“Power Law” and Bible Reference Citations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clauses, Paragraphs, and OpenText.org

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

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

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

Check it out!

Teach yourself Greek, too!

In response to last week’s blog post about the First Hebrew Primer, astute reader ‘Jeff’ inquired:

…will Logos try something similar with Greek? I would definitely be interested in that as well, just as I would if it was latin :)

In fact, we offer just such a product for Greek—Kairos: A Beginning Greek Grammar & Workbook by Dr. Fred Long who teaches NT Greek at Bethel College in Indiana.

It introduces the student (self-taught or in a class) to biblical Greek, starting with the very basics such as how to write Greek characters.


The accompanying workbook reinforces learning and lets you use the principles and vocab taught in the grammar. Exercises include crossword puzzles, readings, fill-in-the-blank, and sentences to translate.

While Greek pronunciation is not part of the Kairos package, Logos offers an inexpensive and cleverly-implemented Addin that is great for learning to pronounce Greek. With the Greek Pronunciation Addin installed you can right-click on a Greek word in any morphologically tagged resource and hear a pronunciation of that word’s dictionary form. The Addin has two pronunciation styles—Erasmian and Modern—and also includes pronunciations for the Greek alphabet (again, in both styles).

The Greek words in Kairos are not morph-tagged but Greek Bibles such as Nestle-Aland 27th Edition Greek New Testament are. That means you can effectively drill yourself on how to pronounce the dictionary form of every word in the Greek New Testament!

So it looks like 2006 is the year you can learn both Hebrew and Greek! What are you waiting for?

Meet the Staff: Tracy Geleynse

Tracy Geleynse, a book designer in our text processing department, talks about what goes into writing a book specification and how we create electronic Bibles.

Windows Media (2.9MB) | Quicktime (3.7MB)

Bible Road Trip – Hosts Wanted!

You convinced us! We have decided to do a four-month, 13,000 mile road trip to 60 cities to introduce Logos Bible Software 3.

We have developed a route and schedule, and we know which cities we’ll be in on which day.
…Oh, and we have a Bible Road Trip Bus!


The Bible Road Trip page at Logos.com has the schedule and a larger picture of the Bus.

Now that we have dates and cities, we need to identify host venues that are willing and available on the specific date when we will be in the area.

If you are near one of the cities we are visiting and willing to help host, please fill out a brief survey to provide some specific details about your location. The list of cities and a link to the survey are on the Bible Road Trip homepage.

I apologize if the schedule does not include your city (or your “greater metropolitan area” — we don’t need to be within the city limits). We tried to pick the areas that would let us meet the most users in the time available. (May through August.)

We look forward to meeting you in your town!

You asked for it, you got it…

In Eli’s post on how Logos Bible Software facilitates serendipitous discovery he suggested that the phrase belonged on a t-shirt. A few readers agreed, so we went ahead and whipped one up.

We will be printing them on Hanes 100% cotton t-shirts.

To make sure we order enough in the right sizes, place your order now. (We will order the shirts at the end of this week, and ship them when we get them back.)

Update 3/13/2006: Pre-ordering for the FSD tshirt is now closed. Thanks to all who ordered!
We’ll submit the screenprinting order right away. When we get the shirts back from the print shop,
we’ll process customer orders and ship them out.

The Lexham Clausal Outlines of the Greek New Testament

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

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

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

Continue Reading…

Now You Must Learn Hebrew

Think of it…2006 could be the year that you finally get around to learning Hebrew! And I’m pretty sure we just took away your last excuse for not doing it.

On Wednesday, we finished work on The First Hebrew Primer: Textbook, Answer Book & Audio Companion, which is a complete system for learning the language of Moses, David, and the ancient prophets! This is your last chance to take advantage of the prepublication discount pricing so don’t dillly-dally. For one low, low price you’ll get the textbook, the answer key, and 9 discs worth of audio (compressed onto one CD-ROM).

I know, I know…all those squiggles and dots can seem intimidating. But The First Hebrew Primer takes you by the hand and helps you build the confidence to succeed. Starting right at the very beginning, the primer introduces the Hebrew alphabet (‘aleph-bet’), demonstrates correct pronunciation, introduces vocabulary, then builds on that vocabulary in readings and exercises. Each chapter begins with an oral review of earlier material so you’re always building on your skills.

I’ve had the privilege to correspond with the fine people at EKS Publishing, who developed and publish the print edition of The First Hebrew Primer. This is a system created by people who love biblical Hebrew and want you to love it, too.

They realize that the best way to stay motivated is to use your knowledge right away! So the first words you learn will be some of the most frequently-occurring words in the Hebrew Bible. You will be reading familiar folk tales like The Boy Who Cried Wolf (in Hebrew) by Chapter 8 and sections of the biblical book of Ruth by Chapter 10. By the end of the Primer, you will have learned most words that occur 200 or more times in the Bible.

The Logos implementation of this resource is superb. Working closely with the publisher, we embedded links from the textbook to the answer key and to the audio clips.


Click for the full size image.

As you can see, the answer key is a separate resource. This helps you avoid taking shortcuts by peeking. But when it’s time to check your work (which you’ll write out by hand on old-fashioned tree pulp), just click a ‘dagger’ symbol (†) to open up the Answer Book and see how you did.

The text developers also did something cool with the audio, which was to split the tracks into bite-sized chunks and embed them with the textual content. So instead of loading a disc into your CD player, finding the right track, and hitting fast forward/pause/play/rewind/pause…you just click an asterisk (*) to hear the audio clip for that word or that line of the reading, instantly. And click play to hear it again.

The audio is compressed in MP3 format and sounds fantastic. Check out the audio samples and additional screenshots.

Still reading? What are you waiting for…place your pre-order now and make this the year that you finally learn Hebrew!

Meet the Staff: John Fallahee

John works in our Ministry Relations department and is affectionately known as the “demo monkey.”

Actually, I made that up.

But he is the guy behind the 35 new training videos posted Monday…and you can be certain that you’ll be hearing his voice more over the coming months.

Windows Media (1.7MB) | Quicktime (2.2MB)

OpenText.org and Louw-Nida Semantic Domains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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