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

Monday, September 15, 2008  

How Much Context Do You Want to See, Part 2

In my previous post, I talked about how Accordance lets you determine the amount of context you view with the result of a search. In the Search window, you can use the Add Context pop-up to view one or more verses before and after each "hit" verse. Today, I want to talk about how you can do something similar with Tools.

In the Tool window, the Show pop-up determines how much of the text is displayed. Unlike the Search window, where the default is to show only the hit verses with no additional context, the default for most tools is to display hits in the context of the entire text of that tool. In other words, when the Show pop-up menu is set to All Text, the entire text of the tool is displayed in the window, and hits are highlighted in context.

Why do we offer a narrow context for Bibles and a broad context for tools? Because in the Bible, you have a referencing system which makes it clear when there are gaps in the context. If a search returns Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1, I know immediately that there's a great deal of context in between those verses which is not being displayed. I'm not going to make the mistake of reading the text of John 1:1 as a continuation of the text of Genesis 1:1. That cannot be said for most tools, a fact we can see when we view tools using the narrowest possible context.

In the screenshot above, I have searched Easton's Bible Dictionary for the word "beginning." By selecting Paragraphs in the Show pop-up menu, I have told Accordance that I only want to see those paragraphs of Easton which contain a hit. The advantage of this view is that I can quickly scan the results of a search. The disadvantage is that it is not immediately clear where any of these hit paragraphs come from. The first paragraph actually comes from the article on "Exile," which you can see from the Go To box in the bottom right corner of the window. The next paragraph comes from the article on "Exodus," but it reads like a continuation of the previous article. From this example, it's easy to see how a narrow context in a tool can be confusing, and why we default to All Text for most tools.

Nevertheless, a narrow context can be useful in certain tools. For example, in the screenshot below, I searched the MT/LXX for every place the Hebrew word rosh is translated by some Greek word other than kephale (for more on this, see my recent posts, Creative Merging, Part 1 and Part 2). Because I just want to be able to scan the list of hits to see which Greek words are used, showing just the hit paragraphs is helpful in this instance.

Between showing the entire text of a tool and showing just the hit paragraphs, there are two additional levels of context. Add Titles is essentially an expansion of the Paragraphs view which includes the title of every article and subarticle in which each hit paragraph is found. In the screenshot below, you can see how adding the titles in Easton gives us just enough context to distinguish the article on Exile from the one on Exodus.

Choosing Articles in the Show pop-up menu will show the entire article in which a hit is found. For example, if I search Louw & Nida for ginomai, showing only the hit Articles, I'll get every entry for that Greek word in its entirety, but the entries for other words will be hidden.

For most people, it's enough to leave the Show pop-up menu set to All Text, but there may be times when you'll want to filter your search results in one of the ways described above. In a few cases, we even do that for you by default. I'll talk about that in my next post.

I see that you finally upgraded to Leopard. Nice to see you finally made the jump!

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