TIP of the day: from "Computer-Assisted Bible Study"

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Dec 29 2015 4:49 PM

From the very old Using a Computer in Biblical and Theological Studies Lesson 6: Computer-Assisted Bible Study, Part 2 by Dr. Harry Hahne, Tyndale Seminary, Toronto some advice that still holds even if he refers to Logos 2Big Smile

Suggestions for Accurate Grammatical Searching:

  1. Construct your search one element at a time. Test the search with one part and then gradually add additional elements. This checks to see if you are getting reasonable results as you go.

  2. Check your results to see if known matches show up. For example, if you search for future perfect periphrastics and Mt 18:18 does not come up, you know you did something wrong.

  3. Be sure you have selected the correct Bible text. Some programs (e.g. Bible Works and TheWord) include both tagged and untagged texts. They require that you select a morphologically tagged text before performing a grammatical search. If you do a lemma search on an untagged text, you will not find all occurrences of the word. Gramcord automatically switches to the Greek tagged text to do a grammatical search, but it can display the results in any text, even an English translation.

  4. Understand your Bible text. Learn about its tagging philosophy and assumptions. How does it handle ambiguous classifications, multiple morphemes, accents, functional classifications and other complexities. Are their any known tagging errors or unusual classifications?

  5. Understand the limits and capabilities of your search engine. Is it sensitive to word order or letter case? Will it search past periods or verse boundaries? Test your program on known searches to understand it better. Many subtleties are not documented and can only be learned through experience.

  6. Search for all possible permutations of the construction. A thorough search must consider all valid orders of the search terms. For example, a search for genitive absolutes must look for constructions with the genitive noun first as well as constructions with the genitive participle first. A thorough search must also find constructions with functionally equivalent parts of speech. For example, many constructions which call for a noun would be valid with a substantival participle or substantival adjective.

  7. Study the grammatical construction before searching with a Bible program. Read about it in a conventional grammar book to understand what you are looking for. This will help you formulate all possible permutations of the construction and will show you whether your results are reasonable.

  8. Manually eliminate false matches. Even the best software will sometimes produce false matches which must be manually eliminated. Programs such as Gramcord which can exclude intervening terms produce fewer false matches than programs which cannot. Some false matches can only be determined by understanding the sense of the passage. For example, in a search for future perfect periphrastics, Lk 1:45 and 6:40 can only be eliminated by hand, since the fact that the participle functions as a substantive is only indicated by context.

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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HansK | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 5:40 PM

Thanks MJ. This is helpful advice.

May I thank you in this place for all your helpful posts this year! Hope more will come.

YBIC, Hans

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