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Monday, June 26, 2006  

Analysis Graph: Not Just for Greek Geeks

In the past several posts, we've been using the Analysis Graph to explore the use of imperative verbs in Ephesians. We've been doing tagged searches in Greek and then breaking down the results of those searches by various grammatical categories. If you're into Greek, you've likely been like a kid in a candy store. If you're not into Greek, you've probably concluded that the Analysis Graph is not for you. But the Analysis Graph isn't just for Greek, and it certainly isn't just for analyzing verbs. Today we'll do a search in English and use the Analysis Graph to give us some insight into Hebrew. (You Greek guys will just have to bear with us!)

As I'm sure most of you are aware, the Hebrew Bible uses several different names to refer to God. In most cases, these names are translated into English by some form of the words "God" and "Lord" (either in lowercase or all caps, small caps, etc.). We can chart these various Hebrew words by doing a search for the English words in a Bible which has been tagged with Key Numbers. For this post, I'll use the King James Version with Strong's Numbers (KJVS), which is included with the Introductory Level of the Library CD-ROM.

If you're following along, open a Search window with the KJVS as your search text. Be sure to select the Search for Words radio button, then hit the Tab key to select the entire contents of the argument entry box. (Selecting everything in the argument entry box means that anything we enter will immediately replace whatever was there before.) Now select Enter Words... from the Search menu (or use the keyboard shortcut command-J, or control-click the argument entry box and choose Word... from the Enter submenu of the contextual menu).

In the dialog box that opens, make sure the Use exact word checkbox is checked, then type "god" into the Go to: box. This will scroll the list to all the various forms of the word "God," enabling you to click the forms you want. Click the words "GOD," "God," and "God's." As you click, each form will be added to the list of words to enter. Next, enter the word "Lord" into the Go to: box to scroll the list of words there. Now click the words "Lord," "LORD," "Lord's," and "LORD's." As you click, these words will also be added to the list of words to enter. When you're done, click OK to close the dialog box.

The argument entry box should now contain a search argument that looks something like this: (=GOD, =God, =God's, =Lord, =LORD, =LORD's, =Lord's). The parentheses enclosing a list of words separated by commas is essentially another way of performing an OR search. We're looking for GOD or God or God's or Lord, etc. The equals sign tells Accordance not to ignore things like case or the apostrophe. We want to find the exact forms listed.

While it's always good to understand the search syntax (which is why I'm taking the trouble to explain it), simply selecting the forms we want from the Word list and checking Use exact word makes it easy to search for a group of words without having to remember where the parentheses or equal signs are supposed to go.

Before we click OK to perform this search, there's one more thing we need to do: specify a range. Why do we need to specify a range rather than searching the entire Bible? Well, it's certainly not to mask poor performance. On my two-year-old G4 PowerBook, it only takes about a second to search for all these words in the entire Bible, and pulling up the Analysis Graph is instantaneous. By the way, the reason the Analysis Graph is instantaneous is that Accordance is gathering all the statistical information while the search is being performed. This actually reduces the speed of the search slightly. Yet in spite of the fact that Accordance is doing more behind the scenes than just trying to return a list of hit words, it's only the most complex searches that take more than a second or two.

Okay, so if I'm not trying to limit the scope of this search to mask poor performance, why do I need to select a range? First, because I'm only interested in the Hebrew words which are translated "God" or "Lord." If I do this search on the entire King James Bible, my Analysis Graph will include Greek words such as theos and kurios. Beyond that, even if I restrict my search to just the Hebrew Bible, I'm likely to end up with an Analysis Graph that is hard to digest. So let's just start with the book of Genesis. If you already have a range defined for Genesis, control-click the More Options section of the Search window and select it from the Set Range To submenu of the contextual menu. If you don't have a range for Genesis defined yet, select Define Range... from that same submenu and create the new range in the Define Ranges dialog box.

At this point, this post is already somewhat long, and I haven't even had you perform the search yet! But hey, we've covered a lot of ground. I've shown you how to use the Enter Words... dialog box, explained the search syntax, bragged about the speed of Accordance, and explained why a search as broad as this is best performed on a specific range. Now, without further ado, let's click that OK button and perform the search.

The Search window will now display every occurrence of the word "God" or "Lord" in the book of Genesis. Note that when we selected the words in the word list, we focused on the cases where "God" or "Lord" are capitalized and singular (we're not interested in lowercase "gods" or human "lords"). Now let's click the Details button and select Analysis Graph from the Graph drop-down menu. Here's what we end up with:

If your Analysis Graph looks a little different than mine, don't worry. I've customized mine to be an Area graph rather than the default Bar graph, to have the graphs Overlaid on top of each other, and to display a grid. You can set all these options and more by using the one keyboard shortcut you absolutely must learn: Command-T.

Okay, let's make a couple of observations about this graph. First, note how elohim (usually translated "God") appears exclusively in chapter one, while the tetragrammaton YHWH (usually translated "LORD") begins to appear in chapter 2. This phenomenon is well known, but less well known is the fact that the use of YHWH declines sharply once Jacob escapes from Laban in chapter 31. It reappears during the stories of Judah and Tamar in chapter 38 and of Joseph's ascendency in chapter 39, and then drops out of use completely, except for one mention in Genesis 49:18. Throughout Genesis, the name YHWH seems to be used most in cases where covenants are being made or where the line of Abraham is being carried on.

Then there's the use of other names, such as Adonay. Note the concentration of that name in Abraham's conversation with his three visitors in chapter 18. There the name YHWH is used by the narrator, but Abraham exclusively uses Adonay. These patterns are made even more interesting when we consider them in the light of Exodus 6:3, where the LORD tells Moses that he was not known to the patriarchs by the name YHWH.

While we're pondering all that, let's look at a different range. Rather than Genesis, let's switch the range to Psalms and perform this search again. When we do an Analysis Graph of this search, we get something like this:

Here again we see some interesting patterns. First, we see that books 1 (consisting of psalms 1-41), 4 (consisting of psalms 90-106), and 5 (consisting of psalms 107-150) all strongly favor the use of the name YHWH over elohim. Yet books 2 (consisting of psalms 42-72) and 3 (consisting of psalms 73-89) strongly favor the use of the name elohim over YHWH. Why is that? I'm not sure, but it's interesting to note that books 1, 4, and 5 consist primarily of Davidic and Solomonic psalms, while books 2 and 3 consist primarily of psalms by other authors. (By the way, I've relied heavily on the Outlines module mentioned last week to help me see what's going on at different points on the Graph).

Another interesting pattern to note in Psalms is the frequency of the name Yah in the so-called Hallelujah psalms (111-113, 115-117, and 146-150). Well, at least that's one pattern that's not hard to figure out!

Once again, the Analysis Graph has revealed patterns in the text which are just begging for further investigation; but this time, we've based our Analysis Graph on a search for English words rather than Greek grammatical forms. Thus, the Analysis Graph isn't just of use to those who happen to be immersed in the original languages. Analyzing the use of English words and their associated Key Numbers can open up whole new realms of study—even for "the rest of us."

David, these graph entries are great, but I've been wondering. In every entry, you've had to comment that the default graph doesn't look like yours because you've customized your graph. However, it seems like you regularly pick certain options to make your graph look nice; why not set those as a default?

Are you asking why I don't set these custom options as my own personal defaults, or why WE didn't make them the defaults for the program?

If the former, I have changed my default settings for how the Analysis Graph appears. This is easily done by clicking Use As Default in the Set Analysis Graph Display dialog. You have to do this for each search text you're using.

BTW, from a pedagogical perspective, I'm being quite deliberate when I talk about changing the Display settings, because I want to be sure to expose readers of this blog to the various options that are available. While I've stuck with Area graphs, I've mixed up little things like displaying the Sum of Hits, using a black or white background, etc.

Now, if you're asking why we didn't use Area graphs or some other display option as the default for Accordance, the answer is that we stuck with what our users were already familiar with: Bar graphs, white backgrounds, etc. I was the one who pushed for adding Area and Line graphs, but it didn't even occur to me to suggest that they should become the program defaults.

While I still think that was the best way to go, I'm curious to hear which options you all prefer. You can voice your opinions in this thread of our user forum.

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