Thursday, December 8, 2011

Searching for Greek Roots in Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos

This has turned out to be a somewhat lengthy adventure for me. It started with reading Rubén Gómez' posting on "Finding all the forms of a Greek word in Accordance" which was in turn a response to Michael Hite's posting on "Finding all forms of a Greek word with Logos 4." As Gomez noted, the method demonstrated for Logos 4 was rather convoluted. Furthermore, it's simply inadequate and misses a number of hits, because it fails to include words that have prefixes attached to the roots or instances where the root word has forms that are not spelled quite the same. In the example provided in both videos, the task was to find all the words sharing the root of κρινω = judge. The Logos demonstration found, by picking words alphabetically close to κρινω: κρινω, κριμα, κρισις, κριτηριον, κριτης, κριτικος. What it missed, however, were these words that also occur in James based on that root: διακρινω, αδιακριτος, ανυποκριτος. Gomez demonstrates the very simple and elegant way that Accordance found all those words which is accomplished merely by right-clicking on a word and choosing "Search for root." The results are very nicely displayed as well. 

How does Accordance accomplish this task? They have evidently compiled lists of cognate word groups. These are simply the collection of words based on the same root. Such collections of cognate groups have been regularly used as aids to vocabulary memorization, and you can find them in Metzger's Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek, Robinson's Mastering NT Greek, Van Voorst's Building Your NT Greek Vocabulary,or Trenchard's Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek NT. (Incidentally, I am fairly certain that Accordance and Logos referred to Trenchard's listings, because, for example, he--inaccurately, I believe--includes νηστευ· forms with the εσθι· root and εραυν· forms with the  ερωτα· root. A real linguist, which I am not, may be able to confirm that or not.) By using such a listing, Accordance has made it possible to search for all the words in a group when you search for any one of them based on its root. (Searching by root was a feature added in version 7. Matters are similar but not the same with Hebrew and its system of 3 consonant roots.)

As far as I can tell, Logos is not able at this time to conduct such a root search directly. [UPDATE: 2012.11: It is now easily possible in Logos 5 by simply right-clicking on a Greek (or English) word and choosing "Root" in one of their appropriately tagged versions.] Fortunately, however, it is able to do so with a little work. What you need to use is the The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. (It's included in their Silver library or higher or for purchase separately. $30 list) Each entry in this lexicon includes the word, a gloss, a list of cognate words, links to usages in Louw-Nida, and a listing of all the forms in the NT. 

Unfortunately, however, there is no simple way to search on that cognate list. (I'm thinking if Logos folks read this, it wouldn't be a particularly hard thing to implement.) What I did was to copy the list, paste it into a word processor, then find/replace every instance of ", " with " OR lemma:" and then touch up a bit so that ultimately I could use a Morph search and paste in the full list of κρινω cognates: 

That search will generate the results you want, and Logos returns them with the attractive options of viewing it as Verses (with a parallel English version if you wish), Aligned, or the Analysis view which provides all sorts of helpful information.

Can BibleWorks conduct such a root search? No, unless you manually typed in all the roots you would have had to gotten from elsewhere. You can get pretty close, however, by searching for *κρι* in one of the Greek morphological versions, but that really only works because the κρι stem is rather regular. (Note that in BW, the command line search would actually be: .*κρι* The initial asterisk allows for prefixes, and the final asterisk allows for various suffix-type endings. A similar sort of search could be done in Logos using a morph search with lemma:*κρι* OR lemma:*κρί* in the command line. I had to specify both an unaccented and accented iota to get all the results.) For other roots, the spelling is irregular, and so you can't count on a wildcard search. (E.g., γινομαι shares its root with forms of γιν· γεν· γενν· γον·) 

Bottom line: If you want to do a word root search, Accordance is the tool you want. Now why exactly would you want to do such a search? It does give you a broader picture of how an author is using words sharing the same root. In the case of James, it helps you gain a broader picture of the matter of 'judging' throughout the book. It also demonstrates a bit of James' eloquence in pairing αδιάκριτος (=impartial) and ανυπόκριτος (=not hypocritical) together. You wouldn't have caught that pairing in any English translation. But if our real concern is to find all the instances of a concept, then we are not necessarily looking for just a word root but for any words related to that concept. For that, we want to use semantic domains, and in the next posting I will describe the use of Louw-Nida's Lexicon of the NT Based on Semantic Domains.


  1. Good post and explanation. Accordance is king of high powered and complex searching!

  2. Trenchard's list is fine, but I think your problem might be that you're too scientific with it. He reorganizes Greenlee's list he says, and he also is not entirely consistent with the root word that he uses to classify. If the root word is not found in the NT, he often chooses a different word. So for ἐσθίω the root is probably meant to be ἐδ- but since that word doesn't occur in the NT, ἐσθίω was chosen. If you look up νῆστις in BDAG, you'll see info on ἐδ-. As for ἐραυνάω, I don't know whether the idea is that there is a connection by ἐρ- or not. Does Greenlee also put it in the same category?

  3. I agree that Accordance does a better job here in finding cognates - no doubt. But Logos allows you to do more with the search results once you find them. Visual filters for marking them even in an English text, Analysis which will break the words down in minute detail, and even the ability to store the search in Favorites so you don't have to create it again.

    Different packages have different strengths for sure.

  4. Argh…and I almost bought Accordance instead of Logos last year at ETS. Kinda wish I had gone with Accordance.
    Here's hoping that Logos 4 developers are reading!

  5. J. Michael Hite, how familiar are you with Accordance? With respect to what you can do with your search results, Accordance lets you apply any highlight styles to hit words, it has offered powerful analysis tools since 1.0 was released in 1994, and it has always let you save searches.

  6. Thanks for all the comments!
    @Donovan and JMichael: Do check the next post on domain searching...
    @Michael: I had forgotten about Greenlee. I went back and checked, and he based all his associations on Liddell-Scott derivations. As he notes in his introduction, some of the derivations have to go back a few steps, and that is indeed the case with the two examples I cited.