RE: Machen Revisited

From: Randy Leedy (
Date: Fri Sep 19 1997 - 08:46:11 EDT

Re-reading my post on this topic, I see a potential point of
confusion, where I may seem to contradict myself. I wrote "But syntax
(not to mention discourse structure) will always, I believe, defy the
sort of complete scientific analysis that in purely scientific fields
allows us to predict with a very high degree of accuracy the outcome
of a given set of conditions, or completely and objectively to reduce
a given outcome (e.g. a Greek paragraph) to its constituent parts and
their interrelationships."

When I inserted my parenthesis "(e.g. a Greek paragraph)," I had
forgotten exactly what this sentence was supposed to be saying! I did
not mean to indicate that a Greek paragraph IS an outcome that we can
scientifically analyze. I was just trying to show specifically how
Greek fits into my thinking: if a Greek paragraph WERE scientifically
analyzable, I would consider it an outcome that could be reduced
objectively to its constituent parts and their interrelationships.
I'm suggesting that you can't plug a Greek paragraph into the same
slot in a philosophical paradigm where you would put the outcome, for
example, of a certain amount of energy applied to a resting body of a
certain weight and physical character.

Hope this "clarification" doesn't further muddy the water.

Randy Leedy

I hope this thread doesn't die; I'm interested. (Sometimes my posts
seem to be the kiss of death to an interesting idea, or else I have a
knack for getting interested in things that nobody else cares about.)
Perhaps I misunderstand Clayton's suggestion. At any rate, the idea
of computer analysis of language always waves a red flag before my

I will also take issue with Clayton's statement that Greek is not an
L-R language. I am sure that skilled readers of Koine Greek did not
jump around in their sentences any more than we jump around in
sentences in our own language. If they did, then the oral form of the
language must have differed greatly from the written form, since a
hearer doesn't get the opportunity to jump ahead and go back in order
to find the pieces and put them together. And most ancient
literature, of course, was designed for more hearing than for
reading, so it really is not possible that the written form can
differ greatly from the oral form. I am sure that Paul's readerscould
understand his sentences linearly just as well any English reader of
comparable skill can understand his own language. The difficulty
arises only when a mind trained only to run in the rut of its own
language is forced to try to understand a language that runs in
entirely different kinds of ruts.

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