Re: Source for the semantic range of ...

Date: Sat Aug 28 1999 - 11:13:37 EDT


Carl Conrad's latest post (dealing with lexical use and reading of the
many texts needful for understanding the Greek we are studying) is
so remarkable, and RIGHT, and so worth re-reading (and then DOING!),
that I take the liberty of doing what I am generally negative about--
reproducing it in my own post. So TAKE AND READ!

Edward Hobbs

Carl wrote----------->>>>>>>>>>>

                         I think it's fair to say that few if any of
us ever make adequate use of an unabridged lexicon (we really tend to go to
a lexicon for a "quick fix" when stumped while reading--and we delude
ourselves into imagining that we'll find what we want in a little
hand-lexicon like the "little Liddell" or the almost useless Newman UBS
glossary that comes with UBS3 or UBS4. The unabridged LSJ-G for a major
word deserves lengthy study, and I think the same is true of BAGD and will
be even more true of the upcoming BDAG. And in response to Chris Core's
question: Yes, I do think that the better lexicons cite examples of every
usage which they catalogue and give a full listing in the opening pages of
the whole battery of authors from which their database has been drawn.

But the implication of what Mike is saying here (and I DO agree) is that
vocabulary acquisition is never complete but it grows with time and
continued reading of the entire corpus of relevant literature. And the GNT
is actually only a small portion of that relevant literature.

There's something else here that becomes evident if one diligently pays
attention to the citations from the LXX that are shown at the bottom of the
page on the UBS editions (but I think it's just as true of OT Hebrew
texts): literacy in antiquity is not just a matter of being ABLE to read;
rather it's a matter of familiarity with the whole body of classical texts
in a literary tradition. For example, Plato writes for people who know
Homer and Hesiod and the whole lyric tradition as well as the plays of the
tragedians and comedians; he cites them quite regularly, sometimes not
exactly in accord with the written texts that have survived, which suggests
that these works have been committed to memory and they condition the ways
in which words are understood. The same is true for Biblical writers: later
works resonate with the language and phraseology of earlier works that have
been committed to memory in large blocks. Literacy means something
different to the modern world which can easily consult written texts of
classics of one's tradition or even look at them on a computer screen from
a site halfway around the world. But when the phraseology of one's literary
tradition is carried within one's head, the impact of that tradition upon
the way one thinks and the way one uses words is immense--and the only way
to acquire something remotely comparable to that resonance of traditional
phraseology is to read a lot, to go on reading more, and to read again
until the phrases and syntactic constructions and the very sounds of words
juxtaposed ring in our mental ears. That, I think, is the nearest we can
get to the ancients' feeling for the meanings of words and constructions.

Carl W. Conrad

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