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Tip: Understanding Rank

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

When you do a search, you can sort the results bibliographically alphabetical or by “rank”. What is Rank?

Rank refers to the search engine’s “best guess” as to the relevance of the result to the search you specified. The exact method of ranking used varies a bit depending on the search. In its most basic level, when you specify a single search term, rank looks at the density of the matches for the word in the document, and how close to the beginning of the document they appear as a measure of importance to the paper’s topic. The documents with the most matches and where the term is deemed to have the most importance, have the highest “relevance” and are ranked first (presented first).

When you specify more than one term to appear anywhere in the article, the method is similar, but the search engine looks at how many of those terms appear, and how close together they appear, how close to the beginning of the document, and can even take into account the relative rarity of the search terms and their density in the retrieved file, where infrequent terms count more heavily than common terms.

To see a simple example of this, search for the words (not the phrase, so no quotes):

unconscious communications

Look at the density of matches in each document on the first page of the hits. Then go to the last page of matched documents, and observe the density of matches within the documents.

A more complex search illustrates this nicely with a single page and only 15 matches:

counter*tr* w/25 “liv* out” w/25 enact*

There are a lot of word forms and variants of the words (due to the * wildcards) above that can match, but the proximity (w/25) clause limits the potential for matching. What’s interesting here though is how easily you can see the match density decrease as you view down the short list.

The end result of selecting order by rank is that the search engine’s best “guess” as to which articles are more relevant appear higher on the list than less relevant articles.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Merkur, D. (1985). The Prophecies of Jeremiah. Am. Imago, 42(1):1-37.

(1985). American Imago, 42(1):1-37

The Prophecies of Jeremiah

Daniel Merkur

Psychoanalytic discussions of the prophets are fewer than of any other part of the Old Testament. Both the texts and the nature of the prophets' experiences are obscure. In my view, the obscurity of the texts arises from undue reliance on philological methods. Interdisciplinary competence in the psychology of religious experiences, long resisted by professional Old Testament critics, is, I suggest, a conditio sine qua non for the scientific study of prophetic literature.

Despite the scepticism of modern critics, the authenticity of Jeremiah's prophecies is not in doubt. Jeremiah's prophecies were “known” before they became manifest. Jeremiah indeed foretold a remarkable series of historical events. How this is to be explained—whether through random chance, extrasensory perception 7, or divine revelation—one cannot say. Freud states that “there is at least one spot in every dream at which it is unplumbable—a navel, as it were, that is its point of contact with the unknown” (10, p. III, n. 1).

In developing a phenomenology of Jeremiah's experiences as a data base for analysis, I will follow the manifest content in writing of “Yahweh.” All translations are from the Hebrew, in the light of the textual criticism of Old Testament scholarship.

A. R. Johnson 26 suggests that, originally, the various Hebrew terms for “prophet” had distinct meanings. In early use, ro'eh, “seer,” primarily denoted a visionary, although a seer, such as Samuel, also “foreheard” auditory phenomena. Hozeh, by contrast, was used to designate ecstatics whose experiences were predominantly locutions; but the exact sense is unclear. Nabi early indicated a “frenzied” diviner. In later use, nabi came to supplant both ro'eh and hozeh as the general term for “prophet.”

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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