This week, I've been taking a search for all the questions in the Bible and showing how you can use various graphs to visualize important aspects of the results. In Monday's post, we used the Hits Graph to see the predominance of questions at the end of the book of Job. In Tuesday's post, we used the Table Bar Chart to see which books have the greatest frequency of questions. In this post, I want to modify the Table Bar Chart to see which books have the largest number of questions.
The Table Bar Chart we looked at Tuesday plotted Average Hits, which is based on a ratio of hits per thousand words. Looking at Average Hits shows the relative concentration of questions in each book. So Malachi, a short book, appears just below the much longer book of Job. Job may, in fact, have a far greater number of questions than does Malachi, but the ratio of hits is roughly the same.
To see which books have the greatest number of questions, simply change the pop-up menu at the bottom right corner of the Graph from Average Hits to Total Hits. Your Table Bar Chart should now look something like this:
As you can see, Malachi now appears much further down the list, while much longer books like those of the Major Prophets, the Gospels, and the Psalms now appear toward the top of the list.
Curious to know which chapters have the largest number of questions? You can find that out by choosing Set Graph Display from the Display menu and checking the Show Chapter Detail checkbox.
Once again, Job takes the top spot, but the second spot goes to a chapter about David's restoration after Absalom's rebellion. Why would a chapter like that feature so many questions?
I'll leave it to you to explore the answer to that question. The point I hope you can see is that these various graphs and charts are more than just eye-candy. They enable you to spot patterns you may not otherwise have seen—patterns which will lead you to ask further questions of the text.
In yesterday's post, I showed how you can use the period symbol to search for all question marks in an English Bible. I then showed how to use the Hits Graph to see where the greatest concentration of questions occurs. The end of Job, where God fires a series of questions at Job, was the clear winner. Today, I want to look at another way to visualize the results of this search: namely, the Table Bar Chart.
Having searched an English Bible for .?, choose Table Bar Chart from the Details pop-up menu to the right of the Context Slider. You should then see something like this:
Where the Hits Graph measures frequency of occurrence across the entire search range, the Table Bar Chart breaks down the search results by book or by chapter. The default is by book, so here we can see the frequency of occurrence in each book of the Bible.
If you want to make it easier to see which books have the greatest frequency of questions, you can customize the display of the Table Bar Chart by choosing Set Graph Display from the Display menu (or using the keyboard shortcut Command-T). In the dialog which appears, check the Sort by Count option and click OK. This will change the display so that each book is displayed in descending order of occurrence.
Here we can see that the book of Malachi has nearly the same frequency of occurrence (or average number of hits) as the book of Job. That's not something that was very obvious from the Hits Graph we looked at yesterday.
So far, we've just looked at the distribution of Average Hits, which means that we're focused on the frequency of occurrence rather than the actual number of occurrences. For example, Malachi has nearly the same frequency of questions as Job, but Malachi is a much smaller book, so it may not have anywhere near the same number of questions. In tomorrow's post, I'll show how to examine the differences between the two.
At the Ligonier national conference this past weekend, one of the speakers mentioned the fact that the first question in the Bible is asked by the serpent in Genesis 3:1. In doing a demo to someone after that session, one of my colleagues showed how you can use Accordance to search for question marks and other punctuation.
The method is ridiculously simple. Just enter a period followed by whatever single character you want to find. If you want to find all question marks, just enter .?. If you want to find all quotations, just enter .“. If you want to find all exclamations, just enter .!. Okay, so you get the idea. By searching an English translation for .?, my colleague was able to show that the speaker had, in fact, correctly identified the first question in the Bible.
Now that you know how to search for all the questions in the Bible, let's go even further by seeing where those questions occur. To do this, click the graph icon to the right of the Context slider and choose Hits Graph from the pop-up menu.
The graph that appears should look something like this:
It's interesting to note where the greatest concentration of questions is: near the end of Job, where God bombards Job with a series of questions he cannot answer. It's also interesting to note where the fewest questions appear. Look how rare they are in the latter half of Exodus and in the entire book of Leviticus.
To examine any of these occurrences, simply double-click that place in the Graph. Your search results will then be scrolled to the corresponding text.
Tomorrow, I'll show you another way to visualize the results of this search. Any questions?