Literary and Semantic Structure Analysis

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Schumitinu | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Jun 6 2013 2:19 AM

Logos has really been into semantics the last few years and provided great tools for Bible interpretation and Bible translations. Among them are the People, Places and Things datasets which now also include referent annotations, the Bible Sense Lexicon, the Reported Speech dataset to mention a few. I think it is time for Logos to take this a step further. Just like they have done on a grammatical side, going from word level morphological tagging to clause level outlines and syntactic analysis, so there is a need to move from the word or concept level on a semantic side to the clause or proposition level. This would include both, literary structure analysis of whole books and passages, as well as semantic structure analysis of propositions and paragraphs. The literary structure of books and passages would show the flow of thoughts that the writer of the book conveyed as well as how he communicated his thoughts, how he made his points. The semantic structure of propositions and paragraphs would show the semantic relations, how the individual propositions and paragraphs relate to one another. Both, the literary structure and the semantic structure help us analyze the meaning of the text (as opposed to just the meaning of the words). Just like there is syntactic force on a phrase and clause level that tells us what that phrase or clause does, there is also ‘semantic force’ that tells us the semantic role of the proposition or paragraph. Just as clauses etc. stand in a certain hierarchy and relationship to one another (such as being subordinate, appositive, relative etc.), so stand the individual propositions etc. in a relationship to one another (such as referential, reporting or presentational relations).  

My proposal goes like this:

  1. Make recourses available in Logos that are already out there. This is what I have found and suggest:
    • E.W. Bullinger in his Companion Bible has done a thorough analysis of the literary structure of all the books in the Bible. This could be compiled and made available in Logos. The Companion Bible is in public domain.
    • The Literary Structure of the Old Testament: A Commentary on Genesis–Malachi by David A. Dorsey, Baker Academic. This is currently available on Pre-Pup as part of the Baker Academic Old Testament Studies Bundle. I hope they make it available as a single book.
    • The Literary Guide to the Bible, Robert Alter and Frank Kermode, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
    • A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible, Leland Ryken and Tremper Longman, Zondervan.
    • Semantic and Structural Analysis Series, different Authors, published by SIL, currently eleven volumes out on different NT books.
  2. Have in house scholars work on a Logos initiated analysis and annotated outline. This would fill in a gap in biblical scholarship as well as within the Logos Bible Software. Logos Bible Software seems to be the right place for a dataset like this.
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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 6 2013 12:03 PM

Logos has

  • Forms of the  Old Testament Literature commentary series
  • Reading the New Testament commentary series

I like your idea very much.

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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Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 6 2013 12:05 PM

A fascinating suggestion.

Posts 570
Schumitinu | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 7 2013 2:16 AM

Thank you for pointing these recourses out to me. I like to know what's out there.

Posts 570
Schumitinu | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 28 2014 7:44 PM

Thank you Logos! The Propositional Bible Outlines Dataset takes care of this!

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Dan | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 30 2014 8:30 PM

I'm wondering now that all this data has been put together in such a way that is cross-referenced and whatnot, will it ever be accessible for research beyond queries and analysis allowed by the software? I doubt they'd allow direct access to the data (which is likely in a proprietary format, anyways - even if just a custom XML schema), but perhaps there could be an API where folks could interact with the data so that they can pull in additional tools (read: machine learning algorithms) to do some analysis/statistics on various linguistic features? I can see this being very helpful for those training in computational semantics and/or interested in stylometric analysis of the text, etc.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 30 2014 9:26 PM

Dan, making the data open to scholars has been a dream of Bob P. but so far attempts that direction have not been successful.

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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Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 30 2014 11:21 PM

There ought to be a way for Logos to monetize this and allow freer access.

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Sean Boisen | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Oct 31 2014 11:42 AM

We're definitely interested in working with external scholars on research that builds on our data (and we've got far more ideas for interesting things to investigate than time to pursue them!). Contact me if you've got a research idea to discuss.

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