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Mechanical Bible Study

On a lark, I just posted an item about a search I did for all the verses in the New Testament that matched certain criteria. I’m posting this note because it might not be obvious that I’m aware of some dangers inherent in a too-mechanical study of the Bible.

First, as I considered the problem, I realized it is a hard thing to describe grammatically. For example, my original search was for 2nd-person verbs. But that’s not enough, since many commands or promises or reassurances are issued to a third person yet have implications for the hearer (John 3:16, for example: “everyone who believes … may have”). If I spent any more time, I’m sure I could come up with other examples.

Second, I didn’t (initially) make it clear that the list is not the end. The list of matching verses is rather a starting point for further study. For example, the first result is from Matthew 2:20, where the angel says to Joseph: “get up” and go to Egypt with the child and its mother. This is obviously not a command to all future Christians, because it is directed at a specific person in a unique circumstance. The software can’t figure that out, but a reader can.

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