Bible Speed Search Tips

A feature of Logos 3 that still draws the most oohs and aahs when I demo the software for people is also one of the simplest: Bible Speed Search. I think that’s because of how quick it is (it finds as you type) and how easy it is to figure out. In fact, many people use it much like they use Google: type one or two words and voila! there’s the thing you’re looking for.

Type the word “heaven,” for example, and Bible Speed Search instantly returns 701 hits in 661 verses in the English Standard Version Bible.


But just like Google’s advanced search features, much more is possible using Bible Speed Search. This post will cover a few of the most commonly used search refinements. A more detailed tutorial is available in the training article Exploring Libronix Searching or in the Help file on advanced searching within the software.

You’ll notice in the screenshot above that the first result is not heaven but heavens. What’s going on here? Bible Speed Search automatically looks for variations of the word you type: plural, -ed, -ing, and so on. Usually, that’s fine…but sometimes you really do want to find just the form of the word you typed. In other words, you want to turn off “stemming.”

In this case, use the “nostem” modifier to turn off stemming and find only the form you typed. In Logos, term modifiers like “nostem” are used with parentheses surrounding the search term, like this: nostem(heaven).


Now we see that heaven singular is used 491 times in the ESV. But what if I want to isolate instances of Heaven, singular and capitalized? The “exact” modifier comes to the rescue and Bible Speed Search returns only 7 hits. Using exact tells Logos to only return exact matches, no fooling around.

As you can see, only twice—once in Genesis and once in Daniel—is the word heaven capitalized in the ESV when it’s not at the beginning of a sentence. Significant? Perhaps not. But it would be interesting to know why translators gave those two instances alone the capital treatment.

What if I told you that Logos could very easily find every statement Jesus made about heaven? In a sense, it can.

When Logos data geeks (I mean, book designers) create an electronic edition of a book, they rarely throw anything away. In fact, they even save the red letters that indicate the words of Christ in many Bible versions. Cooler yet, they encode these red letters as invisible “fields” that can be specified in a search.

Field searches use a colon instead of parentheses to separate the two components of the search. The Words of Christ field is WordsOfChrist or WOC for short. So a speed search to find out what Jesus says about heaven looks like: woc:heaven. Pretty simple, huh?

(For a list of fields available within any given book, open the book and click Help | About This Resource. See the training article Exploring Logos Searching for more details.)


As I look through the search results showing all the verses where Jesus uses the word heaven, I notice that the phrase “kingdom of heaven” appears rather frequently. I’ll go ahead and type kingdom of heaven in the search box.


OK, clearly this is not what I want. When I type more than one word in the search box, Logos looks for verses that contain all the words I typed. It’s as if I said, “Find verses that contain kingdom and of and heaven…in any order.”

This is called “natural language syntax” and mimics the behavior of the web search engines we use everyday. Again, much like a web search engine, if you want to search for a phrase use quotes.

Here’s what a search for “kingdom of heaven” returns:


As it turns out, the phrase “kingdom of heaven” appears only in Matthew, appears 32 times, and appears twice in one verse: Matthew 5:19.

We’ve really only touched the tip of the iceberg. To find out more about advanced searching, including lists of available modifiers and operators, see the Advanced Searching section of the Libronix DLS help file.

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8 Responses to “Bible Speed Search Tips”

  1. Ben March 14, 2007 at 12:19 pm #

    How do I find out what fields exist in a given book, and what codes they are?

  2. Jeff Stephens March 15, 2007 at 5:12 am #

    this was a very cool and helpful tutor. I will use this alot.

  3. Ryan March 15, 2007 at 7:11 am #

    What a helpful post! Thank you.

  4. Orlin Bowman March 15, 2007 at 9:01 am #

    Nice quick review — worth reading

  5. Daniel Foster March 15, 2007 at 9:31 am #

    Good question, Ben. I added a note to the post pointing people to Help | About This Resource, which lists both datatypes and fields available within a given book. Also, see the training article: http://www.logos.com/support/lbs/searching

  6. Ken Shawver March 16, 2007 at 9:26 am #

    Anything that helps dig deeper is great to know. Definitely will use this often.

  7. Anonymous March 27, 2007 at 2:11 pm #

    Great help — thanks…Orlin

  8. Tom Delmonte May 14, 2007 at 2:13 am #

    Thanks for all the examples, very helpful!