ETS Paper on the INFER Command
Dec 4, 2009 David Lang

ETS Paper on the INFER Command

On the second day of the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, I slipped away from the Accordance booth to hear a paper presented by Robert Marineau, a student at Dallas Theological Seminary. The subject of the paper was The Accordance 'INFER' Search and Its Use for Intertextual Studies.

The INFER command was one of the big new features added in Accordance 8.0. It is designed to let you infer literary connections (quotations, allusions, etc.) between two texts. While I can demonstrate the feature reasonably well, Mr. Marineau's presentation was a chance for me to see how the INFER command can actually be applied to specific research questions.

After surveying the current state of research into "intertextual studies" and explaining how to construct an INFER search in Accordance, Mr. Marineau used Judges 2:1-3 as a test case. He explains:

Research on Judg 2 has received a lot of scholarly attention especially in regards to its relationship to Joshua and Deuteronomy and the role it plays in the Deuteronomistic History. There are some who label this section as filled with Deuteronomistic language and make zero reference to Exod 20-40. While others have devoted entire articles to studying the relationship between Judg 2 and portions of Exod 20-40.

Using the INFER command, Mr. Marineau examined the textual links between the Judges passage and Exodus, and between the Judges passage and Deuteronomy. Not only did he report what was found by the Accordance INFER command, he went on to examine the nature of each connection in an attempt to determine the most likely background to the speech in Judges 2:1-3. All in all, it was a fascinating application of technology to Biblical studies.

According to Mr. Marineau, the value of the Accordance INFER command is that it presents actual data that can be examined to determine intertextual relationships.

In Accordance, this search can be used in all texts that contain grammatical tagging or are English texts. It can be used not only in Biblical texts but in extra-Biblical texts as well. As demonstrated you can use it between Biblical and extra-Biblical texts. It can be used to find connections of OT in OT, OT in Qumran Sectarian Mss, OT in Rabbinic texts, NT in NT, LXX in NT or the Fathers, NT in the Fathers, and Pseudepigrapha in the NT or Fathers. Of course you need to purchase these texts in order to use them. But the data that can be collected for an understanding of the history of interpretation of a passage as well as the basic meaning of texts is unparalleled in earlier tools for research aside from a thorough mastery of not only the contents of all these texts but also of the language and turns-of-phrase within them in order to observe the same connections on your own.

Mr. Marineau has graciously granted us permission to make his paper available for download. I highly recommend you read it in its entirety.

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