View Full Version : Narrowing Google Book (and Amazon) Searches

05-07-2006, 06:24 PM
pfrobbins' post (http://www.bibleworks.com/forums/showthread.php?goto=lastpost&t=1158) on searching Google Books got me to thinking...

You can maximize searching in Google Books by narrowing your search criteria automatically. One way would be to perform a search in Google Books for a particular title, and then plug in more search terms using the BibleWorks "dummy" tag.

For instance, the following link will look up a particular word (entered with the dummy tag) in Neusner's translation of the Talmud Yerushalmi in Google Books:

books.google.com/books?q=<dummy>+%28%28talmud+AND+%28yerushalmi+OR+%28land+israel% 29%29%29+neusner%29&as_brr=0
For the above url to work, you will need to add "http://" to the beginning.

One could be quite creative with the above search criteria. For instance, you could try doing a search in google books like the following:
rain ("second temple judaism" OR "early judaism" OR "rabbinic judaism")Then perform the search, copy the url at the top of the page. In this case it looks like this:

http://books.google.com/books?q=rain+%28%22second+temple+judaism%22+OR+%22 early+judaism%22+OR+%22rabbinic+judaism%22%29&btnG=Search+Books&as_brr=0 (http://books.google.com/books?q=rain+%28%22second+temple+judaism%22+OR+%22 early+judaism%22+OR+%22rabbinic+judaism%22%29&btnG=Search+Books&as_brr=0)

Then, you could replace "rain" with <dummy>, and plug it into an ELM search. This would enable you to search for a single word in an English text that is associated on the same page as the phrases "second temple judaism," "early judaism" or "rabbinic judaism."

Of course, quite a few pages that are pulled up with Google Books would be "restricted" from view, but if your search is worthwhile, you may have a better idea of which books to check out at the library!

A similar approach could be taken with Amazon.com. Amazon has an excellent selection of books available to be read on their site using the company's "Search Inside the Book" feature. Dr. Roy Ciampa, NT prof at Gordon-Conwell (http://www.gordonconwell.edu) has put together an excellent web page listing commentaries and other resources pertinent to biblical studies (see the 2nd paragraph of his page: http://www.viceregency.com (http://www.viceregency.com)). To use this feature, one must have purchased something from Amazon in the past.

For instance, if you were to click the link below, you would be taken automatically to a search for "rain" in Neusner's translation of the Mishnah (ISBN:0300050224):
http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0300050224/?v=search-inside&keywords=rain (http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0300050224/?v=search-inside&keywords=rain)Now, again if you replace the word "rain" in this url with <dummy> and then plug it into the ELM, then you could search on a particular word in Neusner's Mishnah. You could also experiment by looking at Dr. Ciampa's links or by searching Amazon for other books that have the "search inside" feature. Then, you could replace the 10-digit ISBN in the above url with the ISBN of the book you'd like to search. (Keep in mind that NOT ALL BOOKS in Amazon have the "search inside" feature.)

Keep in mind, that phrase searches are not supported, neither are searches in Greek or Hebrew, and as mentioned above, there are restrictions on what pages can be viewed at Google and Amazon. Still, this provides a great way to "jump" to a free, but useful resource on the web, where even if the content is not viewable, the search results provide both an "index" and an overview of whether a word "pops up" in a particular book.