Bible Geek Fun

This week I’m preaching out of 2 Corinthians 11:7-15 as part of an ongoing series. As I was translating 1 I came across a construction which I didn’t remember ever encountering. In fact, I came across it twice in the same passage – once in verse nine and a second time in verse 12.

The construction looks like this.

"First Person Singular Active Verb" + "και [^2]" + "First Person Singular Future Active Verb which has the same root as the first verb."

What this looks like in [wooden] English is something like, “I refrained, and I will refrain.”

Because I’d not seen something like this before I wanted to see if I just hadn’t been paying attention all these years 2. I was trying to figure out how to run this search on my Accordance iPad app but I ended up hitting a wall. Fortunately for me, I’m friends with some folks from Accordance who reminded me I’d need to create a construct search to specify root agreements 3. This is something the iPad app is not yet able to do 4.

So this morning I sat down at my MacBook and created a construct search 5 to look for this distinct Greek construction. Here’s what it ended up looking like.

A Greek construct search in Accordance.

One thing to note, I got some unexpected results the first time I ran the search because I’d set the Root form option to “any” in my Agreement box. A lot of Greek words are compounds, and the “any” option will flag matches which contain any agreements, even if the agreement is just a preposition at the beginning of a word. David Lang 6 described it like this,

Consider words like proseuchomai, which has two roots, pros and euchomai. When you search for agreement, do you want to find agreement with ANY root? In that case, you’ll get hits for any word with pros as its root, as well as any word with euchomai as its root. If you choose ALL roots, then you would only find places where say the noun and verb forms of prayer (both of which have both roots) appear together. Ignore prefixes is meant to ignore prefix roots, but I believe will find agreement with any other roots 7.

Once I set my agreement parameter correctly I ran the search again, and got some really interesting results.

Search results from an Accordance Construct Search.

My initial impression was correct. This is a rather distinct Greek construction, found in the New Testament only in 2 Corinthians 11:7-15. It also occurs zero times in both the LXX and in the Apostolic Fathers. I’m left wondering if this was just a personal linguistic quirk of whoever was transcribing Paul’s words for 2 Corinthians.

What impact this this have on my sermon? Absolutely zero, but there are many times when rabbit trails like this one encourage me to learn different skills and turn over new rocks. I’ve never really appreciated just how much fun the construct search feature in Accordance is 8. Now I can imagine myself using it a bit more. Scratching a proverbial itch can be its own reward.

  1. I translate as a spiritual discipline, not because I claim any great scholarly gifts regarding working with original language texts. 
  2. It’s in the realm of possibility. 
  3. While I can rely on personal connections for help, this type of personal touch is available to any user of Accordance. The user forums get some quick responses, and one of my friends has been known to field support questions on his phone while at the supermarket. 
  4. This, along with the continued lack of Accordance’s excellent Atlas, leave me a bit bummed. 
  5. File -\> New Tab -\> Construct -\> Greek. 
  6. He’s not one of my aforementioned friends, but one of my aforementioned friends did get him to describe the option for me. I’ve met David, though, he’s good people. 
  7. The moral of the story is, “If you want to make sure the same entire root agrees in both verbs, check the ‘all’ box in the agreement dialog. 
  8. See the title for this blog post if you’re wondering how this is “fun.”