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Morphologies: Why Having More is a Good Thing

Morphologies: Why Having More is a Good Thing

Logos Bible Software offers a number of morphological data sets, some of which may be paired to the same basic text. So, for example, Scholar's Library Silver Edition includes four morphologies for the Greek New Testament: GRAMCORD™ (for NA27/UBS4), Friberg (for UBS4), Swanson (for UBS4 and Westcott-Hort), and Robinson (for Byzantine/majority, Textus Receptus, and Westcott-Hort editions).

Isn't this overkill? Why would someone want more than one morphology for the same text?

Tagging Philosophies Vary

Different morphologies have different philosophies of what can and should be tagged. To use one example, the Gramcord morphology uses one tag for 'participle', while the Friberg morphology has two tags, one for the basic 'participle' and another for 'imperative participle'. Morphologically (that is, in relation to how words are formed) there is no difference between 'participle' and 'imperative participle'--the words look and form the same way. By distinguishing between 'participle' and 'imperative participle', Friberg is actually tagging something other than morphology--something having more to do with syntax or pragmatics.

Likewise, the Gramcord morphology makes context-based (i.e. not morphology-based, but syntactic or pragmatic) distinctions when it tags 'και' as a 'coordinating copulative conjunction' in one place and a 'coordinating disjunctive conjunction' in another.

There are many additional differences in tagging philosophies between the various morphologies currently available (differences in how to tag adjectives used as substantives, nominatives used as vocatives, etc. etc.), and it is these differences that give you a wider variety of features you can execute searches on, or simply allow you to display more information on any given word in context.

Looking Ahead

In the future, we'll see new data-sets that deliberately tag more syntactical features, semantic features, and discourse-analytical/rhetorical features. The Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible and the WIVU-Database in the new SESB product are examples of this trend. As these data-sets move futher beyond simple morphology, there will be more room for interpretation or the application of diverse theories. You can also be sure that Logos Bible Software will lead the way with new tools and reports that make comparison and interpretation easy.

Ultimately, having access to more data-sets benefits the student of Scripture because no one morphological tagging scheme will constitute a perceived 'scholarly consensus' (which is usually a mythical animal anyway). Multiple morphologies reveal the true diversity of thought among scholars and enable you to benefit from a variety of approaches when working with the original language texts.

Last Updated: 11/2/2005