# Thursday, November 06, 2014

A few years back, Ben Witherington III (BW3) was nosing around the archives of J.B. Lightfoot and came across a manuscript with an unpublished, virtually complete commentary (Lightfoot-style) of Acts. This is big. BW3 and Todd D. Still edited the manuscript, and now IVP has now published it. And for some reason, Adrianna Wright (@adriannawright) of IVP (@ivpress, @IVPAcademic) has seen fit to bestow a review copy upon me.

I have read a bunch of Lightfoot's stuff. His magnum opus is his two-volumes-in-five-books work on the writings of Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch (with Polycarp thrown in for good measure). His existing Biblical commentaries (Galatians, Philippians, and Colossians & Philemon) are still in heavy use today. Lightfoot is one of the best examples of scholarship in Biblical studies in the late 19th century. He was a polyglot. He knew classical literature like the back of his hand. This is good and bad: It means that he refers to a wide swathe of literature, but it also means he can be incredibly difficult to understand at times. But it is usually worth the work.

I've been looking forward to this commentary since I heard of its discovery, even though it is incomplete (through Acts 21). Lightfoot's text-critical ability, his grammatical and syntactic knowledge, and his exegetical mastery mean that this will likely be a go-to volume for Acts.

My plan is not to read the whole volume for review. Instead, I will focus on the front matter and on a few portions of Acts (perhaps Acts 18:19ff as I've done some detailed work there before).


Part I: Introduction to Commentating in General
Reflections on the Necessity of a Clear and Proper View of the Inspiration of Scripture as a Presupposition for Correctly Approaching the Bible

Part II: Introduction to Acts
Preliminary Matters

Part III: The Commentary on Acts
The Superscript
The Preface
Acts 1: Ascension, Judas’ Demise, the Filling Up of the Twelve
Excursus: On the Historical Problem of the Varying Accounts of Judas’ Demise
Acts 2: Pentecost and Its Aftermath
Acts 3—6: The Beginnings and Trials of the Church in Jerusalem
Excursus: The Sanhedrin and the High Priests
Excursus: The Primacy of Peter
Excursus: The Diaconate
Acts 7: The First Martyr for Christ
The Tabernacle
Excursus: The Authenticity of the Speech of St. Stephen
Acts 8: Simon, the Samaritans, and Philip
Excursus: Simon Magus
Conversion of the Ethiopian
Acts 9: The Conversion of Saul
Acts 10: The Surprising Story of Cornelius
Acts 11: Trouble in Zion—Peter Explains
Acts 12: The Persecuted Church and the Dawn of the Mission of the Persecutor
Acts 13—14: The First Missionary Journey
St. Paul’s Apostolic Journeys
Acts 15: The Apostolic Council and Its Aftermath
Acts 16: The Second Missionary Journey
Acts 17: Macedonia and On to Athens
The History of St. Paul’s Day at Thessalonike
Acts 18: And So to Corinth
Acts 19: Finally at Ephesus
Acts 19:21—21:39: The Third Missionary Journey
Timothy and Erastus
The Speech of St. Paul at Miletus
Conclusion on the Rest of Acts

Appendix A: Lightfoot’s Article On Acts For Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible
Appendix B: ‘Discoveries Illustrating the Acts of the Apostles’
Appendix C: St. Paul’s History After the Close of Acts
Appendix D: The Obituary/Homage to Lightfoot Which Appeared in the Contemporary Review in 1893, And Was Reprinted (in 1894) With A New Preface By B. F. Westcott And With Some Emendations From Others Author Index
Scripture Index

Post Author: rico
Thursday, November 06, 2014 6:19:18 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, October 27, 2014

My employer Faithlife announced Logos 6 this morning. You can learn more about features on the forums "What's New" page or on the Logos 6 features page.

I was able to contribute all over the place in L6, in both major an minor ways. This post will list a few of my favorites, the ones I'm most excited about.

Ancient Literature Guide Section

For years, Logos has had access to all sorts of text and resources that are contemporary or in special relationship with the text of the Bible. Church Fathers, Josephus, Philo, Apostolic Fathers, Ugaritic stuff, Amarna Letters, Dead Sea Scrolls Sectarian material, ANET, Context of Scripture, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Talmuds & Mishah, Nag Hammadi codices … the list goes on. What we haven't had was an easy way to see what all that stuff says about or interacts with a particular Bible reference. And we certainly haven't had that material classified using intertextual terminology or topical terminology. Now we do, and it is sweet. Ken Penner and I sifted thousands (and thousands) of references to many of these different corpora. For others I wrote a lot of code to sift and classify references. We ended up creating a dataset of over 182,000 references between the Bible and all sorts of ancient literature. Learn more about it on this forum post, and watch the below video.

Textual Variants Guide Section

In Logos 5 and previous, we provided text-critical information in the Apparatuses section of the Exegetical Guide. In Logos 6, we have a new section: Textual Variants. More info in this forum post. The section is broken up into a number of subsections:

  • Textual Commentaries: Most are familiar with Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. This is a great resource, but it is far too technical for most students who want to know about textual variation, but get lost with all the lingo, sigla, and ancient language. And it only covers the NT. So I wrote a bunch of code to identify variation units in the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament that seemed to warrant comment of some sort. Then I got in touch with Israel Loken, and we wrote a new textual commentary: The Lexham Textual Notes on the Bible. Israel wrote the notes for the Hebrew Bible, and I wrote the notes for the Greek New Testament. You can see more on the forum, or on the Logos web site.
  • Apparatuses: This is much like the old L4/5 apparatuses section.
  • Editions: These are printed editions of the Hebrew Bible (OT) and Greek New Testament (NT). Whichever editions you have in your library, if they contain the verse(s) you're querying, will be listed here — with a helpful link to compare them all, if you'd like.
  • Transcriptions: Logos has published several transcriptions of manuscripts, including the Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls, Comfort & Barrett's edition of several NT Papyri, as well as Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Bezae. If any of the transcriptions in your library contain the verse(s) you're looking into, they will be listed here. Pretty cool.
  • Ancient Versions: Ancient (or Early) versions are early translations from the Hebrew or Greek into another language. The LXX is an ancient version of the Hebrew Bible. So is the Vulgate (for OT, in many places) and also for the Greek NT. Coptic versions, Syriac, and anything else you may have in this category will show up here.
  • Online Manuscripts: Even if you have Logos editions of NT manuscript transcriptions, there are nearly 6,000 of these guys. The folks at the INTF have been working on cataloguing, indexing, imaging, and transcribing these manuscripts in their New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room (NTVMR). And now you can peek over their shoulder. If the NTVMR has public information on any manuscript containing the verse range you've specified, you'll be given links to their material. Images. Transcriptions. It is very cool. And they are working on it all the time, so the data just grows and grows. These are the very images and transcriptions that future editions of the NA and UBS texts as well as the ECM will consult. And the links are served up for you to follow up on, as you see fit. This is awesome, and we're thankful that the INTF/NTVMR allow this sort of use of their material.

Clause Search of LXX Deuterocanon/Apocrypha

So, there is this whole class of books that Protestants like to call "intertestamental" or "apocryphal." But whole faith traditions (Catholic, Orthodox) consider it to be, in some degree, canonical and they use the term "deuterocanonical." Whatever you call it, this is fascinating material, in Greek, and is useful for linguistic and historical study. Add in a referent analysis, and you can do some cool stuff with clause search.

But it was out of reach for one person to do. I thought, "why not interns?" We put out the word, and Jimmy Parks, Charles Bauserman, and Matt Nerdahl answered the call. And they did phenomenal work this summer to push this dataset out. More detail and a screenshot on the Logos forums.

Lexham English Septuagint English-Greek Reverse Interlinear

With Logos 5, the Lexham English Septuagint was released. For Logos 6, to make clause search hit display in English work for the LXX deuterocanonical/apocryphal material, we needed a reverse interlinear. So Isaiah Hoogendyk did a lot of magic to make our antiquated tooling work, and he and a developer did even more magic to integrate that data into a new, spiffy, shiny tool. We presently have the deuterocanonical/apocryphal books aligned, along with portions of Esther and Daniel that also occur in the Hebrew Bible. We hope to have the rest done sometime this winter. Learn more on the Logos forums.

And All Sorts of Other Stuff

Only four features, and I'm winded. But you can see videos on other stuff I'm excited about. Here are the links:

There is so much more, I can't do it justice. Do check it out.

Post Author: rico
Monday, October 27, 2014 8:20:24 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, January 30, 2014

Things are hopping at Logos Bible Software. The other day I announced on the Twitter and on Facebook that I’m looking for a few interns this summer to help with analysis of Greek texts:

Then this morning Steve Runge blogged that he’s looking for summer interns as well, to help him with some Greek Discourse Grammar projects.

We have a lot of higher-than-word-level analysis to do on Greek texts, and need some help. My projects will focus on the Greek of the Septuagint, starting with the deuterocanonical/apocryphal texts. Seriously — how much fun is this? And you could get paid for it? And a great item to list on your CV?

I’m still working on getting something official on the Logos jobs page about the summer internships on my team. Until then, here is some more information on them. If this sounds at all interesting to you, and you’re willing to spend the summer in Bellingham, then …

  1. Email me (rick at logos dot com) a CV and tell me about yourself and your experience with Greek
  2. Do it by March 15, 2014. The earlier the better.

If it all sounds interesting, but you’re still not sure, then read the bottom of Steve’s blog post again, the paragraph after “Application Process.”

Greek Data Curation Intern

Logos Bible Software is looking for people who know their Greek and want to use it in an environment focused on creating data-oriented products for professors, teachers, students, and laypeople. As a Greek Data Curation Intern, you will work with the Logos Content Innovation team to provide the linguistic foundation for the next generation of tools to help people infuse the Greek of the Bible in their everyday studies and research.

For more information on the kind of stuff we work on, see this recent overview of Greek Linguistic Databases that have been developed and implemented by Logos Bible Software.


  • Analysis of Greek text at multiple levels (syntactic, referential, morphological, etc.)


  • Summer relocation to Bellingham
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Ability to make quick, informed decisions about analysis
  • Two Years of Greek or demonstrated ability and aptitude
  • Desire to stretch your Greek muscles to the limit, and get paid for it

The ideal candidate

  • Is familiar with Logos Bible Software and existing Greek linguistic databases
  • Has some familiarity with Greek outside of the New Testament
  • Unknowingly chunks Greek into clauses and clause components while reading and studying
Post Author: rico
Thursday, January 30, 2014 9:15:58 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, November 01, 2012

As you probably know, I’m an ‘information architect’ at Logos Bible Software. We recently (today!) released Logos Bible Software 5. There are lots of bug fixes and new features and stuff, but the big deal with Logos 5 are the new data sets that allow for examination of the scripture like we’ve never done before. I think it is a huge step forward, though admittedly I might be biased.

This is data we’ve been working on for a long time (some of it before we even released Logos 4 in 2009, believe it or not). The data sets I’m most excited about include:

  • Biblical Referents: So, you’ve always been able to search for “Jesus” and “said” and find where Jesus says something. But that’s only where the word “Jesus” is explicitly used. What about when it is “he said”? Biblical Referents solve that problem. We’ve analyzed the Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament and resolved these sorts of things. Because the data is annotated on the original languages, that means it bubbles up all over the place through our linking of the original languages to modern translations.
  • Bible Sense Lexicon: This is just the start of a massive project that will allow for incredible things. If you’re familiar with WordNet, then this is like WordNet for the Bible. We are analyzing every word (nouns, adjectives, verbs, , determining sense used, and annotating them. Further, we have a cross-linguistic approach that allows us to map from Hebrew to Greek, which means that we can find when a sense occurs in the Bible, not just in the NT or the OT. Right now we have an initial annotation of nouns in both Hebrew and Greek, and are starting work on verbs. It is very cool.
  • Clause Search: Clause search allows one to search for clauses and clause components. It integrates several data sets: Biblical People, Places and Things, Referents, Syntax data, morphological data, and makes it all searchable bounded to a clause. Search for “subject:Jesus verb-lemma:θεραπεύω” (the verb for “to heal”) and find everything. Even stuff like “he healed them” (Mt 4.24, ESV).
  • Reported Speech: Sometimes it is handy to know who or what is speaking. We have annotated “reported speech” through the whole of the Bible. One way this is viewable is through a visual filter for “Speaker Labels” in Bibles with reverse interlinears.
  • Roots in Greek NT and Hebrew Bible. Roots (both Greek and Hebrew) are integrated with original language texts and reverse interlinears. This has been a much-requested feature over the years, and we’re glad to finally make it available to users!

Here's a video from YouTube that describes many of these features.

On top of this, we have new resources. There are a few I am personally very happy to have see the light of day in that I either produced it myself or was the lead editor. Here they are.

LELXXThe Lexham English Septuagint. The Lexham English Septuagint (LES) is a new translation of the Septuagint (LXX, the Greek version of the Old Testament) based on Henry Barclay Swete's edition of the Septuagint, The Old Testament in Greek According to the Septuagint. Based on the work of the popular The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, the LES provides a literal, readable and transparent English edition of the Greek Old Testament, which was the edition of the Old Testament writings most popularly used during New Testament times and in the early church.

There was a small but stellar group that did the primary editing of the translation, including myself, Ken M. Penner, Israel Loken, Michael Aubrey and Isaiah Hoogendyk.

One of the things I really like about the LES is the approach to proper nouns. Septuagint Lexicons typically do not handle proper nouns. Septuagint translations typically transliterate all but the most important (e.g. David, Jerusalem, Moses). What this means is that the names most English readers are familiar with (from translations of the Hebrew Bible) are not used in LXX translations. So it is hard to track who does what. Read something like First Chronicles, and you’re completely lost because the majority of the names are not familiar at all.

In the LES, we were able to use, where possible, names familiar to those who have only worked with English translations of the Hebrew Bible and the apocryphal books. So Reuben is Reuben, Manasseh is Manasseh. Cities use names you’re probably expecting (e.g. Gibeah, not Gabaa). However, because the differences in spelling/representation are sometimes insightful, we’ve footnoted the transliterated form of proper nouns — where the transliteration is different from the familiar representation — so the information is not lost.

TheApostolicFathersThe Apostolic Fathers in English (with reverse interlinear). This is a new translation of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers in English. It is a follow-up to my Apostolic Fathers Greek-English Interlinear. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

This translation is not meant to replace either Holmes' or Ehrman's editions in print. Instead, my goal in creating a new English translation was to create a tighter and more transparent relationship with the underlying Greek text. As this translation has its genesis with my Apostolic Fathers Greek-English Interlinear, it began with a direct relationship with every word and phrase of the underlying Greek. From here, the English translation was reviewed and edited to become more readable yet still retain its relationship with the Greek text. Finally, using tools provided by Logos Bible Software, the English text was completely re-aligned with the Greek text, word by word, phrase by phrase. When the English text is read with the reverse interlinearized Greek text displayed in Logos Bible Software, the result is an English translation that shows exactly where each word and phrase has its origin.

This level of alignment becomes more useful in reading and particularly when studing how words and structures found in the New Testament are used in contemporary literature. And this, to my mind, can help the writings of the Apostolic Fathers play a larger role in one's study of the New Testament and Septuagint, which is my larger goal.

I’m super-excited about this one too. It has been hard to not talk about as it has been complete for almost a year!

Anyway, to sum it up, I’m excited about Logos 5!

Post Author: rico
Thursday, November 01, 2012 6:21:28 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, April 02, 2012

GreekApocGospJust over two weeks ago, Logos (my employer) put an edition of the Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha on pre-pub. This meant that when enough pre-orders were made to cover the cost of the project, we would begin development. I mentioned it on this blog, it was mentioned on the Logos blog as well.

I was expecting it to take a few months for costs to be covered. To my surprise, it took about 10 days.

So I wanted to make sure all those who haven’t yet deleted this feed from their readers also knew that this project is now under development.

I’m going to have to do some shifting of my schedule to begin the necessary work; there is much to do — more research, writing, and some code to write. I don’t have a time frame for release, but am committed to make sure it happens in a timely manner.

Thanks to all those who pre-ordered! And you can still pre-order at the discounted pre-pub price!

Post Author: rico
Monday, April 02, 2012 7:25:32 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, March 14, 2012

GreekApocGospI’ve been studying the apocryphal gospels off and on for a few years now. They are fascinating documents. I forget what pushed me over the edge, but I realized a few months ago that this is a hole in the Greek offerings of Logos Bible Software.

So I did a lot more research, and proposed that we do our own edition of the Greek Apocryphal Gospels. It is now available for pre-pub purchase.

We plan on using Tischendorf’s edition (without apparatus) for the major documents (Protevangelium of James, Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Nicodemus (Acts of Pilate) and the Descent of Christ to Hell); Swete for the Gospel of Peter (plus transcriptions of P.Oxy.2949 and 4009); Grenfell & Hunt for Greek portions of the Gospel of Thomas. And we’ll do some transcriptions of some fragmentary stuff (P.Merton 51; P.Egerton 2; some P.Oxy stuff as well; see pre-pub page for a full list) as well as an ‘inclusive’ collection of agrapha.

The Greek texts will be morphologically tagged, but in an effort to keep costs down, the analysis will be primarily automated (much like the analysis available for the Logos editions of the Perseus Classics Collection and the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri).

In addition, much like Michael S. Heiser did for our Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha project, I will be writing new introductions and collecting bibliographies for each document/writing contained in the resource.

English translation for most of the material is available in M.R. James’ The Apocryphal New Testament volume, which is already available in Logos format. Where James’ edition has translation, the Greek editions will scroll synchronously with James’ edition.

Anyway, that’s the scoop. I’m hoping folks like the idea and that the pre-pub gets enough subscriptions to be funded so we can start into this material. If it goes well, we could have follow-up projects for the apocryphal acts and apocalypses as well.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 6:09:45 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, November 08, 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot about cohesion lately, for a number of reasons.

  • It’s interesting
  • There is some decent stuff written on it from the perspective of NT studies:
    • Jeffrey T. Reed on Philippians
    • Ray Van Neste on the Pastorals
    • George Guthrie to some degree on Hebrews
    • Cynthia Westfall on Hebrews
    • Varner on James
  • Earlier standard linguistics/discourse literature goes back to Halladay & Hasan and others; I still need to read this stuff.

Anyway, my mind has been turning on cohesion, thinking about what it is, and thinking about how to make examining a discourse for cohesion (and other above-the-word-level stuff) easier to do.

Essentially, I’m taking a very brief look at what is (very loosely) termed “lexical” and “semantic” cohesion using a method described in O’Donnell/Porter/Reed’s paper “OpenText.org: the problems and prospects of working with ancient discourse,” specifically the notion of “Semantic Chains” described in the latter half of the paper. This basically amounts to counting words and counting instances of words in Louw-Nida domains, and looking at how they are used together in a discourse. I am also looking at participants (person and non-person) in a discourse at the same time, to see how they co-occur with semantic chains as described in the paper, hoping to understand more about how people understand cohesion to work. And I’ve done this, very very briefly, for chapters 1 & 2 of James, primarily because I’ve been looking at Varner’s commentary, because my pastor is preaching through James, and because there is a session on James and discourse at ETS (I think it is ETS, right?). Anyway, below are my notes.

James 1.2-8: Convergence of domains 31 (Believe) and 57 (Possess, Transfer, Exchange). This is largely an exhortation to the addressee of James (3-4). Switch from v. 4 to v. 5 is rhetorical, from v.4 “lacking in nothing” to v. 5 “if any of you lacks in wisdom”. Verses 5-8 rely on domains 57 and 31 asking for wisdom in faith, without doubting, in order to receive what is lacked. Domain 57 comes from lack/give/receive language. Domain 31 comes from faith/doubting language. One frequent participant in vv. 5-8 is the doubter.

James 1.9-11: Some words in the plant domain (domain 3) are grouped here, showing we have an illustration that uses plants to convey a point. Domain 57 continues (the rich person and receiving) perhaps providing some cohesion with the previous section. We also have new participants introduced in the context of the illustration, the rich person and the humble person. Figurative language also includes the sun. Further use of domain 13 (the 'exist' subdomain, specifically 13.93, 13.94 and 13.96, pass away/lost/wither away) and domain 79 (for beauty / withering language) provide cohesion internal to the illustration.

James 1.12-16: Language from domain 27 (testing/tempting, 27.46, πειραζω/πειρασμος) provides a cohesive tie with James 1.2-3, which has some use of domain 27 where trials are endured to ensure one becomes complete. Domain 88 (moral/ethical qualities) is also concentrated in this passage. This section is also general in that no particular participant is named, but a general 'person' (ανηρ) is the subject of the beatitude of v. 12; he carries as subject through the paragraph. Sin/temptation language is prevalent, especially with the use of opposites πειραζω/πειρασμος and απειραστος in v. 13.

James 1.17-18: Primary participant is God. Some lexical/conceptual cohesion with previous by use of αποκευω (earlier in v. 15), give birth to. In the previous section sin gave birth to death, in this section God gives birth to “us” (James and his addressee) by his will, through the “message of truth”.

James 1.19-21: Participants in this section include anger, immorality and wickedness as well as gentleness/humility (all domain 88). Lexical/conceptual cohesion exist with the previous section due to a reference to “the implanted message/word” which is a reference to the “message/word of truth.” Note also use of domain 67 (quick/slow) in the wisdom statement.

James 1.22-25: Participants include those who hear the “message/word of truth” (previous sections) and those who do the message/word. This segues into an illustration centered on mirror and reflection.

James 1.26-27: This section has a concentration of domain 53 terms (religious activities, “pure and undefiled religion”) with some domain 31 language (thinking/deceiving). James' generic person as subject (“anyone”) is the primary participant.

James 2.1-7: Domains having to do with artifacts (domain 6, gold ring/clothing/footstool), object features (domain 79, glorious/fine/filthy), positions in spacial relation (domain 83, prepositions and adverbs, largely, providing here/there senses), possess/transfer (domain 57, poor, rich, heirs) and some believe language (domain 31, faith, listen (v. 5)). This all combines for a powerful illustration given to James' addressee (“brothers”, with second-person verbs and further second-person pronouns throughout the section) illustrating a problem among the addresses with partiality/differences in perception and attitude of those with means (rich) and those without (poor). These references also provide some lexical/semantic cohesion with rich/poor in 1.9-11.

James 2.8-13: James' generic addressee is again a participant; with an exhortation again reinforcing the problem of partiality. Domain 88 (partiality, sin, adultery, mercy/merciless, stumble) is common in this section. James appeals to the law (two of the ten commandments), thus an increase in the common domain 33 (communication) due to citation language (according to scripture, etc.). The section encourages proper action and discourages improper through use of domain 13 (be) and 88 (moral activity).

James 2.14-17; 18-26: Domains frequent in this section include 31 (belief/trust/faith), 42 (works/working/doing), and 88 (moral qualities: justify/justification/righteousness, but also prostitute). The discussion is about faith and works and the effect on those who practice one or both. Some OT illustrations (Abraham, Rahab) are given.

So, what’s the big deal? Well, one thing is that lexical and semantic cohesion has to involve more than simple repetition and clustering. That might help identify areas of cohesion, but it does not define them. Specifically with Louw-Nida domains, some are huge (e.g. 33 and 15) and some are very small. To count frequencies doesn’t really do much. But what this type of work can do is help to reinforce themes/topics in given sections, and it can also help to isolate paragraph boundaries (and larger-level discourse boundaries).

I’m a little dismayed at how easy it is to count frequencies of domain (or term) instances, and then see a relationship between two portions of a discourse simply because they’ve been counted and noted. Sure, “testing” language is used in James 1.2-7 and in 1.12-16, but that doesn’t mean there is some inherent relationship between those two portions of the text. There may be, and examining “semantic chains” may bring it to light, but the simple co-occurrence does not a relationship (inclusio, link, chiasm, chain, etc.) make.

It is too easy to have a load of data, and then posit things about the text because you’re (I’m) riffing off the count data. If there is some relationship there, there must be other means of confirming it than simple counting and being. Because an author uses similar language / words / topics in two places or more doesn’t mean he’s implying a relationship.

A good example is the use of domain 33 in James 2.8-13. Domain 33 is the largest domain and one of the most consistently represented domains in the book (in any book) outside of domains dominated by function words (89, 91, 92). In James 2.8-13, though, one can see the reason for an increase in ‘communication’ language is because James is citing OT material and telling the readers/hearers about it. So here we have a reason for the increase: It isn’t because James is focusing on saying something about communication, it is because he is stopping to cite OT material that is relevant to his point. These are the nuts and bolts required for talking about and citing other literature (I’m sure the ‘communication’ language in this paragraph has a higher concentration than the rest of this post, but I’m communicating about communication so the higher concentration is to be expected. Focus on the citation, not the mechanics of citation. Move on.)

So while I can see (even better now) the nuts and bolts of lexical and semantic cohesion, I’m dismayed that in several (not all, but several) it is explained as little more than counting stuff and examining clusters, as if the cluster of data (the semantic chain) exists and is meaningful simply because it was counted. It is a blip on the radar; worthy of further examination but not necessarily meaningful at all.

We must be careful because my guess is that there are a fair amount of mountains made out of some of these mole-hills.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, November 08, 2011 9:44:36 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thanks to the generosity of the author, I’ve received a copy of Will Varner’s The Book of James: A New Perspective (amazon.com). The subtitle is “A Linguistic Commentary Applying Discourse Analysis.” Thanks, Dr. Varner!

I’ve been interested in working through this for a few reasons. First, the church I attend will be working through the book of James in the late summer/fall, I think, and I’d like to work through Varner’s stuff as part of that. Second, I haven’t seen a commentary focused on linguistics/discourse targeted at a less academic level (outside of Runge’s High Def Commentary on Philippians, but it is a different beast altogether) and wanted to see how it frames the discussion and approaches the problem of discourse/linguistics for the non-academic. Third (and related to the second) I’ve always had the idea that I’d like to write something discourse-y (is that a word?) on the Pastorals, so it’s good to see what others have done and are doing.

I’ve done an initial read of the introduction and a bit more. Varner seems to have hitched his syntactic wagons to the OpenText.org analysis (which I am intimately familiar with, having implemented it for Logos Bible Software; a static visual representation is also available online at OpenText.org). This is good and bad. It is good because OpenText.org is out there and known to some degree, it is bad because there is an (admittedly not too steep) learning curve to begin to think in OpenText.org-ese. It’s bad (at least for me) because I’m not a fan of the contained-box-style notation that OpenText.org uses in its online form, and that is what Dr. Varner has emulated in his commentary. All told, Varner includes the Greek text with translation beside it in a table, and then has the contained-box-style visuals after that. I’d rather have had the Greek text once, perhaps even with a less detailed block outline or some other notation influenced by OpenText.org. I just think it would’ve been easier to refer to and it would lose the confusion of the unfamiliar box notation. The other thing I’m dealing with is that I would probably describe myself as post-OpenText.org these days. It was great and formative as I really began to understand how text functions above the word level, but it is now, to me, quirky enough in terminology and approach (what, really, is a ‘definer’ and how is it different than a ‘qualifier’ in ways that aren’t describable using more standard morphological or syntactical terminology?) that I tend to lean more toward the Cascadia analysis these days (this is also in Logos).

What I’ve read of the commentary is good; I hope to dig into it in greater detail soon. Discussion of cohesion is promising, and there is some discussion/use of semantic chaining as well. The introduction seems heavy on citations from Porter and Reed; though they have done some foundational work in this area (particularly Reed in his Philippians volume). I’ve been reading some stuff from Scandiavians lately (in the Coniectanea Biblica New Testament Series), while this is more “textlinguistics” than “Discourse Analysis” (slight differences), there is some good stuff (particularly in discourse markers, continuity/discontinuity, and the like) that should make its way into more stuff than it has.

Also sad (in the intro), for me, were the “forthcoming” citations of Porter and O’Donnell’s Intro to Discourse Analysis that has been “forthcoming” for more years than I have digits to count on my right hand. I’d love to see that one, too, but will be waiting for a few more years if past history of Porter’s cited “forthcoming” titles is any indicator. (note: I know this isn’t Dr. Varner’s fault, he’s using the sources he has and needs to use. I just wish the blasted thing would finally be published.)

I plan on blogging more as I get further into the book. That may be awhile, though, as my available time is largely consumed by my work with the Apostolic Fathers and a class on the text of the NT I’m teaching for six weeks (through mid September).

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 10:05:54 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, October 04, 2010

I blogged (almost a month ago now?) on Porter/Reed/O’Donnell’s Fundamentals of NT Greek (amazon.com) after receiving a review copy.

I’ve had nearly a month of off-and-on examination of the text (amazon.com) and workbook (amazon.com). I haven’t worked through them both, or read all of each book, but I have looked at them in some detail and given thought to them.

These books make me yearn to go to Israel and take Greek from Randall Buth. (Not that I had to be pushed too hard anyway). Don’t get me wrong, there is good stuff in Porter’s book. But I get the feel from it that Greek is something to be memorized, analyzed, and measured; then we can make conclusions. Instead, I want feel and hear the language, and sense what is being communicated by the NT writers. I don’t want to (necessarily) analyze it to pieces.

All of that said, if someone were to rigorously pursue and complete Porter’s grammar, that person would be very well equipped to pursue further reading and analysis of the New Testament, and probably other Hellenistic corpora. But understanding these writings is so much more than breaking everything down into component parts. It is not a dispassionate, benign examination of data. It is reading and appreciating the written words of an ancient time, testimony of amazing and hard-to-believe things.

Anyway, I am appreciative of the book. And I still think it makes a good follow-up purchase for someone who has finished first-year Greek and wants a handy reference and explanation of concepts to refer back to.

But I don’t think I’d want to waltz into a first-year Greek class and have this as my text.

Post Author: rico
Monday, October 04, 2010 9:56:31 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, September 16, 2010

Folks who have read ricoblog for a long time know I’m no fan of Bart Ehrman’s popular-level books.

But like him or hate him, I think Bart shines in translations and editions of ancient texts. I’m a fan of his Apostolic Fathers edition (though I do like Holmes’ better) and have said on the blog before he should stick to translations and critical editions.

So when I paged through my recently-received Oxford Press “Religion” catalog, I smiled when I saw Bart Erhman and Zlatko Plese, The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations (amazon.com). I’d heard rumors he was up to something along these lines, and I’m glad to see it’s in print (or, soon to be in print). This is on my must-have list (have I mentioned my birthday is in less than a month?). Amazon gives it a Feb 2011 date in spite of the 2010 the Oxford catalogue ascribes to it. If anyone out there wants to send along a review copy, I’d love to dig into it before then. I have hope beyond hope I can get a copy at ETS/SBL in Atlanta in November.

Here’s the blurb (from Amazon):

Bart Ehrman—the New York Times bestselling author of Misquoting Jesus and a recognized authority on the early Christian Church—and Zlatko Plese here offer a groundbreaking, multi-lingual edition of The Apocryphal Gospels (amazon.com), one that breathes new life into the non-canonical texts that were once nearly lost to history.

In The Apocryphal Gospels (amazon.com), Ehrman and Plese present a rare compilation of over 40 ancient gospel texts and textual fragments that do not appear in the New Testament. This essential collection contains Gospels describing Jesus's infancy, ministry, Passion, and resurrection, as well as the most controversial manuscript discoveries of modern times, including the most significant Gospel discovered in the 20th century—the Gospel of Thomas—and the most recently discovered Gospel, the Gospel of Judas Iscariot. For the first time ever, these sacred manuscripts are featured in the original Greek, Latin, and Coptic languages, accompanied by fresh English translations that appear next to the original texts, allowing for easy line by line comparison. Also, each translation begins with a thoughtful examination of key historical, literary, and textual issues that places each Gospel in its proper context. The end result is a resource that enables anyone interested in Christianity or the early Church to understand—better than ever before—the deeper meanings of these apocryphal Gospels.

The Apocryphal Gospels (amazon.com) is much more than an annotated guide to the Gospels. Through its authoritative use of both native text and engaging, accurate translations, it provides an unprecedented look at early Christianity and the New Testament. This is an indispensable volume for any reader interested in church history, antiquity, ancient languages, or the Christian faith.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, September 16, 2010 8:21:47 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Friday, September 10, 2010

Thanks to the good folks at Eerdmans who supplied a review copy, I have lived to see the day where I can hold, in my hand, a physical, printed copy of Stanley Porter’s first-year Greek grammar called Fundamentals of New Testament Greek. And there’s even a workbook (but no answer key, at least not yet).

I say that jokingly, but anyone who has been aware of the production of this title understands what I’m getting at. I described the book earlier today to a colleague as being in “perpetual almost-done-dom” for years. I’ve known that I’d be getting a review copy for at least three years, I think. Whatever your history, it’s been a long time coming.

I’ve had time today to read the front matter, page through the text and workbook, and make some initial conclusions.

First: This is a serious first-year grammar. It isn’t meant to entertain, it is meant to provide the data you need to read Greek. It is focused on grammar and vocabulary first. The introduction basically tells you that to succeed, you need to spend two hours a day in this book. If that intimidates you, then go home.

Second: While newly published, the grammar isn’t really new. Porter has been using some form of it for years, and it has been used at other schools in the US, Canada and the UK.

What do I think of it? My initial impression is that it is heavy. Not physically, but in the way it presents data. It expects you to be serious about wanting to learn Greek, if you’re not, then don’t bother. If you are, then dig in and be persistent.

Frankly, this seems like a better book for someone who has already gone through a year of Greek, forgotten most of it, and wants to work back through it to remember/recall. Alternately, it could be a good follow-up for someone who took a summer intensive and wants to keep it up. The way the book is organized (and its affinity for charts and paradigms) almost makes it better for that first-hand reference you want at the end of our first year of Greek. I think I’d hate to learn from it but would like to refer to it to remember things.

The big question, of course, is “What does Porter do with aspect?” From p. xix: “Verbal aspect, not time, is the fundamental meaning expressed by the Greek tense-forms.” While I don’t think of verbal aspect as  a black-and-white as some (aspect only) and tend to think more along the lines of Buist Fanning and Steve Runge regarding time and aspect, I do like that aspect is brought in from the get-go. Aspect is formally introduced with verbs in chapter 4.

As I get a bit more familiar with the text and workbook, I’ll likely blog more about it. Again, thanks to Eerdmans for the review copy.

Also: Kudos for using Minion Pro for the English and Greek text. It looks awesome!

Post Author: rico
Friday, September 10, 2010 9:01:50 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The majority of times one runs into αλλα in the NT (and the Apostolic Fathers, for that matter) it occurs with a negator of some sort. The default case is to negate something in order to highlight that which follows. That is, when we say “not that, but this” we’re typically wanting “this” to be the important bit in the context. There is typically some sort of implicit contrast between “that” and “this” (e.g., dark vs. light, big vs. small, etc.) as well. We bring “that” on the table, then negate it, then say, “no, not really that, but this other thing”. In the vast majority of these instances, the “not that” portion can be completely removed and the clause has no inherent change in meaning. It’s just dull.

Enter Rom 3.31, which ends a section that most are very familiar with:

νόμον οὖν καταργοῦμεν διὰ τῆς πίστεως; μὴ γένοιτο· ἀλλὰ νόμον ἱστάνομεν. (Rom 3.31 NA27)
So do we nullify the law through faith? Certainly not! Instead we uphold the law. (Rom 3.31)

Here αλλα is the hinge between nullifying the law and upholding it. So the contrast is between getting rid of something, and having that something remain in force.

Interesting here is how the negation happens. It isn’t a simple negative. We get the Pauline emphatic negation of μὴ γένοιτο or “Certainly not!”. This amps up the rhetoric even more. Talking about abolishing or nullifying the law was serious stuff, but it fit the context where Paul was talking about how the gentiles were justified by faith, not by works of the law. The logical conclusion is that the law is no longer necessary. But Paul anticipates this conclusion, baits his reader/hearer, and then smashes him back down with “Certainly not!” and then, using αλλα makes his contrasting conclusion, that the law is actually being upheld in all of this.

Note that the same exact facts could’ve been communicated with “Therefore we uphold the law.” But that would’ve been boring. Instead Paul not only used a point/counterpoint (cf. Runge’s DGGNT) he also amped up the negation. On top of an already rhetorically heated section.

I just started re-reading Paul after working through the Gospels and Acts. Paul, how I’ve missed you!

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, March 09, 2010 7:58:24 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Sunday, January 17, 2010

I'm presently reading E.P. Sanders’ Paul: A Very Short Introduction (amazon.com), which is part of Oxford University Press’ wonderful series called “Very Short Introductions”.

I happened across the following, though:

We should pay special attention to the degree to which Sin is treated by Paul as an enemy power. This is most clearly the case when the noun hamartia, sin, is the subject of a verb other than “to be”, as it is in Romans 5-7. (Sanders, 42)

Sanders goes on to list some instances of this phenomenon:

  • Ro 5.12, Sin “entered the world”
  • Ro 5.21, Sin “reigned in death”
  • Ro 6.12, Sin may ‘reign’ in one’s body
  • Ro 6.14, Sin may ‘have dominion’ over one
  • Ro 7.8, Sin “wrought in me all kinds of covetousness”
  • Ro 7.9, Sin ‘revived’
  • Ro 7.11, Sin found “opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and by it killed me”
  • Ro 7.13, Sin “worked death in me through what is good”

All quoted text from Sanders, p. 42.

I figured “wow, I really missed out on this—never noticed this before” and figured I’d look to see where αμαρτια is the subject of a clause where the verb is not ειμι. This is a relatively straightforward syntax search in Logos 4.


What did I find? The primary place this occurs is in Ro 5-7. I also excluded αφιημι from the subject. In doing this using the Cascadia Syntax Graphs, I found 20 locations; 13 of them were in Ro 5-7:

  • Ro 5.12, 13(2x), 20, 21; 6:12, 14; 7:8(2x), 9, 11, 13(2x)

The kicker is that I’d expected, especially based on Sanders’ comment quoted above, that most of the rest of the occurrences would be in the Paulines as well (and that there would be more of them). Guess what?

  • Jn 9.41; Ac 3.19; 1Ti 5.24; Jam 1.15; 1Jn 3.4, 5; Rev 18.5.

Only one more instance in Paul, and that in the heavily disputed First Timothy, where “the sins” of some are “evident, preceding them into judgment”.

If I narrow it down to where αμαρτια is singular (we’re talking about “sin” and “sins”, right?) we end up with 17 hits:*

  • Romans: Ro 5.12, 13(2x), 20, 21, 6:12, 14; 7:8(2x), 9, 11, 13(2x)
  • Elsewhere: Jn 9.41; Jam 1.15; 1Jn 3.4, 5.

In other words, the Romans hits stay the same, but we lose Acts 3.19, 1Ti 5.24 and Rev 18.5. Sanders’ comments still puzzle me. I’ll repeat them again:

We should pay special attention to the degree to which Sin is treated by Paul as an enemy power. This is most clearly the case when the noun hamartia, sin, is the subject of a verb other than “to be”, as it is in Romans 5-7. (Sanders, 42)

It’s not his conclusion, it’s the way he sets it up: “as it is in Romans 5-7”. This leads me to think what he’s describing happens with frequency, but really, it’s just centered in Ro 5-7. In Jn 9.41, “your sin/guilt remains”. Jam 1.15 is helpful and seems to jive, “sin, when it is fully grown, brings forth death”. 1Jn 3.4-5 don’t seem too applicable, v. 4 is “sin is lawlessness”; v. 5 is “in him there is no sin”.

If you’re talking about sin, Romans 5-7 is important. You don’t need to appeal to some grammatical structure to make Romans 5-7 worth discussing, particularly when that structure doesn’t really appear to happen outside of Romans 5-7 (outside of perhaps Jam 1.15).

* A search for similar structure (w/singular αμαρτια) in the OpenText.org database returned 14 hits: Jn 9.41; Ro 5.12, 13, 20, 21, 6:12, 14; 7.8, 9, 11, 13 (2x); Heb 10.8; Jam 1.15. So most of the double hits in Romans were not returned, one hit in Hebrews was added, and the 1Jn hits were lost. In Heb 10.8, the structure that OpenText.org classifies as a subject is classed as an object by the Cascadia Syntax Graphs analysis, and Cascadia’s analysis seems proper to me too.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, January 17, 2010 8:38:46 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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That’s “government” for those not in the know.

I dug around ERIC (the “Educational Resources Information Center”) and found four older papers by Stephen H. Levinsohn, at least one of which sounds particularly interesting. Most of them appear to be from older SIL “work papers” volumes. Here they are:

  • The Definite Article with Proper Names for Referring to People in the Greek of Acts. (paper here) A study examined the presence or absence of the article with proper names for people in the Bible's book of Acts, using four categories of description, including: (1) the unmarked patterns involving the first mention of a participant and further references to the participant in the same incident; (2) the reintroduction of participants after an absence; (3) further references to a participant in the same incident that are anarthrous as contrasted with arthrous; and (4) the use of the article with names in reported speeches. It is proposed that, in different contexts, the four situations illustrate the principle that anarthrous references to particular, known participants either mark the participant as locally salient or highlight the speech that he or she utters. A list of twelve references is included.

For the others, I’ll just list the title:

  • Preposed and Postposed Adverbials in English
  • Unmarked and Marked Instances of Topicalization in Hebrew
  • The Interrogative in Inga (Quechuan)

Just type “Stephen Levinsohn” into the search box, and you’ll find ‘em.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, January 17, 2010 7:45:20 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Saturday, January 16, 2010

Came across some stuff from Wolf Leslau at the “Educational Resources Information Center”. Six titles.

  • Intermediate Amharic Cultural Reader. Final Report
  • Basic Amharic Dictionary: Amharic-English, English Amharic
  • An Amharic Reference Grammar
  • An Annotated Bibliography of the Semitic Languages of Ethiopia
  • An English-Amharic Dictionary of Everyday Usage, Part I (A-L)
  • An English-Amharic Dictionary of Everyday Usage, Part II (L-Z)

The Reference Grammar is a PDF of a typewritten page with Ethiopic hand-written (with transliteration typed).

Leslau is a big name in Ge’ez studies; seeing this stuff freely downloadable seems (to me, anyway) like a big thing.

I’d never known about the ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center). It’s a .gov site … I’m still in shock that a .gov site had something of marginal interest to me.

Post Author: rico
Saturday, January 16, 2010 9:02:06 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, January 15, 2010

No, I don’t have any insightful new conclusions on this, but I did run across a very interesting instance that warrants further study and research.

First, note that most grammars portray πλην as a strengthened form of αλλα, and portray αλλα as a “strong adversative” in comparison to δε, which they class as “adversative” (at least in one of the typically myriad senses). I’m not happy with that. I get the idea of a cline here, but it just seems sloppy. What, there’s an “adversative”, a “strong adversative” and a “stronger adversative”? How does that help? How does that not simply mistake contextual cues for lexical/grammatical function?

I think the insights from Stephen Levinsohn, Steve Runge and Discourse Grammar help a bit more. That is, δε indicates development; αλλα is a marker of contrast and indicates correction or replacement (again, see my αλλα paper).

But what does πλην do, then? Muddying up the works is the notion that πλην can function as a conjunction (most common) or as a preposition (Ac 15.28, cf. Robertson XIII.VIII(ai), p. 646), or as a simple adverb (Ac 20.23; Php 1.18, again cf. Robertson).

One approach is to see how the same author uses these two function words. Last night, while working through the text of Mt 26, I came upon the following that screams out to me for further examination/research:

αὶ προελθὼν μικρὸν ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ προσευχόμενος καὶ λέγων· πάτερ μου, εἰ δυνατόν ἐστιν, παρελθάτω ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦτο· πλὴν οὐχ ὡς ἐγὼ θέλω ἀλλʼ ὡς σύ. (Mt 26.39, NA27)

and going forward a bit, he fell upon his face praying and saying, "My Father, if it is possible, remove from me this cup; πλην not as I desire αλλʼ as you [desire]." (Mt 26.39, my own)

The synoptic parallels are interesting (thanks for pointing them out, Steve), particularly depending on how you view their composition histories. Me? I think ‘Q’ is a load of hooey, and think considering Mark as the first written and also as a source for both Mt and Luke makes sense. So here’s what Mark and Luke (respectively) have:

καὶ ἔλεγεν· ἀββα ὁ πατήρ, πάντα δυνατά σοι· παρένεγκε τὸ ποτήριον τοῦτο ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ· ἀλλʼ οὐ τί ἐγὼ θέλω ἀλλὰ τί σύ. (Mk 14.36, NA27)

and he said: “Abba Father, all things are possible with you. Take this cup away from me, αλλʼ not what I desire, αλλα what you [desire].” (Mk 14.36, my own)

λέγων· πάτερ, εἰ βούλει παρένεγκε τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ· πλὴν μὴ τὸ θέλημά μου ἀλλὰ τὸ σὸν γινέσθω. (Lu 22.42 NA27)

saying, “Father, if you wish, take this cup away from me, πλην not my desire αλλα your [desire] be done.” (Lu 22.42, my own)

So Mark uses αλλα … αλλα while Luke (along with Matthew) use πλην … αλλα. That’s very interesting too; it means that examining the higher-level discourse of all three gospel writers in this instance could shed some light on why Matthew and Luke both prefer πλην … αλλα.

Might have to consider digging into this for the ETS NW Regional meeting. It’s in February, and it’s only in Tacoma.

Update: For those keeping score at home, note that Margaret Thrall addresses this very issue in her book Greek Particles in the New Testament. Whether proper or not, you can grab a copy of Thrall from archive.org (search "Texts" for "Margaret Thrall"). The gist, apparently, is that she sees Mark as the strongest formulation, with πλην in Mt & Luke functioning conditionally in this instance. Her discussion runs from pp. 67-70. Davies & Allison (ICC Matthew vol. 3) agree with Thrall; Luz (Hermeneia Matthew 3) disagrees saying in a note "Here the adversative sense dominates". I'm inclined to go against Thrall as well but will actually read the section first (of course).

Post Author: rico
Friday, January 15, 2010 8:04:45 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, January 05, 2010

I took a bit of an extended vacation over the holidays (four vacation days, three holiday days, and two weekends = 11 days total) and during that time wanted a project to focus on completing, so I whipped through the Greek text of Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians (Lake’s text, since it is in the public domain), and ended up with a new translation and notes of Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians.

I’d translated chapter 1 earlier (late October? Early November? I don’t remember) so I finished out with the Greek portions over the week between Christmas and New Years Day. As some likely know, Polycarp’s letter has some portions only extant in Latin. I don’t know Latin, so I didn’t translate those; instead I made slight changes to Kirsopp Lake’s Latin text in consult with Holmes’ and Ehrman’s editions.

The style is the same as that of my earlier Didache translation, including notes on cross references and on some lexical and translation issues.

The result is Polycarp to the Philippians: A Translation. Feel free to download the PDF; I’d love to know what you think about it.

What’s next? Well, I have a larger project to do that will require going through the whole Greek NT (again) that takes priority. After that, I hope to perhaps dig into Ignatius’ letters.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, January 05, 2010 8:19:31 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, December 18, 2009

One of the reasons why I like Robertson’s big grammar is stuff like this:

(f) THE QUESTION OF Αὑτοῦ.  This is somewhat knotty. It seems clear that as a rule αὐτοῦ and not αὑτοῦ is to be printed in the N. T. A number of reasons converge on this point. The older Greek often used αὑτοῦ rather than ἑαυτοῦ as shown by the aspiration of the prepositions like ἀφʼ αὑτοῦ, etc. In the N. T. there is not a single case of such aspiration after elision save in a few single MSS. Add to this the fact that the N. T. uses the reflexive pronoun much less than the earlier Greek, “with unusual parsimony” (Hort). Besides the personal pronouns of the first and second persons are frequently employed (Buttmann) where the reflexive might have been used. Buttmann urges also the point that in the N. T. we always have σεαυτοῦ, not σαυτοῦ. The earliest uncial MSS. of the N. T. and the LXX that use the diacritical marks belong to the eighth century, but they all have αὐτοῦ, not αὑτοῦ. Even in the early times it was largely a matter of individual taste as to whether the personal or the reflexive pronoun was used. Blass (p. 35) indeed decides absolutely against αὑτοῦ. But the matter is not quite so easy, for the κοινή inscriptions give examples of ὑφʼ αὑτοῦ in first century B.C. and A.D. Mayser also gives a number of papyri examples like καθʼ αὑτοῦ, μεθʼ αὑτοῦ, ὑφʼ αὑτῶν, where the matter is beyond dispute. Hort agrees with Winer in thinking that sometimes αὑτοῦ must be read unless one insists on undue harshness in the Greek idiom. He instances Jo. 2:24, αὐτὸς δὲ Ἰησοῦς οὐκ ἐπίστευσεν αὑτὸν αὐτοῖς, and Lu. 23:12, προϋπῆρχον γὰρ ἐν ἔχθρᾳ ὄντες πρὸς αὑτούς. There are other examples where a different meaning will result from the smooth and the rough breathing as in 1 Jo. 5:10 (αὑτῷ), 18 (αὐτόν, αὐτοῦ), Eph. 1:5 (αὐτόν), 10 (αὐτῷ), Col. 1:20 (αὐτόν), 2:15 (αὐτῷ). W. H. print αὑτοῦ about twenty times. Winer leaves the matter “to the cautious judgment of the editors.”
A.T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research ( (Logos, 1919; 2006)), 226.

BDF was not clear at all when discussing this (§31(1), according to the index).

Post Author: rico
Friday, December 18, 2009 12:00:55 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, December 17, 2009

Have you ever stopped to notice how Cornelius was introduced in Acts 10?

First, Acts 10.1-2 (the translation is a draft from the Lexham English Bible, which is almost complete now):

Now there was a certain man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Cohort, devout and fearing God together with all his household, doing many charitable deeds for the people and praying to God continually. (Ac 10.1-2, LEB draft)

What do we know about Cornelius after these verses?

  • Lives in Caesarea
  • A centurion
    • with the “Italian Cohort”
  • Devout and God-fearing (was he a “God-fearer”?)
  • His “household” feared God too (interpret that as you will)
  • He did many “charitable deeds” for the people
  • He prayed to God “continually”

That’s a lot to introduce someone into the discourse. He must be important to the story. For comparison, look at what we know about “Simon the tanner”, whose house Peter was staying at (cf. 9.42; 10.6) — not even enough to know if “tanner” described his trade, or if it was just a surname (e.g. “Simon Berseus”).

That’s not all. When does Cornie come into the story next? See Ac 10.22 for his next introduction/resumption:

And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man—and well spoken of by the whole nation of the Jews—was directed by a holy angel to summon you to his house and to hear words from you.” (Ac 10.22 LEB draft)

Again, what is known/reiterated about Cornelius?

  • A Centurion
  • A “righteous and God-fearing man”
  • Well spoken of by “the whole nation of the Jews”
  • Received directions from an angel to summon Peter

Must be pretty important to have all this info about this dude. I don’t think it was an accident that the event where Peter was summoned by Cornelius (a non-Jew, a centurion, for that matter, but one who was a God-fearer and who was accepted by Jews) in this episode where Peter’s conclusion (Ac 10.34-35) is:

So Peter opened his mouth and said, “In truth I understand that God is not one who shows partiality, but in every nation the one who fears him and who does what is right is acceptable to him. (Ac 10.34-35 LEB draft)

This episode ends with the Holy Spirit being poured out on the Gentiles, Ac 10.44-48:

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who were listening to the message. And those believers from the circumcision who had accompanied Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and glorifying God. Then Peter said, “Surely no one can withhold the water for these people to be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as we also did!” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for several days. (Ac 10.44-48, LEB draft)

Who was Cornelius? Seems he was pretty important. I guess that’s why he was super-qualified in his introduction (vv. 1-2) and reintroduction (v. 22).

Post Author: rico
Thursday, December 17, 2009 9:17:10 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Sunday, November 01, 2009

I’d been meaning to talk with my friend at Hendrickson about Bernard Taylor’s Analytical Lexicon of the Septuagint (amazon.com) (ALS), but as fate would have it a different friend passed a copy along to me on Friday. So I figured I’d take a peek at it and blog a bit about it as well.

First, a disclaimer: I’m the one that put together the Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament, so I’ve mucked about the waters of analytical lexicons. Conceptually, analytical lexica like these are easy. Just dump the database and sort it, right? Realistically, they are much more difficult because they involve a tremendous amount of checking, sorting, reviewing, laying out, and other things. I understand completely how much work Bernard Taylor has done here, and he should be commended for the work.

Second, a story: When one of the editors of a text that Logos puts out (who will remain anonymous) came to the office to walk us through his work, we heaped adoration upon him for the years of work that was represented in what he’d done. He took this as an opportunity to tell us that all long-term database driven work really needs is “sitzfleisch” (dunno if I spelled that correctly), meaning someone’s gotta sit down and do it. For the LXX, Taylor sat down and did it. The world needs more Bernard Taylors.

Now, with all of that said, there’s really not that much to an analytical lexicon, presentation-wise. You should be able to look up your word (any word in the text) and get to a decent definition or gloss. Parsing is extra, and Taylor gives that too.

Taylor’s definitions are actually the translation equivalents from Lust, Eynikel and Hauspie’s Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (LEH), so they are recently published and have some history behind them.

The problem? The definitions are too brief. But more than that, there are no example citations listed at all. A lexicon of a corpus that has no references whatever to that corpus. No sample citations for senses. This is a problem.

Further, I have problems imagining anyone in this day and age of analyzed texts available electronically through numerous Bible software providers would actually use this lexicon in the way it seems intended to be used, by physically looking up the word in print. I could be wrong (or myopic, my gainful employment is in making these things available and accessible electronically) but I just don’t see it happening with any frequency. About the only reason to buy this book is to make sure you have an LXX lexicon on your shelf that you can look at when you can’t find the information anywhere else. And it is well-priced for that market (and could possibly steal the graduate student sales from LEH).

The problem is that I see another better presentation of the data. Instead of an analytical lexicon, this sort of data needs to be presented Sakae-Kubo style as a Reader’s Lexicon. Order it by the text, filter out words based on NT frequencies (since NT readers would be most likely to use such a work) and perhaps overall frequencies. Have volumes for Pentateuch, Prophets, etc. since they’re likely to be bigger than the present 600pp.

Of course, one further problem is that software providers are doing things similar to that. Logos has an “Exegetical Guide” which does pretty much that same thing.

So while overall I’m impressed with the amount of work and detail of the work that has gone into this volume, I have a hard time seeing how it could be used by anyone, outside of the use-case of simply needing an LXX lexicon on the shelf for reference. For that, the price is good — although one might be better off saving that money for an electronic version of an LXX Lexicon (LEH is available from several, including Logos).

Post Author: rico
Sunday, November 01, 2009 9:03:32 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, October 09, 2009

I’ve wanted to look into this for awhile, and found the following from the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary quite helpful:

Alternatively [abba] has been explained as a rare vocative (in which case it could just as well be Hebrew as Aramaic) or as derived from children’s baby talk (cf. "Papa," "Daddy"). If the last explanation were right, then the use of abba as an address to God in Mark 14:36 might be thought to imply a special, indeed a unique, intimacy. This view was held at one time by J. Jeremias, but he later came to regard it as "a piece of inadmissible naivety" (1967: 63). Wrong as it is, it deserves mention not only because of its extensive dissemination beyond the walls of academia but also because its influence can be detected even in the work of respected scholars such as J. G. D. Dunn (1975: 21–26; 1980: 22–23) and is explicit in the most recent writing of M. J. Borg (1987: 45). Apart from the intrinsic unlikelihood of the idea that Jesus ever addressed God as "Daddy," the suggestion is ruled out of court by one important fact: wherever abba is found with the meaning "father" or "my father" (in Mishnaic Hebrew or Targumic Aramaic), it is equally employed of the fathers of grown-up sons. One instance cited by G. Vermes (1983: 42) is Judah’s threat to his unrecognized brother, Joseph, in the Tg. Neof. version of Gen 44:18: "I swear by the life of the head of abba, as you swear by the life of the head of Pharaoh your master. . . ." And as J. Barr (1988) emphasizes, inferences concerning the meaning of words must be based upon function, not upon origin or derivation. (AYBD v1 p7, article on “Abba” by John Ashton)

Conversely, see J.D.G. Dunn in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, in his article on Prayer:

A great deal has been made during the past forty years of Jesus’ style of address to God and its significance. Jeremias made the case for Jesus having regularly addressed God by the Aramaic word ‘abbā>’ (see Languages of Palestine); and he also noted that ‘abbā’ was "a child’s word"; and this led too quickly to the conclusion that abbā meant "Daddy"—an early conclusion which Jeremias soon qualified, but which has come back to haunt the study of the Gospel traditions ever since.

The basic evidence is clear and Jeremias’s initial conclusion probably sound. The key evidence is the appearance of abba itself in Mark 14:36. Added to that is the clear attestation that the same form was used by the early Christians (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). Two points of significance are to be noted in the last two passages. (1) The Aramaic word was retained in the worship of the Greek-speaking churches. This must mean both that this particular prayer address had become so established among the earliest Palestinian believers and so precious for them that it was carried over into Greek-speaking worship. That is to say, its continuing value lay not in its meaningfulness to Greek speakers but in the meaningfulness of the living tradition of prayer which it expressed. (2) It is remembered as a word particularly associated with Jesus: to say abba is to share in a common sonship and a common inheritance with Jesus (Rom 8:16–17; Gal 4:6–7; cf. 8:29). This must mean that the word was recalled as a word particularly and peculiarly associated with Jesus’ own sonship to God (see Son of God). Were it a common prayer idiom of (some) Jews at the time of Jesus (as some have suggested, without supporting evidence), it would not have had this significance of linking the one who said abba so distinctively and directly with the sonship of Jesus. (DJG, p. 618-619).

Also in DJG, see D.R. Bauer’s article on “Son of God”:

Jesus experienced this intimate fellowship especially through prayer, and consequently addressed God in prayer almost exclusively as "Father" (Aramaic Abba Mk 14:36; cf. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). Jeremias has argued that Jesus was apparently the first Jew to address God in prayer as Abba (Jewish prayers typically used the obsolete and formalized Hebrew term Abi), and that Abba was a term of familiarity and intimacy, having originally developed from the speech of children ("daddy"). Subsequent scholarship has been unable to contradict the claim that this prayer language of Abba was original with Jesus. Although Jeremias’ employment of etymological considerations is questionable (Barr), his distinction between formal prayer speech, which suggests distance, and the more colloquial expression used to address earthly fathers bears the weight of critical scrutiny.

This article references the following, which I am unable to access but would love to. 

J. Barr, " ‘Abba’ Isn’t ‘Daddy,’ " JTS 39 (1988) 28–47;

My thoughts at present? It preaches well, but I don’t know that abba as “Daddy” is warranted. My gut says to go with Barr on this one.

Anyone else want to chime in?

Post Author: rico
Friday, October 09, 2009 3:23:36 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, August 24, 2009

This is less than helpful. Screen capture taken from the Logos Bible Software version of Louw-Nida. This is the Greek index, Vol 2 p 159.


No, I don’t have anything better. I can still complain, though.

I will say that they at least acknowledge the μεν .. (other particle/conjunction) correlation in a way that is visible and obvious (which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has read much from either Louw or Nida or has any knowledge of the South African textlinguistics school/approach). And at least the referenced article focuses on the contrast that is marked in these situations.

But μεν .. αλλα, μεν .. δε, and μεν .. πλην are not identical in function and it is virtually impossible to narrow any of them down to a suitable gloss, let alone the always-horrible “on the one hand/on the other hand”. If you ever use that, you should think twice about it, and then change it anyway.

It’s less about translation into English (or any other language) and more about how the discourse/information is structured in Greek. This is one of the more prominent problems with trying to stick English glosses on everything to decode it and then “smooth it over” into a translation (hey, I’ll admit I do that frequently; it’s still wrong). I’m not saying that Louw and Nida are doing that, I am saying that doing that is one very easy (and very wrong) way to utilize the information they provide in their lexicon.

Check Denniston’s Particles, but before you do that do yourself a favor and check out the sample from Steve Runge’s forthcoming Discourse Grammar on his web site. (Look for the Sample PDF on his publications page) The section on conjunctions is your friend.

Post Author: rico
Monday, August 24, 2009 8:48:11 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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Another snippet from his short grammar:

As a rule German editors punctuate too freely according to German ideas rather than those of the Greeks.

Robertson, A. T. (2009). A Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament, for Students Familiar with the Elements of Greek (16). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Remember, Robertson wrote that in the 1908 (100 years ago!). This was interesting to me because of a note I made on a post on punctuation/accent almost two years ago now:

Pure speculation and likely irrelevant and misguided, but I'm wondering how the punctuation in NA27 compares with how one would punctuate a somewhat literal German translation — and how punctuation in UBS4 compares with how one would punctuate a somewhat literal English translation.

Post Author: rico
Monday, August 24, 2009 7:15:17 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Saturday, August 22, 2009

His Short Grammar,* Part II, Chapter III is on orthography. Section 2 of that chapter is on accent.

He starts the section: “This is a thorny subject.”


* A Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 13. I got my copy in Logos Bible Software's A.T. Robertson Collection (15 Vols.)

Post Author: rico
Saturday, August 22, 2009 1:08:28 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Greek conjunction και is one of those words that seems easy to understand (it means “and”, right?) and then again not so easy (“Why is there a και here?”). From my reading and study,* και is essentially additive, and one forgets this at his peril when evaluating και in context.

Here’s a simple example from Didache 7.4 to reinforce the basic idea.

πρὸ δὲ τοῦ βαπτίσματος προνηστευσάτω ὁ βαπτίζων καὶ ὁ βαπτιζόμενος καὶ εἴ τινες ἄλλοι δύνανται· κελεύεις δὲ νηστεῦσαι τὸν βαπτιζόμενον πρὸ μιᾶς ἢ δύο.

I’ll leave other aspects of the information structure to Steve Runge (though there is some cool stuff, notably the prepositional phrase before the primary verb forming a temporal frame and also the function of δε linking to previous the previous clause indicating development). Here’s the same formatted a bit differently with translation below:

   πρὸ δὲ τοῦ βαπτίσματος
   And before the baptism
he should fast beforehand
   ὁ βαπτίζων
   the one baptizing 
   καὶ ὁ βαπτιζόμενος
   and the one being baptized
   καὶ εἴ τινες ἄλλοι δύνανται·
   and any others who are able.

κελεύεις δὲ νηστεῦσαι τὸν βαπτιζόμενον
Call upon the one being baptized to fast
   πρὸ μιᾶς ἢ δύο.
   beforehand one or two days.

There is some interesting text-critical and form-critical stuff going on here, but my interest isn’t (immediately) there. Read Niederwimmer for those details. Regarding και, my interest is in simply seeing how a group is formed using και to add one group element to the existing, known group. While I translated “and” above, you could also do something like “along with” or even “and also”.** The important bit about καιʼs function here is that after the initial group element is introduced (“the one baptizing”), και is used to build that up.

If we just have και associated with the gloss “and” in our minds, we may pass the test and translate the above correctly. But has it been understood? Understanding what function words like και (and δε, and my favorite, αλλα) are up to allows us to better approach the Greek text as Greek instead of as a jumbled set of wooden, English, yoda-speak glosses that need to be decoded and smoothed over in order to be understood.

* Most helpful have been portions of Steve Runge's Discourse Grammar, Heckert's Discourse Function of Conjoiners in the Pastoral Epistles (amazon.com), and Denniston's Particles (amazon.com).

** Ehrman really scrambles the word order to work a “both … and” into it: “But both the one baptizing and the one being baptized should fast before the baptism, along with some others if they can.”

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 6:53:25 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ATRShortGrammarFrom the introduction to his “Short Grammar”:

The genius of the Greek language itself must constantly be sought. It is easy to explain a Greek idiom by the English or the German. This is the vice of many grammars. The Greek must be allowed to be itself and have its own point of view. Good Greek may be very poor English and vice versa. It is imperative for a just and sympathetic appreciation of Greek to look at the language from the Greek standpoint. The consistent application of this principle will prevent one from explaining one preposition as used “instead” of another, one tense “for” another, etc.

Robertson, A. T. (2009). A Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament, for Students Familiar with the Elements of Greek (4). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

I just downloaded and installed the “A.T. Robertson Collection (15 volumes)” recently released by Logos Bible Software (disclosure: I work for Logos); the short grammar is one of those titles. Looking forward to checking out the structure and reading through some portions.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, August 12, 2009 10:25:46 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I’ve mentioned Armenian in passing before, usually in the context of textual criticism (see here and here).

If you’re interested in the Armenian NT, the Zohrab edition (which is the primary Armenian source the NA27 points to when it cites ‘arm’, as I recall*) is available as PDF from archive.org: New Testament in Classical Armenian.

I found the link on Robert Bedrossian’s site Internet Resources for the Study of Classical Armenian (Grabar), which I happened upon a few clicks down the road after reading one of Roger Pearse’s blog entries (which pointed to this cool site about Papias Fragments).

* Further digging leads me to the NA27 intro, p. 28*, which cites:

Yovhannes Zohrapean, Astuacasunc Matean Hin ew Nor Ktakaranac, IV, Venice 1805.

The date matches the date on the Zohrab NT above. The ECM volume on James (p. 15*) points to the same source as its Armenian basis, with translation of the title confirming that it is an Armenian OT and NT.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, August 05, 2009 6:01:26 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Outside of having started a jaunt through the New Testament in Greek (beginning with the Paulines), here’s what I’ve been reading:

Steve Mason, Josephus, Judea and Christian Origins: Methods and Categories (amazon.com). Right now I’m in chapter five, which is probably one of the more important essays in the book. It’s on understanding Ιουδιαοι as “Judeans” instead of “Jews”, at least for that particular era. He’s almost convinced me, and I’m rather conservative when it comes to these sorts of things.

Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, St. Paul’s Ephesus: Texts and Archaeology (amazon.com). Several ancient texts concerning Ephesus in one way or another conveniently pulled together in one volume in English translation, as well as some commentary/discussion and writing on archaeology. I figured I needed to get a bit more well versed on the history of Ephesus. Not so long ago I pored over Paul Trebilco’s The Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius (amazon.com), which I highly recommend, followed by Peter Lampe’s From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries (amazon.com) which I also recommend if you want some understanding of Christianity in Rome. Books like these reinforce how weak I am in my understanding of the setting in which Paul’s epistles were written and lived. Hopefully I’m improving.

Steve Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction to Discourse Features for Teaching and Exegesis. Steve is a good friend and co-worker, so I’ve been lucky enough to read through pre-release drafts of his stuff. His work has helped me understand conjunctions sooooooooo much better it isn’t even funny. If you have Logos Bible Software, you should probably consider this book. If you have Steve’s previous work, The Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament, then his discourse grammar is a no-brainer.

I’m also reading some articles from Filologia Neotestamentaria, but won’t list them here.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, June 17, 2009 9:03:08 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, May 10, 2009

If you’ve been following my series on Translating Second Timothy over at PastoralEpistles.com, you know that I’ve made it through the epistle. (In less than three months, not bad, huh?)

I’ve gathered all of the posts into one PDF file. Grab it if you’re interested. If you have further interest in the material (specifically in distributing it or publishing it in some way) please contact me for further information.

I’m very interested in any feedback you may have. Feel free to email me at rick at pastoral epistles dot com with any comments, encouragement, criticism or flat-out disagreement.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, May 10, 2009 8:15:14 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Before I start this, I should say that I greatly appreciate Bill Mounce and all of the work he's done. It's not easy to write a first-year grammar that anyone besides yourself can productively use. And have you ever really dug into his Morphology of Biblical Greek book? While not my cup of tea, there's an astounding amount of work and understanding distilled in there. So Bill, if you ever read this, know I greatly appreciate your efforts.

But did anyone else skim the Koinonia blog "Mondays with Mounce" this week and find themselves saying "huh?" after the first few paragraphs? Here's the text I'm talking about:

In Mark 5:7 the demon says to Jesus, "I adjure you by God (horkizo se ton theon), do not torment me" (ESV). The TNIV says, "In God’s name don’t torture me!" There are two issues here. The accusative ton theon is an accusative of oath, the name by which the oath is taken. That is why you can translate an accusative with "by," an idea normally connected with the dative.

The other issue is horkizo. BDAG lists its meaning as, "to give a command to someone under oath, adjure, implore." It is more than just a command or a strong request from the demon. The demon wants Jesus to take an oath not to torment him. This explains the "adjure" and "In God’s name." Pretty bold of the demon—asking the Son of God to swear an oath in the name of God.

The bold part is the part that threw me. An "accusative of oath"? Now, I have to admit, I don't have Wallace's grammar handy, so I don't know if he actually lists that one in his accusative categories. But the translation logic, at least as written and briefly argued here, astounds me: We are permitted to translate the accusative with "by" in this instance because τον θεον is an "accusative of oath"? Actually, I guess we're permitted to translate the accusative article τον with "by" because of this label?

Funny, I thought the verb ορκιζω had something to do with that. There's nothing about τον θεον in and of itself here that would cause one to label it as "accusative of oath". We know oaths are involved here because ... well ... the verb ορκιζω is put in the mouth of the demon. In other words, it's the context, not just the accusative.

While we typically wouldn't use "by" to put a Greek accusative structure to English, for some reason the Greeks did use accusatives in such contexts. The Greeks used one particular structure to accomplish this; in English we use a different structure. It doesn't mean we need to give it a fancy label to clue us in to "English" it as if we are translating a standard Greek dative into English; like we need to appeal somewhere for permission or something. We just need to understand the whole structure.

True, BDF §149 describes "Accusative with verbs of fearing, etc., and of swearing", including Mk 5.7 as an example (though in a section on "The Simple Accusative of the Object", not as double accusative, which is discussed in §§155-158). Robertson (p. 483, XI.VII(i)), at least at the point cited by BDAG, takes the causative route here and notes the double accusative in that context.

But all of that stymies me. I'm really supposed to know (and recall?) all that hooey before I can translate ὁρκίζω σε τὸν θεόν as "I implore you by God"? The label doesn't help me understand the Greek any better, it gives one shorthand to English it (lemma + parsing/declension + force labels == English translation). Actually, I may even be understanding the Greek less because I'm relying on the label to tell me how to English something instead of actually understanding the Greek itself. Doesn't the occurrence of ορκιζω along with the double accusative (σε + τον θεον) clue me in to something different going on without having to label the blasted thing "accusative of oath"?

You know, I'm liking some aspects of Robertson's grammar more and more each time I pull it off of my Logos Bible Software bookshelf.

But I don't begrudge BDF for including §149; it is very useful for the information it provides. I do, however, begrudge the notion that I need to have a label in order to justify a translation, because the labels quickly move from explanation of translation to prescription for translation. It's not, "Oh, oaths and stuff, particularly ορκιζω, are "causative" verbs, and they typically take double accusatives — so they get translated like so-and-so" (and yes, I'm not even really a fan of calling the verb "causative"); it is "well this is an accusative of oath, so we translate it using 'by'". Assigning the label becomes the task, with understanding (and translation) following; when the reverse of that process should really be what's going on.

So, in closing, I'll again say I appreciate Bill Mounce's work. And I'll end the post with some words from (near) the end of his post:

The point is this: languages are not codes. You can’t go neatly from one into the other. Words don’t have exactly the same meanings, and neither do grammatical constructions. All translation is both science and art.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, March 03, 2009 6:57:04 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, February 05, 2009

Jim West will be aghast, but I'm going to quote Wikipedia.

Doing simple searches on "stylometry" landed me on the Wikipedia page, which has the following (and yes, Jim, the quotation is footnoted). The bold portion is the money quote:

The development of computers and their capacities for analyzing large quantities of data enhanced this type of effort by orders of magnitude. The great capacity of computers for data analysis, however, did not guarantee quality output. In the early 1960s, Rev. A. Q. Morton produced a computer analysis of the fourteen Epistles of the New Testament attributed to St. Paul, which showed that six different authors had written that body of work. A check of his method, applied to the works of James Joyce, gave the result that Ulysses was written by five separate individuals, none of whom had any part in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

All the more reason, at least for me, for being interested in stylometry as a better understanding of style, and learning more about how authors communicate. If your primary or even only interest in studying style is authorship attribution ... well ... you'll be disappointed.

Also: In many extended discussions on the authorship of the Pastorals, you'll run across Morton's name and work. Now, I'm not saying it's all bogus, there is important stuff in there about style. But discerning particular attributes of "style" (particularly through counting) does not mean one has discerned authorship. Of this, beware.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, February 05, 2009 7:52:29 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, February 03, 2009

In his book A Stylometric Study of the New Testament, Anthony Kenny writes:

The Fribergs divide the Greek conjunctions of the New Testament into three classes. The two clauses or propositions of structures which are joined by a conjunction may be intended to have equal prominence in their context, or one may be given greater weight than another. Accordingly, the conjunctions which link them may be classed as co-ordinating (giving equal weight), as subordinating (introducing a clause less prominent than that to which it is linked), or as hyperordinating (introducing a clause more prominent than that to which it is linked). Thus every conjunction will be tagged either CC, CS or CH. (Kenny, 32).

Based on what I've learned about αλλα, my understanding is that αλλα should always be, in the Fribergs terminology, "hyperordinating". But an examination of their analysis shows that of the 638 NT instances, the Fribergs tag 553 of them hyperordinating (aka "superordinating"), 84 of them as coordinating, and one instance as subordinating. This post examines Rev 2.9, the lone "subordinating" αλλα in the NT.

Οἶδά σου τὴν θλῖψιν καὶ τὴν πτωχείαν, ἀλλὰ πλούσιος εἶ, καὶ τὴν βλασφημίαν ἐκ τῶν λεγόντων Ἰουδαίους εἶναι ἑαυτοὺς καὶ οὐκ εἰσὶν ἀλλὰ συναγωγὴ τοῦ Σατανᾶ. (Rev 2.9, UBS4)

I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Rev 2.9, ESV)

There are two αλλα in this verse; according to the Fribergs, the "subordinating" αλλα is the first, τὴν πτωχείαν, ἀλλὰ πλούσιος εἶ ("and your poverty (but you are rich)"). The second is "hyperordinating" (what would be expected).

So, what is it about the first instance that is different? Is it because the αλλα clause is seen as secondary to the primary clause; an in-stream parenthetical comment that doesn't seem to add much to the larger structure? The larger point seems to be built around the comparison between "your tribulation and your poverty and the slander ...", with the party doing the slandering further qualified as not Jews (though they confess to be Jews) but instead a "synagogue of Satan". In this latter instance, "the synagogue of Satan" has the prominence (indeed, Fribergs mark it as hyperordinating, thus it being the "more important" of the conjoined items). This is fairly standard with αλλα, the following statement offering correction to the first one and highlighting the correction.

[Note: The following paragraph has been added subsequent to the original post]

Upon further reflection, I believe the compared clauses are "I know your affliction and poverty" and "but you are rich". The corrective response is not simply to the note of poverty; "affliction" and "poverty" are one unit, joined by και (and perhaps too the genitive phrase following the αλλα?); the correction is to that unit, not simply to being poor.

[Back to the original post]

I'd argue the same thing for the earlier instance. In the context of the two conjoined items, "your poverty, but you are rich" it is the encouragement of the author to his audience. This is the letter "to the angel of the church in Ephesus", thus these words are from Christ to that church. While they find themselves temporally poor, they are to be encouraged that in fact they are rich in what matters. While their circumstances are tough, those circumstances will change—indeed, they already have begun to change. To me, this as well seems to be the basic "corrective" use of αλλα, correcting the first item and marking the correction as the important, salient bit in the comparison of elements.

I'd have to say that, at least with the first instance of αλλα in Rev 2.9, the Friberg's morphology should mark it as "conjunction, superordinating (hyperordinating)" instead of "conjunction, subordinating".

This as well serves as a case to show once again why I don't like such morpho-syntactic labels applied at the word level; it leads many who use such data to think there is something about αλλα itself in this instance that is "subordinating" or "hyperordinating". In reality, the conjunction morphology (part-of-speech) is just a convienent place to hang this item when it rightly belongs at a higher level of the annotation. But since "morphologies" only consider words as data tokens, they only have words to hang such data on—whether it rightly belongs on the word (as several "morphological" criteria do) or whether it rightly belongs at a higher level of the discourse (marking phrasal relations, clausal relations, or discourse-level relations).

While I am fairly sure that the Fribergs don't intend to mark αλλα itself as somehow morphologically producing a "hyperordinating", "coordinating" or "subordinating" result, less-informed use of such resources could easily make (and attempt to defend) such a conclusion. This is a common problem, and it is visible everywhere in everything. Calvin would (rightly) dispute against many who claim to be "Calvinists" as having misrepresented his thought; Darwin would also (rightly) dispute many who claim to be "Darwinists".

Anyway, enough from me. I don't know that I'll work through the 84 "coordinating" instances of αλλα to show how I would instead consider them to be "hyperordinating". But you never know. Maybe. In case you want to peek at them, here are the references:

Mt 24:6; Mk 3:27; 4:22; 6:9; 11:32; 13:7, 24; 14:28, 49; 16:7; Lk 6:27; 7:25, 7:26; 11:42; 16:21; 21:9; 23:15; 24:21, 22; Jn 1:31; 3:28; 5:42; 6:22, 36, 64; 8:26; 11:11; 14:31; 15:21, 25; 16:2, 4, 6, 7, 20; Ac 10:20; 19:2; 26:16; Ro 4:2; 5:15; 6:5; 10:2, 16, 18, 19; 11:4; 1Co 2:9; 3:2; 4:3, 4; 6:6, 11(3x); 1 Co 6:12(2x); 7:7; 8:7; 9:12; 10:5; 12:24; 15:35, 40, 46; 2Co 1:9; 7:11(6x); 8:7; 11:1; Ga 4:8; 4:23; Eph 5:24; Php 1:18; 2:17; 1Ti 1:16; Heb 3:16; Jas 2:18; 1Pe 3:16; Re 2:6; 10:7.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, February 03, 2009 3:04:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, February 02, 2009

If you don't read Mike Aubrey's blog, ΕΝ ΕΦΕΣΩ, then you should. His post of this morning "Challenges for Literal Translation: Lessons from 4 Maccabees" is excellent. He's thinking through translation issues, but using a non-canonical text (4 Maccabees) as his springboard.

Even though quoting one's self can be self-serving (hey, it's a blog ... it's supposed to be self-serving!), here's what I wrote as a comment to his post:

I think working through these issues in non-canonical text from roughly the same era is a valuable thing. It causes us to start focusing on the text itself and what it communicates, not on what our presuppositions and heritage have already determined it should say.

I’ve found similar exercises with the writings of the Apostolic Fathers extremely valuable.

And I have. The most recent example is the post previous to this, on EpDiog 5.7.

greek | language | links
Post Author: rico
Monday, February 02, 2009 7:08:40 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I just finished working through EpBarn 10. There is some strange stuff in there as regards basic understanding of anatomy (of rabbits) and reproductive systems (of hyenas and weasels).

Why bring this up? It makes me wonder how much stuff we miss in our reading of the Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament because, simply, we view such things differently than they did. Here is EpBarn 10.6-8, with some comments interspersed:

(6) Furthermore, “You shall not eat the hare.” Why? Do not become, he means, one who corrupts boys, or even resemble such people, because the hare grows another opening every year, and thus has as many orifices as it is years old. (EpBarn 10.6, Holmes)

First, note that two different words for "hare" are used in the same verse. Basically (caution, this may not be family-friendly) Barnabas says that for each year the rabbit lives, it grows a new anus. The Greek word is ἀφόδευσις, BDAG "anus of hares", this being the only citation in BDAG's source corpora. On the word, BDAG provides the helpful parenthetical note "Pliny, NH 8, 81, 218 Archelaus auctor est, quot sint corporis cavernae ad excrementa lepori, totidem annos esse aetatis=according to Archelaus the number of apertures for a hare’s excrements equals the years of its lifespan." I'll let you guess what "one who corrupts boys" might be meaning (hint: BDAG glosses the word as "pederast"). Barnabas draws a parallel between the uncleanliness of the rabbit and pederasts. In the same way you don't eat rabbits, avoid pederasts (associating the hare's defecational peculiarities with its uncleanliness as some justification for the statement). But how much of that would make any sense without a good lexicon? I don't know. I don't even know what Kirsopp Lake was thinking when he translated the latter portion of the verse "Because thou shalt not, he means, become a corruptor of the young, or become like such men; for the rabbit multiplies during every year its retirements by the way; for it has as many burrow-holes as it lives years" unless he was just trying to be diplomatic and appeal to the Victorian sensibilities of the era. Lake is less convoluted, but some portion of the analogy is lost.

(7) Again, “Neither shall you eat the hyena.” Do not become, he means, an adulterer or a seducer, or even resemble such people. Why? Because this animal changes its nature from year to year, and becomes male one time and female another. (8) But he also hated the weasel, and with good reason. Do not become, he means, like those men who, we hear, with immoral intent do things with the mouth that are forbidden, nor associate with those immoral women who do things with the mouth that are forbidden. For this animal conceives through its mouth. (EpBarn 10.7-8, Holmes, emphasis mine)

So, hyena are unclean because they actually change sex (φύσις) from male to female each year (καὶ ποτὲ μὲν ἄρρεν, ποτὲ δὲ θῆλυ γίνεται)? I've seen hyena in the wild (and took some pictures, one is below, more here) when I was in South Africa. They seem pretty normal to me:


My point in writing all of this isn't to berate the anatomical and biological understanding of the author of EpBarn. These sorts of understandings seem to be foundational for him, and assumed to be understood by his initial readership. But they are clearly not the way we today look at such things.

What sorts of things are we missing because our understanding in such areas is much different than that of the ancients? One potential item may be the discussion in 1Co 11. See an older post on Michael Heiser's blog, scroll down to the last item in the "required reading" portion of the post; you may be interested in some of the subsequent posts (here and here) discussing this sort of thing.

Apart from simply investing oneself in the primary and secondary (and tertiary) source material ("read, read, read"), what are some other ways that we today can become more aware of such blind spots that have a propensity to affect our understanding and therefore interpretation of these texts we hold so dear?

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, January 14, 2009 7:34:20 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, January 12, 2009

I've mentioned the upcoming Bible Technologies Conference and the paper I plan on presenting there (also info here). I've recently realized that I've got a little more than two months to get the durn thing written.

I also realized that Kenny spent 124 pages talking about Stylometry in the New Testament; I'm giving a paper that is allotted perhaps 30 minutes (some portion of which is intended for questions) for a corpus that is roughly four times the size of the New Testament.

In other words, I'm realizing that I'll have to give a very high level overview with perhaps some glimpses at deeper-level data. Chances are I'll follow most of Kenny's lead, which means:

  • Rough overview of distribution of major parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, etc.)
  • Rough overview of most common words and their distribution/frequency
  • Perhaps some further look at things like conjunctions and articles

Kenny then used portions of his data in the evaluation of certain textual issues, mostly geared toward authorship (Luke/Acts, John/epistles/Revelation, Paulines). I'll have to determine an issue to examine further using the data pulled together, but I have some constraints:

  • No examination of JEDP, whatsoever.
  • No examination of authorship, whatsoever.
  • No examination of translational theory, whatsoever.

Given these constraints, are there stylistic issues in the LXX that you would suggest I use for my example case study?

My own thoughts have to do with genre (say, look at stuff having to do with narrative versus stuff having to do with poetry to see if there are any sorts of things that seem to be indicative of one or the other). But I'm interested in what you might think or suggest. For an idea of the criteria/features I'm tracking, see this post.

Please feel free to leave a comment with your suggestion(s), or drop me an email (textgeek at gmail dot com). Thanks!

Post Author: rico
Monday, January 12, 2009 4:35:53 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, December 22, 2008

First, I won't pretend to have all of the answers (or any of the answers, for that matter), but I would like to weigh in on how syntax searching of the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament might help one get a grasp of the problem and the options.

Disclaimer: I work for Logos, and have blogged extensively on the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament on the Logos Blog. I'm not writing this post to say that "danielandtonya" are right or wrong (though their approach seems sound to me and I'm guessing their results will be too), or to say that their data sets are somehow in error. I just want to try to assemble their data sets using syntactic searching (and any advantage that relying on syntactic relationship gives) instead of relying on proximity + agreement relationships, with or without exclusion—and see what differences there are and how important or unimportant they might be.

For the uninitiated, this debate is concerning Gal 2.16 (go ahead, read it, and make sure to check the Greek too).

Specifically, I'd like to interact with Hebrew and Greek Reader's three data sets delineated in their "The Jesus Faith - Vol. 3" post (but also described in the Vol. 2 post).

Here are their descriptions of their three data sets, from their Vol. 3 post:

  • Data Set 1 - How many times in the GNT is πιστις (in any case) followed by Χριστος (in any case) within four words of each other?
  • Data Set 2 - How many times in the GNT is a genitive noun followed by another genitive noun within four words?
  • Data Set 3 - How many times in the GNT is πιστις in the genitive case followed by another genitive noun within two words (and words in between are not conjunctions or non-genitive nouns)?

On the first data set, danielandtonya report that the following references are included: Ro 3.22; Gal. 2.16 (2x); 3.22, 26; Phil 3.9; Col. 1.4; 1Tim 3.13; and 2Tim 3.15. My syntax search located one additional hit, James 2.1. The syntax search looks like this:


I'm searching for where πιστις is the "head term" of the word group (loosely, the "phrase"), and where it is either directly or indirectly modified by χριστος. The James 2.1 instance has four words between πιστις and χριστος, so the intervening range is larger than danielandtonya accounted for. I'm not sure that it makes any difference to the argument, and they may have known about it but weeded it out. I just mention it because it was in my results.

On the second data set, danielandtonya report 1,431 hits (in their Vol. 3 post). That's a lot of hits. The syntax search I created narrows it down to 452 hits.* The difference is that the syntax search locates where the second genitive is in some sort of direct relationship with the first genitive, not just where two genitives happen to be within two words of each other. Again, it is relying on the relationship, not the proximity of words (which essentially serves as a loose approximation of syntactic relationship). Whether this makes any difference for danielandtonya's argument I have no idea. But here's the search:


I should note that I'm constraining to nouns because that is the wording that danielandtonya's specification uses; I might also want to consider adjectives in one or both slots, but that's left as an exercise for the reader to complete.

On the third data set, danielandtonya haven't yet reported (at the time of my initial posting), so I'll have to wing it. In OpenText-ese, what they appear to be looking for is when a genitive noun is in close relationship with πιστεως (genitive form of πιστις), hence the two-word proximity constraint, and the further specification that no conjunctions or pronouns intervene. With a syntactic analysis, there is no necessity to consider the exclusion of certain intervening types (such as conjunctions or pronouns) because one is really searching for the relationship between things no matter what may intervene. Here again, between two nouns, a simple "modification" relationship fits the bill (from what I understand of danielandtonya's intent). So my third search is relatively similar to the previous, I've just added that πιστις should be the lemma of the first word in the series:


What did I get for results? Five hits: Ro 3.22; Ga 2.16(2x); 3.22; Col 2.12. All but Col 2.12 were in danielandtonya's first dataset.

And this is where I leave you. I don't have a dog in the "objective or subjective genitive" argument. I don't like any of the labels because they (at least to me) seem to be geared toward answering the "how do I translate it?" question instead of the "how was it understood?" question. Yes; the two are somewhat related, but the primary difference is the end. One seems to think about and try to understand Greek in terms of English; the other at least tries to think about Greek in terms of Greek. Thus, I'm not a fan of labeling things like this. From my view, the obvious ones are, well, obvious; and the debatable ones are debated ad nauseum to little ultimate benefit.

* If you allow for variation in the order of the head term word and modifier, then the count is 458. But as danielandtonya's specifications rely on order, I figured these should too.

Post Author: rico
Monday, December 22, 2008 2:09:19 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, October 31, 2008

[Disclaimer: I work for Logos Bible Software and love every minute of it. The links to Logos below are just that, links. I get no commission or brownie points from click-thrus or any sales.]

Logos will be at the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (in Providence, RI, Nov 19-21, 2008) and also at the national meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (in Boston, MA, Nov 21-25, 2008).

The specials mentioned below are only available at these conferences. And I'm not even listing all of them, just the ones that I find interesting and which I think you (my humble reader) may be interested in. There are 12 specials designed for the conferences, I'm only listing three of them below. If you'll be at the conferences, please stop by the booth for more info on all of the conference collections, or to purchase them.

These are awesome collections of top-notch texts useful for Biblical Studies. Listed first is perhaps the best deal you'll ever find on the combination of ICC NT vols and several (33!) very useful JSNTS monographs.

New Testament Studies Bundle (64 Vols.)

Show Only Price  $1,199.95
Show Savings (off Retail): $4,541.45

Advanced Greek Supplement (6 Vols.)

Show Only Price $299.95
Show Savings (off Retail) $111.91

ANE Studies Bundle (30 Vols.)

Show Only Price $639.95
Show Savings (off Retail): $806.94

As I said, that is only three of the twelve bundles. If you're at the show, be sure to ask about the "Scholar's Reference Bundle" which includes all of ICC, all of WBC, and a few other commentary sets. These are specials on the big stuff that you won't want to miss.

Post Author: rico
Friday, October 31, 2008 8:00:41 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Sunday, October 19, 2008

Note that Mike Aubrey, of the blog εν Εφεσω, has been doing some blogging on the use of the conjunction δε in the book of Ephesians.

Do check Mike's stuff out! Conjunctions (function words is the better label, I think, so particles/interjections/etc. are included too) are such a large part of any language and are so blithely treated in many grammatical and lexical works. They seem to be more focused on cataloguing and sorting them than understanding the function they play.

If the depth of your understanding of any conjunction is just to substitute out one or two English glosses when you read the conjunction in Greek ... well ... expand thy vision and understanding, and thine exegesis will surely benefit.

I'm so excited I've got another post on αλλα cookin'!

Post Author: rico
Sunday, October 19, 2008 2:30:18 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Friday, October 10, 2008

Just installed the following Logos Bible Software packages to my home computer:

Sheffield/T&T Clark Bible Guides Collection (44 Vols.). This much sought-after and highly esteemed Bible study guide series is concise, comprehensive, manageable and affordable. The Sheffield/T & T Clark Bible Guides Collection (44 volumes) serves as an invaluable resource for students, preachers and Bible study leaders. Each of these books delivers to the reader a thorough and insightful introduction to a particular book of the Bible or the Apocrypha. All the books in the series were written by leading biblical scholars and the authors have drawn on their scholarly expertise as well as their experience as teachers of university and college students.

Writings from the Ancient World (16 vols.) The Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) publishes books intended to convey the finest biblical scholarship to students in college, university, and seminary courses, leaders in church and synagogue settings, and members of the general public interested in biblical study. The SBL offers these 16 volumes of Writings from the Ancient World to provide teachers, literary critics, historians, general readers, and students direct access to key ancient Near Eastern writings that date from the beginning of the Sumerian civilization to the age of Alexander the Great. The volumes typically offer historical and literary background to the writings, the original text and English translation, explanatory or textual notes, and a bibliography. These ancient writings—letters, laws, government documents, poems, prayers and rituals—provide a glimpse into the social, economic and religious context of other civilizations before and during early biblical times.

Post Author: rico
Friday, October 10, 2008 9:00:04 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, October 06, 2008

I don't know what it says about me, but I have found a typo in my printed copy of BDF. (It is also in my electronic copy.) Not that I don't doubt there are typos; I just never figured I'd find a typo—in a Greek grammar of all places.

Of course it is in the section of BDF that deals with αλλα. Where else would I find such a thing?

So get out your pencils and get ready to scribble in your own copy (I can't be the only one who does this—correct typos/known errors in printed copies—can I?)

The section in question is §448.4 (p. 233). If you use BDF, you know there is a larger-print section and a smaller-print section for most areas; this is in the smaller-print §448.4.

(4) A simpler form is found in Jn 7:49; 1Co 10:20. In multiple questions (with the answer in each case given or suppressed) Mk 11:8f. = Lk 7:24ff.

The typo is Mk 11:8f; it should be Mt 11:8f. Mt 11.8 has Lk 7.24 as parallel; Mk 11.8 is completely unrelated.

This all goes to show that one must always check all references carefully, particularly if you're doing work for a conference paper, journal or dictionary article, dissertation, or monograph of some sort.

Note: The reference index in BDF (p. 303) is actually correct here, it has Mt 11:8f. pointing to §448.4; there is no reference index entry for Mk 11:8f.

Further note: What is going on with αλλα in Mt 11.7-9 is really cool!

Even further note: Know of other such corrections for BDF? Use the comments to let me know.

Post Author: rico
Monday, October 06, 2008 7:30:03 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, September 09, 2008

From Eugene E. Loos' Logical Relations in Discourse (amazon.com). This is from Ernst-August Gutt's essay on "Logical Relations, Relationships and Relevance":

Just dealing with these two uses, the tempting solution would be to say either that there are two homophonous suffixes -m, or that the suffix -m has two distinct senses, one marking a conjunctive relationship and the other something like an alternative relationship. However, Ivan Lowe pointed out in his introductory lectures that it is not the most helpful way to begin one's analysis: by assuming a complex solution from the start one may miss a possible simpler solution. (Loos 11).

Gutt is specifically referring to a connective in Silt'i, an Ethio-Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia. But the general principle is a good one for both lexical analysis and specifically the analysis of connectives ... like αλλα.

Don't worry, I'm not getting all gushy about relevance theory on y'all. But the principle seems like a good thing to keep in mind.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, September 09, 2008 9:30:43 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, August 11, 2008

Ran across some references to the Glagolitic script, so I have to post them, plus some others I knew of to round out the collection.

For those unaware, Glagolitic is the script developed by Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century so that they could translate stuff (i.e. the Bible) into Slavic languages. And it is a very cool script. If you're deep into textual criticism, it could pay off to have some familiarity with it.

If you're really interested, perhaps Horace Lunt's Old Church Slavonic grammar (amazon.com) might be a place to start. Note I've not seen this, it is just the most accessible/affordable English language OCS grammar I've seen to date.

So here are some links.


Post Author: rico
Monday, August 11, 2008 8:45:35 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thanks to Dr. Carl Conrad, I've been shown a fatal flaw in the below; I've confused the adjective ἄλλα with the conjunction ἀλλὰ. Now it all makes so much sense! Thank you, Dr. Conrad, for the correction. And for the reminder to double-check parsings before spending too much time trying to figure out something that doesn't make sense.

The below is left as testimony to my folly. When you need a laugh, do please read it again.

Here is Holmes' Greek for the first sentence of IgnEph 7.1, followed by his English.

7.1 Εἰώθασιν γάρ τινες δόλῳ πονηρῷ τὸ ὄνομα περιφέρειν, ἄλλα τινὰ πράσσοντες ἀνάξια θεοῦ·

7.1 For there are some who maliciously and deceitfully are accustomed to carrying about the Name while doing other things unworthy of God.

The above is from his second edition, but the third edition is exactly the same. For some comparison, here's Ehrman:

For some are accustomed to bear the name in wicked deceit, while acting in ways that are unworthy of God.

So as to be complete, here's Kirsopp Lake's translation.

For there are some who make a practice of carrying about the Name with wicked guile, and do certain other things unworthy of God;

The Greek is the same in all three editions, so we're comparing apples to apples. The question is, what is αλλα doing in this statement?

My basic contention at this point is that αλλα is a marker of contrast (as Heckert has posited); I'm comfortable with saying that it indicates discontinuity (which is what Porter and O'Donnell note) but contrast seems the better term, and I really don't see much difference between "contrast" and "discontinuity" anyway. The second part of my contention is that when one encounters an αλλα, one must realize there need to be two parts in order for contrast to be made (or for there to be discontinuity); with αλλα, the latter part corrects/replaces the former part.

My contention, then, is that looking for these two things when examining instances of αλλα is essential, and that if you can do this you don't need to worry about sense-classifying αλλα. You don't need to worry if it is continuative, or adversative, or contrastive, or what-have-you.

Further, particularly in situations like we find here in Ignatius to the Ephesians, the latter part (the correction/replacement) is set up such that it is the more prominent/salient piece of the whole sentence/paragraph. It is the author's primary point, it gives the punch to what he's trying to get through our (well, mine, anyway) thick skulls.

This instance in Ignatius to the Ephesians provides a good example. The standard gloss "but" doesn't fit (mostly because there isn't a negative involved, which would heighten the contrast and make "but" feel more appropriate), so we see some translators use "and" (Lake) and others use "while" (Ehrman and Holmes, though perhaps in these instances "while" comes from the participle and αλλα is left untranslated). But that doesn't really help us to see the contrast (whatever degree of contrast is present is indicated by the context, not by αλλα) or the things being contrasted, and it isn't easy to see what corrects/replaces the other. So let's look at the Greek again:

Εἰώθασιν γάρ τινες δόλῳ πονηρῷ τὸ ὄνομα περιφέρειν,
ἄλλα τινὰ πράσσοντες ἀνάξια θεοῦ

Basically, there are some people who "bear the name" yet while bearing the name (note that this in itself is important to Ignatius, who calls himself "the God-bearer" in his epistolary introductions) they do things unworthy of God. This is the contrast, that they say represent themselves in one way, but act in another.

What is the correction/replacement? It is the same thing, basically. My boy Iggy is pointing out that these evil, nefarious people who claim to "bear the name" are really not to be trusted because their actions betray them. This is Iggy's point: They're not who they say they are, so beware. They should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

That this is the salient bit of this sentence is born out by the following sentence. Again, Holmes' translation:

You must avoid them as wild beasts. For they are mad dogs that bite by stealth; you must be on your guard against them, for their bite is hard to heal.

You can see exactly what Ignatius is doing now; paying attention to the discourse cues in the original language helps us understand even better how he got there.

Of all of the translations cited, I'd say I like Ehrman's best. But even then, the αλλα is obscured, and the basic sorts of things that I contend it clues us in to are hard to see. At the same time, accounting for all of that in a translation is hard, and I don't have a better suggestion. So, at the very least, consult the Greek as you read the English. Sometimes you'll be very surprised at how the translator renders what's happening in the original language text. But, particularly with particles and conjunctions, the work pays off.

Post Author: rico
Saturday, June 28, 2008 9:30:17 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, June 05, 2008

Ran across this yesterday, figured I'd pass it along based on my previous post on this word:

Aposiopesis ( = "hushing") is the abrupt termination of a sentence whose ending may be inferred from tone or gesture, or gathered from what has gone before. Examples may be seen in Lu 13.9; Lu 19.42; Jn 6.62; Ac 23.9.
Moulton, James Hope. An Introduction to the Study of New Testament Greek. (p. 232) 2nd ed., rev. London: Charles H. Kelly, 1903.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, June 05, 2008 7:40:35 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, June 02, 2008

Poking around the LIABG ("Linguistics Institute of Ancient and Biblical Greek") site, I happened upon the proceedings from the 2006 symposium. This was nice, because while I was invited I wasn't able to make it (was married the previous month).

In the proceedings, I skimmed the article "What's Up in Syntax" and ran across the following, which I found helpful:

In traditional analysis predication involves a grammatical subject about which a predication is made. In the sentence All dogs have tails. The noun phrase All Dogs is the subject and the possession of tails is predicated of dogs with ‘have’ serving the predicating function. An alternative view of predication asserts that this relation is between a predictor and one or more arguments, in which case both All dogs and tails are viewed as arguments or terms with have (the predicator) functioning to form a relation of predication between the two. Complements are generally taken to be elements required by the predicator whereas adjuncts are nonobligatory elements, providing circumstantial information. Head terms or controlling terms govern the terms to which they stand in relation, as in ‘The head is the noun in the NP’ (Van Valin and LaPolla, 1997: 67). The marking of head terms typologically continues to be debated among linguists (see Zwicky, 1985; Hudson, 1987). Head terms receive various levels of modification in which a dependant terms modify the head through qualification (a limiting relation), specification (a classifying or identifying relation) or definition (further defining) (see Halliday, 1976: 59-66). A head term with its modifiers forms a group. Groups can be nominal, verbal, adverbial or conjunctive (Halliday, 2004: 310; Morley, 2004: 74-83). Coordination relations, realized through the conjunction system, are used to relate groups or modifiers within groups. (2006 LIABG Proceedings, p. 11)

If you've worked at all with the OpenText.org analysis in Logos Bible Software, the above may help a bit in understanding the analysis (which uses these labels). For example, if you've ever wondered what the difference between a complement and adjunct is, the above gives you a rule of thumb: Complements are required, Adjuncts are non-essential.

If you dig this stuff, or if you want to know more, I'd recommend reading the introduction to Jeffrey T. Reed's A Discourse Analysis of Philippians (amazon.com) (also part of the "Studies in New Testament Greek" collection, hopefully available sometime in the future for Logos Bible Software (on pre-pub at the time of post composition))

Bonus: A blog post I wrote in 2006 is footnoted in one of the articles of the proceedings (p. 151 of the proceedings). It was news to me when I learned of it. Interestingly, that blog post had to do with αλλα. Let's just say I've come a long way in understanding αλλα in the past two years. Maybe I'll write about the footnote in a future post.

Post Author: rico
Monday, June 02, 2008 3:45:59 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My friend and colleague Steve Runge has recently had a few things published that you may find helpful.

In April, RBL published a review of Ivan Shing Chung Kwong's The Word Order of the Gospel of Luke: Its Foregrounded Messages (amazon.com). This sort of stuff (word order studies) is right up Steve's alley and I was looking forward to see Steve's take on Kwong's approach.* The review is thorough, even if it is only 8 pages. If you have even the slightest interest in Greek word order, you need to read this review.

The Journal of the Linguistics Institute of Ancient and Biblical Greek (JLIABG) has commenced publishing its inaugural issue online. Steve's article, "Relative Saliency and Information Structure in Mark's Parable of the Sower", is the first article in the inaugural issue. How cool is that? The PDF is available online, so do check it out. Here's the abstract:

Levinsohn claims that the near and far demonstratives (οὗτος and ἐκεῖνος respectively) can be used non-deictically to encode relative thematic saliency of discourse referents, with οὗτος being used to mark the more salient constituent. In applying this concept to the Markan explanation of the Parable of the Sower, Levinsohn’s claim would indicate that the descriptions of the three unfruitful scatterings of seed are more salient to the writer than the productive scattering that bears fruit. The other synoptic accounts do not seem to make such a distinction in salience, using the near demonstrative οὗτος for both the unfruitful and fruitful plantings alike. Are there other means of analysis to either corroborate or overturn the view that the unfruitful plantings are more thematically salient in Mark’s account?

This study applies the cognitive model of Chafe and Givón, and the information- structure model of Lambrecht as applied by Levinsohn to the Markan explanation of the Parable of the Sower (4:14-20). The primary objective is to identify and analyze other linguistic devices, besides demonstratives, which might clarify the apparent prominence given to the unfruitful scatterings in Mark’s account. This study provides the necessary framework for comparing Mark’s pragmatic weighting of salience to that found in the other synoptic accounts in order to determine whether Mark’s version is consistent or divergent with the other traditions.

Also note that the JLIABG has an RSS feed to notify of new article postings: http://feeds.feedburner.com/jliabg.

* Disclaimer: I actually badgered Steve into doing the review when I saw the title was available for review from RBL. He's repaid the favor by suggesting I look into the use of αλλα in non-negative contexts. I'd say we're about even.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, May 28, 2008 1:00:26 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, April 21, 2008

My friend and colleague Steve Runge recently blogged about "Paying Attention to 'This' and 'That'" on the Logos Bible Software blog. He was showing how paying attention to ουτος and εκεινος can pay dividends in your study of the NT.

For a bonus on the difference between 'near' and 'far', check this Sesame Street clip from YouTube (thanks for the reference, Steve) where Grover makes sure we get the difference between the two.

Now that that's all cleared up, I ran into a stellar example of the difference between ουτος and εκιενος this weekend while reading Second Clement. Here's the text of 2Cl 6.3-5 from Holmes' second edition; pay particular attention to verse 4:

(3) ἔστιν δὲ οὗτος ὁ αἰὼν καὶ ὁ μέλλων δύο ἐχθροί.
(3) This age and the one that is coming are two enemies.

(4) οὗτος λέγει μοιχείαν καὶ φθορὰν καὶ φιλαργυρίαν καὶ ἀπάτην, ἐκεῖνος δὲ τούτοις ἀποτάσσεται.
(4) This one talks about adultery and corruption and greed and deceit, but that one renounces these things.

(5) οὐ δυνάμεθα οὖν τῶν δύο φίλοι εἶναι· δεῖ δὲ ἡμᾶς τούτῳ ἀποταξαμένους ἐκείνῳ χρᾶσθαι.
(5) We cannot, therefore, be friends of both; we must renounce this one in order to experience that one.

Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (110-111). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

Also interesting is the use of δε in v. 4. This implies development of a point, whereas use of αλλα would likely heighten the contrast.

Post Author: rico
Monday, April 21, 2008 1:35:46 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, April 07, 2008

I've recently finished a first-pass examination of every instance of αλλα in the Apostolic Fathers. While I report numbers here, the big thing to notice are trends; the specific numbers may change as I re-evaluate things between now and November.

There are no surprises in the 352 instances evaluated.

First, αλλα usually occurs with a negated clause or phrase.

  • The negator μη (or something very much like it, such as μηδε) is used 82 times.
  • The negator ου and its kin are used 188 times (though note some of these are ου μη).

When I say μη or ου, I'm also including things like μη μονον and ουκ μονον and even ουδεν, μηδεν, μηκετι, ουκετι and stuff like that. Maybe not completely and technically accurate, but I have the details down in a spreadsheet I can use later to disambiguate if need be.

There are 76 'clearly' positive (so, no negator on either side of αλλα); there are six that I've found confusing enough to pass on for now. What could be confusing? Sometimes negators are involved, though it is difficult to determine if the entire context is negative, or if something else is going on. These usually involve use of μηδεν.

Recall, my submitted abstract involved examining the "positive" instances, so these instances will be followed up and re-examined.

As mentioned above, the negator occurs both before and after αλλα.

  • Of the 82 instances of the negator μη, there is only one that has the negator after αλλα, though there are four instances (e.g. Ign Tral. 5.1) that have negators on both sides of αλλα.
  • Of the 188 instances of ου and its kin, 21 instances occur after αλλα (αλλʼ ουκ is a relatively common formation), and seven instances that have negators on both sides of αλλα.

What have I found most interesting? Well, it has to be how the Shepherd of Hermas uses αλλα without negation. Of course, this is the largest item in the corpus of the Apostolic Fathers, but 39 of the 76 'positive' instances are found in the Shepherd. There are some pretty cool things going on in those 39 instances that have no analogue in the New Testament; I'm guessing that I'll end up working through a few of them for the paper as examples of how αλλα functions and what that means for evaluating αλλα from the perspective of discourse analysis.

What's my next step? I have similar data tables for the NT and the Apostolic Fathers. I believe my next step will be to re-evaluate the positive instances in the NT (90 clearly positive instances out of 638; but I have 35 more complex/confusing instances to re-evaluate and classify). After this, I'll be able to really start writing. I've already got a high-level outline in my head, it'll be interesting to see how it fleshes out.

Post Author: rico
Monday, April 07, 2008 6:13:15 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, March 31, 2008

When looking into the use of αλλα, one needs to (at least to some degree) consider the difference between αλλα and δε. Grammarians have hopelessly associated the two together. The conjunction δε is usually described as having "adversative" qualities, though it can also be "continuative" or even "transitional". The primary description of αλλα seems to be that it, as an adversative, is "stronger than δε" (though sometimes it is "transitional" too, they say). So αλλα is the "strong adversative" while δε is the "weak adversative". Or something like that.

And that description is somewhat helpful, but it leaves a lot to be desired. All these different functions/descriptions are based, it seems, on context of usage. When looking at the problem from a discourse level, however, these contextual descriptions don't really help, particularly when the basic recommendation for translation is to just use the English "but" for both cases. That may be accurate translation, but it doesn't really help us understand what is going on in the Greek and what function these two conjunctions have.

What are "strong" and "weak" adversatives? It seems the strong adversative is normally a corrective (and normally a negative particle or adverb is involved); the weak is normally a development of argument of some sort. Here's Hermas, Visions 3.1.9, in Holmes' 2nd edition, first in Greek then in English. This excerpt has two instances of αλλα; we're only interested in the second one for purposes of this blog post. <CP ...> marks the "counterpoint", typically the first phrase/clause that αλλα responds to; <P ... > marks the "point", typically the salient bit of the whole comparison.

(9) <CP θέλοντος οὖν μου καθίσαι εἰς τὰ δεξιὰ μέρη οὐκ εἴασέν με,> ἀλλʼ <P ἐννεύει μοι τῇ χειρὶ ἵνα εἰς τὰ ἀριστερὰ μέρη καθίσω>.
διαλογιζομένου μου οὖν καὶ λυπουμένου
   ὅτι οὐκ εἴασέν με εἰς τὰ δεξιὰ μέρη καθίσαι, λέγει μοι·
      Λυπῇ, Ἑρμᾶ;
         ὁ εἰς τὰ δεξιὰ μέρη τόπος ἄλλων ἐστίν,
            τῶν ἤδη εὐαρεστηκότων τῷ θεῷ
            καὶ παθόντων εἵνεκα τοῦ ὀνόματος·
         <CP σοὶ> δὲ <CP πολλὰ λείπει ἵνα μετʼ αὐτῶν καθίσῃς>·
         ἀλλʼ <P ὡς ἐμμένεις τῇ ἁπλότητί σου,
            καὶ καθιῇ μετʼ αὐτῶν,>
               καὶ ὅσοι ἐὰν ἐργάσωνται τὰ ἐκείνων ἔργα
                  καὶ ὑπενέγκωσιν ἃ καὶ ἐκεῖνοι ὑπήνεγκαν.

Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (346). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

(9) <CP Then when I wanted to sit down on the right side, she would not let me,> but <P indicated to me with her hand that I should sit on the left side>.
Then as I thought about this and was sad
   because she would not permit me
      to sit on the right side,
   she said to me,
      “Are you sad, Hermas?
         The place on the right side is for others,
            who have already pleased God
            and have suffered for the sake of the Name.
         But [δε] <CP you fall far short of sitting with them.>
         But [αλλα]
            <P persevere in your sincerity,
               as you are now doing,
               and you will sit with them,>
                  as will all who do what they have done
                  and endure what they have endured.”

Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (347). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

Can you get the sense of the difference between δε and αλλα? Heckert summarizes δε as a "marker of development". In this case, δε is a further development of the preceding statement describing the meaning of the right side. The right side is for others; Hermas has fallen short of the status the others have achieved. The status of the right side and reason for Hermas' exclusion is more clear with the δε statement. This instance of δε would probably normally be classed as a "continuative" or "copulative"; in this instance it represents a further development of the state of those on the right side. In short, those on the right have "already pleased God", Hermas hasn't done this yet, therefore he is not worthy.

After explaining the right side, and why Hermas can't sit there, the good lady offers him some hope. This is the counterpoint, the foil the αλλα statement ends up responding to. Αλλα sits in the middle. Heckert calls αλλα a "marker of contrast". Here, the contrast is between Hermas' falling short of those on the right side, and what Hermas can do to achieve right-side worthiness. In the CP, Hermas can't sit with those on the right side as he is unworthy of them. But in the P, the good lady offers Hermas hope! He can sit with them if he keeps up what he has started.

This gets to what has been cookin' in my thinking concerning the use of αλλα, from the discourse level. I've looked at a lot of instances of αλλα (approaching 1000!) in both the NT and the Apostolic Fathers. When αλλα is used, as Heckert maintains, there is contrast involved. But I also think that when αλλα is used, it is the statement that happens after the αλλα that is being made prominent. That is, in this case, the important bit isn't that Hermas can't sit on the right side. The important bit is that, if he does the right stuff, Hermas will be able to sit on the right side among the honored of God, those who have suffered for the sake of the Name.

In other words, I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that αλλα does involve contrast, as Heckert maintains. With αλλα, there always seems to be a pair of things, whether the comparison/contrast is in the same phrase, in the same clause, in the same sentence, in the same paragraph, or whether the αλλα appears to be contrasting previous content at the discourse level or even contrasting an underlying idea floating in the contextual ether. The αλλα makes the contrast explicit and the content following the αλλα is the more salient bit. It is the reason for the contrast, it is the important piece of the puzzle that keeps the discourse going.

At least, that's where I'm at now. These things may change.

Post Author: rico
Monday, March 31, 2008 5:26:43 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, March 14, 2008

[NB: This post is a bit of a rant, and doesn't really come to an end or conclusion. It's just me thinking by writing, which is one of the most profitable ways I know to work my thoughts out. So, read on. But don't think I'm making conclusions or judgements; my thoughts could completely change. In other words, this is fluid, not static. RWB]

Here are some things about αλλα that I've noticed as I've worked through the 638 NT instances (a few times).

When considering an instance of αλλα, know that most of the time (approx. 85% of the time in the NT), a relationship with a negator of some sort is involved.

Instead of just making the oh-to-common mental note associating αλλα with the English gloss "but" and moving on, look around for the negative to determine what two things are in relationship with each other via αλλα.

Here's what I'm presently calling the "αλλα Funnel":

1: Look for a negator. This will be some form of ου or μη, most likely; or some other word like ουδεις, μηδεις, ουκετι, μηκετι, etc.) Again, around 85% of NT instances of αλλα involve a negator. You need to find it. Note the very small proportion of items that have negators on both sides of the αλλα (3 instances; e.g. 1Co 4.4).

2: First, look up (to the left). Over 75% of αλλα in NT have the negator preceding.

3: Still looking? Okay, look down (to the right). About 10% of αλλα in the NT have a negator following. In this case, the negator is usually ου or ουκ, and it usually follows the αλλα directly.

4: Still looking? Well, there are 15% or so instances of αλλα in the NT that do not seem to involve a negator. This is the minority case, so look again (up and down) to be sure.

5: Still looking? Then stop looking and assume there is no negator. At this point, you need to isolate the two items in relationship with each other through the αλλα. This is usually brain-dead easy; sometimes, though, it is a pain (Gal 4.8-9? 1Co 15.35?). Note that there are some instances where αλλα doesn't seem to be responding to an explicit statement. My working hypothesis at present is that αλλα must be a response (contrast, correction, clarification, expansion, what-have-you) to something; and when nothing is explicit the response must be to something implicit in the context. Examine the context and try to figure it out if the connection isn't readily apparent.

Now you're at the bottom of the funnel. The easy part is done, the hard work begins.

αλλα is typically described as a "strong adversative" and, to define "strong", most grammars say it is "stronger than δε". That isn't too helpful. That's like saying "bold" is stronger than "confident". So read the whole context of the statement (or statements) in question that uses αλλα as a hinge to compare. Read the larger context. What is happening with the two phrases/clauses that αλλα stands between? What is the point of the comparison of those two items? Is it replacement/correction? Is it enhancement or expansion? Don't cop out and just say it means "but"; get your mind out of the word-level jumble and think about the relationship between the phrases/clauses and what the point of the author could be in placing these items in juxtaposition with each other, using αλλα as a guide to that author's intent. He's left clues with αλλα, use (or non-use) of negators, and the items he's comparing.

On Lexicons and αλλα

This could actually be a whole additional post, but it won't be. In short, I've read most lexicon definitions of αλλα, and they are all uniformly unhelpful. They seem to jump from lexicography to syntax quickly, sorting "senses" by differing syntactic contexts that αλλα appears in. Cataloguing of instances by syntactic context does not make a helpful lexicon article.

I'm largely convinced that one of the reasons that αλλα is typically classed as an "adversative" is simply because in most of its instances it stands between two clauses/phrases, one negative and one non-negative. In this case, it is the clauses/phrases that are adversary, not αλλα. Then, if no negator is present, αλλα is said to be, perhaps, correlative or contrastive or continuative something like that.

[[This brings up a side rant: Morphologies of the Greek New Testament that provide senses/classifications to conjunctions (e.g. GRAMCORD, "conjunction, coordinating, adversative") are also relatively unhelpful if you're really interested in what the conjunction is up to. Why do I say this? Get yourself a few different morphologies that do this, and you'll see that everyone has different ideas in this area. Compare GRAMCORD to Friberg's morphology. You'll see that many do seem to be the same on first glance, but that's because most morphologies classify most instances of αλλα the same exact way. GRAMCORD has 97.6% of αλλα classified as "conjunction, coordinating, adversative"; Friberg has more variation with 86.5% as "conjunction, superordinating (hyperordinating)". (Full disclosure: The Logos Morphology has even more variation, but it also has more categories) Am I saying they should all be consistent? No; I don't subscribe to a 'concordant' method of morphological classification. I'm just saying there is a lot of variation so it brings into question the classification schemes themselves.]]

So what does αλλα do? What does it indicate? I'm still working on that.

My hope is to have some flash of insight and arrive at a grand unification theory. But I think a large part of the problem is that traditional methodology seems bound to try to answer the question, "how do I translate it?" (hence all sorts of categories and memorization of short glosses) when, in order to actually understand what the author is communicating, we really should be asking the question, "what does it mean?" or, perhaps, "how does it all go together?".

In the context of examining a discourse to better understand "what does it mean?", we need to examine how different parts of the discourse relate to each other. One way that discourse parts relate to each other is though use of conjunctions. So when the author/writer uses αλλα with two items in juxtaposition to each other, what is that author communicating? Are there semantic or grammatical connections between the two juxtaposed items and the rest of the discourse?

My guess is that that, chances are, αλλα means the same thing no matter what context it appears in. Instead, it's how the juxtaposed items relate to each other through αλλα that variation in understanding arises.

Update (2008-03-16): Responding to a few of the comments, I can only emphasize the word 'rant' in regards to αλλα and morphologies and lexicography/lexicons (not to mention grammars). If you compare the labelling of senses/types of αλλα across morphologies, you'll soon find that opinions differ, particularly as you get outside of the easy-to-understand instances (usually in some sort of negative context) and into the 'long tail' of instances. And that's fine; my rant is more my response to the difficulty of the problem than complete dissatisfaction with existing lexicons/morphologies. I guess my issue with the αλλα article in BDAG (and elsewhere) is that by their structure and breakdown they seem more geared toward telling me what to think about specific instances of αλλα than in sewing all that discussion up at the end and giving some thoughts on αλλα in general. It's more of a catalogue of instances than a discussion of the word.

To respond specifically to Mike about BDAG: I suppose one thing I'd like to see in BDAG is after the separation of discussion of αλλα in particular contexts, some discussion of how even in these differing contexts αλλα is functioning similarly. I realize the first sentence of the definition speaks of this somewhat, but something tying the whole thing in general would be nice.

To respond to Ken about adversative as a label: I don't have such a list, and I don't really have a problem with 'adversative' as a word to describe how αλλα functions. I do think that αλλα can be 'adversative' when no negator is present in either clause/phrase of the structure in question. What gives me pause would be to say of any instance of αλλα that it is an 'adversative αλλα'. No, it's αλλα. The context may be adversative, and αλλα is likely the hinge joining two adversarial or contradictory things; but that doesn't mean that αλλα is adversative. Anyway, that's my own issue with labelling things that I need to get over; not necessarily an issue with morphological classifications.

Post Author: rico
Friday, March 14, 2008 7:00:50 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, March 13, 2008

In case you're wondering what I've been spending much of my time at Logos doing, now I can show you since we spilled the beans on the Logos blog today.

I've been working with Dr. Steve Runge on his project to annotate several aspects of discourse grammar in the Greek New Testament. My job has been to take the annotation work he's been doing and make it work in Logos Bible Software. I've learned a whole lot in the process and am excited to now have something in a form we can begin to share with others.

There are two primary components of the project:

In the below screen shot, LDGNT is on the left, HDNT is on the right:

My job has been to process Steve's annotation work and work with him (and others here at Logos) to figure out how to represent it inside of Logos Bible Software. Steve works in the Greek New Testament, so I also have had to map the Greek data onto an English translation so we can start to make this sort of thing more usable to folks who only know English. It's been challenging and fun. We're not done yet. Steve's primary annotation of the New Testament is complete and can be called 'beta' (further revision/correction/etc. may happen); he's still working on the left-column outline stuff for narrative texts (Gospels/Acts) and Revelation.

Check out the Logos Blog post for more information and links. And check out Steve's page on the Logos site for links to articles and conference papers that explain some of the devices that he's annotating.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, March 13, 2008 4:52:26 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Did you know that αλλα occurs 557 times in the whole of the LXX (nearly four times the size of the NT); compared to 638 times in the NT? That number includes the alternate MSS text in Joshua, Daniel, etc.

And the LXX books with the most frequent instances of αλλα (instances per 1000 words in book) are books likely composed in Greek, stuff like Wisdom of Solomon (3 αλλα/1000 words) and 4 Maccabees (6.3/1000)? Tobit and Judith are also high (both 2/1000), but so are Malachi (~2/1000) and, believe it or not, Job (~3/1000)!

Comparatively, Holmes' second edition Apostolic Fathers Greek text has 352 instances. That's over half of the number of NT instances, but the corpus size is just over 1/3 of the NT.

That'll make a guy think.

Update (2008-03-12): On the idea of whether αλλα can be an indicator of Aramaic in the gospels, or translation Greek; let's not forget that it could just be a diachronic thing. LXX => early, NT => later, AF => even later. Maybe αλλα usage increased over time, particularly since it is a development from αλλος. (It may therefore be useful to compare use of αλλος/αλλα between LXX/NT/AF to get a better picture; I'll leave this for someone else to dig into).

On the Aramaic question, perhaps the place to start would be with Raymond A. Martin's Syntactical Evidence of Semitic Sources in Greek Documents (amazon.com). He thinks that minimal use of certain prepositions may be evidence of a translated text; also και/δε in some contexts, but doesn't say anything about αλλα (from my quick re-skim). Martin presents a lot of evidence, but I don't know that I buy it (call it my "correlation does not prove causation" skepticism).

Anyway, here's the chart of αλλα usage in the NT. I generated this with Logos Bible Software's Graph Bible Search Results feature, which is an option on the right-hand side of all Bible search results menus (Bible Speed Search, which I used for this; Bible Search; and Syntax Search). The numbers on the right of the bars are # of αλλα per 1000 words in a book. So Matthew has 2.0162 αλλα per 1000 words; Mark has 3.9788 per 1000; etc. This sort of distribution leads me to think that use of αλλα is perhaps more stylistic than translational; though the LXX numbers reported (that graph is below the NT graph) are much less frequent. This may say more about the translators and the time they translated in than the translation itself.

And here's the LXX graph:

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 12:13:59 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, March 10, 2008

At least, that was the working title of the abstract I've submitted for the 2008 ETS meeting in Rhode Island this November. But I couldn't bring myself to actually make that the title of the paper. So here's what I've submitted:

Title: The Discourse Function of αλλα in Non-Negative Contexts

Abstract: In a paper presented to the ETS in November 2007, Dr. Steven Runge discussed the use of the conjunction αλλα in negative Counterpoint-Point Sets ("Teaching Them What NOT To Do: The Nuances of Negation in the Greek New Testament"). The basic pattern is that of an exceptive ου or μη clause followed by a clause introduced by αλλα; the effect in English translation is "not ... but ..." [an example is in Mark 16.5-7, which I blogged about earlier — RB].

While most of the instances of αλλα in the Greek New Testament occur in negative Counterpoint-Point sets, this does not account for all instances of αλλα. What is happening with αλλα in these other contexts? Is the discourse function of αλλα in these contexts similar, or is there something different going on?

Instances of αλλα in the Greek New Testament in non-negative contexts will be examined with the hope of further describing the function of αλλα within the discourse. Additionally, standard Greek grammars will be mined for further insight into the function of αλλα, as will the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. The goal is not to isolate additional "senses" or "classes" of αλλα, but, building upon Runge's previous work, the goal is to examine further instances of αλλα in differing contexts to contribute toward a more precise overall understanding of the general function of αλλα within the discourse.

We'll see if the abstract is accepted. Either way, I've already started culling through the 638 instances of αλλα in the New Testament (500+ of which appear in a negative pairing, it seems), working through the section on αλλα in Denniston's Greek Particles (amazon.com), reading Heckert on αλλα (amazon.com); I'll probably be braving the lexicon articles (BDAG, LSJ, LouwNida) sometime over the next week; and hitting the grammars (BDF, Moulton-Howard-Turner, Robertson, Porter's Idioms, Moule's Idioms, Wallace; perhaps Young's Intermediate Grammar) as well.

Sounds like fun, huh?

Update (2008-03-11): Responding to some comments: Yes, I do plan on posting the paper, but likely in conjunction with or just after the conference in November. But I'll probably blog some thoughts along the way that may or may not make it into the paper. On other resource (e.g. Thrall); perhaps. There is no shortage of items to look at for background. But the paper isn't a review of how people have described αλλα in the past, so there has to be a limit to the background section of the paper. I just don't know what that is yet (beyond standard lexica and grammars, Denniston, and Heckert)


Post Author: rico
Monday, March 10, 2008 7:20:25 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, January 17, 2008

A friend just pointed this out to me, sitting on an FTP server at National Geographic.

It's hi-res images of what appear to be all of the pages of Codex Tchacos, which contains the Coptic of the Gospel of Judas. My guess is that these images match the plates in the Critical Edition of the Gospel of Judas, but if anyone is doing serious work with the Coptic of Judas (or any of the other documents in Codex Tchacos) then you probably want these images instead.

And, while we're on manuscript stuff, have y'all seen the online edition of Codex Gigas? (hat tip: Mark @ Biblical Studies and Technological Tools blog) If not, you should. It is way cool! Have fun playing with the "Browse the Manuscript" feature. Also: I didn't know that Gigas had editions of Antiquities of the Jews and Wars of the Jews in Latin, amongst other stuff. How cool is that? Here all along I'd just thought it was a Latin Bible.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, January 17, 2008 2:23:27 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It seems I've been busy since early November, what with ETS & SBL conferences, Thanksgiving, Christmas parties, and New Years. So I haven't had the chance to dig into Paul Trebilco's Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius (amazon.com) as much as I would've liked to.

But today I did get some time (after getting the garage cleaned and reorganized) to read a bit. I finally finished "Part I", which has to do with evidence of Ephesus in Paul and his Letters (Trebilco sees both Ephesians and the Pastorals as non-Pauline, so he does not include them here) and the evidence of Ephesus in the book of Acts.

It was the two chapters on Acts that I was most impressed with. Having done some work on a portion of Acts 18 for my 2007 ETS paper, it was great to read what Trebilco has done, working through all of the Ephesian mentions in Acts. If you are into the Paulines or Acts or Ephesus, then you need to read these chapters.

One thing that stuck out to me, particularly in working through the footnotes as I read the text, was how much the work of Haenchen and Conzelmann are called into question. As I worked through commentaries on Acts 18 for my ETS paper, I was amazed and dumbfounded at some of the claims that Conzelmann (apparently following Haenchen) made concerning Lucan sources in Acts. Treblico carefully works through the passages and other relevant data and shows that many times the leaps made by Haenchen and Conzelmann are too large. Reading this after having read Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses really makes me think that the form-critical approach is dying (if not dead). It additionally makes me think that there needs to be a new Hermeneia volume on Acts (and the Pastoral Epistles, also by Conzelmann, for that matter).

That said, one thing that Trebilco does (that many others do) is frequently note "Lucan" or "Pauline" language, when what they really mean is that the content they attribute to a particular author uses the word in question, perhaps uniquely. I still think that any NT author sample, no matter what you think of authorship issues, is far too small to get a notion of what language quirks or vocabulary should be attributed to a particular author. But Trebilco doesn't do it much, and I realize that while this is a fairly blunt tool, it is a tool. So I'm not too offended by it. :)

All said, Trebilco's work is excellent and highly recommended. Do check it out (amazon.com). It's over 800 pages, and the Amazon price is really a steal (especially considering the Mohr-Siebeck edition, if you could actually find it, would probably cost you upwards of $300!)

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, January 01, 2008 4:16:05 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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It's a happy new year because the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism has just put four new articles online. These are in the 2007 volume (volume 3). If they're of interest to you, you should download them immediately because the JGRChJ only has the articles online until the volume is complete. Then they submit the volume to print and the articles go offline. So get 'em while you can:

4.3 John C. Poirier, The Linguistic Situation in Jewish Palestine in Late Antiquity
4.4 Julie Ann Smith, ‘What Now Lies Before Their Eyes’: The Foundations of Early Pilgrim Visuality in the Holy Land
4.5 David E. Malick, The Contribution of Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis to an Understanding of Women in the Book of Acts
4.6 Justin M. Smith, Genre, Sub-Genre and Questions of Audience: A Proposed Typology for Greco-Roman Biography

I've not looked at any of the articles, though 4.3 and 4.5 look most interesting to me at this point.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, January 01, 2008 10:05:47 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, December 21, 2007

In the most recent JBL (as of this writing; the citation is JBL 126, no. 3 (2007): 579-593), is an article David Konstan and Ilaria Ramelli (henceforth K&R) titled “The Syntax of εν Χριστω in 1 Thessalonians 4.16”. If you are an SBL member, you can retrieve this article from the JBL website.

I’ve actually written a series of blog posts for the Logos Bible Software blog on locating prepositional phrases using a syntactically annotated edition of the Greek New Testament (The OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament) using εν Χριστω in 1Th 4.16 as a starting point. Those posts don’t directly interact with the material and argument of K&R’s article; they just work through approaches to sifting data.

I’ve been chewing on K&R’s article for awhile and it’s time to write some more about it. But first, for those unfamiliar with the article, let me provide an excerpt from their introduction:

Our concern in this article is with the final clause: “And the dead in Christ will rise.” Does the Greek mean, “those who are dead in Christ will rise,” as many have taken it, including Jerome in the Latin Vulgate: mortui qui in Christo sunt resurgent? Or is it preferable to take it as meaning, “the dead will rise in Christ”? The choice between the two versions is of considerable importance. On the first interpretation, only those who have died in Christ will be resurrected, whereas the second can be taken to signify that all the dead will be resurrecte din Christ—the necessary premise for the theses of universal salvation or apocatastasis defended by Origen and other patristic writers, including Gregory of Nyssa. In this article, however, we set aside the theological arguments and concentrate simply on the point of grammar: does the prepositional phrase εν Χριστω modify οι νεκροι, or does it more naturally go with αναστησονται? (K&R, 579-581).

So the article is an exploration of a point of grammar (attachment of prepositional phrase) that has theological/doctrinal implications. And that’s great, particularly in this instance, because the text is ambiguous as to point of prepositional phrase attachment. Here’s the text with the pertinent bit italicised:

ὅτι αὐτὸς ὁ κύριος ἐν κελεύσματι, ἐν φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου καὶ ἐν σάλπιγγι θεοῦ, καταβήσεται ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ καὶ οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ ἀναστήσονται πρῶτον, (1 Th 4:16, NA27)

For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (1 Th 4:16, NRSV)

If you examine the text, you will find (as K&R note in the excerpt above) that the prepositional phrase εν Χριστω does have two potential points of attachment: οι νεκροι and αναστησονται. The attachment is ambiguous, but after examining the question K&R conclude that it is best to read εν Χριστω as attaching to the verb.

The more I consider K&R’s article, the less I like it and the more it frustrates me. And it isn’t (necessarily) their conclusion that frustrates me, it is the methodology. While they duly examine all 84 NT instances of εν Χριστω (both arthrous and anarthrous), include some extra-Biblical instances in footnotes, and while they even throw in NT instances of εν κυριω for good measure, their approach is lacking.

Why? There are a few reasons.

1. Their approach seeks to classify everything and group like with like; these groupings (and derived trends) then serve as the lense to classify the instance in 1Th 4.16.

Now classification isn’t bad, but this doesn’t address the primary issue with 1Th 4.16: There are two decent possibilities for attachment in 1Th 4.16, but the vast majority of instances of the prepositional phrase are not ambiguous in respect to placement. Classifying all of these primarily unambiguous instances does not necessarily help one think about the ambiguous instances more clearly. It can actually muddy the waters. Trends are not rules. That’s why I don’t like this paragraph:

The phrases εν Χριστω and εν κυριω seem, then, to be regularly attached to a verb, a participle, or an adjective with verbal force (this last very rarely, however). If they do modify a substantive, they are either clearly enclosed in a nominal phrase, as may occur also with a participle (1Co 7.22: ο γαρ εν κυριω κληθεις δουλος), or else they are preceded by a repetition of the article. (K&R, p. 589)

Do you see that? They’ve properly identified the trends of the unambiguous instances. But how does this really help consider what is going on in an instance where there are two relatively probable possibilities? While one can examine all instances to see which is most common, knowing the most common does not necessarily help in trying to determine the proper reading of the ambiguous instance. To simply follow the most common option is to make grammar and syntax into a popularity contest; this does not do justice to the text.

2. Their approach only examines particular components of the clause in question in comparison with other clauses; the questionable clause as a whole is not considered.

What I mean by this is that their approach neglects the clause as a whole; it only examines the subject (οι νεκροι), the prepositional phrase (εν Χριστω) and the verb (αναστησονται). They neglect the adverb πρωτον. This is evident in their proposing of the question (pp. 579-581, excerpted above). There is no discussion regarding how πρωτον affects either of their two possible readings. This, to my mind, is a gaping hole in the argument.

3. The “If Paul would’ve meant to associate the prepositional phrase with the substantive, he’d have written it this way” argument is unconvincing.

K&R proceed to examine instances of εν κυριω in their attempt to better understand εν Χριστω in 1Th 4.16. And this is fine as well. But I just don’t buy the following argument:

The only non-Pauline occurrence of [εν κυριω] is in Rev 14.13, and it, like the passage in 1 Thessalonians, concerns those who are dead in Christ. To indicate the dead, however, John does not use the bare expression οι νεκροι εν κυριω but rather repeats the article before the prepositional phrase, and in addition encloses the phrase between the article an a participle, so that its syntactical structure and meaning are unequivocal: μακαριοι οι νεκροι οι εν κυριω αποθνεησκοντες απ’ αρτι ... ινα αναποστησονται εκ των κοπων. We have here, then, a construction quite different from that in 1 Thessalonians, which indeed suggests what Paul would have written if he had meant to say “those who are dead”—or rather, who have died (the phrase depends on the participle)—“in Christ.” (K&R, 589)

Do you see the subtle flaw with their argument? They’re taking an unambiguous instance in a different author and stating that if Paul wanted the reading to be attached to the substantive, he would’ve done it this way.

To be more precise, however, one must instead conclude that if Paul wanted to present the reading attached to the substantive unambiguously, he might have done it the way John did—but they don't have access to the mind of Paul. One cannot conclude that because Paul didn’t write it the same way John did (or the way George or Ringo wrote it, for that matter), Paul can’t have meant what John meant.

4. Their approach assumes that a prepositional phrase must definitely attach to one or the other clausal component.

Again, this is evident in the phrasing of the question. And this seems largely driven by the traditional method of thinking about Greek syntax and perhaps even driven by the practice of sentence diagramming. This is good to think about and even necessary when doing exegesis; but isn’t it possible that the ambiguity of the phrasing could imply ambiguity in attachment on purpose? I guess I’m saying that in my experience language is messy; to say the prepositional phrase must “attach” to one component or the other may be generally true but, as with other things, I can’t help but think ambiguity should be an option as well.

5. Their approach pays little to no attention to the context surrounding the clause; that is, the clause is read in isolation to the larger context (surrounding clauses, paragraph and discourse levels).

This follows on point 2 above. Because K&R don’t treat πρωτον, they have no need to ask the question “what follows after the first thing?”. Verse 17 discusses what happens after the ‘first’ thing and this can help in resolving the ambiguity. Indeed, the whole context of vv. 13-18 have to do with believers both living and dead; Paul is answering the issue of what happens to those (believers) who die previous to Christ’s triumphant return. To include and consider relevant context is not theological discussion (recall K&R intend to specifically avoid discussing the theological implications of the syntactic reading); it is treating the discourse as a discourse instead of a jumble of unconnected words and phrases.

When there is ambiguity in the interaction of clausal components, examination of the larger discourse may provide light on how to resolve the ambiguity.

6. For an article on syntax, there is no interaction with standard grammars on the point of syntax discussed.

Specifically, there is no interaction with BDF§272, which cites this instance in particular. This is a minor nitpick, but where standard grammars interact on this specific question, that evidence should be noted.


Those are the primary issues I have with K&R’s article. Please don’t get me wrong, I think there is valuable stuff in there but I don’t see how it helps make a conclusion as to what is happening with the prepositional phrase in 1Th 4.16.

Additionally, I have to say that I enjoyed pp. 591-593, where K&R delve into patristic evidence of how 1Th 4.16 was read in the early church—specifically, their examination of Chrysostom and Gregory of Nyssa. I thought this portion was actually a stronger argument for their view than all of the listing and classification of Greek NT instances.


Post Author: rico
Friday, December 21, 2007 4:57:11 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, November 26, 2007

While out at ETS and SBL, the good folks at Kregel sent along a copy of Dr. Rodney Decker's Koine Greek Reader (amazon.com). Be sure to check out Dr. Decker's page for his book. Why did I get a copy? I was one of a select number quick enough to respond to Dr. Decker's offer of a free copy of the book on his blog — which just goes to show you, reading blogs can pay.

I haven't had time to look at the book much, but my friend and colleague Johnny borrowed it over the weekend and was suitably impressed. He said, "I wish my second-year reading class used it as a text!". He found the presentation of chunks (not just one verse) of text followed by grammar and syntax notes on the text helpful.

In the future, I hope to compare the Koine Greek Reader (amazon.com) with Whitacre's Patristic Greek Reader (amazon.com) to show strengths and weaknesses of each. But I have a lot of stuff I want to blog in the next while; so I may not get to it immediately. But the initial word is that Decker's Koine Greek Reader (amazon.com) looks useful and should be a great help, whether you are in a classroom setting or if you're simply wanting a refresher course from that year of Greek you had in school too many years ago.

Post Author: rico
Monday, November 26, 2007 3:31:16 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, September 20, 2007

I've finally begun reading David Weinberger's Everything is Miscellaneous (amazon.com). It's been on my to-read list for awhile but I've only recently gained access to a copy.

I've also been reading about Discourse Analysis and Discourse Grammar (the latter has more to say about what's going on at the sentence-clause level). One of the primary principles of Discourse Grammar is described by Stephen H. Levinsohn in his article The Relevance of Greek Discourse Studies to Exegesis. Here it is.

Jan Firbas, a Prague School linguist, was a pioneer in recognizing that, in the majority of sentences in a natural text, the order of non-verbal constituents tended to follow what has come to be called the "Principle of Natural Information Flow" (Comrie 1989; see Firbas 1964). According to this principle, non-verbal constituents that convey established information are placed before those that convey new or non-established information. (Levinsohn 14).

So, according to the principle of natural information flow, established information occurs first, and new information comes after.

Really, this is related to Weinberger's book (amazon.com). Trust me.

Here's Weinberger, in the chapter "The New Order of Order", subsection "Everything has its places".

The two processes by which new things are introduced into our homes are typical of how we handle information: we go through new arrivals and then we put them away. We go through the mail and file it in the special places we have for bills (the desk), cards from relatives (the refrigerator door), and junk mail (the trash). We go through bags of groceries and put the food away within minutes of bringing it into our house. We address these elements of disorder—unsorted mail in the mailbox, groceries sorted by relative weight into bags by a clerk in the store—with remarkable alacrity. (Weinberger 11)

We know how to sort our mail because it is ours. It is familiar. We go through the jumble of the mailbox, and certain things stand out: the electricity bill that needs to be paid; the envelope with the hand-written return address that looks like a card or letter (we open that one first because it is 'good mail'). The advertising circular that always comes on Tuesdays is likely plopped in the recycle bin on your way in the house because you know you already get the best price because you use your club card when you shop at that store.

Anyway, we process the information as we encounter it and filter it. We deal with the known (mail we recognize by some feature—size, color of envelope, type of postage, return sender, etc.) and move to the unknown. In so doing, some pieces of mail become prominent. We open those first because they're likely worthy of opening (except that clever junk mail in the manilla business-letter-sized envelope that looked like a check from the bank) and because we either have an inkling of what is inside or because it looks juicy but we don't really know what it is.

My flash of inspiration upon reading Weinberger after having read some papers on Discourse Analysis and Discourse Grammar — Reading involves the same process.

We do it innately with our native language because, like our mail, it is ours. We know how we've processed it in the past and we have lots of experience to filter through the new batches and determine what is promenent (the mail we open first) and what isn't (the flyers we throw in the recycle bin and the junk mail we rip up without even opening it). In our native language we naturally supply the known information and naturally note the new information and assimilate it into our further reading of the sentence/paragraph.

It is, however, much more difficult with a non-native language like Hellenistic Greek. We simply don't have enough experience "filtering the mail" to know which envelopes to open first, and which to throw out in the recycle bin. We can read the sentence/paragraph and get the gist of what's going on by assembling the words (more of a code/decode process) but we have problems picking out the salient bits because we haven't really internalized rules to tell us what is salient as we process the bag-o-words.

And this is what can be helpful in approaching the text of the NT from a Discourse Analysis and Discourse Grammar approach: we get some ideas on how to filter the mail. It gives us clues as to what to "open first" as we process a sentence or paragraph or an even larger discourse. It helps the prominent/salient bits become more evident, and this in turn helps our exegesis focus on what is necessary in order to properly handle the text.

I'm still thinking through this stuff; I'm interested to know what anyone thinks about this. Please use the comments if you have more to add to the discussion.

books | greek | language
Post Author: rico
Thursday, September 20, 2007 11:55:36 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Randall Tan presented a paper in the Hellenistic Greek Language and Linguistics section at the recent International SBL meeting in Vienna called "Reversing the Roles of Lexis and Grammar?". I blogged about this back in January, where you can read a little background and the original paper proposal.

Randall was kind enough to list me as co-presenter, though my role was largely that of munger-of-data and sounding board. While I agree with what Randall presented, the ideas and approach are largely his.

Anyway, I figured it would be a good thing to post the paper here. So here it is:

We'd be interested in any feedback you may have on the paper; feel free to either comment here or zap email my way to the address listed in the sidebar.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, August 01, 2007 4:08:42 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, July 25, 2007

If you're interested in Sahidic Coptic (and what serious NT scholar or NT scholar wannabe isn't?) then perhaps Bentley Layton's new intro is what you're looking for. Coptic in 20 Lessons: Introduction to Sahidic Coptic with Exercises and Vocabularies (amazon.com).

Speaking as someone who attempted Lambdin's Sahidic Coptic Intro (amazon.com), this sounds interesting. I made it through three or four lessons in Lambdin, just enough to not be freaked out by the extra letters (when compared to the Greek alphabet) or some other features, but not enough to really read anything. I've not yet purchased Layton's intro, but it is on my Amazon Wish List.

Here's the blurb:

Coptic in 20 Lessons (amazon.com) is written by the author of the most authoritative reference grammar of the Coptic language, and is based on decades of pedagogical experience. In easy steps and simple explanations, it teaches the patterns and syntax of Sahidic Coptic, along with the most useful vocabulary. Drills, compositions, and translation exercises enable the student to gain fluency. All words that occur more than fifty times in the Sahidic New Testament are introduced lesson by lesson in vocabulary lists, which are arranged by semantic field and accompanied by both Greek equivalents and English glosses. The book concludes with three chapters of the Gospel of Mark, in which all new vocabulary is glossed in footnotes. Coptic in 20 Lessons (amazon.com) is the ideal resource for use in the classroom or for teaching oneself Coptic.

Anyone out there familiar with the book and want to chime in on it's usefulness, particularly compared to Lambdin?

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, July 25, 2007 8:21:19 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, June 21, 2007

(hat tip: Jim West)

The critical edition of the Gospel of Judas (amazon.com) has finally been published by National Geographic. Copies can be had at Amazon.com.

Here is the description from Amazon's page (amazon.com):

For the first time in a single volume, discover the complete text of Codex Tchacos—the remarkable ancient papyrus book that contains the Gospel of Judas. Hidden for 1,600 years in an Egyptian cave, only to be found, traded, and all but destroyed before its restoration began in 2001, Codex Tchacos contains four texts that shed important light on the ancient world and the emergence of Christianity.

Featuring beautifully rendered, full-color photographs of the original papyrus pages alongside the Coptic text and its English translation, this critical edition provides everything needed for a full examination of the Codex. The Letter of Peter to Philip provides a mystical, Gnostic picture of Jesus; the text entitled James presents Jesus discussing the meaning of life and death with his brother James; the Gospel of Judas casts a new light on Judas' betrayal; and the previously unknown book of Allogenes, though fragmentary, portrays Jesus as a stranger who brings light to a world of darkness. Ideal for the scholar and layperson alike, these texts are published here by an international team of scholars and supplemented by insightful introductions, indices, and other revealing, explanatory essays.

Though I'm curious about the " ... other revealing, explanatory essays". Hopefully none are written by Bart Ehrman, who has said plenty enough already about the Gospel of Judas.

Update (2007-06-29): I received my copy yesterday. The book looks good. Photos of the entire codex, as well as transcription with English line-by-line translation. French translations appended. Notably, the index looks to be complete! Each tractate indexed with some degree of morphological sorting going on, with English and French translations. All in all, good stuff. Even better: I haven't seen the word "Ehrman" yet in the book!

Post Author: rico
Thursday, June 21, 2007 2:23:04 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, May 27, 2007

Yesterday I stumbled across PJ Hillery's The Georgian Language: An Outline Grammatical Summary. No, this page isn't about how y'all talk down there in Atlanta; it is about the language of the country of Georgia. Vööbus describes Georgia as "that rough mountain-district between the Black and Caspian Seas — known to the ancient world as Iberia" (Vööbus 173).

I'm always at least superficially interested in the languages of the early versions of the New Testament (Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopic, Armenian, Georgian, Gothic, etc.). This gave me a chance to re-read sections of Vööbus and Metzger on the Georgian Versions (see citations below). You could also check the wikipedia entry on Georgian Language for general background on the language.

What do we know (or at least, what do we think we know) about the Georgian version?

  • Christianity probably came to the region in the middle of the fourth century — that's like 350, y'all! (Metzger 184; see also Vööbus 176). For comparative purposes, that's around the same date that many ascribe to the copying of Codex Sinaiticus.
  • The Georgian version was probably in currency " ... in the second part of the fifth century. Its origin, then, seems to belong to the decades before the middle of the fifth century" (Vööbus 178; see also Metzger 184). For comparison, many date Codex Bezae in the fifth century.
  • Vööbus concludes the Georgian was likely originally translated from the Armenian and later subjected to editing against Greek exemplars (Vööbus 187-192). Metzger makes no conclusions, he just reports conclusions others have made (Metzger 190-196).

A quick search of the NA27 apparatus shows that it is only cited twice, in Mt 27.64 (supporting the omission of a pronoun) and Mk 10.25 (supporting the reading of a phonetically-similar word, καμηλον [NA27] vs. καμιλον). This makes sense because the Georgian is at least a translation of a translation (or perhaps a translation of a translation of a translation, depending on your view of the origin of the Armenian text). But Metzger, in his Textual Commentary, cites 'geo' almost 100 times. So it is of some value in the realm of NT textual criticism.

Wikipedia has some images from the Adysh Gospels (a canon table and an illumination) and also the Vani Gospels (an illumination), two early (10th century) Georgian codices. Here's the canon table from the Adysh Gospels, copied in 897 AD:


Works Cited

Metzger, Bruce M. The Early Versions of the New Testament. London: Oxford University Press, 1977, pp. 182-214.

Vööbus, Arthur. Early Versions of the New Testament: Manuscript Studies. Stockholm: Estonian Theological Society in Exile, 1954, pp. 173-209.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, May 27, 2007 4:13:19 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I'm stoked about THIS:

Porter's Handbook of Classical Rhetoric

For those without Logos Bible Software, you should really obtain and read at least a few sections of the Handbook of Classical Rhetoric (amazon.com). You should also consider Porter's Handbook to the Exegesis of the NT (link to Logos) and his Idioms of the Greek NT (link to Logos).

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, May 02, 2007 11:01:34 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Saturday, April 21, 2007

Roger Pearse (who is always dabbling in very interesting things) reported on Thoughts on Antiquity his inability to find a reasonably priced general introduction to Armenian in English, and the inability to find an Armenian-English dictionary. I responded in the comments with a lead on a dictionary (Bedrossian's, which is mentioned in Thomson's intro as the Armenian-English dictionary to start with). I haven't looked for it in awhile, but I had never been able to find a decently-priced edition of Bedrossian's dictionary (maybe Wipf & Stock will do it someday?)

For some reason I'm fascinated by things Armenian though I have yet to do any serious reading or study on the language (outside of sections in Metzger's Early Versions and Vööbus' Early Versions). It's one of those things on my mental "stuff to study someday" list.

So imagine my surprise when Roger posted a follow-up to his original post pointing us all to the Leiden Armenian Lexical Database. This site has dictionaries (including Bedrossian) and, more importantly, some lexically analyzed texts, including Jonah and the Gospels of Luke and John (from Zohrab's edition) along with Cox's edition of Deuteronomy! Zounds! With a lemmatized John and a dictionary, and Thomson in print at my side, it makes working through the text to familiarize myself with the language that much more approachable!

Now, I just need about four more hours in each day ...

Post Author: rico
Saturday, April 21, 2007 8:50:32 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, April 19, 2007

I'll discuss Atticism in more detail later (likely in part 4 of my Thorough-going Eclecticism series) but I wanted to mention this now.

Just last night I was reviewing some areas that J.K. Elliott chalks up to atticism and was thinking, "so how do we know what an atticism is?" I mean, my one year of Greek at a formal learning institution was Attic (my autodidact efforts have focused largely on Koine/Hellenistic). I remember the biggies (e.g. Attic ττ shifts to Koine σσ, πραττω to πρασσω) but not much more.

Later in the evening I was reading Caragounis' The Development of Greek and the New Testament (amazon.com). Imagine my surprise when I ran across his section on Atticism, pp. 120-140 where he reproduces lists from Phrynichos (424 words!) and Moiris (less than 50 words) that could be helpful when reviewing variants for possible atticism.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, April 19, 2007 10:03:55 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, March 29, 2007

I just received a reminder about the SBL / Logos Technology Paper Awards. I'm anxious to see what folks are working on!

The dealine for papers is May 1, 2007 with winners announced at International SBL in Vienna. Here's a blurb for the uninformed:

Logos Bible Software and the Society of Biblical Literature announce two sets of awards for papers that creatively use technology in exploring questions of grammar and syntax in biblical studies: one focusing on the Hebrew Bible, the other on the Greek New Testament. The contests are open to all those engaged in the study of those disciplines, and prizes will be awarded in both areas for student and faculty/professional categories. A total of twelve awards will be given.

There's some decent winnings ($1000 cash, $1000 Logos software credit, and $200 SBL book credit for first place entries (4 available) for winning papers, and lots of chance to win with both student and professional entries for the areas of Hebrew Bible and also Greek New Testament. I'd enter, but Logos employees are not eligible.

Get thee to thine syntax annotations!

Update (2007-03-31): ricoblog reader Tom notes that syntax searching can be difficult to get a grasp on. I agree; the multi-dimensionality of the data alone is a new sort of concept to master in thinking about the Greek New Testament. For me, I've found a deductive method to work. If you are somewhat familiar with NT Greek, begin with a passage you know cold. Compare the syntax graph to what you know of and see mentally when  you examine the text itself. See how the syntax maps the structures you're thinking of. Then, using the graph as a guide, try to reproduce some structures. Start small and general, like a clause component that has the same wordgroup->head term->word (insert the proper lemma) as what you're looking at. Search and tweak until you get your template passage as a hit. Then add new components and tweak to get an idea of how to map the basic structure you already know. "Lather, rinse, repeat" is how I end up describing it. Also, beginning with a passage you know, you could do a Bible Word Study on a word and examine the sorts of things the Grammatical Relationships section returns. Under the hood, that's doing a lot of template-based syntax searching. So that's another way to start to play with syntax data without having to master the search dialog.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, March 29, 2007 12:47:50 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Saturday, March 17, 2007

From the What's New in Papyrology blog comes word of the US release of a very interesting sounding title.

Jean Bingen and Roger Bagnall (eds.). Hellenistic Egypt: Monarchy, Society, Economy, Culture. Selected Essays on Ptolemaic Egypt, with introductions by R.S. Bagnall (amazon.com).

The UK edition is published by Edinburgh University Press. The US edition will be published by University of California Press and is scheduled for a May release. in both hardcover ($65) and paperback ($24.95).

books | greek | language
Post Author: rico
Saturday, March 17, 2007 10:47:01 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, March 12, 2007

I've recently been able to finally examine J.K. Elliott's The Greek Text of the Epistles to Timothy and Titus (vol. 36 in the Studies and Documents series published by the University of Utah Press, published in 1968). It is out of print and tough to come by. I'd link to Amazon, but there's only a stub there that says it isn't available. LibraryThing has no listing either. If you're interested in this book, get thee to a theological library!

In the volume, which forms some portion of Elliott's doctoral dissertation from Oxford, Elliott argues against Westcott & Hort's geneaological methodology. Here's what he has to say about the geneaological method:

But it is not only the disintegration of the theory of local text types which has made W. and H.'s (and Streeter's) genealogical method impractical. Mixture makes it impossible to confine a text to a certain geographical area or text grouping. Similarly, a full genealogical plan cannot be constructed to work back to an archetype. The genealogical method is possible in only a restricted way, such as in the building up of family 1, family 13, and family pi. F.H. Tinnefeld works back from D E F G to an archetype.  But such a genealogical method is limited, and even in these family groups, variants, corruption and conflate readings occur. They have to be explained, and as a result the term 'family' can be applied only in a loose way. (Elliott, 3-4).

This volume presents Elliott's application of "thoroughgoing eclecticism" to the Pastoral Epistles. The introduction necessarily defines this methodology, and does so rather succinctly. He derives five primary "principles for use in a thoroughgoing eclectic study of the N.T. text" (Elliott, 6). These are:

  • Homoioteleuton and line-omission
  • Author's style and usage
  • Atticism
  • Deliberate alterations
    • Theological or liturgical alterations
    • Grammatical and linguistic alterations
    • Assimilation or harmonization of parallel passages
  • Accidental errors

Notably absent in Elliott's principles are any mention as to manuscript quality or provenance. That is, no given MS is preferred over another. Indeed, Elliott takes some readings that by documentary evidence alone are incredibly weak—but Elliott's criteria render more appealing. What his methodology ends up requiring is thinking about each variant from a number of angles, doing research on variants, and—ultimately—really getting to know the text. It speaks volumes against the "cult of the best MS" (Elliott, 4):

The increase of Biblical and textual studies since the time of W. and H. has done much to dispel the 'cult of the best ms.' Some critics still try to clutch at the remnants of W. and H.'s methods. But, with the distrust of the superiority of any given ms. or text type, with the disintegration of closely-knit family units, and with the recognition that the genealogical method is impractical, it is difficult to justify the use of these methods. A more rational system of textual criticism is obviously necessary to replace the old, and it is possible using new knowledge. For example, there is much greater knowledge of Koine Greek due to papyrological studies, more grammars of N.T. Greek are available, the readings of fathers, versions and papyri are accessible. Past methods have been disproved, new knowledge is available: the way is clear for an eclectic study of the N.T. text. (Elliott, 4)

How easy is it for us to say, "yeah, that reading is in B and aleph, so it's gotta be the best"? Pretty easy. How easy is it to actually look at the variants and consider if some form Elliott's principles may have happened? That requires thought, it requires familiarity with the language and the manuscripts, it requires familiarity with syntax and grammar, it requires familiarity with author style. It requires a whole lot more than simply looking to see which MS are earliest and from a provenance we happen to like.

In a series of posts, I hope to go over these main principles of Elliott's methodology, provide examples from his work in the Pastorals, and discuss them just a bit. At least, that's what I hope to do. My intent is simply to sharpen my own understanding of textual criticism and specifically to see what I think of Elliott's methodology as applied here. We'll see if it actually happens.

Lastly, if I may be so bold, another angle that an eclectic methodology may profit from is an examination of prominence and word order along the lines of Stephen Levinsohn (amazon.com). A colleague of mine is doing some really fascinating work in this area, and Jenny Read-Hiemerdinger has done some good work (in JSNTSup volumes here (amazon.com) and here (amazon.com)) in applying this perspective to textual criticism; specifically in examining readings in Acts of codex Bezae. Fun stuff.

Update I (2007-03-24): The series has begun.

Post Author: rico
Monday, March 12, 2007 8:00:47 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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So there I was last week Thursday, minding my own business, driving in my car listening to the radio. A commercial was on for some sort of local home supply place (think fixtures). The advertisment spoke of the company's "captivating showroom", conveying that it was spacious, beautiful, and attention-getting.

I have no idea why my mind works like this. I really don't. But the first thing I thought of was "What would happen if we did a 'word study' on the English word captivating using techniques commonly used in so-called 'Greek Word Studies'?" That is, let's assume we don't know English but we want to come to understand what this word "captivating" means.

First, we'd likely attempt to look up the root word. We'd probably guess 'captive' was the root word. So here it is from Merriam-Webster: captive:

Etymology: Middle English, from Latin captivus, from captus, past participle of capere
1 a : taken and held as or as if a prisoner of war b (1) : kept within bounds : CONFINED (2) : of or relating to captive animals <captive breeding>
2 : held under control of another but having the appearance of independence; especially : owned or controlled by another concern and operated for its needs rather than for an open market <a captive mine>
3 : being such involuntarily because of a situation that makes free choice or departure difficult <the airline passengers were a captive audience>
- captive noun

There are three senses listed; but since this is a 'word study' we probably wouldn't worry about any particular sense, we would likely establish the wideness of the meaning of the word, noting that it has to do with being held involuntarily or outside of our own control -- to be prisoner against our will.

Then we'd have to import that 'root' meaning back into the original context, and note that the showroom in question must keep us there against our will. It sucks us in against all of our better judgment and holds us for an indeterminate period, unwillingly, and we are unable to escape from it's enclosing grasp.

Now, to be fair, "captivating" has some sense of being held. But "captivating" has to do with being held by astoundment, wonder and awe; not of being held forcibly like a prisoner. We know that because we speak the language. But if we didn't, then we wouldn't know that — we'd only have posited that 'captive' is the root on which the word is based. If we do a 'word study' to determine the 'original meaning', we could end up far afield from where we started.

And that, in a nutshell, is the main problem with word studies. If one is intending to learn more about the scope of meaning (semantic range) of a term, that's fine. But importing that whole range back into one specific instance and its context is wrong.

That's why word studies, when attempting to understand a particular instance of a word in a particular context, need to start with that context. One can't just find some other instance of the word, one needs to locate instances of the word in similar contexts. The immediate context must also be examined to see if there are contextual cues for determining the meaning of the word itself.

To go back to our example, if the ad copy for the 'captivating showroom' further noted things like "spacious displays", "gorgeous fixtures" and "beautiful floor models" then we might have a better idea of what we'd be 'captivated' by — all without looking up anything, root form or otherwise.

So, to sum up:

  • Semantic range may include a specific instance's meaning, but by no means is equivalent with a specific instance's meaning.
  • Context is very important.
  • "Word Studies" that focus on meaning of root words can be misleading.

Please note that I have no problem with word studies per se; I'm even working through the Pastoral Epistles looking at words in context to determine specific usage. I do, however, have problems when they're done sloppily.

(OK, I'm off of my soapbox now)

greek | language | rants
Post Author: rico
Monday, March 12, 2007 3:48:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Then one site to check is fsi-language-courses.com. These are US Foreign Services courses in the public domain. Many have student books (PDF facsimile) and audio. Here's what the site intro says:

Welcome to fsi-language-courses.com, the home for language courses developed by the Foreign Service Institute. These courses were developed by the United States government and are in the public domain.

This site is dedicated to making these language courses freely available in an electronic format. This site is not affiliated in any way with any government entity; it is an independent effort to foster the learning of worldwide languages. Courses here are made available through the private efforts of individuals who are donating their time and resources to help others.

So, grab your glottal stops and head over to try to learn Arabic, or perhaps some German, or perhaps fool around with some modern Greek.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, March 06, 2007 3:39:02 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, February 26, 2007

(If you're reading this with a feed reader, you may be missing out on relevant images. Check out the actual post on my main blog site. — RWB)

A friend and colleague of mine, Dr. Michael S. Heiser, presented a paper on the "Jesus Ossuary" at the 2003 meeting of the Near East Archaeological Society. This is the ossuary behind the "Jesus Family Tomb" sensationalism that the biblioblogosphere is abuzz over (see Ben Witherington for a good overview).

In his paper, titled "The Jesus Ossuary: A Critical Examination", Dr. Heiser works through the inscriptions on the relevant ossuaries using L.Y. Rahmani's A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries in the Collections of the State of Israel. In case you're wondering about Dr. Heiser's skills and training to do such work, here's his CV.

Mike posted the paper on his website this afternoon. So grab it and check it out, and see reproductions of the relevant inscriptions for yourself.

Update (2007-02-26): Just received word from Mike that he and Darrell Bock will be on Coast to Coast AM tonight talking about the Jesus Family Tomb thing. I won't be able to listen, but if you are you can find a local station on the Coast to Coast AM site.

Update II (2007-02-27): The Discovery Channel website has a PDF file with material from Rahmani's book as well. The PDF also has Amos Kloner's 1996 article on the tomb and inscriptions, which include maps of the tomb.

Update III (2007-02-27): Duane Smith over at Abnormal Interests has a post dealing with the inscriptions as well. It is worth reading.

Update IV (2007-03-01): Richard Bauckham (yes, that Richard Bauckham) guest-posts on the names and the inscriptions over at Chris Tilling's Chrisendom blog. You need to read this, Bauckham is the go-to guy in onomastics.

Post Author: rico
Monday, February 26, 2007 1:31:25 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, February 22, 2007

I mentioned awhile back that I was presenting a paper at the 2007 NW Regional ETS Meeting on the "plural to singular narrative device" as described by Richard Bauckham in his recent book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (amazon.com).

Well, the paper is done (enough). I'm not completely satisfied with it, but I'm cuttin' the cord. If you'd like to give it a look-see, it is on my Academic Papers page. Or just download the PDF directly. I'm presenting the paper on Saturday; I'll likely post an update here to let y'all know how it goes.

Update (2007-02-26): The conference was good (Darrell Bock had the keynote) and the paper went well. I received good feedback from those who heard it and was generally encouraged.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, February 22, 2007 5:25:07 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, February 16, 2007

Check this out from Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (amazon.com): p. 79-81.

No, first you need background. I was looking at James 2.1:

Ἀδελφοί μου, μὴ ἐν προσωπολημψίαις ἔχετε τὴν πίστιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῆς δόξης. (NA27)

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. (ESV)

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? (NRSV)

Confused about τῆς δόξης and what it modifies, I went to the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament.  It notes that δόξης is a "Descriptive Genitive" and cites Wallace pp. 79-81. The Lexham SGNT cleared up the modification issue for me, but it provoked a different question. What in the world is a "descriptive genitive"? (I mean, aren't all genitives descriptive?) I went to read the pages cited in Wallace. Here's what I found, which I quote verbatim. This text is really in there!

†1. Descriptive Genitive (“Aporetic” Genitive21) [characterized by, described by]

a. Definition

The genitive substantive describes the head noun in a loose manner. The nature of the collocation of the two nouns in this construction is usually quite ambiguous.

b. Amplification

This is the “catch-all” genitive, the “drip pan” genitive, the “black hole” of genitive categories that tries to suck many a genitive into its grasp! In some respects, all adjectival genitives are descriptive, yet no adjectival genitive is descriptive. That is to say, although all adjectival genitives are, by their nature, descriptive, very few, if any, belong only to this specific category of usage. This use truly embodies the root idea of the (adjectival) genitive. It is often the usage of the genitive when it has not been affected by other linguistic considerations-that is, when there are no contextual, lexemic, or other grammatical features that suggest a more specific nuance.22

Frequently, however, it is close to the attributive genitive, being either other than or broader than the attributive use.23 (See chart 7 below.) Hence, this use of the genitive should be a last resort. If one cannot find a narrower category to which a genitive belongs, this is where he or she should look for solace.24

Further, some footnotes are worthy of evaluation as well:

Note 21: That is, the “I am at a loss” gen. (from the Greek word, ἀπορέω, “I am at a loss,” a tongue-in-cheek title suggested to me by J. Will Johnston). This is the category one should appeal to when another slot cannot be found. The title is descriptive not of the gen., but of the feeling one has in the pit of his/her stomach for having spent so much time on this case and coming up with nothing.

Note 24: Since there is already a plethora of gen. categories, we had to stop somewhere. The descriptive gen. covers a multitude of syntactical categories which have, as yet, to receive published sanction (though this would be a worthy project). It seems that one of the chief situations in which descriptive genitives occur is when either the head noun or the gen. noun is highly idiomatic, figurative, or informed by Semitic usage. Thus, υἱός + noungen is perhaps frequently descriptive (e.g., “son of disobedience”). To call this merely attributive (“disobedient son”) is not adequate, for “son” then does not get interpreted. (υἱός with gen. is notoriously complex; see Zerwick, Biblical Greek, 15–16 [§42–43] for summary of uses.) Also, when the head noun is figurative, such as in “root of bitterness” (ῥίζα πικρίας, Heb 12:15), the gen. can frequently be described as descriptive.
At the same time, our approach in this chapter overall is different from grammars that refuse to analyze the descriptive gen. (e.g., Young, Intermediate Greek, 23; Moule, Idiom Book, 37), because we believe that such analysis is not intuitive with most students of Greek and, further, that the additional categories have exegetical value.


Post Author: rico
Friday, February 16, 2007 9:42:07 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, February 14, 2007

PJ Williams at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog was the first to note it; word came to him via Michael Holmes.

Bruce M. Metzger has passed.

Textual criticism is a strange field. It takes years—decades, even—to be comfortable with the variety of languages, witnesses, manuscripts, not to mention the paleography. Metzger had decades of information filed away in his head, along with recall of resources. It seems textual criticism is one field where the elder statesmen who retain critical faculties along the way become more valuable to the field, not less valuable.

He will be impossible to replace and sorely missed.

I couldn't locate a formal bibliography of his works (well, at least not quickly). Here, however, is his author page on LibraryThing. Take a look. The list is only books, so articles, monographs, fetschriften essays, conference papers and whatnot are not included, but the ground he covered is amazing.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, February 14, 2007 2:24:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, January 29, 2007

Just received my copy of Chrys Caragounis' The Development of Greek and the New Testament: Morphology, Syntax, Phonology, and Textual Transmission (amazon.com). Yee-haw! Ordered it at SBL to get the super-duper discount.

Actually, it's probably been at the office a few days; I've been on a two-week holiday and just got back to the office this afternoon.

I don't know that I'll dig into Caragounis' tome right away; this one seems more like a slow simmer of a read than a blitz and I have some blitzin' to do for a few papers.

Here's the blurb, though:

Languages inevitably evolve, and our understanding of texts from particular times and places must be illuminated by an awareness of changes and continuities in linguistic usage over time. The Development of Greek and the New Testament explores the relationship between the developing Greek language and the body of writings in Greek that make up the New Testament, arguing that the history of Greek is vitally important to New Testament interpretation. Caragounis provides a wealth of historical information not otherwise readily available to students of New Testament Greek. Extensive tables, indices, and bibliographies aid further study. An essential resource for advanced students of New Testament Greek, this unique work is highly valuable for all Hellenists, Byzantinists, and students of Greek patristics.

Post Author: rico
Monday, January 29, 2007 5:07:41 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Saturday, January 27, 2007

Over the past few days, I've been reading Michael Hoey's Lexical Priming: A New Theory of Words and Language (amazon.com) and it has been very thought-provoking. My friend Randall Tan pointed me to the book and has invited me to work with him on a paper based on sections of Hoey's book for the upcoming International SBL meeting in Vienna. Here's the abstract of the paper, which has been accepted for presentation in the "Hellenistic Greek Language and Linguistics" section:

In his provocative study, Lexical Priming: A New Theory of Words and Language (amazon.com) (Routledge, 2005), Michael Hoey argues for a new theory of the lexicon. Hoey's claim is that words and sequences of words that we learn are cumulatively loaded with the contexts and co-texts in which we encountered them and that grammar is the result of our recognition of recurrent features in this "lexical priming." In effect, his theory reverses the roles of lexis and grammar, proposing that "lexis is complexly and systematically structured and that grammar is an outcome of this lexical structure" (1).

In this paper, one of Hoey’s specific claims will be examined: “When a word is polysemous, the collocations, semantic associations and colligations of one sense of the word differ from those of its other senses” (13). Specific words and word groups (including sequences of words involving controversial genitive constructions) in the Greek New Testament will be explored with corpus linguistic techniques, using newly available syntactically-tagged Greek New Testament databases (i.e., the online OpenText.org annotation and the Logos implementation of OpenText.org as well as the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament). The dual goal is to verify the extent to which Hoey’s claim can be substantiated and to propose new avenues to adjudicate interpretational controversies.

Hoey's book is not about Hellenistic Greek, all of his examples are based on a 98 million word corpus composed largely of material from the Guardian Newspaper from 1991-1994. So this means you need to understand some basic grammar and not be afraid of linguistic terminology. However, Hoey writes well and the book is approachable by, I'd guess, just about anyone with an interest in grammar and linguistics. You don't have to have much linguistic background to really get into what Hoey is proposing.

Post Author: rico
Saturday, January 27, 2007 3:29:01 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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Chris Tilling finally hits chapter 7 in his series on Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Yay!

Chapter 7 is the one that discusses the "Plural to Singular Narrative Device". I've been digging around with this 'device' to see if it is used in the NT outside of Bauckham's listed instances (21 in Mark, 2 in Luke). As a matter of fact, I'm writing a paper for the 2007 NW Regional ETS meeting on one potential instance, Acts 18.19-21.

I've been intrigued by this device since I read about it and have done some poking around the NT. I present the paper on Feb. 24, I'll likely post a version of it here after the conference.

Post Author: rico
Saturday, January 27, 2007 3:09:24 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, January 18, 2007

I just received word that a paper I proposed for the 2007 NW Regional ETS Meeting has been accepted for presentation. The meeting is on Feb. 24 at Corban College in Salem, Oregon.

The genesis of this paper has to do with Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. I was reading the chapter that discusses the "plural to singular narrative device" in Mark and was intrigued. Here Bauckham was positing a syntactic structure that could, in certain cases, point back to eyewitness testimony. It got me thinking, and I wondered if the structure occurred outside of Mark. Bauckham allows for that; he himself cites two Lukan instances. I've been playing around with Logos Bible Software's syntax searching to locate other possible instances and work through them. The paper has to do with one of those instances. Here are the details:

From the Mouth of Paul: Acts 18.19-21 as Eyewitness Testimony

Paul's initial journey to Ephesus, mentioned in Acts 18.19-21, has been dismissed in some critical commentaries (e.g. Conzelmann's Hermeneia volume) as a Lucan insertion with no historical basis. Other critical commentaries (e.g. C.K. Barrett's ICC volume) simply dismiss Conzelmann's suggestion without fully refuting it.

A recent book by Richard Bauckham (Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Eerdmans 2006) describes Marcan usage of something he calls the "plural to singular narrative device" (Bauckham 156-157). He defines the device using syntactic terminology: "a plural verb ... without an explicit subject is used to describe the movements of Jesus and his disciples, followed immediately by a singular verb or pronoun referring to Jesus alone" (Bauckham 156-157). Using this device, Bauckham posits Mark's usage of Peter's eyewitness testimony as underlying source for 21 different movements of Jesus (e.g. Mk 1.21).

The structure and context of Acts 18.19 fit within Bauckham's syntactic description. This exploratory paper proposes that Acts 18.19-21 be seen as an instance of the plural-to-singular narrative device, pointing to eyewitness testimony from Paul as basis of the short episode. If this analysis holds, this paper provides substance by which to dismiss the suggestion that the text is a Lucan insertion with no historical basis.

Thus, the paper will be a review of the primary commentaries on the passage; a review of Bauckham's (and, necessarily, C.H. Turner's) description of the device and how it is used, a discussion of using syntax searching to match Bauckham's criteria, and a discussion of how Acts 18.19-21 fit Bauckham's criteria. There are some rough spots, notably that of why Luke would use the device in this portion of Acts when he tends to remove it from shared Marcan material in his gospel.

We'll see what happens.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, January 18, 2007 11:18:06 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, December 22, 2006

This from an email I wrote yesterday to a longtime friend who asked me about use of the OT in the NT. I'd just referred him to a recent BiblicalStudies.org.uk posting:. The "there" below refers to the URL that I placed above this paragraph.

There is an article on Jesus' use of the Old Testament in PDF that is downloadable. I've not read it, so I can't say too much, but it sounds along the lines of the sort of thing you're looking for.

In re-reading the first sentence this morning (my friend responded to my email) I thought the following:

"Yet another example as to why reading the NT epistles is fraught with peril."

Why would I say that? Why, the prepositional phrase "in PDF", of course. What does it modify? We know because we know that "PDF" is the Portable Document Format and it refers to an electronic representation of a paper page. But what if I didn't know that, or if I didn't have the cultural wherewithal to put it together? Then my options are:

  • "in PDF" modifies "the Old Testament", so I'm referring to an article about Jesus' use of the OT in something called 'PDF'. Maybe it represents a tri-consonontal Hebrew root, maybe it represents a subsection of his teaching and how he uses the OT in it ... hey, it could be anything.
  • "in PDF" modifies "an article". That's what I intended, of course. I mean, it's obvious. Right?

Even worse, you can't disambiguate based on the second sentence. Some disambiguation is possible based on the URL that was above the paragraph (though the URL was to a .html page, not a .pdf page) and the further clarifier "that is downloadable" (all the more reason to ensure we have as much context as possible when reading epistles!). That could be enough of a cue to prevent someone from thinking that I was perhaps referring to Jesus' Palestinian Desert Forays, but with some of the exegetical method practiced out there these days, I can't guarantee it.

Post Author: rico
Friday, December 22, 2006 9:21:48 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In my hot little hands: The Logos Bible Software edition of Max Zerwick & Mary Grosvenor's A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament, 5th Edition.

A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament presents a verse by verse analysis of the original Greek New Testament. Breaking down the significant Greek words, it offers parsing, including cross-references to the author’s Biblical Greek, notes, glosses, and other relevant information. Grammatical Analysis also provides a succinct interpretation of figures of speech and other explicit or implicit information within the Greek text. The analysis is preceded by a glossary of grammatical terms.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, December 20, 2006 2:22:41 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, December 07, 2006

No, I'm not starting some "Quote of the Day" feature. But here's a good excerpt from Robertson's Grammar (did you know it is available from Logos?) that I had to post:

It is not necessary to give in detail many examples of the articular inf. in the N. T. I merely wish to repeat that, when the article does occur with the inf., it should have its real force. Often this will make extremely awkward English, as in Lu. 2:27, ἐν τῷ εἰσαγαγεῖν τοὺς γονεῖς τὸ παιδίον. But the Greek has no concern about the English or German. It is simply slovenliness not to try to see the thing from the Greek standpoint. But we are not to make a slavish rendering. Translation should be idiomatic. It is hardly worth while to warn the inept that there is no connection between the article τό and the English to in a sentence like Ph. 1:21, ἑμοὶ γὰρ τὸ ζῆν Χριστὸς καὶ τὸ ἀποθανεῖν κέρδος. Here the article τό has just the effect that the Greek article has with any abstract substantive, that of distinction or contrast. Life and death (living and dying) are set over against each other. See further Mt. 24:45; Lu. 24:29; Ac. 3:12; 10:25; 14:9; 21:12; 25:11; Ro. 4:11, 13, 16, 18; 13:8; 14:21; 2 Cor. 8:10 f.; 9:1; Ph. 1:23, 29; 2:6; 4:10; 1 Th. 3:2 f.
Robertson, A. (1919; 2006). A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (1065). Logos.

Update (2006-12-08): Really, this isn't going to be a daily feature. I just read another good one and need to blog it. This is from Donald Guthrie's essay, "The Development of the Idea of Canonical Pseudepigraphy in New Testament Criticism" (available online at BiblicalStudies.org.uk):

... The fact is that Baur's literary criticism was dominated by his dogmatic presuppositions and since these had to be maintained at all costs, it was no embarassment that pseudepigraphic writings became more normal in the extant Pauline Canon than genuine works. (Guthrie, p. 46)

Post Author: rico
Thursday, December 07, 2006 3:32:47 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, November 30, 2006

If you've read Metzger's Early Versions, then you've heard of the Sogdian version of the NT. And likely that's all you've heard.

If you want to know more about the language called Sogdian, now you can! Check out the Sogdian Primer. The intro notes that most Christian texts found in the Sogdian language are translations from Syriac.

More intros to Iranian languages are available at http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~iranian/.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, November 30, 2006 11:23:03 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, November 27, 2006

Apologies for the extended radio silence, but I'm back. ETS and AAR/SBL were great, as usual. Plenty of good papers and, more importantly, there was much meeting with old friends and making of new friends. Since there has already been a decent amount of SBL chatter, I won't add to it. But I will say that I've posted PDF versions of all three of the papers I presented (along with handouts) on my personal web site.

Also — on the weird side, if you see Tyler Williams (of Codex) you should ask him about the dream I had that he played a prominent role in ...

Short abstracts and links to download papers are below.

2006 National Conference of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS)

  • Paper: Subjects and Predicates and Complements, Oh My! Searching the New Testament with Sensitivity to Syntax
  • Conference Handout
  • Abstract: Logos Bible Software have implemented an edition of the OpenText.org Syntactically Annotated Greek New Testament. One facet of OpenText.org's work isolates clause boundaries. Within each clause, subjects, predicators, complements and adjuncts are identified. This enables searching of the Greek New Testament with sensitivity to clause-level criteria. This advance raises certain questions: How should syntactic annotation be used? What sorts of things can be searched for?
    This paper examines different sorts of searches that can be pursued from the starting point of a word. Questions like "When is [word] used as a subject?" or "What verbs are used when [word] is a subject?" will be examined and discussed.

2006 National Conference of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)

  • Paper: Modifiers in the Pastoral Epistles: Insight for Questions of Style?
  • Conference Handout
  • Program Unit: Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics
  • Abstract: OpenText.org have completed a preliminary syntactic analysis of the Greek New Testament. One level of their analysis is the Word Group level. A word group is a group of words that consists of, at minimum, a head term. It also contains any terms that modify the head term and additionally specifies the type of modification as that of definer, qualifier, relator or specifier.
    Stylistic analysis has been largely bound to examining criteria such as word usage and morphology along with perhaps sentence length or co-occurring words. The OpenText.org Word Group Analysis allows for stylistic analysis of the corpus at a different level. Does modifier usage offer any insight for comparative studies of the Pastoral Epistles and the generally accepted Paulines?
    This paper examines modifier usage inside of epistolary prescripts in epistles traditionally attributed to Paul. The goal is to show that components of epistolary prescripts use modification for different purposes. This conclusion is well known, but by reaching the conclusion using only the OpenText.org Word Group Analysis, the subsequent value of the OpenText.org annotation for the analysis of style becomes evident.
  • Paper: Syntax Searching and Epistolary Form Criticism
  • Conference Handout
  • Program Unit: Syntactically-Tagged Databases of the Greek NT: Overview & Training Seminar
  • Abstract: This paper works through examples of proposed epistolary forms, searching for suggested form structure using the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament as primary corpus. The following forms will be examined:
    • Disclosure Form
    • Greeting Form
    • Request/Petition Form
    • Joy Expression
    • Charge Form
    Will a syntactically analyzed Greek New Testament such as the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament provide assistance in defining and isolating potential instances of forms in the New Testament?
Post Author: rico
Monday, November 27, 2006 3:43:12 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, November 10, 2006

In addition to the aforementioned paper, I have one more presentation opportunity at the 2006 national meeting of the SBL I'd like to make y'all aware of.

Logos Bible Software (my employer) is hosting two additional sessions. The first covers Syntactically-Tagged Databases of the Hebrew Bible, the second (in which I'll have a presentation) is on Syntactically-Tagged Databases of the Greek New Testament.

Session: 18-107 — Syntactically-Tagged Databases of the Hebrew Bible: Overview & Training Seminar
Date: Saturday — November 18
Time: 4:00 - 6:30 PM
Room: Bulfinch - GH
Description: Research in the Hebrew Bible is about more than word level information. See firsthand how heretofore impossible grammatical/syntactical searches in the Hebrew text just a few clicks away.
Session: 20-101 — Syntactically-Tagged Databases of the Greek NT: Overview & Training Seminar
Date: Monday — November 20
Time: 4:00 - 6:30 PM
Room: Bulfinch - GH
Description: Exegesis in the Greek New Testament concerns far more than semantics and parsing. Take the quantum leap with software that allows you to search for grammatical/syntactical structures and usage in the Greek New Testament.

It is in this second session where I'll have a presentation. In addition to a quick overview and introduction to the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament, I'll present (approx 30 minutes?) on the following:

  • Paper: Syntax Searching and Epistolary Form Criticism
  • Program Unit: Syntactically-Tagged Databases of the Greek NT: Overview & Training Seminar
  • Abstract: This paper works through examples of proposed epistolary forms, searching for suggested form structure using the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament as primary corpus. The following forms will be examined:
    • Disclosure Form
    • Greeting Form
    • Request/Petition Form
    • Joy Expression
    • Charge Form
    Will a syntactically analyzed Greek New Testament such as the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament provide assistance in defining and isolating potential instances of forms in the New Testament?

We'd love to see you at either (or both!) of these sessions. For more information, check out http://www.logos.com/sbl.

Of course, more info (and downloads!) of all papers I plan to present is available on my personal web site. Please note that some papers will be posted after the conferences.

Update (2006-11-13): Note that I've started a series based on this paper at the Logos Bible Software blog.

Post Author: rico
Friday, November 10, 2006 9:25:59 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, November 08, 2006

If you're going to be at the AAR/SBL annual meeting in Washington DC, perhaps you'd like to come hear my paper. I have to warn you, though, I've only got 10 minutes and the paper doesn't lend itself to a 10 minute presentation. I've had the song "The Entertainer" by Billy Joel running through my mind all day as I've considered this:

I am the entertainer
    I come to do my show
You heard my latest record
    It's been on the radio
It took me years to write it
    They were the best years of my life
There was a beautiful song
    But it ran too long
If you're gonna have a hit
    You've gotta make it fit
So they cut it down to 3:05

Anyway, I figured I'd post the paper today. I'll post the handout after the conference. Here are the details:

Section: S19-105: Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics
Date: Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006
Time: 4:00-6:30. I'm #2 on the list, so that means I'd start around 4:10-4:15.
Location: 204C-CC

Paper Title: Modifiers in the Pastoral Epistles: Insight for Questions of Style? (PDF)


The OpenText.org group have completed a preliminary syntactic analysis of the Greek New Testament. One level of their analysis is the Word Group level. A word group is a group of words that consists of, at minimum, a head term. It also contains any terms that modify the head term and additionally specifies the type of modification as that of definer, qualifier, relator or specifier.

Stylistic analysis has been largely bound to examining criteria such as word usage and morphology along with perhaps sentence length or co-occurring words. The OpenText.org Word Group Analysis allows for stylistic analysis of the corpus at a different level. Does modifier usage offer any insight for comparative studies of the Pastoral Epistles and the generally accepted Paulines?

This paper briefly examines modifier usage inside of epistolary prescripts in epistles traditionally attributed to Paul. The goal is to show that components of epistolary prescripts use modification for different purposes. This conclusion is well known, but by reaching the conclusion using only the OpenText.org Word Group Analysis, the subsequent value of the OpenText.org annotation for the analysis of style becomes evident.

I should also take a moment and say that initially I'd planned on doing something much more in the realms of statistics and stylometry. I have all sorts of data, but further number crunching and helpful insight from others (you know who you are, thanks for your comments again) forced me to conclude I didn't have enough data to do the sorts of things that I'd wanted to. So this paper is actually scaled back a bit, and takes a different track than I'd originally planned. C'est la vie.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, November 08, 2006 2:22:52 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, November 07, 2006

If you're going to be at the 58th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) in Washington DC from Nov. 15-17, 2006, please do consider coming to the session in which I'll be presenting. The paper is largely "in the can", I've got my presentation together, and even have the handout ready.

Date: Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006
Time: 11:00-11:40 AM
Location: State (wherever that is ... )

Paper Title: Subjects and Predicates and Complements, Oh My! Searching the New Testament with Sensitivity to Syntax


Logos Bible Software have implemented an edition of the OpenText.org Syntactically Annotated Greek New Testament. One facet of OpenText.org's work isolates clause boundaries. Within each clause, subjects, predicators, complements and adjuncts are identified. This enables searching of the Greek New Testament with sensitivity to clause-level criteria. This advance raises certain questions: How should syntactic annotation be used? What sorts of things can be searched for?

This paper examines different sorts of searches that can be pursued from the starting point of a word. Questions like "When is [word] used as a subject?" or "What verbs are used when [word] is a subject?" will be examined and discussed.

Update (2006-11-08): Cliff asks if I'll make the paper available. Yes, the paper will be available, either here or on the Logos Bible Software Blog.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, November 07, 2006 3:15:41 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, November 02, 2006

I'm in need of an article and don't have time in the near-term future to make it to a library (in either Seattle or the Vancouver area). If you have access to the following article and can provide a copy, please let me know. My email address is on the sidebar.

Terence Y. Mullins, “Petition as a Literary Form”, Novum Testamentum 5 (1962), pp. 46-52.

While you're at it, if you have access to Mullins' article on the disclosure formula, it would be cool to look at. This isn't nearly as much of a need, though.

Terence Y. Mullins, “Disclosure, a Literary Form in the New Testament”, Novum Testamentum 7 (1964), pp. 44-50.

Thanks in advance if you're able to lend a hand.

Update (2006-11-03): Much thanks to ricoblog reader Jan Krans (The Amsterdam NT Blog) for supplying both articles.

Update II (2006-11-03): If anyone else does retrieve and read those articles, please note that there are two typos in Bible reference citations on the last page of the article on petitions (p. 54). “2 Corinthians xx 2” should be “2 Corinthians x 2” and “2 Corinthians v 20; v 1” should be “2 Corinthians v 20; vi 1”.

<soapbox>Speaking as someone who has worked with actually looking up each and every citation in books programatically for the past 10 years ... well, you'd be amazed at how many times invalid references occur in print. If you're using lists of references from articles/books/dictionaries to make a point ... well, you should at least look up those references to ensure they really do make your point.</soapbox>

Post Author: rico
Thursday, November 02, 2006 4:53:39 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Stephen C. Carlson (Hypotyposeis) points us to the OUP Blog for some stuff by Bart Ehrman on the Gospel of Judas. Two posts:

I have been discussing this book. The intro post, along with an index to subsequent posts, is Bart Ehrman: The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot.

I've read through approx. 3/4 of the book and should have another post either later today or tomorrow. I'll revise some of the statements I made earlier, and discuss some of the content I've read.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 9:21:44 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Logos Bible Software Blog announced the Logos Bible Software/Society of Biblical Literature Technology Paper Awards. Here's the scoop:

Logos Bible Software and the Society of Biblical Literature announce two sets of awards for papers that creatively use technology in exploring questions of grammar and syntax in biblical studies: one focusing on the Hebrew Bible, the other on the Greek New Testament. The contests are open to all those engaged in the study of those disciplines, and prizes will be awarded in both areas for student and faculty/professional categories. A total of twelve awards will be given.

These are serious prizes, but they'll require serious work. The deadline is May 1, 2007 with award notification during 2007 International SBL in Austria. More details on the Technology Paper Awards page at Logos.com.

Note -- Logos and SBL employees are not eligible. That means I can't submit a paper (drats!)

Update (2006-09-28): Check out the page on the SBL's site which also is the home of the URL http://www.sblawards.com. Also note mention of the prize in the SBL Forum. And the press release reproduced on Logos' web site. We're really interested to see what sorts of topics folks delve into and how they use the annotation(s)!

Post Author: rico
Thursday, September 28, 2006 8:59:45 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Just some random thoughts here based on the paper I'm wrapping up for the SBL meeting.

How does one go about quantifying and measuring style? Style seems to be a very organic thing, hard to pin down. Efforts to quantify it normally fail, on the whole, because there are no real rules to follow.

Some detect style based on word usage patterns (common or infrequent words). Others look into other grammatical features such as morphology. Still others look at sentence lengths and sentence length distribution. Some have posited authorship traits dealing with the part-of-speech of the last word in a sentence.

A trend of some sort is noticed, that trend is tested against a larger corpus, data on the trend is analyzed, and that analysis becomes the basis of some posited rule or even conclusions about authorship of a document.

The bottom line is that trends do not a rule make. Correlation does not prove causation. But that isn't to say trends aren't useful. It only means we need to consider an expanding amount of such trends in evaluation of style. (Note well: I didn't say authorship, I said style.)

Also, I think that, at least as regards the Pauline epistles and perhaps the New Testament, stylistic studies have unfortunately been conflated with authorship studies. That is, the goal seems to be to isolate an author's style for purposes of authorship attribution—not necessarily to better understand the document content and structure so as to better comprehend the document(s) in question.

Why is this? Why can't style be examined outside of the bounds of the authorship question?

Why can't we be content to analyze what is being communicated and how it is being communicated; why do we (myself included!) get bound in the larger and likely unresolvable authorship question?

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 5:00:57 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, September 18, 2006

Since the ETS program book is out, and the SBL program book has been out for awhile, I thought I should note when I'm presenting at both of these conferences.

ETS 2006: Thursday Morning, Nov. 16; the New Testament session in the 'Slate' room, from 11:00-11:40.

Subjects and Predicates and Complements, Oh My! Searching the New Testament with Sensitivity to Syntax

Logos Bible Software have implemented an edition of the OpenText.org Syntactically Annotated Greek New Testament. One facet of OpenText.org's work isolates clause boundaries. Within each clause, subjects, predicators, complements and adjuncts are identified. This enables searching of the Greek New Testament with sensitivity to clause-level criteria. This advance raises certain questions: How should syntactic annotation be used? What sorts of things can be searched for?

This paper examines different sorts of searches that can be pursued from the starting point of a word. Questions like "When is [word] used as a subject?" or "What verbs are used when [word] is a subject?" will be examined and discussed.

SBL 2006: Sunday Afternoon, Nov. 19; Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics session in room 204C-CC, from 4:00-6:30. My paper is the second paper and starts around 4:10. The format of the session is four 10-minute papers followed by 30 minutes of informal discussion. So drop by and see me, and do ask me questions.

Word Groups, Head Terms and Modifiers in the Pastoral Epistles: Insight for Questions of Style?

The OpenText.org group have completed a preliminary syntactic analysis of the Greek New Testament. One level of their analysis is the Word Group level. A word group is a group of words that consists of, at minimum, a head term. It also contains any terms that modify the head term and additionally specifies the type of modification as that of definer, qualifier, relator or specifier.

Heretofore, stylistic analysis has been largely bound to tracking criteria such as word usage and morphology along with perhaps sentence length. The OpenText.org Word Group analysis allows for stylistic analysis of the corpus at a different level. Does modifier usage offer any insight for comparative studies of the Pastoral Epistles and the generally accepted Paulines? This paper will examine modifier usage data for both the epistles traditionally attributed to Paul and will offer preliminary comparisons between the results where results may offer insight for questions of style.

More SBL 2006: There are two additional meetings that I will be involved with.

Saturday, Nov. 18; 4:00-6:30 PM. AM18-107 (p. 246 in SBL program book). Logos Bible Software Syntactically Tagged Databases of the Hebrew Bible: Overview and Training Seminar. See program book for more details.

Monday, Nov. 20; 4:00-6:30 PM. AM20-101 (p. 256 in SBL program book). Logos Bible Software Syntactically-Tagged Databases of the Greek New Testament: Overview and Training Seminar. See program book for more details.

I will of course be much more involved with the Greek session on Monday than the Hebrew session on Saturday. But come to either/both; we'd love to see you there and talk about syntax!

Update (2006-09-18): In the comments, Paul asks if I'll make the papers available to the general public. Thanks for asking, Paul. The answer is "Yes!". This will likely be before the conference. Also note that for the SBL session, anyway, the paper will be much longer than 10 minutes will allow so my presentation there will actually be a summary. The ETS paper will be less of a summary, but since I can't bring myself to simply read pages, the paper there will reflect the content but be more appropriately presented (using a projector, powerpoint and perhaps even screen-captured video where necessary).

Post Author: rico
Monday, September 18, 2006 10:33:50 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Looking for other things related to Sahidic Coptic, I stumbled across this.

Someone typed up Metzger's list and PDF-ified it. If you're working with the Sahidic Coptic NT at all, chances are you'll find this word list (with brief glosses) useful.

Citation: Metzger, Bruce M. List of Words Occurring Frequently in the Coptic New Testament (Sahidic Dialect). Leiden: E.J. Brill. 1961.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, September 06, 2006 2:49:41 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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Over on PaleoJudaica, Jim Davila notes that there will be a Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit in Seattle, over at the Pacific Science Center.

I'm really looking forward to it. Actually, one Saturday while the scrolls are in town (not sure which one, though), my employer (Logos Bible Software) is taking the whole company to see the show! So after I've seen what's there I'll be sure to report back.

Here's the exhibit web site, if you're interested: Discovering the Dead Sea Scrolls. They have some background on featured scrolls. They sound mostly fragmentary, though some interesting passages are represented. There are also some lectures associated with the scroll exhibit, though I don't know that I'll be getting down to Seattle for those.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, September 06, 2006 9:02:19 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, August 21, 2006

So, after lunch with my sweet, darling wife last Friday, we went for a walk around downtown Bellingham. We passed by the most awesome used book store in Bellingham, Henderson's Books. Amy had a book to look for, and I just hadn't been in there for ages so I needed to spend some time in my favorite aisles.

Digging around, I found two books, both by the same author. These are translations of the French originals:

They were both written by one Jean-Yves Leloup. The translations are published by Inner Traditions, which appears to publish "spiritual" sorts of things.

That said, the books were cheap (eight bucks apiece!) and they contain Coptic editions of both gospels as well as translation. The edition on Thomas has some commentary as well. But ... I consider them suspect based on the publisher and jacket-blurb content. Laloup's work may be just fine, but stuff added by the publisher of the English translation raises some flags.

So we all know where the book is coming from, the back-cover blurb sensationalises GPhilip Logion 55, positing that GPhilip is "best known for its portrayal of the physical relationship shared by Jesus and his most beloved disciple, Mary Magdalene". The blurb then takes an Ehrman-ian turn and blathers on about suppression of such ideas by those heterodoxy-bashing party-poopers, the orthodox.

Now, here is GPhilip logion 55, according to Leloup's translation:

The Wisdom [Sophia] thought to be sterile [steira] is the mother of angels
The companion [koinonos] of the Son is Miriam of Magdala
The teacher loved her more than all the disciples;
he often kissed her on the mouth
When the disciples saw how he loved Miriam, they asked him:
"Why do you love her more than us?"
The teacher answered
"How can it be that I do not love you as much as I love her?"

Compare this with Schenke's translation in Schneemelcher's NT Apocrypha:

55a: The Sophia who is called barren is the mother of the [angels] and [the] companion of the S[aviour].
55b: The S[aviour lov]ed [Ma]ry Mag[da]lene more than [all] the disciples,{footnote} and kissed on her [mouth] often. The other [disciples] (p. 64) [    ]. They said to him: 'Why do you love her more than all of us?' The Saviour answered and said to them {}: 'Why do I not love you like her?'

Translational differences are apparent when comparing Laloup's first two lines with Schenke's translation of the same content. Go back and reread them an you'll see what I'm talking about. Now just who is the Son/Saviour's companion?

A few typographical differences are also apparent. First, Schenke gives us brackets, so we know what is there and what is supplied in the translation. We don't have that luxury with Leloup's work ... unless we have facility with Coptic. In this instance, we see that Schenke notes "mouth" is supplied, while with Laloup we need to go back to the Coptic to work this out (yes, the Coptic does have brackets).

I'm pretty sure this is the spot where the back-jacket-sensationalised "physical relationship" between Jesus and Mary Magdalene comes from, but we see it is no big deal. Offhand, I'd guess there is more to seeing Mary Magdalene as the "most beloved" disciple in contrast to John as the "beloved" disciple; and there could be more to the kiss in comparison with Judas Iscariot's kiss of betrayal. And, if I recall correctly, kissing on the mouth carried somewhat different meaning (certainly not what we think of today). Positing some sort of physical (sexual) relationship based on this reconstruction/conjecture is a massive stretch.

So ... if you need the Coptic of these works quick and cheap, then check them out. But be sure to check the translation against trustworthy sources before doing too much with it.

Post Author: rico
Monday, August 21, 2006 8:38:49 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Went to lunch with a few colleagues. We went to a place that served Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup). The restaurant also provides chopsticks, so we of course used them.

On the chopstick wrapper was this text:

Welcome to Chinese Restaurant.
Please try your Nice Chinese Food with Chopsticks.
the traditional and typical of Chinese glorious history
and cultual.

Makes me wonder how close we really get when we translate the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek of the Bible.

Update (2006-07-19): Eagle-eyed ricoblog reader David comments that "cultural" should really be "cultual". I was so enamored with the grammatical peculiarities I missed the typo! It's been corrected above.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, July 19, 2006 2:30:39 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Richard Anderson (dokeo kago grapho soi kratistos theophilos) blogs briefly about stylometry and notes that he's got three volumes on the topic he's planning on reading through.

He also casually notes the bane of my existence: "Needless to say, stylometry now involves sophisticated math". I knew I should've paid more attention in my statistics class in college.

Anyway, here's my stylometry reading list at present. I have read most of these, others I am in the process of reading. If you have articles or books to suggest, please use the comments. I'll migrate them to the post to keep the post complete.

I'm also reading some discourse analysis stuff (Reed on Philippians, Guthrie on Hebrews, Van Neste on the Pastorals and some other stuff) in the hopes it'll spur some further thoughts. This is all background reading for the paper I'll be presenting at the SBL in November. Work is well under way, though digging into the math will be a bit of a challenge.

Update: Here are some brief thoughts on authorship of the Pastorals from my other (much less frequently posted-to) blog, PastoralEpistles.com. Please make sure to understand the gist of my point there — I think that NT authorship attribution studies that rely on unique vocabulary are inherently flawed, so in order to address the question we must throw those studies out and go back to the starting point. This means we first restate the internal evidence and argumentation for traditional authorship assumptions so skeptics can ask new questions about validity of authorship. Therefore we can start to examine questions of authorship again once the positive case is properly stated. The previous mode of argumentation was like this:

  • Pauline Authorship: Yep, Paul wrote 'em. Says it right there in the salutation of each epistle.
  • Skeptic: Hey, waitaminute! There's a lot of words in them thar epistles that don't occur anywhere else in Paul's letters. Maybe Paul didn't write them!
  • Authorship Studies: Wow, you're right, Skeptic! We counted them all, and there really are a lot more (proportionately) in the Pastorals than in other Paulines. How could the same author have such a different vocabulary? You might be right! I mean, how else can we plausibly explain it?
  • Commentators, etc.: Recent authorship studies show that the vocabulary of the Pastorals is much different than the vocabulary of other likely genuine Pauline epistles ...

So it becomes the accepted logic and can even be circular in nature as more studies are done citing commentators/etc. (and then new commentators cite the new studies ... ) as basis for hypotheses.

But other studies have been done recently and they've shown that one needs more data than the NT has available before vocabulary patterns can really establish anything regarding authorship (cf. O'Donnell's Corpus Linguistics and the Greek of the NT). Still more studies using differing criteria (more 'stylometric', so taking morphological data into account as well as vocabulary) show correlations close enough to not be unusual between some of the Pastorals and the rest of the Paulines (cf. Kenny's stylometric analysis that concludes 1&2 Timothy aren't that too different from the rest of the Paulines, but Titus is more different).

I'm just saying that some of these recent studies may require "Skeptic" to ask a different question. To mix my metaphors: As regards NT authorship/style attribution, I think we've beaten the vocabulary horse to death, and that dog don't hunt.

Pauline authorship adherents certainly need to do their homework too. I think one valuable area would be external evidence like early quotations from church fathers (Polycarp? Irenaeus? Didache?), canon lists, text-critical evidence and the like. Some work has been done in these areas, but more can certainly be done.

But the authorship question still remains so I say let's try some other approaches. Let's examine syntactic affinities between texts, now that we have a syntactically analyzed Greek New Testament available, and see what happens. Perhaps that dog won't hunt either. But we don't know 'til we tromp the cornfields and see what Fido does when we flush the bird.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, June 28, 2006 8:40:06 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Saturday, June 03, 2006

I just received word that the paper I submitted for presentation at the 2006 national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Washington DC has been accepted. Here's the info:

  • Paper: Subjects and Predicates and Complements, Oh My! Searching the New Testament with Sensitivity to Syntax
  • Abstract: Logos Bible Software have implemented an edition of the OpenText.org Syntactically Annotated Greek New Testament. One facet of OpenText.org's work isolates clause boundaries. Within each clause, subjects, predicators, complements and adjuncts are identified. This enables searching of the Greek New Testament with sensitivity to clause-level criteria. This advance raises certain questions: How should syntactic annotation be used? What sorts of things can be searched for? This paper examines different sorts of searches that can be pursued from the starting point of a word. Questions like "When is [word] used as a subject?" or "What verbs are used when [word] is a subject?" will be examined and discussed.

If you'll be at ETS in November, make sure to talk to me more about syntax and searching the Greek New Testament. If you're really interested, I have a few articles on the Logos blog with video (here and here) that you can check out in the meantime. In those articles, I walk through some searches using the OpenText.org annotation. Fun stuff!

This sure beats last year -- I only found out my paper was accepted when I read the program book about a month before the meeting!

Post Author: rico
Saturday, June 03, 2006 3:06:36 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Amy (my beloved fiance) called me at work the other day. She was adding some last-minute stuff to a wedding registry and had a question about the bathroom faucets in my house (which will be our house). "Are they silver or gold colored?" she asked. She was thinking about stuff for bathrooms and needed to know the color.

Hey, I'm a guy. It's news to me that folks think about these things. I love that Amy thinks about them, though. Our house is going to be so cool!

Anyway, after I answered the question (they're silver, BTW) I began describing the faucets. But the problem was I that was describing the bathroom faucets in the house I grew up in, not in the house in which I currently reside. I honestly couldn't remember exactly what the bathroom faucets in my house look like.

But I do know I use them every day for their intended purpose, and I never get the hot and cold mixed up. I use the faucet, I don't stop and think about the appearance or mechanics of it all.

I was thinking about this over the weekend, and I thought, "Gee, that's a lot like language". Let me explain a bit.

Sometimes when folks study the Bible, they put a lot of stock in word studies. Word studies are a necessary part of the exegetical process, we should do them. But it is very easy to dwell too much on studying a word in the original language and end up missing the point: The word means what it means in a particular context; all possible or attested nuances of a given word are not intended to be understood with each use of the word.

Think again about bathroom faucets. I learned how these work in the house I grew up in, and I haven't really paid attention to them since I learned that lesson: Hot left, cold right, middle warm. Up on, down off. Every single-handle faucet is pretty much a variation on this theme.

So I haven't had to think about faucets since I learned the basic lessons. That's why when I had to actually stop and picture a bathroom faucet for my sweetheart, I thought about the one I learned the lesson on -- the one in the house I grew up in. The principles are the same, my use of them isn't any different since I understand implicitly how they work.

Now, houses have all sorts of different faucets. There are different faucets in kitchens, in bathtub/shower units, outside of the house for hoses, ones you hook washing machines up to ... the list goes on.

When I say "faucet" outside of specific context, I really could mean any one of those. But chances are the rest of the context of the sentence provides the cues that clue native speakers in regarding exactly which type of faucet is under discussion.

That, and we know that if we were in a kitchen but the faucet on the kitchen sink was reminiscent of a bathtub/shower faucet ... well, we'd find that very, very strange.

The same sort of thing can be said for words used in the Bible. When the native speaker/reader encounters a multiple-sense word, he is able (given coherent text) to disambiguate sense. That is, he can pick up the contextual cues and infer the proper sense of the word. When he's asked to "hook up the sprinkler to the faucet and water the lawn", he knows that happens outside. He's not running the hose to the bathroom and trying to attach it to the sink. Likewise, when drawing a bath, he doesn't turn on the kitchen faucet thinking it'll somehow fill the bathtub.

We need to do better to remember this when doing word studies. I know that D.A. Carson (Exegetical Fallacies), James Barr (Semantics of Biblical Language) and others have written on this, but it is worth mentioning again (and again, and again). It is great to examine how a word is used in, say, the New Testament. But that doesn't mean that all nuances one runs across (or finds in a dictionary) are intended with each instance of the word in the New Testament. In a specific context, a word means a specific thing. In some instances, multiple senses can be attributed. I've seen contexts where I think both literal and figurative senses of a word are intended; but these are usually obvious in context and are the exception, not the rule.

In other words, when exegeting a particular passage, we shouldn't be asking "What does [word] mean?" Instead, we should ask "What does [word] mean here?" Why? Because that is the sort of thing that native speakers/readers implicitly understand. They know which faucet is intended based on context. They don't get confused by studying the vast and numerous types of faucets; how they dispense hot, warm and cold water; different styles and whatnot. If, when reading something like "hook up the sprinkler to the faucet and water the lawn", we stop and look at kitchen faucets and bathroom faucets and import those concepts onto the context of an outside faucet we don't learn anything from the statement even though the same word (perhaps even 'root word') is used in the description. Our understanding is completely muddied and our exegesis is poorer for it. If we read the statement thinking about outside faucets, though, then we understand what was originally communicated.

I know I'm rambling and have mixed concepts to a degree here. I guess what I want to underscore is:

  • Words have senses. Individual usages of words normally only utilise one of a word's possible senses. Word studies should focus on isolating that particular sense for the current, specific context. They shouldn't discuss all possible senses and import wide-ranging definitions in a particular context.
  • Native language users understand these things implicitly. This means when working with a language foreign to us, we must do due diligence to find the cues that native language speakers rely on to ensure our exegesis is proper.

So, next time you find yourself in a word study examining other instances of a word, make sure to consider similar instances and not just the most widely different instances. You likely aren't looking for super-wide fields of meaning but instead need to narrow down to the particular context.

Can that be boring? Yeah. But remember: faucets are boring too.

Update (2006-04-26): Ken Penner points me to some more information about relevance theory. Thanks for the reminder, Ken. I dug into relevance theory about a year ago and find it fascinating. For those looking for a gentle introduction to relevance theory as applied to Bible translation, I can recommend Kevin G. Smith's dissertation on Bible Translation and Relevance Theory (first link on the list, look for 'pdf'). He works through the issues and then applies them to the translation of Titus. Cool stuff!

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, April 25, 2006 11:04:41 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Browsing around, I came across the Coptic Language entry on the Wikipedia. If you are confused by the Coptic dialects and subdialects that are cited in the UBS and NA apparatuses with versional evidence, the article gives some brief info that should help clarify.

Note also the article on the Coptic Alphabet.

This is all doubly cool because I'd been looking for some brief information on Old Nubian after seeing references to Nubian in some stuff Metzger had written. Who'd've thunk that the Wikipedia would have an article on that too?

Update (2006-04-06): Stephen C. Carlson with some Coptic-related Gospel o' Judas bloggin'. Note he points at a PDF file that is a transcription of the Coptic that is the Gospel of Judas. And the English is available too.

Update II (2006-04-07): If you're interested in typing Coptic in Unicode, then the Logos Coptic Keyboard is for you. (alternately, try here for Greek, Hebrew, Syriac and Coptic keyboards!) Note that this is considered beta software, though it uses standard Windows keyboard stuff. Also -- if  you have any suggestions as to a good, non-ornamental unicode Coptic font, please leave some suggestions (with URLs if available) in the comments. Thanks!

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, April 04, 2006 8:59:01 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ok, it isn't really the news, but it is in Publisher Weekly's Religion BookLine.

Hebrew Classic Might Bring Surprises for Christians

It's on Exodus in Targum Onkelos, the first of five volumes to be released covering all of Targum Onkelos. Queue up to get your copy, the article says they're only publishing 3000 of them ...

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, February 22, 2006 9:53:47 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Saturday, January 14, 2006

I think reading Pauline literature is having an effect on me. I just wrote the following sentence in a rough draft of stuff working through 1Ti 5.17:

The elders who exert themselves in speaking and teaching, working hard to properly proclaim the gospel and to teach and edify believers under their care, are deserving of honor.

Look at how many times "and" occurs in that sentence, and then track the function of each "and":

  • Speaking and teaching:
  • properly proclaim the gospel and to teach ...
  • to teach and to edify believers

The last two are the ones that caught my attention. Look at that part of the sentence again:

working hard to properly proclaim the gospel and to teach and edify believers under their care

The same exact word -- and -- occurs, here within a few words of each other, but they're functioning just a little differently. The first functions to join the two dependent clauses.** The first "and" joins clauses at a different level than the second "and" even though their functions are incredibly similar. The first one joins larger clausal units, both of which happen to have infinitive verbs. Like this:

working hard
     to properly proclaim the gospel
     to teach and edify believers under their care.

The second "and", instead of joining clauses, joins two infinitive verbs, "to teach" and "(to) edify"; with "believers" as object of the verb and the prepositional phrase "under their care" providing further specificity:

working hard
     to properly proclaim the gospel
     [to teach {and} (to) edify] believers under their care.

The two clauses joined by the first "and" each describe different aspects of the justification for honoring elders -- they work hard in preaching/speaking and also in teaching (as 1Ti 5.17 states). The second "and", however, is a little different even though it joins two infinitive verbs; the verbs are apposition and the function is essentially epexegetical with "edify" further explaining the teaching, at least as I saw it when I wrote the sentence.

I thought, upon noticing how I'd used "and" differently in such short space, that the same thing happens frequently in NT Greek with the word καὶ and its various usages. I don't have an instance of this sort of occurrence close to hand and need to take off (Amy's birthday is coming up; we're going browsing/shopping so I can at least have a clue as to what to get her). If you have a passage that, in the Greek, would function as a good example (NT or Apostolic Fathers or Josephus or Philo or Pseudepigraphal or whatever) send an email or leave a comment; I'll update the article at some future point. Or I'll dig around and find something.

** Don't assume too much linguistic preciseness in my use of terms like 'clause' and 'phrase' and even my categorisation of things like 'infinitive clauses'. Think of them as generally descriptive instead of technically precise, and you'll sleep easier.

Post Author: rico
Saturday, January 14, 2006 12:18:33 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, December 22, 2005

Eli pointed me to the Wulfila project after he saw a blog post on Abecedaria. We'd looked at Wulfila a few years back, but they've been doing a lot of work in the interim.

Most interesting to me is the encoding and analysis of the available Bible fragments, from Argentus and Ambrosianus to other smaller fragments. The upshot is relatively decent coverage of the New Testament.

Check it out. Click around. You can get into dictionaries from the text rather easily. The text itself is transliterated and aligned with English and Greek versions at the verse level. There is preliminary morphological analysis and even some lexical form tagging. Links are to a dictionary that is image-only, so you jump to a page that you need to scan to find the article (and the Greek sigmas are lunate in the dictionary, so make sure to take that into account). But still — it makes rudimentary work with the Gothic early version much easier than it would otherwise be.

This brings to mind a quote from Charles Ellicott (c. 1860), from the preface to his commentary on the Pastoral Epistles:

"I have at last been enabled to carry out, though to a very limited extent, the long cherished wish of using some of the best versions of antiquity for exegetical purposes. ... The Latin, the Syriac, and the Gothic, have been somewhat carefully compared throughout these Epistles. ...

"In thus breaking ground in the Ancient Versions, I would here very earnestly invite fellow-labourers into the same field. It is not easy to imagine a greater service than might be rendered to Scriptural exegesis if scholars would devote themselves to the hearty study of one or more of these Versions. ...

" ... the study of the ancient Versions for exegetical purposes may be very earnestly recommended. The amount of labour will not be very formidable, and in some cases we have fair, if not good, literary appliances. There seems good reason for not going beyond the Syriac, the Old Latin, the Vulgate, the Gothic, the Coptic, and the Ethiopic. ... For the present, at any rate, the Syriac, Old Latin, Vulgate, Gothic, Coptic, and Ethiopic are all that need demand attention."

Update (2005-12-22): I forgot to mention that Eli made his own groovy Gothic font called Gotisch a few years back. Of the font, Eli says:

Gotisch is a Gothic font, and by that, I mean a font representing the Gothic alphabet, as written by Wulfila and presumably as used by the Goths. I do not mean “Gothic” as in sans-serif typefaces or black-letter or fraktur typefaces, nor as in architectural forms with tall, skinny windows, nor as in painting your face up all circus-like and wearing tatted leather clothes.

Check it out

Post Author: rico
Thursday, December 22, 2005 10:37:14 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, November 23, 2005

While I enjoyed my time at both the ETS and SBL conferences and was able to see a few sessions of personal interest, the fact remains that my employer paid for my trip (thanks, Logos!) because they wanted me there to talk about issues of Greek syntax at both conferences.

You may have seen this signage on the back of the Logos booth:

That bit about Greek syntax on the left? That's one of the (seemingly many) major projects I've been working on for the past year. We've made a whole lot of progress implementing syntax databases inside of Logos Bible Software. One of our primary guidelines in working on this stuff has been, simply, "you've got to see it to understand it". So we've been concerned both with visualization of syntax information and searchability of syntax information.

A colleague and I have been blogging about syntax and Logos' implementation over on the Logos Bible Software blog. Check out the syntax category for a review of what we've been working on and how it functions in the system. We'll be blogging more about syntax in the coming weeks as well as this stuff gets closer to public release.

This same colleague and I presented papers at the ETS conference on the issues of Hebrew and Greek Syntax within Logos Bible Software. Those papers will be available on the Logos web site (and the blog) hopefully early next week; I'll post a notice here as well to keep y'all up to date.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, November 23, 2005 1:37:06 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, November 01, 2005

If you're curious about the busy-ness at the office that's kept me from blogging much, you should check out today's post on the Logos Bible Software Blog. Especially if your eyes light up when you think of things Greek, things having to do with syntax, or with exegesis.

This is the sort of thing I'll be talking about in my paper for the ETS meeting (I'll probably even use the example from the Logos blog) so if you're going to be at ETS make sure to hit the Bible Software presentation on Thursday November 17. The whole session runs from 2:10 to 4:30, all the presentations should be worth catching.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, November 01, 2005 8:30:52 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, October 13, 2005

Some things readers of ricoblog may be interested in:

First, I'll be starting a random series of posts over on the Logos Bible Software blog about Greek Syntactic databases and Logos Bible Software. The first post (an introduction) is available today. I hope to do a post or two each week; I plan to start sometime next week.

Second, if you'll be at the meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) that precedes the SBL annual meeting, you should know that I'm scheduled to present:

Open Session: Biblical Languages
Radisson Mt. Laurel
Theme: Bible Software
Thursday, Nov. 17; 3:00 - 3:40 pm
Rick Brannan, Logos Bible Software
New Developments in Computer Tools for Teaching and Research in Hebrew and Greek Syntax

A colleague and I will be demonstrating different aspects of the work Logos has been doing in the areas of both Hebrew and Greek syntactic databases. Should be a hoot!

There are other presentations in the same session that are worth attending as well; I'd recommend the whole session. It runs from 2:10 through 4:30 on Thursday afternoon.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, October 13, 2005 10:23:44 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Saturday, September 17, 2005

Through a post on B-Greek, I've become aware of SIL's Journal of Translation. Articles for 2005 (two issues, four articles per issue) are online as PDF files. The Editor's Forward to Issue 1 Notes:

Welcome to the long-awaited launching of SIL’s Journal of Translation. In one sense, this is a replacement for Notes on Translation, as it provides an outlet for academic writing and research in this field. But JOT is truly different. It is a peer-reviewed, academic e-journal which incorporates recent investigations and discoveries not only in translation but also in related areas of study. We initially plan to e-publish the Journal three times a year, April, August, and December.

The site is set up with excellent indexes so that all articles are indexed by title, author and subject. And the content looks pretty good too.

Now, if they just had an RSS feed or email announcements when new issues come out ...

Post Author: rico
Saturday, September 17, 2005 12:11:05 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, September 12, 2005

ricoblog reader emailed a question about syntax, asking about how he could think about "syntax" to help inform his study.

I'll be the first in line to say that I'm not an expert here. So please take the below with a grain of salt and realize that it's pretty basic and not intended to be a complete statement on the issue (or even perhaps linguistically correct).

That said, here's my best shot.

Syntax is deep and complex. The biggest (and quickest) help I think I can give is to look at the text under study using the following heirarchy:


Start from the top down. The area of "syntax" involves stuff at the "sentence" and "clause/phrase" level (and, to some degee, the "word" level through morphological relationships and "paragraph" level through clauses connected by conjunction).

The "section/pericope" and "paragraph" levels (and, to some degree, the "book" level) could be called "discourse" levels. We can talk about discourse later. Much later.

So, areas of syntax deal with how words form clauses/phrases and how those units form sentences.

An example can be seen in 1Ti 1.1:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, ...

The words are easily identifiable. You can pick out names, you can pick out some nouns, and you can start to put things together. Syntax starts to look into how these larger groups of words come together, and what they communicate as a whole. One might even gain a better idea by inserting newlines and tabs into the flow of the sentence to work through the first bit:

   an apostle
      of Christ Jesus

So here, paying attention to syntactic relationships helps us see that "an apostle" further describes or modifies "Paul". Paul is the one who is an apostle. And "of Christ Jesus" further qualifies the apostleship that Paul holds. He is an apostle of Jesus Christ.

We do this innately when we read in English; it's our native language. With Greek, though, we end up looking at the text for cues (conjunctions, articles, word order, sentence flow) to help us put the puzzle together.

Or something like that, anyway. Basically, instead of seeing each word as a unit, move up the tree to clauses/phrases, and examine how those units interact. Don't just say, "oh, 'apostle' — I know what that word means". Look at the larger units and start to put it together, determining the meaning of the larger parts, and how these larger parts relate with each other.

You don't need to know Greek (or Hebrew) to do this, assuming you have a good translation in your native language (I like ESV, NASB is good for this stuff too). Don't worry about labels for all of these things (at least, when you start). You don't need to know if it is a subordinate clause or an adveribal phrase. You don't identify all of that stuff with your native language to understand it, do you?

Make it easy and start breaking things up based on the punctuation in the text you use. If you see further unpunctuated units (i.e. phrases like "of Jesus Christ" that act to modify words or other units), then break there too.

But have a method to your madness. When I've done this sort of thing on this blog (e.g. here and here) I don't really have a linguistic theory in mind, but I do know why I've inserted breaks and tabs where I do. You should too. If you have Gordon Fee's New Testament Exegesis, he discusses something similar (but much more defined) in his section on "Structural Analysis". Maybe you want to give that a look-see if you have access to the book (in print or electronic).

I've said far too much in an area I'm very interested in but still learning about. Hopefully it's been helpful, and I haven't made any statements that are too erroneous ... please feel free to offer corrections/clarifications in the comments (or via email). Thanks!

Post Author: rico
Monday, September 12, 2005 6:22:16 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Saturday, September 03, 2005

Ok, the title is a little lame, but I wanted to have a somewhat consistent title in what has now (unintentionally) become a series of posts on issues of context. (Previous posts: Context Involves Perspective, Context Is Everything.)

What triggered me this time? I was reading a recent post of Mark Goodacre's on the NT Gateway Weblog where he uses the adjective "wireless" in regard to internet access:

Alas, no wireless access or other internet access in the rooms so I have not been able to get my blogging machine into action.

Upon reading this, I thought, "wow, the use of the word 'wireless' sure has changed in recent years." It used to have to do solely with radio transmission. I suppose it still does, only instead of transmitting sound (radio telephony/telegraphy) now the assumed context is that of a wireless data network.

I checked m-w.com (Merriam Webster) to confirm my understanding. They have four different entries listed when one searches for wireless:

  • wireless [1, adjective]
  • wireless [2, noun]
  • wireless telegraphy
  • wireless telephone

None of these mention anything about wireless networks. So, even a prominent dictionary doesn't carry this new sense of the word. Yet I'd argue virtually everyone who read Mark's post understood immediately what he meant, especially since he added " ... or other internet access" to the sentence. This makes it unambiguous. Mark really wasn't trying to radio messages to us. He wanted a data connection so he could tell us about the cool happenings at BNTC.

This seems relevant to Biblical exegesis, at least to me. Once again, put yourself at least a few hundred years in the future and assume the requisite development/changes of language. You're reading the wisdom of that eminent (yet somewhat mysterious) sage, Mark Goodacre. His writings are normally clear, but in your frenzied research you stumble onto this somewhat strange fragmentary witness. Lacunae are marked by brackets:

Alas, no wireless access or other [...]
access in the rooms so I have not [...]
able to get my blogging machine [...]

Now you can make all sorts of crazy reconstructions. If you've got copy of the Merriam Webster Dictionary from the late 20th century, you'd only know 'wireless' as having to do with radio stuff. I can't consult the OED, so I don't know what it would have. It would be better to check in this case, but I'd guess the primary definition(s) there also would have to do with radio telegraphy. If you look later in the fragment and see "machine", you may jump and make the conclusion that he must be referencing radio telegraphy since he's talking about "machines" and therefore mechanical devices of some sort (It's all in the same semantic domain, you see). But you'd still be wrong. If you interpret the language in light of early 20th century terminology, you'll get the wrong idea (perhaps even without lacunae).

Once you start to understand Goodacre the wise (I'm not going to argue for a proto-Goodacre in this post, and don't get me started on the Goodacre-ian redactors ... ) you learn that as one of the high priests of the biblioblog cult, he practiced something called "blogging", which was done on "computer" (also known as a "machine") and disseminated this "blogging" on the "internet". And that, way back then, these "computers" had wired and "wireless" connections to the "internet" via local wired and wireless networks. So "wireless" in the above fragment has nothing to do with radio telegraphy, it has to do with transmission of data packets across the air. So, you might conclude, the above quote had to do with expressing that at some point, he was unable to practice this ascetic discipline of blogging to broadcast instructions to his followers.

Or something like that.

Post Author: rico
Saturday, September 03, 2005 12:56:23 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A few days ago, I wrote a post called Context is Everything.

I was thinking further along those lines, that part of "everything" is perspective.

I have no idea why, but earlier today I was recalling what was perhaps one of the most embarrassing moments in my life (to date). It happened right before I was graduated from high school. It was before the commencement ceremony, and our principal was giving his by now standard speech to the assembled graduates before the big ceremony began.

He asked us if anyone knew what it meant "to commence". Eager and somewhat proud, I fell into his trap. Hey, I was smart and I knew it. But I honestly didn't know the formal definition of the word. I deduced it from context.

"Mr. Parker, it means 'to end', right?"

I was so embarrased when I found out it meant the exact opposite. But from my own perspective, the commencement ceremony was all about ending. I'd given twelve good years of service to the Oak Harbor School District, my time was up. I was getting out. It was over. Time to move on.

And I dare say anyone attempting to derive the meaning of the word "commencement" or "commence" based on studies of these assemblies across the country — otherwise uniformed about the meaning of the word — might end up making the same mistake I did. They could have all of the data in the world. Fragments of programs saved from time capsules at high schools across the country. Oral histories from five generations removed telling the story of how school ended with "commencement" day.

But none of this changes the fact that "to commence" means to begin or to start.

I wonder how many times I make the same mistake in exegesis, deducing an obvious-but-wrong meaning of a word, or similarly erroneous intent of a phrase. It makes me realize that I need to be a bit more diligent about understanding the background and setting of the specific books of the Bible. That I need to know more about theories of authorship and circumstances of writing. And, most importantly, I need to be better about tracking who is saying what to whom in epistles, narrative and dialogue. And the relationships between those people. This sort of knowledge helps keep perspective in mind, and this will assist in proper exegesis of the Bible.

And that's the goal, isn't it?

Update (2005-09-01): Cheers to Mike Sangrey at Exegetitor for picking up this thread and working it out in more detail. Regarding what Mike says about what I called theories of authorship above, in my defense I confess to myopia. I'm stuck in the Pastoral Epistles where one's theory of authorship, I'd argue, has at least some effect on how the text is understood.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:48:08 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Friday, August 26, 2005

Of course context is "everything". But sometimes there are parts of context that we don't necessarily consider in our interpretation/exegesis. Or, at least, there are parts that I don't necessarily notice or consider right off. But first, a short (and true!) story.

I was happily typing away an email to Amy earlier today. In the course of the email, I suggested that it might be fun to go to Port Townsend on a Saturday. Port Townsend is over on the Olympic Peninsula and, unless you want to drive a whole lot (see route map), it involves a ferry ride from from Keystone (by Fort Casey State Park) to Port Townsend. It's about a half hour ride. If you're interested, you can check the Port Townsend Ferry webcam to see what the traffic is like or if the ferry is at the dock.

There are other things that you just know if you've been to Port Townsend before. You know that the ferry can be crowded, so it is better to park your car at Keystone and pay the passenger rate for the ferry ride. This is known as the "walk on" fare. You know this is no big deal because the Port Townsend ferry dock is right downtown; easily walk-able. You know that if you decide to drive over, you need to get to the ferry landing early because you'll have to wait in line for at least one sailing (especially on a weekend). And you also know that it will be expensive.

So, you've got that? Good. Here's what I typed to Amy that conveyed most of this:

Park on the Whidbey side, walk across on the ferry.

That's it. Right after I wrote this, I realized that there was a lot packed into that little sentence, and that exegetes in later centuries would be mystified when they looked at it. But Amy understood exactly what I was communicating. Crazy, huh?

Here are some ambiguities you run into if you don't consider all of the relevant information listed above:

  1. Is 'Park' a noun or a verb? There is a park on the Whidbey side. But there is also a parking lot (or, 'car park' for non-North-American readers).
  2. How does one "walk across" on the ferry?

So you have some more context, here's the whole paragraph that the above sentence occurred in, complete with slang and everything!

Whaddya think about going to Port Townsend some Saturday (in September, of course)? Park on the Whidbey side, walk across on the ferry. Browse the shops, have some lunch. Browse some more, then come back? If the ferry schedule is conducive and we play our cards right, we could even invite ourselves over to my folks' house for dinner on the way back home ... **

So you have a little more help. You know now that "Park" is likely a verb, unless you'd deduced that already based on the structure of the sentence:

    on the Whidbey side
Walk across
    on the ferry

But if you had no knowledge of the payment system of the Washington state ferry system or the language that locals use to describe it, would you be able to figure out what it means to "walk across on the ferry"?

One aspect of context is doing the background work and background reading so that you can, first of all, spot stuff like this when it occurs in text you are exegeting or interpreting. This doesn't get talked about much because it requires one to be pro-active. To have read up on these sorts of things before they approach the text, so that the reading can be somewhat informed.

Having some domain-specific knowledge, you also need to have resources — books, web sites, Bible software, or people you know — to determine what is really going on. Sometimes it is pretty simple. Other times, you have to do a lot of work.

I'm still curious as to whether folks generations removed would be able to determine what "walk across on the ferry" means.

** Note to Mom & Dad: Hey, how 'bout Amy and I come over for dinner some Saturday in late September? :)


Post Author: rico
Friday, August 26, 2005 7:54:40 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, July 19, 2005

If you have any interest in Gnostic literature, you should know that G.R.S. Mead's translation of the Pistis Sophia is now available online at sacred-texts.com.

I should note that the way the HTML is set up, it really only works on IE. There are marginal notes that use CSS positioning in an IE-specific manner. The "Production Notes" state:

PRODUCTION NOTES: In the original book, running comments are placed in the margins. The web version of this text uses Cascading Style Sheets and DHTML to emulate this layout. Hence, to get the best view of this you will need a recent browser: older browsers will still produce readable results, though not as pretty.

However, when I view in FireFox, the marginal stuff is overwritten by the primary text, making areas difficult to read.

Post Author: Rico
Tuesday, July 19, 2005 9:05:05 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, July 18, 2005

Searching through old email of mine looking for information on a current problem, I ran across a quote I used to have in my email signature:

The worst criminals should be neither executed nor sentenced to forced labor, but should be condemned to compile dictionaries, because all the tortures are included in the work.

Wow. Lexicography isn't easy but that's a little harsh. Wish I had some context on that. The best I can find is this:

There can be no doubt that lexicography is a very difficult sphere of linguistic activity. Many lexicographers have given vent to their feelings in this respect. Perhaps the most colourful of these opinions based on a lexicographer's long experience is that of J.J Scaliger (16th-17th cent.) who says in fine Latin verses that the worst criminals should neither be executed nor sentenced to forced labour, but should be condemned to compile dictionaries, because all the tortures are included in this work. — LADISLAV ZGUSTA Manual of Lexicography (1971)

This is found on p. 5 of "CELEX: A Guide for Users". I have no idea what "CELEX" is, though.

I found the quote on this page as well. I don't know Chinese, but I also see a quote from Samuel Johnson, so the page has got to be good. Here's the Johnson quote:

Every other author may aspire to praise; the lexicographer can only hope to escape reproach ...

And, since we're on the topic of lexicographers and quoteable quotes, I'll end with a favorite quote from Frederick W. Danker:

Change spells pain, but ... scholar's tasks are "not for sissies"


Post Author: Rico
Monday, July 18, 2005 4:44:54 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Now, I know Paul has some lengthy lists of vices (cf. Gal 5.19-21). But I just came across the following in Philo, Sacr. 32:

Know, then, my good friend, that if you become a votary of pleasure you will be all these things: a bold, cunning, audacious, unsociable, uncourteous, inhuman, lawless, savage, illtempered, unrestrainable, worthless man; deaf to advice, foolish, full of evil acts, unteachable, unjust, unfair, one who has no participation with others, one who cannot be trusted in his agreements, one with whom there is no peace, covetous, most lawless, unfriendly, homeless, cityless, seditious, faithless, disorderly, impious, unholy, unsettled, unstable, uninitiated, profane, polluted, indecent, destructive, murderous, illiberal, abrupt, brutal, slavish, cowardly, intemperate, irregular, disgraceful, shameful, doing and suffering all infamy, colourless, immoderate, unsatiable, insolent, conceited, self-willed, mean, envious, calumnious, quarrelsome, slanderous, greedy, deceitful, cheating, rash, ignorant, stupid, inharmonious, dishonest, disobedient, obstinate, tricky, swindling, insincere, suspicious, hated, absurd, difficult to detect, difficult to avoid, destructive, evil-minded, disproportionate, an unreasonable chatterer, a proser, a gossip, a vain babbler, a flatterer, a fool, full of heavy sorrow, weak in bearing grief, trembling at every sound, inclined to delay, inconsiderate, improvident, impudent, neglectful of good, unprepared, ignorant of virtue, always in the wrong, erring, stumbling, ill-managed, ill-governed, a glutton, a captive, a spendthrift, easily yielding, most crafty, double-minded, double-tongued, perfidious, treacherous, unscrupulous, always unsuccessful, always in want, infirm of purpose, fickle, a wanderer, a follower of others, yielding to impulses, open to the attacks of enemies, mad, easily satisfied, fond of life, fond of vain glory, passionate, ill-tempered, lazy, a procrastinator, suspected, incurable, full of evil jealousies, despairing, full of tears, rejoicing in evil, frantic, beside yourself, without any steady character, contriving evil, eager for disgraceful gain, selfish, a willing slave, an eager enemy, a demagogue, a bad steward, stiffnecked, effeminate, outcast, confused, discarded, mocking, injurious, vain, full of unmitigated unalloyed misery.*

Whoa. There are some gems in there. I think I sense fodder for a "Philo Insult Generator" much along the same lines of the famous Shakespearean Insult Generator. Implementations of the Shakespeare generator abound; the linked version is the least junky-looking based on the few I poked at.

* Philo, Sacr. 32. From Yonge, C. D. (1996, c1993). The works of Philo complete and unabridged. Peabody: Hendrickson. p. 98.

Post Author: Rico
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 3:37:43 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, July 05, 2005

About a year ago, I found myself in the library at Regent College in Vancouver B.C. While there, I happened across Arthur Vööbus' Early Versions of the New Testament: Manuscript Studies. I paged through it and knew that someday I'd like to have a copy of it.

So, I've been searching for it off and on. A few weeks back, I finally saw a copy listed by a used book seller in the states. I snapped up the copy. It arrived today.

This is, quite simply, a cool book. I'm looking forward to (slowly) working through it. And the book has a story: Vööbus fled Estonia after the Soviets took over the country. In the Preface, he writes:

In my refugee's bag I have carried this present work. In that moment when I could give one last look at my study and had to make the difficult decision of putting what I could into my bag and seeing what I had to leave, there was no question about this work. It had taken too much of my life and work.

But it was not in a complete form, and I could take nothing from the materials which were in the process of incorporation. It was very difficult to go on with this study when I had no access to my own library and collected materials. And so the work appears later than it was planned. Regardless of what theperiod of delay has meant to the author, this delay has been a gain for the study, for it has grown constantly in perspective.

As I send if forth from my hands, I think with deep gratitude of my teachers and colleagues and of all the rich spiritual atmosphere at the University of Tartu, to which I owe so much. That amosphere gave me the courage to lay plans for a long-range work and to tackle difficult tasks, including all the prepatory work and equipment required for the investigation of areas which seldom attract scholars. This inspiration has been so strong that this has remained with me in all kinds of experiences. All this I could receive before the destruction of the spiritual life in Estonia by the Soviets — for this spiritual floration is now replaced by idiocy, all cultural values trampled underfoot by the Russian boot, and a great number of the bearers of this spiritual atmosphere have perished along with a great part of the nation drowned in an ocean of blood. (Vööbus, p. vii).

Wow. Note also that this book, published in 1954 in Stockholm, is volume 6 in the series: Papers of the Estonian Theological Society in Exile.

Also, if anyone can inform me how to phonetically pronounce "Vööbus", I'd appreciate it. Send me an email; I'll post here so others can know too.

Update (2005-07-07): Thanks to Stephen C. Carlson (Hypotyposeis) for his note regarding the pronunciation of 'Vööbus'.

Post Author: Rico
Tuesday, July 05, 2005 11:49:04 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, June 26, 2005

As typically happens, I was searching for information on one thing and ended up hopping down a rabbit trail to something completely different. This time, the trail turned to Armenian resources.

I'm interested in Armenian because of the relatively early translations of the Bible (especially the NT) that were produced in Armenian. Metzger writes:

It is not generally realized how abundant are the manuscripts of the Armenian version of the New Testament. Contrary to a rather widespread impression of their rarity, more manuscripts of this version are extant than any other ancient version, with the exception only of the Latin Vulgate. (Metzger, Early Versions, p. 157).

Metzger, on that same page, provides this footnote:

Erroll F. Rhodes, An Annotated List of Armenian New Testament Manuscripts (Ikebukuro, Tokyo, 1959). Several years ago the Academy of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic began moving manuscripts from outlying districts to its central repository at Erevan, which now has more than 1,500 Gospel manuscripts and 100 complete Bible manuscripts. inasmuch as Rhodes lists 267 manuscripts in the Erevan collection, it will be seen that there is room for a revised and enlarged edition of his useful catalogue. (Metzger, Early Versions, p.157 note 3)

Now, I realize that modern Armenian is different than the Armenian used in these documents. For an introductory grammar to Classical Armenian, see Thomson's An Introduction to Classical Armenian. But these sorts of links could help one get at least minimally familiar with the basics of the writing system (my primary interest). Here are a few links:

I don't know that I'll ever learn the language, but learning the writing system and how to move from text to lexicon could be fun to do at some point.

Update (2005-06-27): Jim Davila of PaleoJudaica.com links to this post, noting that Armenian is also an important witness for some Old Testament pseudepigraphal works and also for portions of the Works of Philo that only survive in Armenian. Thanks for the link! While I'm thinking about it, please remember to check out the Philo of Alexandria blog for blogging on all things Philo.

Post Author: Rico
Sunday, June 26, 2005 8:19:55 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, June 20, 2005

A friend of mine just passed this link along to me from Language Log.

The problem, of course, is a misunderstanding of the importance of etymology. Etymology is useful and helpful, but it is really easy to run with ... straight to invalid conclusions. Does word "butterfly" ring any bells?

At this point, it seems appropriate to simply say: Read James Barr (as Eli did in the comments to a previous post on Greek lexicons).

I'll also say that Louw in his Semantics of New Testament Greek gets into this as well.

Post Author: Rico
Monday, June 20, 2005 11:58:03 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, April 20, 2005

In comments to my post on Beza's Greek New Testament, Stephen C. Carlson (Hypotyposeis) writes regarding the bibles.org.uk site:

That web site is very interesting, but there's some important 19th cen. editions of the GNT are not there (e.g. Westcott-Hort, Lachmann, Griesbach, etc.). Do you happen to know of any sites that has scans of any of those editions?

I don't know of other sites offhand apart from the TC Ebind Index. (I'm guessing the bibles.org.uk dude lifted stuff like Tischendorf, von Soden, Sinaiticus, etc. from that site.) 

I've got a print copy of Westcott-Hort, so that's not a problem for me. But the others would be nice to see. If anyone has info on any PDF facsimile editions (that is, scans of the actual documents, not transcriptions and re-typeset editions) I'd love to know about them. I'd also like to see early Nestle editions (I have a 1912 Nestle, which is the ninth edition if my Latin guessing skills are any good), Tregelles, or just about anything else out there you might know about.

The same goes for critical editions of any of the early versions (Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Latin, etc.). I'd love to see 'em if you know where they can be found.

Post Author: Rico
Wednesday, April 20, 2005 6:30:34 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Friday, April 15, 2005

I'm like a boy with new toys. What are those new toys? They're PDF versions of way-old editions the Greek New Testament, of course (editions available here; watch out, the downloads are sizeable).

In light of my previous post on the coolness of the Complutensian Polyglot, it makes sense to me to check out the competition: Erasmus' 1516 edition. So here we go.

First, look at this awesome frontispiece from the Gospel of Matthew. It's a little much for my tastes, but it's typical for the style of the day (from the little reading I've done on typesetting from this period). Note that you can click on any of these images to see them in a seperate window, some of them will be larger than they are inline below.

The drop-caps are the coolest part. The artistic stuff around the edges, while interesting, just doesn't do it for me. Another nice aspect of this edition are the introductions to the books. However ... they're in Greek; Erasmus didn't provide the Latin translation. (note: His 1522 edition does have parallel Greek and Latin of this content).

But what about the Bible text proper? Here's the beginning of First Timothy. Again, the drop-caps are prominent. Also interesting (to me, anyway) is the all-cap presentation of the name of Christ in the Greek, but not in the Latin.

But how does this compare to the Complutensian? Well, here's 1Ti 2.3-6, which I also provided for the Complutensian? (image here). 

I see a few differences immediately. First, the Complutensian is much more readable, at least for my minuscule-challenged eyes. If I know the text (as I do in this case) I can figure out that the first two blobs really do represent τουτο γαρ, but I couldn't prove it to you. Second, remember that the Complutensian is aligned at the word level through the use of superscript letters previous to lexical units. No such innovation in the Erasmian text. But Erasmus does have the name of Christ in all-caps, which is an interesting practice, especially in light of the manner in which the tetragrammaton is treated in Hebrew texts.

I do like Erasmus' Latin font better than the font used in the Complutensian. But that's not enough to sway me to Erasmus. My vote is still for the Complutensian. Now that's typesetting.

Lastly, there is the famous historical matter to check into. What did Erasmus really do with 1Jn 5.7-8? (NKJV: For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.) You know what I'm talking about. The legend as I've heard it is that Erasmus didn't put this text into his first edition, but he was beat up by the Vulgate readers such that he made his famous promise: "If you can find a Greek manuscript with that content, I'll publish it". Well, what does Erasmus have in his first edition?

No sign of the explicit mention of the members of the Godhead in Trinity there. So the first part of the legend has merit. What about the second part? I haven't downloaded Erasmus' 1518 edition yet (though it is available, it is 200+ megs) but I did grab his 1522 edition. Check it out:

Do you see that? Yep, it's longer. Through the magic of modern technology, let's get a better look at what's going on in there:

Sure enough. The text is added. And it's been in pretty much every Textus Receptus-based edition since. The Greek MSS with this reading, by the way, are 61 (16th century), 629 (14th century) and 918 (16th century). There are others that have the above as a varia lectio, but who knows when those readings were added to the original MS, or where they came from (most likely a retroversion from Latin back into the Greek, I'd think). I'd guess 629 might be the actual MS that prompted Erasmus to make the change, though that is pure speculation by someone (that's me) with no right to speculate on such text-critical issues.

Post Author: Rico
Friday, April 15, 2005 6:49:06 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, April 14, 2005

[NOTE: When this post was written in April 2005, several PDF facsimiles of editions of the Greek New Testament were available from bibles.org.uk. They no longer appear to be available. The downloads are sizeable and I am not able to provide them for download or FTP or delivery on DVD. Apologies, RWB]

I've mentioned this before, but I'm a bibliophile when it comes to stuff dealing with the Greek New Testament. If it has to do with the Greek NT and it was published in the mid to late 1800s or early 1900s, chances are I want it. I enjoy the content, the conclusions, the scholarship and the typesetting.

I'm even more excited about early editions of the Greek New Testament, but I know that I'll never own any of these editions. But I have found a few as PDF files. Today I grabbed a PDF facsimile of the Complutensian Polyglot (PDF is approx. 500 megs, available via bibles.org.uk). And it is so very cool.

The Complutensian Polyglot is notable for a number of reasons. First, it is a polyglot, meaning that it presents the text in more than one language (poly + glot ==> "many tongues", roughly).

It was printed between 1514-1517 and as such is the earliest printed (type-set) representation of the Greek New Testament. But it wasn't available until 1522, which means the Erasmian edition of 1516 was the first available printed Greek New Testament; even though the Complutensian is the better Greek text and despite the fact that it was technically complete before Erasmus completed his text. The NT has Greek and Latin in parallel. Check it out (click any graphic for a larger version):

This is 1Ti 2.3-7. If you look closely, you'll see that each word in the Greek and Latin is preceded by a small superscript character. This is a form of alignment. That's right, the text, while typeset in parallel columns, is aligned at the word level through the superscript number device. I've said it before to others, but these early typesetter dudes were studs. Check it out:


Little known to anyone who hasn't read John Lee's fantastic book A History of New Testament Lexicography, the Complutensian Polyglot also has the earliest example of a printed Greek lexicon. The last volume contains a glossary of Greek words with their Latin equivalents.

But that's not all. The Complutensian Polyglot is an edition of the whole Bible. That is, the Greek New Testament is only 1/3 of the book. There are volumes of Hebrew Bible content. Here's a sample from Genesis 1:

That's right. The left column is the LXX ... with interlinear Latin glosses! The middle column is Jerome's Latin. The right column is the Hebrew. If you look closely ... you'll see superscript letters in the Latin column and in the Hebrew column; so there is (I'd guess) a word-for-word alignment going on here too. How cool is that? I don't know Hebrew, so I have no idea what information the right-most margin contains. In addition, if Targum Onkelos has content to represent, the Aramaic is made available as well.

This is scholarship and typesetting that was going on in the early 1500s. I am continually amazed at what was accomplished just in this edition (let alone other typesetting and scholarship from the era), and that in just a few years (1514-1517? By hand? Whoa!). Here we are today, with our computers and our desktop publishing systems ... and we couldn't set something like the above without a whole lot of complaining, grudging and whining, once we got past the Hebrew font issue and figured out a hack around the interlinear portion. Speaking of which, check out the detail on that interlinear portion:

Look at that beautiful work. The Latin gloss is above the main line of the Greek text. You can barely make out the Greek once you account for the minuscule-esque script. Cross-references in the margin. I'll say it again — these guys were studs.

Not only that, but guess what? The supplementary volume (you remember, the one with the Greek-Latin glossary?) also has a Hebrew-Latin lexicon. Yep. You're reading that correctly. Check it out:


Here's some more detail showing a couple of articles in their entirety:

Now, remember — no computers. Nothing but dudes, type (which they probably cut themselves) and a press, along with desire and a bunch of elbow-grease. Not only that, but they sure knew how to end the NT. Why don't we see typographic devices like this in our modern Bibles? Would it cost too much to have the graphic design department whip something out? Would the extra page and ink really sink the budget and cause us to lose money? This is the right way to end the NT, giving all glory to God. If you know Latin and can translate more than the first line, feel free to send me your translation. I'll post it at the end of this article and link back to your blog/website/whatever.

Update: As I work my way through the Latin (I don't know Latin, so it's mostly what I can intuit based on my knowledge of Spanish and Greek) I see that the first few lines do mention the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), but the rest of it seems to list the balance of folks involved in the production -- a few cardinals and some other folk. Then it ends with the date (Jan. 10, 1514?). As I said, I may very well be mistaken as I don't know Latin. But that's what seems to be going on in the final typographical device.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, April 14, 2005 4:38:42 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, March 07, 2005

I came across these in unrelated searching awhile back.

The Bibles Repository

Most interesting (to me, anyway) are the facsimile editions of Codices Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus.

Here is more information about the host, bibles.org.uk.

Post Author: Rico
Monday, March 07, 2005 1:05:09 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, January 03, 2005

So, I followed Stephen C. Carlson's advice and checked out TextKit. I was planning on doing that anyway, but knowing that whatever they had was OK was a good thing and it prompted me to do it sooner rather than later.

I'm poking through the first bits of Latin for Beginners by Benjamin L. D'Ooge, at least for now.

I'm realizing is that there are a lot of rules having to do with pronunciation. Penults, antepenults, dipthongs, short vowels, long vowels, vowel 'quantity' and syllable 'quantity', etc. Then I realized: Greek has a lot of this same stuff, and I don't consciously think of it when I'm reading Greek ... I just read it. So that's encouraging.

One disadvantage is that I don't get to actually hear anyone pronounce Latin. So I poked around the internet a bit. I found GreekLatinAudio.com, which has some MP3 files of various books of the NT, read from the Greek NT and the Vulgate NT. But the volume was very low and almost inaudible, and the enunciation didn't seem to be that great (but the sound was pretty faint ... ). But it's better than nothin'. Maybe I'll burn some tracks on a CD so I can crank it on my stereo. Then the neighbors will really think I'm weird.

Question: Are there pronunciation debates amongst Latinists similar to the pronunciation debates one finds regarding NT Greek? (e.g. Erasmian vs. Modern vs. ... )

Update: Regarding the Latin at GreekLatinAudio.com, Stephen C. Carlson (Hypotyposeis) writes in the comments:

I just listened to the first part of Mark 1 at GreekLatinAudio.com. It does not conform to any of the three systems I outlined above, and the speaker's knowledge of Spanish (as a second language?) is constantly interfering with his pronunciation. I don't recommend this AT ALL.

He also provided a helpful synopsis of Latin pronunciation — more than I'd anticipated. Thanks, Stephen, for the helpful comments.

greek | language | latin
Post Author: Rico
Monday, January 03, 2005 10:25:04 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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