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Chiasm Search

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#1 Ingo Sorke

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Posted 21 March 2006 - 01:05 AM

I'm not an Accordance user (yet) and I'm wondering about a search capability/possibility (if it's even feasible).

Being fully aware of the fact that most scholars do not think too highly of chiasms, I'm wondering if Accordance could be utilized to search for chiastic occurrences, i.e. quantifiable word repetition patterns (I'm German and thus authorized to pile up nouns like that ;) )

This could become quite complex of course, with establishing conditions like a minimum of recurring word pairs etc., but could yield interesting structural patterns:

Lemma Word 1, Lemma Word 2; Lemma Word 2, Lemma Word 1 = verse ref. 1; verse ref. 2

Apple, Orange; Orange Apple = Book 1:1, 4; Book 10:4, 6

I see the difficulty in software having to spit out 2+ related references per single hit.

John 1:1 would be a great test text.

Thanks for any input.


#2 Ruben Gomez

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Posted 21 March 2006 - 04:42 AM

Hi Ingo,

I'm not sure you will be able to follow the steps given below without actually having the program in front of you, but I found an old thread posted back in 1998 by David Lang, member of the Accordance Development Team, that addresses this question.

It is actually a lot easier than what it may sound like, judging by the length of the explanation. But David is very thorough :)

BTW, the sort answer is: yes, it can be done ;)

Hope it helps.

Subject: How to do proximity searches in reverse order (a-b, b-a)
From: David Lang <[email protected]>
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 98 16:22:19 -0400

>I'm working on a project for my Gospel of John class and am working
>on a translation of John 1. Specifically John 1:1. I am trying to look for
>other places where two nouns are used in close proximity to one another,
>once in an "a - b" order, and then again in a "b - a" order to examine the
>syntax used to describe the relation between 'theos' and 'logos' which
>follow this pattern. Does anyone have any suggestions?
>Tim Bauerkemper


Great question! To do what you're asking, try the following:

(1) Open a Search window with the GNT as the search text, and the range set to [All Text]. Hit the Tab key to select the entire contents of the text entry box, and then choose "Greek" from the "New Construct" submenu of the File menu (or use the keyboard shortcut Command-2). A new Greek Construct window will appear automatically linked to the Search window.

(2) Drag the NOUN item from the palette on the left into the first (leftmost) column. In the dialog box that opens, click OK to close the dialog box without constraining the NOUN tag any further.

(3) Option-drag the NOUN element from the first column to the second column. Repeat this step for the third and fourth columns. You should now have a box that reads NOUN in the first four columns of the construct.

(4) Now drag the AGREE element into the space above the first and second columns. In the dialog box, click the checkbox for "Lexical form" and click OK. A round-cornered rectangle which reads "AGREE Lexical" should appear with "handles" linking the first and second columns. Because you want an a-b-b-a pattern, you want the first and fourth columns to agree in lexical form, rather than the first and second. You must therefore click on the black square in the middle of the right "handle" and drag it above the fourth column. The Agree element should now link the first and fourth columns.

(5) Now drag another AGREE element above the second and third columns. Once again, click the checkbox for "Lexical form" and click OK. You should now have your a-b-b-a pattern, in that the first and fourth nouns will come from one lexical form, and the second and third nouns will come from another lexical form.

Actually, with the current setup, you may find cases where all four nouns come from the same lexical form. To preclude this, drag a third AGREE item between the first and second columns. Once again, click the checkbox for "Lexical form" and click OK. Now drag the NOT item onto this third AGREE item. This will ensure that you get a-b-b-a rather than a-a-a-a.

(6) Now you just need to specify how close together you want each of these nouns to be. Drag a WITHIN item above the first and second columns. In the dialog box, type a number in the first box (I used 4). Repeat this process for the second and third columns, possibly specifying a greater possible distance (I used 10). Finally, do the same for the third and fourth columns (I used 4 again).

(7) Click OK in the Construct window to perform your search. If you use the same numbers I did for each of the WITHIN items, you should find 68 occurrences of this construction in 54 verses. A Plot shows that this pattern appears most frequently in 1 Corinthians 11 and Revelation 7. It only appears twice in the book of John (at 1:1 and 12:22).

Hope this helps.


David Lang

Edited by Ruben Gomez, 21 March 2006 - 04:45 AM.

Rubén Gómez

#3 Ingo Sorke

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Posted 21 March 2006 - 09:21 AM

Thanks Rubn (2x!...).

#4 William Varner

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 04:58 PM

[quote name='Ingo Sorke' date='Mar 20 2006, 10:05 PM' post='2244']

Being fully aware of the fact that most scholars do not think too highly of chiasms, . . .


While this may be true of some scholars you know, this one appreciates chiasms and thinks that they are far more numerous than we often think thye are. Matt 7:6 comes to mind as one of the best examples.
I think that it was the influence of Hebrew poetry, which abounds in chiasms, that influenced many NT writers to ustilize it. It was not as well known in Greek rhetorical handbooks. Again, in my opinion it was more a Hebrew characteristic. Keep in mind that there are lingustic chiasms that are more word-based, and there are conceptual chiasms, which are more thought based. Matt 7:6 would be more of a conceptual chiasm.

I think that even Accordance would have a hard time picking up on the conceptual chiasms.

Dr Will Varner
The Masters College

#5 Ingo Sorke

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 12:28 PM

Makes sense; the quantitative capturing of word chiasms would probably challenge the search construct capability of the searcher subject more than the software! It could potentially reveal much how thought is expressed in language, authorial vocabulary etc.

I'm fond of chiasms myself but wanted to be sensitive to the folks who see a risk in the "beauty is in they eye of the beholder" subjectivity. The book of Revelation is a prime example in regards to such a plethory of chiasms that one wonders if they can all be correct . . .

In this sense,

Don't let a kiss fool you and don't let a fool kiss you. :lol:


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