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Searching for *density* of form distribution?


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#1 Rod Decker

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 03:16 PM

Is there a good way to check for the "density" of a particular verb forms distribution? Case in point, I've just run across a claim in a commentary that there is an "unusually high concentration of verbs in the historical present tense" in a given dozen verses. It's easy enough to search for all present indicatives and graph them, but even changing the default "per 1000 words" to the minimum of 100 doesn't appear to justify the commentator's claim. Now he may just be wrong, but I'm wondering of there is a better search approach to discovering clusters of a particular form. (I also realize that not all pres indicatives are necessarily historical presents, and there's no tag for that classification, but this is in Mark and there many presents are, indeed, "historical presents." It woud be necessary to hand filter to verify this, but there can't be clusters of "historical presents" without there also being a cluster of forms tagged as present indicatives.)

If anyone is interested in the particulars, see Gundry, Mark, p. 853, ad loc 14:32. He lists 11 verbs within 13 verses.

Edited by Rod Decker, 21 February 2012 - 03:26 PM.

Rodney J. Decker, ThD
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Baptist Bible Seminary
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#2 David Lang

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 03:45 PM

Rod, one difference between what the Hits Graph is doing and what this commentator is doing is this: the Hits Graph measures hits per 1000 (or 100) words to give a normalized measure of frequency, but the commentator is looking at the total number of hits in a given number of verses. The commentator's approach is a little sloppy in that some of those 13 verses may be quite long while others are quite short.

Still, you can approximate what the commentator is observing by using a Graph which compares the total number of hits per chapter. Try opening the Table Bar Chart and choosing Total Hits from the pop-up menu. Then adjust the Graph display to show chapter detail and sort by count. You'll find that in Mark, chapter 14 does have the greatest number of present indicatives. Search the entire NT, and Mark 14 is among the top ten chapters in terms of total number of present indicatives.

Does this help?
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#3 Rod Decker

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 04:41 PM

Thanks Dave. I just learned a new "trick." Yes, per chapter does put ch 14 at the top--but then ch 14 is the longest chapter in Mark! The "per word" hits graph looks quite different as a result.
Rodney J. Decker, ThD
Professor of NT & Greek
Baptist Bible Seminary
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