Someone recently asked about doing searches in Scripture Notes so I thought I would elaborate a little here.
Scripture Notes uses what is called a Boolean search engine, which allows for qualifying your search term for more refined results.
For instance, if I search for the word “eye” in the scriptures, it would return 139 verses. However, I would also miss all instances of the word “eyes” or “eyed” as variations.
This is easily solved in a Boolean engine by using a wildcard with the least number of letters that will give me the results I want.
In this case, I would use the term “eye*” with an asterisk at the end to pick up those variations and now I have 763 results. Wow, that’s a lot of results!
When I get a huge set of results, I start looking for context. I want to know what word variations there are so I do negative searches, meaning, after the asterisk I include a ‘not’ or minus sign with words I want to remove.
For example, I would search:
Eye* -eye -eyes
That alone reduced the search results to 10 verses and I see the other words are eyed, eyesight, eyelids, eyebrows, eyewitnesses, and eyeservice.
So now back to my original search. The purpose of searching the scriptures is to look for themes. Across 763 verses, there are going to be a wide variety of themes we could search for.
Typically, I find a theme by reading my scriptures and having the Spirit prompt me to dig a little deeper. I’m no master at this. Many days I read my scriptures and don’t feel particularly led to go deeper in what I’m reading. However, I try to carefully notice what the verse language says and ponder it. It makes me a slower reader, but hopefully more careful.
Then other days I see a verse I’ve read many times and see a phrase stick out in a new way and realize there’s a deeper message (IE. get prompted)
Sometimes the deeper message can be searched for and we can look for more meaning across the scriptures.
Sometimes it’s an isolated verse and I can’t think of any other way to search for additional references.
For example, Nephi receives an angelic messenger who shows him a vision of Jesus and his mother Mary. He says:
1 Nephi 11:18. “And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.”
I had read this verse a number of times before realizing that the angel’s distinction at the end is because Nephi knows Christ had a Heavenly Mother as well as an earthly one. This is one of the few references to a Mother in Heaven that we can draw from the scriptures. Most others are inferred in a little less direct way, but this one is eye opening (see what I did there???) when you realize there is a context in what Nephi knows and what the angel is clarifying in this phrase. Nephi knows there is a Heavenly Father and Mother so the angel points out which one he’s looking at.
This type of discovery doesn’t lend itself well to a text search to find more instances because it’s really an isolated type of thing.
Now getting back to “eye,” we may have started with a verse that had this in some type of context like “have an eye single to the glory of God” or “eye of faith” or something. The first thing I do on a search is expand it as shown by use of the wildcard above.
If I wanted to limit the huge set of results for things to study, I would just try things and use the plus sign or “and” modifier to limit the results. For instance, if I want verses that contain both a variation of “eye” and the word “faith” I would do this and get 9 results.
(Which is the same as)
Eye* and faith
In the first instance there is no space after the plus sign.
Reading 9 results is easy and may lead to other searches. I might wonder if hope and charity have their own subset, but these are all small.
Eye* +hope (4 results) Eye* +charity (1 verse)
If I wanted to find any one of those words with faith, the search would look like this:
Eye* +(faith or hope or charity)
That would result in 12 verses being returned. For many more examples of searches and the powerful engine we have, check out (https://scripturenotes.com/search-cheat-sheet).
Now for me, if I have a large set of hundreds of results, I’m going to skim down the verses to see what’s around them. I do this by pressing ctrl-F on my keyboard to bring up a search box and type in the word I want highlighted. Depending on my browser (as each are a little different in the way they portray these results) I can see all the highlighted words.
In this case as I start to scroll down, I see this phrase in Genesis 21:19 referring to Hagar.
“…And God opened her eyes.”
I wonder, “how does God open our eyes? What do the scriptures say about that?”
It always starts with a question and some spiritual principle. So now I modify my search and get:
Eye* +open (32 verses)
I immediately recognize a mistake and add a wildcard to the end of “open”, which has variations like opened, opening, etc…
Eye* +open* (65 verses)
That’s a good number of verses to study and look for patterns.
Click “Create CN” to make a collection note and then expand the view. Start looking for the stories where God opened someone’s eyes. What were the circumstances? Whose faith was activated to make it happen? What covenants were in action?
Now write down the things you notice and look for patterns.
Then apply it to yourself. How can you ask God to open your eyes and receive the same blessings and experiences others had.
As we do this, and truly search the scriptures, God will open our eyes and allow us to see more than the simple printed text of what is contained in these verses alone.
If you haven’t watched it yet, I recommend checking out this webinar which gives a comprehensive view of using Scripture Notes as a study tool. (https://scripturenotes.com/10x-your-scripture-study)
(Featured image by christianchan @ 123rf.com)