Colin Day & Roget's Thesaurus of the Bible

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History & Development

From card files of Bible subjects...

A friend had compiled a card file of Bible subjects, so that he could look up any topic readily. This seemed a good idea, and I wanted to try it out for myself. However, what should the headings be? No system seemed adequate for filing cards on all kinds of subjects.

In 1973 I first obtained a copy of Roget's thesaurus of English words and phrases. This had around 1000 headings, covering the whole of meaning. At last I had the foundation for producing my file of Bible subjects.

The next problem was choosing what should comprise the 'record'. What should be the item for which a card should be produced and filed? Occurrences of particular words, particularly those in the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, would not do. Sometimes a group of words might do the job of one word (e.g. 'look up to' for 'respect'). Sometimes a meaning was carried implicitly in a verse or group of verses (such as the idea of 'three' in verses covering the Trinity). After filing about 8000 cards (which must have meant I had written out the New Testament three times or so), I threw them all away. I had not been looking for the right records.

Then I discovered a bookshop which had a number of copies of the New International Version with pages in the wrong order (some 'figures' had been misplaced). These could not be sold, so I begged them. Then followed months of literal cutting and pasting, until I had several thousand cards in a new file. Those also were thrown away. Nearer, but not near enough.

Via Bible references on computer...

By this time the personal computer had been invented, and the next phase was collecting and editing records on a PC. I would go through the whole Bible, trawling for suitable references, and then go through all the categories, sorting the references under sub-headings. This was repeated an unknown number of times. When the first version, Roget's Thesaurus of the Bible, was published by HarperCollins in 1992, it used 43,756 Bible references as its records. I was always dissatisfied with this book, because it had so few references. Also, one question which I was asked regularly was, 'Is it available on disk?'

The revision involved more trawling through the whole Bible, then going through the categories. In view of my experience as a computer programmer, and the fact that I was storing all the information on a PC, I developed programs to check my material, then programs to put the material into book format, then programs to display the material under Windows.

The Bible Thesaurus:

Bible Concordance and electronic Bible reference resource

The revised book has 115,224 references. The full electronic version has the same material, and is available to all those who purchase a copy of the book. Besides a program to display the thesaurus, there is a package of three programs to enable anyone to build their own thesaurus by amending the basic published material. This 'build' package is available to all free of charge, so as to encourage the development of other, better, thesauruses, and their interchange between users of the display program. The concise book should have around 62,000 references. Programs are also available to display the concise thesaurus, and to amend it.

The whole project has taken over 30 years. However, as you see, this has included going up several blind alleys. Especially with the programming, there have been times when I did not know how to proceed (and the documentation did not help). I have had to cry to God to help me through, and he has.