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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.
|Title: Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis|
By: Steven E. Runge
Number of Pages: 432
Vendor: Hendrickson Publishers
|Publication Date: 2010|
Weight: 1 pound 14 ounces
Stock No: WW565836
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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
"In his work Runge draws upon formal study and informal interaction with linguists such as Stephen H. Levinsohn, Christo Van der Merwe, Stanley Porter, and Randall Buth. He incorporates principles from works on information structure and functional grammar by Knud Lambrecht, Simon Dik, and Talmy Givon. This approach to discourse analysis focuses on how languages structure information flow across larger units, adding new elements to what is already given, maintaining coherence and continuity across the discontinuities that come, and giving greater prominence to some information along the way.
"One of the helpful features of Runge's approach is his attempt where possible to engage with traditional works on NT Greek (e.g., Blass-Debrunner-Funk, Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker, Moule, Moulton-Turner, Robertson, Wallace) to build on areas of agreement and to amend or augment their treatments where they miss the mark. This makes the book more user-friendly for those more familiar with such approaches.
"Among the chapters of particular value for NT interpreters are several that provide marked improvements on traditional understandings: those on Greek conjunctions, the historical present, and the near/far distinction (demonstratives). Also very significant is the whole section on ''Information Structuring Devices" (part 3 of the book). Here Runge sorts out two different functions, often related to word order, that are usually called "emphasis" in NT grammars (e.g., BDF §§ 472-473 ). These are (1) topical framing devices that give a grounding point for what is about to be said and also connect it to what has already been introduced: and (2) newly asserted or focal information that has been placed in marked position. Two other useful topics that receive scant treatment in traditional grammars are (1) point/counterpoint sets and (2) over-specification and right-dislocation (thematically important ways of referring to participants).
"The second printing of the book is well served by extensive indexes (authors, subjects, ancient sources) that are omitted from the first printing but are available for download at ntdiscourse.org."
"Discourse analysis is an undeniably complex field. However, Runge has produced an extremely lucid and useful introduction. The book does not seek to dispense with earlier or alternative approaches: as Daniel B. Wallace states in his forward, the present volume 'is a complement to traditional grammars, rather than in competition with them ' (p. xvi). Indeed, Runge begins most chapters by reviewing the 'conventional' explanations of a linguistic phenomenon before presenting the 'discourse' ones. Runge makes extensive and helpful use of comparison with English discourse devices and offers ample illustrations from the NT (given in both Greek and English). This book is an intelligent guide to a difficult but vitally important approach to our understanding of texts."
--Journal for the Study of the New Testament: Booklist 2012
--New Testament Abstracts