Logos in the Blogosphere

I’m subscribed to a number of services like Technorati and Google Alerts so I can stay up with what people are saying about Logos on the Web. It’s a lot of fun finding out about new users and reading about how people from all walks of life are using Logos.

I’ve seen a few things that I thought were worth mentioning here on the blog, since most of you probably don’t keep up with what everyone is saying about Logos like I do. :)

Tutorial Videos

First, a user named Brett has started a new blog, Logos Bible Software Lessons, which provides basic and advanced video lessons on how to use Logos better. He has four helpful videos there so far:

  1. Customize the Logos Homepage
  2. Create & save a custom workspace in Logos
  3. Viewing Inline Strong’s Numbers
  4. Creating Parallel Resources

You can even subscribe to his video podcast. Nice work, Brett. Keep it up!

Don’t forget to check out all of the videos at www.logos.com/videos as well.

Syntax

Second, Mike at his ἐν ἐφέσῳ blog is doing a series of posts on our syntax searching tools. Here are the first two posts in the series:

If you’re trying to learn more about syntax searching, you’ll want to give Mike’s posts a read.

Also, if you haven’t seen them yet, be sure to check out the host of syntax videos at www.logos.com/videos.

Barth’s Church Dogmatics

Finally, there’s a nice review of Barth’s Church Dogmatics over at Faith and Theology. Ben has a helpful summary of its features and several cool screenshots.

Here’s his conclusion:

In sum, this is a wonderfully rich and delightfully user-friendly resource both for general theological readers and for students of Barth. The new digital edition will certainly be a tremendous help in my own future research! With its accessible format, enhanced search capabilities and seamless integration with so many other texts, it will no doubt establish itself as an indispensable resource for the next generation of Barth scholars, and for the wider community of pastors, theologians and students.

If you haven’t ordered yours yet, there’s still time to get in at the Pre-Pub price before it ships next Monday.

Understanding Data Types: Introduction

In Friday’s blog post on the new edition of the Works of Cornelius Van Til, I mentioned how you can now search the works of Van Til for a specific reference or range of references in Calvin’s Institutes or Barth’s Church Dogmatics. This kind of analysis is incredibly helpful for detailed study, and there’s really no other way—at least not that I’m aware of—to get this data apart from doing the tedious work of reading the entire book (or series of books) cover to cover, which is not the ideal solution when you’re dealing with something as large as the works of Van Til!

The reason you can do searches like these in Logos is because we have created data types for Calvin’s Institutes or Barth’s Church Dogmatics (and scores of other resources) and done the tedious work of tagging the references to those data types.

I’ve been spending some time lately playing with data types and have come to realize how powerful they are for advanced study, so I thought some of you might benefit from a brief series of posts on data types. I’m particularly interested in exploring what significance the information in the data type section in About This Resource has for what you can do with various resources.

In this post, let’s just get a very basic acquaintance with data types.

For starters, open My Library, right click on a few different resources, and select About This Resource (or with a resource opened and selected, click Help, About This Resource).

Then scroll down to the Data Types section. You’ll see the data types listed on the left with KeyLink Target and Searchable columns on the right. Each data type will have at least one checkmark after it. Some will have two. Here’s the Data Types section for Van Til’s The Theology of James Daane.

Here’s the Data Types section for the first volume of Barth’s Church Dogmatics.

I’ll explain what all this information means in a future post.

Next, go to Tools > Options > Keylink and select the Data Type drop-down box. Here’s where you can see a list of all of the data types that you have installed on your computer. The number of data types will vary depending on how often you run Libronix Update and what products you own.

Scroll through the list and familiarize yourself with some of the data types listed there.

That’s all for this for post. In the next post, we’ll cover the basics about what data types are and how they can help you do more powerful research.

Other posts in this series:

Paying Attention to ‘This’ and ‘That’

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Steve Runge, a scholar-in-residence at Logos Bible Software, whose work focuses on the discourse grammar of Hebrew and Greek.

One of the many valuable life lessons I learned growing up came from Sesame Street’s esteemed blue monster, Grover. One of my favorite bits he did (besides Super Grover) was teaching about ‘near’ and ‘far’. Do you remember that? He would run up to the camera (I know, his puppeteer moved him, but indulge me here) and say ‘Near’. Then he would run way into the background and say ‘Far’, repeating it a few times to drive the point home. Believe it or not, this information can really help your Bible study, especially in John’s writings. There are some new Pre-Pubs, the Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament, that provide access to some great new insights that can really impact how you read and study Scripture. Today I want to introduce you to another device: the near/far distinction. Just like Grover taught about how things can be near and far in terms of distance, we also use the near and far distinction to signal what is thematically central (‘near’) to the story and what is non-central (‘far’).

If I was clothes shopping (argghh!) and my wife held up two items for me to help her chose between, she might ask, “Do you like this one or that one?” Chances are that ‘this one’ is the one that she is more interested in. I might respond “I like this one better than that one” even though both are the same distance away. This is an example of creating a near/far distinction in order to communicate that one thing is more important than another. We tend to use ‘this/these’ for things that are of central importance, and ‘that/those’ for things that are of only passing importance, not central to the story.

John creates near/far distinctions all the time in his writings to distinguish important things from those that are less important. Unfortunately, many of them are smoothed over in translation to English. He uses this distinction in order to clarify what he is primarily interested in, especially when there are other things competing for our attention that are not of central importance. Let’s take a look at some examples, and see how Grover has equipped us for better Bible study. In John 5:19, there are a whole gaggle of devices that are used to draw attention to Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees that are questioning him. Here is what it looks like in an alpha version of the HDNT:

What we are interested in today are the ‘near distinction’ symbols () and the ‘far distinction’ symbols (). In the Greek of the ‘Support’ line of v. 19, the words ‘the Father’ are not there; instead He is referred to as ‘that one’. This is not to say that the Father is not important, just that He is not central to what Jesus is saying here. What is important is the things that the Father is doing. It is these things that the Son does, not just whatever seems right in his own eyes. Jesus is stressing here how dependent his actions are on the will of the One who sent him. Here is what it looks like in the LDGNT, notice ‘that one’ and ‘these things’ in the interlinear line.

Do you see how the near/far distinction works? There are a bunch of topics here that are competing for our attention: the Father, the Son, and what the Son sees the Father doing. So which one is of central importance? If you only had the ESV text, it would be difficult to tell, you are left to make the decision on your own. In the HDNT, the near and the far distinctions are clearly marked, even though the ‘that’ has been translated as ‘the Father’. If you had the LDGNT (which includes everything from the HDNT as well), you would be able to look at both to see what is going on, just like we did above.

The same kind of near/far contrast is found again in John 5:38; take a look.

If we were to do an RLV (really literal version), it would read “ . . . for you do not believe in this one whom that one sent”. Once again, ‘that one’ refers to the Father, whereas ‘this one’ refers to Jesus. In this instance, Jesus himself is of central importance, since he is the object of belief (or unbelief in this case). The translation has obscured the near/far distinction that clearly exists in Greek, one that the writer purposefully used to make sure that his main point would be our main point. The HDNT brings back this detail that is lost in translation, drawing your attention to significant things that you might otherwise miss. The LDGNT allows you to see the underlying Greek, plus includes the English HDNT in a bundle.

Did you wonder what all of those other symbols were in John 5:19? There are other blog posts that explain them, if you are interested in reading more. Here they are:

and signal point-counterpoint sets, part 1 and part 2

signals a ‘meta-comment’

If you haven’t yet placed your order, don’t miss out while it’s still available at the discounted Pre-Pub pricing.

New Edition of the Works of Cornelius Van Til

If you run Libronix Update, you’ve probably noticed that there are often updated resource files available for you to download. These resources include typo fixes and other enhancements like additional hyperlinks to other resources available in Libronix. Sometimes these new resources are updated versions of the book like with the ESV recently, which has been updated to the 2007 text edition. The best part is that we almost always provide these improvements to you free of charge. If you don’t run Libronix Update, you should get in the habit of running it at least once a month (in Libronix, click Tools > Libronix Update). You’re probably missing out on some cool stuff!

When we released the first version of the Libronix Digital Library System in 2001, we included backwards compatibility for the older Logos Library System (LLS) resources. Today you can still run LLS resources in Libronix. But since the Libronix Digital Library System allows us to include many more advanced features in our digital books, we try to update old LLS books when we are able so they can take advantage of the improved LDLS functionality. Even though this often involves hundreds of hours of labor, we typically provide these new Libronix resources to those who already own the older LLS versions without any additional cost.

We are pleased to announce that the Works of Cornelius Van Til (40 Volumes) is now available as a new enhanced edition for the Libronix Digital Library System. Since the release of the LLS version more than a decade ago, this definitive collection of works from the renowned Cornelius Van Til has become an essential tool for apologists and students of Van Til’s thought. Now it’s even better!

What’s New?

  • All of the material from the original edition has been updated to take advantage of the advanced features of the Libronix Digital Library System.
  • The contents have been split into 40 resources making it easier to locate specific titles in My Library and navigate this massive collection.
  • The new edition also includes enhancements like additional hyperlinks to other Libronix resources. More than 6,000 links have been added to Barth’s Church Dogmatics alone.

It is now possible to do advanced searching and find all the places where Van Til discusses a certain section of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion or Barth’s Church Dogmatics. By using the Reference Browser, you can locate in an instant all the places where Van Til cites, for example, Calvin’s discussion of the Trinity (I, xiii).

Since Calvin’s Institutes is a data type and all of these references are tagged, finding them is no problem even though Van Til cites Calvin in a variety of ways (i.e., once as Institutes, Bk. 1, chap. 13, Sec. 2, another time as Ibid., 1:13:1, and another as Ibid., 1:13:21). I performed this search and had the results in seconds. Running down this data any other way would have taken hours or even days.

You can do this same type of analysis for the places where Van Til cites Barth’s Church Dogmatics. As you may know, Van Til was a strong critic of Barth. Whether you agree with Van Til or not, you now have the ability to analyze his critique of Barth in ways never before possible. Instantly find all the places where Van Til cites Barth’s certain portions of CD. By the way, Barth’s Church Dogmatics will be shipping very soon. You still have a chance to get in at the Pre-Pub price.

How Do I Get It?

For those who owned the old LLS version of the Works of Cornelius Van Til as of April 10, 2008, we are providing this new version to you free of charge. In fact, we’ve already gone to the effort to unlock the new collection in your license file. All you need to do is synchronize your licenses (in Libronix, click Tools > Library Management > Synchronize Licenses) and get the files. Due to the size, we suggest ordering the $5 media only CD.

Note: You may not give away or sell your old LLS version. You must continue to own it in order to legally use the new LDLS version.

If you don’t already own the Works of Cornelius Van Til, we are offering a special introductory price for a limited time. Visit the new Van Til product page to find out all the details and place your order for the collection, which is available on CD-ROM or as a download.

Update: Some previous owners of the LLS Van Til product might not have had the new edition unlocked yet. We are in the process of unlocking it for this group that got missed. This should be done in the next day or two. Thanks for your patience!

Update 2: We have completed the unlocking process for everyone who had the LLS version of the Works of Cornelius Van Til activated in their Libronix account. If you own the LLS version (and purchased it prior to April 10, 2008), but never moved from the old Logos Library System to the new Libronix Digital Library System, you will have to contact customer service (800-875-6467) if you’d like to move to the Libronix Digital Library System and have the new Libronix version unlocked for you.

Who Wrote That Blog Post?

I’ve heard from several of our RSS subscribers recently who wish that they knew who the authors were for each of the blog posts. Most people find it helpful to know who they’re reading. A post from Bob, for example, carries more weight than a post from anyone else in the company.

This isn’t a problem for those of you who read the blog by visiting http://blog.logos.com/. So the simple solution is to click the link to the site and look at the bottom of the post.

Keep in mind that sometimes the person who posts the entry is not the author. We often have contributions from others in the company who don’t have a blog login set up. So make sure to look at the very beginning of the post to see if you’re reading something from one of our guest bloggers.

Most people who are subscribed to our RSS feed probably aren’t going to be satisfied with the first solution of simply visiting the site. One of the reasons for RSS is not to have to visit the sites you want to keep up with. So I did a little digging as to why some of our RSS subscribers were not seeing the post author, and I think I found the answer. If you happened to be subscribed to the old feed http://blog.logos.com/index.xml, you are probably not seeing the post author.

To fix the problem, make sure you are subscribed to our FeedBurner feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/LogosBibleSoftwareBlog. This way you’re sure to see the author right below the title of the post.

Even if you aren’t having this problem, please take a minute to make sure you are subscribed to our FeedBurner feed. It has additional features at the bottom of each post. It also allows us to track the types of things you find interesting and, as a result, provide you with better content.

To learn more about RSS, how to subscribe, and what other feeds we have, be sure to visit http://www.logos.com/about/rss and check out our previous blog post RSS in Plain English.

Bible Speed Search and Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament

First, a teaser. Here’s where we’re going:


Mixing syntactic force and lemmas in a Bible Speed Search?!

[Maybe you just want to cut to the chase and watch the video instead of read. That's fine, go right ahead! — RB]
The Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament comes with two primary views. One is the Syntax Graph, (formal title: The Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament: Sentence Analysis; shortname is LEXHAMSGNTGRAPH) where the text is in a column on the right, and a graph of arrows and lines shows how the text is structured. Hovering the text brings the Expansions and Annotations data for the word into a popup. If you use the Lexham SGNT, this is probably the view you’re most familiar with.
However, there’s another view, one I like to call the “running text” view. This has the text of the Greek New Testament (UBS/NA) but it has one clause on each line, with indentations to show the relationships. This view is also an interlinear. The resource is The Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament, shortname is LEXHAMSGNT. Here’s an example, note that I have my interlinear configured to only show the Greek text and the English gloss line (you can control this in View | Interlinear).


James 3 from the Lexham SGNT

Now, what not many people know about this edition of the Lexham SGNT is that it is tagged for Syntactic Force. This is what many people refer to as “syntax” when they talk about the Greek of the New Testament, and it is the sort of thing that many second-year programs at seminaries and colleges dig into. You can see the clause and phrase breaks and the hierarchy implied by indentation; what you can’t see is that each word carries a syntactic force annotation. So, in the above example, when I hover over ειδοτες, a popup informs me that this could be either a circumstantial participle or an adverbial participle. Definitions of these terms are given as well.


ειδοτες in James 3.1 from the Lexham SGNT

Did you know that you can search for this kind of thing using the Bible Speed Search report? It’s a little verbose, but possible: sgnt-syn = “circumstantial participle” andequals lemma:οιδα In the material covered by the Lexham SGNT, this happens 10 times (I know because I just did the search).
This is just one example; I made a video that explains things a little more. This combines a few different advanced concepts: non-Bible data type searching, the andequals operator (also note the notequals operator) and using the lemma field. But it allows you to find some pretty specific things. Like, copulative conjunctions that aren’t και.

To further facilitate this kind of searching, I’ve also compiled a list of valid syntactic force codes that you can key into the Bible Speed Search dialog. So, instead of having to type “circumstantial participle”, you’d know you could instead type “ptc-circum”. You can download this file (PDF); hopefully it’ll help in your use of the Lexham SGNT.
Lastly, I should note that the Lexham SGNT is a work in progress; at present it includes annotations of Romans-Galatians and Hebrews through Revelation. If you find annotations that you don’t agree with or would like to suggest alternate annotations, we want to know about it. Send an email to syntax@logos.com and we’ll make sure it gets to the editor.

Doing Things Faster with the Keyboard, Part 2

In yesterday’s blog post I talked about how using keyboard shortcuts can make work in Libronix faster than using just a mouse. The post was triggered by an interaction that I had with a friend who was adjusting to Logos after years as a user of another Bible software program.

One of the other things that he said he missed in Logos was a command line. This is where the Quick Navigation Bar (a.k.a. Go Box) comes in handy. The Quick Navigate Bar is a toolbar that comes with the free Power Tools Addin (read about or watch how to download it). Here’s what it looks like.


The Quick Navigate Bar

It should appear in your toolbar area, which by default is at the top of your screen. If you don’t see it and have the Power Tools Addin installed, make sure to activate it by right clicking in the toolbar area and checking the box next to Quick Navigate Bar.


Toolbar Menu

Since we’re talking about saving time with the keyboard, the first thing you’ll want to know is that to activate the Go Box and be able to start typing in it, you’ll want to use Ctrl+Shift+G. If your hands are already on the keyboard, this is quicker than reaching for the mouse and clicking the box.

So what can you actually do with this box?

Its most basic use is to jump to a passage of Scripture in your default Bible (which you can set on the home page or in Tools > Options > Keylink > Keylinking > Bible). Type in any standard Bible reference, and your preferred Bible will open instantly. References like John 3:16, Jn 3.16, Jn 3 16 will all work.

You can also use it to open up various Bible translations. By typing ESV or NIV and hitting enter, the appropriate Bible version will open. Hit tab (which activates the reference box in the newly opened resource) and type in a reference to jump to a particular location. Most of the standard abbreviations for Bible versions will work.

The Quick Navigation Bar also recognizes some of the standard commentary series abbreviations like WBC, PNTC, NIGTC, and K&D. You can type in the full titles like Preaching the Word or New American Commentary or portions of titles like Pulpit and Lange’s.

You can use it to open other essential tools like BDAG (by typing bdag), HALOT (by typing hal or halot), Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (by typing anchor), ISBE (by typing isbe), and many others.

The guaranteed identifier for each resource is the file name minus the extension. So, to open up MacArthur’s commentary on 1 Corinthians, you would type 1comntc. You can find this information by viewing About This Resource, which is available in the right-click menu in My Library or in the Help menu (with the resource opened and selected). Taking the time to look these up and memorize them will probably be worth the time investment if you frequently open certain resources. Or you might prefer, as I do, to simply create keyboard shortcuts.

While some things are faster with the mouse, others are faster with the keyboard. It’s best to get in the habit of using both for the things they do best. Give some of these tips a try and see if using the Go Box doesn’t speed up some of the common tasks you perform in Libronix.

For more on the Go Box, check out these two previous posts:

See also part 1.

Doing Things Faster with the Keyboard, Part 1

A friend of mine has been a longtime user of another Bible software program, but now he’s using Logos as well. As you might expect, he still feels more comfortable performing certain tasks in his other program. One of the things he mentioned to me that he missed in Logos was the ability to use keyboard shortcuts. He felt like having to use the mouse for everything made for slow work.

As one who is convinced of the value of keyboard shortcuts, I was happy to inform him that you can actually do quite a bit in Logos with keyboard shortcuts. I pointed him to our list of standard keyboard shortcuts (which I just updated to include a few more) and to a blog post I wrote several months ago, where I explained how to set up your own custom keyboard shortcuts for opening books you use frequently and applying visual markups like basic highlighting.

I open books and highlight with my keyboard shortcuts all the time, but there’s so much more that you can do. You can create custom keyboard shortcuts for just about any function in Libronix by using a custom toolbar, which I explain in the earlier post.

Here are some examples of the types of things you can do: view About This Resource with Alt+A, toggle the contents pane for your current resource with Alt+C, report a typo with Alt+T, open the Passage Guide with Alt+P, the Exegetical Guide with Alt+X, and the Bible Word Study with Alt+W.

Here are the things I currently have assigned in my keyboard shortcuts toolbar. (I have other keyboard shortcuts assigned in my primary custom toolbar.)

Feel free to download it and use it or modify it you’d like. Put it in \My Documents\Libronix DLS\CustomToolbars. Two suggestions for enhancing the usefulness of this toolbar: you may want to set up (1) parallel resource associations for things like Bible dictionaries, English dictionaries, English Bibles, Greek lexicons, and study Bibles, which will allow you to jump quickly to similar resources, and (2) serial resource associations for (a) any commentaries that don’t already have one (e.g., JPSTC) and (b) your original language texts, if you want your Greek NT and Hebrew OT connected.

There are two things to be aware of when creating custom keyboard shortcuts. First, your key combination might not be available. If your shortcut doesn’t seem to be working or works but does the wrong function, this is probably why. Second, your key combination might be overriding default behavior. Test your keyboard shortcut before assigning it. You might like the default behavior even better! :)

Next up, part 2 on using the Quick Navigation Bar.

What’s New in the Spanish Department?

It’s been a while since the last blog post on the Spanish department, so it’s about time to fill you in on some of what’s been going on. Our Spanish team is hard at work creating great new products and spreading the word to the Spanish-speaking world about how Software Bíblico Logos can help them do better Bible study. And there are some really exciting things coming down the pike!

Equipping Pastors

We are thrilled to watch Software Bíblico Logos meet a massive need, particularly among Hispanic pastors. The average Hispanic pastor has a library of fewer than 30 books, has to work a secular job, and has not had the privilege of seminary education. Logos equips pastors like these with a library that is often several times the size of their print libraries. It’s portability, affordability, and efficiency make it the perfect solution for the pastor working two jobs. And having a "seminary library in a box"—as some refer to it—is the next best thing to actually going to seminary.

We currently have three Spanish base collections. The top end package, Bilioteca Academica Bilingue (Academic Bilingual Library), contains 213 volumes and is the best seller in the United States, where many pastors know enough English to benefit from some English resources. The middle package, Biblioteca Pastoral (Pastor’s Library), has only Spanish resources and is the most popular collection in the rest of the Spanish-speaking world. The third base collection, Biblioteca de Estudio Biblico (Bible Study Library), is an introductory collection of essential resources. There are also some great add-on collections like the Biblioteca Digital de la Misión (Missions Digital Library) and the Comentario Bíblico del Continente Nuevo (New Continental Bible Commentary).

New Products

And Software Bíblico Logos just keeps getting better. The entire checkout process at http://www.logos.com/es is now in Spanish, making it much easier for users who don’t know English to order software online. There’s also the new Video de Instrucción Avanzada: Cómo estudiar un pasaje bíblico, an advanced training videos CD, which pastors are finding very helpful. The Addin Archivero de Sermones (Sermon File Addin) is also now available in Spanish.

Coming Soon 

First, Teología concisa, the Spanish translation of J. I. Packer’s Concise Theology, is now on Pre-Pub. There are also several other exciting projects in the works. A couple are too top secret to mention, but I can tell you about one of them. There really is no cross-referencing tool in Spanish comparable to something like the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge—at least not yet. Guillermo Powell, who heads up our Spanish department, is leading a team of 18 native Spanish speakers who have a good command of English in creating a Spanish translation of the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge using the Reina Valera as the base text. Having a resource like this will a be great addition to the Passage Guide and tremendous help to pastors and Bible students as they interpret the meaning of Scripture. We’re excited about being able to provide such an essential tool.

Our Mission

As we say in our mission statement, we see it as "our responsibility to ensure that the investment in technology we can afford to make because we serve the western church pays dividends for the whole world." And you’re a huge part in helping us fulfill that mission. When you purchase software from us, you are not only buying a useful tool for yourself, but you are also helping to make possible the creation of products in smaller, foreign-language markets around the world.

Ways to Help

With the growing Hispanic population in the United States, new Hispanic ministries are starting all the time—from Bible studies, to ministries within English-speaking churches, to new church plants. If you have a Spanish-speaking ministry at your church or are aware of one in your area, please let them know about Software Bíblico Logos. You can also help us spread the word by linking to http://www.logos.com/es with the word “biblia” in the anchor text.

Talking about What I Am Talking About

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Steve Runge, a scholar-in-residence at Logos Bible Software, whose work focuses on the discourse grammar of Hebrew and Greek.

We do not often take much time to think about how and why we say things the way we do. We tend to just do ‘what seems right’ in the context. Studying how and why we use language has helped me not only be a better English speaker, but has opened doors into studying the Bible in ways that I never thought possible. Two of the latest Pre-Pubs, the Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament, allow you to have access to these insights that have so changed how I read and study Scripture. I want to introduce another concept that is included in both resources, and let you see the practical difference it can make in your Bible study.

If you have read many blogs, you may have noticed that sometimes the comments about the blog ending up shifting to comments about the comments. This has come to be known as a ‘meta-comment’. We use meta-comments all the time in our speech, too. Each time we stop saying what we want to say, and start talking about what we are going to say, we are making meta-comments. Take a look at the following examples and see what a difference the added meta-comments make.

  1. Your opinion is very important to me.

    versus

  2. I really want you to know that your opinion is very important to me.

    or
  3. Don’t you know that your opinion is very important to me?

    or
  4. I am going to speak slowly and use small words: your opinion is very important to me.

    or
  5. Now you listen here, your opinion is very important to me.

    or
  6. I want you to get it though your thick skull that your opinion is very important to me.

    or
  7. You may never have guessed this, but your opinion is very important to me.

    or
  8. I cannot emphasize enough that your opinion is very important to me.

Do any of the meta-comments added in options 2-8 ring a bell for you? Think about the contexts that you might hear them in. When we stop saying what we want to say and start talking about what we are going to say, it is because what follows is either surprising or important. But English is not the only language that uses meta-comments. Even ancient Greek and Hebrew show the use of meta-comments, and they are found in very similar contexts as in our spoken English. There are literally hundreds of instances of meta-comments in the New Testament, but few commentators draw our attention to them and what they are doing. The primary purpose of the Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament is to help you find important devices like meta-comments that the NT writers used to draw our attention to something that they felt was important. Here are just a few examples.

One of the most common meta-comments used by Jesus in Matthew’s gospel is ‘I say to you’. Not every instance is a meta-comment, only the ones where Jesus has stopped saying what he is saying and is talking about what he is about to say. Here are the instances from the Sermon on the Mount:

“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished." —Matt 5:18

“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." —Matt 5:20

“Truly I say to you, you shall not come out of there, until you have paid up the last cent." —Matt 5:26

“But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also." —Matt 5:39

“When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full." —Matt 6:2

“And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full." —Matt 6:5

“And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full." —Matt 6:16

“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?" —Matt 6:25

“Yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these." —Matt 6:29

If you look at the ideas and statements that immediately follow the meta-comments, you will see that these are Jesus’ key principles or conclusions. They communicate the point that he is trying to make in that section of his teaching. In 5:18, he has just stated that he did not come to abolish the law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them. Verse 18 reinforces this by the declaration that not even the smallest jot or tittle of the law will pass away until it is all accomplished. Notice also that some of the examples include ‘truly’, which functions as another attention-getting device to draw the reader’s attention to something important that follows.

In 5:26, Jesus is drawing his conclusion about the need to be reconciled with your neighbor or opponent. In 5:29, he focuses on the need not to seek revenge, giving the surprising command not to resist him who is evil but to turn to him the other cheek. In both cases, Jesus includes a meta-comment for the same kinds of reasons we do in English today: to draw people’s attention to something surprising or important that follows.

Meta-comments represent the writer’s or speaker’s choice to add an optional device to help direct the reader’s attention to something surprising or important. Jesus could have just as easily made the same statements without the meta-comment, just as I did in option 1 above.

“For until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter . . . ” —Matt 5:18

“For unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees . . . ” —Matt 5:20

“You shall not come out of there, until you have paid up the last cent.” —Matt 5:26

“Do not resist him who is evil . . . ” —Matt 5:39

“They have their reward in full.” —Matt 6:2, 5, 16

“Do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat . . .” —Matt 6:25

“Even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.” —Matt 6:29

Now before you go out and try this at home, you need to know that not every instance of ‘I say to you’ plays the role of a meta-comment. If you were to do a speed search for ‘I say to you’, you would have found three other occurrences in the Sermon that I did not include in my list which are not meta-comments: Matt 5:22, 28, and 34. In these verses ‘I say to you’ is required, and does not function as an optional attention-getting device. The phrase is required to indicate that Jesus is switching from what the ancients said to what he says. A meta-comment, by definition, is where someone stops saying what they are saying, and starts talking about what they are going to say. Don’t worry, all of the meta-comments in the entire New Testament are identified for you using symbols in the text, like this in Matt 5:26.

Lexham High Definition New Testament

Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament

The symbol that looks like a speech balloon denotes the beginning and ending of meta-comments, while the explanation point identifies attention-getting devices.

If you are interested in learning more about other devices that are included in these new Lexham resources, read the previous blog posts listed below.

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