In My Mind I'm Goin' to Carolina
In the immortal words of James Taylor, "In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina." That's Charlotte, North Carolina to be more precise. I'm scheduled to do two training seminars in Charlotte on November 7 and 8. And while a decent number of people have registered so far, it's really not enough to justify the cost of making the trip—especially when there's so much work to be done here. We're evaluating whether or not we need to change our plans, but you North Carolinians can make the decision easier by registering to attend one of those two seminars. There's really no better way to learn how to get the most out of Accordance, and our seminar attendees consistently tell us they were glad they came. If you're in the area and can make it that Friday or Saturday, please register now. That way, I won't just be goin' to Carolina "in my mind"!
Have We Raised Expectations Too High?
A week ago, I wrote a brief post explaining that we're busy finishing up a new update to Accordance which will soon be released as version 8.1. Last night I had to laugh when the following comment was left on that post:
so...a week later and no release....
How keen should we be? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months?
A smiley-face emoticon at the end of this comment leads me to believe that it was half written in jest, but I also have to wonder if we've raised your expectations too high. After all, earlier this year, I hinted on a Thursday that version 8 would be coming soon. I was, of course, immediately asked about the time frame, and I promised on that Friday that it would be "soon and very soon." Then, even to my surprise, we ended up releasing Accordance 8 the following Monday!
As I explained back then, we don't typically offer teasers about new developments until the virtual eve of their release, so I guess I can see why a week after my bear-with-me-I'm-busy post, some of you are already looking at your watches. All I can tell you at this point is that we're in the final testing stage of Accordance 8.1 and that it should be available to you very soon.
What will be different about Accordance 8.1? I've already mentioned some cosmetic changes that I think you'll all appreciate. There are a great many improvements aimed at simplifying your workflow. Certain features have been greatly expanded and some new features added. When we sent out the complete list of changes to our beta-testers, one of them responded, "This is a point release? You could charge for all this!" Oh, and come to think of it, he wrote that before the latest build that included all the cosmetic changes!
All that's to say that we need you to be patient just a little bit longer, and you'll soon have all kinds of new goodies to play with. That is, of course, if I stop dropping hints and get back to work! :-)
Searching the Accordance Blog
This has been a year of big changes at OakTree software: a new version of Accordance, new DVDs, new modules, a new web-site, along with behind-the-scenes changes in infrastructure and the hiring of new staff. Unfortunately, one of the unintended victims of all these changes has been the search engine for this blog. When we transitioned to the new web-site, something broke so that the blog search no longer worked; and we've been waiting to fix it until all those infrastructure transitions are complete. I'm sorry some of you have been inconvenienced by this inability to search the blog. We hope to have it fixed soon.
In the meantime, Accordance power-user and Macintosh Biblioblogger Joe Weaks has once again come to our rescue by providing an Accordance blog search engine of his own. If you find yourself needing to search the Accordance blog for past posts, be sure to take advantage of Joe's search engine.
Studying the Optative, Part 3
In my previous few posts, I've been using Accordance to study the optative mood in Greek. For those of you who are starting to wonder why I'm so fixated on the optative; I'm really not. I'm merely using the optative as a sort of case study to show you how you can use Accordance to answer the kinds of questions I asked in my initial post.
I answered the first three questions in my first follow-up post, in which I used the Search All window and the Hits Graph to explore the use of the optative in the Greek New Testament and extrabiblical Greek texts. In my next post, I explored Paul's use of the optative in greater detail. In this post, I'll focus on the remainder of my original questions about the optative.
First, "what is the meaning of the optative mood?" We've examined its usage, but we have yet to look it up in a Greek grammar. Fortunately, the Scholar's Standard and Premier levels include several grammars. Stevens Greek is an introductory grammar included with the Scholar's Standard. By opening it and searching the Titles field for "optative," I'm immediately taken to the chapter on the optative. Stevens is a great place to go for quick information because his grammar is neatly structured in outline form, with quick summaries followed by more detailed discussion. Stevens summarizes the optative as follows:
The Latin verb opto means "I wish." The English designation optative derives from this Latin root. The contingency behind the idea of "wish" helps the English student see that the optative mood is a weaker form of the subjunctive. In degree, though, the optative still is a slightly stronger potentiality than the imperative.
The optative, then, is a mood of wish. Conventional use at the time of the writing of the New Testament included prayers and benedictions. For this reason, the optative shows up in these formal settings on a regular basis in the New Testament. However, the optative mood in all occurs just sixty-eight times in the Greek text, so optative forms, in reality, are not encountered that often in translating the New Testament.
Stevens' summary accords well with what we discovered about the usage of the optative from the searches we did in the previous two posts. We saw that it only occurs sixty-eight times, that it tends to be used in benedictions and prayers, and that it often is translated using the English word "may," indicating a hope or wish. Stevens goes on to discuss the meaning of tense as it relates to the optative mood, to describe the endings which form the optative, to discuss translation and usage of the optative, and to contrast the optative with the indicative, subjunctive, and imperative moods. He also briefly discusses Paul's use of me genoito, which leads me to the fifth set of questions I asked in my initial post:
"Why is Me genoito translated variously as "God forbid!", "Absolutely not!", "Not at all!", or "By no means!"? What does it literally mean? Which translations, if any, give that literal meaning?
Stevens answers those questions as follows:
Seventeen of sixty-eight optatives in the New Testament are as genoito, usually as me genoito. All but three of these are in Paul's letters, so quite clearly, this was a characteristic style of Pauline rhetoric. In the negative, the expression might be translated something like "May it never be!"
Stevens then adds in a footnote:
Using "God forbid!" is not recommended, being too close to slang.
Okay, so this expression literally means "May it not (or never) be." Presumably we can understand other translations like "God forbid!" and "By no means" as attempts to substitute common English forms of strong denial for a more literal translation which may sound weaker in English than it was in Greek. Are there any translations which give a literal translation of me genoito?
To find this out, I'll simply select me genoito in Stevens' grammar (since that is what I'm reading at the moment), then choose GNT-T (the tagged Greek New Testament) from the Resource palette. This will open a window showing every occurrence of me genoito in the GNT-T. Now all I need to do is put one or more translations in parallel. If I wanted to view a bunch of translations at the same time, I would simply open numerous panes and view them side by side. In this case, I'm more interested in looking at a series of translations to see how they translate me genoito, so I'll just open one additional pane and then change the text displayed in that pane using the Display text pop-up menu at the top of the pane. That way, I'll be able to look at the same general area of the screen and see how each translation renders me genoito.
By the way, for those of you who like shortcuts, here's a little trick that will save you going to the menu each time you want to change the translation in a pane. The keyboard shortcut control-plus will change the Search text pop-up menu to the next translation in the list, and any panes containing that translation will be updated as well. So starting with my window containing the GNT-T, I'll add a pane containing an English Bible, then change the search text to that same English Bible. I can then use control-plus to cycle through various English translations to see how they render me genoito. In doing so, I quickly see the following. HCSB tends to use "Absolutely not!" NIV uses a wide variety of expressions: "May this never be," "Not at all," "certainly not," "By no means," etc. NASB consistently renders it with the literal "May it never be." KJV uses "God forbid," while NKJV changes this to "Certainly not!" ESV favors "By no means," but uses other expressions in some contexts. NLT tends to use "Of course not!"
From this brief survey, it is striking how only one translation consistently renders me genoito literally. Most others choose from a wide variety of ways to express an emphatic no in English.
In this post, we've consulted an introductory Greek grammar to learn the meaning of the optative, and examined the various ways me genoito is translated into English. My next post will be the last in this series, and will focus on exploring a question we raised in an earlier post: namely, why does the optative appear so much more often in the textus receptus than in the Nestle-Aland text?
When it's Quiet, Things Are Happening
As a father of four (soon to be five!), I've learned to get concerned when the house is too quiet. When my kids were toddlers, and it suddenly got quiet, that meant they were probably getting into something they shouldn't. When they were noisily playing with toys, that meant all was well, but when things were too quiet, that's when white iMac keyboards were getting decorated with black permanent marker!
In much the same way, long time followers of this blog should notice a pattern: the blog tends to gets quieter shortly before some major new announcements are made. That's because when I'm busy hammering away in the workshop, I find it harder to keep up with the blog. I'm working on continuing my series on the optative in Greek, but I'm also busy developing new modules, testing a new update to the Accordance application, and hashing out some possible cosmetic changes (to Accordance, not to me!). So please bear with me, and I'll do my best to deliver a more substantive post later in the week. In the meantime, you can begin looking forward to the release of Accordance 8.1.
By the way, speaking of minor cosmetic changes, I actually let slip some screenshots from a development version of 8.1 in my last post, and there's a very minor change which the sharp-eyed among you may be able to discern. Far more dramatic changes should be coming soon. :-)
Studying the Optative, Part 2
In my previous post, I did a Search All for optative verbs and compared the use of the optative in biblical and extrabiblical Greek texts. I then examined a Graph of the use of the optative in the Greek New Testament, and observed that the optative appears most frequently among the more literary authors like Luke and Paul. Yet on closer inspection, it appeared that Paul's use of the optative consists primarily in his frequent repetition of the phrase me genoito, "May it not be!" This led me to ask whether Paul's use of the optative is limited to merely repeating a common expression which just happens to be in the optative mood, or if he actually demonstrates an understanding of the optative's meaning and use.
How would we determine that? Well, I'd begin by limiting my search for the optative to Paul's writings. I happen to have a predefined range called "Pauline Epistles" which includes everything from Romans to Philemon, so I simply chose that range and updated my search. I then clicked the Details button to get a statistical overview of what was found.
The first thing I see is a Hits Graph showing where Paul uses the optative most frequently. Romans, Galatians, and both Thessalonian epistles immediately stand out. At this point, however, I am more interested to see the specific lexical forms which Paul uses in the optative mood. If the only one he uses is ginomai (the lexical form of genoito), then it could certainly be argued that Paul's use of the optative is largely formulaic. If, however, he uses a variety of lexical forms, it would seem that Paul understood well the purpose of the optative mood and how to use it. To get the list of lexical forms which were found I'll click the Analysis tab.
The Analysis window tells me immediately that of the 31 occurrences of the optative mood in Paul, he uses 13 distinct lexical forms. To sort the list of lexical forms by frequency of occurrence, I'll choose Set Analysis Display from the Display menu (or use the one keyboard shortcut you absolutely must learn: command-T). In the dialog which opens, I'll change the Sort pop-up menu from Alphabetical to Count Down. Then I'll click OK to close the dialog box.
Here I can see that Paul clearly does use ginomai in the optative more than any other lexical form. But he does indeed use a variety of other verbs in the optative. It's interesting to note the general flavor of the lexical forms which Paul uses only once or twice: verbs meaning "to sanctify", "to benefit", "to comfort", "to abound," "to increase", "to fill", etc. What might be Paul's reason for using these kinds of verbs in the optative?
I'll get back to that question in a minute, but for now, I'm curious to see where Paul uses these different optatives. To do that, I'm going to choose Analysis Graph from the Graph pop-up menu. The Analysis Graph takes the ability of the Hits Graph to plot frequency across the search range, and combines it with the Analysis window's ability to break down the results of a search by various criteria. The default criterion is lexical form (LEX), so my Analysis Graph opens to show me the distribution of the top seven lexical forms found by this search:
Note how ginomai is concentrated in the epistles of Romans and Galatians. Paul uses me genoito only once outside these two epistles, and that's in 1 Corinthians 6:15, in answer to his rhetorical question, "Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute?" Apart from that strong denial, all of the other instances of "May it not be!" come in his two most theological and soteriological treatises. Do you think Paul felt strongly about the theological truths he was trying to communicate in those two letters?
Another interesting observation we can make from looking at this Analysis Graph is how much the optative appears toward the beginning or end of some of the other epistles. Note the spikes at the end of 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 2 Timothy, and Philemon. Note also the spike at the beginning of 2 Timothy. Is there a reason for this pattern?
Now that we've used the statistical details to spot certain trends, it's time to explore the reasons for those trends by looking at each hit in context, so I'll return to my Search window and begin scrolling through my results. At this point, I'm more interested in Paul's use of other optatives besides me genoito. Is there a way I can quickly skip past all the me genoitos? Well, since they're all concentrated in Romans and Galatians, I could just scroll past those two books! But if I want to eliminate those hits altogether, I can go up to my search argument, add an 'at' symbol (@), followed by a minus (-), and then type ginomai.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with these symbols, you'll find a brief explanation of them if you look at the Enter Symbol submenu of the Search menu. There you'll see that the 'at' symbol joins a tag to a word, and the minus sign indicates negation. By using these two symbols and entering the word ginomai, I am telling Accordance to find all the optatives in Paul except for the optative of ginomai. When I click OK, I go from 31 hits to 17, because I've now excluded the 14 occurrences of me genoito.
If you have a good English translation in parallel with the Greek, a quick scan of the results will show an obvious pattern: in almost every case, the English word "may" is used in conjunction with these verbs: May God fill you, may the Lord direct your hearts, may the Lord show mercy, etc. From this we can see the answer to some of the questions we asked earlier. Why does Paul use the optative with so many verbs which speak of filling, comfort, abounding, etc.? And why do so many of his optatives appear near the beginning or the end of his epistles? Because Paul is using the optative to express various prayers, wishes, or blessings—something which he typically does in the opening salutation or closing greeting of his epistles.
In this post, we've explored Paul's use of the optative and found that it goes beyond the mere repetition of the phrase "May it not be." We've done that using the various statistical details available, and by refining our search in order to narrow our focus. In an upcoming post, we'll consult grammars to explore the meaning of the optative further and explore some other questions related to the optative.
Studying the Optative
In my last post, I challenged you to use Accordance to study the optative mood in the Greek New Testament. So far, no one has offered any answers to my questions, but I'm hopeful at least a few of you tried doing some searches for the poor underrated optative. Here are some of the ways I found answers to those questions.
I began by asking just how rare the optative is in the Greek New Testament, whether different Greek texts differ with respect to the number of times the optative appears, and how frequently the optative is used in other Greek corpuses such as the Pseudepigrapha or Apostolic Fathers. The easiest way to answer all of these questions is to use the Search All window to search all of these texts at one time.
The easiest way to open the Search All window is to use the keyboard shortcut command-F. In the Language pop-up, specify Greek. Then choose Verb... from the Enter Grammatical Tag submenu of the Search menu. In the dialog box, choose Optative from the Mood submenu. Click OK to close the dialog box, then click OK in the Search All window to perform the search.
When we look at the results of this search, we see immediately that the optative appears in the tagged Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament (GNT-T) a mere 68 times. Yet surprisingly, it appears 83 times in the tagged Textus Receptus. In an upcoming post, I'll show you how to explore the differences between those two texts, but for now, let's compare the number of optatives in the New Testament with that of other Greek texts.
In the Greek Septuagint, which is roughly four times the size of the Greek New Testament, and which predates the New Testament by several hundred years, we find nearly nine times the number of optatives.
The Pseudepigrapha, which is a bit larger than the New Testament but which contains texts ranging in date from the third century B.C. to as late as the fourth or fifth centuries A.D., has 266 occurrences of the optative. To see how these hits are distributed across the corpus, I'll click PSEUD-T in the Search All window to open a Search window displaying the search results, and then click the Details button to get a Hits Graph.
This graph shows that some pseudepigraphal works use the optative far more than others. The Sybillene Oracles, The Letter of Aristeas, 4 Maccabees, the Psalms of Solomon, and Aristobulus show the most frequent use of the optative, and all date from between the second century B.C. and the first century A.D.
The Works of Josephus, which are roughly three times the size of the New Testament and which date from the first century A.D., show the greatest use of the optative: more than thirty times that of the New Testament! Philo, whose works are roughly the same size as those of Josephus, uses the optative far less frequently than Josephus does, but still far more frequently than the New Testament.
What are we to make of all this? Well, at the very least we can conclude that while the optative is extremely rare in the New Testament, it's not nearly so rare in extrabiblical Greek corpuses. I think we can also loosely discern the following pattern: the optative is more likely to be used early than late (judging by the contrast between the New Testament and Septuagint), and far more likely to be used by more literary writers of Greek (like Philo and Josephus) than in standard koine Greek.
Let's look more closely at the use of the optative in the New Testament to see if this second trend holds true. Are the New Testament books generally recognized as having the most literary Greek more likely to use the optative? We can find out by clicking GNT-T in the Search All window and then clicking Details in the resulting Search window. That will get us the following Graph:
This graph shows that most of the optatives in the New Testament occur in books written by Luke and Paul, as well as in 1 Peter, while the optative is hardly ever used by Matthew, Mark, John, James, or the author of Hebrews. This would seem to support the supposition that the optative is most likely to be used by the more literary Greek writers.
If I want to focus on Paul's use of the optative, I might double-click the Graph in the area of Romans to have the corresponding search window scroll to Romans. When I look at the search window, I find that Paul's use of the optative there is almost exclusively limited to the expression me genoito which I talked about in my previous post. This leads me to wonder, is Paul's use of the optative largely formulaic? Is he merely repeating a common expression which just happens to be in the optative mood, much as we might use some archaic English expression which has worked its way into common parlance? Or does Paul use the optative in other ways which show that he clearly understands its meaning and use?
I'll show how I explore that question in my next post, but if anyone's brave enough to suggest how I might go about doing it, I welcome your comments.
Ignore the Optative? Absolutely Not!
Lately my family and I have been reading through Romans, and we've consequently been getting into all kinds of theological concepts which are a bit obtuse for kids ranging from 13 to 7. To offer a bit of comic relief to help break up the headiness of it all, I've taught them to shout "Me genoito!" every time we run across the phrase, "Absolutely not!" Chances are you've never heard kids shout a Greek phrase with such passion and feeling.
Me genoito is, of course, the Greek phrase which is typically translated as "Absolutely not!" It is the strong exclamation with which Paul answers the anticipated distortions of his teaching. Me is simply a negative particle, but genoito is the verb ginomai (to be or become) in a form which is quite rare in the New Testament: the optative mood.
When I studied classical Greek in college, we learned the optative mood along with all the others, but when I took New Testament Greek in seminary, the optative was given only passing mention. I guess the idea was that the optative is so rare that the students would be able to learn all they needed to from commentaries and grammars when they ran across it; why require them to study one more unusual form?
Should we ignore the optative because it is so uncommon? Shall we focus only on indicatives, imperatives, and subjunctives? To this, brothers and sisters, I say Me Genoito!.
Originally, I was just going to do a few searches and show you how you can use Accordance to learn more about the optative mood, but I actually think you'll learn more (both about the optative and about Accordance), if I challenge you to see what you can find out on your own. If you're up for a challenge, spend some time this weekend trying to answer the following questions:
- Just how rare is the optative in the New Testament?
- Do different Greek texts (such as Nestle-Aland, the Textus Receptus, etc.) differ with respect to the number of times the optative appears?
- What about other Greek texts (Pseudepigrapha, Apostolic Fathers, Josephus, Philo, etc.)? Is the optative equally rare in those texts?
- What is the meaning of the optative mood?
- Why is Me genoito translated variously as "God forbid!", "Absolutely not!", "Not at all!", or "By no means!"? What does it literally mean? Which translations, if any, give that literal meaning?
- What else can you learn about the optative mood?
If you're up for the challenge, I'd be interested to hear what you find out (and how you found it out) in the comments on this post. Obviously, those of you who have tagged Greek texts are at an advantage over those who don't, but I'd be willing to bet that anybody can learn something about the optative by consulting commentaries, doing a search all, etc.
See what you can come up with, and next week, I'll go over specific ways you can use Accordance to learn more about the optative.
Grudem's Systematic Theology Now Available
The hits just keep coming. I'm pleased to announce the release of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology in conjunction with Bits & Bytes, Inc. Written to be understood by students and laypeople rather than just his fellow academics, Grudem's Systematic Theology has become remarkably popular among conservative evangelicals. Grudem tackles both the classic theological questions such as the authority of the Scriptures, the nature of God, and the nature of the atonement, as well as many of today's hotly contested theological controversies.
At the end of each chapter, Grudem includes questions for personal application, a list of special terms used within that chapter (which are linked to a glossary), a Scripture memory passage, a relevant hymn, and references to the pertinent sections of other systematic theologies and theological works. In the case of works which are available within Accordance, Grudem's citations have been hyperlinked. So, for example, whenever Grudem cites theologies by Calvin, Hodge, Strong, Gill, or Finney, you need only click the link to see those references. Likewise, you'll find links to the works of Jonathan Edwards, Schaff's Creeds of Christendom, various commentaries, Zondervan and IVP resources, etc. In this way, Grudem's Theology becomes a kind of theological cross-reference leading to further study.
Grudem's Systematic Theology can be purchased and downloaded directly from the Accordance web-site. The list price is $50, but it is currently on sale for just $40.
John Piper's Sermons Now Available
We're pleased to announce the release of the John Piper Sermon Manuscript Library for Accordance. Priced at $80 and on sale this month for just $55, Piper Sermons contains twenty-eight years of sermon manuscripts indexed by date, topic, and series. For more on this valuable resource, check out this article.
The Not-So-Awkward In-Between Stage, Part 2
Earlier this week, I talked about the bundles designed to help those in-betweeners who may want to consult the original language texts and tools included on the Scholar's Collection, yet whose primary focus will typically be the English Bible study resources included in the Library Collection. I also promised to show how you can piggy-back off the Strong's number resources of the Library in order to explore the in depth Greek and Hebrew materials of the Scholar's collection. That will be the focus of this post.
The various levels of the Library each contain at least one English Bible tagged with Strong's numbers: the King James with Strong's (KJVS) is included with all levels, while the New American Standard 1995 Update (NAS95S) and the English Standard Version (ESVS) are included with the Standard and Premier levels. These texts let you pass your cursor over an English word to see its original language equivalent, search by Strong's number, etc. But used in conjunction with other original language resources, they become even more powerful.
Let's say that I have the ESVS in parallel with the tagged Greek New Testament (GNT-T), and I'm looking at John 21:15. I'm curious to know about the words translated "love" in this verse, so I drag my cursor over the first occurrence of love. Since I have a Key numbered text in parallel with a tagged Greek text, and Key number highlighting (a new feature in version 8) is turned on, when I drag over "love" in the ESV, the Greek word agapao is highlighted in the GNT-T. When I drag over the second "love" in this verse, the Greek word phileo is highlighted. In this way, I can see immediately the relationship between the Greek text and the English translation.
Now, what if I want to search for all occurrences of the Greek word agapao? One way to do it is to select the first "love" in John 21:15, hold down the option key, and choose GNT-T from the Resource palette. By holding down the option key, I tell Accordance not to search for the English word I have selected, but to search instead for the Greek word represented by the Strong's number which has been tagged to that English word. In other words, if I select "love" and just choose GNT-T from the palette, Accordance will tell me that the language of the text I've chosen is inappropriate: I'm trying to search a Greek text for an English word. But if I hold down the option key, I tell Accordance not to search for the English word, but the Greek word it translates! In this way, I can search for the Greek word agapao without having to type a single letter of Greek!
This option-key trick will work for any Accordance resource containing Greek text. So, for example, if I wanted to search the tagged Greek Pseudepigrapha or Apostolic Fathers for agapao, I just need to select "love" in the ESVS and hold down the option key while selecting them from the palette. If I want to look up agapao in a Greek lexicon like Louw & Nida or BDAG, the same technique can be used. If I want to search all my commentaries for the Greek word agapao, I can simply option-select a Tool set or Search All group containing all my commentaries.
By using an English Bible with Key numbers as an entry-point for exploring the original Greek and Hebrew, "in-betweeners" such as the beginning seminary student, the pastor whose language skills are rusty, or the layperson who wants to dig deeper, can easily delve into high-level resources without having to know which key on the keyboard produces a Psi.
Accordance Around the Blogosphere
Just wanted to post a few links to articles about Accordance around the blogosphere.
At Biblical Studies and Technological Tools, Mark Vitalis Hoffman has begun reviewing how Accordance runs on a PC using the Basilisk emulator.
In response to that article, Rubén Gómez of Bible Software Review made the point that because of the limitations of emulating a Mac on a PC, those who run Accordance under emulation are still missing out on the complete Accordance experience.
My favorite mention of Accordance in a recent blog comes from the [email protected] blog. The author mentions how he ran into a seminary graduate who gave him a deeper appreciation for what Accordance can do.