Concordance (publishing)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A concordance is an alphabetical list of the principal words used in a book or body of work, with their immediate contexts. Because of the time and difficulty and expense involved in creating a concordance in the pre-computer era, only works of special importance, such as the Vedas, Bible, Qur'an or the works of Shakespeare, had concordances prepared for them.

Even with the use of computers, producing a concordance (whether on paper or in a computer) may require much manual work, because they often include additional material, including commentary on, or definitions of, the indexed words, and topical cross-indexing that is not yet possible with computer-generated and computerized concordances.

However, when the text of a work is on a computer, a search function can carry out the basic task of a concordance, and is in some respects even more versatile than one on paper.

A bilingual concordance is a concordance based on aligned parallel text.

A topical concordance is a list of subjects that a book (usually The Bible) covers, with the immediate context of the coverage of those subjects. Unlike a traditional concordance, the indexed word does not have to appear in the verse. The most well known topical concordance is Nave's Topical Bible.

The first concordance, to the Vulgate Bible, was compiled by Hugh of St Cher (d.1262), who employed 500 monks to assist him. In 1448 Rabbi Mordecai Nathan completed a concordance to the Hebrew Bible. It took him ten years. 1599 saw a concordance to the Greek New Testament published by Henry Stephens and the Septuagint was done a couple of years later by Conrad Kircher in 1602. The first concordance to the English bible was published in 1550 by Mr Marbeck, according to Cruden it did not employ the verse numbers devised by Robert Stephens in 1545 but "the pretty large concordance" of Mr Cotton did. Then followed the notorious Cruden's Concordance and Strong's Concordance.

Use in linguistics

Concordances are frequently used in linguistics, when studying a text. For example:

Inverting a concordance

A famous use of a concordance involved the reconstruction of the text of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls from a concordance.

Access to some of the scrolls was governed by a "secrecy rule" that allowed only the original International Team or their designates to view the original materials. After the death of Roland de Vaux in 1971, his successors repeatedly refused to even allow the publication of photographs to other scholars. This restriction was circumvented by Martin Abegg in 1991, who used a computer to "invert" a concordance of the missing documents made in the 1950s which had come into the hands of scholars outside of the International Team, to obtain an approximate reconstruction of the original text of 17 of the documents.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Concordance (publishing)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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