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Which Theologian Uses the Most Latin: Fun with Data Types and Regular Expressions

I thought it would be fun in our series on understanding data types (see the introduction and definitions) to give you an example of how you can use language data types to perform language-specific searches.

Before we actually get into the searching, let’s see how well you know your theologians. Which of the following theologians uses the most Latin? For the purpose of setting some boundaries, I’m limiting our analysis to theologians who have written a systematic/dogmatic theology.

Here are the ones we’ll be looking at:

What’s your guess? Which one has the highest percentage of Latin?

Here’s how you can find out.

Step 1: Search for All Latin Words

To find all Latin words, there are two things you need to know. First, you need to tell Libronix to search only Latin text. To do so, use {la}{/} putting the word or phrase between the } and the { (e.g., {la}pro{/}). To find all words, you’ll need to use the regular expression /[A-Za-z]+/ or the simpler /.+/ (or /[^0-9]+/, if you want to omit numbers). For simplicity, we’ll use {la}/.+/{/}.

Here are the results in descending numerical order:

  • Barth: 66,896
  • Hodge: 38,674
  • Berkouwer: 11,603
  • Henry: 2,742
  • Strong: 2,528
  • Pannenberg: 2,050
  • Shedd: 2,001
  • Bloesch: 1,812
  • Calvin: 1,034
  • Reymond: 674
  • Chafer: 102
  • Ryrie: 84
  • Finger: 44
  • Duffield & Van Cleave: 19
  • Grudem: 9

Here’s a graph so you can visualize the data.

Click the image to see a larger version.

These results aren’t really "fair" because they don’t take into consideration the size of the work. To get more accurate numbers, we’ll divide the number of Latin words by the number of words in the entire book or set.

Step 2: Search for All Words

To find the total number of words, use the regular expression search /.+/. Notice that we are dropping the language tags because we want to find all words of all languages.

Here are the results in descending numerical order:

  • Barth: 5,327,292
  • Berkouwer: 1,567,109
  • Henry: 1,388,491
  • Chafer: 1,252,806
  • Hodge: 38,674/963,935
  • Strong: 884,930
  • Bloesch: 735,382
  • Calvin: 668,753
  • Shedd: 636,429
  • Pannenberg: 632,803
  • Grudem: 598,925
  • Reymond: 463,720
  • Duffield & Van Cleave: 276,956
  • Ryrie: 209,797
  • Finger: 196,014

Here’s another graph so you can visualize the data.

Click the image to see a larger version.

Barth’s 14-volume Church Dogmatics certainly is a massive work! (As a comparison point, Luther’s 55-volume Works has 8,210,982 words, only 50% more than Barth’s CD.)

When we divide the number of Latin words by the total number of words, we get these percentages (in descending order):

  • Hodge: 4.012% (38,674/963,935)
  • Barth: 1.256% (66,896/5,327,292)
  • Berkouwer: .740% (11,603/1,567,109)
  • Pannenberg: .324% (2,050/632,803)
  • Shedd: .314% (2,001/636,429)
  • Strong: .286% (2,528/884,930)
  • Bloesch: .246% (1,812/735,382)
  • Henry: .197% (2,742/1,388,491)
  • Calvin: .155% (1,034/668,753)
  • Reymond: .145% (674/463,720)
  • Ryrie: .040% (84/209,797)
  • Finger: .022% (44/196,014)
  • Chafer: .008% (102/1,252,806)
  • Duffield & Van Cleave: .007% (19/276,956)
  • Grudem: .002% (9/598,925)

Here’s what those data look like in a graph.

Click the image to see a larger version.

Did you guess Charles Hodge? By percentage his Systematic Theology is the most dense with Latin. If you’re going to read Hodge or many of these other theologians, then you’d better brush up on your Latin or have a good Latin dictionary handy! (Thankfully, all of the Latin in our edition of Barth’s Church Dogmatics includes English translation.)

Currently, the only Latin dictionary that is available in Libronix is Consecrated Phrases: A Latin Theological Dictionary, which comes in the Collegeville Catholic Reference Library. But that’s about to change very soon. We currently have three Latin dictionaries on Pre-Pub.

Be sure to put your pre-order in for one—or all three!

If you’re into Latin, you’ll also want to check out the Works of John Owen (17 volumes), which restores all of Owen’s Latin works left out of modern reprints.

Other posts in this series:

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Written by
Phil Gons

Follower of Jesus, husband of Shanna, father of five, Chief Product Officer at Logos, PhD (ABD) Theology, reader, learner, blogger, technophile.

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Written by Phil Gons