Explore Meaning with Case-frames in Logos 6 (Or, what I’ve worked on for the last year) #Logos6

Rick has already posted some of his favorite features in Logos 6. So, I thought I’d take some time to post on my favorite feature in Logos 6 while also mimicking his post title. Incidentally, I’m biased because I worked on the Hebrew data for this project. Paul Danove (whose work really inspired this feature) provided initial Greek data, and Mike Aubrey continued that work.

Case-frames provide a new way of exploring meaning within Logos 6. It may not be apparent on first glance how they do this. Here I will work from an English example to an original language example to demonstrate how this works.

Consider an English verb like “return.” This verb can have several different meanings as in the following sentences:

  1. He returned home.
  2. He returned the donkey to its pen.

In the first case, we might paraphrase “return” as “go back”: “He went back home.” In the second, we might somewhat poorly paraphrase as “bring back” (perhaps this isn’t the only possible interpretation, but this is only an example): “He brought the donkey back to its pen.”

The difference in these two meanings of “return” is reflected in the number of “arguments” that the verb takes in each example. I don’t want to get bogged down what an argument is, but it is linguistic unit (word, phrase, clause) that is required to determine the meaning of a verb (or some other kind of predicate). In the first example above, the verb has two arguments: someone (an Agent) who is going back somewhere and the place (Goal) to which the person is returning. The second example has three arguments: the person (an Agent) returning something, the object (a Theme) that is being returned, and the place (a Goal) to which the object is being returned.  As hinted at above, these arguments are labeled with roles like “Agent,” “Theme,” and “Goal” in a case-frame analysis. A fuller discussion of each one of these roles can be found in the glossary of semantic roles in Logos 6.

An analysis of the arguments in the two examples above would look something like this:

  1. [Agent He] returned [Goal  home].
  2. [Agent He] returned [Theme the donkey] [Goal to its pen].

The meaning of the verb “return” in the first example is reflected in the pattern Agent – Goal and the second meaning is reflected in the pattern Agent– Theme– Goal. Thus, the meaning of “return” is related to the construction in which it is involved.

Of course, every language has important differences. But, these underlying patterns also occur in a language like Hebrew (though in Hebrew the differences between the two meanings discussed above are also somewhat reflected morphologically – qal vs. hiphil –  for those who know their Hebrew).

The Biblical Hebrew word most often rendered “return” by English translations is שׁוב (šwb). To see how we can explore the meanings of this verb by looking at its patterns like we did for the English examples the first thing we want to do is run a Bible Word Study. So open up the Bible Word Study guide:


Since this isn’t really a tutorial on how to work with Hebrew in Logos I’ll give you the easy version of how to search for our Hebrew word. In the top left search box we can enter “h:shwb” then select the appropriate Hebrew word from the dropdown:


Once the guide has finished gathering all of the necessary information make sure the “case-frames” section is expanded by clicking the arrow next to “case-frames”:


And now we can look for the patterns that we’ve discussed so far, which I’ve highlighted already. We can open up the search results for each one of these patterns by clicking on the appropriate section of the case-frame wheel.  For the Agent – Goal pattern we see the following:


We notice right off that case-frames can either be abstract (“the deeds of a man’s hands will return to him”) or concrete, and we see concrete examples of the Agent– Goal pattern, such as Gen 8:9 “… [Agent she] returned [Goal to him] … “ and Gen 15:16 “… [Agent they] will return [Goal here] …” Again, these examples approximate the English example of “He returned home” that we looked at above.

When we look closer at the Agent– Theme– Goal pattern we see the following:


One interesting matter to note here is that the translation generally doesn’t use the word “return,” so if we were just looking at an English translation we may have no idea that these usages were related to the same verb as the Agent – Goal pattern. Again, we have some abstract and some concrete examples. Concrete examples occur in places like Gen 29:3 “[Agent (they)] put the stone back in (i.e., return the stone to) its place on the mouth of the well” and Gen 28:15 “[Agent (I)] will bring you back (i.e., return you) to this land.” Again, these meanings of שׁוב (šwb) approximate the meaning we discussed in the second example above: “He returned the donkey to its pen.”

To summarize, we can see here how different meanings of verbs can involve different patterns of semantic roles. We particularly looked at the English example of “return” and how to look at similar examples in a language like Hebrew using the case-frames analysis in Logos 6. This was only an introduction using a common English example, but there is a vast amount of semantic information to explore here. And I’m pretty excited about that. So, go buy Logos 6! Then, explore the new case-frames feature and drop a comment below with a favorite example. And if you have any question about this feature or any other, please feel free to ask. If I know the answer, I’ll help the best way I can. And if I don’t know they answer, I’ll try to point you in the right direction.


  • […] At any rate, I’m cross posting. I’ve written a post on my personal blog about what I’ve been up to for the past year, namely working on the new case-frames feature in Logos 6. Here’s a teaser and you can read the rest HERE: […]

  • Hi Jeremy: Thanks for the explanation, am beginning to understand case-frames better. Here is my question, for those of us who are not going to be using “vast amounts of semantic information,” of what use is a case-frame analysis. Do you see this mainly as a technical tool or can it be used as a practical tool for Bible study?

  • […] what I thought. But you should go check out Jeremy Thompson’s post explaining case frame analysis, and what this looks like in Logos 6. For one, he provides a […]

  • Hi John: Thanks for stopping by. I would say, yes, this is primarily intended as a practical tool as opposed to a technical one, though I think people interested in technical details will also find it useful. Since this was an introduction to the tool I didn’t really delve too deeply. When we are interpreting the Bible or searching for information in the Bible we are dealing with a vast amount of semantic information whether we want to or not we may just not think of something like a search that way. The power of the tool is that it categorizes this information related to meaning in a way that is very practically helpful.

    Say for instance we want to find places where the Bible talks about God “returning” the people to the land of Israel. If someone just does a word search for this Hebrew word שׁוב (šwb) or for the English word “return” they will have to wade through a lot of search results. This particular word occurs over 1000 times in the Hebrew Bible. But, if you know that the particular meaning of “return” that you are interested in (“God returned the people to Israel”) would most likely be “Agent-Theme-Goal” this cuts down on the number of verses you need to look through significantly (in other words, because you can ignore all of the other instances like “he returned to his house”). So, the categorization by semantic roles can help you get to the information that you might want much more quickly.

    I hope that helps, but if not let me know. I’ve been immersed in the data for a year, so this is also a helpful conversation for me to know if I’m making sense or not.

    • Yes! That makes much more sense to me now. Thanks a lot. I’m going to have to work with it and try some searches that way.

      • Awesome. If you have other questions, I hope you’ll comment again. May elevate the idea behind your initial question to a post at some point soon to make clearer that this is intended to be highly practical.

    • But the fact remains, “and only a few find it.” Mt. 7:14b

  • […] are piling in. Favorite features and general surveys can be found all over: Rick Brannan, Jeremy Thompson, Joel Watts, Abram K-J, Aaron Armstrong, etc. But for the readers of OSS (Old School Script) […]

  • […] week I wrote a post about exploring meaning using case frames in Logos 6. I plan to come back to that topic with more practical examples in the near future, but I also […]

  • Thanks for this post Jeremy. It looks like a great tool! I walked through your example and noted 2 things I wanted to ask you about. First regarding the highlighting: I noticed in the verses that the different parts, Agent, Theme, Goal were highlighted in different colors. Was this just for illustrative purposes? I don’t see the highlighting when I follow along in Logos 6 repeating your steps? If this is just illustrative that’s fine but if there is a way to enable such highlighting that would be great. Then the second question has to do with speed. I have a pretty fast desktop and searches have always completed pretty quickly before but I notice that with case frames now my searches have completed in a much longer time – close to a minute now. I’m running with 8 gb of RAM and a Intel Core i7 processor that runs at 2.66 GHz. Thanks for your help Jeremy.