AgapeRootTable In my previous post I talked about how to identify places where a search term is not found. For example, the Greek verb αγαπαω is surprisingly not used in books such as Acts and Philemon. This prompted me to ask why the concept of “love” would not be mentioned in an account of the early church or an appeal to a slave owner to show kindness to his runaway slave.

Of course, the fact that the verb translated “love” does not appear in those books does not actually mean that the concept of “love” is really absent. After all, it may be the case that those books use the noun αγαπη or the adjective αγαπητος. We therefore need to search for all these related words to see if they all are absent from those books.

One way to search for all those words would be to enter a search like (αγαπαω, αγαπη, αγαπητος) or αγαπαω <OR> αγαπη <OR> αγαπητος. Either of those searches will find any of those three lexical forms. But an even cooler approach is to search for these words by their common root form. To search by root, simply enter a plus sign (+) before the root word you want to find. For example, +αγαπη will automatically search for any word derived from that root.

The advantage of doing a root search is that you don’t have to remember every related word to get an accurate search. Simply enter the root and let Accordance supply the appropriate lexical forms.

Doing this root search gives us a fuller picture of where words related to αγαπαω appear. The Table for that search shows that in fact every book of the New Testament includes at least one of these words. The only reference in Acts is 15:25, in which the Jerusalem Council refers to Barnabas and Paul as “beloved” (αγαπητος). Philemon, which stood out for its lack of αγαπαω, actually uses αγαπη three times and αγαπητος twice, so “love” was indeed an important concept in that brief letter.

Searching by root is a quick and convenient way to search for related terms and make sure you’re not missing something. Be sure to take advantage of this powerful feature.