Verbum Tip 5ab: Scripture study - Composition history part 2

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Feb 20 2021 4:03 PM

Docx files for personal book: Verbum 9 part 1Verbum 9 part 2Verbum 9 part 3How to use the Verbum Lectionary and MissalVerbum 8 tips 1-30Verbum 8 tips 31-49

Reading lists: Catholic Bible Interpretation

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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Search method

From Verbum Help:

Bible Books Supplemental Dataset

The Bible Books Supplemental Dataset delivers several labels. These labels are applied to books throughout the library, and are used to populate the Bible Book Guides section in the Factbook.

•     Additional Information — Populates the See Also section.

•     Background — Situation, social & historical context of the book.

•     Canon — Canonicity (reception throughout church history), historicity, and authenticity of the book.

•     Content — Is high-level discussions of the material in the book.

•     Form — Is unity, composition, style, and structure of the book.

•     Meaning — Is theme, emphasis, interpretation, theology, and message of the book.

•     Objects — Is geography and key figures.

•     Origin — Is authorship, date, and purpose.

These labels all support two properties:

•     Reference ~ <Bible ...> — Bible data type reference specifying the Bible book under discussion.

•     Subcategory ~ <BookGuideComment ...> — Is the Bible Book category and sub-category that the text belongs to.

For example:

•     {Label Origin WHERE Reference ~ <Bible Deuteronomy>}

•     {Label Meaning WHERE Reference ~ <Bible Php>}[1]

So our primary search argument would be {Label Origin WHERE Reference ~ <Bible Mark>}  with additional materials in {Label Background WHERE Reference ~ <Bible Mark>} .

This contains far fewer results than one would expect. Unfortunately, the new Factbook changed the label and its content. However, Verbum Help does not reflect this change. The new format  {Label BookGuide WHERE Comment ~ <BookGuideComment Book Guide Comment 20 210> AND Reference ~ <Mk>}. Is discovered via the Context Menu:

  • Run Factbook on Mark
  • Select an entry of Origin in Factbook and open it
  • Select the first portion of the text in the resource
  • Open Context Menu
  • Select the Book Guide label on the tab side
  • Select Copy reference: Search on the action side
  • Paste search argument into a Basic Search, all resources panel.
  • Run search

Yes, that is correct there are no results. There are no results if one simply searches for the label {Label BookGuide}, In short, the new implementation of the Book Guide has cost us:

  • The ability to run a search on a subset of the Factbook resources
  • The ability to create our own labels on untagged resources to be picked up by that search

While I can construct searches that find the relevant information in one series or resource, I have not found a broad search that picks up most resources on most of the relevant topics.


Note that the Factbook data is available only at the Biblical book level. Unfortunately, that is often an inaccurate/incomplete level:

  • Psalms have the author, audience, and setting at a psalm (or psalm collection) level.
  • Isaiah is normally split into three works with separate authors and dates
  • Genesis is normally considered to be an editor’s work from four earlier works
  • Mark, like other gospels, is assumed to have an oral and, perhaps, written tradition behind the text.
  • Many books have traditional authors to consider as well as actual authors and editors

These issues fall partially here in composition history criticism but also in:

Further reading:

Here are some Verbum resources that illustrate the use of composition history in biblical interpretation. I’ve listed several in hopes that everyone will find one that they own.

You have time to read one or more of these resources while we cover the next topic – Bible resource panel data and resources. At the end of that topic, the next Bible study method will be introduced.

[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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