Syntax Searching and Epistolary Form Criticism: Greeting Form

Read the first two posts in this series: 1 | 2.
Romans 16 has several examples of this form. Verse 3 offers a good sample:

Greeting Form in Ro 16.3

Description of Form
Mullins describes the components of the greeting form as follows:

The elements of the greeting are: 1. the greeting verb (some form of ἀσπάζεσθαι); 2. indication of the person who is to do the greeting; 3. indication of the person who is being greeted; 4. elaborating phrases. The first three are the basic elements of the greeting. The fourth is optional. These elements may be expressed differently in the three types of greeting. In the first-person and second-person type of greeting, elements one and two are accomplished at the same time by the verb.[1]

As noted in the above quotation, Mullins identifies three different types of the form, one for each grammatical person of the greeter. Thus there are first-person, second-person and third-person forms. Because component 2 can be done with either grammatical person of the verb (first and second person) or a pronoun (third person), the pronoun is essentially optional when considering a syntax-based query.

Therefore a syntactic search only need attend to two criteria:

  • The greeting verb (ἀσπάζομαι)
  • Indication of the person being greeted.

Mullins does not provide a definitive list of New Testament instances, but he does mention epistles that contain instances of the greeting form: “It appears in the letters of Paul, extensively, and in the Pastorals, Hebrews, I Peter, and II and III John.”[2]

The Form in SAGNT
Locating the greeting form involves searching for clause-initial instances of ἀσπάζομαι (as a predicator component) that also have a complement clause component. The complement denotes what completes the predication, thus direct objects are included in the sorts of things that complements encode.[3] Including the complement therefore includes an “indication of the person being greeted”.

Structure of Greeting Form

This query returns 69 instances, though the results are not perfect. Instances in Mark (15.18) and Acts (21.7, 19; 25.13) are returned in addition to hits in Paul, Pastorals, Hebrews, First Peter, Second John and Third John.[4] Romans, with an extensive greeting section in chapter 16, contains the bulk of the matches.


Mullins, T.Y., “Greeting as a New Testament Form”, JBL 87 (1968), pp. 418-426.

[1] Mullins, p. 419.
[2] Mullins, p. 424.
[3] An aside: One could limit greetings to those that list personal names in the complement by restricting the complement to containing a head term word that is also tagged as Louw-Nida domain 93, the “personal name” domain. But this would skip over other valid instances of greetings like Php 4.22, “All the saints greet you”.
[4] Based on Mullins’ article, my guess is that only the Mark and Acts references are extraneous; the rest are valid.

Syntax Searching and Epistolary Form Criticism: Disclosure Form

Read the first post in this series
An example of the disclosure form is found in 1Th 4.13:

1Th 4.13, Disclosure Form

Description of Form
Smith provides a concise summary of the structure of the disclosure form as identified by Mullins:

Mullins has isolated the disclosure form, as a distinct literary form which is used in the NT. He examined the form in terms of structure first. By doing so he observes that this form has four constituent elements: verb of wishing, infinitive of a noetic verb, person addressed and information disclosed. Next he examined the form in terms of content and observed that the verb of wishing is typically θέλω, the infinitive of a noetic verb used is typically γινώσκειν (the tense varies) or ἀγνοεῖν, the person addressed is either second person singular or plural and the content of the information disclosed is diverse and usually found within a ὅτι clause.[1]

White discusses the form briefly in his article:

This form may be delineated in terms of its three principal elements: (i) the verb of disclosure, often a two-membered unit consisting of a verb of desiring (θέλω or βούλομαι) in the first person indicative, and the verb of knowing (γινώσκω) in the infinitive form; (ii) the vocative of address (ἀδελφοί, “brothers,” in the five examples from Paul); and (iii) the subject to be disclosed introduced by ὅτι.[2]

The common points of these descriptions include:

  • verb of wishing/desiring
  • verb of knowing, in the infinitive mood
  • a ὅτι or ἵνα clause further explicating the subject to be disclosed.

Smith reports Mullins determines the following references as containing instances of the disclosure formula: Ro 1.13; 11.25; 1Co 10.1; 11.3; 12.1; 2Co 1.8; Col 2.1; 1Th 4.13.[3]
Because the third item (ὅτι or ἵνα clause) is variable as Mullins’ reported instances demonstrate, candidate instances of the disclosure formula can be located simply taking the first two items into account.

The Form in SAGNT
Locating the disclosure form in the SAGNT involves searching for clauses that contain a Predicator with θέλω and that also contain an embedded clause (infinives are typically encoded as embedded clauses) with lexical forms of either αγνοεω or οιδα.[4] Below is the query that will find Smith and Mullins’ reported instances.[5]

Structure of the Disclosure Form

Search results in Logos Bible Software are presented in both Greek and English, with respective structures highlighted in each language. In this particular search, the silver background represents the content of the clause; the orange represents each clause component.

Syntax Search Results — Disclosure Form Instances


Mullins, T. Y., “Disclosure: a Literary Form in the New Testament”, NovT 7 (1964), pp. 44-50.
White, J.L., “Introductory Formulae in the Body of the Pauline Letter”, JBL 90 (1971), pp. 91-97.
Smith, C.A., Timothy’s Task, Paul’s Prospect: A New Reading of 2 Timothy (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2006). pp. 10,

[1] Smith, 10.
[2] White, 93.
[3] Smith, 11.
[4] Andrew Pitts, in a forthcoming review of Logos Bible Software 3.0 to be published in the Journal of Greco-Roman Judaism and Christianity, uses a similar search with similar results as an example of the capability of the SAGNT.
[5] As of November, 2006, this is not strictly true. 1Co 12.1 is erroneously tagged in the current version of the SAGNT. This error has been flagged for correction and should be updated in a future release of the database.

Greek Syntax: Kinds of Mystery

I’m in a small group home Bible study, and we’re studying Colossians. My Father-in-Law leads the study, but he and Mom were on a short vacation last week so that means I got to sit in the hotseat. Our text was Col 2.1-7.

So Col 2.2 was one of the verses we looked at. Here it is, in the ESV:

that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, (Col 2:2, ESV)

The text has the words “God’s mystery”. One of the first things I wondered about had to do with what other types of “mysteries” are mentioned in the New Testament. In, what this means is that I wanted to find what sorts of things qualify the word translated “mystery” (μυστήριον).

I’ve detailed this sort of search before (see blog post Syntax Search Example: What “Qualifies” another Word?), complete with video.

That’s cool and all … but what if I didn’t want to go to the trouble of creating a syntax search? Well, I could just run the Bible Word Study (BWS) report. One of the Grammatical Relationships examined for the Syntactically Annotated Greek New Testament involves qualifiers.

Specifically, it is the “Words and phrases used to further qualify (word)” relationship.
So I just ran the BWS by right-clicking μυστήριον and selecting the Bible Word Study option. Of course, if I was in a reverse interlinear, I could’ve just right-clicked. Here’s the list I retrieved:

Now, assuming you have Logos 3 and the syntax databases, you try it. Here’s my question for you: What kinds of “Kingdoms” are mentioned in the New Testament?

Go to Mt 13.11 in your ESV New Testament Reverse Interlinear, which mentions “the mystery of the kingdom of heaven”, right-click on “kingdom”, and run the right-click option for Bible Word Study.

When it’s done, scroll down to the Words and phrases used to further qualify βασιλεία. It should look something like this:

Watch out … now you’re using syntax in your study of the New Testament!

Chinese Bibles for Libronix DLS

In response to user requests, Logos recently released two Chinese Bibles for the Libronix Digital Library System. They are both the Chinese Union Version with New Punctuation (CUVNP); one is the Shen Edition (Simplified Chinese) and the other the Shangti Edition (Traditional Chinese).

The Versions
If it seems like there are a lot of modifiers in the names of these Bibles, well, there are. The Chinese Union Version was completed in 1919 and has become the predominant version used by Chinese Protestants. More recently, the punctuation was updated to conform to modern usage.

The Shen edition and the Shangti edition derive their names from the different titles Chinese believers use for God, a debate wrapped up in the history of the Chinese church. Some groups and missionaries have used Shangdi (上帝) while others prefer Shēn (神). Rendering the name of the biblical God into any language has always been fraught with theological implications, dating back a few thousand years, so it’s no surprise that Chinese Bible publishers continue to print Bibles with both variations.

(For much more on the Shangti-Shen controversy and its theological/historical/missiological impact, see the informative SBL Forum article “God’s Asian Names: Rendering the Biblical God in Chinese“.)

So, two names for God and two different scripts: Traditional, which is used in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and by many overseas Chinese communities; and Simplified, used in the People’s Republic of China and Singapore. The Simplified script was developed to boost literacy in the 1950s and 60s and, as you might guess from the name, it is intended to be simpler to read and write. Compare the traditional characters at left with the simplified characters at right:

The Logos Editions
To quote Eli Evans’ post yesterday, “Logos was Unicode before it was even cool to be Unicode.” The early investment we made to build the Libronix DLS as a truly multilingual application back in 2001 means that we can support a complex language like Chinese without having to make radical changes to the architecture.

This also means that our Chinese Bibles are first-class citizens of the digital library right out of the gate, with support for features like highlighting and annotation.

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Tools like Compare Parallel Bible Versions can be used to mark up the textual differences between the two versions, making comparison quite easy.

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The Gee-Whiz Factor
When talking about the multilingual nature of the Libronix Digital Library System, we’ve often said things like, “You could read a Chinese Bible inside a German interface while running Russian Windows.” Probably not practical to 99% of our users, but it sure sounds cool. Well, I didn’t go to the additional effort to install a different Windows interface, but here’s a screenshot that shows what it looks like to use a Chinese Bible in, say, a Swedish interface:

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It’s our vision that the Libronix DLS will continue to play a role in the development of electronic libraries for Christians in every part of the world, regardless of what script they use to represent God’s Holy Scripture.

Why does Logos have editions of both the NA27 and UBS4?

If you’ve looked at the list of Greek New Testaments contained in Scholar’s Library (and Silver, and Gold) in any detail, you’ve likely noticed that both the UBS4 and NA27 texts are included.

I’m sure you’re asking, “Hey, aren’t those the same text? Why would you ever have them both?”
It’s true, the texts share great similarity and can even be said to be the same text. From tha NA27 Introduction:

The text of this edition reproduces that of the 26th edition unchanged. Consequently, with rare exceptions, the paragraphing and punctuation remains the same, avoiding the necessity for altering the page makeup. Thus the text of the present edition is identical as before with that of The Greek New Testament, now in its 4th revised edition. The same text underlies the concordances, the Lexikon zum Neuen Testament, and the Synopsis quattuor Evangeliorum.

Nestle, E., Nestle, E., Aland, K., Aland, B., & Universität Münster. Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung. (1993, c1979). Novum Testamentum Graece. At head of title: Nestle-Aland. (27. Aufl., rev.). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung.

But an edition is more than text. The NA27 and UBS4 editions have the same letters in the same order with the same book, chapter and verse breaks. But that’s where the similarity ends. The texts have different punctuation, different casing, different paragraph breaks, different ideas of what constitute quotes or allusions from the Old Testament, and different poetry formatting.

All of these features play in to how a text is read and understood—you know, the very thing that students of the Greek New Testament (and the Bible in general) are very interested in.

Because Logos preserves as much formatting of the printed edition of the text as possible, these differences can be seen in comparisons of the text. One good example that has exegetical implications is found in 1Ti 3.16. This is a well known verse that contains what may be an early hymn or creed that the author used to support his argument. Some commentators see 1Ti 3.14-16 as the central piece of the epistle. But NA27 and UBS4 format the poetry/creed/hymn differently. UBS4 has the six lines formatted as two triplets while NA27 formats the text as three doublets.

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The formatting has direct impact on how one reads the text. Are there two groups of three things? Or three groups of two things? What items are parallel to each other? Each edition presents different options, so both are necessary to consult to get a clear picture of the problem.

Sometimes one text will format things as poetry when another does not. An example of this is found in 1Ti 2.1-7. The UBS4 text sees this whole block as one paragraph, while the NA27 breaks out verses 5 and 6 as poetry (or perhaps an early hymn or creed or saying of some sort).

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If one considers vv 5-6 as a reference to an early creedal statement, it may play a different role in exegesis than normal supporting text in prose. There are a few options. From the NA27 text, one might conclude that Paul is either waxing poetic/creedal (very possible) or referring to a commonly known creedal statement to back up his statement in vv. 3-4 (God wants to save all people, and wants them all to come into knowledge of the truth). Or, reading from the UBS4 text, one might consider vv 5-6 to be normal prose offered in support of the previous assertion with no creedal sort of impact. Is Paul appealing to an external saying he knows his audience will see as authoritative? Or is he being creative? Or did he just come up with some nice phraseology in the context of his argument? All (and more!) are possible. Whichever you prefer, the typography of each edition conveys the editors’ thoughts and it is valuable to take into account when reading and exegeting the text.

Another difference between editions is when one text has more paragraph breaks than the other. A good example of this is found in 1Ti 5.3-16. In the UBS4 text, this is one paragraph. In the NA27 text, it is two paragraphs (vv 3-8 and vv 9-16) with a sub-paragraph break in the second paragraph (so sub-paragraphs of vv 9-13 and vv 14-16). UBS4 has no notion of sub-paragraph breaks, but the NA27 uses them routinely to break larger paragraphs. You can see another one in the screen shot before verse 21.

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A few other slight differences between versions can be seen in the above screen capture.
First, note the word Σατανᾶ in verse 15 of UBS4. The same term is σατανᾶ in the NA27. One could conclude that the UBS4 edition considers this to be a name or title, while the NA27 edition considers it a noun (“adversary”). This is not a small difference when it comes to exegesis.

Second, note the quotations and allusions from the Old Testament in vv. 17-19. They’re different typographically. UBS4 uses bold font while NA27 uses an italic font. But if you look closely, you’ll see disagreement on what is and is not a quotation from or allusion to the Old Testament. The UBS4 is much more conservative here; it generally only emboldens fairly direct quotations. The NA27, on the other hand, notes both quotations (the one matching the UBS4 edition) and allusions (the balance of italic text in vv 18-20. This as well is exegetically significant. If I think the author is reaching back to quote or allude to the Old Testament in the course of his argument, it may affect exegesis of the text.

The bottom line: While UBS4 and NA27 do share the same sequence of letters, they differ in many, many other ways. They are different editions of the same text. Some of these differences can and do affect exegesis. I’ve used examples from the same relatively short epistle (First Timothy, six chapters long) on purpose so you can see these differences can and do occur with frequency.

They are not isolated.

The good news is that your Logos Bible Software presents these texts as they appear in their printed versions. The UBS4 text even has section heads and, in the gospels, cross-references after the headings to parallel passages. You can simply scroll the text side-by-side to see if there are any differences in the passage you’re studying.

When you run across differences, ask yourself: “What impact would this difference have on exegesis of the text? What would I have missed if I wouldn’t have noticed this?” and seriously think about the options. Your exegesis will be better for it.

The times they are a-changing…

A new release this week shows just how much has changed since Logos began 14 years ago. Back then, everyone in the Bible software industry had to be content with getting content from publishers’ backlists (sometimes the deep backlist). The time between the print and electronic edition of a title was typically measured in years.

That has changed. Today, content is being published in multiple formats simultaneously…and sometimes the electronic edition precedes print!

The ESV Reverse Interlinear Bible is a joint project of Crossway, the German Bible Society, and Logos Bible Software. We included the Reverse Interlinear Bible in Logos Bible Software 3, which shipped in May, 2006.

This past Monday, the ESV Bible blog announced that the print edition of ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament has started shipping. You can pick up your copy in hardcover (1,376 pages printed on honest-to-goodness tree matter) from the Good News & Crossway store. If you have not stopped taking your Bible to church, this sounds like a great way to keep your Greek sharp and your pastor on his toes.

What’s Ugaritic Got to Do with Anything?

You may have seen the announcement of our recent Ugaritic Library prepub, thought “Ugar-huh?” and clicked on to the next thing. That’s probably what I would have done…if I hadn’t been hearing some of the smarter people around here going on about Ugaritic lately.

Do you need to know what Ugaritic is, let alone add Ugaritic texts to your digital library? Dr. Heiser, academic editor for Logos Bible Software, wrote an article to tackle these questions. In it, Dr. Heiser calls his grad school class in Ugaritic a “life-changing course” and shares an observation, drawn directly from study of Ugaritic parallels, that he says holds “profound implications for the biblical theology of both testaments.”

So give Dr. Heiser’s article a read and I guarantee you’ll at least learn something you didn’t know about this ancient culture and its religion…and you might even be persuaded to launch your own study of Ugaritic texts in the original language or in English translations. The great news is that the Ugaritic Library has everything you need to get started!

Update 10/27/2006 – Thanks to the ESV Bible Blog for linking to this post and excerpting Mike’s article.

See alsoAll in a Day’s Work: Making an Ugaritic Font

Greek Syntax: Searching for Granville Sharp

If you’ve studied NT Greek, you’ve likely heard of something called the “Granville Sharp Rule”.

If you’ve been around Bible software, you know that many folks use “finding Granville Sharp” as a sort of litmus test for the capabilities of their Bible software.

The Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament gives us an opportunity to examine what the Granville Sharp rule really is and to think about new ways to find instances of it.
Awhile back I wrote a paper for internal use here at Logos examining what “Granville Sharp” is and how to find it using the traditional “morphology+proximity+agreement” approach. This approach has problems because one must approximate relationships between words using morphological criteria (i.e. part-of-speech data), morphological agreement (i.e. terms ‘agree’ in their specified case), and word proximity (i.e. words are within N words of each other).

Then I examined finding Granville Sharp using the SAGNT. With the syntax annotation, you’re freed from approximating relationships with morphology+proximity+agreement and empowered to actually specify relationships that the syntax annotation encodes.

The 17-page PDF document linked below is that paper. It has explanation and screen shots of the queries, graphs and whatnot so it should help in thinking about how to go about isolating syntactic structures via searching the SAGNT. It might even help get the juices flowing for those considering the Logos/SBL Technology Paper Awards.

I’ve also included the two syntax queries discussed in the paper. I just tested them on 3.0b Beta 2, so if you have that version installed, you should be fine. I would think it would work on any flavor of 3.0, but why not upgrade if you’re not up to date?

Copy the queries to your My Documents\Libronix DLS\Syntax Queries folder and then load them as you would any other syntax search, from the Load … button in the Syntax Search dialogue.

Sahidic Coptic. Why?

We’ve recently pre-pubbed a collection called the Sahidic Coptic Collection. I can hear the questions already:

  • Why worry about a language like Coptic?
  • What is Coptic, anyway?
  • How could that ever be useful?

I’m sure there are other questions along those lines. The short answer to them all is that the Sahidic Coptic editions of New Testament writings are very valuable for text-critical purposes.
Yes, I can see the eyes rolling now, but please, keep up with me. For at least a little longer.

You see, the Sahidic Coptic editions of the New Testament were some of the first translations from the Greek New Testament into another language. And because Coptic has much affinity with Greek (sharing the most of the same alphabet and even sharing many Greek words) those who know a little Greek (like me) can muddle through Coptic after spending time to learn the alphabet and some basic vocabulary.

The resources in the Sahidic Coptic Collection make this a little easier for the Coptic neophyte (that’s where I am) and the folks who are big-time into Coptic.

Because the Sahidic Coptic editions we have are likely very early, they provide an early glimpse into the texts they are translations of. And because most editions are extremely (almost woodenly) literal, they can provide insight into the underlying text — helping in the quest to “establish the text” which is one of the first steps in any serious exegete’s process.

So let’s take an easy example from John 1.28 and see what we can find.

[Read more…]

Books Re-Born

Last week, Rick pointed out a few new books recently posted to the website that may have slipped past your radar. I’d like to draw your attention to a few more titles that you have not heard about on NewsWire or the prepub page…

These titles, published by Baker Book House, were part of the Baker Digital Reference Library, a product released in 1999 on the old Logos Library System platform. Some titles from that collection have been widely available as rebuilt Libronix DLS resources (e.g., Evangelical Commentary on the Bible).

But others are just now being re-launched as native Libronix DLS resources. We’ve had a lot of requests over the years for the biographical titles, in particular, so it’s great to finally be able to bring them back.

For a little more detail on many of these resources, check out this review published in 1999. A few selections from that review are excerpted below. Click any of the titles or images to read a brief description of that work and view some screenshots.

Biographical Reference

Biographical Entries from the New 20th Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge“Here you can find entries for prominent figures in different faiths. For example, a 376-word entry for Mohandas Gandhi will tell you how ‘he sought to apply the principles of Satyagraha (truth-force), Ahimsa (nonviolence), Brahmacharya (chastity), nonattachment to possessions, and renunciation.’ But under the G’s you’ll also find a 293-word entry for William Franklin Graham, better known as Billy Graham.”

Biographical Entries from The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology“…attention is focused on theologians within the Christian faith, whether orthodox or not. So among the B’s are entries for Barth, Bonhoeffer and Bultmann. The entry for Bultmann, while short, is fair-minded. We are told, without judgment, that ‘for Bultmann NT ideas such as the resurrection of the body, blood atonement for sins, everlasting life, an ethical ideal of human nature, and salvation history only serve to mislead people about what salvation is.'”

Handbook of Evangelical Theologians“There are only 33 entries, but each has lots of detail, typically what would be about a half-dozen pages in print. This work is not what some might expect, largely congratulatory. Rather, it is a nuanced look at theologians’ lives and work. That is helpful to understanding people such as Thomas Oden, Clark Pinnock, and the late Frances Schaeffer, who don’t fit neatly into either a ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ category.”

Dictionary of Women in Church History“If women do not show up prominently in the other reference works, that is rectified in A Dictionary of Women in Church History…Women played important roles in Jesus’ ministry and in the history of the church. More recently, women were especially prominent in the foundation of many voluntary associations of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century.”

Preaching & Worship Helps

Hymn and Scripture Selection GuideWhen searching for the right hymn to accompany your sermon, or the right Scripture reading to reinforce the theology found in a song…this resource is a great help. Passage Guide will search this title and show results in the “Music” section. You can also use Reference Browser to find a verse or passage or Topic Browser to locate a topic.

Illustrations for Biblical PreachingMore than 1,500 sermon illustrations, and they will show up in the Topics section of Passage Guide. What more need I say?

Counseling Aid

Quick Scripture References for CounselingArranges Bible verses under topics such as Children, Comfort, Self Control, Worry, etc.