Syntax Search Example: What “Qualifies” another Word?

As folks who have followed these syntax search examples know, I’ve been in a home group Bible study that is going over First Thessalonians. This has served as the background for many of these syntax search examples.

In the process of doing this, I’ve noticed that I’ve begun to ask different questions of the text.

So when the study group was in 1Th 4.15, and when the word παρουσία occurs (yet again), I asked myself, “What other things qualify παρουσία?” Why did I ask that question? First, we need to define Qualifier:

Qualifier: A Qualifier is a modifier that in some way limits or constrains the scope of the word it modifies. Common examples of qualifiers are words in the genitive and dative case, and also negative particles functioning at the word group level.

Porter, S., O’Donnell, M. B., Reed, J. T., Tan, R., & OpenText.org. (2006; 2006). The OpenText.org
Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament Glossary
. Logos Research Systems, Inc.

So a Qualifier limits scope. In terms of παρουσία, which can be translated “return” or perhaps “coming”, when it occurs with a qualifier the qualifier limits the scope of the coming. Thus in phrases like “coming of the Lord”, the phrase “of the Lord” acts as the qualifier. It’s not just any “coming” or “return”, it is the return of the Lord. Just like in 1Th 4.15:

So when I ask the question “What other things qualify παρουσία?” I”m really asking “Are there any other similar sorts of ‘return’ or ‘coming’ phrases in the New Testament?” After all, to understand more how the word παρουσία is functioning here, it could help to see it operating in similar syntactic contexts — to see how παρουσία stands in relationship with other instances of words that modify it.

So I put together this video (Flash, 8.5 megs, with sound) to show how I constructed the query to find qualifiers of παρουσία.

After searching, ask yourself the question again: “What other things qualify παρουσία?” Now you have data to use when considering this question. As you evaluate the hits, you can ask further questions:

  • Are there any qualifiers that seem to repeat (hint: “his”, “of the Lord”, “of the son of man”, “of the Lord Jesus Christ”)?
  • What are the unique qualifiers (hint: 1Co 16.17; 2Co 7.6; Php 2.12, etc.)?
  • Is there anything that would allow one to say that the use of παρουσία in 1Th 4.15 is the same as or different from other syntactic usages?
  • If so, is 1Th 4.15 the use typical or non-typical?
  • How does the general understanding of the use of παρουσία with a qualifier in the New Testament affect how we look at the specific use of παρουσία in 1Th 4.15 (or does it)?

Here’s a link to the video: Flash, 8.5 megs, with sound

But note well: If you’d rather not go through the hoops of constructing the search as described in the video … just right-click the Greek word and run the Bible Word Study report. Check out the Grammatical Relationships section. One of the standard word relationships searched for is that of qualification. So this search is done automatically for you in the Bible Word Study report! No assembly required! And it even groups like qualifiers together, so you can see what repeats and what is unique just by looking at the result section.

Also note: A future post will show how to make this query even more generic and search for some things a little differently. So keep comin’ back!

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Written by
Rick Brannan

Rick Brannan is a Data Wrangler for Faithlife. He manages a team that creates and maintains linguistic databases and other analyses of the Hebrew Bible, the Greek New Testament, the Septuagint, and writings of the Second Temple era. He resides in Bellingham with his wife, Amy, their daughter, Ella, and their son, Lucas.

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Written by Rick Brannan
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