Verbum 9 Tip: Aside: Roles of people

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Aside: Roles of people

We started nearly 210 posts ago, with the simple search for a person, dealing with complications such as:

  • A person’s name in multiple morphological forms
  • Multiple people sharing a name
  • A name (proper noun) also being a common noun
  • A person known by multiple names
  • A person known by a multi-part name
  • A name that is distinguished by diacritical marks
  • A name with spellings that vary by language

Now it is time to summarize, how to search for (or find preselected) roles that the person might fill.

From Factbook: Biblical Person: See also

The first source of roles is from the Factbook entry for an individual – the place Faithlife encourages Verbum users to use as their starting point for Bible studies. The two entries of interest are both under “See Also” – Relatives and Roles.

P30-1 Factbook Abraham Main

Family roles

The “Relatives” section provides the roles of the individual (Abraham) within his family e.g., father, son, uncle, husband …

Here is the nearly complete list for Abraham:

P30-2 Relative List

If one wishes to focus on a particular relationship, e.g., brothers, the List of Brothers in the Bible Factbook entry provides the information. The left menu panel shows the available family relationships. Yes, one must scroll through the data on the right to find Abraham; no, I know no links into these lists other than one’s own memory.

P30-3 Abraham Relatives Page

Yes, I know Sarah is female … I have a question in the forums on her inclusion … if the entry is to be read “Abraham is a brother to …” the inclusion is appropriate. If the entry is to be read “Abraham has as a brother …” the entry is incorrect.

Factbook social/economic role

The Roles section of the See also section is complete without expansion.

P30-4 Roles

The information is also present in the heading for the Factbook entry:

P30-5 Header Roles

Again there is a list for the social/economic role, still without obvious links or search capabilities.

P30-6 Patriarch List


From Bible Word Study: Clause participant

In the Bible Word Study Guide (Word Guide) the Clause Participant Guide (section) provide role data in the word under investigation. Here our interest is on the Clause Participant data on the lemma of Abraham’s name.

From Verbum Help:

Clause Participants Section

The Clause Participants guide section summarizes search data for clauses (including referents) and groups them by the Biblical Knowledgebase entity. When all required resources are owned, this section has two views: Grammatical Roles (subject, object, etc.) and Semantic Roles (agent, patient, etc.).

This section appears in the Bible Word Study.

Learn More

•     Semantic Roles and Case Frames documentation — dataset documentation[1]

Note that the grammatical roles are often not given in the level of granularity that is most useful but the data is still useful.

P30-7 Grammatic Roles

The semantic role data is more detailed.

P30-8 Semantic Roles


Grammatical role

The grammatic role data can be verified/clarified by a clause search specifying a grammatical role. Available roles are:

P30-9 Grammar Search

Entering the search argument for Abraham as object – note the Bible Person entity icon on the right.

P30-10 Grammar Entry

Run the search against the Lexham Hebrew Bible:

P30-11 Run Grammar Search


Semantic role

The semantic role data can be verified/clarified by a clause search specifying a semantical role. An incomplete list of the available roles:

P30-12 Semantic Search

Entering the search argument for Abraham as experiencer:

P30-13 Semantic Entry

Run the search:

P30-14 Run Semantic

Remember that the clause search, like the morphology search, has a strong analysis view for following the details.

Search options:

Label functional role

Reconsider the label searches by concentrating on the attributes which require a <Person> value. These are roles of an individual such as a builder of an altar or the host of a meal or the victim of a killing.


Reference: Search


{Label Altar
WHERE Builder ~ <Person Noah (builder of ark)> }


{Label Benediction
WHERE Addressee ~ <Person God>
AND Speaker ~ <Person Noah (builder of ark)>}


{Label Covenant
WHERE Giver ~ <Person God>
AND Receiver ~ <Person Noah (builder of ark)> }


{Label Famine WHERE Affected ~ <Person Family of Jacob>}


{Label Fast
WHERE Faster ~ <Person Jesus> }


{Label Judge
WHERE Agent ~ <Person Othniel> }


{Label Killing
WHERE Perpetrators ~ <Person Cain>
AND Victims ~ <Person Abel (son of Adam)>}


{Label Marriage
WHERE Husband ~ <Person Adam (first man)>
AND Wife ~ <Person Eve>}


{Label Meal
WHERE Guest ~ <Person Abraham>
AND Host ~ <Person Melchizedek>}


{Label Miracle
WHERE Agent ~ <Person God>
AND Patient ~ <Person Abednego>}


{Label Oath
WHERE Addressee ~ <Person Abraham>
AND Speaker ~ <Person God>}


{Label Sacrifice
WHERE Offerant ~ <Person Noah (builder of ark)>}


{Label Parable
WHERE Audience ~ <Person Crowd hearing Parables>
AND Speaker ~ <Person Jesus>}


{Label Prayer
WHERE Addressee ~ <Person God>
AND Speaker ~ <Person Noah (builder of ark)>}


{Label Priest
WHERE Agent ~ <Person A Priest> }


{Label Prophet
WHERE Agent ~ <Person Isaiah>
AND Deity ~ <Person God>}


{Label Regent
WHERE Agent ~ <Person Nebuchadnezzar>}


{Label Song WHERE Singer ~ <Person A Woman> }

Supernatural being

{Label Supernatural Being
WHERE Name ~ <Person God> }


{Label Theophany
WHERE Agent ~ <Person God>
AND Beholder ~ <Person David>}


{Label Vow
WHERE Addressee ~ <Person God>
AND Speaker ~ <Person Psalmist (Davidic)>}


A search example of Abraham as a guest at a meal.

P30-15 Label Role

[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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