Serious Scripture study is often sermon preparation, or preparation for some other kind of presentation. Does Bible software have anything to offer as an aid to presentation? The answer is yes.
I’ve been studying Ephesians, using both Accordance and Logos Bible software for comparison purposes. I opened Accordance’s PhotoGuide, and I was, honestly, stunned to see thirty-six full-resolution photos with more than 1500 words of descriptive commentary on the city and its culture in New Testament days, all tied to various Scripture references from John, Acts, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, and Revelation.
Let’s put this into perspective. I hate PowerPoint. I hate bullet-point presentations, to be specific. Their evils are encapsulated in the one PowerPoint that I actually do enjoy, just because it is so intentionally awful: The Gettysburg PowerPoint. (Let me know which you do more when you view that presentation: laugh or cry.)
On the other hand, I love pictures on a screen. I love art work. I love stories and other illustrations. I love poetry and music included with a presentation. Media of this sort can add real depth of insight. I’m not currently teaching Ephesians, but next time I do, you can be sure I’ll be showing pictures from Ephesus, and explaining what they tell us about the early church’s experience there.
So far in this series on electronic study I have tried to be careful to say how much a serious Bible student can do without spending a dime on commercial software. I suppose it’s possible to find similar pictures on the Internet. I suppose one could look up hymns, sermon illustration, and biblical art to go with the concepts in each passage of Scripture. It’s just harder to find one place that ties all these resources together. I did a Google image search for “ancient Ephesus” and found a photo of the amphitheater, very similar to one on Accordance. That was fine; but what it lacked was perspective on the early church: it came from a charter yacht company’s web page. So I am sure it would take a prohibitively long time to find on the Internet anything as useful as what I’ve found in this software.
Along with graphics, pastors and other presenters are likely to be looking for illustrations, quotations, outlines, even other writers’ sermons. Accordance and Logos both offer these, depending on the package you purchase. (The aforementioned graphics also depend on which package you have.)
Here, though, I found a significant difference in usability between Accordance and Logos. I knew my installed Logos library included photos of biblical locations. I looked for them in a half-dozen places, and almost gave up the search before I was able to find them. That observation will serve as a preview for tomorrow’s topic in the Electronic Student: a comparative review of Accordance and Logos. (Accordance is available only on Macintosh.)