Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Believing" and "Having Faith" - Searching in Logos and BibleWorks

Nothing profound here, but I was doing a search that offers a good example of the relative strengths of BibleWorks7 and Logos. On Better Bibles Blog, the question was raised about the best way to translate pisteuo/πιστευω and pistis/πιστις. The focus used was Luke 8.50 where Jesus is speaking to Jairus, and, depending on the version, says,

  • "Believe only..." (KJV) or "Only believe..." (NASB, NRSV)
  • "Just believe..." (NIV, NET)
  • "Just have faith..." (NLT and similarly NJB)
  • "Just trust me..." (Message)
We see that one possibility is to use the word "faith," but it's hard to use these word consistently, because in English there is no cognate verb form (i.e., "to faith"). We can use the pair "believe/belief" or the word "trust" (both a noun and verb) as other good options. As common as it is in English, I have been a bit reluctant to use the word "faith," because it seems to me to convey a static concept. In the hoary history of pistis/πιστις, Smyth (Greek Grammar, section 840a) notes that substantives ending in si(s)/σις are used to denote the abstract idea of the verbal action. At least in its origin, therefore, pistis/πιστις is probably better rendered as "believing" as a way of show that it is a dynamic concept.

So, I wanted to see how many times in the NT the verb
pisteuo/πιστευω is used in comparison to the times that it speaks of "having faith" using echo/εχω and pistis/πιστις. Using BibleWorks7 it is a simple matter of searching for pisteuo/πιστευω, and it quickly returns 241 hits in all of .14 seconds. Looking for echo/εχω and pistis/πιστις is easy as well, and it is possible to limit the hits by specifying pistis/πιστις as being in the accusative case since I'm looking for when it functions as the direct object. The search looks like this:

There are 26 hits here (returned in .05 seconds!), and since that isn't so many, it doesn't take too long to weed through them and find out which ones are actually the "have faith" construction.
In Logos, it is an easy matter as well to find all the instances of
pisteuo/πιστευω. The fastest way is to use the Bible Speed Search with the NA27 text. Results are nearly instantaneous. It takes a little longer to conduct a Greek Morphological Search for the echo/εχω and pistis/πιστις in the accusative case. Where I can quickly jump to the command line in BW7 and type the command as seen in the graphic above, in Logos, it takes just a bit of time for the search dialog to open. Then I first have to make sure I have the right combination of Bibles, Morphology, and Range set. (If you get 0 results on a search, and you are pretty sure you should have some hits, this is probably the problem.) Next, I have to toggle to the Greek keyboard and enter the echo/εχω lemma and add it to the search. Toggle back to the English keyboard and type in "AND." Toggle back to the Greek keyboard and type in pistis/πιστις in the Form box, and then select Noun and Accusative. (Does someone know of a faster way in Logos to do this? I realize I could just type everything in on the Greek Morph. Search command line, but I still would need to be toggling keyboards, and there are not coding helps as BW7 provides to guide me as I type.) The results are returned quite quickly, not BW7's .05 seconds, but search time is certainly not an issue here.

In Logos, however, I can also use a Syntax Search based on the analysis of the NT from to look specifically for instances when echo/εχω is the verb (Predicator is the term used) and pistis/πιστις is its direct object (or Complement). I'm still learning how to use this tool, and I'm figuring out how to construct these searches by working from the results from BW7 I know I should be getting and seeing how the clause is analyzed and from there creating the proper search syntax. Below is what the Logos Syntax Search looks like. (If you want to download this search, right click and save this file to your My Documents/Libronix DLS/SyntaxQueries directory. In Logos, use "Search" from the menu > Syntax Search then click on "Load" and select the "HaveFaith" file.)
(To make sense of the following, you probably need to have Logos and play with the Syntax Search dialog options.) Here is a video of how I constructed the search, and below that written out are the steps I took.

  • You will see that I started with a clause and indicated by using the check boxes that it could be an Embedded, Primary, or Secondary clause.
  • Next I selected a clause component and indicated that it did not have to be an immediate child, but that it should be a Predicator.
  • Then I told it that I wanted a Word. It did not have to be an immediate child, but I did want it highlighted, and I typed out echo/εχω in Greek in the Lexeme box.
  • Next I indicated that Anything could be next to account for any modifiers that might occur between the Predicator and the Complement.
  • Then I again selected a clause component and indicated that it did not have to be an immediate child, but this time that it should be a Complement.
  • Again I told it that I wanted a Word. It did not have to be an immediate child, but I did want it highlighted, and I typed out pistis/πιστις in Greek in the Lexeme box. I also edited the Morphology to indicate that the noun should be in the accusative case.
  • I added an "OR" statement.
  • Then with Clause 1 selected, I used "Copy" to reproduce it.
  • Then I exchanged the position of the Predicator and Complement in Clause 2 to cover instances when their order might be reversed.
The result produced exactly the 12 correct instances of "have faith" in the NT: Matthew 17:20; 21:21; Mark 4:40; 11:22; Luke 17:6; Acts 14:9; Romans 14:22; 1 Corinthians 13:2; 1 Timothy 1:19; James 2:1, 14, 18.

It is clear, therefore, that the NT authors certainly preferred by a 241 to 12 ratio to use the verbal form
pisteuo/πιστευω rather than the composite expression of echo/εχω and pistis/πιστις. Except in those 12 instances, I would argue that we would at least want to use "believe" or "trust."

(BTW, in comparison to the NT, it is surprising how few times pisteuo/πιστευω is used in the LXX [88x] and pistis/πιστις [59x].)


  1. Dr. Hoffman,
    Thank you for sharing both the results here of your quick study, but also the tools and the process. It's rare to find someone showing and evaluating language research methods, and even rarer to see it with such detail and clarity. (I've been relying on open source stuff for my work in Greek but may, now, want to invest in one of the software programs you mention here). Xaris kai irene!

  2. Hey, thanks for the encouragement! Partly I'm doing this blog as a reminder for myself, but I also hope it can be of help to my students and others like you. BTW, both Logos and BibleWorks
    offer a number of other helpful training tools.

  3. Hi Mark.

    You can actually use Logos' Bible Speed Search to do morph queries, lexical form queries, and mixes of the two. You just need to know the identifier for the morph in question and a little about fields.

    For example, your search for εχω + πιστις as an accusative noun could be done like this in the LogosNA27:

    lemma:εχω and ((LogosMorph = "NA??") andequals (lemma:πιστις))

    The "lemma:" denotes a field; lemmas in morph texts are in the 'lemma' field. This disambiguates from any instance of that same string in the main text. "LogosMorph" is the scheme identifier for the Logos morphology, the code order is the same as that found in the interlinear resource. The "andequals" operator is a way of searching for where two pieces of data (here the lemma and the morph code) are indexed at the same point in the text (so, at the point of the word in the running text of the edition). Parentheses define groups/precedence.

    Even more cool ... you could do the same search (on Greek!) in the ESV NT Reverse Interlinear like this:

    lemma:εχω and ((SWGreekMorph = "NA??") andequals (lemma:πιστις))

    In both instances, it looks like the same 16 verses are found; and the list appears to match with the list you give in your post above.

    Hope it helps,

    Rick Brannan
    Logos Bible Software Blog

  4. That is excellent, Rick! I do need to spend more time going through the help section in Logos on "Advanced Searching," but most of the examples given there are based on English. That's helpful for an overview, but I really would appreciate more Greek examples like this. I like to learn by example, so if you have a listing of Greek queries like this, I think it would be a great help. (I could also use some simple pointers on when to use the LogosMorph tag as compared to the SWGreekMorph tag. Is there a listing of the morph tag codes and their order?)
    Thanks again. (BTW, hope to see you at BibleTech!)