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The Word 2016: “Sayings Clusters”

Until end of June, visitors of the BibleStudio collected cross-referenced Bible sayings (nicely formatted verses) for The Word 2016. Of the 366 selected first verses of 2016, 191 have got one or more cross-referenced verses assigned.

Now preparation of The Word 2016 goes on:

  1. select pairs of sayings from the suggested cross-references
  2. complete the 366 needed pairs from older years
  3. check whether the list contains verses missing in some Bibles, select a substitute for such verses
  4. review the assignment to days of the year for the most important holiday
  5. prepare unformatted verse texts from the Bible texts in all supported Bible editions
  6. inform the editors to format the verses
  7. … and more will follow…

While the cross-references from the BibleStudio are actually stored in the server database, the next steps are unfortunately not yet supported by software on the server database. I am using some file based tools on my computer.

Today I started the first step. The cross-references from BibleStudio result in a list like


which contains the internal IDs of the saying pairs, followed by the rate numbers for the pair: the number of “yes”, “maybe” and “no” votes to the question whether the pair is a good cross-reference.

As you see in the above example, some selected first saying like Gen. 49:18 have multiple cross-references (“second sayings”) assigned, so I have to selected one of these. But things get complicated if some second saying is assigned to different first sayings. Since the goal is to use each saying only once in a year, I must then pick the first saying such that each of the first sayings has at least one second saying left. To take this decision, a Perl script takes the above cross-references list and creates a list of “clusters”. Each clusters contains all sayings that are cross-referenced which each other:

18 (2+1) === === === ===
Ps146v4 Ps90v12 1, 0, 0 Fährt sein Geist aus, wird er wieder zu Erde;
an dem Tag ist’s aus mit allen seinen Plänen.
Psalm 146,4
Lehre uns unsere Tage richtig zählen,
damit wir ein weises Herz erlangen!
Psalm 90,12
Kol4v5 Ps90v12 1, 0, 0 Wandelt in Weisheit denen gegenüber,
die außerhalb [der Gemeinde] sind,
und kauft die Zeit aus!
Kolosser 4,5
Lehre uns unsere Tage richtig zählen,
damit wir ein weises Herz erlangen!
Psalm 90,12

The table tells me that I’m looking at cluster no. 18 which contains 2 first sayings and 1 second saying. The columns contain the first and second saying, the rates and the German Schlachter 2000 text of the sayings.

In this case, I have to simply select whether to publish the first saying Psalms 146:4 or Colossians 4:5 with the second saying Psalms 90:12. The Perl script also includes a column (not shown in the example) with a suggestion for the selection, which considers the pair rating and conflicts (double assignments) as the one above. Since the rates are equal (just one “yes”), the Perl script arbitrarily suggested one of the first sayings. For The Word 2016, I picked the second one with Col. 4:5.

The review of all clusters resulted in 171 pairs of sayings. This shows that 20 of the 191 first sayings had no unused second saying left – like in the example above where the first saying Psalms 146:4 was not left with an unused second saying.

But we need 366 first sayings for 2016 – now what? For the future, I hope for more contributions in the BibleStudio… But for now, I decided to fill the needed pairs from the year 2009. This results in the preliminary list for The Word 2016:


The next steps are to check that the sayings are generally available in diverse Bible editions, and to review the assignment to days of the year 2016. But that will follow at another day.

Helmut Steeb | 2015-07-11