DSS Software: Necessary Background Information

This is the first post of a series in which I will review the Dead Sea Scrolls resources available in Logos, BibleWorks, Accordance, and in Brill’s Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library. I posted my plan for the series, but if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments. A little background information is necessary in order to understand the differences between the products offered by each company.


In the broad sense of the term, “Dead Sea Scrolls” is not synonymous with “Qumran Scrolls.”  Many of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered at Qumran, but not all of them. In fact, fragments of scrolls were found in at least eighteen locations: Qumran, Wadi Daliyeh, Ketef Jericho, Khirbet Mird, Ain Feshka, Wadi Nar, Wadi Ghweir, Wadi Murabbaʿat, Wadi Sdeir, Naḥal Arugot, Ein-gedi, Naḥal Ḥever, Naḥal Ḥever/Seiyal, Naḥal Mishmar, Naḥal Ṣeʾelim, Masada, and Khirbet Qazone (Ken M. Penner, “Dead Sea Scrolls” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible, Oxford, 2011, pp. 173-192).

The number of scrolls found at the four main locations are as follows:

  • Qumran: about 1,050 scrolls
  • Wadi Murabbaʿat: 120 scrolls
  • Naḥal Ḥever: over 70 scrolls
  • Masada: 15 scrolls

(Peter W. Flint, The Dead Sea Scrolls, Abingdon Press, 2013, p. XX)


Most of the scrolls were written in Hebrew, about 130 in Aramaic, and 27 in Greek (Penner, 174).

Two Categories

Scrolls are typically categorized as biblical or “non-biblical.” Peter W. Flint explains,

The number of biblical scrolls available to scholars is 270, comprising 252 from Qumran and 18 from other sites… The grand total of biblical scrolls is 318, of which about 300 were most likely found at Qumran. About 48 (perhaps a few less scrolls are held by private parties and will most likely be ‘on the market’ in future years. (p. 74)

About 750 of the 1,050 Qumran scrolls are non-biblical. The scrolls discovered at Wadi Murabbaʿat are mixed bag, most of those at Naḥal Ḥever are “letters and legal documents of the second century,” and at Masada 8 of the 15 scroll fragments are non-biblical (see Flint, p. 9).

“Sectarian Scrolls”

The non-biblical scrolls are sometimes further divided into sectarian and non-sectarian scrolls. Flint states,

At least half of the nonbiblical scrolls, probably more, represent texts composed by the Essene (Yahad) movement. Containing the movement’s ideology or distinctive language, these are known as the sectarian scrolls… It is tempting to neatly divide the nonbiblical scrolls into sectarian and nonsectarian groupings, but in many cases this proves unworkable since identifying sectarian content and language is often not possible. (p. 105)

With this background in mind, the next post will look at which DSS texts are available in each platform.

Review of DSS Software

I have begun posting a multi-part comparative review of Dead Sea Scrolls resources in Logos, BibleWorks, Accordance, and Brill’s Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library. The current plan is to do 7 posts, one on each of these topics:

  1. Necessary background information
  2. Available DSS texts
  3. Interview: Ken Penner talks with Martin Abegg, the person behind all electronic DSS
  4. Displaying the texts
  5. Searching
  6. Lexica and Secondary Resources
  7. Final Thoughts and Critique

If you have any questions, suggests, or particular things you would like to see covered, feel free to let me know in the comments.

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.”