Re: Discussion about *style*

From: Thomas J. Kraus (thomas-juergen.kraus@theologie.uni-regensburg.de)
Date: Wed May 19 1999 - 02:30:23 EDT


In recent posts to the list reference was made to Turner, pp. 140-142
disqualifying 2Peter as "cumersome," "vague and ambiguous," "tiresome
iteration" to name only a few of his subjective evaluation. What do such
qualifications tell about a text? They are more or less qualifications as
such and do not help in any way to describe the style of a text. One may
ask: what/where/when is the point for comparison set? "Classical" Greek?
Koine (Polybios etc.)? Papyri (ptolemaic, graeco-roman, byzantine)?
Furthermore, Nigel Turner holds a specific view towards what he calls and
describes as *Biblical Greek*. To him Greek as depicted via the Septuagint
and the writings of the NT are saturated by Hebraisms and Aramaisms which
can clearly be identified (isnęt that too positivistic; see Fitzmyeręs
reservations). Greek texts outside the NT (LXX) are regarded as being
worthless for describing the semantic and etymolgical field of vocabulary
and for evaluating the syntax of biblical texts.
>From a linguistic point of view, subjective qualifications are not really
helpful. They are postulated and you can say that it is not so. And then?
Classical philology provides a different proceeding: after having done an
elaborate description of syntactical features giving full data (not only
selective material illustrating exactly the point you want to prove)
cautious qualifications may be given always based on that data. Then (only
then) a judgment may be acceptable, because everybody is enabled to
compare that with the data given.
Sorry, but the discussion about *good* and *bad* Greek is seriously
problematic, e.g. 2 Peter has got complex sentence structure, rich
vocabulary, a selective usage of prepositions, conjunctions, and pronouns,
even if there are redundant features and stylistically embarrassing
passages (this refers more to content than to style). I do not claim that
it is written in *perfect* Greek (whatever that is). Once Reincke coined
the phrase that 2 Peter is a perfect example of Asianic style, which is
troublesome as well (what is that exactly? Shouldnęt we first of all take
a look into the works of so-called or potential Asianic writers -
Hermogenes and the like - to find out more? Cicero brought up the
denomination himself, but does not hold Asianism as *stylistically bad*
distinguishing between two forms; are the double-expressions in 2 Peter
really a feature of redundant style, of repeated hendiadyoin, or would it
be of more help to think about the rhetorical effect of repetivite
patterns?).
Well, thereęs a lot to think about, to cause trouble with/from, and to
complicate the state of affairs. If I have done that ... sorry. If anyone
has any comments, disagreements, or whatever do not hesitate to tell.

Best wishes,

Thomas J. Kraus
Universitaet Regensburg
Kath.-theol. Fakultaet
Universitaetsstr. 31
D-93053 Regensburg
Federal Republic of Germany

Tel. + 49 941 943 36 90
Fax. + 49 941 943 19 86
thomas-juergen.kraus@theologie.uni-regensburg.de

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