Verbum Search through Tip of the Day #6

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Sep 5 2020 5:25 PM

Tip 6: Interesting cases of Biblical personal name Search Part 3

Please be generous with your additional details, corrections, suggestions, and other feedback. This is being built in a .docx file for a PBB which will be shared periodically.

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This tip will consider another type of personal names that cause problems for a Basic text argument Bible personal name Search:

  1. [See Tip 4] When a person’s name is also a common word i.e. used both as a proper noun and a common word, the text search cannot accurately select the person’s name: an example, “Job” and the employment “job”.
  2. [See Tip 5] When a person’s name changes in their lifetime: an example, Abram, Abraham
  3. When multiple people share a name: an example, Mary, Mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene; Mary of Bethany; Mary, mother of John Mark . . .
  4. When a person has a compound name, each part of which is independently the name of other people: an example, John Mark
  5. When a supernatural person was unknown when early scripture was written: an example, Holy Spirit.

The previous tips have all used a string or text argument that is compared against the text of the resource searched. The text match has been expanded to include all word forms, but that is done by a computer routine; it still acts on the text itself. Only the limiting of the text search to “Bible Text” depends upon tagging provided by FaithLife rather than the text itself. To solve the issue of multiple people sharing the same name, one must rely on FaithLife coding. In this tip, the behavior of the coding is discussed. The following two tips will provide the “how” the coding works.

If one enters “Mary” into the search argument box (1), the autocomplete list begins with the text “Mary” (2) followed by several Mary’s with an icon in front indicating Faithlife coding.

Run the Search.

The search returns 61 results in 32 pericopes (articles). In the sample shown above, three separate individuals are selected:

  1. Mary (mother of Jesus)
  2. Mary (Magdalene)
  3. Mary (mother of James)

Found elsewhere in the results are:

  • Mary (of Bethany)
  • Mary (wife of Clopas)
  • Mary (mother of John Mark)
  • Mary (Rom. 16.6)

The way to limit the search to “Mary (mother of Jesus)” to use a datatype. For a definition, see the Supplemental Information below. Instead of selecting the text “Mary”, select the Mary (mother of Jesus) (1). The application will provide the correct format “<Person Mary (mother of Jesus)>. The “<” and “>” indicates that it is a datatype; “Person” is the name of the datatype; “Mary (mother of Jesus)” is the reference of interest.

Run the Search.

The results may be a bit of a surprise. When the search is run with the search argument of “<Person Mary (mother of Jesus)>” (1) it returns 159 results in 24 pericopes (articles) (2).How did the number of results go up so much even though the number of pericopes went down? The Faithlife tagging is not on the personal name of Mary but on all references to Mary (3). This adds pronouns and references such as “his mother”, “virgin” . . .

Verbum provides an operator to solve this problem – INTERSECTS which will find those parts of an item that overlap another item. Here it finds instances where the Faithlife tag “Mary (mother of Jesus)” overlaps the text “Mary’. Using the search argument “<Person Mary (mother of Jesus)> INTERSECTS Mary” (1) provides the desired results – the 19 times (2) the name “Mary” is used to refer to the mother of Jesus.

Real life: Factbook

At this point, you probably think I am trying to prove that the Verbum Search is incredibly complex, opaque, unmanageable … No, I am simply trying to give you simple examples of the building blocks so that you can work your way up to asking very specific questions. So how does one answer “How many times is Mary called by her actual name?”

  1. Open Factbook.
  2. Select entry for “Mary (mother of Jesus)”
  3. Expand Referred To As section.
  4. Find the entry for Mary …which gives a count of 20 rather than 19.

In this case, it is easy to identify why the Factbook produces one more result than the NRSV. In the Factbook entry for Mary (mother of Jesus) expand the “Referred To As” section. Within that section, expand “Mary”. Note that the first entry has the reference “Ode 11:title”; as the book of Odes is not found in the NRSV, this accounts for the discrepancy in count.

Supplemental Information:

From Verbum Help:

Data Type References

A data type is a kind of data, or the pattern for a reference scheme. The Bible follows a book, chapter, verse scheme with a certain set of books, with a certain number of chapters in each book, and a certain number of verses in each chapter.

To search for a data type reference, type an opening angle bracket (<) then the name of the data type (for example Bible) then a space and an optional data type matching operator (more below) then a string that specifies what reference you want to match (for example Jn 3:16) and finally a closing angle bracket (>). The example <Bible Jn 3:16> will match John 3:16 no matter how it is “spelled” in the resource: “Joh. iii, 16”.

Some data types allow for references to be matched with varying levels of exactness. This is specified by an optional data type matching operator, either = or . Each data type uses these operators differently, but in general:

•          <DataTypeName = reference> — Match the specified reference precisely

•          <DataTypeName ~ reference> — Match the specified reference loosely or generously

•          <DataTypeName reference> — Let the software decide how loose or precise the matching is[1]

[1] Logos Help (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2018).

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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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Sep 6 2020 6:02 AM

Very nice!

MJ. Smith:

From Verbum Help:


[1] Logos Help (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2018).


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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Sep 7 2020 8:03 PM

MJ. Smith:
The application will provide the correct format “<Person Mary (mother of Jesus)>. The “<” and “>” indicates that it is a datatype; “Person” is the name of the datatype; “Mary (mother of Jesus)” is the reference of interest.

Free Basic packages (Verbum 8, Logos 8, Academic 8) are not licensed for <Person ...> searching. Minimum package that enables <Person ...> searching is Verbum 8 Fundamentals and Logos 8 Fundamentals

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