Preliminary Abstracts for 2011 Open Session

The Community Diminutive (Jonathan M. Watt, Geneva College / Ref. Pres. Seminary)

In a paper on Greek diminutive suffixes presented to the Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics section in 2010, I demonstrated from the literature that meanings of diminutive affixes across the world’s living languages correspond favorably with the semantic functions of NT Greek diminutive suffixes. These meanings included physical smallness, comparable quality, affection/endearment, and derogation – though sometimes they flag a semantic shift. I then proposed that a preponderance of diminutives in a speech act or written corpus might reflect a ‘colloquial word bank’ for members of a specific speech community. This paper investigates further that function which I had proposed for some NT diminutives. To accomplish this, I first discuss the settings and semantics of the roughly three dozen NT diminutives, including their topical concentration and preponderance in the gospel narratives (e.g. Swanson 1958; Petersen 1910). Second, I demonstrate from collected data, the field of pragmatics, and informant interviews connected with three living speech communities, that frequent diminution indicates specifically in-group communication of a self-aware community (e.g. Dressler et al 1994; Wierzbicka 1991). Third, I argue that there is sufficient evidence to interpret some diminutives in the gospels as reflecting distinctively Palestinian Jewish second-language usage of the language in specific settings, and should be interpreted accordingly in those contexts.

An Analysis of the Function of HOUTOS in Some Passages of the Book of Acts (Phillip S Marshall, Houston Baptist University)

The demonstrative pronouns HOUTOS and EKEINOS are commonly used in the Greek New Testament as deictic markers for entities and/or situations that are near or remote to the speaker in terms of space or time. As well, one detects their use in textual deixis, that is, to refer to a more recently mentioned referent in the text compared to one mentioned earlier. However, in a number of places in the Greek New Testament one finds the so-called “near demonstrative” HOUTOS used for items that are remote, and the so-called “far demonstrative” EKEINOS for items that are near. In this paper, we will analyze four sections of the book of Acts where the near demonstrative occurs in clusters: 4:10-11 (where the referent of HOUTOS alternates between Jesus and the lame man), 7:35-38 (where the referent of HOUTOS is Moses throughout, but Moses is thematic throughout as well, which situation invites us to ask why HOUTOS is used anaphorically to refer to a participant who is already thematic in the speech), 9:20-22 (where the referent of HOUTOS alternates between Jesus and Paul), and 10:36-43 (where anaphoric references to Jesus alternate between HOUTOS and AUTOS). We will investigate the pragmatic function of the use of HOUTOS to refer to different participants in narrative proximity and attempt to discern what the writer is communicating by using HOUTOS where the personal pronoun AUTOS might have been used.

Parallel Features in 1 John as Discourse Markers (Sang-Hoon Kim, Chongshin University)

This paper calls the readers to recognize the Johannine parallel features in 1 John, particularly as discourse markers, for proper understanding of 1 John that show the complexity of interactively-combined parallels, even in every line of the text. This phenomenon appears to be full of repetition, comparison, and contrasts. Without perceiving properly the certain rule of constructing phrases and sentences in terms of parallel (including chiastic or combined) relations in the discourse of 1 John, the readers may fail to evaluate the Johannine text, properly and meaningfully, disregarding its own way of network connection of meaning units. Designations, such as ‘beloved’ or ‘children’, in 1 John, and thematic issues such as ‘children of God’ have been generally considered as the significant factors among discourse markers. Structures of 1 John, however, are not depended upon these factors, but upon the unique designs of parallel features demonstrated over phrases and sentences. If we seriously regard the function of parallel features of 1 John as sectional markers, we may properly grasp its whole structure: A-B-A-C-A and B-C-B-C-B-C that reflects the specific, inter-related thematic arrangements, probably overcoming the controversial issue regarding the structure of 1 John.

Aspect and Aktionsart Once Again: Towards a Distinction between Properties of Verb and Verb Phrase (Francis G H Pang, McMaster Divinity College)

In the discussion of the verbal aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, Zeno Vendler’s characterization of verbal classes is often considered as a crucial development of the study. Quite a few works of Greek verbal aspect in the last thirty years use his quadripartition of lexical classes as part of their theory. This in turns fuels the debate among the aspect theorists on the distinction between semantics and pragmatics in the discussion of aspect. However, even though most of these proposals insist on articulating a clear distinction between semantics and pragmatics categories and a clear distinction between aspect and Aktionsart, such insistences break down when the tense-form under investigation lacks a clear expression of aspect. This study is an attempt to retrace the development of the verbal classes and to examine how it contributes to the discussion of verbal aspect in the New Testament Greek. It provides an up-to-date discussion of the nature of these verbal classes in cross-linguistic studies, and particularly regarding the question of whether the discussion of lexical aspect should be at the verb level or the verb phrase level. Advances from cross-linguistic studies are reviewed and used in the discussion of the Greek verbal system. It is argued that lexical aspect should be viewed as a property at the verb phrase level and more discussion on the classification criteria of various properties of verbs and verb phrases that are relevant to the understanding of Greek lexical aspect is needed.

Aspect in Biblical Greek Discourse: Insights from Hungarian, Russian, Vietnamese, English and Modern Greek (Mark Beatty, Pacific Rim Bible College)

From such Biblical Greek grammarians as Campbell, Fanning, Porter and Wallace, a prospective Greek Exegete is presented with a perplexity of aspectual schemata. An empirical flaw common to all, however, is the failure of each grammarian to fully incorporate periphrastic structures in their proposed aspectual systems. If one views “aspect” as human beings linguistically encoding kinds of action; and if one considers all human beings similar in their cognitive potential; then the question must be asked how the vast number of languages are similar in expressing aspect. The answer to this question lies in the periphrastic structures used in many languages. Hungarian and Russian have extensive morphological aspect. English, Modern Greek and Biblical Greek have a combination of morphological and lexical aspect. Vietnamese has no morphological aspect what-so-ever and thus all aspect in Vietnamese is lexical which can be considered “periphrastic.” This paper will show that all languages are similar in their aspectual abilities. The proposed aspectual schema will be verified by examining discourse patterns in the New Testament.


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