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)