Logos Syntax Searching – #1 Narrow Searching

Previously, we discusses three steps in creating a good syntax search Logos Bible Software:

Here we are going to look at the first step. But first we need to discuss the benefit of syntax searches. What’s the point?

Well, there are two points.

For one, there is significant exegetical value to be found in syntax searches. If one interpretation of a certain structure is consistent through the New Testament, there is reasonable likelihood that such a interpretation is accurate.

But there is also another reason. And this one, I think is more important, though closely related to the first. As students of the scriptures we should desire to be able to understand the languages of the Bible as best we can. Doing syntax searching makes it possible to develop our own understanding of the language inductively. And inductive learning will result in better retention of Greek grammar. Better retention of Greek grammar will result in a better understanding of the text as we read and study it. And a better understanding of the text while we read and study will result in better exegesis with fewer outrageous interpretive errors, bringing us back to the first reason.

So let’s turn to the text. Let’s look at a grammatical construction that threw me off when I first began reading through Ephesians. It occurs in 1.12. So you’ve been reading along…”In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…”

εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ.

What in the world is going on with εἰς τὸ εἶναι? A preposition followed by a articular infinitival clause! Now that’s definitely not an English construction.

Is this kind of construction common? What is its significance?

These are the two questions that syntax searching answers.

Let’s build the search. Our first search is complex & narrow. For the first step in syntax searching, the complexity is related to representing as exactly as possible what we see in Ephesians 1.12 – that is, we don’t want to just have any modifiers, we specifically want the preposition and the article. Narrow refers to the search limits. In the first search, we limit ourselves only to the book where we initially found the construction. That way, if we make a mistake and find no results, then we can quickly go back and correct our error.

imageThis is what we see in the clause analysis of the verse. As you can see, whether right or wrong (I think wrong), Opentext.org places the preposition and the article as modifying the verb. But the question for us at present is not whether Opentext has the best tagging system. As long as they are consistent (which for the most part they are), we will find what we are looking for.

Specifically, we want to find a predicator with a word group with a head termimage consisting of the infinitive εῖ̓ναι preceded by a specifier containing
a preposition followed by the Greek article τὸ.

So then first open up the syntax search dialog:


Secondly, add a clause:


Third, a clause component and mark it in the right dialog box as a “predicator”:


Next, add a word group and then a head term. Note in the Clause Analysis, the initial specifier derives from the head term. In tree diagrams, this is called a “mother node.”


Once the head term is added to the search dialog, select the “modifier.” Modifier is a generic term for a number of Opentext.org’s tags, including the specifier, Qualifier, Definer, and Relator. These are listed on the right side to be selected.


Now we need to add two words. The first must be a preposition and the second must be the Greek article. Add the first word and then scroll downward in the right side window. You’ll see a section titled “Morphology.”*

Click edit and then choose “preposition.” After clicking okay, add another word and do the same, selecting “Definite Article.” **


Now we need to add our final word – the verb. Highlight the “head term” branch of our little tree on the left and select “word”:


Notice how this “word” branches off the “head term” rather than the modifier. This is exactly what we see in the original Opentext.org diagram above.

Now we need to type the morphology we want for our head term. So click on the morphology edit button. Select “Verb” & “Infinitive.”


Now, go back and select the whole “Head Term 1” again. In the right window, check the box for “Highlight this term in the search results.”

Good! I’m just about ready to hit search! But first, note that I have my “Search Range” at the top of the search dialog set to Ephesians. For our first search, we want to stay narrow. That way, if a mistake is made we won’t have to wait very long to correct it while Logos searches through the entire Greek New Testament.

Your results should look something like this:


There are a couple interesting things about these results. For one, we’ve found two different prepositions occur in this structure in Ephesians. We also see that the structure is not limited to εἷναι.

All of this leads us to our next search. Let’s expand to the rest of the New Testament and see what our search shows us there, next up:

#2 & #3 – Broad Searching & Narrow Redux:

* Its also possible to add specific the words εἰς & ὁ but for some reason, I’ve had better success with morphology for words compared to actually typing in the Greek word you are searching for.

** Why Logos Morphology calls it a “Definite Article” when there is only one article in the language, I have no idea…

3 thoughts on “Logos Syntax Searching – #1 Narrow Searching

Add yours

  1. I have a question about how the syntax search is supposed to work. I’m trying to find instances where the relative pronoun is used as the subject of a primary clause and eimi is used to further define it (Col 1:15, I John 1:1, etc. ) When I use the following search I get 25 results, it works great:

    Clause 1:
    Component 1: Clause Category = Subject
    Word Group 1
    Head Term 1
    Word 1: ((Part of Speech = pronoun AND Pronoun Type = relative))
    Clause Component 2: Clause Category = Predicator
    Word Group 2
    Head Term 2
    Word 2: Lexical Form (no marks) = “eimi” AND Person = Word 1 AND Number = Word 1 AND ((Part of Speech = verb))

    Obviously indentation is lost.

    However, all I have to do to completely screw this up is add -OR- and a Clause Component that is a complement (how Open-Text defines Col. 1:15) and it expands my search to include things that don’t even have the relative pronoun anywhere near! It even skips eimi.

    What’s up?

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