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:


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.


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.


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.

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Archived Comments


June 18, 2013 3:16 PM

I did this about a year ago, David. I seem to remember coming up with 2 sentences. I'll have to look at what the other was.

Rod Decker

June 18, 2013 6:46 PM

Now if there were some way to copy that LONG search criteria instead of retyping it, I'd be curious to see what shows up in the LXX. :)

Rod Decker

June 18, 2013 7:56 PM

OK, I decided to type it all out. (A bit of judicious copy and paste followed by some edits helped.) Turns out that,

1. This is a slow search in LXX (almost a half min. on my 2.53 GHz i5 MBP) due to the size of the corpus.


2. There are a lot more pangrams in the LXX. This is due, i think, to there being far more long verses in the LXX, so the potential is greater.

My favorite example (for teaching purposes), will be:

Deut. 16:8, ἓξ ἡμέρας φάγῃ ἄζυμα, καὶ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἑβδόμῃ ἐξόδιον, ἑορτὴ κυρίῳ τῷ θεῷ σου· οὐ ποιήσεις ἐν αὐτῇ πᾶν ἔργον πλὴν ὅσα ποιηθήσεται ψυχῇ.


June 19, 2013 2:17 PM

I tried this searching the ESV with the English alphabet and it instantly crashes Accordance. Accordance can handle it if the scope is set to "Paragraph". When the scope is set to "Verse", it crashes hard. Here's the search I used:

"*a*" <AND> "*b*" <AND> "*c*" <AND> "*d*" <AND> "*e*" <AND> "*f*" <AND> "*g*" <AND> "*h*" <AND> "*i*" <AND> "*j*" <AND> "*k*" <AND> "*l*" <AND> "*m*" <AND> "*n*" <AND> "*o*" <AND> "*p*" <AND> "*q*" <AND> "*r*" <AND> "*s*" <AND> "*t*" <AND> "*u*" <AND> "*v*" <AND> "*w*" <AND> "*x*" <AND> "*y*" <AND> "*z*"

Jonathan Borland

June 25, 2013 10:16 PM

This is too cool! And the application on the first day of Greek upon learning the alphabet is splendid. Thanks, Rick.

Jonathan Borland

June 25, 2013 10:17 PM

Sorry, David. I assumed (incorrectly) that Rick had written this post.

David Lang

June 26, 2013 12:54 PM

That's okay, Jonathan. We're not too concerned about who gets the credit around here, anyway. Glad you found this post helpful.

Stephen Froggatt

June 27, 2013 5:08 PM

Also discussed here a while ago!