A useful application of the Bible Sense Lexicon

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Francis | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Feb 12 2015 3:15 AM

The first time I saw BSL I thought it was weird. I clicked on tree branches that only collapsed or expanded (I guess I expected something more clearly revelatory to take place). I would try right-clicking on entries to no avail and it seem to me not all that useful. Sure, you could compare shades of meaning though it seemed that perhaps some of this organization was debatable (and it is) and it seemed unclimactic to me. Links in Guides seemed to me as puzzling.

If this describes your current experience, here is a more profitable application: use the BSL to search for things that are similar. Example: you notice in John frequent references to festivals. You may remember the Passover mentioned in other gospels but what about other festivals: is John the only one who speaks of them? 

To find out the answer, you could try to search for all possible words that could refer to a festival or you can use BSL. Here's how:

1. Go to BSL and type Passover BUT DO NOT PRESS ENTER. This is very important. Why? Because you will get multiple suggestions and the first one (that you would get if you pressed enter right away) is not necessarily the one that is closest to what you are looking for. In this case, if we type "Passover" we get these suggestions:

In some cases, it is clearer from the choices which one corresponds to what you are looking for (Passover as a feast) but here there may be some doubt between 1, 3 and 4. Since 3 and 4 are more specific, I try my luck with # 1 "Passover". What I get confirms that I made the right choice:

It shows me how BSL classifies feasts. I now have two choices: am I interested in finding the broader category of "festival" in the other gospels or only "religious festivals"?

Let's say I want only religious festivals, clicking inside the tree is not very useful because the only function of clicking in the tree is collapsing or expanding. If you click on religious festival in the tree above, you will keep the same tree but religious festival will be collapsed (passover, purim, etc disappear from view).

What you want is to click on "religious festival" in "Type of" in the Relationship section on the left pane. You will get this:

You're almost there. What you want is the link above "Search for sense religious festival". Click on that and adjust your search parameters to match where you want to look for this (in this case Matthew-Luke). Et voilà:

After doing this 2-3 times, it will be very easy and fast. Two notes: you can do some of this from the Bible text, right-clicking on a term and then, if a sense is listed for it, search this resource (or whatever else). The limitation there is that it is often only one of several possible sense that appears in that verse and you may actually be looking for something else (for instance, Passover may be categorized as Passover meal not festival). Moreover, you can only find the most specific sense through right-clicking whereas BSL allows you to move up (or down) the sense tree to find more of what you are looking for. 

Finally, one caveat: BSL depends on a dataset that is far from being perfect. It is useful but you can't assume that the results you get will be complete and at times, you can even get something that is not quite accurate. 

Nevertheless, this use of BSL can help you find answers to questions that come up in the study of the Bible. 

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Timothy Brown | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 12 2015 6:59 AM

Thanks for taking the time to explain this!

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Schumitinu | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 14 2015 5:30 AM

Wow, that means we are now able to search for the bigger category and still have the lower levels included. This is good to know!

Thanks, Francis to point this out to us! 

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Kendall Sholtess | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Feb 15 2015 11:48 PM

Much thanks! Superior explanation. Useful and practical.

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Fr Devin Roza | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 16 2015 12:38 AM

Great tip! Thanks a lot! Yes

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 16 2015 12:50 AM

Wow, this is expert advice and a great explanation. Thank you, Francis!

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 16 2015 5:12 AM

Very well done. Much appreciated!

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 20 2015 6:38 AM

Just discovered that this process can be started from Greek and Hebrew lemmas:

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David Taylor Jr | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 20 2015 8:12 AM

Very well put together!

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