Verbum Search through Tip of the Day #17

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Sep 17 2020 3:10 PM

one paragraph has been corrected (and set aside by lines) as I found Gen 16:16 accounted for another piece of the count discrepancy.

Tip 17: Factbook Biblical Person: Referred to as

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.

Previous post: tip 16 Next post: tip 18

The next section of the Factbook entry for Abraham is the “Referred To As” Section.  From Verbum Help:

Referred To As — Bible verses, grouped by how the entity is mentioned, with number of hits and a Sparkline graph of location in the Bible.[1]

The Referred To As and the Lemma sections are closely related, each dealing with references to the person. Referred To As does so from the perspective of English (target language of a translation) while Lemma does so from the perspective of the original language (Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek).

  1. On the left is a list of ways in which Abraham is referenced in scripture. These expand/contract to show the actual references. Note that there are multiple known errors in this section which have been acknowledge by Faithlife. An example: Multiple errors in Referred To As section of Factbook for Abraham
  2. There is a “More” option to show the remainder of the list.
  3. A spark chart shows the distribution of the term referencing Abraham. The number is a count of the occurrences of the name. The color indicates the scripture type – Pentateuch, History, Wisdom, etc. The height of the line indicates relative number of occurrences. The spark chart will be discussed in detail below.
  4. One can save the results to a passage list. This is a way to create a task list of the references and to make the list available for additional logical operations.

Expanding the results of the name “Abram” provides:

We should be able to match these results by a Bible Search of the NRSV for “Abram” with Match case and Match all word forms on. Why would we bother?

  • It helps us to understand the data that Verbum presents.
  • It helps us learn how to use the Search options
  • It helps us identify errors in the data and establish an appropriate level of confidence in the data as presented by Verbum.

Something is not right: Factbook counts 62 occurrences while the Search counts 61.  The first discrepancy is in Gen 14:20 which appears in Search but not in Factbook.:

  1. The verse Gen 14:20 is selected by the Search as containing the text argument “Abram”
  2. The Factbook entry for Abram does not include Gen 14:20.
  3. The reverse interlinear with its dot, indicates that Abram is not in the original Hebrew but is rather a translator’s “addition” for clarity.
  4. If one changes the search argument to “Abram INTERSECTS <Person Abraham> the results will change to a count of 60 for the Search i.e. we now are off by two.

Another discrepancy appears at Ne 9:7:

  1. In this case, Factbook sureprisingly highlights both Abram and Abraham as “referred to as” Abram.
  2. The Search does not make this error.
  3. Viewing the reverse interlinear confirms that this is an error on the part of Factbook.

The final element to resolving the two sets of results is to count the number of highlighted results in Factbook for “Abram” – the count is reported incorrectly. There are 61 rather than 62 results. The 60 of the search “Abram INTERSECTS <Person Abraham>” is accurate to the degree one trusts Verbum tagging.

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The final element to resolving the two sets of results is to count the number of highlighted results in Factbook for “Abram” – the count is reported incorrectly. There are 61 rather than 62 results. This is because one occurrence in Hebrew is not translated in the NRSV. See Gen 16:16 in the Lexham Hebrew Bible vs. in the NRSV above.

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Some of the entries in “Referred To As” require that the user remembers their grammar. For example,

Pronouns are short words we use rather than repeating the noun. The noun they replace are called the antecedent. All pronouns must have an antecedent whether spoken or not. For example, “look at that” said while pointing at a zebra – zebra is the antecedent of “that” by virtue of the physical context. [Check out deixis if such asides interest you.] “Who” is a relative pronoun which must have an antecedent which, in this case, in Abraham. So why is “believed” rather than the pronoun “who” listed? Click on the Bible entry to open the NRSV. Show the reverse interlinear with morphology or check the morphology line that appears in the lower left on mouse over. The “who” is not an explicit pronoun in the original text but rather is a way of indicating the dative case of the Greek text.

Unfortunately, some of the explanations are inexplicable: In the first instance, “your” refers to Jacob’ in the second, to Joseph; in the third, to Israelites. In each case what should be reported is that “ancestors” includes Abraham.

As you encounter such errors, please report them. Faithlife does not fix problems that it does not know about. The number of people effected by/reporting a problem affects the priority a bug is given in the repair queue.

WARNING: Verbum uses a specialized dataset to obtain its results. There are some legitimate cases where the Factbook results and the Search results do not match. If you run into one, you will find it is explainable.

On mouse over, the Bible reference shows a preview in the top priority Bible containing the passage. Clicking on the reference will open that Bible.

On right click, the Bible reference shows a short Context Menu:

Drag and drop the Bible reference to a pane of your choice to open the top priority Bible containing the passage to the passage.

While the text beside the reference generally has no interactive behavior, the highlighted terms do. Again, on mouse over, one sees a preview of the text:

Clicking and drag-and-drop both will open the top priority Bible to the passage. Again, a right-click brings up a minimal context menu.

Reading a sparkline

From Bradley Grainger (Faithlife):

Each book of the Bible has a length on the sparkline proportional to its length, broken into chapters. The graph shows "hits / length of chapter". (I think. Maybe it's verses.)

So if you zoomed in on the sparkline, you'd expect it to look like this Graph Bible Search Results chart:

This explains the thickness of the lines and their non-rectangular shapes. Enlarging the sparkline for Abram:

From a historical wiki page:

Mouse-over a column position within the bar will give you the name of the book in the Bible and the number of occurrences of the bible study word that are translated in that book. The height of a column is determined by making the most frequent or highest density entry take up the full available height. All other columns a proportional to that entry/height. For the technically inclined that describes normalization.

A rough description of the colors to the Bible section:

  • Dark pink                            Pentateuch
  • Medium pink                     History
  • Light pink                           Wisdom
  • Yellow                                 Major prophets
  • Light gray                           Minor prophets
  • Gray                                     Deuterocanonical (Catholic)
  • Purplish red                       Deuterocanonical (Orthodox)
  • Light blue                           Gospels
  • Medium blue                     Acts
  • Dark blue                            Pauline epistles
  • Blue-gray                            Non-Pauline epistles
  • Lavender                            Revelation

On the example of Abram, Genesis sets the height i.e. the base for normalization. On mouse over, one sees the count of the occurrences of “Abram” in Genesis.

Nehemiah erroneously shows a count of 2, mirroring the error discussed above.


[1] Verbum 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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