Ancient Semitic Inscriptions—How Can They Assist English Bible Study?

Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Michael Heiser, Academic Editor at Logos.
Note: Some characters in this post require a Unicode font like Gentium or Charis SIL. You can download both Gentium and Charis SIL from the SIL site.
One of the challenges we face at Logos when we create research tools for studying ancient texts in their original script is how such data can be made useful in the Libronix platform for users who do not read the ancient languages. Our aim is not merely to produce tools for scholars, but tools that can help everyone inform their Bible study. The new databases for Aramaic inscriptions and the Hebrew and Canaanite inscriptions are a good case in point.
In this blog post, I’d like to focus on how these inscriptions can assist your Bible study even if you can’t read the ancient languages. Veteran Libronix users will recognize immediately that since these inscriptions come with fresh English translations and can be displayed as an interlinear, they are accessible to the English reader. But what may not be apparent is why the English reader might want to include them in searches or Bible study. It’s easy to see how commentaries or reference books that deal with Bible backgrounds would be helpful, but users often balk at the thought of utilizing ancient non-biblical texts for enlightening biblical content. I think the three examples that follow illustrate the value of including these kinds of texts in Bible study.
Balaam, son of Beor, and the Deir ʿAlla Inscription
We’re all familiar with the Old Testament story of Balaam, where Balak, king of Moab, summoned Balaam to curse the children of Israel (Numbers 22-23). Not nearly as well known is the fact that Balaam, son of Beor, is featured prominently in an ancient inscription, discovered in 1967 at a place called Deir ʿAlla. That inscription is included in the set of Aramaic inscriptions recently developed by Logos. It reads in part:

1 . . . the report of Balaʿam, son of Beʿor, who was a seer of the gods. Now the gods came to see him by night, and he saw a vision
2 as the utterance of El. They said to Balaʿam, son of Beʿor, “Thus he will do . . . afterwards a man . . . ”
3 Balaʿam arose the following day . . . but he was not able to . . . and he wept
4 bitterly. Then his people came to him and said to Balaʿam, son of Beʿor, “Why are you fasting and weeping?”
5 He responded to them, “Sit down, I will tell you what the Shaddayyin have done. Come, see the work of the gods! The Shaddayyin gathered together
6 and established the assembly. Then, they said to Š[ ], ʿSew up [and] block out the heavens with your cloud putting darkness [over it]; do not any
7 light [shine] . . .

There are a number of gaps and difficult reconstructions in this inscription (hence the brackets that appear), but there are a number of clear points. First, a seer named Balaam the son of Beor had a vision in the night in which the gods speak to him. Save for the fact that the Old Testament has one deity speak to Balaam, this is precisely the same situation recorded in the Old Testament in Numbers 22:8-9, 14-20. Second, Balaam is presented in the inscription as a seer or clairvoyant, one who had contact with the gods through divination (cf. Josh. 13:22). This is the biblical picture as well. The Hebrew terminology associated with Balaam indicates that he did not practice sorcery, as some have charged, but used some sort of divination method. While some forms of divination are expressly condemned in the Old Testament, even on pain of death (Deut 18:9-12), other forms are not (e.g., casting lots, Joseph’s divination cup, Daniel’s training in Chaldean “sciences”). The issue with “proper” and “improper” methods of divination for the Israelite was whether Yahweh was the source of the divine information and, in most cases, whether the contact was initiated by Yahweh. This helps resolve the notion that Yahweh would speak his word through a foreign seer by his Spirit (Num. 24:2). Third, Balaam is cast in a positive light in the inscription. While the Bible has some pretty unflattering things to say about Balaam, it also has some positive assessment. For example, the prophet Micah says, “O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him.” Balaam unapologetically proclaimed himself Yahweh’s servant and denied saying anything other than what Yahweh has told him to say.
What are we to make of this inscription and its connection to the Old Testament? Simply put, the Deir ʿAlla inscription is an extrabiblical confirmation of the Balaam story. The Deir ʿAlla inscription dates to the 8th century B.C., well after the time of the Balaam incident in biblical chronology. Balaam is not introduced in the inscription, so it appears that the writer presumed his readers knew about Balaam already, and so the story of Balaam had been around for some time. The prophet Micah’s statement dates from the same era, since the prophet lived at the time of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (Micah 1:1). This is confirmation that the Balaam story wasn’t invented during the 8th century but precedes it.
Does the Old Testament Speak of a Blissful Afterlife?
This question may surprise many readers, but it’s actually a hot topic in scholarly discussions about the Old Testament. Behind this issue is the fact that the Old Testament never actually speaks of a godly person “going” to heaven. Rather, they go to Sheol, the realm of the dead, or the “Underworld” (see, e.g., Gen. 37:35; 42:38; 1 Sam. 2:6; Job 17:16; Psa. 6:5; 49:14; 88:3; 116:3; Ezek. 31:17). Sheol also refers to a hole in the ground or some space under the ground (see Num. 16:33; Job 11:8). As such, many scholars argue that the Old Testament had no concept of a hallowed, pleasant afterlife—the dead only went to the grave—or that the dead remained in the grave until a future resurrection. Some scholars seek to strike a parallel with the depressing view of the afterlife held in Mesopotamia, where the deceased “lived on” while in a state of decay.
Other biblical scholars have argued, with some justification, that discerning the Old Testament’s view of the afterlife on the basis of one word (Sheol) is myopic. Archaeologically speaking, we know that, like our custom of leaving flowers or other items at grave sites, Israelites also regularly deposited gifts at tombs, such as food and wine—items that we believe are appreciated by the dead. This doesn’t fit with a view that only saw the grave as final, or a despondent life in the Underworld. Such an approach fails to incorporate passages like Psalm 73:23-26:

23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Two Hebrew inscriptions found in a small burial cave at a site just outside the ancient city of Jerusalem known as Ketef Hinnom shed some light on Israelite beliefs about the fate of the dead. The site dates to the late seventh or early sixth century B.C., clearly in the first Temple period. These inscriptions were etched onto two small silver plaques. The text is not entirely legible and complete, but much is quite readable:

Ketef Hinnom 1

1 [ ] 2 YHW [
2 [ ]
3 [ ]
4 l]oves the covena[nt
5 and lo]vingkindness to those who lo[ve
6 [and] with respect to those who keep [
7 ]BK[
8 ]HHʿL rest[ing place
9 [ ]BH[ ]H from all[
10 [ ] and from the evil
11 for in him is redemption (?)
12 for Yahweh
13 will [re]store us
14-16 ]KWR may Yahweh bless [and] may [he] keep you
17 May Yahweh [sh]ine
18 [his f]ace (upon you).

Ketef Hinnom 2

1 ]HB[
2 to Yahwe[h]
3 [ ]
4 ]Gʿ[
5-7 May Yahweh bless and may [he] keep you
8-9 May Yah[weh] shine his face
10 [up]on you and
11 may [he] give you
12 pea[ce].
13 [ ]
14 [ ]
15 ]M[
16 [ ]
17 [ ]

Both of these inscriptions, deposited as they were with the dead body of the loved one, ask Yahweh to “bless and keep” the dead and “shine upon” the deceased. This is certainly positive, and is very much in the spirit of Psalm 73. The writer also expresses his belief that Yahweh shows lovingkindness to those who love Him. If the writer believed that the fate of the dead was only the grave, or that the deceased was rewarded only with a cadaverous existence, these sentiments make little sense.
The Witness in the Clouds
One of the Phoenician inscriptions in the new Libronix database of Hebrew and Canaanite inscriptions comes from a location known as Arslan Tash. The inscription is found on an amulet and reads in part:

Arslan Tash 1
9-10 Asshur has made with us and eternal covenant. He made (it)
11 with us, and (with) all the sons of the gods,
12 and the chiefs of the council of all the holy ones
13 with a covenant of heaven and earth
14 forever, by an oath of Baal,
15 [l]ord of earth, by a covenant
16 of Ḥawron, whose mouth is pure,
17 and his seven concubines, and
18 the eight wives of Baal-Qudsh.

In this inscription, the high god Asshur is said to have made a covenant with the people among whom the author lived. Asshur makes this covenant, and then the covenant is said to be ratified or “guaranteed” by other gods: Baal, Ḥawron, and Ḥawron’s seven concubines and eight wives, who were all (presumably) considered divine beings.
This kind of inscription content is easy to cross-reference in the Bible, especially the Old Testament. It might be instructive, for example, to compare covenant language between the Bible and sources outside the Bible for parallels and significant differences. This kind of thing is referenced many times in study Bible notes. In this instance, it might strike us as odd that a god would make a covenant with his people and then have that covenant promise backed up by other gods, since in the Bible God swear oaths by himself since, according to Hebrews 6:13-20, there is none greater. But are there exceptions?
If you were attempting a thorough Bible study of all the covenants in the Bible between God and people, you’d come across a surprising covenant circumstance in Psalm 89, where the idea of God swearing only by himself in a covenant relationship is in fact not the case. Psalm 89, which is a reiteration of the Davidic covenant given in 2 Samuel 7, has God making the covenant with David and his dynasty and then appealing to a witness in the clouds as a guarantee of that covenant. Believe it or not, the covenant of the Arslan Tash inscription helps us to know what’s going on here.
Psalm 89:35-37 [Hebrew text, 89:36-38] reads:

35 “Once I have sworn by my Holy One;
I will not lie to David.
36 “His descendants shall be forever
And his throne as the sun before me.
37 “It shall be established forever like the moon,
And the witness in the clouds will be faithful.”

The keys to understanding this small section of Psalm 89 are the two underlined portions. English translations disagree on this passage for very technical reasons I’ll skip here (readers can click here for more detail). This is my own literal rendering, though the NASB comes closest to what I have. Notice how the passage has certain parallel elements, which I’ve marked by letters:

A I have sworn by my Holy One;
B I will not lie to David.
C “His descendants shall be forever
C his throne (shall be) as the sun before me.
C “It [his throne] shall be established forever like the moon,
A And a witness in the clouds will be faithful.”

Translations disagree most often on the underlined portions. Many have “by my holiness” for the first underline, but that makes little sense in light of the literary parallelism. It seems that Yahweh has sworn by a person (a witness) in the second underlining, which calls for a person being “sworn by” in the first underlining. All that is needed to arrive at “my Holy One” is to change the vowel marks in the Hebrew at this point to conform it to “Holy One” found elsewhere in the Old Testament. Most translations also have “an enduring witness” or “a faithful witness” for the second underlined portion, but there are grammatical problems with that translation.
What we have here is Yahweh swearing a covenantal oath to David and guaranteeing that oath by some witness in the clouds. This is actually similar to what we read in Arslan Tash. The head of the Phoenician pantheon at Arslan Tash, Asshur, makes a covenant in the presence of his heavenly council (the “council of the holy ones”), and then calls on other gods to confirm that the covenant will be carried out. Israel’s faith was monotheistic, but these elements are all present in Psalm 89. Yahweh swears an oath to David, and Yahweh’s own heavenly host (“divine council of the holy ones”; Psalm 89:5-8) witnesses the oath. But there’s a problem—Israel’s faith has no place for other gods to hold Yahweh accountable to his oath. Nevertheless, the language is there.
How can Yahweh swear by another and yet not be held accountable to a separate god other than himself? The passage seems to require an equal to Yahweh who will uphold the covenant, but how does that work? The idea of one god binding another god’s oath was familiar in the ancient Near East-Arslan Tash is but one example. But how can this work in Israel? Who is this witness in the heavens who will be faithful to make sure the covenant of David’s eternal dynasty comes to pass and never fails?
The New Testament answers these questions by filling the witness slot with Jesus. Revelation 1:4-5 is telling:

4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

Jesus, of course, as the son of David, fulfilled the Davidic covenant of Psalm 89. And since the New Testament presents Jesus as true deity incarnate and equal in nature with the God of the Old Testament, Jesus fulfills the role of witness-guarantor eternally. We know this if we’ve read the New Testament, but sometimes more ancient material—canonical and even outside the canon—can contextualize a point more clearly.
If you haven’t already placed your pre-order, be sure to check out the Semitic Inscriptions: Analyzed Texts and English Translations (CD-ROM) as it will be shipping soon!

Update to Libronix DLS 3.0e

The latest version of the Libronix Digital Library System, 3.0e, is available for download. If you haven’t already updated, you should do so as soon as possible so that you have all the latest bug fixes and improved functionality.
Here are some of the new features that you will get:
Shell

  • Improved speed of opening the Search menu for the first time.

Bible Tools

  • Added missing homograph numbers to GRAMCORD™ lemma list.
  • Remote Library Search
  • Changed format of citations exported from Remote Library Search (for better interoperability with other programs).
  • Export Citations dialog in Remote Library Search remembers the last citation style that was used.

Resources

  • Added 2 Corinthians and Galatians to Lexham SGNT.
  • Added Louw-Nida numbers to Lexham SGNT.
  • Updated version of Lexham Syntactic Greek NT including Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Revelation.

Sermon File

  • Topics in Sermons and Illustrations resources are found by the Topic Study on the home page.
  • “Topics” and “Illustrations” sections in the Passage Guide list topics from the Sermons and Illustrations resources (respectively).

Syntax Tools

  • Added arrows to indicate immediate child vs. any descendant in Syntax Search results.
  • Syntax Search results highlights different terms with different colors.
  • Added “Group” and “Unordered Group” constructs to Syntax Search dialog.

Windows Vista

  • Added high-resolution application icon (for Windows Vista).

For a list of bug fixes visit https://www.logos.com/support/article/1240.
Keep in mind that all new books require 3.0e and that you’ll need 3.0e to use the updated version of many old books as well.
If you have a slow connection, you may want to order the new 3.0e media, which is available on DVD-ROM or CD-ROM.

Teachers and the Personal Book Builder

We have a really cool guest post for you below, but first a very exciting announcement regarding the Personal Book Builder.
We at Logos are passionate about God’s Word. One of our main objectives is to facilitate deeper Bible study. In an effort to better accomplish this, we are dropping the Personal Book Builder annual license renewal fee for all who use the PBB in conjunction with their teaching! This includes those who are teachers by vocation, as well as those who lead Bible studies or teach their children at home. We hope this enables you to be more effective teachers of God’s Word in whatever capacity He allows you to use your gifts.
Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Benjamin B. Phillips, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at the Houston campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In the 2007 fall semester, I began using the Logos Personal Book Builder (PBB) software (Standard Edition) for my systematic theology classes at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Each of my students writes a “Practical Theology Paper” where they summarize a Christian doctrine and then reflect on the practical implications of that doctrine for living the Christian life and doing Christian ministry. Each student writes on a different doctrine and I give the final versions of the files to the whole class. The result has been that each member of the class gets the equivalent of a 150-page book that they and their classmates have written.
Prior to using the PBB software, I simply collected the Microsoft Word files on CD-ROM’s and gave copies of the disk to the class at the end of the semester. Unfortunately, this meant that students wishing to use them in future research or sermon preparation would have to open and search each document one at a time. It seems unlikely that many (if any!) would undertake such a laborious process, and as a result, much of the value of the assignment was lost.
The Logos PBB software has enabled me to realize my goal of students doing theological writing to serve each other in their future ministries. By combining all the papers into one Logos electronic book, students no longer have to search through multiple files. Even more significant, however, is the fact that the Logos Libronix software allows students to incorporate their book into the Libronix Digital Library System. By making their book one of the texts that Libronix automatically searches when one studies a Bible passage or a topic, students don’t even need to remember to go look at the papers. If there is something relevant to their study, Libronix automatically includes a link to the relevant part of the book in its search results! If a student prepares a sermon or study on Numbers 23:13-30, Libronix would inform them that a verse in this text is referenced at two different places in their book of practical theology papers. Clicking on a link (here the Doctrinal Summary link) would open a window showing the relevant portion of the book. Similarly, if a student were to search their Libronix library for information on “patience” the results would include 4 occurrences of the word in 3 articles within their book of papers.
Students don’t even need to chase down the scripture passages mentioned in the papers. The PBB software automatically converts scripture references from text to hyperlinks. The result is that within the Logos book, one simply needs to scroll the cursor over the link, and the appropriate passage pops up in the student’s preferred Bible translation. Professors and instructions should note that the PBB software can accommodate a wide range of ways to cite scripture (note in the screen shot that the student used a short citation form and a long form). The functionality of the Logos book will not be lost if a student deviates in some minor way from a specific citation format.
The Logos PBB software is not difficult to use. I use Microsoft Word to combine papers into four or five files by broad topic. From there it is a simple matter of standardizing the formatting of the documents and marking the headings for the table of contents. I then save each file in HTML version. The last step involves running the PBB creator and setting the order of the files for the table of contents. The only inconvenient part has been standardizing the formatting of the papers . . . but in the future, I will have the students do that part for their own papers! With that change, the bottom line will be that I can take 20 papers and create a Logos book in under one hour.
I am incredibly grateful to Logos for their PBB software, but more importantly, so are my students! I hear often from my students about how they really like having a Logos book version of their work and how that has enhanced their appreciation for the class. From my perspective, I am impressed with the improvement in student effort on these assignments that has resulted from creating Logos books. My students know their classmates will be reading and using their papers, and so they have become far more serious and energetic about their work. I strongly encourage professors and instructors to use the PBB software to provide added value to their students.
Dr. Phillips has graciously allowed us to make the two PBB books available to you:

Put the files in C:\Program Files\Libronix DLS\Resources. To use them you must have a Libronix PBB Reading Key, which is included in all of the base packages.
Enjoy! And be sure to let us know what creative ways you come up with to use the Personal Book Builder.

“Love” in John and the ESV Reverse Interlinear NT

A user sent me a question last week, and I thought some of our blog readers might benefit from this little exercise.
Here’s what he wanted to do:

I was wondering if it would be possible to do the following: search for the occurrences of an English word and have it report the original language transliterated word for each occurrence. For example, say I’m teaching on the Gospel of John. I want to find all the occurrences of “love” and identify the part of speech and original language word. . . . Is there an easy way to do this?

There are several ways to accomplish this, but the easiest, especially for someone with minimal Greek knowledge, is to use the ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament.
Here are the steps I took:
1. In Libronix, click Search > Greek Morphological Bible Search.
2. For Bibles, select the ESV NT Rev. Int. | The ESV Greek-English Reverse Interlinear New Testament.
3. For the Range, type John.
4. Type lov* into the Search box. (The * enables you to find love, loves, loved, and loving. To exclude any potential false hits like lovely, you could type love OR loves OR loved OR loving in place of lov*. In this case, they yield identical results.)

5. Click Search. You should get 57 occurrences in 39 verses.

6. Click on the blue box next to any of the references in the search results to see that occurrence in the ESV Reverse Interlinear. You will be able to see the transliteration and part of speech for all of the words.

Make sure to turn on the appropriate interlinear levels. Click View > Interlinear and check the ones that you want to display.

Now, you could also accomplish this by searching any Greek text with morphological tagging, but for those most comfortable with the English, seeing the search results in the ESV might be the best.
Instead of searching for lov* (or love OR loves OR loved OR loving), you could also search for [φιλέω=] OR [ἀγαπάω=] OR [ἀγάπη=]. With this example, you get identical results either way.
How would you do this search?
Update: Searching for lov* is unnecessary because Logos searches on the stem of love by default. So searching for love will yield the same results as lov* or, in this case, love OR loves OR loved OR loving.

Thanks for Being Great Customers!

Today’s guest blogger is Elizabeth Sanborn, a Customer Support representative at Logos.
I’ve been working here at Logos for just over three months, and before I started—I’ll be honest—I was a little scared. Everyone has heard horror stories about customer support, so I was a little nervous about the people I would encounter on the other end of the phone.
However, my experience working here at Logos has been quite the opposite. During my time here, I have met hundreds of wonderfully kind customers, who ask me how I am doing (and care about the answer!) and display the utmost patience with me, especially when I first started working here and was still learning the ropes. I’ve had a variety of great conversations while waiting for computers to reboot, downloads to finish, etc. I’ve even had a customer help me with Christmas gift ideas for my brother. It’s quite encouraging to see Christians act Christ-like, even in the little things of life like customer service. So thanks, customers, for being so fantastic and making the jobs of Logos Customer Support reps such a great experience!

More Jobs at Logos

Last week we mentioned that Logos is growing and that there are several job openings. Since then we’ve added even more new positions to the jobs page.
Here are the ones that are currently listed:

Head on over to the jobs page to find out more, like qualifications, responsibilities, and how to apply. If you know of someone who would be a good fit, let them know we’re hiring. Thanks for helping us spread the word!

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!

Don’t Forget the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament

We’ve given frequent attention to the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament here on the blog. It’s a tremendous collection of resources. The Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament, the other set of NT syntax resources, hasn’t been in the spotlight quite as much, mostly because it is still a work in progress. At present it covers the following 11 books: Romans, 1 Corinthians, Hebrews, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, and Revelation. (If you don’t have access to all of them, make sure to update to 3.0d to get the latest LSGNT resources and syntax database. A revised version of the LSGNT that includes 2 Corinthians and Galatians is included in 3.0e, which is now in beta.)
But don’t let its incompleteness keep you from taking advantage of the wealth of information available here. Unlike the OpenText.org resources, the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament resources use the traditional syntactical categories that perhaps the majority of Greek students are familiar with, so it will likely prove to be the most helpful for students as they learn and teachers as they instruct.
When I was in seminary I had the opportunity to teach elementary and intermediate Greek. I was always looking for more examples to show my students so they could learn the grammatical concepts that we were covering in class. Most grammars provide several examples—Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics was especially helpful in this regard—but I was always running down additional examples to discuss in class or to use in handouts, exercises, quizzes, and tests.
How I wish that I had had access to the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament when I was teaching the genitive absolute, the purpose infinitive, the dative direct object, the nominative of appellation, or the double accusative. In about 15 seconds, I can open the Syntax Search tool and generate a list of 55 genitive absolutes, 113 purpose infinitives, 122 dative direct objects, 26 nominatives of appellation, or 78 double accusatives—plenty of fresh material for in-class examples, handouts, quizzes, and tests. It’s as simple as adding a Word to the query, checking the box next to the grammatical category for which you want to generate a list, and clicking Search.

purpose-infinitives-search.jpg

What a time saver this would have been!
But these tools aren’t just for teachers. Put them in the hands of your students and have them analyze all 68 of the attributive participles in John’s letters or the 85 subjective genitives in Romans, for example. Simple access to so many examples will surely make grasping abstract grammatical concepts much more attainable.
So don’t forget about the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament. It is included in the top four base packages (Original Languages, Scholar’s, Scholar’s Silver, and Scholar’s Gold). If you haven’t yet upgraded, visit our upgrade page to see your options.
Check out our other blog posts dealing with the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament:

Show Us Your Syntax Searches

The Logos syntax databases and resources have revolutionized advanced searching and analysis of the Old and New Testaments in their original languages. As with most powerful tools, there is a bit of a learning curve to using them effectively. One of the best ways to learn how to use them is to reproduce the searches of others. This is easiest to do by seeing a series of screenshots or watching a video.
Learn by Example
To help you learn the ropes, we continue to provide you with blog posts and videos that discuss and demonstrate syntax searching. If you haven’t been over to the video tutorial page at Logos.com recently, there are dozens of syntax videos that you can watch. I just updated it to include all of the syntax-related videos that have appeared here on the blog, so go take a look! If you have a slow internet connection, you may want to purchase the Syntax Demonstration Videos on CD-ROM.
Work Backwards
Another great way to learn how to perform syntax searches is to work backwards from one of the syntax resources.

This is the method I used to perform my first successful syntax search (i.e., the Holy Spirit communicating). I (1) found a passage of Scripture that had something I wanted to search for (Acts 13:2), (2) looked up that passage in the OpenText.org Clause Analysis resource, and (3) reproduced it in the syntax search. This method will involve some trial and error, so most users will want to watch several of the demo videos before trying this.
Show Us Your Syntax Searches
We love to see the ways you are putting the syntax tools to use. I stumbled across a blog post where one of our users creatively used the Anderson-Forbes Syntax database to locate all of the occurrences of bears in the Old Testament. His search missed one (Pr 17:12, where the gloss was “she-bear” rather than “bear”), but it was an excellent example of how syntax searching can be a very quick and simple way to access a list of data that would have taken longer to find with an English search or a combination of Hebrew and Aramaic morphology searches. Nice work, Mike!
If you blog about creative ways to use the syntax resources, send an email to blog@logos.com and let us know. We’ll add a link to your post below. If we think it’s really cool, we may even take a whole post to show off your syntax skills! Just a hint: it should probably contain screenshots or video. (Check out Jing if you don’t know how to capture video on your screen.) We’re looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!

Call Logos and Get a Human

Technology is great. Our slogan here at Logos is Advanced Technology for Eternal Truth, and we’re sponsoring BibleTech:2008, a conference that explores the intersection of biblical studies and technology. Obviously, we love technology and are convinced that it can be immensely helpful—especially for things like Bible study. But new technology does not always result in a better way of doing things. People can still do many tasks more efficiently than machines—like answering phones.
Someone shared a link at the office yesterday for a website called the gethuman 500 database. It lists phone numbers that will get you a human on the other end of the line for over 500 businesses. About 10% of the numbers will take you directly to a human. Most require you to push a series of numbers to get a human on the line. For example, to talk to a human at Ford, you would need to call 800‑392‑3673 and then “press 0; at prompt press 0; at prompt press 0; at prompt press 1; at prompt press 0” to finally get to a human.
We’ve all had bad experiences with automated answering services. Most of them take forever, and the ones that require you to speak your information into the phone don’t work very well. It’s refreshing to get a human on the line who can quickly connect you to the right person or give you the information you want.
One of our highest priorities at Logos is to provide you with top-notch customer service. That’s why we put 800-875-6467 at the top of Logos.com. You don’t have to go to a website like the gethuman 500 database to find out how to contact us. And you don’t have to press 0 four times either. When you call Logos on Monday–Friday between 6 AM and 5 PM PST, a pleasant and knowledgeable human answers the phone and promptly directs your call to the right department—and that’s the way it should be.