Style Analysis

From: Edgar M. Krentz (
Date: Thu Sep 14 1995 - 13:18:20 EDT

You have received some good advice. Read carefully that 4th volume of
Moulton-Howard-Turner's _Grammar_. You will learn there to pay attention to
Semitisms, to word order, etc.

Let me add one or two other items to the list. You might want to look at
descriptions of Greek style in the world of the world of the New
Testament--and see if they apply to any or all of the NT documents. James
Moffatt was sure that the author of Hebrews used ancient rhetorical devices
(see his commentary in the ICC series).

A standard word on the analysis of Greek style in the classical world is

J[ohn] D[ewar] Denniston, _Greek Prose Style-. Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1952. He treats such items as abstract expressions, adjectival
qualifications of abstractions, use of the articular infinitive, word order
(interlacing, separation of article from substantive, etc.), sentence
structure and antithesis, repetition (through various devides such as
anaphora, MEN ...DE, antistrophe, etc.), asyndeton, etc. You will find
there a plethora of stylistic items that can be analyzed.

You may also want to read descriptions of style in aancient and modern
writers. The best ancient authors to read are:

Demetrius "On Style" [PERI SUNQESIS ONOMATWN] and Ps.-Longinus, "On the
Sublime" [PERI hUPSOUS]. Both are available in excellent translations by W.
Rhys Roberts in the same LCL volume as Aristotle's "Poetics." Roberts also
has earlier editions with commentary.

A useful introduction to the world of ancient literary criticism and style is:

D. A. Russel, _Criticism in Antiquity._ Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of
California Press, 1981. He deals with theories of style and the
classification of literature, inter alia.

Students of Greek style pay much attention to Greek particles, and
conjunctions. It is often some of these "little words" that show a writer's
style. Does s/he use OUN often? regularly use MEN ... DE? Prefer DE to KAI
at the beginning of sentences? Use NUN DE to int roduce the true state of
affairs after an explicit or implied statement contrary to fact? Here you
might waant to consult two works:

J[ohn] D[ewar] Denniston,_The Greek Particles_. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1954 (658 pages!)

Margaret E. Thrall, _Greek Particles in the New Testament_. Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1962.

Finally, you need to have available a truly good computer concordance
program that uses a tagged text. Here you can discover whether a writer
uses a certain complex of words consistently, etc.

Happy hunting!

Edgar Krentz <>
New Testament, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Voice: 312-753-0752; FAX: 312-753-0782

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