Greek Syntax: Article Introducting Prepositional Phrase

Awhile back over on the Logos Newsgroup for Greek, someone asked a question:

Someone has commented that there are 484 occurrences of the definite article occurring without a noun introducing a prepositional phrase, such as, "τα επι τοις ουρανοις." I wonder if someone would teach me how to search my GNT (N/A27) to confirm this statement?

The example is (I believe) from Eph 1.10:

εἰς οἰκονομίαν τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν, ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι τὰ πάντα ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ, τὰ ἐπὶ τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἐν αὐτῷ. (Eph 1:10, NA27)

as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Eph 1:10, ESV)

Note that the same structure is used in "things on earth" in the same verse.

Anyway, the best way to find stuff like this — where you’re really searching for a relationship between words and/or phrases even though it looks like proximity will get you close enough — is a syntax search. In this example, the relationship is between the article and the prepositional phrase. It is more than proximity (occurring close to each other or in sequence); it is functionally that the prepositional phrase in some way further modifies/qualifies/distinguishes the article (which, in cases like these, tends to function like a relative pronoun).

The OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament makes this relatively easy to find. Let’s look at this portion of Eph 1.10 first to see how it is analyzed:

Here the word group contains a head term; the head term contains a word (τα) and the structure that modifies it. Here the structure is a relator. A relator is basically a prepositional phrase that functions adjectivally, modifying a substantive (instead of functioning adverbially, modifying the primary verb of the clause). So all we need to do is find where a relator modifies a word that that is an article.

There are two basic cases to consider. The first is like Eph 1.10, where the word is the root word of the head term, and the relator modifies it. The second case is where the word is a modifier itself, like in Mt 5.16:

Here note that τον is a definer, and the relator (adjectival prepositional phrase) modifies the definer.

These are the two cases to consider. A syntax search that looks like the following should account for both of them:

You’ll notice I’ve used an unordered group to contain the word+modifier portion of the query. Why did I do this? Because I really want to find where a word and a modifier are siblings (occur at the same ‘level’ in the annotation) because this implies they are in relationship with each other. The containing structure(s) (here the head term or modifier at the root of the query) constrain the elements to already being in the same unit. The unordered group allows for this, letting you specify the elements you care about (here a word and a modifier), and it will run the permutations, including optional elements occurring between them, while it searches. It makes query specification a whole lot easier.

When the search is run, 298 occurrences are located. Here’s a snapshot of the results dialog:

The different colors in the results come in because of the "OR" in the query. In this way you can tell that some results come from one half of the "OR". Here the greenish color represents the top half of the "OR" (word is a direct child of head term); the brown represents the bottom half (word is a direct child of modifier).

So, to answer the question posed on the Greek newsgroup; I’d respond that according to the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament, there are 298 instances of the definite article occurring without a noun introducing a prepositional phrase.

Finding Louw-Nida References in the New Testament

I’ll admit it; I’m hopelessly addicted to reading (and writing) blog posts; particularly those having to do with Biblical Studies and especially those having to do with the intersection of Biblical Studies and technology. And when they can mix in the Greek New Testament, well, then I usually have to clean the saliva off of my keyboard.

So when I saw Mark Hoffman post a question and an answer about finding the co-occurrence of a Louw-Nida domain and a particular morphological criterion (here where Domain 25, "Attitudes and Emotions", occurs with an imperative verb), a light went off in my head. The in-development Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, which has every word tagged with disambiguated Louw-Nida references (described more fully in this previous post), can do this fairly easily. You can even do it in one search with the Bible Speed Search dialog. Here’s the query:

louw in LN25 andequals LogosMorph in V??M??

And here are the results, 122 hits in 108 verses:

And, since we haven’t yet released the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament (though you can buy it on pre-pub!), I thought I’d include a video on how this search works and some further things you will be able to do with the search data once it is available.

(Pardon my voice; I must’ve slept with my mouth open last night. I woke up with a dry throat and the ability to sing with a Johnny Cash style voice without even trying.)

Connecting Your Hebrew OT with Your Greek NT

A good friend of mine sent me the following question:

I’ve been using a Libronix workspace a lot for Bible study, but one feature is annoying me (probably because I’m doing something wrong). If I start out in the OT, the Hebrew texts in one corner are all visible. If I type in a NT reference into the English translations, the corner of Hebrew texts switches to Greek. So far so good. But when I go back to the OT, the Greek stays Greek (i.e., LXX) rather than returning to Hebrew. How can I fix this?

Great question. If you do much work in the original languages and jump back in forth between the Hebrew OT and Greek NT, you’ve probably experienced this. While it’s nice to be able to look at the LXX, most people who know Hebrew usually prefer to see the Hebrew by default rather than the Greek.

So how can you avoid having your Hebrew OT switch to the Greek OT when you jump from the OT to the NT and back again to the OT?

Here are three suggestions on how to avoid this problem:

  1. A simple solution that may work for some is to keep a second English text opened and unlinked for the purpose of jumping to cross references, etc. This will keep the rest of your linked resources from following you from the OT to the NT and then back again. The problem with this option is that you may want the rest of your resources to follow you.
  2. A second option is to have the LXX and the Hebrew open in two separate tabs. Always unlink your Hebrew text from your English text before jumping to the NT. Relink it when you return to the OT. This is okay if you jump back and forth infrequently, but could get rather tedious if you’re jumping back and forth often.
  3. The best option—at least that I’ve been able to think of—is to create a custom serial resource association linking your preferred Hebrew text with your preferred Greek text. This will override the default behavior.

To set up a new serial resource association, go to Tools > Library Management > Define Resource Associations, select Serial, and click New. Name your resource association something like “Hebrew OT with Greek NT” and add your preferred Hebrew OT text and Greek NT text.

Here’s a brief video (without sound, 1.01 MB, 51 sec.) showing you how to set up your resource association.

Here’s a brief video (without sound, 2.21 MB, 48 sec.) showing the behavior before and after creating the custom serial resource association. You’ll notice that before I create the resource association (not shown in this video), it switches me to the LXX when I jump back to the OT. After I create the association, jumping back to the OT keeps me in the Hebrew.

Hope this helps! Feel free to comment if you have a better way to address this issue.

For more information on creating a resource association, see 14:53–18:31 of the "Customize Your New Digital Library" training video.

See also our previous post, "The Value of Custom Resource Associations."

Update: If you want all of your Greek New Testaments to be connected to your preferred Hebrew OT, simply add them all to the resource association putting your default GNT on the top.

Who Cares About Participles? I Do!

[Today's Guest Post is by Dr. Steve Runge, who is a scholar-in-residence here at Logos Bible Software. Steve is working on projects to annotate discourse function in the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Bible. More importantly, he's a really smart guy with a passion for explaining the exegetical significance and importance of discourse functions in language that non-academics can understand — so that sermons and lessons can take such things into account, resulting in better preaching and teaching. Look for more posts from Steve in the future. — RB]

My name is Steve, and I wanted to give you some ideas about how you can use some technology you probably already have to enhance your Bible study. One of the great features of the Biblical Languages Addin is the Morphological Filter (click View | Visual Filters) that lets you markup Greek and Hebrew Bibles based on their morphological coding (Click for video demo; here’s a blog post with similar information). And you are probably saying, “Steve, I don’t know Greek. Why would I want such a tool?” I am glad you asked!

One of the basic tenets of Bible study is to identify the main idea of each verse, which in turn allows you to build toward understanding the big idea of a passage, and so on. Believe it or not, the New Testament writers wanted the same thing. Not every action is of equal importance, and so the writers made choices about which actions to make the main idea of a sentence. One of the ways they did this was by using different kinds of verbs for different kinds of actions in order to prioritize them.

If you were to picture a line of soldiers, there are two ways I could make some of them stand out. The first way is to have the important ones take a step forward. This is essentially what emphasis does, it brings something out front. The other way to make something stand out is to have the less-important ones take a step back. By pushing the less-important things into the background (‘backgrounding’ them), I can focus your attention on the ones that are left in their original position. This is exactly what the writers did through the use of participles. Wait, it’s okay, don’t be afraid! Grammar can be a great friend and ally! Let me show you how.

Every sentence in the New Testament required the writer to make decisions. We make them all the time without even thinking about it, whether writing or speaking. We choose wording that fits best with what we want to communicate. The same is true of the NT writers. If they wanted something to be viewed as a main action, they used a main verb form (technically ‘finite’ verbs like the indicative, subjunctive or imperative moods for fellow grammar geeks). If they wanted to describe some action to set that stage for the main action, the writers would use participles before the main action to push the less important action into the background. Here is a quick example from English.

  1. I was writing a blog post this morning. I spilled my coffee on my keyboard.
  2. While writing a blog post this morning, I spilled my coffee on my keyboard.

In the first line, both actions are described as though they were equally important, both use main verbs. The second line backgrounds the first action using a participle in order to set the stage for the main action that follows—spilling my coffee (Don’t worry, Bob. I didn’t really spill, just needed an example).

This same kind of backgrounding happens all the time in the New Testament. And even if you don’t know Greek, you can use the tools available in Logos to find these backgrounded actions. Here’s how.

If you have an ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear of the New Testament and the Morphological Filter from the Biblical Languages Addin, you have all that you need to start your study. Open up the ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear in Logos Bible Software, and then click View | Visual Filters. This opens up the Visual Filter dialogue. Then click on Morphological Filter in the left pane, then click Add.

Click image for larger version(works for all images in this post)

Then click Details. This opens up another dialog box that lets you choose the grammatical characteristics that you want to visualize. We want to check Verbs, and then Participles under Verb types. Then click Add on the lower left, and finally pick a how you want to represent it in the text using the Palettes (I chose the Gray highlighter pen). This will identify all of the participles.

Now you need to identify the main verbs. All we have to do is repeat the steps. Click Verbs, and then under the ‘Tense, Voice, Mood’ menu click Finite under ‘Verb types’, then click Add.

Now pick a visualization from the Palettes (I chose green highlighter pen), and finally click Okay. You are ready to look for backgrounded actions!

In your ESV reverse interlinear, go to Matthew 28:19, we can take a look at how Matthew uses a participle to prioritize the actions of the Great Commission. English does not use participles like Greek does, so a lot of them get translated into English as though they were main verbs. This is not incorrect translation, it is just a consequence of Greek not being English. But you can pick out the backgrounded actions from the original Greek using this Visual Filter in the Reverse Interlinear.

In English, there are two main actions of the Great Commission: Go and Make disciples. But if you look at ‘Go’, you’ll see that it is a participle. Does this mean it doesn’t matter at all? No, it does matter. Matthew used a participle to make sure that we got the main idea of the verse: MAKING DISCIPLES. Both actions need to happen, but they are not of equal importance. Using a participle backgrounds the less-important action.

This idea of backgrounding only applies to participles when they precede the main action, not when they follow it. The participles that follow the main action tend to spell out more specifically what the main action looks like. Here, ‘making disciples’ is spelled out as ‘baptizing’ and ‘teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded’.

Another good example is found in Acts 9:1-2, where Saul is seeking to arrest the believers in order to keep ‘The Way’ from spreading.

In v. 1 there are two actions described: ‘breathing’ and ‘went’. But we can tell from the Morphological Filter that both of these actions are backgrounded. That means that these actions are setting the stage for the main action, and are not the main action themselves. The main action doesn’t come until v. 2; it is Saul ASKING for the letters. ‘Going’ to the high priest was just something that had to happen before he could ‘ask’ them for the letters. Luke’s choice to use a participle reflects how he chose to prioritize the action. Understanding how he prioritized the action will help us better understand the main point of the passage. The other participles in v. 2 function as ‘verbal adjectives’, describing whom Saul is seeking (the ones ‘belonging to the Way’) and how he will bring them (‘having been bound’). The principle of backgrounding only applies to the action participles that precede the main action.

The biggest, hairiest chain of backgrounded actions that I have yet found is in Mark 5:25-27, where SEVEN backgrounded actions before we finally get to the main action. Nearly all of these are translated in the ESV as though they are main verbs. Remember, this is not bad translation, it just reflects that Greek is not English. Take a look!

Look at all of the actions that are backgrounded! The one main action that is left standing is ‘touched’, all of the rest are simply setting the stage for this action. Mark clearly indicates this by using participles instead of main verbs. He could have just as easily chosen to make ALL of the actions main ones, but then ‘touched’ would not have stood out. They would have all been equal. By backgrounding the less-important actions before the main action, the writer lets us know which action we need to focus on. There is good reason to focus on ‘touch’ in this context, because it is the key action that sets off a whole series of events that follows. Touching Jesus is what heals this woman (v. 27). Look at how Jesus’ response is described in v. 30.

Three participles are used to describe the actions that lead to Jesus’ response (‘said’), and what he says is the most important part of the verse: ‘Who touched me?’ Mark has carefully framed his message to make sure that we do not miss the main point of the story!

The gospels and Acts by far make the most use of backgrounding through the use of participles before the main action. Here are a few more examples from Matthew. In Matt 13:46 in the parable about the pearl of great price, look at which actions have been backgrounded.

There are only two main actions in this verse: ‘selling all that he had’ and ‘buying’. The ‘finding’ and ‘going’ set the stage for the main actions. Do you see how the backgrounding fits with the main idea of the passage?

Another example is found in the description of Jesus preparing to feed the 5000 in Matt 14:19.

There are three backgrounded actions leading up to one main action in the first sentence. ‘Ordering the crowds’, ‘taking’ the loaves and fish, and ‘looking up to heaven’ are all backgrounded, keeping attention on the main action: he said a blessing. In the next sentence, ‘breaking’ is backgrounded, keeping attention focused on ‘giving’ it to the disciples who in turn give it to the crowds.

By the way, you do not need to use the visual filter to find out if an action is a participle in Greek or not. If you hover over ‘ordered’ in v. 19 of the reverse interlinear and look at the display in the lower left corner of the main window, you will see some information displayed.

The G2753 is the Strong’s number; the rest is the grammatical information for the Greek word. You can get the same information as what we have visualized using the Visual Filter, but it is does not let you see the big picture, and it is not nearly as cool!

As you may have noticed, not every participle backgrounds an action. Some participles don’t even describe action, but instead function as verbal adjectives to describe a person, place or thing. The participles that follow the main action usually spell out more specifically what the main action looks like (a topic I will take up in a future post). But there is hope!

I have been working for the last year in a super-secret department (next to Rick!) on a project that identifies all of the New Testament occurrences of cool devices like backgrounded actions. There are 15 other devices that are all explained and marked up using something like the visual filter right in the text to help you better understand what the writers were trying to draw your attention to. Stay tuned for more details.

Update: Both products are now available for pre-order:

Updates to the Louw Nida Greek-English Lexicon

The Louw-Nida Greek Lexicon (formal title: Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, though henceforth “LN”) is a unique and helpful lexicon. It is, however, put together differently than most Greek lexicons.
[OK, this got a little long. If you're more of an I-have-to-see-it-to-understand-it sort of person, cut to the chase and check out the video.— RB]
Instead of being ordered by the Greek alphabet (for easy headword lookup) with one article per headword, the lexicon is ordered by the concept of semantic domain. Even more confusingly, words with multiple major senses have multiple entries. For example, ανθρωπος could be “human being”, or more specifically “man”, or even more specifically, “husband”. In this case, LN has at least three definitions in three different places in the lexicon.
The lexicon has a separate index, ordered by headword, that helps one to navigate the articles and actually use the lexicon. We’ve had LN (volumes 1 & 2) available in Logos Bible Software for years; it is included in many of our packages (specifically, Original Languages, Scholar’s, Scholar’s Silver and Scholar’s Gold).
So to use LN, you’ve had to go into the index, pick the likeliest sense from the index list, then go to that entry and see if it is proper.
With the new enhancements we’ve made to LN, when you keylink in from a Greek New Testament (or a New Testament Reverse Interlinear), you’ll go directly to the article representing the sense being used in your current instance instead of the catch-all index entry. How’s that for cool? (and time-saving!)
If you still want to go to the index entry in volume 2 after having read the sense-specific article, you can still get there — check the video for the groovy keylink-on-the-lexicon-headword trick I use to do this quickly. (Note that the method is more fully documented here).
Confused? That’s OK. I made a video; you can hear me blathering on for almost nine minutes on this book, how it is ordered, how it is used and the significant enhancements we’ve made to it to support keylinking into this lexicon from the Greek New Testament (or New Testament Reverse Interlinears!) Apologies for the last minute; I sort of ramble on for a bit.

This updated version is available on our FTP site (ftp://ftp.logos.com/lbxbooks, look for LOUWNIDA.lbxlls). You also can download the latest version of LN from the book’s page on our web site if you’d like to try this yourself.

Progress on the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament

Back in December, we put The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament on Pre-Pub.
Since the early reception to the Pre-Pub was good, we’ve been doing a little work on the New Testament interlinear and even have some provisional data back from the editor, Hall Harris. So I thought I’d take some time to walk you through some of the features in the hopes that even more of you will pre-order it!

Seeing Double: How to Display Only Primary Resource Titles

A friend of mine recently emailed me the following question:

I’ve been sorting my library into collections and (several times) I’ve come across duplicate books with slightly different titles, e.g., (1) NBATLAS (New Bible Atlas) and (2) New Bible Atlas (Authors listed).
Any suggestions on how to eliminate these duplicates? I have tried the “Remove Duplicate Resources” function, but this function doesn’t seem to treat these occurrences as true duplicates.
Thanks for any help you can offer!


My friend is a very sharp guy, so I figured if he has had this question, there are probably many others who have as well.
When you see what appears to be two copies of a resource, you are probably simply seeing alternate titles for the same resource. That’s why Tools > Library Management > Remove Duplicate Resources won’t do anything. This feature is built into Libronix to make it easier to find titles in My Library, but not everyone wants to see multiple titles for their resources, so we allow you to turn this off. To set it to show only the primary title for each resource, click Tools > Options > General > Interface and check the box next to Use Only Primary Resource Titles in My Library.

Now you should see only one entry for every resource. Hope this helps!

Greek Syntax: First Thessalonians 4:16, Part IV


I’ve blogged a bit about the prepositional phrase εν Χριστω in 1Th 4.16. There are three previous posts in this series:

Today’s post, the last in the series, is a follow-up to Part II. We’ll further explore how to search for εν Χριστω in relation to the verb (predicator) that it co-occurs with; only today we’ll search for this with both adverbial (as in Part II) and adjectival instances. For those of you who can’t wait, here’s a link to the video:

In 1Th 4.16, εν Χριστω occurs before the verb, as shown below:

1Th 4.16

This instance is somewhat ambiguous (indeed, that’s the reason why the JBL article was written); there are equally good reasons for the prepositional phrase to modify the subject or the verb. OpenText.org SAGNT annotates this as an adjectival relation, further modifying the subject. In order to examine like cases, we need to find where the prepositional phrase itself (whether the OpenText.org SAGNT annotates it adjectivally or adverbially) occurs preceding the predicator. Our earlier search in Part II only located OpenText.org’s adverbial instances.
So today’s video starts there and then shows how to search for where OpenText.org’s adjectival instances precede the predicator. The combination of those two lists provides the whole set of instances where the prepositional phrase precedes the predicator.

Once the lists are available, the analysis can proceed. Examine not only the verbs, but also the other clausal components that are similar to 1Th 4.16. Which of these instances, like 1Th 4.16, appear to be genuinely ambiguous as to where the prepositional phrase can attach? And can those instances help in establishing reasons to prefer either adjectival or adverbial modification in 1Th 4.16?
Lastly, after surveying the material, you may want to do a reference search of your Greek grammars to see if any of them discuss the issue of how the prepositional phrase functions in 1Th 4.16; you may also want to check some of your commentaries (like NIGTC on Thessalonians, perhaps; or the WBC or ICC volumes if you’ve got ‘em) to see what they say.

Greek Syntax: First Thessalonians 4:16, Part III

I’ve blogged a few times about 1Th 4.16 and the prepositional phrase εν Χριστω (see here and here).

1Th 4.16

But there’s more to talk about.
One thing that could be handy is searching for when the prepositional object (Χριστω) is articular, and when it is anarthrous. Our initial search for the prepositional phrase found both articular and anarthrous instances.
But in tracking how εν Χριστω functions, it may be necessary to consider articular and anarthrous instances separately. With syntax searching, you can do this. I’ve created a video that starts with the basic search for the prepositional phrase and adjusts it to first locate articular instances (so, εν τω Χριστω) and then to locate anarthrous instances (εν Χριστω) .

The Value of Custom Resource Associations

Two weeks ago I talked a little bit about the value of collections. To summarize, collections have two primary functions:

  1. They allow you to organize and group your books together so that they are easier to find in My Library. For example, you have a systematic theology kind of question, and you can’t remember all of the systematic theology books that you have. You could just type “Systematic Theology” in My Library, but then you’d miss Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology and many others. You could try the broader “Theology,” but then you’d probably get a lot more books than you’re really looking for (like all of the journals with “Theology” in the title) and you’d miss a book like Henry’s God, Revelation and Authority. If you create a Systematic Theology collection, you’d be able to view your entire list of available Systematic Theology resources without missing any and without weeding through resources that don’t belong.
  2. They also allow you to improve the way you search. Searching collections is the ideal way to search for two reasons: accuracy and speed. (1) You’ll get hits that are more likely to address your question without having to wade through lots of false hits, and (2) your search will take far less time than if you are searching your entire library.

Resource Associations
Today I’d like to talk about the value of custom resource associations. I’ve found that many users don’t know what resource associations are, how they differ from collections, what value they have, or how to set them up. I hope that the remainder of this post will help to provide some answers to questions like these.
A resource association is simply a grouping of resources that enables you to navigate easily to similar resources. There are two kinds: serial and parallel.
Serial Resource Associations
A serial resource association groups books in the same series, like commentaries in the WBC or PNTC. So if you are looking at Genesis 15:6 in Wenham’s commentary in the WBC and want to jump to Romans 4:3 in the same series to read Dunn’s comments, you can simply type Rom 4:3 in the reference box in the top left hand corner, and it will take you to the Romans commentary in the same series. Think of a serial resource association as making many resources in a series function like one big resource. For the most part, serial resource associations come included with products. You won’t normally need to create any of your own.
Parallel Resource Associations
A parallel resource association groups books that cover the same basic content. For example, you might create a resource association for all of your English Bibles, all of your Greek New Testaments, all of your commentaries on Romans, all of your Hebrew grammars, all of your Apostolic Fathers texts, etc. This allows you to jump to one of these similar resources to compare with just two mouse clicks. I find this incredibly handy for those times when I go straight to a commentary instead of running a full Passage Guide report. By clicking on the Parallel Resources button, you will get a drop down list of the other books in your association.


So here I’m looking at Galatians 3:6 in Betz’ commentary in the Hermeneia series. Clicking on The New American Commentary: Galatians will take me to the same location in George’s commentary. (You can also use your right and left arrow keys to scroll through this list, but I find that using the parallel resources button is much quicker because you can go immediately to the one you want.)
The value of using your own parallel resource associations is that only the resources that you choose will appear, making the list targeted and customized to the way you study—and they are only two clicks away.
Defining Custom Resource Associations
Setting them up is simple to do. First, make sure you have the Power Tools Addin installed (read about or watch how to download it for free). Next, click on Tools > Library Management > Define Resource Associations. Select Parallel, and then click New. I recommend sorting by Title and checking the Unlocked Resources Only box. Add all of the resources that you want in your resource association, and order them however you want (e.g., alphabetically or in order of priority). Click OK and Close, and you’re ready to use your new resource association. Create as many as you want. For more information, see the article “Define Resource Associations” in the Libronix DLS Power Tools Addin Help resource or search for it in Libronix DLS Help (F1 or Help > Libronix DLS Help). Also, check out the “Customize Your New Digital Library” training video. The applicable portion is 14:53–18:31.
Now navigating from one resource to the next will be easier than ever.
Two things you should be aware of as you create your custom parallel resource associations:
  1. A resource can be in only one parallel resource association.
  2. Adding a resource to a custom resource association will override the default associations.