Block Diagramming (Blocking) with the Sentence Diagrammer

One of the new features that is implemented in the now-release-candidate Logos Bible Software 3.0 involves a significant enhancement to our sentence diagrammer.

I discussed this back in December 2005 and illustrated the new functionality with a short video. Check it out.

I bring it up again because first of all, blocking is cool. Secondly because I used the feature in preparation for the Sunday sermon and thought I’d share it. The pastor at the church I attend has been working through Mark’s Gospel. I like to work ahead so I’m prepared for what he might say. This weekend, before the service, I did a quick block of Mark 4.1-9 so I had a decent grasp of the text before the sermon.

Now, a few disclaimers: I have no formal training in blocking, just my own reading, thinking and practice. My blocking style (as with most folks) is a bit haphazard. I don’t have a systematic method for representing things. Indentions may be for grammatical/syntactic reasons (subordinate clauses, prepositional phrases, etc.) or because I think content is logically dependent on what precedes it. Or because I think I need to but am not quite sure why. It’s just me thinking through the text; the process is more valuable than the output. When you block Mark 4.1-9 (go ahead, try it!) you will likely come out with something completely different. My point is that thinking through the passage at this level is the important part; the output only serves to remind you of your thoughts.

Also, I used the new Logos Bible Software 3.0 Highlighting features to highlight repeated words and phrases that I noticed. So when you see the highlights, that’s where they came from. Yep, you can highlight more than books & Bibles! And I saved a PDF version of the diagram using the new PDF button on the diagrammer toolbar.

Larger Image | PDF

If you find this sort of thing helpful, then you’ll really like the Lexham Clausal Outlines of the Greek New Testament. So check those out as well!

“Power Law” and Bible Reference Citations

I honestly didn’t mean to immediately write another post that refers to another blog, but this one is just too cool.

Stephen C. Carlson of the blog Hypotyposeis posts about Power Law in Biblical Citations. Here is the gist; please see his entry for specific counts that he gathered via Google.

It has been long noticed that links are not uniformly distributed in many networks, and in many cases the distribution of links follows a power law in which only a few of web pages (or bloggers) get a lion share of the links (see, e.g, Clay Shirky, “Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality” [Feb. 8, 2003]).

Can the same phenomenon be observed in Biblical citations? Clearly, some verses are much more popular (e.g. John 3:16) than others, but can the power law still be seen?

This is an interesting question to ask, though the specific findings may well depend on the corpus of texts being searched. Oddly enough, some time ago we explored a feature that answers this kind of question using the resources inside Logos Bible Software. We even wrote a prototype report that does it using a “brute force” approach just to see what happened. We haven’t made it a priority to refine and speed up the report, though we may return to the concept in the future.

Stephen’s post reminded me of the prototype, so I asked Bob and he pointed me to it. Our implementation is a little different; we take three variables and then run the report. First we take a collection of resources; then we take a range of references; then we specify a pericope set.

The report searches the collection of resources for Bible references within a specified range, then “maps” the results onto pericopes. This provides results that correspond to meaningful textual units.

For the below example, I used a collection that consisted of the New Testament volumes of the International Critical Commentary (ICC). I specified a range of “Galatians” and also specified the ESV Pericope Set.

Here’s what the report comes up with. This is sorted by hit count. So, at least in the ICC NT, these are the popular citations of Galatians, grouped by pericope:

  • Galatians 1:11-24: Paul Called by God (264 hits in 199 articles)
  • Galatians 2:1-10: Paul Accepted by the Apostles (241 hits in 174 articles)
  • Galatians 3:15-29: The Law and the Promise (186 hits in 142 articles)
  • Galatians 5:1-15: Christ Has Set Us Free (168 hits in 131 articles)
  • Galatians 2:15-21: Justified by Faith (150 hits in 125 articles)
  • Galatians 5:16-26: Walk by the Spirit (146 hits in 108 articles)
  • Galatians 4:8-20: Paul’s Concern for the Galatians (144 hits in 111 articles)
  • Galatians 6:1-10: Bear One Another’s Burdens (126 hits in 98 articles)
  • Galatians 1:1-5: Greeting (113 hits in 82 articles)
  • Galatians 4:1-7: Sons and Heirs (112 hits in 84 articles)
  • Galatians 6:11-18: Final Warning and Benediction (112 hits in 88 articles)
  • Galatians 1:6-10: No Other Gospel (104 hits in 78 articles)
  • Galatians 3:1-9: By Faith, or by Works of the Law? (94 hits in 64 articles)
  • Galatians 2:11-14: Paul Opposes Peter (73 hits in 63 articles)
  • Galatians 3:10-14: The Righteous Shall Live by Faith (68 hits in 51 articles)
  • Galatians 4:21-31: Example of Hagar and Sarah (67 hits in 56 articles)

So, when looking across the 30 volumes of ICC that cover the New Testament, and restricting our focus to Galatians, we see that the most frequently-cited portion of Galatians is 1:11-24…with 2:1-10 a pretty close second. After that, the hit count drops off pretty fast.

It’s worth noting a couple of differences between what we’re doing and what Stephen did.
Stephen’s search (using Google) pulled from a corpus that consists primarily of web pages, with some Word docs and PDFs included. The web corpus will tend to reflect a broader usage pattern than that found in Logos Bible Software, which is primarily copyrighted, published material produced by professional scholars and authors. For these purposes, one is not superior to the other…but different samples could be expected to produce different results.

Another difference comes to light in the comments section of Stephen’s post. As Stephen readily acknowledges, searching Google for “Gal 2:1″ is a pretty blunt instrument. It fails to consider verse ranges, alternate notation schemes, or even occurrences where the author bothers to spell out all of G-a-l-a-t-i-a-n-s.

Bible references inside Logos books, on the other hand, have been encoded in such a way that Gal 2:1, Gal 2:1-10, Galatians 2.1 and even “verse 1″ (given proper context) all count as hits for Galatians 2:1.

Corpus studies have their own literature and science. Perhaps someday we’ll introduce features that allow you to run comparisons between various corpora to see how they differ. With 5,000+ books digitized, tagged and available for Logos Bible Software, this kind of thing starts to be a real possibility. But for the moment, it’s a nice diversion.

Clauses, Paragraphs, and OpenText.org

Over the weekend, I wrote an entry on my personal blog that folks who read the Logos Bible Software blog might be interested in.

I’m responding to another blog that discusses paragraph breaks in Ephesians 5. My post doesn’t dispute anything in that article, it just points out other resources to consult when looking at that sort of thing. Things like:

  • The paragraph formatting of the underlying Greek edition and the formatting of other editions.
  • Clause boundaries and structure.
  • Further general importance of looking beyond the word level when studying.

Check it out!

The Lexham Clausal Outlines of the Greek New Testament

I’ve blogged a lot about new resources and capabilities in the realm of Greek syntax over the past months.

One piece of that puzzle that I haven’t blogged about at all is a work that is called The Lexham Clausal Outlines of the Greek New Testament by Dr. Dean Deppe of Calvin Theological Seminary.

Part structural outline, part block diagram and part clausal annotation, this is a unique work that preachers and expositors will find helpful as they examine larger chunks of the Greek New Testament in preparation for teaching and preaching or for personal study.

[Read more...]

OpenText.org and Louw-Nida Semantic Domains

I’ve mentioned in the past that the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament will have Louw-Nida domain information available at the word level. This means that one can combine syntax with Louw-Nida semantic domains and do some interesting stuff when searching.

This is much easier to show you than to write and tell you. So I fired up the video capture software and threw together a quick search. Where, I wonder, in the Greek New Testament does something like James 2.19 occur? (“Even the demons believe — and shudder!”) This, translated into a search query relying on semantic domains instead of words, could be stated like:

Find a subject with a head term in semantic domain 12 (Supernatural Beings and Powers) preceding a predicator (verb) with semantic domain 31 (Hold a View, Believe, Trust)

(Flash Presentation, approx. 4 megs, 1024×768).

The video is a single take, no edits. Pardon some of the mouse jitters.

This isn’t searching on words, it is searching on domains. It finds clause subjects that contain a word (a “head term”, meaning is the primary word in the word group) that are also tagged as having to do with “Supernatural Beings and Powers” that have a clause predicator (verb or predicate) that contains a word (again, a “head term”) that is tagged as having to do with belief or trust.

You know, sort of like James 2.19: “Even the demons believe — and shudder!”. Only without words, so you can find instances where supernatural beings are said to trust or believe.

With a few more clicks (note the “Copy” button in the Syntax Query dialog, which can “clone” the currently selected structure) we could add an “OR” to search for where the predicator precedes the subject, just to cover all of our bases.

Note especially all of the different ways in which the search results are shown. You can view them with the OpenText.org clausal breakdown, as a syntax graph, or in a reverse interlinear (I have the ESV specified, but I could’ve specified the NRSV through preferred Bible settings). Click and view. With the English and/or Greek highlighted.

There is a whole lot more going on. Did you see the glossary popup on “Predicator” when the mouse cursor hovered? Did you see the entries from BDAG pop up on hover when hovering Greek text in the OpenText.org clause breakdown? The same thing in the syntax graph? And in the reverse interlinear? The actions captured by the video were all done with the mouse, either via point/click (specifying the query) or hover (glossary information, lexicon information).

This capability (BDAG assuming you have purchased it) should be available with the next beta release of Logos Bible Software v3.0.

We’re interested in knowing what you think of this sort of stuff, so please feel free to leave us feedback in the comments to this post. Thanks!

Greek Syntax: What’s in a Name?

One of my favorite features in the upcoming Logos Bible Software 3.0 has to be the Bible Word Study report. And my favorite aspect of the Bible Word Study report has to be the Grammatical Relationships section of the report.

The Bible Word Study report is intended to help explore how a particular word is used in the Bible. English, Hebrew or Greek, just type it in and the Bible Word Study report goes to work. Even better: right-click on a word in an English text or a morphologically tagged Greek or Hebrew text, and it goes to work.

Because the report is intended to gather all sorts of information about word usage, and because we have these oh-so-groovy syntax databases we’ve been working on, it seemed natural to do something to explore word usage by syntax inside of the Bible Word Study report. So that’s what we’ve done. And wow, is it cool!

[Read more...]

Comfort & Barrett’s The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts

One of the books that Logos has recently released is Philip Comfort and David Barrett’s The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts.

One of the cool things you can do with Comfort & Barrett is compare the text of a given papyrus with an edition of the Greek New Testament. So, if you wanted to know how P75 compares to the NA27 (or Westcott-Hort, Tischendorf, or the Byzantine, or Stephanus, or Scrivener, or even other papyri) for a reference that they both share … well, just fire up Compare Parallel Bible Versions, select the desired reference(s), and let ‘er go.
Like this:

Be sure to check out the article that explains the comparison feature in a little more detail.

Greek Syntax: Gaps Happen

In an earlier post, I wrote:

You’d be amazed the sorts of things you stumble upon in scrolling through the text and visually recognising similar graph structures in close proximity.

One of the things I keep an eye out for when scrolling through the Greek Syntax Graphs are gaps. If you’ve studied Greek, you’ll know that sometimes it seems like word order in Greek and word order in English have little if anything in common. So I keep an eye out for where one structure has an intervening structure. These sorts of things are called gaps; at least for the purposes of the Syntax Search dialog and underlying syntax database implementation. (Linguists have a more precise definition of “gap”, my casual use of “gap” is not to be misconstrued with that more technically correct perspective).

[Read more...]

Greek Syntax: OpenText.org Clauses and Word Groups

I’ve blogged about the OpenText.org Syntactically Annotated Greek New Testament in the past (see the Syntax Archives).

The folks who do the work on the OpenText.org project have been doing a lot of work since I last blogged about the project, and the result is that we have a vastly updated data set. The primary new goodie is the consolidation of the Clause and Word Group information.

[Read more...]

Donald Hagner’s New Testament Exegesis and Research

Logos has recently released Hagner’s short and useful book, New Testament Exegesis and Research: A Guide for Seminarians.

At the recommendation of a friend, I’ve been using this book for awhile — since before Logos started working on the electronic edition. One of the places it has been most useful to me has been in its brief explanation of sentence diagramming. It is less of an explanation and more the simple templates and examples supplied. This is only a few pages of the book, but it has been immensely useful to me.

Hagner’s guide provides concise and useful introductions to the exegetical process and also supplies bibliographies for each step. Several of the listed items (or acceptable alternatives) are already available in Logos Bible Software.