Monday, January 28, 2008

Diagramming Greek Sentences

Okay, I'll admit that when I was taught Greek, none of my teachers ever made us diagram sentences. We had to find subjects and verbs and in/direct objects and such, but we never had to draw those layouts like I did have to do when I was in grade school. (Remember? Here is a great refresher on diagramming English sentences.) So, I am wondering: Is it really important to have my students diagram sentences?
I raise this question, because I happened to read in the Logos newsgroup about a Koineworks Diagramming program you can buy, and some people look like they got pretty excited about it. Now if I should be so moved to diagram, I thought I would check and see what I can do in the software I already have. I will use 1 Corinthians 13.13 as an example. (BTW, did you see that I used Sean Boisen's BibleRef citation mentioned in a previous post?)

First, here is the Sentence Diagramming tool in BibleWorks7.
It was easy to import the verse, and then it was a matter of dragging/dropping the sentence elements which were nicely described on the left panel (only partially displayed above), and then dragging/dropping the words down onto the diagram. I found it rather difficult placing items precisely, and it was hard to resize the diagram elements.
Second, here is the Sentence Diagramming Tool in Logos3. Text imported very nicely, and as an additional bonus, it came in with sentence parts of speech color-coded. There is not as big of a collection of diagram elements as compared to BW7, and you have to hover over an element to see what it is. I suppose if I did this regularly and became familiar with the elements that might not be so important.
So, great, I diagram the sentence, and maybe it makes me think a bit longer about the appositional phrase ("these three things"). I also note the contrast between the diagram order which emphasizes the linear order of subject > verb as compared to the actual word order where αγαπη has the dramatic position at the end. I also realize that I have to add the verb of being, and it is at least interesting to consider, given the now/future contrasts Paul has been using in verses 8-12, that the verb supplied should maybe a "will be" instead of "be." I say maybe the diagramming makes me think more about these things...
BUT, did I need to bother to do the diagramming myself anyway? BibleWorks7 has a complete set of diagrams already included. (Right click on the Greek text in the browse window and choose "Open NT diagram at this word.") It looks like this:
That looks better than my diagram!
Logos3
offers two or three pre-diagrammed options. Here is what the Lexham Clausal Outlines of the Greek New Testament looks like:

Logos3 also has the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament (though it is not yet complete for the whole NT) which looks like this:
(I'm not sure just how helpful that one is...)
Additionally, Logos3 also includes the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek NT:
This really provides a deep level of sentence analysis, and I need to study it more to understand and utilize it.
You can also go to the OpenText.org site itself and find two additional visual analyses of the text. Here is the clause one:
And here is the word group one:
That makes a total of 7 pre-diagrammed visualizations before us. Which of these is most helpful? I kind of think that
the Lexham Clausal Outlines of the Greek New Testament gives the overall structure of the sentence most quickly. If I wanted a little more detail, the 'old school' layout used in BW7 helps me most. The greatest advantage of the syntactic diagrams offered in Logos3 is the ability to do sophisticated syntax searches on them. SO, back to my originating questions.

  • How helpful do you find diagramming Greek sentences?
  • Is it really best to diagram them yourself? Or should one use one of the many diagramming possibilities already available?
  • Which of the pre-diagrammed possibilities looks most helpful to you?

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