Re: Participles and Computer searches

From: Ruben Gomez (
Date: Fri Mar 26 1999 - 05:46:40 EST

Hello B-greekers,

On Thu, 25 Mar 1999, Peter Head wrote:

>Theodore "Ted" Mann asked:
>"Can anyone tell me which NT document contains the greatest number of
>We were privileged to receive two answers. One (from Alan Hultberg) had
>searched Accordance. The other (from Eric Cohoon) had searched
>BibleWorks 3.5.
>The two lists could only agree on five out of twenty-seven NT
>documents!! The differences are up to 20%. Either this proves we should
>pay no attention to such statistics, or that we need to think rather
>carefully about who constructed the databases and what we are asking the
>engines to search for.
>I have adapted the first list posted (Acc.) to reveal these differences.
>How shall we explain them?
>(List snipped)

Very easily! Since both texts are based on the same critical text
(UBS4/NA27), and not the Textus Receptus (as somebody asked in another
post), the differences lie in these two areas:

1) The morphological databases used by each program are different.
BibleWorks 3.5 uses Friberg's AGNT (2nd ed.), whereas Accordance uses the
GRAMCORD Parsed GNT. Friberg's tagging is somewhat non-traditional, and is
based as much on function as morphology. On the other hand, Gramcord's
database is more tradition and follows a formal approach. That, of course,
is an over simplification.

BibleWorks 4.0 includes Friberg's AGNT and a new morphological database
called BNM (BibleWorks GNT Morphology, by Jean-Noel Aletti, Andrzej
Gieniusz and Michael Bushell). This database follows a similar approach to
the one used by Accordance. If you search for all the participles from
BibleWorks' Command Line, you will find out that the only discrepancies in
the list you gave occur in the books of John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2
Corinthians, Hebrews, 2 Peter and Revelation. The differences (BibleWorks
reports 1 or 2 more hits in each case) are due to the fact that there are
some alternate parsings, which means some hits are counted more than once.
Now, if you perform the same search from the new graphical Advanced Search
Engine (ASE), you will get exactly the same results. In other words, both
lists will be identical (Yes, that's right, they agree 100%) I have checked
it out personally. The reason for this is that the ASE counts hits in a
slightly different way than the Command Line. I don't have the time to
explain this in detail, and I don't think this is the right place to do it
either, but the fact of the matter is that both Accordance and BibleWorks
4.0 yield the same results, despite their having different databases and
different ways of reporting hits, which brings me to my second point, i.e.,

2) Users' grasp of the different ways Bible software programs work is
frequently less than adequate. In order to get correct and reliable
results, you should thoroughly know the program(s) you are using. That
allows you to build and perform searches the right way and avoids (or
should I say keeps to a minimum) any unwanted or misleading results.

So, in conclusion, BOTH programs are correct and reliable. They give the
very same results IF the user is aware of the differences between certain
databases and the particular behavior of each application. As far as the
GNT is concerned, statistics are basically error-free. A lot of hard work
is currently being done by some fine scholars on the LXX and BHS
morphological databases, although these need to be used with greater caution.

BTW, I use both Accordance and BibleWorks 4.0, and they are, by far, the
most advanced and reliable Bible software packages currently available for
academic work, IMHO.

Hope this helps.

Ruben Gomez
Bible software beta-tester and free-lance translator

PS. This is the first time, as far as I can remember, that I add any title
or professional qualification under my name. I just thought it fit to do it
this time, given the nature of the thread. Nevertheless, I won't bore you
with my other theological qualifications and so on, since this is a
scholarly list anyway. Certain things should be taken for granted... ;-)

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