!! Bible Software Review – New Purchase !! ANF/NPNF Church Fathers Complete Collection (37 Volumes) – Now the Reading Begins !
I received an email this morning and, boy, was I glad to get it. If you’ve been following my blog and unschooled research for any length of time, you know I recently purchased the Accordance Bible Software program and had some, well, let’s just say some struggles with it.
But, I committed to the system (since I had already spent about $500 on the program and various modules) and I’ve been learning the system and getting used to it, trying my best to work around its limitations.
Since then, I’ve been making a list of modules I would like to purchase (ranging from $40 to $750 – yeah, I know, ridiculous) and made an agreement with myself not to buy a single module that wasn’t on sale.
So, I was pleasantly excited when the email this morning had the Complete Church Fathers (all 37 volumes) over half off! It’s at the top of my list.
You can read all of my reviews here.
But, for now, let’s talk Church Fathers!
Why Not a Free Version?
If you’re involved at all in Christian literature, you probably know the specific collection I’m referring to is actually available for free online. In several places. In fact, I have at least this collection in two different formats already! So, you might be wondering why this was at the top of my list, especially when it runs regularly at $129 (I got it on sale today for $59). Well, there are actually several reasons for this.
First off, the online versions are, well, online. There are, of course, several ways to download the collection, but I’ve found these very difficult to use. Many are either too big, too disjointed and in several physical files, or the formatting is less than desired. When using the Word Bible Software, I had their free version of the Church Fathers and it was great, except the formatting was in old Roman Numerals for all Scripture References. It was terrible to look up anything, to search the modules or to basically find what you were looking for.
Secondly, I really plan to use the “you know what” out of this collection. So I really need an offline, local copy that is searchable and uniform, that I will be able to use efficiently and expediently. Accordance does provide this. Especially in reading mode. But, in reality, I will be reading through this collection within my text to speech reader (Balabolka) and because the collection in Accordance has been professionally formatted throughout all volumes, it allows for easy copy-and-paste.
Third, I will be using this extensively now in my biblical searching. For text analysis, for variant testing, for theological interpretation. It is crucial to have the major works readily available in a searchable format. Not to mention, all the cross-references that have been added (and they can be extensive throughout the collection) have been updated, cross-hyperlinked and tool-tipped. If I want to see what a footnote says, I simply Alt-tap with my mouse and I get a popup window (yes, hover popup would be better but it is simply not available in Accordance. A major deficiency. They do have the Instant Details view pane, which does provide hover view, but it takes up real estate and I’m working on a 14 inch laptop). If I want to view a scripture reference in the cross-reference, I simply click on the footnote number and then Alt-tap on the hyperlinked bible reference. Then I click on the footnote number which takes me right back to where I was reading (I also just discovered I can do a quick single tap on the footnotes number and it brings up a popup window of the text in question the footnote is found in, allowing for expedient double check).
Fourth, because of Accordance’s global “Research” feature, I’m able to search the entire 37 volume collection for anything. Any word. Any phrase. Any scripture reference. And, more importantly, the scripture reference is universal, meaning it does not matter what format the references are in in the collection (though they have all been formalized to work within the system anyway), if I look up Jude 6, I get all references throughout the 37 volumes nearly instantly for that specific verse in question. No longer are my searches hit or miss with a multitude of irrelevant results. Searching for Jude 6 brings up exactly 4 instances throughout all 37 volumes of this particular verse.
The Reading Plan Going Forward
Now that I’ve spent another $59 on this module, I have to put my money where my mouth is. I have to start reading. It has been a goal of mine for a very long time to read the entire corpus from the Church Fathers. Not so much because I think they have an accurate theological foundation, but because I want to know what their foundation is so I am more prepared to see it when it comes up in modern theology.
As a young person, I was fortunate enough not to be born into the Christian faith. It was not until I was 17 years old, and virtually on my own, that I had the supernatural experience that I did which changed my life forever. Going forward, I learned directly from the bible from contextually reading it – first through Basic Training, then for another intensive year while stationed in Germany. During that time overseas I read the bible cover to cover, marking it up, systematically, contextually incorporating it into my belief system.
Now it is time to do the same with the Church Fathers and see what they might have gotten right and where they might have gone terrible, terribly wrong.
So, I plan to start reading the Church Fathers devotionally, on a daily basis. No set number of chapters or the like, but just focusing on reading something each day until I’m finished with all 37 volumes.
I will say, in the end, I do like the Accordance Software Program. I’m frustrated with some of its limitations, and even more frustrated with the managers and operators of the company’s sheer and stubborn unwillingness to provide modules that are USABLE! But, despite this, it is a solid, useful tool.
This new purchase will most likely be my last for a long while. Most of the other titles on my “to buy” list have either be worked around so I don’t need them at all, or are outside of my price range (who really pays $1400 for a commentary set?). Now it’s time to put the program to good use.
Until my next review…..
Please consider supporting my writing, my unschooled studies, and my hermitic lifestyle by purchasing one or more of my books. I’m not supported by academia or have a lucrative corporate job – I’m just a mystical modern-day hermit trying to live out the life I believe God has called me to. So, any support you choose to provide is GREATLY appreciated.
Excerpt from Our Daughter:
“Okay, mom,” Randy said.
“You behave yourself and be nice. You’re lucky to have company while you wait for the doctors.”
The woman turned and started back the way she came.
“The nurse said it would be twenty or thirty more minutes, so we’ll eat quick and be back up here before they take you in, okay?”
“Sorry for him,” the woman said to Katie as she walked by.
As the woman left, Katie noticed the boy moving around again on the bed. Before she realized what was happening, the tiny lump disappeared and she could hear the faint sound of bare hands and feet on the tile floor.
He was low crawling under the beds toward her.
A moment later, Randy popped his head out from under the nearest hospital bed, craning his neck around to look up at her.
“Hello, there,” Katie said.
Randy disappeared back under the bed, the bed sheet draping down almost to the floor. Katie could still see three little fingers pressed to the tile.
“What are you here for?” Katie asked, readjusting her seat in the chair, trying to get the ache in her chest to lessen.
For whatever reason, the wheelchair was really uncomfortable.
“Why are – ”
Randy’s voice trailed off for a moment as he looked around.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m getting my leg fixed,” Katie said. “See?”
Randy poked his head back out from under the bed and looked at the leg she was pointing to.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“The doctor said it’s broken,” Katie said. “Shattered.”
“Can you feel it?” Randy asked, able to stay out from his hiding place.
“I can feel it, but it’s not too bad,” Katie said, then tapped the IV in her arm. “This thing is giving me medicine of some kind for the pain. At least that’s what the nurses said.”
“Why are you – ”
Randy stopped mid-sentence.
He scooted out from under the bed entirely and slowly crept over to her on all fours.
“What are you, some kind of spider?” Katie asked, giggling a little.
“What are you?” Randy echoed.
He was now only about a foot away from her chair and sat there, his legs folded up under him, gawking up at her.
“What are you staring at me for?”
“I’ve never – ”
Randy put out a hesitant hand and ever so gently touched her arm.
“Are you some kind of ghost?”
He looked around again.
“Are you – ”
He leaned in, talking in a whisper.
“Are you dead?”
A nurse came around the corner and stopped abruptly, spotting the empty bed in the far corner where Randy should have been.
“Randy Andrews,” the nurse said, her hands now on her hips. “You get right back into the bed and you stop playing around, please. They are ready for you in surgery.”
Katie watched as Randy scrambled on all fours under the beds and back up onto his, pulling the sheet back over top of himself again.
She started to ask him about his question, but couldn’t get the words out before his parents appeared at the door.
Katie sat there quietly, watching Randy stare back at her from under his sheet. She glanced over at his parents and the nurse, noticed Randy’s dad had no hair on the top of his head.
Are you dead?
What kind of question was that?
The snap of the wheel locks being disengaged on Randy’s hospital bed jarred Katie out of the confusion she was in.
The doctor she’d first seen was now at the door, waiting for Randy.
He was his surgeon.
They wheeled Randy out of the room, his parents following right behind, disappearing to the left, heading for his operating room.
The pre-op room was empty again.
Are you dead?
What kind of crazy question was that?
The nurse came back through the double doors.
“It won’t be long now,” she said.
Katie tried not to think about the dull ache growing just behind her sternum.
The nurse disappeared around the corner as Katie watched the double doors to the operating rooms slowly shut.
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