Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Book: Holy Bits: A Guide for Using Computers in Biblical Scholarship

Just received a review copy of Thomas Naef's A Guide for Using Computers in Biblical Scholarship. It's from Gorgias Press as part of their Bible in Technology series.
From the publisher's description:
Where on the internet can I find some reliable information about (or even images of) New Testament manuscripts? What should I consider before beginning to type a scholarly article about Pentateuchal Laws and their parallels in the Ancient Near East? You will find in this book answers to these and many other questions. It gathers information and experience in the field of "Biblical Studies and Computer". Some subjects being treated in the book are of a more general interest like hardware and networks, operating systems, textprocessors and others. The main focus however is on concise subjects for biblical scholars like Unicode, biblical software and websites in the field. Each chapter ends up with a list of URLs for further information about the subject. An online up-to-date link list is available.
I hope to have my review up soon...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Logos Search Exercise: A Response

It's time to earn my keep as a contributor here. Life has been busy and has taken some unexpected turns.

MVGH threw down the gauntlet when he posted his article BibleWorks Search Exercise. David Lang responded for Accordance here. Logos users were also issued the challenge but I haven’t seen anyone take it up yet.

Here’s my attempt to "try to find the Greek words used to express a concept in English."

Specifically to answer these questions, What happened to Jesus after he was crucified and buried? He ______ from the dead! What words might you put in that blank? Rose? Was raised? Is risen? What Greek word(s) are behind our English wordings? How will you determine this? There are a number of possible ways to do so...
Although there are a several possible ways to do this, like David Lang I offer the simplest way in Logos 4. (Caveat: I am running the latest beta of 4.0c so your screen may not match, but the steps should work in versions post-4.0a).

0. MVGH suggested using a version tagged with Strong’s numbers. Since Logos offers several Bible versions as “Reverse Interlinears” (currently, KJV, ESV, Lexham, NASB, NKJV, NLT and NRSV) and the goal is to discover Greek words for seminary students studying Greek, I recommend using one of those “Reverse Interlinear” versions.

1. Open a Search window, select Bible search, set preferred “Reverse Interlinear” (NASB to match MGVH) to search and, since we are specifically looking for a Greek word, set search range to New Testament.

2. Since I might put any of “rose”, “was raised”, or “is risen” in the blank of “He ______ from the dead!”, I enter the following terms in the Find box (raised, risen, rose) [133 results in 125 verses]. Separating the terms with commas is the same as using an OR operator to match any terms. Enclosing the search terms in parentheses makes further refinements to the search results easier.

3. Perusing the search results reveals the power and the limitation of the “Match all word forms” option. Results include “raised”, “raise”, “raises”, and “raising” matching “raised” as well as “risen” and “rose”. What is missing are the other forms of “risen” such as, “rise”, “rises”, and “rising”. “Match all word forms” enabled is the default setting, so I assumed above that it was already set. If not, click on the large magnifying glass icon in the top left corner of the search window and ensure that there is a check mark beside the “Match all word forms” option. However smart "Match all word forms" is, it doesn't get all conjugations.

4. To expand the search results to include forms of “rise”, edit the Find box to (raised, risen, rose, rise) [164 results in 156 verses].

Substituting “rise” for “risen” won’t work though, because searching for all word forms of “rise” will not find “risen”. A wildcard could be introduced such as MGVH and David Lang did; however, searching for “ris*” also finds “risked” and “risking”. While these can be filtered by other means such as the “death” term, I would rather not deliberately include false positives only to later filter them out. For example, I found that Philippians 2:30 where “risking” matches “ris*” is not filtered out with the “death” filter.

5. To focus the search results on those instances where “rise” is used in the sense of “resurrection”, I can include “death” and “dead” in the search terms by editing the Find box to (raised, risen, rose, rise) (dead, death). [132 results in 59 verses]

6. Perusing the search results reveals a few false positives (e.g., Matt. 10:21, Mark 13:12). These could be filtered out by using a WITHIN operator such as David Lang did; however, for me the medicine is too strong. Editing the Find box to (raised, risen, rose, rise) WITHIN 5 WORDS (dead, death) excludes relevant passages such as Acts 2:24, Acts 5:30, Romans 4:24, 1 Corinthians 15:13, 42.

7. To find the Greek word(s) behind our English wordings, select the Analysis search results view. Now the search results can be played with. By dragging the Result column heading to the top, search results are grouped first by the search result. By dragging the Lemma column heading to the top, search results are grouped second by the Greek lemma. Right-clicking on one of the group headings and selecting Summary view reveals that the relevant Greek verbs are ἐγείρω, and ἀνίστημι.

G1453 and G450 for the Strong’s Number crowd!

For those interested in Louw-Nida numbers that column heading can be dragged to the top to summarize the search results in that way, revealing that the relevant L-N number is 23.94, Physiological Process and States – Live, Die.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

BibleWorks Search Exercise

I am trying to construct some exercises for BibleWorks to help my students get experience answering some typical questions one can use BW to answer. Here is the first of what may be a series... 

In this exercise we will try to find the Greek words used to express a concept in English. We will learn a variety of different ways to get the desired results in BibleWorks. Specifically, we will learn to use:
•    OR and AND searches, nested searches, and search limits
•    The Graphical Search Engine to construct a complicated search
•    The Search Limits Filter to conduct two-stage searches
•    The Verse List Manager to collect verses and then use them to set search limits
•    The Louw-Nida Lexicon to look for English words and their Greek counterparts
While we will be addressing a specific question here, the skills you will learn will be applicable in many other situations.
>Here's the question I'm using in this exercise:

What happened to Jesus after he was crucified and buried? He ______ from the dead! What words might you put in that blank? Rose? Was raised? Is risen? What Greek word(s) are behind our English wordings? How will you determine this? There are a number of possible ways to do so...
How would you go about answering that question? Open or download this PDF to see six ways you can do this in BibleWorks.

BTW, I'd love to think I would have the time to produce a similar guide for Logos and Accordance, but I know it's not going to happen... If someone else wants to pull it together, I would be pleased to post it on this blog or link to your own.

UPDATE: 2010.03.19: David Lang has posted steps for solving this question in Accordance over on the Accordance blog. Especially note that Accordance has a "Details" > "Analysis" option that nicely consolidates the information to make visible the underlying Greek words. Thanks!