Suppose that you splurged for the $6 version of the Church’s scriptures on CDROM. It has various ancient language toys that I am in no position to evaluate but am happy to play with. It also has a fun little tool such that when you do a search, you can click on a tab “Sort by Neighbors”. Ever wonder what that did?
Clicking that button sends your wiz-bang processor searching for all the words that occur near your search word. Then it ranks them, keeping in mind that having “a” or “the” near your term is no feat at all. Thus it calculates how often the two words would be close together just at random, and then it compares this “expected frequency” to what actually happens. When the actual hits (“Sample Frequency) are way higher than the expected hits, you’ve got yourself a pair of related terms.
The word “true” appears 231 times in the standard works (I’ve excluded word variations like “truly” and “truth”). Of those, the “Sort by neighbors” tab shows that 4 of 6 uses of the word “believer” are next to the word true. Which seems reasonable but not too exciting. Then follows some words that only get used once, but that one use is with the word true. These are not very interesting to me because they only come up once. So buzz down the list a little to see that the word “true” likes to hang out with:
These connections would each be worth studying. The scriptures like the phrase “true and faithful”. This brings to mind both the idea of being true to one’s covenants and the oft-derided “faithful history” (faithful truth). “Just” is a synonym for righteous, and so it has a similar feel to it. See here for an example.
On the other hand, truth is associated with “witness”, suggesting that truth in the scriptures is about things that actually happened, not simply with things that are moral truths (examples here or here). What about “living”? True and living church, of course. But almost always it refers to the true and living God. It is interesting that God used the phrase “true and living” to refer to his Church, when otherwise it is pretty much only applied to Him.
It’s a neat tool for introducing you to new thoughts– to be researched more carefully by looking at the context. Nothing like a little data mining to jump start one’s scripture study.