Structure and Purpose of Biblical Books?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Sep 17 1997 - 15:53:38 EDT

Speaking only for myself, I'm a little bit disturbed at finding two posts
in the B-Greek mail that I've just downloaded that are asking some pretty
"big" questions about two whole NT documents. One of them is not even based
upon questions about the Greek text; the other one cites particular texts
within the document in order to postulate or formulate a theory of the
purpose of the whole document, but doesn't really appear dependent upon
understanding something about the Greek text within that document as such.
Even granting that this discussion of the purpose of the whole document is
subsidiary to and aimed at facilitating an appreciation of an understanding
of the Greek text of a particular verse, it still seems to me to be a
question better suited to discussion on the Bible list, where larger
analytical and structural questions about the Biblical documents as a whole
are surely welcome.

I certainly don't mean that a perception of an author's purpose cannot be
or should not be considered as it bears upon a specific Biblical Greek
text, and I wouldn't want to be misunderstood here. It's a matter rather of
proportion and judgment, I'd say: does the larger but still immediate
context of the Greek text of this verse illuminate what the writer intends
this verse to mean? Then by all means bring that context to bear. Can the
meaning of the Greek text of this verse be understood without formulating a
hypothetical structural analysis of the entire document? If it can't, then
I'm inclined to think that one would do better to publish one's own
commentary on that document rather than initiate a higher-critical
discussion of the document as a whole here.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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