Brian W. Davidson

teacher @highlandslatin,

PhD candidate @sbts,

research expert @sbtslibrary

Complex Morphological Searches in BibleWorks 9

This post illustrates how BibleWorks 9 makes constructing complex morphological searches easy. Every search starts with a question. The Question

In Genesis 10:19 one finds the form בֹּאֲכָה two times. Here is the verse in full:

וַיְהִי גְּבוּל הַכְּנַעֲנִי מִצִּידֹן בֹּאֲכָה גְרָרָה עַד־עַזָּה בֹּאֲכָה סְדֹמָה וַעֲמֹרָה וְאַדְמָה וּצְבֹיִם עַד־לָשַׁע

English translations usually render בֹּאֲכָה "in the direction of," "as far as," or "going toward." The phrase could be literally translated "in your going"; it is the verb בוא with a 2ms pronominal suffix. The 2ms pronominal suffix is usually written ךָ- in the Hebrew Bible. Here we see the fuller form, כָה-, a form which is found frequently in the Qumran scrolls.

Recognizing this as a relatively rare form, I wondered, "How many times is the 2ms pronominal suffix spelled plene in the Hebrew Bible?" BibleWorks makes it simple to answer this question with their Graphical Search Engine (GSE).

Constructing the Search

To answer the question above, we need to find (1) every word with a 2ms pronominal suffix attached to it and (2) diplay only those instances where the pronominal suffix is spelled כָה- rather than ךָ-. With the GSE you can quickly and easily search two databases at the same time: the morphologically tagged text and the "surface text." By "surface text" I mean the text as you see it in a print Bible.

1. In the command line of the search window, type the letters "wtm" and press "enter"; this will ensure that when you open the GSE you will be searching the morphological database of the Hebrew Bible. My tab titles (e.g., Hm*) might look a little different than yours, but that will not matter as long as you type "wtm" and press enter.

2. Click the blue magnifying glass on the toolbar to open the GSE.

3. Now that the GSE window is open, double-click on (1) the greyed-out word "Vowels" at the bottom of the screen and (2) the box containing only the letters WTM. Turning on "Vowels" will allow us to specify exactly what we want the 2ms pronominal to look like (כָה). Double-clicking the "WTM" box will open a pop-up where we will type the specifics of our search.

4. Three boxes in the window that pops up are important for our search. (1) In the "Word" box type an asterisk (*) | This tells the program that the pronominal suffix can be attached to any word. An asterisk is a wildcard. (2) In the "Morph" box type @*+*2ms* | The @ sign is the way you indicate that the symbols you are going to type correspond to Hebrew or Greek morphological tags. In each case, the asterisk means "anything." The plus sign (+) indicates that the symbols you are going to type to the right are "secondary codes." That is, they are morphological information about the suffix attached to the word. "2ms" specifies the person, gender, and number of the pronoun we are looking for (second person, masculine gender, singular number). (3) In the "Match the following spec in WTT" box type כָה* | This tell the program that we only want to find occurrences of the pronominal suffix where it is spelled plene. If you run the search with nothing in this box, you will get results for all words that have 2ms pronominal suffixes attaches.

5. Click "OK," which will close this pop up window and enter your search terms into the WTM box, and then click "go."

The results will be displayed in the search window, with the number of occurrences at the bottom. You should get 39 hits in 37 verses.

This is one type of search I don't think Logos can do at the moment. I can say for sure that I have been a Logos user as long as I have been reading Hebrew and during that time I have not figured out a way to construct such a search in Logos. Within a day of working with BibleWorks, I constructed the search illustrated here. This is a testimony to just how intuitive BibleWorks has made the process of constructing complex morphological searches.

[UPDATE (12/18/12): See Ken Penner's comments below. I stand corrected. You can construct this search in Logos, but not as intuitively or efficiently.]

This is the second post in a multi-part review of BibleWorks, the first post specifically dealing with BibleWorks 9. Several reviews of the software have highlighted the layout of the program and basic features (see especially Abram KJ's fantastic review). In future posts I will be illustrating particular features of the program and discussing how BibleWorks complements Logos Bible Software. For a previous post on searching with BibleWorks see "How to Disambiguate Homonyms in BibleWorks Searches."

Jonah the Pharisee

Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library