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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Friday, April 14, 2006  

Countdown to Insight

In my previous post, I gave you a quick introduction to the Details button, and showed how getting a bird's-eye view of your search results can lead you to insights you might otherwise have missed. Today, we'll look at one way you can use command-T—the one keyboard shortcut you absolutely must learn—in conjunction with the Details to get even greater insight.

Let's say I want to search for all the commands in the Greek New Testament (GNT). To do this, I would need to search a grammatically tagged GNT for all Verbs in the imperative mood. So I select GNT-T in the search text pop-up menu of my Search window, click the Search for Words radio button (if it isn't already selected), and then enter [VERB imperative] in the search entry box. Notice that I don't need to use any cryptic codes or do anything special to search for a particular grammatical tag. I just need to place the part of speech and the tag details in square brackets. I don't even need to place the tag details in any particular order: for example, [VERB active imperative aorist] works just as well as [VERB aorist active imperative]. Even better, I don't have to remember even this much search syntax. I can simply go to the Search menu, choose Verb... from the Enter Grammatical Tag submenu, and then set whatever tag details I want in a simple dialog box. When I click OK, the tag will be entered for me, complete with the proper search syntax.

Incidentally, we've been making it this easy to search grammatically tagged original language texts for ten years now. We want you to use your brain cells to master Greek and Hebrew and to study the Bible. Why waste those brain cells on trying to figure out cryptic tag codes or confusing search dialogs peppered with dozens of checkboxes?

Okay, enough with the shameless self-congratulations, let's get back to our search. Whether I type it in or go through the Search menu, what I want to see in the search entry box is [VERB imperative]. When I click OK, Accordance will find every imperative verb in the Greek New Testament—all 1,636 of them! Now, let's see what we get when we click the Details button.

The first thing we see is a Graph of the search hits. Interestingly, the highest concentration of imperatives in the New Testament is found around 1 Timothy 5 and 6, followed by Ephesians 6. Remember, I'm seeing that by double-clicking on the highest spikes of the Graph and then looking back at my Search window, which has automatically been scrolled to the corresponding place in the text.

I could camp out here on the Graph and explore all kinds of trends, such as why there seems to be such a thick concentration of imperatives in the books of Luke and James; but for now, let's move on to the Analysis by clicking on the Analysis tab.

By default, the Analysis window gives me an alphabetical listing of all the lexical forms which were found by my search, along with the number of times each one appears. Yet I can customize the display of the Analysis window to enable me to get more than a mere vocabulary list. Let's say that I want to know which Greek verbs are used most often as commands. To see this, I'll select the first item in the Display menu, "Set Analysis Display...", or better yet, I'll just use the one keyboard shortcut you absolutely must learn: Command-T.

This opens the Set Analysis Display dialog box, which offers a host of options for the kind of information I want displayed. For now, I'm just concerned with the Sort pop-up menu in the upper right corner. If I change this from "Alphabetical" to "Count down" and click OK, the Analysis will be sorted to display the most frequent words at the top of the list.

This simple customization lets me see immediately that the most frequent commands in the GNT are ginomai "be", poieo "do," and lego "say." That's a pretty nifty ethical trifecta. Curiously, though, these three are followed closely by hupago "go away." That sounds pretty antisocial. I wonder what's up with that?

To find out, of course, I could go back to my search, and modify it to search for all occurrences of hupago when it appears in the imperative. But that sounds like a good subject for another post. Until then, play around with doing different searches and sorting the Analysis by "Count down." It works for English and Hebrew as well as Greek, and it enables you to gain unexpected insights into the Biblical text.


when i run the example you give here (search for every imerative Verb) i get 26498 words. a different result than what you've posted. also, my list of words is different... why is this?

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