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Tip 3.6 Comparing Vocabulary in the Synoptic Gospels

A common task in Synoptic Gospels studies is to compare the vocabulary of the parallel pericopes. In this Classroom Tip we will look at one way you can use BibleWorks to help with this task. In this example we are trying to find all the verb lemmas that appear in more than one book within the pericope, but which do not appear in the same form.

Create Custom Search Limits

First, create custom search limits for each of the Synoptic Gospel pericopes. If you are using the Aland pericope numbers, I suggest naming them something like "za14, za15, etc." so that it is easy to enter the search limit on the Command Line. I suggest adding the "z" in front of the "a" so that the Aland pericope custom search limits appear at the bottom of the list of custom search limits, since there will be a lot of them. (For more information, Chapter 50 of the BW 8 Help file discusses how to create custom search limits.) For "za14", set the search range to "mat 3:7-3:10;luk 3:7-3:9".

Search for Verbs

With the pericope custom search ranges created, now we will go through each pericope and search for verbs. Set the BGM as your search version, and the companion text BGT as a display version. Start with the first pericope and proceed through the last pericope. (Some pericopes can be skipped, as they only contain passages from one book.) For our example we will use Aland pericope 14, containing texts from Matthew and Luke.

On the Command Line enter the custom search range "za14" and press Enter on your keyboard. Now we will search for all the verbs in this pericope. Type <.*@v*> on the Command Line and press Enter.

Load the Search Results into the Word List Manager

Now we will use the Word List Manager (WLM) to gather the words found in our search, so that we can identify words that appear more than once in the pericope. Open the Word List Manager (WLM). Click the Load or Generate Word List button. With the BGM as your version, select as the source Load highlighted words from last query. You do not need to change the Verse Range Limits from the default settings. Uncheck all the checkboxes under Other options. Because we are looking for verbs that have the same lemma but which have different forms, we uncheck the morphological form. (This decision will become clearer once we display our search results in the Search Window.) Press Create list.

The word list that appears in the WLM contains all the verbs found in all the verses contained in the pericope. The only words important to our study are those that appear more than one time in the pericope, since they are the only ones that could possibly appear in more than one Gospel. Select a new tab in the Search window. The new tab will inherit the same search limits as in the previous tab. In turn we will double-click each word that appears more than once in the WLM. Double-clicking on a word in the WLM searches for that word and displays the search results in the Search Window.

The first word that we double-click is λεγω, which appears 6 times in the word list. After double-clicking the word, the search results appear in the Search Window. The only valid searches for our purposes are ones that appear in more than one book. The lemma λεγω appears in both Matthew and Luke, so this is a valid search. Notice that the forms of the word appear in the Search Results. If all the forms of the word are the same, then the search is invalid for our purposes. But for this example, there are three forms shown in the Search Window. (There are a total of 6 occurrences, so 2 of the forms are not shown. Be sure to check all forms of the word in the pericope, as some may not appear in the Search Window. When there is more than one hit per verse, an asterisk and the number of hits in that verse appears next to the verse reference. You may want to show the entire verse in the Search Window to see all the forms in each verse. To show the entire verse, right-click within the Search Window, and then select Listbox Content Options | Show Entire Verse Wrapped.)

View Results in the Synopsis Window

Open the Synopsis Window, select File | Open, and then select "Aland (greek)" as your Synopsis Window file, so that it will display the BGT Greek text. Close the Synopsis Window for now.

Now we will use the Synopsis Window to see the word forms in context, so that we can visually determine if the words with different forms correspond to one another. Select the first reference in the Search Window. Now open the Synopsis Window. The Synopsis Window will open to the verse displayed in the Browse Window. The search results will be in yellow. The only search results that are valid for our purposes are the ones with differing forms. Notice that the first entry in each book corresponds in the context, but have different forms. Therefore, this is a valid hit. Take notes on this occurrence, and then close the Synopsis Window.

Return to the WLM. Double-click on the remaining words that appear more than once in the pericope. The ones that have different forms are potentially valid items for our purposes. The remaining verbs all have the same forms, so the only valid words in this pericope were the first occurrences of λεγω in Matthew and Luke.

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