Longacre Genre Analysis Dataset

A key biblical concept like ‘wisdom’ occurs across a variety of biblical contexts in both Old and New Testaments: King Solomon asks for wisdom in 2 Chronicles 1:10 (a story). Wisdom is personified as a woman walking through the streets in Proverbs 1:20 (poetry). In Matthew 13:54, people in the synagogue puzzle over the wisdom of Jesus (a story). James lists attributes of wisdom in James 3:17 (a letter). Because of this, studying a concept like ‘wisdom’ can seem like a daunting task.

Yet with the Longacre Genre Analysis Dataset, you have the power at your fingertips to track key biblical concepts, people, places, and things across all biblical texts. This dataset not only gives you the ability to track concepts across the Bible, but it enables you to study them in the context of their literary type. Using Longacre’s categories of genre, Verbum scholars have identified each pericope in the Old and New Testaments to aid in your understanding and interpretation of the Bible, whether you’re reading stories, songs, poems, or letters.


To see a visual of the Longacre Genre categories, open the Bible Books Explorer. Click here to learn about the Bible Books Explorer.


Skip ahead to:

What is a dataset?

What is the Longacre Genre Analysis Dataset?

What are the benefits of having access to this dataset?

How do I access & use this dataset?

How can I find something interesting?


What is a dataset?

In Verbum, datasets are collections of information that have been grouped together into a searchable unit. They are not resources to view in the Library, but they power features within the application.

Datasets link information to biblical texts and other resources that allow users to explore thematic outlines, preaching themes, and figurative language; to reformat lexicons for readability; to map out Greek and Hebrew grammatical constructions in the Bible; and more.

Datasets are similar to Interlinear Bibles where words are annotated with a rich set of information. Interlinear Bibles feature built-in datasets that match grammatical information to the base text. When you expand the interlinear options menu to select the lines to display, you’re tapping into datasets.

In this article, you'll learn about the Longacre Genre Analysis Dataset and the ways you can engage with it to search out information. The datasets available to you in Verbum depend on which feature sets you have access to. The Longacre Genre Analysis Dataset is available in Verbum Bronze and up.


What is the Longacre Genre Analysis Dataset?

The notion of genre in literature originated with classifications from Plato and Aristotle. You may recognize literary types like poetry (epic, lyric), drama (comedy, tragedy), and prose (parody, satire). Determining a text's genre is helpful in knowing how to interpret it. A work of lyrical poetry is different from a work of satire, and so on.

Recent explorations of genre in discourse draw on linguistic, rhetorical, and cross-cultural studies. One such classification schema that is widely used today and remains influential in the study of discourse genre is from linguist Robert E. Longacre in The Grammar of Discourse.

What sets Longacre’s categories apart from traditional ones is that Longacre’s classifications are focused on the function of the text rather than merely the form.

The Longacre Genre Analysis Dataset applies Longacre's taxonomy to pericopes of the Old and New Testaments. There are four main genre types, each with two sub-genres. The four main types in the dataset are Narrative, Procedural, Behavioral, and Expository, with secondary categorizations available for those texts that meet the criteria for more than one genre type.


Genre types in the Longacre Genre Analysis Dataset:

Longacre categorizes texts into four broad categories: Narrative, Procedural, Behavioral, and Expository. These four broad categories are distinguished from one another based on a set of features, or attributes, that are characteristic of a given genre type. These features are agent focus, temporal succession, and projection.

  • A text is agent-focused if events in the text are controlled by an agent (i.e., someone doing the action).
  • A text follows temporal succession if the events are contingent on, or depend upon, previous events.
  • A text involves projection into the future if a situation or action is anticipated but not realized.

We can delineate four main genre types with reference to these features:



  • Technical definition: A text that is agent-focused and follows a temporal succession.
  • Plain English: An agent(s) drives the action forward by doing things. Events in a narrative depend on previous events; one event follows from another.
  • Subtypes are distinguished by projection into the past or future.
    • Story: Events are realized in the narrative.
      • Example: The birth of Samuel, 1 Samuel 1:19–2:11
    • Future events: Events are anticipated but not realized in the narrative.
      • Example: Oracle against Babylon, Isaiah 13:1–22


  • Technical definition: A text that lacks agent focus but follows a temporal succession.
  • Plain English: A procedural text is about what is done or what is made, not about the role of a certain controlling agent. Events depend on previous events; one event follows from another.
  • Subtypes are distinguished by projection into the past or future.
    • How it was done: Describes the steps by which a past action was performed.
      • Example: How rooms were set up for sacrificial preparations, Ezekiel 40:38–43
    • How to do it: Describes the steps by which a person should perform an action.
      • Example: Instructions for making the tabernacle, Exodus 26


  • Technical definition: A text that is agent-focused but lacks temporal succession.
  • Plain English: A behavioral text is about evaluating how people did behave or should behave. An agent drives events forward by taking action. Events do not depend on previous events.
  • Subtypes are distinguished by projection into the past or future.
    • Hortatory: Places obligations on the speaker or another person.
      • Example: Holding fast to the word of life, Philippians 2:12-18
    • Evaluation: Evaluates past behavior of an individual or group based on some criteria.
      • Example: The mystery of godliness described, 1 Timothy 3:14-16


  • Technical definition: A text that lacks both agent focus and temporal succession.
  • Plain English: An expository text is about providing information to educate the audience. It is not focused on an agent who controls the events. Events do not depend on previous action.
  • Subtypes are distinguished by projection into the past or future.
    • What things are or were like: Describes what things are or were like.
      • Example: A nation characterized by deceit, Jeremiah 9
    • What things will be like: Describes what things will be like in the future.
      • Example: Instructions on dividing the land of Canaan, Numbers 34


What are the benefits of having access to this dataset?

Understanding the genre of a text is key to knowing how to interpret it. Think of different kinds of writing you encounter: recipes, instruction manuals, thank you cards, magazine articles, etc. Each has a characteristic function in society. When asking about the genre of a text, we seek to understand something about its communicative purpose: What does the writer/speaker want to accomplish with the text? What is the reason for this piece of writing or speaking?

We can apply the same idea to the texts of scripture. What genres does the Bible make use of? And what functions do they serve in comparison to one another? Using Longacre’s categories in the study of Old and New Testament texts provides Verbum users with:

  • Clarity in understanding differences between one book/passage of the Bible and another
  • Guidance in knowing how to proceed with Bible reading and interpretation

The Bible is a contextualized book. Specific writers wrote to specific audiences in specific contexts. This means that the interpretation of a passage should be guided by its context. In this case, its genre, or discourse type, represents its literary context. To ask about the genre of a passage is to ask:

  • How it is similar to and different from other writing in the Bible
  • How to best interpret the text in light of its discourse type, i.e. what the writer wants to accomplish with the text

Each genre has characteristics that help the reader to understand what the author wants to communicate. Biblical prophecies are often thought to be narratives (+agent focused, +temporal succession) that make predictions about the future. But prophecies in the Bible can also issue commands from God (Behavioral:Hortatory) or rebuke the behavior of people (Behavioral:Evaluation). Other times biblical prophecies make predictions about future events (Narrative:Future Events). These distinctions can help Verbum users to understand how to interpret different types of prophetic texts rather than assuming they are all of the same type.

For instance, a text like Zechariah 9 is labeled in the Longacre Genre Analysis as Narrative: Future Events. Zechariah 9:1-17 describes how Yahweh will deal with Israel’s enemies. Yahweh, as the agent, moves the narrative forward by taking action against other nations. The events of the narrative are not yet realized, but are anticipated as impending destruction. Yahweh pronounces his judgment against Israel’s enemies. This kind of narrative in Zechariah differs from a prophetic text like Jeremiah 29:15-19, which is labeled as a Behavioral:Hortatory text. The speaker, Yahweh, places obligations on the people of Jerusalem, hoping to influence their behavior. Yahweh issues warnings to Jerusalem about the consequences the people will face because they have preferred to listen to false prophets instead of the prophets of Yahweh. The implication of the prophecy is that the people should change their ways and obey Yahweh or face the consequences.


Each in their own way, such prophecies serve a communicative purpose, with a particular intent. In Zechariah 9, the text predicts the fall of Israel’s enemies and points to Yahweh’s judgment as the power behind those forthcoming events. In the other, Jeremiah 29:15-19, the prophet Jeremiah seeks to shape the behavior of Yahweh’s people by issuing warnings about their disobedience.


Understanding these kinds of distinctions in genre is important for all Bible readers. If genre is not taken into account, this can lead to a misunderstanding of what a passage of Scripture is trying to communicate. One common pitfall in doing Bible word studies is to look up a word in a lexicon and apply all its possible meanings to a particular passage. This does not take into account the genre of the passage and risks misconstruing the meaning of the text. The context, including discourse genre, provides guidance for interpretative choices.


How do I access & use this dataset?

There are four ways in which the Longacre Genre Analysis Dataset is accessible in Verbum:

  1. Using the Context Menu
  2. Using the Information Pane
  3. Using Bible Browser
  4. Using Search


Using the Context Menu

In a text that is indexed with the Longacre Genre Analysis, any annotations active in the current selection will be listed in the context (right-click) menu. Right-click on a particular word or text selection and information regarding the structure will be displayed.


Highlighting this portion of Psalms 1, and right-clicking brings us the context menu. The context menu reveals the Longacre Genre type: Expository:What things are or were like.


Using the Information Pane

The Information Pane is accessed through the Tools menu, by clicking on the Information icon:


The information pane displays information about the word the mouse pointer currently covers. If that passage is annotated with the Longacre Genre Analysis, then more information and a link to the glossary entry will display in the information panel.

Hovering over or highlighting this passage in Hebrews 10, reveals in the Information pane that the passage has a primary type of Expository with a secondary categorization of Behavioral: Hortatory.


Using Bible Browser

The Bible Browser Tool provides easy browsing for people, places, and things in the Old and New Testaments. With the Bible Browser Tool, you can comb through the entire Bible and choose the data you want to see.

Open the Bible Browser from the Tools menu. In the Tools menu, type Bible browser to find the icon.


With the Bible Browser window open, click on the arrow to the left of the words Longacre Genre. This expands the genre types. Click on the type you want to see. This brings up texts from the Old and New Testaments that have been tagged with that label. Hover over the label to see a description of the genre types.


Scroll down the main content window or use the arrow keys to view the results. The reference window displays the currently viewed text (This is helpful when browsing by pericopes).


Locate a specific result by entering the reference you want to navigate to in the Reference box. Typing “Samuel” brings up results from 1 Samuel that are tagged with the Behavioral:Evaluation type.


To learn more about using Bible Browser, see this article.


Using Bible Books Explorer

Open the Bible Books Explorer from the Library or from the Tools menu.


When you open the interactive, you’ll see a graphical interface displaying each book of the Bible with its associated Longacre Genres.

Scroll through to see all the books of the Old and New Testaments with a breakdown of the Longacre genres contained within each. Click on any of the graphical displays to see a description of the text.


Using Search

Instances of a particular data type can be searched using the Search feature in Verbum. By opening a search panel, you can use Milestone search syntax to do a search that generates a list of passages tagged with a particular genre type.

To do this, it is helpful to know the data type name (here: "lgenre" will suffice) and the milestones in the data (here: Longacre genre type names).

For example, the following search locates instances of Longacre's Procedural:How to do it genre: {Section <lgenre = Procedural:How to do it>}


Open any of the search results in your preferred Bible by clicking on the links. This type of section search only works with primary genres. Recall that some pericopes in the Old and New Testaments have been categorized into a primary and secondary genre type if they fit more than one genre.

To search both primary and secondary labels, the search should look as follows:

{Label Longacre Genre WHERE Primary ~ <LongacreGenre Behavioral: Evaluation> AND Secondary ~ <LongacreGenre Expository: What things are or were like>}

To focus on primary or secondary genre types, the search should use the following syntax:

{Label Longacre Genre WHERE Primary ~ <LongacreGenre Behavioral: Evaluation>} {Label Longacre Genre WHERE Secondary ~ <LongacreGenre Expository: What things are or were like>}

From these basic searches, we can build more complex searches, such as searching for a Greek, Hebrew, or English word that occurs in a genre type. The following syntax will work for this type of search in Greek, Hebrew, and English:

greek:πίστις INTERSECTS {Label Longacre Genre WHERE Primary ~ <LongacreGenre Narrative: Story>}

hebrew:מֹשֶׁה INTERSECTS {Label Longacre Genre WHERE Primary ~ <LongacreGenre Narrative: Story>}

love INTERSECTS {Label Longacre Genre WHERE Primary ~ <LongacreGenre Narrative: Story>}

Note: For help on how to input Greek and Hebrew, see this Verbum article.

Take, for instance, the Hebrew search for Moses (Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה). Searching for Moses in the Narrative: Story genre produces results in which Moses interacts with Yahweh and others in his lifetime. If we repeat the same kind of search, but this time with the Behavioral: Hortatory genre, this produces different results. We see that in Nehemiah 10:29, Jeremiah 15:1, and Micah 6:4, the prophets discuss the role of Moses and how the Lord used him as a leader among his people. This gives us not just a basic understanding of how Moses lived (Narrative: Story texts), but the role he played in Yahweh’s interactions with Israel. The prophets talk about Moses’s role in history and how this shaped his legacy among the people (Behavioral: Hortatory texts). It answers the question: How do Yahweh, the prophets, and the people talk about Moses after his lifetime?


How can I find something interesting?

One way to discover something new about a concept, person, place, or thing in the Bible is to search for it across different discourse genres. Remember the example at the beginning of the article about how wisdom, as a key biblical concept, is used in many different genres? Here’s how you can use the Longacre Genre Analysis Dataset to organize your search and find insights into wisdom both within and across different contexts.

To search for ‘wisdom’ across different genres, use the following syntax in the Search panel.


Expository search

wisdom INTERSECTS {Label Longacre Genre WHERE Primary ~ <LongacreGenre Expository: What things are or were like>}

  • This search gives results for expository texts that describe what wisdom looks like, including results from wisdom literature (e.g. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes) as well as NT letters (e.g. 1 and 2 Corinthians, Colossians). Perusing the results reveals a pattern: The writers often distinguish between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of man.


Narrative search

wisdom INTERSECTS {Label Longacre Genre WHERE Primary ~ <LongacreGenre Narrative: Story>}

  • This search supplies results for narratives, where people like Joshua, Solomon, Daniel, and Moses demonstrate wisdom. In the New Testament, people marvel at the wisdom of Jesus.


Behavioral search

wisdom INTERSECTS {Label Longacre Genre WHERE Primary ~ <LongacreGenre Behavioral: Hortatory>}

  • This search brings up results on how to gain wisdom and what attributes are associated with wisdom, as discussed in books like Proverbs, Jeremiah, Colossians, and James.


What does a search like this provide? Think about the different parts of a homily. Typically, these include:

  1. Explanation
  2. Illustration
  3. Application

The first search helps with explanation; expository texts describe what wisdom is like. The second search helps with illustration; narrative texts provide stories about people demonstrating wisdom. And the final search helps with application; behavioral texts place obligations on the audience for how to gain wisdom and what wisdom ought to look like in a person’s life.

This kind of search provides a way to study a single concept within narrowed searches across different discourse genres.

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