Doing Things Faster with the Keyboard, Part 1

A friend of mine has been a longtime user of another Bible software program, but now he’s using Logos as well. As you might expect, he still feels more comfortable performing certain tasks in his other program. One of the things he mentioned to me that he missed in Logos was the ability to use keyboard shortcuts. He felt like having to use the mouse for everything made for slow work.

As one who is convinced of the value of keyboard shortcuts, I was happy to inform him that you can actually do quite a bit in Logos with keyboard shortcuts. I pointed him to our list of standard keyboard shortcuts (which I just updated to include a few more) and to a blog post I wrote several months ago, where I explained how to set up your own custom keyboard shortcuts for opening books you use frequently and applying visual markups like basic highlighting.

I open books and highlight with my keyboard shortcuts all the time, but there’s so much more that you can do. You can create custom keyboard shortcuts for just about any function in Libronix by using a custom toolbar, which I explain in the earlier post.

Here are some examples of the types of things you can do: view About This Resource with Alt+A, toggle the contents pane for your current resource with Alt+C, report a typo with Alt+T, open the Passage Guide with Alt+P, the Exegetical Guide with Alt+X, and the Bible Word Study with Alt+W.

Here are the things I currently have assigned in my keyboard shortcuts toolbar. (I have other keyboard shortcuts assigned in my primary custom toolbar.)

Feel free to download it and use it or modify it you’d like. Put it in \My Documents\Libronix DLS\CustomToolbars. Two suggestions for enhancing the usefulness of this toolbar: you may want to set up (1) parallel resource associations for things like Bible dictionaries, English dictionaries, English Bibles, Greek lexicons, and study Bibles, which will allow you to jump quickly to similar resources, and (2) serial resource associations for (a) any commentaries that don’t already have one (e.g., JPSTC) and (b) your original language texts, if you want your Greek NT and Hebrew OT connected.

There are two things to be aware of when creating custom keyboard shortcuts. First, your key combination might not be available. If your shortcut doesn’t seem to be working or works but does the wrong function, this is probably why. Second, your key combination might be overriding default behavior. Test your keyboard shortcut before assigning it. You might like the default behavior even better! :)

Next up, part 2 on using the Quick Navigation Bar.

Using Libronix to Learn about “Famous” People

I often find myself turning to Libronix to learn more about important people from church history—from Augustine to John Owen to Karl Barth. In my last blog post, I included a pretty hefty list of articles on John Owen that I found in my Libronix library. Several people commented to me how helpful they found that list and wished they had something like that for all the “famous” people in the history of the church.

While I can’t promise that we’ll be able to make lists like that for you, I can give you some pointers on how you can build them for yourself. Here’s the process that I took when I looked for articles on John Owen.

Step 1: Browse My Library

First, I looked for any resource titles in My Library that mentioned John Owen. Depending on how common the name is that you’re looking for, you may be able to try just the last name. If that’s too broad, add the first name, but keep in mind that the individual may have a middle initial or middle name included. Doing this with Owen gave me one good result: John Piper’s book Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen.

Step 2: Topic Search in Biographies Collection

My second step was to do a topic search for Owen in my biographical collection. One of the first collections I created when I got Logos was a collection of resources with biographical entries. Here are the current contents of my collection:

If you think you’d find this collection helpful, feel free to download it and put it in your My Documents\Libronix DLS\Collections folder.

To do a topic search for Owen, you would type topic(Owen), topic(“Owen, John”), or topic(“John Owen”). The most comprehensive results were with topic(“Owen, John”).

But it’s probably easier to use the Topic Browser. Typing Owen and clicking Search shows me both “Owen” and “Owen, John” as topics. It takes the guessing out of it and makes it a simpler process.

Step 3: Search in Biographies Collection

Third, I did a search for “John Owen” OR “Owen, John” in my biographical collection. This will give me hits were Owen is mentioned in the content of the article, but may not be in the title.

Step 4: Topic Search in All Available Resources

Fourth, I did a topic search for Owen in All Available Resources. This turned up a number of great hits in the theological journals and a few others from resources that weren’t in my biographies collection. I chose to do All Available Resources instead of All Unlocked Resources because I like to know if any of my locked books have relevant material in them. It’s good to know what great resources I’m missing out on, and this is one way to find them. Note that you’ll need to search for topic(Owen) as well as topic(“Owen, John”) to get a complete list, since some articles refer to Owen by last name only. As with step two, it’s probably better to use the Topic Browser for this.

Step 5: Search in All Available Resources

Finally, I did a search for “John Owen” OR “Owen, John” in All Available Resources to see if I had missed anything significant. Again, this will turn up a lot of hits, but if you want to be comprehensive, this search is essential. I found a couple additional relevant articles this way.

Two tips for working through big lists like this efficiently: (1) when you click the plus sign next to the book title, skim the headings for the name you are looking for (not all headings are necessarily topically tagged), and (2) give attention to the articles with the highest number of hits as they are more likely to be relevant.

Now, if you know you want exhaustive from the start, you could skip right to step five since it should give you all the results from all of the preceding steps. But often you don’t know how much information you’re going to find—or even how much information you want—until you get into the process, so it’s usually good to start out small and work your way up. The most targeted list of hits will probably be step two, which is the method I typically use when I want quick results and don’t need to be exhaustive.

What else would you do to find biographical information in your Libronix library? What other resources would you add to a biographies collection? Why not create a list of articles in Libronix about your favorite person from church history and post it on your blog? Let us know if you do.

Looking Up Bible References from the Web

If you have a website or a blog, you can make your content much more useful to your readers by adding RefTagger. A good number of sites are already using RefTagger, but unfortunately the vast majority still have plain old text Scriptures references.

So what do you do when you’re reading content on one of those sites? As a long term solution, you could email them and encourage them to add RefTagger. But your short-term options are either to ignore the passages of Scripture and not check the author on his points, or to take the time to look them up manually in Libronix or at one of the online sites like BibleGateway. I’d imagine that most of us usually do the former since the latter takes a fair bit of time and effort if you’re having to look up more than just a reference or two.

But there is another option. It’s quick and easy and works with just about any web page—and it uses your favorite Bible software program. In Libronix open a new verse list (File > New > Verse List), click Add, select From Web Page, and paste in the URL of the web page that you are viewing.

Libronix will quickly find all the Bible references mentioned and add them to your verse list in the order in which they appear on the web page. You can then decide how you’d like to view them. The default is to show only the references without the text. Double clicking those references will open them in your preferred Bible allowing you to read them in their contexts, compare them with other versions, or dig into your study Bibles and commentaries. If you’d like to see the text of the verses along with the references, you can select "References and Text in One Column" or "References and Text in Two Columns."

I find that this works best on a two-monitor setup, which enables you to have your browser on one screen and Libronix on the other. But even if you have only one monitor, you’re still likely to benefit from this feature by using alt+tab or positioning your browser and Libronix next to each other.

If you find yourself using this often, you may simply want to save the verse list as “Web Verses” (or something similar) and reopen it each time you do reading online. You can easily delete the previous verses by using the delete key and add new ones when you’re reading a new article.

With this simple tool you can now quickly and easily look up Scripture references on the web.

Speedier Reports with Just a Few Clicks

The Passage Guide, Exegetical Guide, and Bible Word Study reports provide you with massive amounts of wonderful information that would take you hours to find in print books. But we realize that not every user wants to see everything available—at least not all of the time.

If you find yourself not using some of the sections in any of these reports, you might want to take the time to customize them. Speedier reports are only a few clicks away.

The first option is simply to collapse any section of the report that you want to see only some of the time. A collapsed section doesn’t take any of your system resources, so it won’t slow down your report. Once you run the report, you can decide if you want to see the information in that section and click the plus sign to run it. Logos will remember your preference from the last time you ran the report, so all you need to do is leave the appropriate sections collapsed or expanded when you close it.

If there are sections that you are fairly certainly you will never want to see, you can uncheck them in the report properties, which is located at the top of the report towards the right. Unchecked sections won’t show up at all, making for a more streamlined report with just the information that you want to see.

The time it takes to load your report will be identical whether you simply collapse a section or uncheck it in the properties. You should decide which method to use based on whether you will occasionally or never want to access the data in that section.

The time it takes me to run the full report above (an Exegetical Guide of 1 Cor 15:28) with everything expanded is about 12 seconds. If I collapse or uncheck the Word by Word section, my time is reduced to just under 7 seconds. Five seconds isn’t a lot of time, but it adds up.

You’ll really notice the difference with bigger reports. A BWS report on ἀνήρ with everything expanded takes about 4 minutes and 40 seconds to run. If I collapse the LXX, Philo, and the Apostolic Fathers, my time is cut to about 45 seconds!

Take some time to customize your reports and you’ll be saving time in no time.

How to Find That Missing Gem

Have you ever had trouble locating something that you previously read in one of your Libronix books? Perhaps it’s that perfect quote for the sermon or paper you’re working on—if only you could find it. If you don’t remember which book it was in, you can always check your history to see which books you’ve used recently. After you find the right book, you could then search or use the find bar to locate what you’re looking for—if you remember an exact word or phrase. But what if you remember only the general idea?

I’ve found that often the quickest way to find something in a situation like this is to use the Next button and select Markup.

I remember reading something in Strong’s Systematic Theology. I don’t recall exactly where it was or the precise wording, but I know I highlighted it. So I open Strong’s, switch the Next selection to Markup, click the button a few times, and I am quickly taken to the exact quote I was looking for. Of course, this works only if you are marking up your books when you read. If you’re not, I’d encourage you to do so, even if only for the benefit of using this cool feature. Keep in mind that if your book has hundreds of markups, you’ll at least need to remember the section or chapter to make this efficient. In my case, the quote I was looking for was in chapter two, so finding it was a breeze.

Another really handy use of the Next Markup feature is to get a quick survey of the parts of the book that stood out to you in your first reading. Try this with a chapter in a book, a large article entry, or a section in a commentary to get a quick recap of the most important points.

Give it a try. I think you’ll find it a convenient feature that will soon become a part of your normal use of Libronix.

Still Accessing Libronix Resources from Your CDs?

I stumbled across a comment on a forum site recently where a user mentioned that he was accessing his books from his CDs and was frustrated by the speed at which they loaded when scrolling through large portions of text.

I was happy to see that someone quickly let him know that he could copy all of his resources to his hard drive and put his CDs in his closet as a backup.

If you are still accessing your Libronix books from your CDs, read on. With the size of today’s hard drives, most of you will have plenty of room for all of your resource files and should not be using your CDs after the initial installation.

There are at least three benefits to copying your books to your hard drive.

  1. Your computer will be able to access your books much more quickly from your hard drive than you can from your optical drive.
  2. You won’t have to be continually swapping CDs.
  3. You’ll have access to all of your books at once instead of being limited to only the books on a given CD.

To copy your resources to your hard drive, follow these steps:

  1. Insert your CD/DVD into your drive.
  2. Open Libronix.
  3. Click on Tools > Library Management > Location Manager.
  4. Wait until it is done discovering all of the resources that need to be copied.
  5. Click the Copy Resources button.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have copied all of your resource files to your hard drive.

For more help, check out our support article Loading Books and our training video Loading Your Books (2:10, 2.69MB).

Greek Syntax: Article Introducting Prepositional Phrase

Awhile back over on the Logos Newsgroup for Greek, someone asked a question:

Someone has commented that there are 484 occurrences of the definite article occurring without a noun introducing a prepositional phrase, such as, "τα επι τοις ουρανοις." I wonder if someone would teach me how to search my GNT (N/A27) to confirm this statement?

The example is (I believe) from Eph 1.10:

εἰς οἰκονομίαν τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν, ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι τὰ πάντα ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ, τὰ ἐπὶ τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἐν αὐτῷ. (Eph 1:10, NA27)

as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Eph 1:10, ESV)

Note that the same structure is used in "things on earth" in the same verse.

Anyway, the best way to find stuff like this — where you’re really searching for a relationship between words and/or phrases even though it looks like proximity will get you close enough — is a syntax search. In this example, the relationship is between the article and the prepositional phrase. It is more than proximity (occurring close to each other or in sequence); it is functionally that the prepositional phrase in some way further modifies/qualifies/distinguishes the article (which, in cases like these, tends to function like a relative pronoun).

The Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament makes this relatively easy to find. Let’s look at this portion of Eph 1.10 first to see how it is analyzed:

Here the word group contains a head term; the head term contains a word (τα) and the structure that modifies it. Here the structure is a relator. A relator is basically a prepositional phrase that functions adjectivally, modifying a substantive (instead of functioning adverbially, modifying the primary verb of the clause). So all we need to do is find where a relator modifies a word that that is an article.

There are two basic cases to consider. The first is like Eph 1.10, where the word is the root word of the head term, and the relator modifies it. The second case is where the word is a modifier itself, like in Mt 5.16:

Here note that τον is a definer, and the relator (adjectival prepositional phrase) modifies the definer.

These are the two cases to consider. A syntax search that looks like the following should account for both of them:

You’ll notice I’ve used an unordered group to contain the word+modifier portion of the query. Why did I do this? Because I really want to find where a word and a modifier are siblings (occur at the same ‘level’ in the annotation) because this implies they are in relationship with each other. The containing structure(s) (here the head term or modifier at the root of the query) constrain the elements to already being in the same unit. The unordered group allows for this, letting you specify the elements you care about (here a word and a modifier), and it will run the permutations, including optional elements occurring between them, while it searches. It makes query specification a whole lot easier.

When the search is run, 298 occurrences are located. Here’s a snapshot of the results dialog:

The different colors in the results come in because of the "OR" in the query. In this way you can tell that some results come from one half of the "OR". Here the greenish color represents the top half of the "OR" (word is a direct child of head term); the brown represents the bottom half (word is a direct child of modifier).

So, to answer the question posed on the Greek newsgroup; I’d respond that according to the Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament, there are 298 instances of the definite article occurring without a noun introducing a prepositional phrase.

Finding Louw-Nida References in the New Testament

I’ll admit it; I’m hopelessly addicted to reading (and writing) blog posts; particularly those having to do with Biblical Studies and especially those having to do with the intersection of Biblical Studies and technology. And when they can mix in the Greek New Testament, well, then I usually have to clean the saliva off of my keyboard.

So when I saw Mark Hoffman post a question and an answer about finding the co-occurrence of a Louw-Nida domain and a particular morphological criterion (here where Domain 25, "Attitudes and Emotions", occurs with an imperative verb), a light went off in my head. The in-development Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, which has every word tagged with disambiguated Louw-Nida references (described more fully in this previous post), can do this fairly easily. You can even do it in one search with the Bible Speed Search dialog. Here’s the query:

louw in LN25 andequals LogosMorph in V??M??

And here are the results, 122 hits in 108 verses:

And, since we haven’t yet released the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament (though you can buy it on pre-pub!), I thought I’d include a video on how this search works and some further things you will be able to do with the search data once it is available.

(Pardon my voice; I must’ve slept with my mouth open last night. I woke up with a dry throat and the ability to sing with a Johnny Cash style voice without even trying.)

Connecting Your Hebrew OT with Your Greek NT

A good friend of mine sent me the following question:

I’ve been using a Libronix workspace a lot for Bible study, but one feature is annoying me (probably because I’m doing something wrong). If I start out in the OT, the Hebrew texts in one corner are all visible. If I type in a NT reference into the English translations, the corner of Hebrew texts switches to Greek. So far so good. But when I go back to the OT, the Greek stays Greek (i.e., LXX) rather than returning to Hebrew. How can I fix this?

Great question. If you do much work in the original languages and jump back in forth between the Hebrew OT and Greek NT, you’ve probably experienced this. While it’s nice to be able to look at the LXX, most people who know Hebrew usually prefer to see the Hebrew by default rather than the Greek.

So how can you avoid having your Hebrew OT switch to the Greek OT when you jump from the OT to the NT and back again to the OT?

Here are three suggestions on how to avoid this problem:

  1. A simple solution that may work for some is to keep a second English text opened and unlinked for the purpose of jumping to cross references, etc. This will keep the rest of your linked resources from following you from the OT to the NT and then back again. The problem with this option is that you may want the rest of your resources to follow you.
  2. A second option is to have the LXX and the Hebrew open in two separate tabs. Always unlink your Hebrew text from your English text before jumping to the NT. Relink it when you return to the OT. This is okay if you jump back and forth infrequently, but could get rather tedious if you’re jumping back and forth often.
  3. The best option—at least that I’ve been able to think of—is to create a custom serial resource association linking your preferred Hebrew text with your preferred Greek text. This will override the default behavior.

To set up a new serial resource association, go to Tools > Library Management > Define Resource Associations, select Serial, and click New. Name your resource association something like “Hebrew OT with Greek NT” and add your preferred Hebrew OT text and Greek NT text.

Here’s a brief video (without sound, 1.01 MB, 51 sec.) showing you how to set up your resource association.

Here’s a brief video (without sound, 2.21 MB, 48 sec.) showing the behavior before and after creating the custom serial resource association. You’ll notice that before I create the resource association (not shown in this video), it switches me to the LXX when I jump back to the OT. After I create the association, jumping back to the OT keeps me in the Hebrew.

Hope this helps! Feel free to comment if you have a better way to address this issue.

For more information on creating a resource association, see 14:53–18:31 of the "Customize Your New Digital Library" training video.

See also our previous post, "The Value of Custom Resource Associations."

Update: If you want all of your Greek New Testaments to be connected to your preferred Hebrew OT, simply add them all to the resource association putting your default GNT on the top.

Who Cares About Participles? I Do!

[Today’s Guest Post is by Dr. Steve Runge, who is a scholar-in-residence here at Logos Bible Software. Steve is working on projects to annotate discourse function in the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Bible. More importantly, he’s a really smart guy with a passion for explaining the exegetical significance and importance of discourse functions in language that non-academics can understand — so that sermons and lessons can take such things into account, resulting in better preaching and teaching. Look for more posts from Steve in the future. — RB]

My name is Steve, and I wanted to give you some ideas about how you can use some technology you probably already have to enhance your Bible study. One of the great features of the Biblical Languages Addin is the Morphological Filter (click View | Visual Filters) that lets you markup Greek and Hebrew Bibles based on their morphological coding (Click for video demo; here’s a blog post with similar information). And you are probably saying, “Steve, I don’t know Greek. Why would I want such a tool?” I am glad you asked!

One of the basic tenets of Bible study is to identify the main idea of each verse, which in turn allows you to build toward understanding the big idea of a passage, and so on. Believe it or not, the New Testament writers wanted the same thing. Not every action is of equal importance, and so the writers made choices about which actions to make the main idea of a sentence. One of the ways they did this was by using different kinds of verbs for different kinds of actions in order to prioritize them.

If you were to picture a line of soldiers, there are two ways I could make some of them stand out. The first way is to have the important ones take a step forward. This is essentially what emphasis does, it brings something out front. The other way to make something stand out is to have the less-important ones take a step back. By pushing the less-important things into the background (‘backgrounding’ them), I can focus your attention on the ones that are left in their original position. This is exactly what the writers did through the use of participles. Wait, it’s okay, don’t be afraid! Grammar can be a great friend and ally! Let me show you how.

Every sentence in the New Testament required the writer to make decisions. We make them all the time without even thinking about it, whether writing or speaking. We choose wording that fits best with what we want to communicate. The same is true of the NT writers. If they wanted something to be viewed as a main action, they used a main verb form (technically ‘finite’ verbs like the indicative, subjunctive or imperative moods for fellow grammar geeks). If they wanted to describe some action to set that stage for the main action, the writers would use participles before the main action to push the less important action into the background. Here is a quick example from English.

  1. I was writing a blog post this morning. I spilled my coffee on my keyboard.
  2. While writing a blog post this morning, I spilled my coffee on my keyboard.

In the first line, both actions are described as though they were equally important, both use main verbs. The second line backgrounds the first action using a participle in order to set the stage for the main action that follows—spilling my coffee (Don’t worry, Bob. I didn’t really spill, just needed an example).

This same kind of backgrounding happens all the time in the New Testament. And even if you don’t know Greek, you can use the tools available in Logos to find these backgrounded actions. Here’s how.

If you have an ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear of the New Testament and the Morphological Filter from the Biblical Languages Addin, you have all that you need to start your study. Open up the ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear in Logos Bible Software, and then click View | Visual Filters. This opens up the Visual Filter dialogue. Then click on Morphological Filter in the left pane, then click Add.

Click image for larger version(works for all images in this post)

Then click Details. This opens up another dialog box that lets you choose the grammatical characteristics that you want to visualize. We want to check Verbs, and then Participles under Verb types. Then click Add on the lower left, and finally pick a how you want to represent it in the text using the Palettes (I chose the Gray highlighter pen). This will identify all of the participles.

Now you need to identify the main verbs. All we have to do is repeat the steps. Click Verbs, and then under the ‘Tense, Voice, Mood’ menu click Finite under ‘Verb types’, then click Add.

Now pick a visualization from the Palettes (I chose green highlighter pen), and finally click Okay. You are ready to look for backgrounded actions!

In your ESV reverse interlinear, go to Matthew 28:19, we can take a look at how Matthew uses a participle to prioritize the actions of the Great Commission. English does not use participles like Greek does, so a lot of them get translated into English as though they were main verbs. This is not incorrect translation, it is just a consequence of Greek not being English. But you can pick out the backgrounded actions from the original Greek using this Visual Filter in the Reverse Interlinear.

In English, there are two main actions of the Great Commission: Go and Make disciples. But if you look at ‘Go’, you’ll see that it is a participle. Does this mean it doesn’t matter at all? No, it does matter. Matthew used a participle to make sure that we got the main idea of the verse: MAKING DISCIPLES. Both actions need to happen, but they are not of equal importance. Using a participle backgrounds the less-important action.

This idea of backgrounding only applies to participles when they precede the main action, not when they follow it. The participles that follow the main action tend to spell out more specifically what the main action looks like. Here, ‘making disciples’ is spelled out as ‘baptizing’ and ‘teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded’.

Another good example is found in Acts 9:1-2, where Saul is seeking to arrest the believers in order to keep ‘The Way’ from spreading.

In v. 1 there are two actions described: ‘breathing’ and ‘went’. But we can tell from the Morphological Filter that both of these actions are backgrounded. That means that these actions are setting the stage for the main action, and are not the main action themselves. The main action doesn’t come until v. 2; it is Saul ASKING for the letters. ‘Going’ to the high priest was just something that had to happen before he could ‘ask’ them for the letters. Luke’s choice to use a participle reflects how he chose to prioritize the action. Understanding how he prioritized the action will help us better understand the main point of the passage. The other participles in v. 2 function as ‘verbal adjectives’, describing whom Saul is seeking (the ones ‘belonging to the Way’) and how he will bring them (‘having been bound’). The principle of backgrounding only applies to the action participles that precede the main action.

The biggest, hairiest chain of backgrounded actions that I have yet found is in Mark 5:25-27, where SEVEN backgrounded actions before we finally get to the main action. Nearly all of these are translated in the ESV as though they are main verbs. Remember, this is not bad translation, it just reflects that Greek is not English. Take a look!

Look at all of the actions that are backgrounded! The one main action that is left standing is ‘touched’, all of the rest are simply setting the stage for this action. Mark clearly indicates this by using participles instead of main verbs. He could have just as easily chosen to make ALL of the actions main ones, but then ‘touched’ would not have stood out. They would have all been equal. By backgrounding the less-important actions before the main action, the writer lets us know which action we need to focus on. There is good reason to focus on ‘touch’ in this context, because it is the key action that sets off a whole series of events that follows. Touching Jesus is what heals this woman (v. 27). Look at how Jesus’ response is described in v. 30.

Three participles are used to describe the actions that lead to Jesus’ response (‘said’), and what he says is the most important part of the verse: ‘Who touched me?’ Mark has carefully framed his message to make sure that we do not miss the main point of the story!

The gospels and Acts by far make the most use of backgrounding through the use of participles before the main action. Here are a few more examples from Matthew. In Matt 13:46 in the parable about the pearl of great price, look at which actions have been backgrounded.

There are only two main actions in this verse: ‘selling all that he had’ and ‘buying’. The ‘finding’ and ‘going’ set the stage for the main actions. Do you see how the backgrounding fits with the main idea of the passage?

Another example is found in the description of Jesus preparing to feed the 5000 in Matt 14:19.

There are three backgrounded actions leading up to one main action in the first sentence. ‘Ordering the crowds’, ‘taking’ the loaves and fish, and ‘looking up to heaven’ are all backgrounded, keeping attention on the main action: he said a blessing. In the next sentence, ‘breaking’ is backgrounded, keeping attention focused on ‘giving’ it to the disciples who in turn give it to the crowds.

By the way, you do not need to use the visual filter to find out if an action is a participle in Greek or not. If you hover over ‘ordered’ in v. 19 of the reverse interlinear and look at the display in the lower left corner of the main window, you will see some information displayed.

The G2753 is the Strong’s number; the rest is the grammatical information for the Greek word. You can get the same information as what we have visualized using the Visual Filter, but it is does not let you see the big picture, and it is not nearly as cool!

As you may have noticed, not every participle backgrounds an action. Some participles don’t even describe action, but instead function as verbal adjectives to describe a person, place or thing. The participles that follow the main action usually spell out more specifically what the main action looks like (a topic I will take up in a future post). But there is hope!

I have been working for the last year in a super-secret department (next to Rick!) on a project that identifies all of the New Testament occurrences of cool devices like backgrounded actions. There are 15 other devices that are all explained and marked up using something like the visual filter right in the text to help you better understand what the writers were trying to draw your attention to. Stay tuned for more details.

Update: Both products are now available for pre-order: