos to choose from. Though they do tend to be repetitive, and focus more on new users than advance users, the recorded webinars are a great help in finding solutions, if you’re willing to commit to watching hours of video to find a nugget here and there (I listen to them on x2 speed until I found something, and I only watch recorded webcasts, I don’t bother attending them live).
One noticeable difference between Accordance and theWord is the user community surrounding it. The forum at TheWord.Net has a loyal and supportive following of posters who are friendly and very helpful. There is no hostility. No animosity. No tribal mentality.
Another big difference is theWord is an evangelism tool. It can run on virtually any Windows machine. It can run on a thumb drive on a tablet. It is designed to be smuggled into hostile countries where the populous is predominately poor and have few resources. Accordance simply will not run on a machine with 2gb of ram and a 32gb hard drive. It will not even try to run from a thumb drive.
What’s the Verdict?
This is a question only those who have thoroughly tested both programs can answer. I don’t know the statistics of those who have switched from theWord to Accordance who stay. I would imagine after shelling out hundreds of dollars, there is great incentive to see it through and make Accordance work, no matter how difficult that might be.
I’ve come right up to the breaking point several times now in my own experience, sporting my own keen sense of buyer’s remorse, feeling tricked into buying a software program that is riddled with issues and inconsistencies and illogical behaviors. But, after a few minutes of fresh air, I’m able to talk myself down off the ledge and start again.
I’m still a new user. Really new. But, I’ve come a long way in understanding what Accordance is capable of and can attest, it is a robust, feature rich program, that is a magnitude greater in complexity and ability than theWord.
Does that really mean it’s better overall, though? No, of course not. Application is everything. What you have to answer for yourself is what you intend to use the bible software for? Do you need a digital bible program to do daily devotionals and check the occasional Greek or Hebrew word in a lexicon, see what your favorite (old world) commentary might have to say about a tricky verse? Or, will you be dealing extensively in the original languages, parsing verses, learning vocabulary, doing detailed critical textual analysis between the LXX and the Masoretic, the Majority text and the NA28? If the former, theWord is the perfect fit for you. If the latter, you really should look at investing at least a few hundred dollars in a package with some add-ons that will aid you in achieving your desired goals.
Are you a student in seminary, where you are being inundated by massive amounts of reading and writing, where you are being pulled in every direction in ministry and out, and need something that will actually speed up your exegetical and expositive workflows? There is a reason why Accordance is liked by biblical scholars (or this just could be hyped up marketing, who really knows).
I can say, theWord is LESS buggy than Accordance is, and that was a real surprise. It is also more versatile in what it can do than Accordance, and much more intuitive in its functionality. Yet, for all that, Accordance does sport some features that are just not matched in theWord. So, it is really difficult to declare a clear victor.
I will say, there is a 99% chance I will stick with Accordance, though I can’t say I’ve seem really any substantial improvement in my study process yet since getting it. But, that could have everything to do with being a nube and far less to do with Accordance itself. I can say, in the moments of intense and uncontrollable anger and rage that I threw my hands up in the air and went back to theWord, it did not take long before I took a deep breath and returned to Accordance and worked out the problems.
I have been able to find solutions to all issues thus far. So, that’s something, right?
Until my next review…..
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Excerpt from Ashen Monk Mountain:
There was an old elm tree near the end of the lawn, with a circular picnic table and several short benches.
“This looks like a lovely spot,” Mr. Eckey said, taking a seat.
He set his briefcase on the picnic table and flipped the latches, opening the lid.
Christopher took a seat opposite him and removed his hood, folding his arms in front of him.
“I have a tablet and a pen here somewhere,” Mr. Eckey said. “I had it when I left, that is. Not sure if I can find it in this disorganized briefcase of mine…”
He chuckled at himself.
“So – ”
Christopher ran a hand over his short cropped scalp.
“I’m confused about all this. I’m not sure I understand why exactly you wanted to meet with me.”
Mr. Eckey nodded.
“How long have you been a novitiate here?”
“Going on seven months now.”
He glanced up at Christopher as he fetched his notebook and ink pen.
“How are you liking it at Saint Joseph’s?”
“It has been – ”
Christopher thought about the question for a moment.
“ – wonderful.”
“I would assume it much different than – ”
Mr. Eckey flipped the first page over, scanned handwritten notes he had on the second page.
“I received some background from the Precept’s office, as well as from Abbot Greenly. You grew up in – North Platte, Nebraska? Is that correct?”
“I’m native of the Boston area myself,” Mr. Eckey said. “Tell me a little about how you came to the decision.”
Mr. Eckey smiled.
“To become a monk. It must have been quite a journey from Nebraska.”
“Not really. I guess. I just – ”
Unwanted images flashed through his mind.
Mr. Eckey took a deep breath before speaking again.
“Mr. Ward, I don’t actually know a whole lot about this request, to be perfectly honest. As you know, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life – that’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it – we are entrusted with monitoring abnormal behavior among those called to the consecrated vocation.”
He tapped his pen on the tablet.
“Tell me, what do you like about Saint Joseph’s exactly?”
“It’s the – well – I feel at home here. Like I belong. I very much enjoy the silence.”
“Yes, I know the Trappists to be quite ardent in their devotion.”
Christopher nodded in agreement as Mr. Eckey took a few notes.
“I enjoy the early mornings, the worship, the offices. The undivided devotion.”
“To God?” Mr. Eckey asked.
“Yes,” Christopher said. “Exactly.”
The stranger focused on his notes for several seconds, silently mouthing the words he wrote.
“Tell me, how does your life now differ from your previous one?”
Mr. Eckey stopped writing.
“Your military career.”
“Oh,” Christopher said, looking down. “I guess – I – I don’t know. There are lots of differences. I’m not – sure I – what is this inquiry about exactly?”
Mr. Eckey put his pen down.
“Mr. Ward,” he said. “The Vatican apparently has interest in your particular gifts and abilities for a – call it – a special appointment. I guess that’s the best way to put it.”
He shifted his weight on the hard bench.
“Normally, the Congregation does not get involved in appointments or a particular monk’s vocational choices. But, sometimes, when the need arises, special arrangements can be made.”
“Are you talking about another monastery?”
“Actually – ”
Mr. Eckey picked his pen back up.
“It’s an entirely different Order.”
Christopher leaned forward as a gust of wind billowed the long sleeves of his tunic.
“I don’t really understand,” he said. “Are you saying the Vatican wants me to move to a different monastery – to a different Order? But…I…”
Mr. Eckey waited a moment.
“Tell me, Mr. Ward, about your military training.”
“What about it?”
“Your experiences. You were a special operator, is that correct?”
Christopher shot him a quizzical look.
“How do you know that?”
“You were part of the 7th SFG? Assigned to operations in Afghanistan for the majority of your enlistment, surrendering your commission as a Captain. Is that correct? What did you like or dislike about your military career? Why was it you left?”
Christopher looked out over the cornfields in the distance.
“Sir,” he said, wringing his hands together. “I don’t really understand why you’re asking these kinds of questions. To be honest, they’re making me a little uncomfortable. I think I – ”
“Please, Brother Christopher,” Mr. Eckey said, putting up a hand. “I don’t mean to pry. As I said, this is a peculiar and rather sensitive situation, not at all normal procedure. So, I do apologize for my rather tactless approach. Let me explain a little, if I can – ”
Christopher tried to relax.
He struggled to repress the memories rising in the back of his mind, the bloody and gruesome images of dead bodies, a horrible, yet all too familiar wave of fear and dread washing over him.
A wave of putrid death enveloped and permeated everything.
He took a deep breath, tried to ignore it.
Mr. Eckey put down his pen again.
“There is a remote monastery in British Colombia. It is of a separate Order, not Cistercian, but similar. It’s rather distinctive, as I am led to believe.”
“What is the Order?” Christopher asked.
Mr. Eckey shook his head.
“You would not be familiar with it,” he said. “There is actually only one monastery in the Order. But it has had a long, and quite fascinating history, to say the least. And, somewhat of a fantastic service.”
“So, why me, then?” Christopher asked. “I’m a novitiate. I don’t have much to offer. I’m not sure what you are asking of me.”
“The Vatican is asking a favor of you, Brother Ward. They are requesting that you take a leave of absence from Saint Joseph’s and visit this other monastery for a time.”
“I’m – I don’t – ”
“I’m honored that the Vatican has called on me,” he said. “I really do feel settled here, though. I would not wish to – ”
Mr. Eckey interrupted.
“Consider it simply a sabbatical of sorts. Without strings attached. We are interested solely in God’s working here in this matter.”
“Are you wanting me to relocate?” Christopher asked.
Mr. Eckey smiled.
“How about we say the Vatican is open and interested in the Father’s call on your life. We simply wish to – test the waters – see if this would or would not be a good fit.”
“So, if I go, and it is not a good fit?”
“Your place here at Saint Joseph’s would be available to you at any time you see fit. Like I said, no strings attached.”
“I would not feel comfortable going without Abbot Greenly’s blessing,” Christopher said.
“You have it,” Mr. Eckey said, his smile widening.
Christopher said nothing.
“Think of it as a vacation. Though, if I’m hearing you correctly, you really are in no need of one. But, then again…. ”
The man shrugged.
“May I – ”
Christopher pondered his words.
“Is it possible to consider this awhile before I decide?”
“Certainly,” Mr. Eckey said. “Because of the situation, though, we would need you to go sooner than later. Is there anything upcoming that you are thinking about in particular?”
Christopher shook his head.
“No,” he said. “I would just like to sit with this for a day or two. Pray about it. How long would the visit be?”
“As long as you need to decide,” Mr. Eckey said. “Preferably a month to start. Longer is encouraged. Like I said, it is a unique situation, so tradition does not really lend itself easily. But, I would ask – ”
He put his notepad and pen back in his briefcase and closed the lid.
“Because of the sensitive nature, the Vatican has requested that you do not discuss this with anyone except me. Not the other monks here, your family, not even Abbot Greenly.”
“But, how – ”
Mr. Eckey put up a hand.
“I’m heading back to discuss the situation with Abbot Greenly before I leave the grounds. He will certainly not have an objection. Not that I can imagine, anyway.”
He fished out a business card from the inside pocket of his blazer.
“Here is my contact information,” he said, handing him the card. “You can reach me on my cell phone any time. Whenever you decide, one way or the other. There is a great need, though, so I do hope you will consider at least visiting.”
Christopher took the card, looked at it, then looked up at Mr. Eckey.
“What kind of need, exactly?”
The man just smiled.
“All in due time,” he said. “Just let us know as soon as you are able.”
Christopher looked back at the card.
“Thank you, Brother Ward, for your time. I do think I can find my way back to the abbot’s office from here.”
He briefly looked around the grounds.
“I do envy you a little,” he said. “What a majestic space you monks have created here. It’s like a slice of Eden. Really.”
He got up, shook Christopher’s hand, then left him there alone, as the stranger retraced his steps to the abbot’s office.
Christopher took a deep breath, then sighed.
The wave of putrid death still lingered as another wind gust blew across the fields, dredging up memories he would have altogether wished could have remained buried, soaking him again in the blood of the past.
He stayed there for a long time, just watching as the endless sea of cornfields waved in the winds.
Buy my book Ashen Monk Mountain to find out what this cryptic and mysterious appointment is the Vatican is asking Christopher to take on. An unheard of monastery, hidden deep in the Canadian Rockies? A secret mission and call? What in the world could be going on?
Click here and grab your copy today! Whatever you do, don’t let this fantastically epic story get away!
But, trust me when I say, you’re not going to believe the truth even when you discover it for yourself. Find out what secrets lay hidden underfoot at Ashen Monk Mountain!