Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review of BibleWorks 9 (part 2): spotlight on searching

BibleWorks 9
Last semester I learned how to do a search that is proving incredibly powerful (I wish I had taken the time to figure out how to do this a long time ago). I can now search in Hebrew or Greek for a key word in a certain tense or person (or whatever morphological tag I choose), occurring in a specified proximity to another word of my choosing. For example, in class Dr. Block was curious if the Hebrew Bible ever used the expression “walk after Yahweh” the way it talks about walking after other gods in Deut 8:19. He suspected it did, but didn’t remember where.
Since “walk” occurs 1349 times, “after” occurs 812 times, and “Yahweh” occurs 5195 times in the Hebrew Bible, it would be enormously time-consuming to scan through each reference to find where they occur together. Thanks to BibleWorks, within a minute I had the answer. I simply typed the Hebrew root letters for “walk” + “after” + “Yahweh”, with the symbol *3 to indicate that I only wanted to see those passages where these words occurred within the space of  3 words. Immediately BibleWorks gave us the answer we were looking for. The Bible does indeed use this expression to refer to Yahweh. It is found in only 2 places: 2 Kings 23:3 and 2 Chr 34:31 (parallel passages!). There, Josiah is renewing Israel’s covenant with Yahweh (after reading Deuteronomy!) and affirming that he will not follow other gods, but Yahweh alone — a very interesting correlation.
For the sake of being thorough, I should add that this search did not bring up passages where Yahweh is talked about in the first person or as “he” (without using his personal name). Thanks to Moshe Weinfeld’s ‘Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School’ (332) I have discovered there are several more passages where this idiom is used referring to Yahweh: 1 Kgs 14:8; 18:21; Hos 11:10; and Jer 2:2. It would have taken a bit more time for me to come up with these using a BibleWorks search. I could have first narrowed by search to “walk” + “after” and then manually checked the results, or I could have tried a number of more specific searches such as “walk” + “after” + “me” and then checked the context of each. In most cases my initial search would suffice to help me find examples. 
I’ve said it before, but I simply can’t imagine attempting an MA or PhD in Biblical Studies without BibleWorks!

For Part One of my review, go here.

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