Building Vocabulary Stats of Synoptics and John

I was looking at some interesting tables on John’s vocabulary at this site. In it, the author, Dale Loepp, compares John’s use of certain words related to the family with the total number of occurrences in the NT and each of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). But what really hit me was the thought of how easy it is to get all those results in a very short time with some of today’s Bible software programs. I happened to be browsing the net with my Mac, so I fired up Accordance and opened a search window set to Words with the Greek NT in it. I then chose [All text] as the search field (NT would have also been fine), and duplicated that same window four times. Next, I changed the search fields of those four windows to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, respectively. All that I needed to do before running the search was to link all five windows (by using the LINK command in the last four). The whole operation took slightly over a minute (maybe less), and I was all set to do the searching. I just wrote ἀγαπάω, pressed the Enter key, and in the blinking of an eye each window showed the results (143 times in the NT, 8 in Matthew, 5 in Mark, 13 in Luke, and 37 in John).

Getting a detail of the references in John was simply a mouse-click away with the Concordance feature, as were many other statistical and analytical tools. I thought I could make regular use of this particular layout, so I saved the session. Now, whenever I want to see the distribution of some Greek word across the NT, the Synoptics and John, all I have to do is write the term in one window and click OK. Yes, a single search is all you need! FYI, I could have used a Workspace (i.e., one window) with five tabs, but in this particular case I preferred the “clutter”, so that I could see all the numbers at a glance (or maybe I was just too lazy to use Control-Tab or Shift-Control-Tab to cycle through open tabs?).

Incidentally, the data offered for the word ἀδελφός (26-3-5-3-6) is wrong. The right figures are as follows: 343 hits in the NT, 39 in Matthew, 20 in Mark, 24 in Luke and 14 in John. I’ll let you find the refs. in John’s Gospel all by yourselves :-)


Just How Important is a Printed Manual?

Not so long ago, Bible software packages (in fact most software packages) included a printed user manual. Today, the vast majority of software companies do not publish any manual at all. Supposedly it’s all found in the online Help so, they say, there is no need to duplicate efforts. I could give you dozens of examples, but let’s take just one:

Zondervan states that “in the interest of being environmentally responsible, there is no print manual with this software”, in reference to their Bible Study Library line of products. And then they add, “The entire manual is included under the Help Menu in the program. You are welcome to print it from there if you desire.” I beg your pardon! Do you mean to say that you want to be “environmentally responsible” but that it is okay if I, the user, spend hundreds of pages of paper and a good bit of ink printing the online help? Doesn’t seem to make much sense to me! I know that different people have different tastes and study habits, but I for one deeply regret the fact that most Bible software vendors (with some notable exceptions!) are no longer providing detailed printed manuals. I can think of a good number of reasons why printed manuals are valuable:

a) Reading from a book is a lot easier on your eyes than reading from your screen, particularly when you reach a certain age ;-)
b) Most online helps aren’t very complete anyway, to say the least. While ideally a printed manual should be comprehensive.
c) Printed manuals should offer, IMO, a good deal of information about the tagging/hypertexting philosophy that’s being followed, as well as the rationale of the search engine (i.e., why do we get the results we get when we do what we do). d) Considering the price of most commercial
applications, expecting to receive a manual seems quite reasonable.
e) I like reading books… Any problem with that? ;-))
f) There are many more, no doubt, but I have to go now…

And yes, the fact that many users don’t bother to read the manual (any manual) and keep calling or writing tech support doesn’t mean that manuals are useless. In fact, reading a good manual will go a long way towards mastering any software and overcoming the much-feared “learning curve”.


New e-Sword Add-ons

As no doubt many of you know, e-Sword is a freeware/donationware Bible software program for Windows. Unlike other products, the application and all the available texts can be downloaded from the website for free (although you can get a CD containing most of the material in exchange for a small donation). The number and quality of modules available is worthy of note. Besides, there are three add-ons that can currently be bought at a reasonable price: The New American Standard Bible Study Set (including Updated NASB, Updated NASB with Strong’s numbers, and Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries from the NAS Exhaustive Concordance), The Amplified Bible, and The Complete Word Study Dictionary (Old and New Testament) by Spiros Zodhiates. These last two items have just been made available this month.