Syntax: Talking Animals in the Bible

Several readers have requested that we produce more examples of syntax searching. Your wish is my command — at least in this case. I made a video that shows how to make a syntax search to find all the places in the Hebrew Bible where an animal speaks, or more specifically, where a clause has a verb of speaking with a “creature” in the subject. The query uses the semantic categories present in the A-F markup to narrow the hits down to only verbs of speaking with “creature” subjects.

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Vocabulary Lists and Flashcards

Logos Bible Software version 3.0 sports a new feature called Vocabulary Lists that can be used to create flashcards to help you learn Greek, Hebrew or almost any other language. In addition, we’ve already made vocabulary lists for many popular Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic grammars so that you don’t have to! To learn more about creating vocabulary lists or downloading the pre-made lists, check out the new web article. Cheers!

Homograph Indicators

Logos Bible Software Version 3.0 introduced the use of homograph indicators for searching biblical texts in ancient languages. More information on homograph indicators and how to use them can be found in the new web article entitled, appropriately, Homograph Indicators.

A Trick With Bible Speed Search

One thing I use the Bible Speed Search feature for is to do quick searches of the New Testament for a Greek word, but display my hits in English.

Huh?

Yes, I type in a Greek lemma, but the results are provided in English with the proper English word highlighted. Rather than explain it all, I figured I’d put a quick video together to show you.

Note in the video that I use the F2 key to cycle between English, Hebrew and Greek keyboards (in that order) in order to type in English and Greek on the same line. I probably should’ve mentioned that, but it’s too late now.

Remember, you can do this with right-clicks too. See this previous entry for more details (with a video).

Bible Word Study Report Round-up

It seems a good thing to have one place we can point to for a listing of all of the posts on the Bible Word Study report. So here it is.

If you’ve recently stumbled across the Logos Bible Software Blog, then you’ve likely missed some of these posts. Check ‘em out!

Bible Word Study Report Part VII: Report Properties

This is the seventh and final portion of my series on the Bible Word Study (BWS) report. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged on this topic, but it is time to wrap up the thread.

Since we’ve only discussed how the Bible Word Study report deals with Greek text, we’ll limit this discussion to the options for Greek words inside of the report.

The report properties are broken up in sections—the same sections that are included in the BWS report itself. So the Lemma properties have to do with the Lemma, etc. So we’ll refer back to earlier posts as we step through each section’s properties.

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Syntax and Linguistics

Logos Bible Software 3 offers syntactic databases for the Hebrew Bible and for the Greek New Testament. Some of these resources (the Andersen-Forbes Analyzed Text and Phrase Marker Analysis and also the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament) are informed to one degree or another by linguistics.

I can hear the feedback now: “Huh? Linguistics? Why? Isn’t syntax just syntax? You mean I need to learn about linguistics too?!

David Alan Black, in his helpful book Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek, describes the importance of linguistics for students of New Testament Greek in this way:

When we study linguistics we are learning how to put the Greek language in its rightful place as a part — perhaps the most technical part — of our work in the text of the New Testament. Through exposure and practice, we can acquire a broader, more confident command of New Testament Greek. …But more importantly, the study of linguistics can contribute a great deal to our understanding of the meaning of the New Testament. It can help us become more aware of why we understand a text the way we do when we read it, and it can help us talk about the text more precisely, by providing us with a methodology through which we can show how interpretation is in part derived from grammatical considerations. Linguistics may also help solve problems of interpretation by showing us why one meaning is possible but not another. Above all, however, linguistics can give us a point of view, a way of looking at a text that will help us develop a consistent analysis, and prompt us to ask questions about the language of the text that we might have otherwise overlooked. (Black 3, emphasis mine)

I’ve highlighted the final portion of the quote because it describes so well one of the primary ways in which the syntax graphs (more on graphs here, here and here) for both the Hebrew Bible (more here) and the Greek New Testament (more here and here) can be used in one’s study.

Much of the information about linguistics is already dealt with in the encoding of the databases. The syntax graphs merely make the underlying information explicit. They give you a picture to visualize the linguistic goings-on, here described mostly in terms of syntax.

The bottom line is if you start to read the text using the syntax graphs, a few things will happen.

  • First, you’ll slow down and take a look at the bigger picture.
  • Second, you’ll see clause structure (verbs, subjects, objects, etc.) that you likely would not have seen just reading through a paragraph of original language text.
  • Third, you’ll begin to look across passages for, say, what sorts of things (objects/complements/adjuncts/adverbs/prepositional phrases) further modify verbs (predicators) to track action through a passage. You’ll start to look at subjects to see if the subject is the same, or if it changes.
  • Fourth, as you begin to look at the text in this different way, you’ll have different cues to remind you of things you’ve seen before.
  • Fifth, as Black notes, you’ll start to develop the basis on which to ask further questions of the text. You’ll notice new, different things. And those new, different things will complement your study of the text.

All of it will help you draw connections — here formulated on the basis of syntax and linguistics — to complement other connections you’ve already made based on other reading, morphology, commentary, text-critical aspects, and the like. In short, slowly reading through the syntax graph (by all means read the normal text first, and read translations too!), keeping track of the text at a syntactic level as opposed to just words on a page draws on other influences and helps with developing a larger picture of what’s going on in a particular passage.

Syntax Search Example: More Searching for Qualification


Once again, in the home group study, I ran across a phrase that caused me to ask a question. This time I’m in First Thessalonians 5.2 and the phrase is “day of the Lord”.

Earlier, I’d searched for “What other things qualify παρουσία?” (see post here). In this example, I use that same search as a starting point (sort of like a template) to search for “What other things qualify ἡμέρα (‘day’)?”

So this video (Flash, 11 megs, with sound) shows how to load the old query (which was saved) and modify it.

But as I was making the video, I had a flash of insight: I could use the OpenText.org semantic domain tagging to search for something similar but not constrain myself to vocabulary. I could search for where references to deity qualified words in the time domain. So I run through that aspect of modifying the search as well.

Organizing an Outline with Syntax Graphs

Awhile back, I blogged on how syntax graphs aren’t just helpful when it comes to searching. They can be very helpful when reading through the text as well. And they can help one organize thoughts and approach when teaching or preaching on a passage.

A case in point is First Thessalonians 5.12-13. I dug into this passage in preparation for a home group Bible study. The OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament: Clause Analysis helped me to organize my thoughts on how this passage is structured, therefore it helped in thinking how this passage should be understood.

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Syntax Search Example: What “Qualifies” another Word?

As folks who have followed these syntax search examples know, I’ve been in a home group Bible study that is going over First Thessalonians. This has served as the background for many of these syntax search examples.

In the process of doing this, I’ve noticed that I’ve begun to ask different questions of the text.

So when the study group was in 1Th 4.15, and when the word παρουσία occurs (yet again), I asked myself, “What other things qualify παρουσία?” Why did I ask that question? First, we need to define Qualifier:

Qualifier: A Qualifier is a modifier that in some way limits or constrains the scope of the word it modifies. Common examples of qualifiers are words in the genitive and dative case, and also negative particles functioning at the word group level.

Porter, S., O’Donnell, M. B., Reed, J. T., Tan, R., & OpenText.org. (2006; 2006). The OpenText.org
Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament Glossary
. Logos Research Systems, Inc.

So a Qualifier limits scope. In terms of παρουσία, which can be translated “return” or perhaps “coming”, when it occurs with a qualifier the qualifier limits the scope of the coming. Thus in phrases like “coming of the Lord”, the phrase “of the Lord” acts as the qualifier. It’s not just any “coming” or “return”, it is the return of the Lord. Just like in 1Th 4.15:

So when I ask the question “What other things qualify παρουσία?” I”m really asking “Are there any other similar sorts of ‘return’ or ‘coming’ phrases in the New Testament?” After all, to understand more how the word παρουσία is functioning here, it could help to see it operating in similar syntactic contexts — to see how παρουσία stands in relationship with other instances of words that modify it.

So I put together this video (Flash, 8.5 megs, with sound) to show how I constructed the query to find qualifiers of παρουσία.

After searching, ask yourself the question again: “What other things qualify παρουσία?” Now you have data to use when considering this question. As you evaluate the hits, you can ask further questions:

  • Are there any qualifiers that seem to repeat (hint: “his”, “of the Lord”, “of the son of man”, “of the Lord Jesus Christ”)?
  • What are the unique qualifiers (hint: 1Co 16.17; 2Co 7.6; Php 2.12, etc.)?
  • Is there anything that would allow one to say that the use of παρουσία in 1Th 4.15 is the same as or different from other syntactic usages?
  • If so, is 1Th 4.15 the use typical or non-typical?
  • How does the general understanding of the use of παρουσία with a qualifier in the New Testament affect how we look at the specific use of παρουσία in 1Th 4.15 (or does it)?

Here’s a link to the video: Flash, 8.5 megs, with sound

But note well: If you’d rather not go through the hoops of constructing the search as described in the video … just right-click the Greek word and run the Bible Word Study report. Check out the Grammatical Relationships section. One of the standard word relationships searched for is that of qualification. So this search is done automatically for you in the Bible Word Study report! No assembly required! And it even groups like qualifiers together, so you can see what repeats and what is unique just by looking at the result section.

Also note: A future post will show how to make this query even more generic and search for some things a little differently. So keep comin’ back!