In Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Steve Runge, scholar in residence at Logos-Bible-Software, explores New Testament Greek grammatical conventions by focusing on the communication tasks they accomplish through discourse analysis. His focus on discourse analysis emphasizes the ways in which words are used in texts and contexts, and has less to do with the elements of speech and focuses, instead, on how humans cognitively process language.
In doing so, Runge is consciously building on the ground breaking work of James Barr entitled Semantics of Biblical Language which focused on lexical linguistics (an element of speech) rather than grammatical linguistics. Runge, in effect, picks up from where Barr left off and attempts to show the exegetical significance of discourse grammar for students of the New Testament.
Runge's project is dynamic and multi-layered. One might even call it a "cross-linguistic" and "function-based" approach to discourse analysis that treat aspects of the language often examined in isolation, or only with lip-service. The result, according to Daniel Wallace, is that Runge "has made discourse analysis accessible, systematic, comprehensive, and meaningful to students of the New Testament".
As such, Runge's Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament offers direct treatment of linguistic phenomena often truncated or all together mishandled by traditional grammars. Runge provides ample examples from the New Testament to illustrate his points, and does so with accompanying commentary. Everywhere he demonstrates that "if there is more than one way of accomplishing a discourse task, there is likely a meaning associated with each choice" (148).
In some ways Runge's book seems like it may be a substitute for traditional grammars. It is not. It is, rather, a grammar that augments specific aspects of the language that traditional grammars often do not have, or choose not to have, room to highlight the importance of discourse analysis for sound exegesis.
In "Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament," Steve Runge introduces a function-based approach to language, exploring New Testament Greek grammatical conventions based upon the discourse functions they accomplish. Runge's approach has less to do with the specifics of language and more to do with how humans are wired to process it.
The approach is cross-linguistic. Runge looks at how all languages operate before he focuses on Greek. He examines linguistics in general to simplify the analytical process and explain how and why we communicate as we do, leading to a more accurate description of the Greek text. The approach is also function-based--meaning that Runge gives primary attention to describing the tasks accomplished by each discourse feature.
This volume does not reinvent previous grammars or supplant previous work on the New Testament. Instead, Runge reviews, clarifies, and provides a unified description of each of the discourse features. That makes it useful for beginning Greek students, pastors, and teachers, as well as for advanced New Testament scholars looking for a volume which synthesizes the varied sub-disciplines of New Testament discourse analysis.
With examples taken straight from the "Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament," this volume helps readers discover a great deal about what the text of the New Testament communicates, filling a large gap in New Testament scholarship.
Each of the 18 chapters contains:
- An introduction and overview for each discourse function
- A conventional explanation of that function in easy-to-understand language
- A complete discourse explanation
- Numerous examples of how that particular discourse function is used in the Greek New Testament
- A section of application
- Dozens of examples, taken straight from the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament
- Careful research, with citation to both Greek grammars and linguistic literature
- Suggested reading list for continued learning and additional research
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