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Friday, September 05, 2008  

Creative Merging

In an internet discussion, someone made a broad statement about how the Greek Septuagint translates the Hebrew word rosh, meaning "head." The assertion was that in those cases where rosh is used in the sense of a leader or ruler, it is never translated by the Greek word for "head," which is kephale, but by a word which explicitly refers to some kind of ruler:

In the LXX rosh is translated as hegemon, archon, archegos and chiliarch, and not as kephale.

Curious to verify whether this was, in fact, the case, I turned to the MT/LXX. The MT/LXX is a parallel arrangement of the words in the Masoretic Text (MT) of the Hebrew Bible with the Greek translation of those words in the Septuagint (LXX). This resource enables me to search for all those places where the LXX translates rosh as kephale.

Since the MT/LXX is a tool, and tools do not have grammatical tagging, searching the MT/LXX directly for those Hebrew and Greek words will get me some results, but will miss any places where those words are inflected differently than the lexical form. If I want an accurate search, I need to find every possible form of rosh and every possible form of kephale. To do that, I'll piggy-back off the grammatical tagging of the BHS and LXX texts using a powerful command called the MERGE command.

To really understand how to use the MERGE command, you should check out chapter G6 of the Grammatical Supplement PDF in the Manuals and Documents folder inside your Accordance folder. The Training DVD also includes a video tutorial on using the MT/LXX. For now, I'm just going to give you the steps to follow so you can see how the Merge command works:

  1. Open a window or tab containing the BHS-W4 (tagged Hebrew Bible), click the Search for Words radio button, enter "rav" and click OK.
  2. Open a window or tab containing the LXX1 (tagged Septuagint), click the Search for Words radio button, enter "kefalh" and click OK.
  3. Open a window or tab containing the MT/LXX. In the argument entry box, use the keyboard shortcut shift-command-M to insert the MERGE command.
  4. A dialog will appear asking you to select a window or tab to merge with. Select the BHS-W4 window you just used to search for rosh and click OK.
  5. Use the keyboard shortcut shift-command-A to insert the AND command.
  6. Use the keyboard shortcut shift-command-M to insert another MERGE command. This time select the LXX1 window you used to search for kephale.
  7. Open the More Options section of the MT/LXX window and select Paragraph from the Search Within Every pop-up.
  8. Click OK to perform the search.

This search should highlight every place where the Hebrew word rosh is in the same paragraph (on the same line as, and therefore translated by) the Greek word kephale. 610 hits are returned (one for each Hebrew and Greek word found), which should mean that there are 305 instances where the Septuagint translates rosh as kephale.

To quickly scan the results, I changed the Show pop-up from All Text to Add Titles. This gives me only the hits, along with the verse reference. To check out each occurrence, I simply dragged my mouse over the Scripture reference and read the verse in the Instant Details Box.

I very quickly discovered that the vast majority of these cases were talking about a literal head; that is, someone's noggin. I wanted to see if any of these cases were where rosh was being used in the sense of a leader (like we would use the term "head of state"). Being lazy, I didn't want to wade through all 305 results, so I began looking for a way to narrow those results down.

I first turned to the Hebrew lexicon HALOT and looked up the word rosh. I scanned the entry and found the paragraph dealing with rosh as meaning "leader, chief." This paragraph contained a number of verse references giving examples of this particular usage of rosh. If I could somehow narrow my search of the MT/LXX to that set of verses, I could quickly see whether any of those instances of rosh are translated as kephale.

First, I needed to get that list of verses out of HALOT. The easiest way to do that is simply to command-click any of the verse references in that paragraph. Doing so will open a Text window displaying each of those verses.

Now I just had to use that set of verses as an additional criterion of my MT/LXX search. The usual way to do that is to use the CONTENTS command, which essentially lets you search for the set of verses contained in another window. In most cases the CONTENTS command is the easiest of the advanced search commands to use, but I had trouble getting it to work in this case. Since this post is now getting pretty long, I'll discuss my failed attempts, and eventual success, in my next post.





Comments:
"I'll discuss my failed attempts, and eventual success, in my next post."

I hate it when you do that ;-)
 

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