In the last post, I demonstrated reflowing text. In this post, I'll demonstrate not only reflowing text, but splitting up the verses in order to be able to encode semantic relations within Tinderbox. As a by-product of doing this, I discovered a poem within the first chapter of First John. (I'm really, really excited about finding this poem!)
I think it was around about when I was analysing 1 John 1:7, I noticed that the text consisted of (1) a condition, and (2) two different consequences. Then I realised I'd seen the same pattern in 1 John 1:6. Because I enjoy marking out textual patterns, I was driven to mark the semantic relationship between the clause containing the condition, and the dependent clauses containing the consequences.
There is no current way in Tinderbox to mark these relationships. To accomodate my need to Tinderbox, I made two copies of the note containing 1 John 1:7. I then deleted part of the text in each, renaming the now-three notes, 1 John 1:7a, 1 John 1:7b, 1 John 1:7c. Having separated the three clauses, I was now able to creat links from 1 John 1:7a to each of the other two notes with a named semantic relation: consequence.
As I progressed into 1 John 1:8, I again noticed that there was a condition and two consequences. The pattern was again repeated in 1 John 1:9 and 1 John 1:10. And when I reviewed 1 John 1:6, I saw that there was the same pattern there too. In fact, 1 John 1:5, the introduction to this segment of text, also contains three identifiable portions; but I'm still debating whether 1 John 1:5 is part of the pattern, is separate from the pattern but anticipates it, or should be understood as being distinct from the pattern evident in the following verses.
At the same time as discovering this pattern, I noticed that the author alternates between clause complexes relating to "walking in the darkness" and clause complexes about "walking in the light". I decided that this was obvious enough that it deserved to be indicated through a colour variation.
The English Standard Version translators entitled this section "Walking in the light." But in my view, the dominant theme in this text better represented as "Two ways of walking." So I grabbed an adornment and labeled the section as such.
Notice, on this adornment, I've slightly offset verses 6 through 10 to the right to indicate that verse 5 is the introduction to this section. It seems ironic that I'm visually representing the metaphor of an outliner in an outliner, albeit in that outliner's spatial view.
The next thing I noticed absolutely thrilled me: poetic balance. I noticed that the theme in 6c and 8c corresponded; so I drew a link between them. Then noticed that 10c also was on the same theme; another link. Then the pace of linking accelerated, because I noticed the theme in 6b, 8b and 10b corresponded too. Of course, it's easy to see that the themes in 6a, 8a and 10a are all pretty comparable (more links). In the other strand, 7c and 9c directly correspond. So, at this point, I became willing to accept that this entire pattern is poetically balanced through thematic correspondence.
The text in 7b and 9b do not overtly share the same topic. But having accepted that this pattern is well motivated, it is reasonable to accept that the author intended 7b and 9b to be thematically complementary. By juxtaposing two concepts and calling them one, the author is implicitly enriching the ideation. Thus I conclude that the author is asserting that being forgiven of sins and having fellowship with one another is intimately related.
This same line of reasoning holds true for the interpretation of 7a and 9a. In fact, there is an additional level of parallelism in 7a and 9a that I haven't indicated in the diagram. Notice that in 7a and 9a, there are two components within each syntagm: the first component describes "we"; the second component describes "he". Let us refer to these segments as 7ai, 7aii, 9ai, 9aii. (If the affordance made it easy to do, I'd certainly indicate subordinate Textspans / Syntagm Lenses to support the analysis.) So for "we," walking in the light corresponds with confession of sin; while for "he" walking in the light corresponds with being "faithful and just."
Earlier in the text, a reader may have been justified by asking of the author, "Okay, fine, you've asserted that God is light and walks in the light, but what do you mean by that?" It's not obvious from a casual reading of this passage that the author answers this question. But through visual and semantic analysis, the poetic balance becomes clear, and the analyst gains the interpretive key to understand that indeed the author does provide an answer to the question.
To me, discovering an interpretive pattern like this is truly thrilling. It's a fantastic payoff for the labor invested in the textual analysis.
Next article: Affordance critique