[b-greek] Re: Discourse Analysis - Already but Not Yet

From: Ilvgrammta@aol.com
Date: Mon Jul 31 2000 - 16:22:18 EDT

In a message dated 00-07-31 11:22:03 EDT, mike@sojurn.lns.pa.us writes:

<< The text (largely) provides the framework and Discourse Analysis (DA)
 provides a way to objectively uncover that framework, thus attempting
 a solution to our myopia.>>

A few months ago, I would have readily agreed with Mike's assessment of DA.
At this point, however, I'm not so sure that I would hail the purported
objectivity of DA. While it is a valuable tool and at times it does in fact
seem like an indispensable tool--nevertheless, it has its limitations and its
own problems with subjectivity. In praxis, it is very difficult (near
impossible) to come up with a presuppositionless, Baconian system in which
every "idol of the mind" is eradicated. One has to have some type of starting
point and DA is no different.
 <<As an analytical methodology it brings a disciplined structure to
 interpretation. There have been other attempts at this, too. But,
 most, and I am specifically referring to the analytical methodology, do
 not recognize the priority and prominence of the larger constituents of
 communication, such as--paragraph, section, in deed, the entire document
 the author has penned. Grammars have been one such attempt; they do not
 get above the clause (perhaps sentence) level, however.[2] >>

In _Biblical Greek Exegesis_, Guthrie and Duvall try to emphasize the
macrostructure over against the microstructural aspect of the text when
teaching their students NT grammar. And indeed they have a point. But one
thing I've wondered about in connection with DA is where one starts when one
wants to 'analyze' the suprasentential level of a text? Do we start from the
bottom and go up? Or do we begin at the discourse level and proceed downward?

I guess the problem I'm having with DA is understanding how stasrting at the
discourse level works in a practical way. Why start at the top when working
on a text? As a case example, let's say that I am trying to put together an
exegetical paper on Hebrew 1-14 (which I am indeed currently working on). In
this case, I can clearly see how DA would serve as an important tool. But I
still fail to see how its possible to get away from the signifier and the
signified when exegeting such a text and why it would be beneficial to do
such. I do not think the text would tell me what I need to know if I forsook
the clausal or word level (cf. Heb. 1:3-4). In fact, Jeffrey Reed suggests
that one cannot totally get away from the word level when performing DA and
he indicates that it may be okay to start from the bottom and work upwards.

Just a few thoughts,
Edgar Foster

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