Accordance Blog
Jul 22, 2013 David Lang

Using the MT-LXX Parallel, Part 2

In a previous post, I introduced you to the MT-LXX Parallel, a specialized Reference tool which offers a word-by-word comparison of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Septuagint. In that post, I showed how to use the MERGE command to piggyback off a search of the tagged Hebrew Bible and tagged Greek Septuagint. This allowed us to search the Hebrew Bible for every occurrence of the lexical form tselem ("image")—no matter what its inflected form—and to see those results displayed in the MT-LXX parallel. We then searched the tagged Septuagint for every occurrence of the Greek lexical form eikon, and used the MERGE command with the MT-LXX parallel to find every place the LXX translates the Hebrew word tselem by some form of the word eikon. The result of that search looked like this:

MTLXXHowTo7

Now, to explore each of these results in context, I can click the Mark arrows at the bottom of the MT-LXX to jump from one hit to the next. But wouldn't it be quicker if we could just scan the relevant lines of the MT-LXX without having to wade past all the other words? Of course it would! Fortunately, this can easily be done by going to the Gear menu at the top left of the pane containing the MT-LXX and choosing Add Titles from the Show Text As… submenu.

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The result looks like this:

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Now, to understand what just happened, let's review what the Show Text As… submenu does. When you do a search in a Tool module, Accordance defaults to showing your search results in the context of the entire tool. This is the All Text setting in the Show Text As… submenu. You can, however, choose to show only those Articles or Paragraphs which contain a hit. In the MT-LXX, each verse is an article and each line is a paragraph, so choosing Articles would show each hit verse in its entirety, while choosing Paragraphs would show only the lines containing each hit word. Because showing only the hit paragraphs in a tool is often too concise, you also have the option to Add Titles. This shows the hit paragraphs as well as the titles of the articles in which they appear. In the MT-LXX, choosing Add Titles shows the hit paragraphs together with the verse references.

This more concise view makes it easy to see that there are a couple cases where tselem in the Hebrew column does not have a corresponding eikon in the Septuagint column (or vice versa). In Genesis 1:27, the first instance of tselem is left untranslated, and in Daniel 2:31, eikon is part of a phrase used to translate an entirely different Hebrew word. Why those two "false" hits?

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The reason we got those two cases where both words are not found on the same line is that Accordance defaults to looking for words within the same article rather than the same paragraph. For example, if you were to search the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary for Moses <AND> Aaron, you might find a long article where Moses is in the first paragraph and Aaron is in the fifth paragraph. In a tool like MT-LXX where each verse is an article and each line is a paragraph, Accordance's default behavior will find any verse that has tselem in the Hebrew and eikon in the Greek, even if they are on different lines and so do not exactly correspond.

To make this search more accurate, we can refine it by specifying that all words must be found within the same paragraph rather than the same article. To do that, click on the magnifying glass on the left side of the search field. At the bottom of the menu that appears, choose Paragraph.

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Then hit Enter to re-run the search.

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Here you can see that the false hits have been removed, and we now have only 49 hits rather than 52.

In this post, we've gone a little further in our use of the MT-LXX Parallel to see how you can tweak the display of the search results and how you can specify that the Hebrew and Greek words must appear on the same line. In my next post of this series, we'll go even further.


 

Jul 9, 2013 David Lang

Using the MT-LXX Parallel

When you display the Hebrew Bible and Greek Septuagint in parallel panes of a Search tab, the parallel verses are displayed side-by-side, but it is not immediately apparent which Hebrew word a particular Greek word is translating. For example, in Genesis 1:1, the Greek word ouranon corresponds to the Hebrew word Shamaim. I can see that by dragging my cursor over each word in the Hebrew and Greek to find out which words mean “heaven,” but other than that, there is no easy way to see the relationships between these two texts.

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That’s where a specialized Reference Tool called the MT-LXX Parallel comes in. This tool, developed by renowned Hebrew and Septuagint scholars, places each word or phrase of the Masoretic Hebrew text in parallel with the corresponding Greek words from the Septuagint.

One obvious use of the MT-LXX Parallel is to place it in parallel with the text of the Hebrew Bible and Greek Septuagint. As a reference tool, the MT-LXX Parallel will automatically scroll along with the biblical text, enabling you to see word-by-word connections for each verse.

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For example, if we scroll to Genesis 1:26, we can see that the Hebrew word for "image" (tselem) is translated by the Greek eikon (from which we get the word "icon").

To search the MT-LXX Parallel, we need to view it in a separate Tool tab. As with other Tools, the MT-LXX Parallel is divided into different fields of content. To search for all occurrences of the Hebrew word tselem, our natural impulse would be to set the search field to Hebrew and enter that lexical form.

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Since the Hebrew text of the MT-LXX is not grammatically tagged, our search only finds the 27 instances when tselem appears in that exact form. When we search for tselem in a tagged Hebrew Bible, we get 34 hits because every inflection of tselem is found.

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Fortunately, we can overcome this limitation of the MT-LXX Parallel by piggy-backing on the tagging of the Hebrew Bible. We do this through the use of an advanced search command called the MERGE command. By merging the MT-LXX Parallel with the tab containing the BHS-W4, the results of my lexical search of the Hebrew Bible are reflected in the MT/LXX. Notice that now the MT/LXX displays 36 occurrences of tselem. (The extra two occurrences are notes or reconstructions in the MT-LXX database.)

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Using the MERGE command in this way makes for some very powerful searches. For example, suppose I want to find every place where the LXX translates the Hebrew word tselem by some form of the word eikon. To do this, I’ll open a new Search tab containing the Septuagint, and I’ll do a search for eikon. This search finds 40 hits.

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To see which of these occurrences of eikon correspond to the Hebrew word tselem, I’ll go back to my MT-LXX Parallel, add an AND command, and then add a second MERGE command. This time, I’ll Merge with the tab containing the LXX.

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This search turns up 52 hits, and I can see that both the Hebrew word tselem and the Greek word eikon are highlighted. Divide the number of hits by two, and we end up with around 26 places where tselem is translated as eikon.

I hope you can see from this brief example how powerful the MT-LXX Parallel database is. In my next post, I'll examine these results in more detail and offer a few more tips for using this powerful resource.


 

Jun 18, 2013 David Lang

Finding Sentences with Every Letter of the Alphabet

Not long ago I stumbled across a post on a Bible software forum that taught me a new word: "pangram." I had to Google it to find out that a pangram is a sentence that includes every letter of the alphabet. A classic example is that odd sentence used to display all the characters of a typeface: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." The forum post I read cited Deuteronomy 4:34 and Zephaniah 3:8 as examples of pangrams in the Hebrew Bible, then asked how to find a pangram in the Greek New Testament or Septuagint.

Now, I have no idea why the person who wrote the post wanted to find such sentences in Greek, but I could certainly see it being useful in an introductory Greek course. As students are trying to learn the Greek alphabet, the instructor could assign a few sentences to read which would force them to deal with every letter.

Of course, regardless of whether such a search has any practical value, it is an interesting challenge, and it got me wondering how such a search could be constructed using Accordance. Here's what I came up with:

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By using the asterisk wildcard on either side of each letter of the alphabet, I told Accordance to look for any word containing each letter. By joining those together with the AND command, I told Accordance it must find a verse containing at least one word with each letter of the Greek alphabet. Note also that I've enclosed each search term in quotation marks to make sure I am searching inflected forms (the words as they appear in the text) rather than lexical forms (the dictionary form of each word).

This search finds two verses in the New Testament which contain all 24 letters of the Greek alphabet: Matthew 5:30 and Revelation 2:10. However, Revelation 2:10 does not contain a true pangram, since the entire alphabet is contained in two sentences rather than just one. To make sure we find all the places where a single sentence contains all the letters of the alphabet, we simply need to click the plus icon to the right of the search field, then set the first pop-up to Scope and the second pop-up to Sentence.

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When you hit return to run the search, Revelation 2:10 is eliminated, while a number of long sentences spanning more than one verse are added.

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By the way, when I ran a similar search on the Hebrew Bible, Accordance found 17 verses, including Deuteronomy 4:34. However, it did not find Zephaniah 3:8, the second example given in the original post. The reason is that Zephaniah 3:8 has all the letters except sin. Since it does contain the letter shin, whether or not you consider Zephaniah 3:8 as a pangram depends on whether you treat sin and shin as one letter or two.

So there you have it. If you ever need to find sentences with every letter of the alphabet (and who doesn't?), Accordance can do it easily and accurately.


 

Apr 24, 2013 David Lang

Connecting and Stand-Alone Commands

Yesterday I talked about the Search menu, which conveniently lists everything you need to fill in a blank search box. Among the options in this menu are the various Search Commands in the Enter Command submenu. Today I'd like to point out something about that submenu: its divider line.

SearchMenu

This line divides the list of commands into two kinds, and we even have special names for them. The seven commands above the line are what we call connecting commands. The eleven commands below the line are known as stand-alone commands.

Connecting commands do exactly what the name indicates: they connect two search terms in some way, defining the relationship between them. Thus, if I use the <AND> command between the words "Moses" and "Aaron," I am looking for cases where Moses and Aaron appear together. If I use the <FOLLOWED BY> command between the two words, I am looking for cases where Moses and Aaron appear together, and where Moses comes first and Aaron second.

The connecting nature of these commands can even be seen in the angle brackets used to enclose them when they appear in the Search box. They essentially point to the terms they connect. (You see? There really is a method to our madness!)

By contrast, stand-alone commands do not connect other search terms, but stand alone as search terms in their own right. For example, the command [COUNT 1] can be entered by itself to find every word that appears only one time in the search text. Note how the stand-alone commands are enclosed in square brackets—they don't point to anything else.

As search terms in their own right, stand-alone commands can be joined with other search terms by connecting commands. For example, [COUNT 1] <AND> Moses would find any word appearing only one time, together with the word "Moses."

Understanding this simple distinction between connecting commands and stand-alone commands can help you to know when to use each type of command, and when to use them together.


 

Apr 23, 2013 David Lang

Help Filling the Blank

As a writer, I have often known the mockery of the blank page. It glares at you, laughing at your struggles to fill it with something meaningful.

As Accordance users, we are constantly presented with a blank search box, ever ready to be put to use. Experienced users know exactly what to do with it, but new users may experience something of the mockery I feel when trying to fill a blank page. They may conceive of a search they would like to do, but how to construct it? They know Accordance is capable of much more than simple word and phrase searches, but how do they go about learning all the Boolean commands, wildcard symbols, and other tools that make such power-searching possible?

Thankfully, everything you need to fill in that blank search box—and I mean everything—is always readily available through one of the menus at the top of the screen. Can you guess which one?

SearchMenu

As I'm sure you guessed, the aptly named Search menu presents you with everything you need to fill in the blank. Not sure what word to search for? Choose Enter Words…. Want to search a Bible with Key numbers for a particular key number? Choose Enter Key Numbers…. If your search text is a grammatically tagged Greek or Hebrew text, these menu items will appear as Enter Lexical Forms… and Enter Inflected Forms….

Beyond simply helping you enter words and key numbers, the Search menu also includes submenus listing every search command (AND, OR, NOT, etc.), every wildcard symbol, and (in the case of tagged texts) every grammatical and syntactical tag. You don't have to memorize these options or go digging through documentation even to realize they're available; just go to the Search menu and browse through the submenus. Not sure what a command or symbol does, but want to try it out? Simply select it from the menu to insert it into the search box.

By making all these options readily available, Accordance does its best to eliminate the potential mockery of the blank search box. And while there are still aspects of these commands and symbols which need to be learned, you always have them listed in a convenient place whenever you need them.

If you've never paid much attention to the Search menu, you now understand it's importance. Just remember to look there whenever you need help filling in the blank.