Bible word study: How do you choose which words are worth studying?

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Posts 946
P A | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Jan 30 2021 1:27 PM

Hi

Can you help me?

Bible word study: How do you choose which words are worth studying?

Do you have a method for choosing which words in a passage are worth studying?

Not all words are worth studying.

It occurs to me if you compare translations and the translations don't agree on how to translate a word, then that would be a word worth studying. Smile

But what other criteria would you have for selecting a word in a passage to study?

A word does not always carry the full range of meaning as defined by a dictionary, but context defines its true meaning.

I am hopeful my fellow Logos users can give me some pointers...

Thanks

P A Smile

Posts 2160
Kenneth Neighoff | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jan 30 2021 2:09 PM

I use the important word section of the passage guide. 

Posts 946
P A | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jan 30 2021 2:13 PM

Thanks Kenneth

But what is their method for choosing those words? Smile

P A

Posts 25223
Forum MVP
Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jan 30 2021 3:06 PM

P A:
But what is their method for choosing those words? Smile

From the help file:

Important Words Section

The Important Words tool aggregates data from all commentary resources (not just those in the user’s Library) to expose words with a high frequency of references. This tool not only surfaces frequently referenced terms but also ranks them according to “importance.” This ranking system is based on the number of references collected from commentary resources. Frequently discussed terms will appear higher in the ranking system. References include both English and original language terms. For example, the term “word” is referenced by its English designation as well as the Greek term logos. The Important Words Tool counts references from both designations and ranks the term accordingly. By selecting an “important word,” users may discover a list of references in relevant resources so that they can continue their investigation.

Given a passage, the Important Words section returns a list of the significant words that passage contains. Results are displayed with the most frequently referenced (in commentaries, not in the biblical text) terms listed first. The section displays the original language lemma, transliteration, pronunciation button , and gloss. When a word is expanded, the section displays all the verses containing that lemma in the guide passage with links to the preferred Bible. Each word also displays a link to open the Lemma in Passage section for the selected lemma.

Hovering over the section header displays the Settings menu, which allows users to specify which Collection the section will search.

 Logos Help (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2018).

Posts 946
P A | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jan 30 2021 3:27 PM

Thanks Graham that is useful and fascinating Smile.

So my next question is what method do the bible scholars (the people who write commentaries) use to identify to the key words in the passage worthy of study. 

I just want to understand the logic of what makes a word worthy of further study.

Thanks

P ASmile

Posts 1712
Allen Browne | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jan 30 2021 3:59 PM

P A:
How do you choose which words are worth studying?

I don't have set rules, P A. I try to look for the flags the writer is waving for us.

Examples:

  1. Writers often reuse key words or phrases. As you read and re-read the passage, you'll feel, "That word again?" Right-click, choose the lemma, and click search Bible. That highlights each occurence of the word, so you can decide how central it is.
  2. If writer uses the word/phrase to introduce and wrap up the passage (inclusio) that's a clue.
  3. If the writer explains a word/phrase, contrasts the opposite, or uses synonyms, they're drawing our attention to it.
  4. Look for markers that slow us down, and ask, "Why am I being told this at this point?" (discourse analysis).

In addition to the words/phrases the writer emphasized, I'll explore words I don't understand, or words that don't make sense to me in that context. Typically that's a right-clilck | lemma | lexicon. For a New Testament text, I might see how that word was used in the LXX as a way of seeing how they saw it.

(You may have noticed that I'm more focused on understanding what the narrative meant in its cultural and linguistic context than on developing a systematic theology. God's revelation of himself to us flows out of God's revelation of himself to them.)

HTH.

Posts 946
P A | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 31 2021 1:58 AM

Thanks Allen

That is helpful Smile

It might seem to some that I am asking a really obvious and simple question. But I am just trying to refine/ sharpen the way I do it. I want to do word studies in a responsible and logical manner.

Sometimes it is good to discuss the obvious, as it can help correct error or poor study methods. And sometimes others can offer precious pearls of wisdom.Smile

It is good to know how Logos generate their important words by measuring the frequency they are cited in works such as commentaries. But to me a good bible student first mines the coalface for themselves and then compares their work with that of others later to make sure they are on the right track.

Blessings to youSmile

P A

Posts 528
Gregory Lawhorn | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 31 2021 3:48 AM

P A:

Do you have a method for choosing which words in a passage are worth studying?

Not all words are worth studying.

It occurs to me if you compare translations and the translations don't agree on how to translate a word, then that would be a word worth studying. Smile

But what other criteria would you have for selecting a word in a passage to study?

A word does not always carry the full range of meaning as defined by a dictionary, but context defines its true meaning.

This is a great question. I've got 28 years of preaching behind me, so a lot of what I do is more instinctive than deliberate. Taking Matthew 6:19-21 as an example, I think I would investigate the words in bold:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Sometimes investigation means a quick glance at the Word By Word guide section, sometimes it means an hour digging into something. 

I would spend more time considering:

  • How does the previous content (Matthew 6:1ƒƒ) lead into this pericope?
  • How does this pericope build upon the previous content?
  • How does this pericope lead into the content to come?
  • How do "moth and rust" and "thieves" compare and contrast?
  • How does one "lay up treasures in heaven"?
  • Why is the human heart so connected to one's treasures?

Then I would call up my mentors and ask them what they thought, guys like Augustine, Jim M Boice, John Gill, John Calvin, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John MacArthur, Chuck Spurgeon, Leon Morris - those guys. I have a confession to make – I'm not a New Testament scholar teaching in a grad school, I'm a pastor preaching to a congregation, so I tend to read trusted, proven men within my own theological views. I'm not interested in preaching "Seven Views On The Heart's Treasure," but "Eternal Peace In A Temporary World."

So much depends on the experience we bring to the study process. I would advise the young pastor I mentor to "zoom in" and identify every noun, every verb, look out for participles, compare other translations, and then "zoom out" and ponder the phrases and the parallelism, and pay close attention to the fact that Jesus gives us both the premises and the conclusion of the argument.

That's probably much more than you were looking for - sorry!

Posts 135
Justin Gatlin | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 31 2021 6:44 AM

I think that I would rather do too many words studies than too few. Logos makes it so fast and easy to get a quick introduction that there is not much risk by opening the tab.

If a word is a major verb, the center of a main point, confusing to me, or if I think it would be confusing to an unchurched person, I right click it. Often, skimming the other uses and my top lexicon will convince me that there is nothing to see here and I'll move along. But the most embarrassing moment I can think of is when I first started preaching and thought I knew the meaning of a term that I did not. 

Posts 998
Josh Hunt | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 31 2021 7:27 AM

Logos makes it so easy, you don't have to be too picky. Any word you are curious about you can right click and walla!

Posts 525
DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 31 2021 8:42 AM

P A:
Not all words are worth studying.

I'd think it depends. On why you're studying. Devotional? Critical? Teaching? Learning? 

Also, which words indeed. When you get tangled up with your spouse, you say 'I should have phrased that differently.' Or 'my choice of words was ...'.

And in the Matthew 6 example above, was the phrasing choice significant (earth before heaven)? Or not. Matters?

Or take a simple construct 'in Christ'. What does 'in' mean? Or 'believe'? Jesus' jewish audiences didn't buy into YHWH?

All depends.

Posts 946
P A | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 31 2021 8:51 AM

Thanks Gregory

All helpful stuff Zoom in- Zoom out Smile

Posts 946
P A | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 31 2021 8:58 AM

Thanks Justin

Yes always better too much word study,  even if is just skimming to just check if there is anything worth pursuing...

I appreciate your honesty about the time when thought you know the meaning of a term and did not.  I know the feeling Smile

P A

Posts 946
P A | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 31 2021 9:06 AM

Thanks Josh

Yes any words your you are curious about or have questions about are worth investigating.

P A

Posts 946
P A | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 31 2021 9:19 AM

DMB

Yes you're right Smile.  It was a sweeping statement.  What words are chosen and how they are phrased can matter.Smile

I suppose I was thinking of time limiting factors.   I suppose if time is pressing, just study the words that stand out, the unusual, or words that you have questions about.

But the more time spent observing and asking questions of the text the better.Smile

Thanks

P A

Posts 2853
David Ames | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 31 2021 9:54 AM

P A:
  But the more time spent observing and asking questions of the text the better.Smile  

Maybe what words ones follows depends on how one got to the verse in the first place.  

In the 1830s a gentleman by the name of Miller, and others, used a concordance to predict the end of the world in 1843-44.  

He seems to have started with the prophecies of Daniel. As his study took him years he may have followed most of the words to see where they lead.

[I am not aware of any book following how initial his studies went]

Posts 500
xnman | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 1 2021 9:53 AM

PA --   I appreciate your question. I have been at it for a long time... and I have my personal way of doing word studies...  but I don't think I'm perfect at it.  I like reading through and seeing what other do. 

Thanks for posting your question.

xn = Christan  man=man

Posts 371
Lonnie Spencer | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 1 2021 10:48 AM

Allen Browne:

P A:
How do you choose which words are worth studying?

I don't have set rules, P A. I try to look for the flags the writer is waving for us.

Examples:

  1. Writers often reuse key words or phrases. As you read and re-read the passage, you'll feel, "That word again?" Right-click, choose the lemma, and click search Bible. That highlights each occurence of the word, so you can decide how central it is.
  2. If writer uses the word/phrase to introduce and wrap up the passage (inclusio) that's a clue.
  3. If the writer explains a word/phrase, contrasts the opposite, or uses synonyms, they're drawing our attention to it.
  4. Look for markers that slow us down, and ask, "Why am I being told this at this point?" (discourse analysis).

In addition to the words/phrases the writer emphasized, I'll explore words I don't understand, or words that don't make sense to me in that context. Typically that's a right-clilck | lemma | lexicon. For a New Testament text, I might see how that word was used in the LXX as a way of seeing how they saw it.

(You may have noticed that I'm more focused on understanding what the narrative meant in its cultural and linguistic context than on developing a systematic theology. God's revelation of himself to us flows out of God's revelation of himself to them.)

HTH.

Great reply Allen! Thanks for the helpful response

Posts 946
P A | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 1 2021 11:43 AM

Thanks, David

Yes, sometimes word studies can be done badly.  The answer I suppose to is to understand the words in context and check your work with others (commentaries).

Posts 946
P A | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 1 2021 11:57 AM

Thanks  xnman

I have learned  a lot from my fellow Logos user over the years. I suppose because it is  big and diverse family of bible geeksSmile you get to listen and learn about subjects that you might not hear in your local church family.Smile

If you have the knowledge and passion for God's word share it! Smile

P A

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