[b-greek] Re: Textbooks for Principles of Exegesis Class

From: Brian Swedburg (brian@discoveryhills.org)
Date: Mon Feb 26 2001 - 17:00:19 EST

Clay wrote...
> Brian,
> Have you ever known anyone who has moved "beyond --- categories" once they
> have been forced to learn them?
> Why start off with a linguistically inadequate language model just so you
> can go through all the trouble of unlearning it later?
> Using these categories is going to flavor your whole approach doing NT
> Greek. Most students will never "move beyond" them.
> Clay
    You may be right. I am searching for a way to express my concern, as it
pertains to Greek exegesis, without stepping into the theological limelight,

Let me say this. I am speaking as one who came into Greek exegesis from a
embedded conservative evangelical perspective. What I see in other young
Greek exegetes who come from or have a similar perspective, is a near
inability to let the particular Greek text shape their thought (Biblical
Theology). Rather, their Systematic Theology often makes the 'exegetical
call' for them. Nothing new has been said here. Most list members are
probably sufficiently versed in these interpretive realities.
    Here is where a "Wallace" like grammar is not miles beyond evangelical
populist thought, like the field of linguistics is, yet can challenge the
young Greek exegete to make distinctions and decisions about the text and
not just their theology.
    So, if I were teaching Greek exegesis in a highly academic setting,
again Clay, I might agree with you. If I am teaching Greek here in my
congregation or in a ministry preparation setting, I may advocate breaking
their interpretive paradigms more carefully. My hope, is that through texts
like those I have suggested, my students would become deliberative in their
theology and allow the Greek text to feed and shape their theology, rather
than constraining the exegesis with the Theology. This too is an overly
simplistic summary, as every Greek text itself is written from a theological
    One example. Just recently, in discussion of 1 John, I challenged a
friend and preacher to tell me whether he thought the H AGAPH TOU QEOU in
2:5 was a objective or subjective genitive. He was simply unable to pass
his interpretation of the text through even this "Wallace" grid. He had
come to other conclusions, driven by other considerations. Beyond this, the
aspects of the text he was choosing to emphasize were not in keeping with my
discourse analysis of the text. i.e. issues of the relationship of the
imperatives to the spans of the text in particular. This is a guy with D.
Min. I love this guy, but I am not going to nudge him into better Greek
exegesis through linguistics, first. Linguistic realities are to far from
what is central to his interpretation of the text. I think I would begin by
a refresher in categories like "Wallace's" and the basic need to make a
decision. Eventually, maybe just paying attention to what is coordinate and
subordinate in the logic of the Greek syntax...
    Again, I have shared these thoughts just to fertilize your own. No
fighting words here. Having and education degree as well, perhaps what I am
saying is that not every bridge will fit every canyon. Likewise, not every
text will fit the needs or goals of every Greek exegesis course/ student.

Yes Clay, I think that I am one who has moved beyond the "abused aorist" and
at least some oversimplification of categories in light of linguistics. But
then, it often sounds to me like Carl and some of the other list members who
take more classic or "Wallace" like approaches can subject their categories
to the text as well.

Thanks for the stimulation.
Brian P. Swedburg,
Student, etc...

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