[b-greek] Great Divide

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (c.s.bartholomew@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Tue Sep 19 2000 - 16:23:44 EDT

The recent discussion of Gal. 4:14 has reminded me once again that there is
a Great Divide among language aficionados which is constantly surfacing on
this list.

The Great Divide might be characterized as a separation between those who
give priority to formal language features and those who give priority to
semantic structure. By priority I mean, the place where do you start your
investigation of a text. If you work from the bottom up (phonology -
morphology - phrase and clause syntax) you are a formal language feature
aficionado (FLFA). If you start out by looking at the high-level semantic
structure you are a semantic priority aficionado (SPA).

A semantic priority aficionado (SPA) assumes that an author of a text starts
with some semanitc goal and realizes this goal selecting from a vast pool of
available formal language elements. For this reason the SPA will begin the
investigation of a text with the analysis of the medium and high level
semantic structure and will perhaps at some point wander down to take a very
close look at how the semantic goal of the author was realized in the low
level formal language features.

The formal language feature aficionado (FLFA) starts out at the bottom and
attempts to work up through the layers to the semantic level of the text.
However, the FLFA often never arrives at his destination because the
analysis of the low-level language features becomes such a preoccupation
that it becomes an endless quest in and of itself. The FLFA may not even
know how to proceed upward beyond the clause level syntax. The semantic
structure above the clause level is a relatively unexplored region for many

It would be a grievous error to consider the methods of the FLFA and SPA as
just two different ways of doing the same thing. This is not the case. The
SPA and FLFA are actually removed by vastly different sets of
presuppositions (Great Divide) about the nature of language.

One of the side affects of learning an ancient language is that the student
spends a great deal of time struggling with formal language features. For
this reason alone most NT Greek students become by default hard core and
incurable FLFA's. They spend so many hundreds of hours mastering a
reasonable subset of the language that they become inordinately preoccupied
with formal language features for the rest of their life. This is all
exacerbated by pedagogy which promotes micro level analysis over reading.

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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