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Concordance Work

Thu, 14 May 2009 - 10:10 AM CST

Concordance Work

As Regional Finals approaches and National Finals is right around the corner, it seems appropriate to direct this Coaching Tips toward taking your quiz team past just memorizing verses and chapter analysis. Below, you will find some insights from both national level quizzers and coaches who have attempted to master the art of picking apart the concordance in preparation for finals competition.

In concordance study, there are a few basic things that might separate a national-level team from a regional team. First, they will look for “basic” concordance answers with answers in four verses or less (i.e., the two verses in which “ignorance” is mentioned.) Second, they will look for complimentary or contrasting phrases (i.e., the verse that contains the phrase “author of life,” and the verse that contains the phrase “paths of life;” the two verses that call God “Most High,” etc.) Third, they will look for multi-part, single-word answers (i.e., “the word ‘God’s’ is used to describe what, the references for the verses in which Stephen is named, etc.). Finally, they will look for contrasting words (i.e., king/queen, heaven/earth, good/bad, etc.). After finding these things, it is important that teams be able to put their findings into question form and find the different possibilities of asking certain questions.

Nilay Saiya – Lebanon, PA

The best advice I can give is to know as many concordance questions as you can. Split them up between quizzers, whatever is necessary, but learn as many concordance questions as you can. The biggest difference I’ve seen in teams who progress from Regionals to Nationals and then into the Championship Division at Nationals is how much concordance they know. Everyone knows how to quote consecutive verses. Everyone knows chapter analysis (or at least they should by this point!!!), but concordance gives you that edge even over opposing teams at Nationals. Writing your own concordance questions is a great way to start, plus it helped me as a quizzer to write my own material because then I already had thought about each question and its answers before I even started learning them. Look at the words in the concordance and formulate questions from them. It’s actually pretty simple once you get going. Here’s an example:

The word "Blood". Just by looking at it in the concordance and thinking about it you can come up with some basic questions.


1. 12 Part Answer. Give the complete references for the verses in which blood is mentioned.
2:19, 20
15:20, 29
20:26, 28
Be careful with some words (like this one) that have different tenses. For example, 19:16 contains the word "bleeding", which would count as an answer. Other similar type words to watch out for are slavery (or "enslavery") and circumcision (or "uncircumcision").

2. 9 Part Answer. Blood is mentioned in which chapters?
1, 2, 5, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22

3. Scripture Text Question. 2 Part Answer. How does Luke begin the phrase, quote, "blood of"?
20:26 all men
22:20 your martyr (Stephen)

4. 2 Part Reference Question. Quote the verse that contains the phrase "blood of all men" and the verse that contains the phrase "blood of your martyr".

5. 6 Part Answer. Whose blood is mentioned?
5:28 this man's (Jesus)
18:6 the Jews
19:16 seven sons of Sceva
20:26 all men
20:28 his own (God's)
22:20 your martyr (Stephen)

6. 2 Part Reference Question. Quote the verse that mentions Jesus' blood and the verse that mentions God's blood.

7. Scripture Text Quotation Question. 3 Part Answer. Quote the verses that speak of abstaining, quote, "from blood".
15:20, 29

Just look for similar phrases or ideas, and that’s the biggest first step you can take

Tyler Turnage – Oshkosh, WI

* Don't over prepare on concordance - Pick your 50+ concordance questions - depending on your level of quizzing and remembering there are only about 30 rounds with about 2/3 good concordance questions per round. Know those questions, practice saying them again and again. Practice the same question in 10 different styles as a quote, as a statement and question, as a Give a Complete Answer. Trying to know absolutely everything will leave you at about "C" in the concordance and the 30 big obvious questions that you would have gotten from just looking over the rest of the alphabet will be unanswered.

* Over prepare on quoting - forget the idea of one chapter a day, you should be quoting 7 chapters, if not the entire book, every day. One day should be verse references and the next straight quoting.

* Over prepare on analysis type questions - I am amazed that every year you see the same folks/teams nailing analysis type questions and other teams don't challenge them on it. Why? List all the exclamations separately, then the OT's, and then Questions by verse reference and really analyze them. How many questions are OT? How many exclamations were made by Peter, by an angel, by Paul? How many people are in the book? How many places in the book? Count the words in the exclamations. How many 1 word, 2 word, 3 word, etc exclamations are there. Same for questions. If you don't know the answer to these questions then you haven't worked analysis enough. And there are many questions that can be picked up by knowing this information.

* Over analyzing on analysis type questions also cuts down on concordance. You should be able to pull the 2 verses that name Phrygia (just an example) or the 3 verses that name Macedonia (again just an example - not necessarily correct) from your chapter analysis work.

Realize the goal is putting in your best and feeling a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, at the end of Nationals, winning the matches you should win and not being mad (at the other team) when you lose to a team who has studied harder. Have fun with QUIZ! If Bible Quiz (studying and working) isn't fun for you then Nationals is probably not where you should be. Now go enjoy working that concordance!

Paul Kramer – Braeswood, TX

When it comes to picking apart the concordance, there seems to be three general methods that most teams fall into. The first is where the coach does everything. They are the ones who sit down with the concordance and pick out every item that they think needs to be studied in order to be prepared for nationals. It takes a really special coach to be able to do this. They need to have a thorough understanding of the scriptures being studied as well as the idiosyncrasies of question writing. Often times, this is not the best option because the time that the coach spent could have been time that the quizzers were not only picking things out but also learning them. I have had several quizzers who took the time spent pulling out pertinent information as valuable study time that they would have missed out on if I had done it all on my own.

The second method is to take the quizzer who is most prone to hitting these type questions and have them do the work of picking everything apart. This often works well because these quizzers have an innate understanding of what can be asked from the concordance and they see things that others just would not pick up on. When a quizzer does this work, they will often realize something that ties in with another word but would not typically get thought of without having the book(s) memorized. For instance, when working on the word “light”, they may also include “candles”. When someone just goes through the back of the book, they cannot pick up on those correlations. Many teams are carried by one quizzer and when that is the case, it is more valuable for that one quizzer to be spending the time working on these questions because their teammates time would be better spent working on other things.

The third method is the one I like the best. With this method, the team gets together and works on formulating the database as a group. I would split my team in half and would have both groups on a computer working either from “A” back or from “Z” forward. Once they had met in the middle, I would have them exchange databases and double check the other. This has several advantages. The first is the promotion of team unity. All too often, teams are divided over stupid things and by making them work together, (even if it isn’t for something they are strong on) they will often loose whatever grudge they may have. Second, this method gives the opportunity for experienced quizzers to help new quizzers in an area they have never dealt with. Third, this gives the chance to everyone to see what their strengths and weaknesses may be. I have had quizzers who were not the fastest on the buzzer so typically they would not be called upon to work on concordance questions. But, once they sat down in front of the concordance, they were able to see things that their teammates were not able to and they not only helped the team, but they were also given a boost of confidence in their own quizzing abilities. This work may also show someone just how much the concordance is weak for them and how they would best help their team if they would master something else. You can often see this happen with a quizzer who specializes in 10 point questions. I believe that it takes a different thought process to be able to his 10’s efficiently in comparison with hitting concordance questions efficiently.

Concordance work can often be a difficult, but rewarding task to undertake. It is certainly something that should be tackled once the basics of memorization, random verses and chapter analysis are complete. The thrill of being able to hit a 19 part answer on the first word of the question and still be able to get answer done in 30 seconds is indescribable.

Jason Martin – Valencia, PA

I've been asked to provide some pointers for teams trying to figure out how to study the concordance to make the transition from regionals to nationals. Experience is certainly the best way to know what to study, but I hope to be able to give first-year teams some tips on how to do well at nationals. The first thing to remember is that there are 20 questions in a match and it's rare if more than 5 of them are concordance, so it is certainly possible to win matches without knowing any concordance. However, there comes an added relief in knowing that you can answer 99% of all questions thrown your way and even greater relief in knowing that you might have been one of two or three people in the entire country to find a particular concordance item. Ideally, every member of your team should be able to hit every question, however, in practice that is usually not the case, since there are a wide variety of quizzers on a single team. Some have a natural talent for finding concordance items on their own while others need to be pushed along and told what to study. I've seen both types of quizzers end up as one of the top quizzers in the nation. The only prerequisite to concordance study is that the quizzer must know the material extremely well, and by reference.

The first key to learning the concordance is to get the Scholarship Sets. These give you enormous insight into what types of questions the writer like to ask. The second key is to learn how to study smart. Sure, there might be seven verses in which peace is mentioned, and if you talk at three times your normal pace, you can get them all in 29.99999 seconds, but the odds of that being asked are slim to none.

There are five basic types of concordance questions:

1. Quote/Give the verses. In this case if you find a long phrase that appears in multiple verses, these questions have a high likelihood of being asked. These questions may also ask you to give a complete reference. With these, typically four verses in the upper bound on what might be asked. Rare exceptions include verses that mention major individuals, geographical locations or major themes in the book/s. For instance, over GEPCP, the five verses in which Paul wished grace and peace to his readers is likely to be asked. The most I ever remember is seven verses, however, those were short verses. If you ever have doubts as to if an answer is too long, write down the answers, and then try quoting at an increased, but still comfortable pace. If you come up right near 30 seconds, it's unlikely to be asked. This is the method that I've always used when I write questions. Keep in mind that if the word "mentioned" is used anywhere in the question, you might be able to find "extra answers" since you don't have to find verses with the exact wording in there. However, you are always best sticking with the obvious answers and using the extra ones only if you absolutely need to. One important thing to remember when finding these is to not look strictly at the word. For instance, if you ask for the verses in which "judging" is mentioned you have to include the verses which use the words "judge", "judging", "judged", etc. The only way a writer can get around this is to use scripture text or to specifically use "the word" or "the phrase" in the question.

2. Give the complete references/Give the chapters. These are typically used when an individual, geographical location or theme is mentioned in so many verses that it is impossible to give all the verses in a reasonable amount of time. While there is some upper bound to the number of answers, it is much higher than the previous type of question, since the answers takes much less time to give. If you are ever in doubt about how many is too many for giving complete references, it never hurts to know too many. This is because you can easily answer a "give the chapters" question if you already know all the references. Over GEPCP in 2000, I knew every single reference for "Jesus Christ" and "Christ Jesus" in the books, and a "List the Chapters" question came up which I was able to answer only because of know all those references.

3. Give all ____'s words. These are very popular when asked from a specific section or chapter and become very likely of being asked, if that same character speaks multiple times in the book. This might be modified to ask for all questions/exclamations/etc made by an individual or group of people.

4. Descriptions. There are three major types here. First you could ask how a phrase is begun, like "of God" or "of the Lord". Keep in mind that if this question isn't asked as a statement and question, it is interruptible. So unless it's a large part answer (i.e., one which you don't need to hear the phrase to know what the question is), you will almost always see a statement in front of the question. Second, you could ask how a phrase, like "God of" is completed. Third, for instance, you could ask: "The word 'pure' is used to describe what?". Any adjective usually gives a good question of this form, as do any possessive nouns.

5. General purpose. These are the hardest to describe and usually the hardest to study for. Here is a list of examples of questions like this in Luke (I'm not going to give any questions from Acts here since if I ask them on a public website they might get removed from the actual sets):

Question Number for 20 points. Scripture Text Question. Two Part Answer.
Who does Luke say, quote, “became angry?”

Question Number for 20 points. Three Part Answer.
Who had companions?

Question Number for 20 points. Three Part Answer.
Jesus told us to consider what?

Question Number for 20 points. Four Part Answer.
Luke mentions what customs?

Question Number for 20 points. Scripture Text Question. Eight Part Answer.
Concerning Jesus, whom does Luke say, quote, “followed him?”

Question Number for 20 points. Five Part Answer.
Who used a loud voice?

A lot of these questions ask for who did a certain type of action. Keep in mind that for many actions you can get more than one question. For instance, say that X people send greetings in a book and Y people are greeted. Then you can ask

1. Who greeted someone?
2. Who was greeted?
3. Who greeted whom? (Since the answers to these come in pairs, you usually have some names appearing multiple times)

Once you have determined who is going to study the concordance and what you are looking for, it's best to go line-by-line through the concordance. The earlier you start, the better. It usually does you no good to be learning new concordance items the day before nationals. The way I approached the concordance was to create a file that included entries like the following:

*9pa Verses which name Abraham in Ch 3*
3:6, 3:7, 3:8, 3:9, 3:14, 3:16, 3:18, 3:29, 4:22

*5pa What was given to Abraham*
righteousness (3:6), the gospel (3:8), the blessing (3:14), the promises (3:16), the inheritance (3:18)

*2pa Verses with exclamation “Absolutely not!”*
2:17, 3:21

*2pa “According to...”*
the will of our God and Father (1:4), the promise (3:29)

*2pa “Added”*
2:6 (Nothing), 3:19 (the Law)

*2pa Paul/Peter afraid*
2:2, 2:12

This provides a smaller file to study quickly from. Once I had finished that, I wrote actual questions for every one of my concordance items. Of course, the major advantage to writing questions is that sometimes you realize that for some of the items in the smaller file it is virtually impossible to write a good question.

Those are my two cents on studying the concordance. If anyone has any questions, please post them on the Bible Quiz forum so that everyone can take advantage of the answers.

Joey Bohanon – Springfield, MO

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