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Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis Hardcover – December, 2010
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"The purpose of this book is to introduce a function-based approach to language using discourse grammar. It presupposes three core principles: Choice implies meaning; semantic or inherent meaning should be differentiated from pragmatic effect; and default patterns of usage should be distinguished from marked ones. After treating foundations and connecting propositions, it discusses forward-pointing devices: forward-pointing reference and target, point/counterpoint sets, metacomments, historical present, redundant quotative frames, and tailhead linkage. Next it considers information structuring devices: information structure, framing devices (two chapters), circumstantial frames, emphasis, and left-dislocations. Then it deals with thematic high lighting devices: overspecification and right-dislocation, thematic addition, changed reference and thematic address, and near/far distinction. Runge is scholar-in-residence for Logos Bible Software and research associate for the department of ancient studies at the University of Stellenbosch."
--"New Testament Abstracts"
"Steven Runge, scholar in residence at Logos Bible Software, has produced a book of great value for those who desire a clear yet well-grounded introduction to discourse analysis of NT Greek. Discourse features of a language are those that operate above the word- or sentence-level, an area of analysis neglected by traditional studies of NT Greek. Unfortunately much of the growing body of literature in this area is narrow, technical, jargon-tilled, and essentially impenetrable for the non-specialist. The strength of this book is that it covers a wide range of such features with technical competence but in a way that clearly explains the features, illustrates them with multiple examples from the NT, and enables the reader to use the information in his or her own study of the text.
"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."
"This book aims to introduce readers of the Greek NT to discourse analysis (also known as text linguistics) and the insights that such an approach can bring to the study of this text. While traditional grammar has tended to focus on language at the level of the sentence and below, discourse analysis looks beyond the sentence to the wider context of an utterance--the extra-sentential level--and its function. The book is divided into four parts: Part 1 (Foundations) introduces discourse analysis and surveys connecting prepositions; Part 2 (Forward-Pointing Devices) surveys prominence-marking strategies; Part 3 (Information Structuring Devices) focuses on word order; and Part 4 (Thematic Highlighting Devices) examines ways in which the use of language influences readers' mental representations of discourse. A short summary at the end of the book provides a tabulation of some 14 distinct discourse devices.
"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 "
About the Author
Steven E. Runge is the General Editor of the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. He has a Master of Theological Studies degree in Biblical Languages from Trinity Western Seminary in Langley, B.C., Canada; a BA in Speech Communication from Western Washington University; and a Doctor of Literature degree in Biblical Languages from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at Northwest Baptist Theological College, Trinity Western University, and Associated Canadian Theological Schools (ACTS) while completing his education.
Top customer reviews
The book is divided into four parts: (1) Foundations; (2) Forward-Pointing Devices; (3) Information Structuring Devices; and (4) Thematic Highlighting Devices. In Part 1 Runge dedicates his time to showing the reader why his approach has value. This includes discussions on paying attention to an author’s choice of words or word placement, the pragmatic effect of those choices, and so forth. Then he introduces his approach through the study of prepositions. The reader should go from thinking that “kai = and” to asking how kai functions in a sentence in Greek, especially when contrasted with a word like de (another word often translated “and” but one that has a different function from kai). I found this section expanded my understanding of the text and it helped me to stop thinking about how to merely translate when I should be trying to understand Koiné itself.
In Part 2 Runge discusses what he calls “forward-pointing devices” which includes lessons on reference and target, point/counterpoint, metacomments, the historical present, redundant quotative frames, and tail-head linkage. In Part 3 he moves on to “information structuring devices” which includes a variety of “framing devices” that highlight temporal, topical, spatial and other forms of change in the text. Also, he has sections on emphasis and “left-dislocations”. In Part 4 he discusses “thematic highlighting devices” such as overspecification and “right-dislocation”, thematic additions, change of reference, and near/far distinction. (If you want to peak at the book to see examples of these concepts I recommend viewing it through Google Books since it is not possible for me to reproduce examples from each one here).
Now, if you want a more critical, thorough review of this book you’ll have to look elsewhere because I’m not qualified. I read this book with the posture of a someone who—in the words of Esteban Vázquez— “felt like I am learning Greek all over again.” I confess that prior to reading this book I overlooked most (or read without being very conscious) of the devices used by authors to do things as simple as emphasizing the main theme over against an athematic point, or when the author seems to be commenting/explaining the text within the text, or when the author wants to introduce a change in time or place. In fact, many of these chapters introduced ideas that were completely new to me. If not completely new, then paradigm shifting and mind expanding. I found that my reading of the text seemed to go from 2-D to 3-D in the process. This is the sort of book you’ll want to purchase and then work your way through slowly. Whereas many grammars—even those like Wallace’s Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics—are helpful, this book seems to take things another step altogether really forcing you to be observant when reading the Greek New Testament. I highly recommend this book because I believe it will help you become a better reader if you read it.
Linguists have developed an interpretive process known as Discourse Analysis. This approach covers a lot of textual features not well addressed by traditional interpretation. Take the "redundant quotative frame" (you know, those silly "He answered and said" couplets). Why the repetition? "He answered" would have served the point. No, it is redundant for a reason! The author is showing by the "unnecessary" repettion that what follows is a change in direction or an unusually important point. We might underline the text or put it all in capitals.
Runge introduces one to tens of features like this. He does it in a clear and compelling way. You will never read your NT or OT the same again! Some of the features require the original languages and some are quite clear even in a literal English translation.
I cannot too highly recommend this book. Yes, it is a lot of work reading but it is very much worth it. I suggest studying it in half hour chunks to avoid burnout. One really cannot absorb much more than this anyways.
1. Runge makes discourse analysis very accessible and approachable and this book is excellent in the way that it approaches discourse analyltical linguistics and explains things very clearly and I have to say that Runge is a comedian and he relates the Greek concepts to English.
2. Runge explains why Greek sentences are constructed the way that they are and offers other explanations as to how the Greek sentence could have been constructed and show the exegetical and rhetorical signifcance of this.
3. Best of all the climax is that the first two items explain the place of linguistic prominence and emphasis and how to find it and he does an excellent job explaining it.
I highly recommend that you in addition to purchasing this grammar that you purchase the Lexham discourse Greek NT and Lexham discourse Hebrew Bible (which is still being worked on) where all the discourse devices mentioned in this book are marked out. It is my dream to memorize the Bible in it's original languages and I believe that this approach to exegesis will help me get there. I pray that this work is made a requirement in upper division Greek courses at colleges and seminaries.
Get this grammar it is worth it!