Bible Word Study Report Part I: Overview

I’m in a home Bible study group that is studying First Thessalonians. So I was reading it the other morning, working through the second half of chapter 2. I stumbled across the following. Note the italicised phrase:

14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God’s wrath has come upon them at last! (1Th 2.14-16, ESV)

The phrase “so as to always fill up the measure of their sins” didn’t make much sense to me. I can figure out what it might mean based on contextual clues in the ESV, but it still seems weird. So I thought I’d use Logos Bible Software 3 and the The ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament to get from the English to the Greek, and then the Bible Word Study report to understand more about the contexts in which the underlying Greek appears in the New Testament. This series of posts will hopefully help in illustrating some of these features.
First we’ll look into how to run the Bible Word Study report from the Greek if our starting point is an English text.

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Differences in Syntax Searches and Morphology Searches

Rubén Gómez, in his Bible Software Review Weblog, gives us an example of Graphical Searches in different software applications.

He uses H. Van Dyke Parunak’s article on “Computers and Biblical Studies” in Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary as a basis. The article (Vol 1 p. 1118) says:

Particularly powerful patterns are possible in a language that allows one to ask (for example) for all verbs that occur within three words of the phrase “in Christ,” without intervening verbs. A high proportion of the targets matching such a pattern will be clauses in which the prepositional phrase in fact modifies the verb.
Freedman, D. N. (1996, c2008). The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (1:1118). New Haven, CT: Yale.

The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (ABD) was published in 1992. At that time, Parunak’s underlying target result — clauses in which the prepositional phrase translated “in Christ” modifies the verb of the clause (or, better stated, locating references to the kinds of action done “in Christ”) — could only be approximated using morphological searching criteria: “for all verbs that occur within three words of the phrase ‘in Christ,’ without intervening verbs”.

But what Parunak’s target result really demands is a search that is sensitive to syntax, not just morphology and word proximity. What about when more than three words occur between the verb and the preposition? What if the prepositional phrase isn’t contiguous?

Syntax searches in Logos Bible Software 3 have no such limitations.
(Note: this post has been updated, see the bottom Update section and, of course, comments for further thoughts on syntax and morphology)

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I don’t take my Bible to church any more …

The ink-on-pressed-tree-pulp-wrapped-in-calfskin one, that is. Nowadays, I take my laptop with Logos Bible Software 3 instead. Sure, I raise a few eyebrows, but most everyone at church knows I work for Logos, and so they know (I hope) that I’m not surfing the internet or playing a first-person shooter game during the sermon. I do have to remember to turn the mute button on, though. The Libronix startup sound is nice enough, but not during the opening prayer.

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t turn my dead-tree version fast enough to find Scripture citations when they come fast and furious from the pulpit. If the sermon jumps around a lot, I’m lost pretty quickly. I find myself singing the Bible books song to myself to remember where the books are. Even then it’s tough, because I usually work on original language versions of the Old Testament, so I get messed up by the differences between the “English” and the Hebrew ordering of the Tanakh. (Ruth isn’t after Judges, it’s after Proverbs, which is closer to the end than it is to the middle. And the last book isn’t Malachi, it’s 1 and 2 Chronicles, which are after Ezra and Nehemiah … well, you get the picture.)

But with Logos on my lap, I can keep up pretty well. I can better than just keep up, in fact.
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Greek Syntax: Syntactic Force Annotations

I’ve blogged a bit about the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament before. Sure, it’s syntax, and that’s important. But how can it be used?

One way is very simple: Use hover popups to show the syntactic force of any word as you read the text, or as you’re brought into the text from searches. The syntactic force annotation is a note as to the role that the word plays in the current syntactic context. It isn’t about morphological form, it is about syntactic function.

Hover on the inflected word in the Lexham SGNT running text, and see the syntactic force annotation (with definition!) pop up. How cool is that?

Pictures are always good at conveying this sort of thing; moving pictures are even better. The video uses James 1.27 as an example: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (ESV).

Syntactic Force Annotation
Video: Flash, .75 MB, approx. 1:27, no sound.

Note that all I did here was move the mouse. Also, when multiple notes of force occur on a word this displays what could be multiple possibilities in a given context or a mixture of possibilities acting together. The Expansions and Annotations resource further spells out those complex relationships.
So if your knowledge of Greek syntax is rusty (or even non-existent) you can still work through the text looking into the structure of the text and the syntactic function of words in the text — just by moving your mouse through the passage you’re studying.

Meet the Staff: Roberto Haskell

In this video, Rob explains some of the programs he worked on for the Spanish department of Logos, including the Spanish affiliate program.

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

Who Did What? Looking at Verbs in a Reverse Interlinear

Earlier I blogged about Highlighting English based on Greek Morphology. This involved using Logos Bible Software 3 and a Reverse Interlinear of the New Testament to highlight words based on the underlying language’s morphology (word form, part-of-speech type information).

Over the past weekend I was thinking that this would be perfect to use when working through a text doing something like participant analysis. One thing that I find handy when working through a text at a paragraph/sentence level is to stop at each finite verb (verbs that aren’t participles or infinitives) and determine who is taking part in the action. I also like to see if there is someone or something that the action is being done to, or if there are other circumstances to the action.

Using Logos Bible Software 3, the Morphology Filter applied to a Reverse Interlinear makes this easy — particularly if you don’t know Greek. Here’s what you do.

  • First, check out the video on how to specify a morphology filter in a reverse interlinear.
  • Second, once your Logos Bible Software 3 is fired up, specify a morphology filter for the ESV New Testament Reverse Interlinear. Your Part of Speech should be Verb, the Verb Type should be Finite.
  • Third, specify the style of highlighting you’d like. I just specified yellow highlighting.
  • Fourth, go to your passage and stop at the highlights. Ask yourself questions like:
    • Who or what is doing this action? That is, who is the actor?
    • Who or what is the action being done to? That is, is there an object?
    • Are there additional circumstances to the action? Clarifying adverbs or prepositional phrases?
    • Is the same person/thing doing action here that was doing the action with the previous verb? Or has there been a shift?
    • [whatever other questions you think appropriate]

When examining the text at this level, you should keep track of where the same party (or parties) is doing the action, and where the actor changes. This may indicate secondary action (e.g., “Jim said, ‘When I was with Dorothy, she decided we’d have dinner at the Olive Garden’ “.) or it may indicate a larger shift at, say, a paragraph level.

Stopping at verbs and examining the flow of action in the passage is one very useful way to work through a passage at a high level. Using reverse interlinears to combine the underlying original language part-of-speech information with highlighted English makes it much easier for those with no knowledge of the original languages to start to consider these issues in their study.

Meet the Staff: Seth Thomas

In this video clip I turn the camera on Seth, who recently joined the marketing team at Logos and happens to be my office mate. For the record, we get along great.

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Use Libronix to Search Your Print Books, Too!

Users on the always-active Logos newsgroups often amaze me with their ingenuity. They come up with some very inventive uses of Logos Bible Software, not to mention creating scripts and custom toolbars to tweak the application in various ways.

I was recently impressed by a very simple but useful idea that had never occurred to me: a newsgroup user* created a collection of books that he owns in print but doesn’t yet own electronically. When he wants to locate a phrase or word in one of those print books, he simply searches the collection of locked books to get the page number or section title. After that, it’s a matter of walking to the shelf, pulling down the print book, and opening it to the right place.

That’s right…Libronix DLS can provide a full-text, searchable index to some of your print books, too!

This works because 1) we let you search inside locked books and 2) we have some 5,000+ books to search. I’m sure you can think of how you might find it useful to search print books, but let’s look at an example.

Just the other day, you were reading along in one of your print books (if you’re like me, you can’t recall now which one) and happened across a great illustration of the satisfaction found in Christ. You remember that it was a quotation from Malcolm Muggeridge but that’s about it.

Libronix DLS makes it a 10-second task to run a search for “muggeridge” in the “My Print Books” collection you created, which points you to the R. Kent Hughes Preaching the Word commentary on Ephesians. Specifically, Hughes’ commentary on Ephesians 1:13.

A moment later, you have the print book in hand and are reading this quotation from Muggeridge:

I may, I suppose, regard myself, or pass for being, a relatively successful man. People occasionally stare at me in the streets — that’s fame. I can fairly easily earn enough to qualify for admission to the higher slopes of the Inland Revenue — that’s success. Furnished with money and a little fame even the elderly, if they care to, may partake of trendy diversions — that’s pleasure. It might happen once in a while that something I said or wrote was sufficiently heeded for me to persuade myself that it represented a serious impact on our time — that’s fulfillment. Yet I say to you, and I beg you to believe me, multiply these tiny triumphs by a million, add them all together, and they are nothing — less than nothing — a positive impediment — measured against one draught of that living water Christ offers to the spiritually thirsty — irrespective of who or what they are. What, I ask myself, does life hold, what is there in the works of time, in the past, now and to come, which could possibly be put in the balance against the refreshment of drinking that water?

Searching the full text of your print books is a great way to re-locate that half-forgotton passage or track down a place name or topic that might not appear in the printed book’s index. It’s not a substitute for owning the electronic edition, but it’s a nice added perk of the digital library system.

As a caveat, I should point out that not all locked books return equally useful search results. Depending on the structure of the book, the search results window may return chapter titles or section titles. This is especially true of older books that were not coded with page numbers.

If you’re convinced of the utility of this, you might be asking “How do I begin?”

It’s pretty simple, really. Just create a new collection (Tools | Define Collection) and when you do, uncheck the “Unlocked Resources Only” box. The titles accompanied by a yellow “padlock” icon are locked. Then it’s just a matter of adding the titles to your collection that you own in print. Of course, you can include both locked and unlocked titles.

To search your new collection, just click the Search button in the toolbar and select your collection.
* I would give credit to the newsgroup user who suggested this, but I can’t seem to recall who it was (par for the course) and couldn’t immediately locate the thread on the newsgroup.

Syntax Search Example: Relative Pronouns

When working through a passage, it can be important to work through pronoun usage. Sometimes pronouns have direct referents, sometimes the referents are implied.
A familiar example is found in the first three verses of First John:

1 That whicha was from the beginning, whichb we have heard, whichc we have seen with our eyes, whichd we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal lifef, whichf was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that whiche we have seen and heard we proclaimabcde also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1Jn 1.1-3, ESV)

In the above, the English words translated from relative pronouns are in bold, the pronoun referent is in bold italic text. Note use of superscript letters to align pronoun with specific referent as there are two referents in the above example.
How did I know that? Well, let’s just say that the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament and the Syntax Search dialog are my friends.

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Meet the Staff: Scott Lindsey

Scott has probably accrued the most airline miles of any Logos employee. He’s also been known to sell Logos Bible Software to his seatmate.
Windows Media (2.9MB) | Quicktime (3.8MB)