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Wednesday, April 09, 2008  

Determining What Gets Displayed in MT/LXX

Last week, I talked about how the settings in the Show pop-up menu of the Tools window enable you to determine what kind of information gets displayed. This week I want to give you a very practical example of how this feature can be useful in sophisticated tools such as the MT/LXX. But before I can do that, I need to introduce you to the MT/LXX and how it works.

MT/LXX is a tool which places each word or phrase of the Masoretic Hebrew text in parallel with the corresponding Greek words from the Septuagint. This makes possible some very interesting comparisons.

For example, let's say I want to find every place where the Hebrew word bara, "create," is translated by the Greek word poieo.

As with all tools, the MT/LXX is divided into different fields of content. Search the Entry field to find particular verses, the Hebrew field to search for Hebrew words, the Greek field for LXX words, etc.

If I search the Hebrew field for the word bara, I find just 20 occurrences. But when I search the BHS-W4 for this word, I get no less than 54 occurrences. Since the MT/LXX is supposed to have every word in both the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Septuagint, shouldn't I expect my search for bara to deliver the same result I get when searching the Hebrew Bible?

The discrepancy is due to the fact that the MT/LXX is not grammatically tagged like the BHS-W4. Thus, when we search the MT/LXX for bara, we will find the twenty times bara appears in that exact inflected form, but miss the 34 times when it appears in other forms.

Fortunately, we can overcome this limitation of the MT/LXX by piggy-backing on the tagging of the Hebrew Bible. We’ll do this through the use of an advanced search command called the MERGE command.

The MERGE command joins two windows together so that they both reflect the same search result. In this case, I need a Search window containing the BHS-W4, and a Tool window containing MT/LXX. In the Search window, I'll search for bara. In the MT/LXX window, I'll enter the MERGE command (by selecting it from the Enter Command submenu of the Search menu) and select the window I want to merge to (BHS-W4). When I click OK in the MT/LXX window, the results of my lexical search of the Hebrew Bible are reflected in the MT/LXX.

Using the MERGE command in this way makes for some very powerful searches, especially when I Merge with additional Search windows. To find every place where the LXX translates the Hebrew word bara by some form of the word poieo, I would need to open a new Search window containing the Septuagint, and search for poieo. I would then return to my MT/LXX window, add the AND command, followed by a second MERGE command which points to the window containing the LXX.

When I click OK, this search turns up 52 hits, and I can see that both the Hebrew word bara and the Greek word poieo are highlighted.

As I scroll down to Genesis 2:4, however, I find a place where bara and poieo both appear in the same verse, but where poieo is actually being used to translate a different Hebrew word.

I can exclude such false hits by opening the More Options section and specifying that I want the Greek and Hebrew words to appear in the same paragraph—that is, on the same line—rather than just in the same article. When I click OK to perform this search again, the number of hits goes down to 30, and Genesis 2:4 becomes excluded.

If I want to see all the places the LXX translates bara with some word other than poieo, I need only change the AND command to a NOT, like this:

Here's where the Show pop-up menu comes in handy. If I set the window to show only the hit paragraphs, I can quickly scan my results to see all the different ways bara is translated.

Of course, the downside of this view is that I can't easily see which verse each hit comes from. The reference for the verse at the top of the pane is shown in the Go To box at the bottom right corner of the window, but I have no easy way of telling where the other hits I'm looking at are found. Choosing Add Titles from the Show pop-up solves this problem by giving me the verse references for each hit.

That was a lot of set up just to reinforce the usefulness of the Show pop-up menu, but hopefully you've also learned something about the MT/LXX, the Merge Command, searching within every paragraph as opposed to every article, etc. The MT/LXX is an extremely powerful tool which is made all the more powerful when you know how to use the various options Accordance provides.

Absolutely wonderful! I have just begun to dig into the usefulness of MT/LXX and suddenly the doors are flung wide open! Thanks for your blog. I found this post while looking for another helpful tip you posted a couple of years back. Always worth a look

After reading your post, it makes the tool look rather useful. How about a sale on the MT/LXX module? :)

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