Accordance Blog
Apr 17, 2013 David Lang

Zigging Won't Work? Try Zagging!

Monday, I wrote about a panel discussion at a recent conference which compared the use of the words βασιλεια (kingdom) and ευαγγελιον (gospel) in the Greek New Testament. To see the relevant data for myself, I did a search for βασιλεια <OR> ευαγγελιον, then chose Analysis Graph from the Stats and Graphs icon of the Search tab. I then chose to have the Analysis Graph break down this search by Lexical form (LEX).

The resulting graph plotted the frequency of these two lexical forms across the entire New Testament, and I made some observations about what it revealed. I also mentioned, in passing, that when Matthew uses the term "gospel," he is speaking of the "gospel of the kingdom."

Now, by graphing the use of each Greek lexical form separately, the Analysis Graph does not make it easy to see where the two terms are used together in a phrase like "gospel of the kingdom." So how would we see something like that?

It's in situations like this that it helps to know enough about Accordance to know when to zig and when to zag. The Analysis Graph takes whatever search you do and then breaks it down by whatever category you choose. Thus, even if we were to search for the phrase "gospel of the kingdom," the Analysis Graph will never graph the occurrences of that phrase. Instead, it will go right on graphing each occurrence of "gospel" and each occurrence of "kingdom." In short, zigging won't work in this case.

There is, however, a way to accomplish this by zagging. The Hits Graph is an older, simpler analytic tool which does one thing: plots the frequency of occurrence of the search term. Thus, if you search for a single word, it will plot the frequency of occurrence of that word. If you search for two words connected by an <OR> command, it will plot the frequency of occurrence of both those words together. If you search for a phrase, it will plot the frequency of occurrence of that phrase. You get the idea.

Now, although the Hits Graph doesn't do the kinds of comparisons that are possible with the Analysis Graph, it does include a little known feature that can come in really handy: the Keep button. In the days before the Analysis Graph, this was the only way to compare two different graphs. In the case of our comparison of βασιλεια (kingdom) and ευαγγελιον (gospel), we would have first done a search for one of those terms and then done a HITS graph. Now, because the HITS graph is dynamically linked to the search tab, it will automatically update when you do a new search—that is, unless you click the Keep button on the graph before doing the new search. Thus, we would search for βασιλεια, open a HITS graph, click the Keep button, return to the search tab and search for ευαγγελιον. The resulting HITS graph will look the same as the Analysis Graph we did the other day, showing the frequency of occurrence of each term separately.

Obviously, the Analysis Graph is easier to use than the HITS Graph for comparing two lexical forms like this, which is why few Accordance users even bother with the Keep button any more. But it still comes in handy, like when you want to compare the use of a phrase like "gospel of the kingdom" (εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας). After doing a HITS graph of βασιλεια, clicking the Keep button, and doing a new search for ευαγγελιον, simply click the Keep button a second time, and search for εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας. The resulting HITS Graph will look like this:


Here we can see that the three occurrences of the phrase "gospel of the kingdom" correspond exactly to the first three occurrences of the word for "gospel" in Matthew. Nowhere else is this phrase used, though Matthew frequently uses "kingdom" outside the phrase "gospel of the kingdom."

If you find yourself wanting to compare the frequency of phrases like this, the Analysis Graph won't work because it wants to break everything down into individual words, but a HITS Graph with the Keep button will let you compare each phrase you search for. In Accordance, even when zigging won't work, there's usually a way to zag.


Mar 28, 2011 David Lang

Any Questions?

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?