Feb 16, 2015 Richard Mansfield

Using the INFER Command with Extrabiblical Greek Texts

One of the more powerful--but probably somewhat underused--commands in Accordance in the INFER search. You would want to use the INFER search most often when you are looking for issues in intertextuality—that is, where a text quotes another text either directly or through allusion. The INFER command is probably most often used in looking for places where the New Testament is quoting the Old Testament, but did you know it can be used with extrabiblical texts as well?

As I’ve already mentioned, the INFER command is one of the most powerful commands in Accordance. When Dr. J last covered this kind of search in the Lighting the Lamp podcast, he said that the INFER command is also one of the most customizable kinds of searches. This blog post is not designed to offer a tutorial in all the nuances of the INFER command, but I do want to give you a very straightforward example using the Greek New Testament and an extrabiblical Greek text. I would encourage you to pay around with the various settings of the INFER command and try it out on different texts for yourself.

In this example, I want to determine what kind of quotations or allusions exist between the Didache, a late first century/early second century document purporting to be the teaching of the apostles, and the Greek New Testament. As you can see in the image below, I have placed the Greek New Testament on the left in a zone and the Apostolic Fathers (of which the Didache is a subset) in a zone on the right.

Did you know you can define ranges for more than just books of the Bible? To narrow my range, I have defined a new range as the Didache and have moved it down so that it appears below Revelation. Note that the book order is based on the Apostolic Fathers.

Infer Screenshot 1

There’s more than one way to enter the INFER command, but I have done it just by going to the Search menu, selecting Enter Command, and then INFER. Accordance asks me which text I want to include in my search. I only have the Greek New Testament open with the Apostolic Fathers, but if I had multiple texts open in other zones or tabs, I would want to be careful I selected the correct one. Going with the default settings of a six word phrase, my search field now populates with the information seen below.

Infer Screenshot 2

After I hit the Return/Enter key on my computer, I can see my highlighted (blue in the example below) results in the zone on the right.

Infer Screenshot 3

Now, I have my results, but really this is only half the process. Finding phrases in the Didache that appear in the New Testament gives me some information, but not enough. I really need to know where the information comes from in the New Testament. To achieve this, I can use the SEARCH BACK command. First, I simply highlight the phrase I want to examine. In this case, I am highlighting καὶ τότε φανήσεται τὰ σημεῖα τῆς from Did 16:6, roughly translated as “And then there will appear the signs.” This sounds as if it might be apocalyptic, perhaps from the Book of Revelation, but I won’t know for certain until I run the SEARCH BACK command. Right-clicking on my highlighted phrase will allow me to select the command from the contextual menu.

Infer Screenshot 4

Running the SEARCH BACK command gives me a result in the Greek New Testament, not from Revelation, but rather in Matthew 24:30. At first glance, I might think that the phrase in the Didache is not actually an allusion but just a similar use of words. However, when I read the context of the passage in the Didache, specifically down to 16:8, I see that it is actually an expansion on Matthew 24:30.

Infer Screenshot 5

I encourage you to play around with the very powerful INFER search command. You can get information on it from the Accordance Help System. Go to Help: Accordance Help and simply run a search for “Infer.” The first entry in the Help search results will be “[INFER 6 ?].” This will get you started as well as include links for various customizable features of the search command.

You can also watch two of the older Lighting the Lamp podcasts that cover the INFER command. Although they were created using earlier versions of Accordance, the instructions and concepts with the INFER command in these podcasts are essentially the same as they are in Accordance 11. See either link below for more information.


#89) [INFER] and Search Back
#3.5) Commands & Symbols, Part 5: INFER and Search Back



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