Greek Syntax: The New “Group” Objects

I don’t know offhand how many have installed the latest beta (3.0e RC 2 as of the writing of this post) of the LDLS; and I have even less of an idea of how many of those users have explored the Syntax Search dialog. But we added two new “objects” to the query model, and they’re pretty nifty.
These objects are available for all syntax databases, though my example below is from the Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament.

  • Group:Used to group things together. Order and structure matter in the group operator. This is best used when you want to use OR on groups of objects. Think of it like parentheses in other search/grouping syntax—it allows multiple things to be treated as one, as a “group”.
  • Unordered Group:One hindrance of the Syntax Search dialog in the past was the necessity to specify all possible options when component order was not important. Let’s say I wanted to search for a clause with a particular noun as subject, and a particular verb as the predicator but I didn’t care about the order in which the subject and predicator occurred. It could be S-P or P-S. In the past, I would’ve had to specify both orders and use the OR operator, as well as anything operators between components. Now the components (and their content) can be specified as an Unordered Group, and the software permutes the possible combinations.

Perhaps an example would help explain the Unordered Group object.
Just the other day I was reading J.H. Moulton’s Prolegomena volume in the Moulton-Howard-Turner Grammar (which is on pre-pub, BTW … make sure to get your copy while it is relatively cheap!) and on page 58 he mentions something called the σχημα Πινδαρικον, or the “Pindaric Construction”. This is when a group of singular things in the subject have a singular verb in the predicate.
That’s not exactly easy to understand; an example would help. A good example is Mark 4.41, ” … that even the wind and the sea obey him?” The subject consists of two singular nouns, but the verb is singular too. A more literal translation might be “the wind and the sea it obeys him”. So the subject here acts as a single unit instead of as two things, and the verb is singular instead of plural (“it obeys” vs. “they obey”). Kinda weird. [NB: see the comments to this post for some important clarifications — RB]
Moulton gives five examples: Mt 5.18; 6.19; Mk 4.41; 1Co 15.50; Re 9.12. But I was curious to know how many more might exist in the NT. Moulton says “It is really only a special case of anacoluthon, no more peculiar to Pindar than to Shakspere (sic).” (Moulton, 58). Looking at Mark 4.41, we can see the structure in question:

Note the two word groups in the subject, each with a head term that is singular in morphological number. And also note the predicator, which contains a head term that is singular in morphological number. That’s the structure, essentially. So what does it take to find further instances? Here’s a screen shot of the query:

A few things to notice in the query.
First, note the use of the Unordered Group object. The contents are two clause components, one a Subject, the other a Predicator. These objects are what are permuted, so you’re searching for the equivalent of ([subject]-anything-[predicator]) OR ([predicator]-anything-[subject]) though you didn’t have to specify it.
Second, a general note. This query shows how syntax searching takes advantage higher-level phrase-and-clause annotation (clauses, subjects, verbs, groups, etc.) but also relies upon word-level morphological information. Morphology, lemmas, and other word-level information is important and foundational; but syntax searching takes the next step in building additional annotation upon that foundation and allowing interaction between all available levels.
Below is an example of some of the results. All told, there are 275 instances of this query located in the Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament.

Once results are available, they can be graphed. Below is an example of a graph charting hit density in chapters. (Or, you could export the hit data from here to Excel, and do your own charting/math/analysis/whatever). Interesting in the chart is Colossians 3, which is densest area listed. Here’s the chart:

The hit density in Col 3 is a result of Col 3.11, which has a number of word groups in the Subject. You know, “Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free”:

Anyway, queries that search for groups of things (most syntax queries do this to account for varying structures) should be easier now. And once you have that data, you can still do nifty things with it—reviewing highlighted hits, graphing the hits to check different measures of distribution, and the like.

New Product Guide: Church History

With about 7,000 titles for Libronix Digital Library System, one of the challenges we have is getting the word out about what is available. One of our recent experiments has been to write topical product guides to assemble in one place all the titles for a given subject. The latest product guide is a survey of Church History titles. Past guides include Historical and Cultural Background of the Bible, Greek Tools, and Hebrew Tools. Click here to see all the available product guides.

Ellicott’s Commentaries on Pauline Epistles

The astute (including those who subscribe to our Community Pricing RSS Feed) have recently noticed that we’ve popped up a bevy of commentaries on Pauline Epistles by Charles Ellicott in our community pricing system. They are:

Why would we do such a thing? Ellicott’s commentaries were highly respected in their day for their grammatical insight and general approach. Here are excerpts from some reviews of his work back in Ellicott’s day:

To Bishop Ellicott must be assigned the first rank, if not the first place in the first rank of English biblical scholarship. The series of commentaries on the Pauline Epistles are in the highest style of critical exegesis; so high, indeed, that rightly or wrongly he has felt constrained by friendly criticisms to compromise with the humble capacity of his audience, and make a more sparing use of those expressive old technicals, which enabled him to place his results in the most compact shape. Mr. Ellicott’s genius is endowed with the most opposite qualities. His imagination and feeling are intense, yet his patience of analysis is unbounded. His exegesis is at once dry and glowing. It is microscopic; not because the critic is cold and mechanical, but because of his ardent soul the ultimate particle of sacred thought revealable by only the most perfect lens is infinitely more precious than gold. To appreciate and enjoy Cicero was with Quintillian a test of true intellectual taste; to study, enjoy, and fully appropriate Ellicott in these commentaries is the prerogative of a true biblical scholar. And yet to the popular preacher, who wishes to preach, as far as possible, from the text exactly as the apostle wrote, and from the inspired mind exactly as the apostle thought, these exegeses are a rare aid and insurance.
From: Methodist Review, April 1865, p. 310 (via Google Books)

Bishop Ellicott’s works on the shorter Pauline Epistles are so well known to students of the New Testament text that his characteristics as a commentator need not be enumerated. This volume closely resembles his earlier ones in plan and execution. It is above all things a philological commentary; that is, it aims to expound the sense by the close application of grammatical tests and principles. This fact will repel those who have too little time or patience to carefully follow the critical processes which have been necessary to the author’s purpose. But we agree with him in saying: “If the student will patiently wade through these details of grammar, he will be rewarded by a real knowledge of the mind of the original, which, so far as I know, cannot certainly be acquired any other way” (Preface, p. 7).
From: New Englander and Yale Review, 1889, page 389 (via Google Books)

But why else? The only volume of Ellicott’s that I have any experience with is his volume on the Pastorals. And I consult it not only because of his grammatical insights, but because — at least in the volume on the Pastorals — he interacts with classic and patristic Greek literature and also looks for exegetical insight from the early versions (Latin, Syriac and even Gothic!).
Here’s what Ellicott has to say in his preface to his volume on the Pastorals:

Possibly a more interesting addition will be found in the citations of authorities. I have at last been enabled to carry out, though to a very limited extent, the long cherished wish of using some of the best versions of antiquity for exegetical purposes. … …
In thus breaking ground in the Ancient Versions, I would here very earnestly invite fellow-labourers into the same field. It is not easy to imagine a greater service than might be rendered to Scriptural exegesis if scholars would devote themselves tot he hearty study of one or more of these Versions. I dwell upon the term scholars, for it would be perhaps almost worse than useless to accept illustrations from a Version, unless they were also associated with a sound and accurate knowledge of the original Greek. (Ellicott, Pastorals, pp. ix-x)

On sources and influences for his work on the Pastorals, Ellicott writes at the end of his preface:

These, [some previous commentators, particularly Coray’s Συνέκδημος Ιερατικός] with the Patristic commentators, the able Romanist expositors, Justiniani, Cornelius a Lapide, and Estius, and a few other writers noticed in the preface to the Epistle to the Galatians, are the principal authorities which I have used in the present commentary.

It’s because of the sources and depth of commentary that I enjoy Ellicott on the Pastorals. I’ll be excited to see if these volumes make their way from community pricing, into pre-pub, and finally into Logos Bible Software.

NB: We’re still doing research into Charles J. Ellicott’s published writings. Do you know of other commentaries by Ellicott that we should pursue? Once we isolate all of them, we may take the next step of making a collection. So help us out and comment on this post if you have more information about Ellicott’s commentaries. Thanks!

An author speaks out

Sometimes we take for granted the goodness of electronic publishing. But some people still wonder why an author or a publisher would choose to put out an electronic edition of their work.

Dr. Robert Lowery, seminary professor, dean, and author of Revelation’s Rhapsody, was recently asked why he chose to publish his first book both electronically (with Logos)and in print (with College Press).

Dr. Lowery shared his answer to this question on his blog…which he has generously allowedus to reprint as a case study on

My favorite quotes:

Simply put, Logos is the world’s biggest developer of Bible software, and if I believe that my book will behelpful to people, I want to reach as many as possible.


How many of the readers of my book will actually look up all of the Scripture references? If they choose not to do so, my book will not be as helpful as I desire. How many will actually turn to the back of the book and read the footnotes, notes that I believe are as helpful as the text itself?! In the electronic edition, notes and Scripture referencesare quickly available, just a mouse hover away.

I find it interesting to read an author’s perspective on electronic publishing and see how his priorities align with ours: get the book into the most hands possible and help readers get more out of the book.

But it only makes sense: labor-intensive details such as footnotes and Scripture references represent hours of wastedeffort…unless readers actually use them! And making these features easy to use is one of the great strengths of Logos Bible Software.

Read more from Dr. Lowery...

What About Homer’s Iliad?

[[Note: Homer’s Iliad has now entered into “under development” status. We hope to make it available as soon as we can! — RB, Aug 15, 2007]]
The guys over in marketing asked me about the editions of Homer’s Iliad that we have on pre-pub. Why would Logos users find that sort of stuff useful?
So I thought I’d take a quick stab. First, it’s Homer. Classic epic poetry and all that. If you’re not familiar with the basic storyline of the Iliad (and the Odyssey, for that matter) you really should be just because it will make you a more well-rounded individual.
As regards Biblical studies, I think there are two main areas where something like Homer’s Iliad can be used.
The first has to do with parallel concepts. One of these parallel concepts can be illustrated using 1Th 4.9-10a:*

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. (1Th 4.9-10a, ESV)

Now, here’s Iliad 23.304-308

304 drew his car. And his father drew nigh and gave counsel305 to him for his profit – a wise man to one that himself had knowledge.Antilochus,306 for all thou art young, yet have Zeus and307 Poseidon loved thee and taught thee all manner of horsemanship;308 wherefore to teach thee is no great need, for thou knowest309 well how to wheel about the turning-post;Homer, & Murray, A. T. (2007). The Iliad. At head of title: Homer. The Loeb classical library (Homer, Iliad 23.309). Bellingham: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

The parallel concept is that of deity teaching man. The Hellenistic Commentary to the New Testament further explains: “Achilles had offered a prize for the best driver in a chariot race. Antilochus is encouraged by his father with words that may have been current in the Hellenistic world, echoed by Paul, and recognized by his readers — though of course communicating a different content.”*
Second, and to my mind the more useful of the two areas, is examining usage of words and concepts also found in the LXX or the New Testament. The Iliad is a large corpus, routinely dated in the seventh or eighth century BC (read: a looooonnnngggg time ago). The Greek version is fully morphologically tagged. This means that parts of speech and dictionary forms are encoded behind the actual word in the text. The Greek version also has English glosses for each word (note that the interlinear lines can be turned on or off using View | Interlinear, so you can remove the gloss line, and the morph line, and the lemma line if you see them as “crutches”). There are parallel aligned translations in English, French, Spanish and German. Lots of area to look for classical Greek usage of words and concepts, and lots of help for the person somewhat familiar with Greek but unfamiliar with Homer.

The Homeric literature (the Iliad included) gives us a glimpse into how words were used then, in the context of epic poetry. This can help us better understand the Greek of the New Testament. One quick example is that of the word ἁμαρτάνω, the verb form of “sin”. The NT uses this sense of the word, but the word did not always directly communicate the concept “to sin”. In classical literature (e.g. Homer, Iliad 5.287) ἁμαρτάνω is used in the general sense of ‘miss the mark’, particularly of thrown spears (cf. LSJ p. 77, which also cites Iliad 10.372). In specific contexts within classical literature, including Homer, this could be seen as failing or of doing wrong. BDAG notes this generally with no citations (BDAG p. 49); LSJ helps with some citations (Iliad 5.287, 10.372); a search of the Logos edition of the Iliad, however, gives the total list so the word usage can be further evaluated.
In the Logos edition of the Iliad, there are 16 instances of the lemma ἁμαρτάνω. These were located with a search for “lemma:αμαρτανω“. The “lemma:” specifies the field to search, the word after the colon is the search target. (Sort of like how some of Google’s advanced search operators work). Here are the results:

From here, you can run a lemma report. See the link to Search Analysis By Lemma? Click on that. Here’s what you’ll get:

With this information to hand, you can work through the morphologically-sorted list of instances and see what you think. The Greek text has glosses, but you can also consult the English (or French or Spanish or German, if you please) as you work through the issues to see how your term was translated.
Finally, the question everyone always asks. “Why only the Iliad? Why not the Odyssey too?” We’d love to do the Odyssey and have plans to pursue it — if the Iliad prepub succeeds, then keep your eyes open for a version of the Odyssey at some time in the future!

* Boring, M. Eugene, Klaus Berger and Carsten Colpe. Hellenistic Commentary to the New Testament, (Abingdon: Nashville), 1995. pp. 493-494.

Logos Is Listening – Tell Us What You Want

What is the one book or series that you want Logos to release? What is the one feature that doesn’t yet exist but would take your research to the next level?

We want you to tell us the answer to those questions by sending an email to Don’t just limit yourself to one book or feature. If your mind is overflowing with golden nuggets of inspiration, we want to hear about it. We don’t just want you to feel involved in the creative process – you actually are instrumental in what we decide to release or produce.

The way we see it, technology should not only make Bible study better; it should make dialog with our customers better as well. is one way that this is being done.

Through we keep track of everything you ask for and if it is possible and feasible, we look for a way to make it happen. We place all requests into one of three categories: process, functionality, and content.

  • Process refers to how we do things like customer service, technical support, how information is displayed at our website and so on.
  • Functionality has to do directly with how Libronix operates and what features and add-ins are included.
  • Content of course has to do with what resources (Bibles, books, journals, image archives) we offer.

Logos processes, functionality and contenttoday are the result of almost 16 years of suggestions from Logos users and those suggestions continue to shape how we do things. Here’s a closer look at each area.

What happens when you write to

Your message goes right to the inbox of the publisher relations assistant, who then forwards it to the appropriate department at Logos. Lately the assistant has received between 5 and 10 suggestions per day and, yes, she reads every one. Typo notifications go straight to Electronic Text Development; website recommendations are sent to marketing; and software functionality suggestions end up in development. If you are requesting the addition of a specific book into the Logos digital library, the publisher relations assistant adds that title to an ever-growing list. When we have an opportunity to speak with the publisher of that title we request your book along with all of the others that have been requested.

By what criteria is a suggestion judged?

When our customers make suggestions regarding Logos processes – we pay very close attention. These requests usually warrant the quickest responses in terms of the time it takes to implement a recommendation. Do you think our ‘on-hold music’ is too loud? Was there insufficient information on a product page at the Logos website? Don’t just grin and bear it, let us know and we’ll see what we can do.

As far as Libronix functionality, we don’t have an unlimited budget to do anything we want so we place a relative value on each suggestion. We do this in terms of its ability to do the most good to the largest number of users and balance that with the cost. A suggestion might be very expensive, but if a high percentage of our users would be happy about it, that weighs in very heavy. If a suggestion is moderately expensive but would only cause a few to smile, that weighs in a bit less.

As mentioned above, the likelihood of whether or not we release suggested content depends mostly on the publisher’s stance toward electronic books. Many publishers have seen the proverbial light and are completely behind our efforts to digitize their content. On the other hand, some think that venturing in this direction would negatively affect sales of print books and as such have decided to avoid electronic publishing altogether (until they absolutely have to release a title in electronic format). Other publishers arewillingto do no more than just dip their toe in and license a few books at a time. But each year more and more publishers are catching on that the Libronix user base exists in its own parallel universe to the print world and that the electronic editions of their books will be used in a way that print cannot be.

So what does all that mean? It means that even if every Libronix user suggested a particular title we’ve been unable to license, there is very little Logos can do about it besides keep working to convince the publisher that it would be in their best interest to digitize their content.

That being said, you need to request your favorite books (a quick e-mail to is the most direct route) because if we don’t know about it, it may not show up on our book radar.

One great example of how a suggestion came to fruition is the Charles Simeon Horae Homileticae Commentary (21 Volumes). The story of how that product was created can be found at the Logos blog. To sum up the story, it all started with a suggestion made via email from blogger Adrian Warnock. This product ended up being extremely popular, but we might never have released itwere it not forAdrian’s recommendation.

Help us improve!

We want to know what you love about Logos and what you want changed. It seems odd, but we would actually prefer to hear the latter. Your suggestion might raise an issue that we’ve never considered before.

So when you’re using Logos Bible Software always keep an open mind for how the software, the Logos website or our book selection could be tweaked. You could also tell us which features should never change because they are exactly what you need. When the inspiration hits, make sure you let us know by sending an email to

Step Right This Way for the World’s Best Book Bargains

by Zack Rock

Dear readers, I set before you a challenge. I challenge you to visit your local massive retail establishment, peruse their value bin, and find something there that is – gasp! – actually valuable. I’m not talking about tainted boxes of cereal, misshapen candles that reek of patchouli, oversized wall clocks emblazoned with David Hasselhoff’s image, or any other mainstays of the discount bin. I want you to find something that will benefit you year after year – something that, dare I say, will change your life.

Now, unless you regularly experience religious epiphanies at the sight of Hasselhoff’s partially-obstructed face, I contend that you will find exactly nothing that could even come close to being described as “valuable.” Personally, I’ve only ever found one bargain item that was worth the three hard-earned Canadian dollars spent on it: Tom Hanks’ made-for-TV masterpiece Mazes and Monsters, a cautionary tale depicting the effects role-playing games have on young minds (which includes both schizophrenia and the wearing of outrageous hats). To this day, it remains the crown jewel of my VHS cassette collection.

Were you aware, then, that every day your favorite Bible-related software publisher offers bargain bin discounts on resources that you’d actually want? That’s right, folks, bona fide Bible reference books at low, low prices. How low, you ask? You tell us.

With the Community Pricing Program, you set the prices for every product on the page! If enough customers commit to purchase the product at or below the price you choose, the product gets sent into production, and, alakazam, you’ve got yourself another great resource in your Libronix library…usually for just a few dollars. For more information about how Community Pricing works, take a gander at the About Community Pricing page.

We just added two terrific titles to Community Pricing – Ellicott’s The Pastoral Epistles of St. Paul and H.B. Swete’s Patristic Study.And recent additionsAn Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament by S.R. Driver andthe classic Studies in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson have shot past 60% in record time.

Also notable is Deissmann’s Bible Studies, which has gathered more than 60% of bids needed to put it into production.

Things are a-hoppin’ on Community Pricing, so stop on by and find yourself a real deal!

Guest blogger Zack Rock craftsprepubpages and wears outrageous hats. In his spare time he draws illustrations.

For the love of an old book

You might think that we “book digitizers” have little appreciation for the aesthetics of an old book but quite the opposite is true.

Fact is, most of us will disappear for hourswhen given the chance to wander a good, used bookstore.

One of the things I love about old books is leafing through the pages in the back to see the advertisements inserted by the publisher. For example, Lange’s “Lost Volume” of commentary on the Apocrypha (published 1880)contains a list of “Popular and Standard” books published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1879.

Some of the titles and authors that I recognized:

I findthese advertisement pagestoprovide a fascinating, if unscientific, glimpse into themilieu in which the author was writing—what other books and authors were on the scene at the same time.

We don’t include these pages in Logos electronic editions simply because we never have. But I’d be interested in hearing from you…do you find value in things like the publisher’s advertisements from public domain books? Do you think it would be odd or out of place to include these “historical artifacts” in an electronic edition?

I don’t know that we would start including them, I’m just interested in hearing your thoughts!

Completely Updated ESV NT Reverse Interlinear

We’ve completely updated, corrected and revised the ESV NT Reverse Interlinear. We’ve also made a few enhancements. You can download the updated resource from Tools | Libronix Update, straight within your Logos Bible Software.
Not sure what a Reverse Interlinear is or why you’d want to use it? Check out this description on the Logos 3 – Top 20 Features page. Reverse Interlinears are the #1 feature on this top-20 feature list, so if you’re unaware of how they work … you should probably check it out and see what the fuss is all about.
What did we do to the ESV NT Reverse Interlinear and why did we do it?
Well, first remember that the ESV NT Reverse Interlinear is available in print as well. Part of the process of creating the print edition was a complete review of the alignment, making corrections and clearing up some underlying textual issues.
This update incorporates all of these changes, clearing up a vast number of the alignment issues that have been reported since the original release. Additionally, the few places where the ESV NT deviates from the underlying NA27 Greek New Testament are also now accounted for. One example is found in 1Co 2.1:

The word translated “testimony” in the ESV assumes a Greek text that uses the word μαρτύριον. The asterisk to the left of the word indicates that the NA27 varies here. If you hover or click the asterisk, you’ll see the following:

NA27 μυστήριον for μαρτύριον

This is the same footnote you’ll see in the print edition at this point. It indicates that the NA27 text has a different word (μυστήριον, or “mystery”).
If you’re interested in locating all of the places where the text underlying the ESV New Testament and the NA27 differ, you can just click the Search button (assuming the ESV NT Rev Int is the active resource) and type in: “footnote:NA27” (minus the quotes). This search finds all the places where the text ‘NA27’ occurs within the ‘footnote’ field. You’ll get a list of 151 occurrences in 139 verses.
So, again, what are the advantages of the update?

  • Better alignment with the Greek text
  • Notes as to where the ESV NT assumes a different underlying Greek text

So grab the update (again, just use Tools | Libronix Update from within your Logos Bible Software) and start using it today!
Update (2007-06-29): In response to some comments, I believe the update went live on June 28. If you’re unsure if you’ve already downloaded it, you can run Tools | Libronix Update again — if you need it, you’ll be able to download it. If you’d rather skip Tools | Libronix Update you can grab it via FTP. Look for the file ESVNTREVINT.lbxlls at

Bible and Popular Culture

How does the “greatest story ever told”—what C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein referred to as “true myth”—get picked up and echoedin the popular storiesof Western culture?

The Bible and the Arts collection brings together four books with more than 1,300 pages of material exploring the intersection between popular culture artifacts and the Bible.This collection hasbeen gathering interest for some time and is now under development in our electronic text department.

If you’re a fan of the silver screen, a preacher who likes to illustrate or punctuate a sermon with examples from literatureor film, or simply a person who enjoys literature and art, this collection is for you.

These four books would make for a great read straight through. Do a word or phrase search to zero in on an idea. Put the booksinto a defined collection within Passage Guide toserendipitously discoverany references to your Bible passage when running the Passage Guide report.

For example, using a prototype build of Gospel Images in Fiction and Film, I ran Passage Guide on Matthew 2 and came up with 8 links to discussions in the book that touch on that passage. (click for a larger image)

Here we find some great discussion of how the visit of the Magi is treated in four different films: Pier Paulo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St Matthew (1964); Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth (1977); William Wyler’s Ben-Hur (1959); and George Stevens’ The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965).

There areinsightful analyses, comparisons between the various treatments, and reflections on how the movie makers use the Magi’s visit to foreshadow Christ’s Passion. Earlier in the chapter, the author provides a brief survey of the Visit of the Magi in art and popular imagination and offers some thoughts on T.S. Eliot’s 1927poem “Journey of the Magi.”

Here, then, is a rich abundance of ideas that would enliven your study or teaching of a well-known Nativity passage. And much more awaits those who add this collection to their digital library!