Category Archives: Biblical Studies

Power Point Presentation on Greek Syntax Databases

I uploaded a power point presentation on Greek syntax databases that presented at BibleTech 2010. It’s available for download there.

The content is somewhat dated. The situation has changed since 2010 (particularly with some new databases since spring 2010), but many of the same questions and issues continue to remain today.

Greek Syntax Databases: Retrospect & Prospects

I uploaded now at this time because I think we are at a point where there’s momentum for moving forward within this area of research.

A few more forthcoming books of note

Relative clauses In catching up on this blog and trying staying afoot with the advancement of Greek language scholarship, I ought to point out a few new monographs that are soon to be released. As usual, they probably aren’t within the budget of the average student or scholar.

Early Greek Relative Clauses by Philomen Probert

Some of you might already know Probert from her important monograph on Greek accentuation patterns. And her shorter guide to accents, probably the best practical volume on the subject to date. I’ll be looking forward to perusing her work on relative clauses. We need more of these sorts of narrowly define syntactic studies. Fewer people should be writing on aspect (granted, I’ve written a lot on aspect…) and more should be choosing an understudied piece of the language and giving us something new.

Publisher’s description:

Early Greek Relative Clauses contributes to an old debate currently enjoying a revival: should we expect languages spoken a few thousand years ago, such as Proto-Indo-European, to be less well-equipped than modern languages when it comes to subordinate clauses? Early Greek relative clauses provide a test case for this problem. Early Greek uses several kinds of relative clause, but all these are usually thought to come from one, or at most two, prehistoric types. In a new look at the evidence, this book finds that a rich variety of relative clause types has been in place for a considerable time.

The reconstruction of prehistoric linguistic stages requires detailed work on the individual languages descending from them. A substantial part of the book is therefore devoted to a new look at the relative clause systems found in a wide variety of early Greek texts. It emerges that the same basic system is in use across all these texts. Different kinds of relative clause predominate in different kinds of text, however, because relative clause syntax and semantics interact with the needs of different kinds of text.

Considering material as diverse as the Homeric poems, laws inscribed in stone on the island of Crete, and the philosophical prose of Heraclitus, the discussion remains clear and straightforward as Probert considers the uses and histories of different relative clause types.

Greek Alphabet

The Textualization of the Greek Alphabet by Roger Woodard

Woodard is a seasoned Greek scholar that  I would expect not many NT students/scholars have heard of. His focus in historical linguistics and Proto-Indo-European, so perhaps that’s why. Nevertheless, those interested in the Koine should have a greater awareness of PIE research than they currently do. From the publisher:

In this book, Roger D. Woodard argues that when the Greeks first began to use the alphabet, they viewed themselves as participants in a performance phenomenon conceptually modeled on the performances of the oral poets. Since a time older than Greek antiquity, the oral poets of Indo-European tradition had been called “weavers of words” – their extemporaneous performance of poetry was “word weaving.” With the arrival of the new technology of the alphabet and the onset of Greek literacy, the very act of producing written symbols was interpreted as a comparable performance activity, albeit one in which almost everyone could participate, not only the select few. It was this new conceptualization of and participation in performance activity by the masses that eventually, or perhaps quickly, resulted in the demise of oral composition in performance in Greece. In conjunction with this investigation, Woodard analyzes a set of copper plaques inscribed with repeated alphabetic series and a line of what he interprets to be text, which attests to this archaic Greek conceptualization of the performance of symbol crafting

New Testament Verbs of Communication: A Case Frame and Exegetical Study (The Library of New Testament Studies) by Paul DanoveVerbs of Communication

Paul Danove is a good friend and his work is always erudite, detailed, comprehensive, and thoughtful. I had the pleasure of working as his research assistant on this book and I eagerly look forward to reading the final version. From the publisher:

Paul Danove builds on his previous work in the field of biblical linguistics to provide a refinement of the Case Frame Analysis method as applied to the Greek of the New Testament. He shows how the method can be used in clarifying elements of Greek grammar, interpretation, and translation.

In particular Danove distinguishes the semantic implications of active, middle, and passive usages of verbs. He establishes a rigorous basis for distinguishing semantic synonyms and near-synonyms and for clarifying their implications for interpretation and translation. A heuristic feature model for relating distinct usages of verbs and deriving their various connotations is determined, and the conceptual and grammatical differences of verbs of oral and non-oral communication are clarified.

Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament

I’m way behind on using this website to record and document ongoing publications that interface Greek and linguistics. This post is part of my renewed efforts for correct that.

This morning in the mail I received a copy of Douglas Huffman’s Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament, volume 16 in the Studies in Biblical Greek series published by Peter Lang. Beyond perusing the table of contents, I haven’t had a chance to really dig into it yet.

I’m going to try to give the book a fair hearing, though I need to say that any publication on Koine Greek that uses the phrase “Verbal Aspect Theory” in its title has already raises my suspicions. In linguistics, we don’t normally say “verbal aspect theory.” The phrase “verbal aspect” is fine, but normally we really just say, “Aspect.” Typically, unless we’re contrasting it with nominal aspect (yes, that’s a thing), that it is verbal goes without saying. And it isn’t a theory. It’s semantic/conceptual category that languages simply have. That isn’t to say there are no theories of aspect. Verkuyl (A Theory of Aspectuality) has his own theory of aspectuality that differs from, say, Carlota Smith’s theory (The Parameter of Aspect)–they didn’t agree. Anyway, it isn’t at all clear clear that that’s how the phrase “verbal aspect theory” is being used by New Testament people. The vast majority of the time, they seem to be just talking about the semantic category…which isn’t a theory, as I said. Occasionally, the phrase seems to be used to refer to Porter’s view of the Greek verb, but technically that isn’t a theory of aspect either. That’s actually a theory of tense (or rather, a theory of the supposed lack of tense). But now I’m rambling…

To get back on topic, we’ll see how it goes. I hope to crack it open at some point in the next week. You’ll probably hear from me again on the subject. Amazon links below:

Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament (Hardcover)
Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament (Paperback)

Now if only Peter Lang will improve the quality of their bindings…

On critiquing scholarship…

For the past couple years now, I’ve generally held back on criticizing other published works of others (with a few small exceptions). This has mainly because of pushback that I’ve gotten from people like Rod Decker on the question, who has pointed out a couple of times that perhaps my lack of experience with the publishing of articles and books (and for that matter, my lack of a doctorate–Dr. Decker has pointed that one out to me, too) makes me slightly more negative in my criticism than I should be. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve probably gone too far on a couple of occasions in the past.

That’s fair. I’ve mostly accepted it, while also feeling as if much of what has been published about Koine and New Testament Greek under the name “modern linguistics” wouldn’t past peer-review in were it published in the field of linguistics rather than biblical studies. But I’ve refrained from articulating 99% those criticism here. And lately, I’ve been focused on actually producing substantive and useful discussions on this blog. That’s been one of my goals in surveying how old grammars deal with tense and aspect on their own terms and my work on enclitic pronouns as well. And it’s why I haven’t written much commenting or reviewing recent publications on tense and aspect in Greek for quite some time. I’d rather be known for positive contributions. I’m trying…really.

With all that in mind, I finally got around to reading Porter’s contribution to D. A. Carson’s festschrift: Understanding the times. He really, really goes after Con Campbell. And I mean really go after him.* It’s nearly as bad as the “uncharitable rant” against Kurt and Barabara Aland in Biblical Greek language and lexicography.

Is this standard I’m supposed to live up to in my non-Ph.D. state?

*And that’s actually really strange. Campbell is one of the few published scholars who has expressed significant agreement with Porter’s tenseless view of the Greek verbal system. Surely he would want to coordinate with his allies rather than tear them down–a few of the criticism Porter makes involve issues where Campbell was attempting to justify the tenseless view as theoretically plausible. A very odd state of affairs, indeed.

Logos Bible Software 5 is Here

Logos Bible Software has released the new version of their flagship project: Logos 5.

It incorporates some massive changes in datasets and built in resources while keeping much of the user experience quite similar to Logos 4. I had originally intended to have a useful post ready this evening surveying how tools for studying Greek have changed and have been improved, but prior commitments in thesis writing and a couple other undisclosed Greek projects have held me back. So that’s still in process right now (sorry). Ideally, it will be up by tomorrow. We’ll see.

The most exciting thing about Logos 5, in my opinion, is all the effort they have put into meaningful access to content. It isn’t about searching a massive number of books any more. It’s about finding useful information for specific questions. It’s about making the semantic web real within Logos. The Bible Sense Lexicon is an incredibly exciting project and a great example of creating structured and meaningful information and making it easily accessible.

I know a lot of people that work with languages at the same level I do (or higher) tend to be rather cynical about how tools for using Greek and Hebrew are present in Bible Software packages, but Logos also put significant effort into academic projects and they’re only able to do it because of the pastoral and layperson user base that they have to support such projects. Steve Runge’s Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament is an important example of this. Another is the SBLGNT. Personally, I’d rather work with them to improve how language study is done in the future than merely dismiss them. And, well, that’s what I have been doing and will continue to do so.

I’ll have more thoughts on Greek databases and changes and advancements in the coming few days (because there are some important ones), which is probably just fine. It looks like users are swamping Logos’ servers right now anyway…

Some Initial Musings on the Workshop at the Lorentz Center

There were a number of major themes that were regularly touched on, including the issue of open source (or at least open access) for data sets and materials for linguistic, text critical, and other forms of analysis, the question of how to integrate the computer technology in the biblical studies classroom, and then the future of linguistic databases (e.g. Hebrew & Greek syntax treebanks).

  1. The open source/open access issue is an interesting one, simply because of the fact that someone needs to pay something for major Greek and Hebrew linguistic projects to move forward. I’m not still not sure how these kinds of large projects can work without funding and most of time that funding is going to come with limitations on the openness of the data. Likewise, those who work on projects on the side without funding (e.g. my own computational Greek project) tend to be less inclined to simply sharing their work because they know all of the effort that went into it. On top of that, there is the simple fact that there are very, very few people that I would trust with my data projects–and most of those people were in attendance at the workshop. My data is my baby. How do I know it will be safe out in the wild? I’m not against sharing it, but it would definitely have to be with the right people for the time being. I don’t know. Perhaps my reluctance has more to do with the (relatively) nascent state of much of my data, which when combined with the fact that I can count on my hands and feet the number of Greek scholars who do the work I do, makes me slightly uncomfortable.
  2. I can’t say much about the teaching question. I have tutored biblical languages individually, but the only teaching I’ve done has been in linguistic classes and the software question is not really an issue. With that said, I would be curious about how others have or have not integrated software and computers into their teaching of Greek and Hebrew. Any comments from the audience?
  3. One of the major thrusts of the third theme centered around how such databases will connect with other sub-fields of biblical studies. And on that front, I’m quite excited to see what happens. I’m not a biblical scholar; I’m a linguist, but there were several exciting projects on the horizon that should be very good should they come into fruition, particularly in conjunction with textual critics (perhaps more on that later). As related to point #1, I would be interested in data sharing on that front.

There is more to come. I’ll be writing up some musing on specific sessions and topics in the coming week or so, but there are a few beginning thoughts.

BibleTech:2010 More Musings

The past two days have been a rush of presentations, technology, and Greek linguistics.  It was exciting to meet some new people with similar interests, reconnect with others, and finally connect faces with names on the internet. There was some exciting talk about collaboration in Greek linguistics work, especially in morphology and syntax – not to mention exciting work in computational Greek syntax and morphology!

The central highlights for me were:

  1. Josh Cason’s work in DATR was very, very cool. He’s take a program that essentially computationally simulates prototype theory for morphological analysis and has developed it to analyze Greek noun classes. Even before he ran the program I knew he had got it right. James and I were sitting beside each other and as soon as we saw the tree delineating the relationship between noun classes we both knew how he had arranged them. Datives plurals in σιν chunked together on one side and dative plurals in ις on the other – with further divisions based on the nominative and genitive cases – and fundamentally, you only need the nominative and genitive singular to know the rest of the paradigm. I’ve been imagining pairing what he’s done with a computational syntax parser and seeing what happens.
  2. Neil Rees’ work on bootstrapping concordances was mind blowing. Rick’s summary of it can give you the idea – why reinvent the wheel by writing another summary?
  3. James Tauber’s presentations on Greek language learning and computational linguistics got me a bit fired up for things I was already excited about. I’ve been working alone on Greek morphology for some time in FLEX and the idea of actually collaborating (beyond the annoyingly dead PHLEX Koine Greek list, where nobody’s actually interested in doing actually morphological analysis…) is awesome.

As Rick mentioned, we hung out quite a bit this weekend. That was great. We’ve been working on some projects together for the past year and it was nice to talk about more than just the LXX — though I always enjoy talking about the LXX. Rick was also kind enough to let me hitch a ride with him to Seattle for the flight and send a few hours at his home on Thursday evening through early Friday morning. We kept each other awake on the way there and on the way home.

And…last of all, HUGE thanks to the friend who made this trip possible. Your generosity has both made it possible to present a paper on Greek syntax databases, but probably more long term, created a number of connections with people that I anticipate will bring fruitful development and research in Greek grammar – research which will be beneficial for all Greek students in the long run.

Accordance & Syntax

As someone who has a highly vested interest in syntax databases, I’m excited to hear David Lang say that Syntax databases will be coming to the next version of Accordance.

I will be giving a presentation at BibleTech: 2010 on the very subject of Syntax databases currently titled “Greek Syntax Databases: Retrospect & Prospects” in which I’ll examine, compare and critique the two currently available syntax databases: & Cascadia Syntax Graphs and then also (hopefully) present some of my own work on representing Greek syntax. Currently the abstract isn’t yet up, but this is a good summary. I’ve been hoping to do something like this for some time, so I’m looking forward to the conference. Much of my presentation has been brewing for at least 14 months, though very little has showed up here on my blog.

I definitely look forward to seeing what Accordance has to offer when they release their next version and may very well consider looking into getting it if I like what I see.

…and I’m always willing to do a review copy…

Logos 4 is Finally Here

Today is a day that I have been waiting for quite some time:


Over the past few months, Logos has been kind enough to allow me to participate in the private beta testing of their (formerly) forthcoming version of their library system.

And let me tell you, it has been exciting.

The new version changes just about everything. And it’s for the good.

  • The new interface is clean and simple.
  • Window management has been completely revolutionized.
  • Library management is less time consuming & more feature rich.
  • New language tools have been developed & old ones have been redesigned.
  • New resources & new library collections have been released with new content — including several resources that make me less interested in investing in another piece of software (e.g. my own collection now has Swete’s The Old Testament in Greek According to the Septuagint including the apparatus).

Interface & Window Management:

The basic interface now consists of three basic icons & three drop down menus in the top left corner:


“Home”, “Library”, & “Search” – all of which are rather self-explanatory. And “File” consists have various syntax searches, notes, visual filters, clippings, etc. that you might create as you go along. Under “Guides” we have the ever reliable passage guide, exegetical guide, & word study guide. All of which have received a nice face lift;

Organizing Windows has improved in some incredible ways. For one, it’s now possible to simple drag windows around and they resize to a highlighted area:

Windows Dragging

But probably the most exciting thing is the fact that now windows can be separated from the central program window:


Which then results in:


This definitely makes Logos 4 much easier to work with when using multiple programs at the same time compared to Logos 3 – or using multiple monitors (which I would love to have, but don’t).

Finally, had you set up your windows in a certain way a week ago that you want to go back to? Didn’t save it? Can’t remember exactly what it was? Well, Layouts has changed all of that:


There’s a reason though. Anyway, it is now possible go back and pick out a particular layout that you had used a few days before, rename it, and save it as your own. Currently, I have four such layouts. Why two Layouts with virtually the same name? Well, it’s a long story.

The Library


With Version 4, we can now both tag and rate the books in our libraries. Note that haven’t spent too much time ranking books –- Swanson’s dictionary is gets two stars. That’s not because it’s bad, just that it’s not what I would want. It’s a great dictionary for a quick gloss, but I’m very, very rarely interested in a quick gloss. Just want to put a plug in here for the slow, detail reading of lexical entries of full-fledged lexicons like BDAG, LSJ, GELS, & L&N. It gets two stars instead of one because it’s still far superior than Strongs.

Ah, but now we come to the interesting stuff in the library: new resources. Now what follows, as I understand it minimally requires the Original Languages Library, though you will need to go look at Logos’ website to double check on that. And you may have noticed it in a screen shot above:


We finally have something to compete with (and absolutely crush!)’s database. These are the same trees that Andi Wu & Randall Tan discussed at International SBL this past year, as well as at BibleTech:2009 (where there’s also a PDF & mp3 available for download).

It’s doesn’t do everything. But it’s a massive leap in the right direction. For one, unlike, Cascadia actually recognizes that there are more than four types of constituents (Predicate, Subject, Complement, & Adjunct). Unfortunately, the treatment of discontinuous phrases is just about the same and needs work. But Cascadia brings a lot to the table:

  • Actual Phrase Structure
  • More Clause Types – the inclusion of “Verb Elided Clause” as a clause type is incredibly important – especially for Paul.
  • Recognition that, semantically speaking, copulas (e.g. εἰμί) are not predicates.

Here’s what it looks like in action:


Now I’ve only been able to search using this new database for about a month now, but I definitely like what I have seen, generally speaking. More than anything, I’ve appreciated being able to do the same search using both Cascadia and together and compare the search results.

For example, ditransitive clauses have had my curiosity off and on for some time now, so I constructed this search in Cascadia using the new and improved Syntax Search Dialog (It’s similar to the old one, but now you can drag and drop, which makes it easier to use and is so cool):


And essentially the same search in


The results were rather interesting. Opentext received more hits:

Matthew 18:8
Matthew 18:9
Mark 10:3 Mark 10:3
Luke 8:38–39 Luke 8:39
Acts 2:39
Acts 3:22 Acts 3:22
Acts 7:37 Acts 7:37
Acts 25:27
2 Corinthians 9:1
Hebrews 2:13 Hebrews 2:13
Hebrews 7:1–3 Hebrews 7:2

The first two in Matthew aren’t ditransitive in Cascadia because they both use copulas. Thus, it is the initial adjective that receives the Predicate Function rather than the verb. An adjective cannot be an Object if it is the semantic predicate of the clause.

Acts 2:39 is not ditransitive in Cascadia because has incorrectly annotated ἂν as a Complement, which it very much is not. And Acts 25:27 has the rather semantically empty, δοκέω, and thus the semantic predicate of the clause is ἄλογον.

Finally, 2 Corinthians 9:1 is not ditransitive in Cascadia, again, because the verb of the clause is a copula.

So why did I go through all of this?

Well, for one, we finally have a second voice beside that provides an extremely beneficial balance & check for determining what the syntax of the text actually is. Of the five differences in this search, four of the were the result of’s simplicity (which, granted, at times is a good thing). But this search also revealed a tagging mistake in Opentext as well. Doing quality research is always going to be dependent upon the quality of the data we use. And now we have a significantly easier way to confirming what is the accurate syntactic annotation.

There is more to do in Greek syntax, of course, but I’ll leave that for another time. I’m planning on putting in another proposal to BibleTech:2010 on this very topic.

I’ll leave you with this: the preface from the Cascadia graphs, just to give you an idea of where they came from:

The Cascadia Syntax Graphs of the New Testament is derived from a new dynamic treebank project developed by the Asia Bible Society. The Greek Syntactic Treebank Project is built on the basis of a computer-readable Greek grammar, with the syntactic trees (graphs) directly generated by a parser. Manual checking and corrections are stored as data in a knowledge base to guide the parser. The syntax trees (graphs) are dynamically generated from the latest version of the grammar and knowledge base, which enables continual organic improvement and growth as the grammar and knowledge base are maintained and updated.

We humbly present this preliminary version of the syntax graphs to users of Logos version 4 and look forward to improving and expanding it in the future.

Randall Tan
Andi Wu
November, 2009

Andi Wu and Randall K. Tan, Cascadia Syntax Graphs of the New Testament (Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009).

There is much, much more to say, but I hope I’ve at least given you something to whet your appetite for the time being. Logos 4 is good enough that It’ll be replacing Logos 3 for me. Most definitely.

By the way, did I mention that as of version 4, my entire library is now indexed (which times some time, but is definitely worth it) and I can search my 2000 books in mere seconds for anything?


The Mac version of Logos 4 is in Alpha testing as we speak and will be have complete parity with the Windows version. That’s right, Mac users, you haven’t been ignored.

And did I mention at all Logos 4 for iPhone & iPod Touch is part of the deal?

Be sure to head over to LOGOS 4 to get the whole scoop and learn about new notes, clippings, handouts, editable passage, exegetical, & word study guides (or you can now create your own!). There’s so much that I could have shared, but I wanted to focus on the things that matter to me. So go, check it out: LOGOS 4.


  • All screenshots are illustrative. Resources shown may not be included in Logos 4 base packages – i.e. you need at least the Original Languages Library for either or Cascadia.
  • Upgrade discounts are available for existing customers.

Other Reviews thus far:


Reuben Gomez

Steve Runge’s got a bit too.

Joe Miller

Thomas Black

Adam Couturier

Robert Pavich

Ken Morris

Chris Roberts

Why two Layouts with virtually the same name? Long story.