Bible(doesn’t)Works

So, I’ve recently been working alot with BibleWorks, in getting the NETS version imported into it properly (no, don’t ask me for it), and then getting the verse mapping properly aligned with the Rahlfs Septuaginta Greek text and with the NRSV. Of course, if I had Accordance, I might’ve simply paid a nominal fee. Instead I’ve had to do it myself, because BibleWorks has run into licensing issues with Oxford, whatever they may be. (Maybe it’s because Oxford doesn’t want its text mangled!) I have had such a headache for a week. Anyhow, here are some notes on what I did.

First, because I am something of a perfectionist, I was unsatisfied with having the names of the books be the same as they are in the NRSV and just about every other version in BibleWorks. After all, we have in NETS 1-4 Reigns, not 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings, Makkabees not Maccabees, Esaias not Isaiah, and so on. But there is unfortunately no version-specific titling. So, this means I added entries to the master book name files, so that I could name them whatever I want. This also means that I had to make up some new book abbreviations. This is because BibleWorks is limited to a three-character alphanumeric code for all booknames. It’s a poor design, and this is a workaround.

Then, having imported the text, I wanted to be able to read it in the order in which is occurs in the actual NETS (or even LXX), but this is another thing you can’t have in BibleWorks (except as a help file, which is useless as it is not part of the usual toolset). The order is determined entirely by verse numbering. Of course, for various historical reasons, the versification of the Septuagint is an absolute nightmare. But throwing the text into the order of the versification is not an acceptable solution. There is also the serious drawback that sub-verses cannot be included (1a, 1b, 1c, etc). This results in several verses in the version being extremely lengthy, including the sub-verse numbers in brackets [a], [b], [c], etc. This latter is a disaster for mapping.

So, on that mapping thing. BibleWorks can only map one verse to another. A range of verses to be mapped to another range must have the same number of verses, and those verses must be valid, existent verses in their version. (Note also that in the stupid map files, you can only enter a maximum of one chapter’s range of verses; you can’t enter a range of chapters and verses, like 10:1-20:23.) However, if there are some verses which are not included in the version (and this happens alot in the LXX, where you might be missing a whole string of verse numbers, because they either sit somewhere else or were simply not included in the translation of the Hebrew/Latin tradition of versification on which the verse numbers are based), they display as blanks. This is annoying, but bearable when dealing with the version in browse mode. However, if your book name is the same as one in another Bible version, even if those blanks are not included as mapped to some other verses as parallel to some other version, you’re going to see those versions in parallel, even if you’ve specified that they’re actually parallel to something else. That’s just atrocious. So, you have to work around this by creating new Bible book codes and name. Then it’s almost bearable, except you’ll have to remember whatever weird abbreviations you were forced by this nightmare of bytes to utilize. As I said, it’s almost bearable, except in the case of those lengthy verses with sub-verses. This is truly unacceptable: all the parallels to those sub-verses end up aligned not in the order of the sub-verses to which they’re parallel, but in the order in which they occur in their own version. So it is completely useless to map these at all.

Now, in my specific mapping situation, I wanted two things: 1.) accurate mapping of the NETS to Rahlfs LXX text, and 2.) accurate mapping of the NETS to the NRSV. I put everything in the mapping file, had everything correct, and then looked at the results. It was a total mess! In Jeremiah, although my mapping file didn’t state for any of this to happen, I would see the NETS verse aligned properly with its NRSV equivalent, but then often also the NRSV equivalent of the same chapter and verse number of the NETS (which is completely wrong more often than not in Jeremiah). In a window displaying the Rahlfs, NETS, and NRSV, things were even more unpredictable. Fortunately, I discovered another workaround: keeping the two sets of mapping separate. I keep two separate files of the Rahlfs and NRSV maps and copy into the NETS version map file the mapping which I want to use. This will suffice, but I am nowhere near happy about it. I really am incensed that I have to do such a thing.

I should not have had to spend so much tiime to get this working properly. I should not have to work around so many limitations in the software itself. And in a program which is specifically designed for presenting parallel Bible texts, I should not run into any instance (much less dozens of them!) in which I cannot meaningfully present those parallels due to the software’s own seemingly arbitrary limitations. There should not be a case in using this supposedly powerful software that my sitting with two books and comparing the text “manually” happens to be easier and more accurate than using Bible(doesn’t)Works. My notes I put together for entering the mapping are more useful than the result of the mapping itself!

So, Accordance users, do you have problems like these? Do these problems exist in Accordance? Can Accordance do the following?:
1.) Present a version in its own proper order within the normal context of searching and display
2.) Include subverses as full verses for searching, etc
3.) Accurately align all verses and subverses without mysterious glitches
4.) Utilize any system of book names one wishes

At this point, I’m seriously considering a complete switch. I could go Mac, and then have Accordance. I’ve heard it’s a zillion times better, anyway. My recent experience has pretty well pushed me over the edge. If anyone has any experience with importing and mapping Bible versions in Accordance, I’d love to hear from you.