Re: Bible Software

From: Paul A. Miller (
Date: Thu Nov 30 1995 - 17:11:48 EST

Several items have recently appeared on B-Greek concerning software
published by The GRAMCORD Institute that require some clarification or

>Michael is quite right -- a lot of the Bible software out there is next
>to useless for any serious work. This is why I'll be saving my pennies
>for the Gramcord Institute's acCordance programme. It contains the most
>powerful search engine I have seen for a Bible programme and is able to
>perform multiple levels of lexical and grammatical searches using Boolean

However, as we like to point out, precisely what makes GRAMCORD/acCordance
so powerful is its ability to do MUCH MORE THAN mere Boolean AND/OR/NOT
searches. Language scholars do not think in terms of Boolean logic so our
programs are not primarily geared toward that approach. True, we made
provision for Boolean searches in both our Mac and Windows systems but that
was a secondary concession more than a primary goal. We wanted to do
searches in a template format such as: find pairs of participles joined by
KAI which differ in tense but share the same lemma, etc. (Plus, the user can
define "word families", determine the position of the construction within
the sentence or clause, whether certain punctuations or word types can
intervene, precede, or follow . . . and all sorts of other "non-Boolean"
concepts that can be quite important.) Moreover, what, for example, if the
scholar wants two words to be adjacent with one another EXCEPT when
interrupted by a certain type of word? That is also virtually impossible to
do using Boolean logic alone. If I am looking for Granville-Sharp examples,
I rarely think in terms of Booleans; most of our users just fill in a
GRAMCORD search template. (Our original DOS GRAMBUILD approach has been
significantly enhanced within our Macintosh and Windows GRAMCORD's.)

For more detail about these kinds of search issues, consult Harry Hahne's
paper from last year's ETS meeting that is posted on the CHORUS website.

>Yet one thing is lacking in acCordance 1.1: the ability to read
>the PHI and TLG disks. The Gramcord people tell me this is something they
>are looking into, but not to hold my breath.

I have responded to this elsewhere. We are indeed working on it (but hope
everyone will continue normal respiration patterns -- not doing so may lead
to bad exegesis).

>Since it uses the
>Friberg text, ambiguous forms will be found by any of the parameters that
>match (the last time I used it, Gramcord did not include ambiguities in
>the database itself.

This observation perplexes me because even the original mainframe GRAMCORD
that I wrote in 1976 made provisions for ambiguities in the database (and
every version since that time has done likewise). For example, if one is
looking for something trivial such as imperatives in the Acts of the
Apostles, GRAMCORD specially flags a number of second person plural present
active imperatives as perhaps being indicatives. (GRAMCORD has always run
"ambiguous sentences" using each possible permutation of classifications so
that the user can determine whether to accept or reject each set of
presuppositions in the database. In fact, Harry Hahne's review of
grammatical programs recently published in the Religious Studies Newletter
specifically praises GRAMCORD for being unique among the cited programs in
clearly stating its search strategy presuppositions.)

>BTW, Bible Windows is also
>considerably less expensive than Gramcord, but there is no Mac version of
>Bible Windows).

We have a number of different GRAMCORD programs for all three major
platforms: DOS, Windows, and Macintosh. Our most popular GRAMCORD module is
$125 and groups often order it for less than that so I am unclear about this
statement. (The smaller market and some of the cost issues we deal with on
the Macintosh side has lead to the price of our Macintosh bundles being
greater than the price of some of the programs on the IBM side.
Nevertheless, the differences in capabilities, etc. make cost comparisons
somewhat inapplicable. With so many software "bundles" available, it takes
some diligence to avoid comparing "apples with oranges." Different programs
have different goals and target different kinds of users. What is "best"
depends on many factors.)

Other than clearing up some basic information here, I don't want to clog the
forum with further software details that may not be of interest to everyone.
Therefore, please contact the Institute directly if you need more
information. (Moreover, if you like your current software, great! We get
emails that want to pursue the Mac vs IBM debate, the superiority of certain
word-processors, Company A vs Company B, etc. That is not our interest here.
We are just a bunch of tired professors with deadlines to meet and projects
to finish! The Syntactical Concordance volume I am doing with D. A. Carson
for The University of Chicago Press has to be ready for the next stage of
processing by March 1 and I'm running behind. Yes, it was in order to
prepare that volume that I wrote GRAMCORD in the first place. Let us not
lose sight of the fact that our tools are just a means to an end! :)
Prof. Paul A. Miller (Email:
The GRAMCORD Institute
2218 NE Brookview Dr., Vancouver, WA 98686, U.S.A.
Voice (360)576-3000; FAX (503)761-0626; Homepage:
Computer-Assisted Biblical Language Research (IBM & MAC)

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