Syntax Search Example: Prepositions and Nouns

If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know that sometimes I just notice things as I’m reading through the text. This time, it was a syntactic structure used in 1Ti 6.3, shown below in the  ESV NT Reverse Interlinear:

The structure that is highlighted is what we’re interested in. This is a neat little syntactic structure where the article + substantive (here a noun) combo surrounds a prepositional phrase. Here’s the syntax graph of the verse:

I thought it might be interesting and instructive to walk through constructing a search to find this and other instances (over 100 in the NT!). So I created a video.

[Note: I used WMV format because the video as captured was too big for Camtasia to save as Flash format. I'll try to keep it shorter in the future -- RB]

Those Little Numbers and Letters

We recently created a Libronix-based product for a third party company andone of their outside consultants did Quality Assurance testing on it. She had a number of questions about the way things work within Libronix DLS—but the oddest question she asked was, “What are these numbers and letters all over the Bible?”

It took me a couple of tries to figure out that she was talking about the footnote and cross-reference indicators within the text of a Bible such as the English Standard Version.

After further clarification, I realized that she was not confused by the electronic implementation…she would have been equally stymied by the appearance of these littleletters and numbers in a print Bible! I guess it’s one of those things I take for granted as someone who has been around the Bible all my life. And yet surely somebody must have explained it to me, too, somewhere along the way.

People expect a fair bit of documentation with their new Bible software, which is why we include a help manual within the program, ship a free video tutorial disc with every base product, offer training articles, 70+ video tutorials on the web, Morris Proctor’s Tips & Tricks blog, tutorial posts right here on the Logos blog, user newsgroups, the Logos Wiki, and Camp Logos.

But what kind of help do people get when they pick up a print Bible for the very first time? How do they find out what all the little letters and numbers mean?

Reading and Using the Apostolic Fathers: Part III

This is the third post in a series of posts having to do with the Apostolic Fathers in Greek and English. (The first post is here, the second is here).
Today’s video focuses on different reports and resources that the Apostolic Fathers resources complement through providing text on hover, on how references to Apostolic Fathers within lexicons can be exploited, and also how Apostolic Fathers information can be used in the Bible Word Study report.

Note: The video discusses two resources that do not ship with Apostolic Fathers but can be added to your digital library: NA27 (included in “language” base packages) and the BDAG lexicon.

The Secret to Beating the Postage Increase


Buy your stamps for 10% off.

Yes, it’s pretty obvious I know, but 99% of the people reading this article don’t think it is possible – “isn’t it against the law for the post office to give discounts on stamps?” So what – you don’t have to buy them from the post office.

I know it sounds too good to be true, I thought so too until I figured out how to do it.

If you are like me, you have spent hours of your life poring over your expenses in every category, trying to find a place to shave off a percent or two here and there. Then you come to the postage category. You look at that solid and steadily increasing dollar amount, shed a few tears, and move on since you know there is no way to save on the actual postage itself. You can’t just stop mailing invoices or statements, and you can’t use bulk mail for them – you’re stuck.

After crying a few of those tears year after year, I read “Chapter 9: You Can Always Find 5%” from my favorite business book Fire Someone Todayand was determined to once and for all find a way to shave something off that number somehow. Everyone said it couldn’t be done – “Everyone knows there are no discounts on postage other than bulk mail.” I was more determined than ever to find a way to shave at least 5% off my postage expenses.

I talked to my post office representative, I called the postmaster, I asked the UPS guys, the mail forwarders, the bulk rate mailers, and everyone else I could think of. Then I called the local “Stamp & Coin” shop and hit pay-dirt.

It turns out that there are thousands upon thousands of people happily stockpiling stamps while completely oblivious to the fact that the vast majority of all stamps are, guess what… used as stamps, and will never be worth more than their face value. They buy every roll or book of postage issued, no matter how mass-produced they may be, hoping they will strike it rich with a bunch of collector’s items someday. Eventually they pass on and their heirs inherit tons of old postage with no special collectable value at all. They can’t use that much postage themselves, so they sell it to the local stamp and coin place at pennies on the dollar.

The beauty of the old postage is that it never loses its face value or expires. While it may be worthless as a collector’s item, it is still worth every penny printed on its face. Just like any other inventory item, the old postage purchased at a discount is often passed on at a discount. The more dollars the local shop has tied up in old postage inventory, the more likely they are to blow it out at a discount.

I went over to my local stamp and coin place and made a deal with them. They agreed to hand-apply the correct postage to my statement envelopes when they had down time if I agreed to buy my postage from them. Sounded like a no-brainer to me. They sold the postage to me for 10% off face value and applied it for free. Now I am saving 10% on all my postage and getting the labor for free in an expense category that I originally thought there wasn’t a penny to be saved in.

As a bonus, it seems like my invoices and statements are being opened more often. When my customers see the rare and often antique hand-applied postage stamps, they know a real person had to touch this envelope and not just a postage-meter or bulk mailer.

Every penny counts. On May 14th the postage rate change is a 5% increase to your competitors’ postage budgets.

Let it be the day it becomes a 10% decrease in yours.

Today’s guest blogger is Dan Pritchett, director of marketing for Logos Bible Software.

Related post: Protesting the Postage Rate Increase?

Trekking Through Texas

Today’s post is written by Scott Lindsey, director of ministry relations for Logos, who is on the Bible Study Bus road trip. View more road trip photos at Flickror readScott’s first post from the trip.

The Bible Study Bus is still trekking through Texas. Wow, is this a big state! We have been driving all around Texas for over 2 weeks now. It was so great to see so many old friends while we were in Abilene. 3rd Week - WindmillMy 11-year-old son, Beau, was born in Abilene. When he found out we had the Texas leg of the Road Trip he exclaimed, “I get to see my people!?” Beau sure has loved the great BBQ we have been eating while in Texas. None has been better the feast we had with our friends, the Held family, at Harmon’s BBQ in Cibolo. If you are ever in the San Antonio area you have got to make this detour. Your mouth and belly will thank you for it!

While in Abilene, we were able to introduce our friends, the Ganske Family, to the awesome hobby of Geocaching. We spent a Saturday venturing all over 3rd Week - GeocachingAbilene looking for geocaches.

Geocaching is a treasure hunt using a handheld GPS. My family is hooked! We have done 14 geocaches while on the Bible Study Bus tour. The best part of geocaching for the kids is when they find a larger geocache that has small presents in them. The rule is: take something, leave something. We have left Logos coffee mugs, t-shirts, and Logos-branded, Bellingham roasted coffee as treasure for the next geocache discoverers.

We have many geocachers at Logos. It’s a great way to be in the great outdoors with your family. For more information on the sport, visit:http://www.geocaching.com/faq/

After Abilene we headed to San Antonio where we had the biggest Bible Study Bus event to date at Castle Hills First Baptist church. The drive down to San Antonio was all small country and farm roads. 3rd Week - Nearest StarbucksYou know you are out in the middle of nowhere when the GPS in the RV shows that the nearest Starbucks is 94 miles away!!! I had to wait almost 3 hours for my caffeine fix.

We had a great turnout at Castle Hills. Logos created a lot of Bible study excitement that night! I received a great email from the senior pastor a few days later concerning his Bible Study Bus presentation experience:

“Our church lovedthe Bible Study Bus Road Trip presentation! Scott has a unique ability to connect with an audience.His presentation was engaging, entertaining, and most of all, inspiring. He demonstrated to our people the power of Logos.3rd Week - Castle HillsHe showed ushow user-friendly and convenient it is to use this revolutionary software.As a result, I now have dozens ofleaders and teachersin my church who are seriously studying the word of God with the best tools available.Pastors make many decisions whileleading their people to grow spiritually…having the Bible Study Bus visit Castle Hills First Baptist Church was a homerun.We can’t wait for it to return!”

Just a few more weeks in Texas… hope to see you at a Bible Study Bus event soon!

Want More Power?

Want more power?
Stuff like stacked window tabs, fuzzy searching, and quick navigation?

Of course you do.
Then you need Power Tools. If you don’t have ‘em, you should check out the Power Tools Addin.

The Most Important Person in the Bible

Today’s guest blogger is Sean Boisen, senior information architect at Logos.

Logos Bible Software iscontinually undertaking new projects to expand our tools for Bible study. Many of these involve wading through data, usually lots and lots of data.

For example, the Biblical People feature (described in this previous post) provides Bible references, family relationships, social roles, and other information for every person mentioned in the Bible, some 3000 different individuals in all.

I’m currently working to enrich this data set much further to include place names, other named entities (like ethnic groups and languages), and an even richer set of relationships: people who knew each other or collaborated together, places they lived or visited, their beliefs, and many other kinds of information.

But too many projects chasing too little time means you have to prioritize. This raises an interesting question: how to prioritize development for our people data so we spend the most effort on the names that will matter most to those studying the Bible?

Since I’m inherently a data-driven, quantitative type of guy, my practical answer is to:

  • assign a numeric weight to each name
  • start at the top and work my way down the list in order
  • stop when when the available resources, enthusiasm, or both are exhausted

Since we’ve got the data that connects people to the passages that refer to them, a good starting place is simply to go through and count how many times each person is mentioned in the Scriptures. There’s an important technical detail here:I really do mean references to people, not just names (as strings). To see why this matters, consider:

  • the same person can be known by several different names (Peter, Simon, Simeon and Cephas are all names used in the New Testament for Jesus’ disciple)
  • the same name can be used for several different people, or even different kinds of things

As an example of this second point, it’s not enough to find the string “Judah” in a verse: you want to know when it’s Judah the person, as opposed to a cover term for Israel or the Southern Kingdom. For hard cases like Judah, the only way to know is to go through verse by verse by hand and decide. (This investment of effort is one thing that makes Logos’ Biblical People data such a uniquely valuable resource.)

For many other cases, while the name is only used to refer to people, there are numerous individuals with the same name. Zechariah is the toughest case here: there are 30 distinct ones in our database. So just counting occurrences of the string “Zechariah” doesn’t get it right: you need to know whether it’s the prophet Zechariah (from the Old Testament book of the same name), the father of John the Baptist, or one of the 28 others (most of which are only mentioned oncein the entire Bible). So some pretty detailed data is required to do a reasonable job with this computation.

There are many different ways you could count and compute weights on a per-person basis. Here’s one (there are other reasonable possibilities too):

  • Let frequencybe a count of the number of verses that mention a given individual (only counting one for verses like Luke 22:31, “Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to sift you like wheat”, which shouldn’t really count as two observations of Simon’s significance as a Biblical character).
  • Let book dispersionbe the number of books of the Bible that mention the individual. The intuition here is that, for two individuals with the same frequency, the one that’s mentioned in more books is probably more important, broadly speaking.
  • Let chapter dispersionsimilarly be the number of chapters in which a mention occurs. This helps distinguish people mentioned frequently but within a relatively shorter range of verses.
  • Normalize these values by their maximums (frequency=1370, book mentions=31, chapter mentions=258) just to scale things more nicely
  • Assign a weight to each of these three factors (I used 0.6 for frequency, 0.2 for book dispersion, and 0.2 for chapter dispersion: clearly this choice affects the outcome).
  • Multiply each factor by its weight, and add the results to get a number between 1 and 0.

Here’s a graph that shows this metric for the top 50 people, along with the individual factors. (The image is linked to a larger version where the names can be read.)

While the top names (Jesus, David, Moses, Jacob, Abraham) are no surprise, there are some interesting observations farther down.

First, the composite metric really does change the rankings: Levi is #15 by this method, but #52 if you only ranked by frequency. Likewise, King Saul would be #51 if you only ranked by book mentions, because he’s mentioned in just a few books: but he’s clearly one of the most important characters in those books, and so it seems fitting that incorporating frequency and chapter dispersion boosts him up to #10 in the composite metric rank.

Graphically, the places where the lines approach each other are the cases where the various factors are more equal, and places where they’re farthest apart (Judah’s a good example) where they’re most skewed. Back to the previous point about counting genuine person name instances versus strings: only 99 of the approximately 780 occurrences of “Judah” actually refer to Jacob and Leah’s son, so counting strings would be highly misleading here.

Since names, like many linguistic phenomena, typically follow a Zipfian Distribution(sometimes called a “long tail” or power law distribution), it’s no surprise that the majority (1634 of the 2987) of these names occur exactly once in the Bible, and the 59 most frequent names account for about half of all the name mentions in the Bible. So clearly these top names deserve much more attention than the long tail. Important disclaimer:I’m not making any claims here about theological or historical importance. That’s a subjective matter, and you’d get different answers depending on your perspective.

One advantage of making ideas explicit and quantifiable is that you can compare their predictions against your intuitions and see how they compare. Some other factors that might improve the estimate even further (and remember, this is just an estimate):

  • Though we value the whole of Scripture, there’s a sense in which certain sections are broader in their implications. For example, anyone mentioned in the first chapters of Genesis should probably get an extra measure of importance: these are the foundational stories of Hebrew and Christian history.
  • We’re only counting proper names here: other descriptions and pronouns would help refine these measurements even further (we don’t have this data yet, however)
  • External sources (like Bible dictionaries) are a rich and quantifiable source of judgments about importance: the more words or sentences used to describe an individual, the more important they’re likely to be. By consulting several dictionaries, you can overcome the biases of an individual work or editorial slant. The key feature here is making the connection between the described individual (often in a numbered paragraph) and the Biblical character: we don’t have that data yet, but it’s in our plans for the future, and an approximation with
    a bit of programming ought to be possible at better than 90% accuracy.

Postscripts

  • Some of this material was previously posted hereat my Blogos weblog. Unfortunately, as of this writing, some problems with my service provider have made these posts unavailable.
  • This post at OpenBible.info is a response to the original series, with some interesting thoughts about alternative ways to rank names.

Related Posts

Follow-up posts here at the Logos Blogusing Many Eyes to further analyze and visualize the data:

Update 5/25 — Chris Anderson, author of the best-selling book The Long Tail and editor-in-chief at Wired magazine wrote about this post on his blog! Check it out: The Long Tail of Bible People (AKA Jesus is #1!)

Reading and Using the Apostolic Fathers: Part II

This is the second post in a series of posts (first post here) having to do with the Apostolic Fathers in Greek and English. Today’s video focuses on basic capability of the morphologically annotated Greek texts, including configuring the interlinear lines, keylinking and using visual filters.

In the third and final installment next week, I’ll show how to configure linking and hovering preferences related to the Apostolic Fathers and dig into the Bible Word Study report.

Note: The video discusses two items that do not ship with Apostolic Fathers but can be added to your digital library: morphological filter (part of Biblical Languages Addin, which is included in “language” base packages) and the BDAG lexicon.

Logos Lecture Series Presents Dr. Mark Futato

On Saturday, May 5 the Logos Lecture Series will feature Dr. Mark Futato of Reformed Theological Seminary. Dr. Futato will be presenting a lecture entitled “The Psalms and Our Destiny: Understanding the Message of the Book of Psalms.”

The Psalms contain some of the most beautiful poetry ever written. However, what often goes unnoticed is that they have been purposefully arranged in order to tell the story of God’s grace and mercy. Dr. Mark Futato, one of the nation’s top scholars on the Hebrew language and the Psalms, will illuminate the message of the Psalms and help attendees further appreciate this beloved part of the Bible.

Lecture details:

  • Date: Saturday May, 5
  • Time: 7:00 PM
  • Location: Mount Baker Theatrein downtown Bellingham
  • Admission: no charge!

If you can’t make it to the lecture, you can always check outsome of Dr. Futato’s teaching on Psalms in the audio files posted at Third Millenium Ministriesor his book Transformed by Praise: The Purpose and Message of the Psalms. Futato’s widely acclaimed Hebrew grammar is available for Logos Bible Software.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Mark Futato is currently the Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. He received an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the Catholic University of America as well as an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Dr. Futato teaches courses on Hebrew, the Psalms and other biblical wisdom literature.

Reading and Using the Apostolic Fathers: Part I

The long-awaited Apostolic Fathers in Greek and English has shipped! This includes three editions of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers (each edition has both Greek and English text, so six resources in all). More info, of course, is on the product page.

I thought I’d take a few posts and show some of the things you can do with these resources. Today’s video has to do with general use of the resources with some ideas of further things you can do to get more from the books as you read them. Today I’ll focus on the English, though I’ll focus on the Greek editions in future posts.

Future posts will likely include things like keylink preferences, hovering and highlighting and also integration with the Bible Word Study report.