RE: Wallace: Beyond the Basics

From: Jefferson, Robert C. (
Date: Mon Aug 09 1999 - 09:53:25 EDT

Should a modern grammar of a "2000" year old dead language reflect the needs
of the current audience or of the original writers?
And what is the methodology of determining either of theses?


        -----Original Message-----
        From: Carl W. Conrad []
        Sent: Sunday, August 08, 1999 8:18 AM
        To: Biblical Greek
        Cc: Biblical Greek
        Subject: Re: Wallace: Beyond the Basics

        At 4:28 AM -0700 8/8/99, clayton stirling bartholomew wrote:
>I keep getting asked off list "what don't you like about Wallace?"
>question has a certain dejavu quality to it.
>The best way understand this without a long lecture on Saussure,
>Semiotics and other obscure issues is to do a comparison between
>Porter's Idioms of NT Greek with Wallace. Take a look at how Porter
>handles the greek case system and then look at Wallace. Note how
>abstract Porter's treatment of the cases is. Note how Wallace gives
>or so types of genitives.
>You need to know some linguistics to understand why
>Porter is different from Wallace on the theoretical level but you
>see the difference without knowing any linguistics at all.

        If I may add a relatively brief note to this discussion, I want to
say that
        I have had some disagreements myself with Wallace's presentation of
a few
        particular issues--in particular, it has seems to me on occasion
that he
        (like some others) has unnecessarily invented some grammatical
        for analysis of case usage and verbal usage that traditional
        didn't find necessary and whose usefulness I am inclined to

        Nevertheless, I value the book and find it very much worth
consulting when
        significant grammatical issues in interpretation of NT texts arises.
        view of the massive task it is to undertake a comprehensive
presentation of
        such a massive areas as Koine Greek Grammar, I don't much like to
        bashing of such major efforts as this. The book is surely a useful
one and
        a major recent treatment of the subjects involved, and it is clearly
        fruit of many years of successful and respected teaching. Any
        and experienced student of a field like Biblical Greek ought to know
        than either to stand in absolute awe of any "authoritative" work on
        subject or to look cynically down his or her nose at it. Such a work
is the
        product of human effort and intelligence, and however one ultimately
        to judge it critically, it deserves respect. We will all have our
        grammatical "authorities," but we do well to have some sense of the
        precariousness of our own received and even considered judgments on
        grammatical matters and we do well also to be cognizant of the
centuries of
        scholarship and lore of unnamed men and women on whose shoulders the
        edifice of understanding we now hold rests (I have a feeling that
        mixed far too many metaphors here, but I hope what I mean may
        be clear).

        Carl W. Conrad
        Department of Classics, Washington University
        Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243 OR

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