Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Testament Greek Linguistics

Durning my work towards a PhD at MacDiv, I have been doing a lot of reading in the area of the language of Greek (the language the New Testament was originally written in), specifically, Greek linguistics. One of the articles I have been working with is by a good friend of mine Andrew Pitts (and my advisor Dr. Stan Porter). I thought our readers would like a taste of what I have been working on the past few months, so I wanted to post the abstract of this article, which is titled "New Testament Greek Language and Linguistics in Recent Research" and can be found in the journal Currents in Biblical Research 2008, 6, 214.
This article examines developments in research on the linguistic and grammatical analysis of the language and literature of the New Testament since the publication of James Barr's important work in 1961. While there have been a large number of important advances since this time, the present survey restricts its analysis to research that has been significantly informed by modern linguistics. It considers four areas, in particular: verb structure, case structure, syntax and discourse analysis. Verbal aspect theory has been treated in more detail than any other aspect of the Greek verb. Most investigation of case structure has been informed by case grammar, originating in Fillmore's work. Syntactic theories that have been applied to the language of the New Testament draw mostly from the generative tradition of linguistics, but the project has recently implemented a functional and relational dependency model. Discourse analysis has typically been divided into four schools, but in recent research we see a fifth, eclectic approach, emerging.
(image from here)


  1. So are you working in one of these fields in particular? Linguistics is a massive field. Are you specializing in a specific sub-field? Or specific descriptive framework?

  2. Mike,

    Thanks for the question. You are right about linguistics being a massive field. At this point I am just familiarizing myself with the landscape. My plan, for my dissertation, is to work in a specific area of linguistics and apply it to the Greek of the New Testament. I am not sure which area of linguistics just yet. I am drawn to discourse analysis and systemic functionalism.

  3. I am drawn to ... systemic functionalism.

    Naturally, you're at MacDiv.

    But because its such a big field, be sure to read broadly from as many perspectives as you can and never feel afraid to question the framework in which you're working. Some of the best linguistic work of the past several decades has resulted from such questioning--Robert Van Valin, Joan Bresnan, and more recently Peter Culicover & Ray Jackendoff of the mainstream generative tradition; Christopher Bulter and Kees Hengeveld of the various strands of European and British functionalism.

    In any case, do keep us updated.

  4. Hey Josh,

    My name is Mike, as well, and I'm going to start in the PhD program at MacDiv in the Fall in NT studies with a specialization in greek language and linguistics. I'd love to get your view of the program and what to expect in my first year and what to do over this summer in preparation for it. Any help/advice would be amazing! My email is mike[dot]fightmaster[at]gmail[dot]com. It'd be great to hear from you, Josh. If I don't, I look forward to studying with you in the Fall.

  5. Hi Josh.

    The image you use in this post (with the words Η Ελληνικη Γλωσσα και Γλωσσολογια / Greek Language and Linguistics) belongs to ( I am the copyright owner, and I don't mind you using the image on your blog as long as you include a link to with the image.

    Please take a moment to add the link or remove the image.

    I wish you the best in your study of Greek Linguistics.


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