TIP of the day: Word frequency in a pericope

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Mon, Jun 15 2015 12:30 AM

When looking for the "important" words in a pericope, Logos offers us three options:

  1. The raw data via the Concordance tool
  2. Roughly speaking, the ratio of the frequency in the pericope to the frequency in the Bible as a whole is shown by font size via the Interesting Words section of the Passage Guide. Note that in the word cloud (wordle) color and orientation do not carry meaning but are intended to create visual interest.
  3. A Word List on the pericope provides raw data based on the underlying reverse interlinear text.

All of these methods are based on the assumption that repetition creates emphasis - something that the computer can identify. 

A comment regarding the use of the visual representation as opposed to a straight list:

Bob Pritchett:

The colors simply help distinguish the words. This is like a map of the US in which each state is colored differently to emphasize the boundaries. Purple states aren't different from the green states, unless of course there's a legend indicating that certain colors map to certain data points.

We're looking at adding a toggle between the "cloud" and a "list". One of the reasons I prefer the cloud, though, is that these aren't precise lists -- and even frequency stats aren't precise indicators of rank or importance. When we used a list in the past we'd get people saying "Why is this word on the list?" or "How could you think that word x was more important than word y in this passage?" The cloud intentionally (and gently, I think) obfuscates these things, and does what a statistically generated report should do: offers a number of interesting possibilities to explore, not a perfect ranked list of stats to imbue with authority.

There are also considerations which require human intervention:

Grant R. Osborne:

However, in studying Scripture we certainly want to probe more deeply and choose the significant words in the passage. Fee gives us four valuable steps in isolating the key words (1983:84–85):

  • Note those terms in the context which are “theologically loaded.” . . .
  • Note those terms that are crucial to the meaning of the passage but may be ambiguous in their context. . . .
  • Those words that are repeated in a context or become themes within the paragraph must be investigated. . . .
  • We must look for those terms that may be more critical to the context than might seem to be at first glance. Naturally, this can be done only after more detailed research. . .

Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Rev. and expanded, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 109–110.

Interesting Words section of Passage Guide

Note that if you click on a word on the cloud, it will give you the references. It also shows that the cloud is based on a "combine all forms" model.


Similarly the Concordance can be expanded to show all instances.

Word List

The three sources of the data balance with each other (one entry is off the screen in the word list) giving one confidence in the accuracy of the data.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 15 2015 1:33 AM

Thank you, MJ, this is a good reminder for some and a good introduction for others. Your efforts are appreciated.

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 15 2015 3:58 AM

Great explanation MJ.

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JAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 15 2015 4:58 AM

Thank you Star

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Tim Taylor | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 15 2015 5:12 AM

MJ. Smith:

  1. The raw data via the Concordance tool

How come I cannot find the Concordance tool in Logos 6? Am I missing something?

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NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 15 2015 5:21 AM

Currently part of Logos Now, may be part of Logos 7 one day.

Edit: See: https://community.logos.com/forums/t/105207.aspx 

Running Logos 8 latest beta version on Win 10

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Tim Taylor | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 15 2015 6:08 PM

I see. That would explain it lol. Ok, thanks for the clarification.

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