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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Thursday, May 11, 2006  

Off and Running

Two weeks ago, we explored the use of the Construct window in building graphical search arguments. At the time, I showed how you can look at an existing construct—even one as complex as a search for the Granville Sharp rule in Greek—and easily understand what it is you're looking for. I also argued that other "graphical search engines" were much less transparent and easy to use.

Yesterday, Rubén Gómez of Bible Software Review put three "graphical search engines" to the test using a search mentioned in an Anchor Bible Dictionary article. You can check it out here.

For those of you who want to construct this search yourself, you just need to:

  1. Open a Search window with the tagged Greek New Testament (GNT-T) as your search text.
  2. Choose Greek from the New Construct submenu of the File menu (or use the keyboard shortcut command-2)
  3. Drag a Verb element into the first (leftmost) column. Click OK to dismiss the Set Tag Details dialog without constraining the VERB element further.
  4. Drag a LEX element into the second column. In the dialog box, type "en" and click OK.
  5. Drag another LEX element into the third column. In the dialog box, type "cri" to scroll the list to where you can see Christos, then just double-click the word Christos to select it and close the dialog box.
  6. Drag a WITHIN element above the first two columns. Enter "4" into the first field of the dialog box and click OK.
  7. Drag an INTER element above the first two columns.
  8. Drag a VERB element into the INTER and click OK to dismiss the dialog box.
  9. Drag a NOT element over the label of the INTER.

That's it. Click OK to see your search results.

Okay, now let's have a little fun. Try clicking the Details button. The first thing you'll see is a graph of where this construction was found.:

From this it is striking how the hits seem to be concentrated in the Pauline epistles. Let's click the Table button to verify this.

Sure enough, the only non-Pauline use of this construction is one occurrence in 1 Peter (assuming, of course, that the Pastorals are Pauline).

Okay, that was interesting. Now, let's click the Analysis tab to see which verbs are used in this construction. We can even use the one keyboard shortcut you absolutely must learn (that's right, command-T) to open the Set Analysis Display dialog and change the Sort from Alphabetical to Count Down. When we click OK, here's what we get:

Now we can see that eimi, "to be," is the verb most often associated with the phrase "in Christ"; followed by "to have," "to greet," "to become," to "give," and "to live."

There are, of course, lots of places we could go from here. We could, for example, switch to a different Greek text, like the textus receptus, and try this search there. Since this search turns up 35 occurrences rather than the 34 found in the GNT-T, it would appear there are some text-critical issues associated with the phrase "in Christ." Heck, we could even try this search in the Greek Apostolic Fathers (where it appears 11 times), or in the Apocryphal Gospels (where it does not appear at all, though this may be a function of genre, since it does not appear in the canonical Gospels either).

Another place we could go from here is to expand the search to include cases where the verb follows the phrase "in Christ." To do this:

  1. Go back to your Greek Construct window and choose Duplicate tab from the File menu (or use the keyboard shortcut command-D).
  2. Drag the VERB element in the first column into the fourth column.
  3. Drag a marquee around the elements in the 2nd through 4th columns to select them, then drag them to the 1st through 3rd columns.
  4. Drag a marquee to select the WITHIN and INTER above the 1st and 2nd columns, then drag them above the 2nd and 3rd columns.
  5. Now go to the Search window to which your first construct is linked. Make sure the text insertion point is to the right of the [LINK Greek Construct].
  6. Select the OR command from the Enter command submenu of the Search menu (or use the keyboard shortcut shift-command-O). Then select the LINK command from the same submenu (or use the keyboard shortcut shift-command-L). In the dialog box that opens, double-click Greek Construct 2.

That's it. Click OK to perform this expanded search.

In the comments on Rubén's blog, someone glossed over the interface differences among these programs with the tired argument that "whatever program one uses the most will be the most 'intuitive.'" What this person fails to understand is that in the time others spend navigating complex dialogs, clicking checkbox after checkbox, consulting the help, and even contacting tech support; Accordance users are off and running, exploring the results of their searches from a variety of angles and trying new variations to see what turns up.

This search is a great example of how technology for searching / studying the Bible can raise our affections for Christ. Great post and even better reminder!

Jeremy A.

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