From: Mike Sangrey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Jun 19 2000 - 18:56:26 EDT
> The whole business of finding "subtle distinctions" between words
> were "subtle distinctions" probably do not exist is driven by the
> fundamental idea that the basic unit of meaning in a text is the word
> and that the analysis of individual words is where we will find the
> message. IMHO this exegetical model is just plain wrong. To say that
> this approach to understanding a text is pervasive in the popular
> literature on the bible is a understatement.
If I may make a simple observation.
I wish language was simple. :-)
"The building is tall."
"The building is high."
Same thing. In terms of lexical semantics, 'high' and 'tall' are
identical and interchangeable. Good enough!
"The boy is tall."
"The boy is high."
Hmmmmmmmmm. With utmost scholarly and technical acumen, I declare, "it no
They're not interchangeable--NOT IN THE SECOND CONTEXT.
And that's the rub. In one it works, in the other is doesn't. That
is, the context determines whether the words utilize their subtle
distinctives and what set of subtle distinctives are selected.
A stream of intelligently chosen and placed words is a body, almost
organic in nature. The individual cells each having their own life and
yet the life of the whole flowing throughout the parts. So, an
exegetical model must flow in both directions with at least this one
rule: The higher level semantic container is the boss. It dictates
to the lower level containers what they can and can not do. However,
the lower level containers do the work and build the higher level
containers. I've simply stated the rub in another way.
It is a perverse feature of exegesis which demands an understanding of
the whole before one can select the distinctives caught in the words.
I think, however, that a feature of language which helps the hearer
determine the meaning, is that the author starts at the beginning and
builds up his/her context one word at a time--IN SEQUENCE.
I've come to appreciate (rather quickly I might add) a method which
exegetes from left to right. In other words, one performs exegesis as
one works through the text, one word at a time, working from beginning to
the end. One does not first try to find the verb, diagram the sentence
around the verb and work from there. That too strongly encourages a
word oriented approach which is disconnected from the context WHICH THE
AUTHOR IS IN THE PROCESS OF BUILDING.
Of course, this assumes one is fluent in the language--another rub.
All this massage is making me sore, what about you?
I think reading a lot of Greek; having really wonderful and Greek
knowledgeable people looking over my shoulder and sweetly telling me I'm
an idiot; my being sensitive that the subtle and numerous distinctives
in words may be, but may not be, selected in a given context; my being
sensitive to the too frequent errors of reading an English language
mindset into the Greek; these are ALL important to exegesis.
And @#$% hard.
Well, that's what happens when you briskly rub a Molotov cocktail.
Every Christian library should have a plaque which states:
"There is one book which explains all of these."
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