What’s with All Those Extra Words?

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Steve Runge, a scholar-in-residence at Logos Bible Software, whose work focuses on the discourse grammar of Hebrew and Greek.

This post is about another one of the discourse devices found in the Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. When reading the NT, we come across words like ‘behold’ or ‘truly’ that we do not use much in English. So what purpose do they serve in the Greek NT? These and other words function as ‘attention-getters’, and serve to draw attention to something unexpected or important that immediately follows. Attention-getters are often used in combination with other devices, especially meta-comments.

When we are telling a story, we will often throw in extra words at different points to add more drama or flair just before something surprising or important. Take a look at some examples:

  • Just as I looked up, just like that this bear appears out of nowhere.
  • While I was turning into the driveway, bang, I ran over my son’s bike.
  • We were walking down the trail when out of nowhere a mountain biker appeared.
  • I was doing some repairs on the house when, get this, one leg of the step ladder gave way and wham, I hit the ground.

In each of these examples, the bolded words could have been left out without significantly altering the meaning of what is communicated. We also find attention-getting devices in the NT that accomplish similar purposes. They tend to be placed just before something that is surprising or important.

Here are some examples from the NT.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph. (Matt 2:13)

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph. (Matt 2:19)

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. (Matt 3:16)

And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:17)

In each of these examples from Matthew, the word ‘behold’ is placed just before something surprising or important, like the appearance of an angel or the voice from heaven. The same information could have been communicated without the attention-getter, but it would not have had the same ‘zing’ as it does with ‘behold’.

Examples of other attention-getters that are found in the NT include:

  • ‘he who has ears, let him hear’ (e.g. Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 14:35; Rev 2:7)
  • ‘truly’ (e.g. Matt 5:18; Mark 14:30; Luke 9:27; John 1:51)
  • ‘woe to you’ (e.g. Matt 23:13, 15, 16, 23, 25, 27, 29)
  • ‘alas’ (e.g. Matt 24:19)
  • ‘God is witness’ (e.g. 1 Thes 2:5)

The important thing to keep in mind is that these attention-getters could have been omitted without significantly changing the content of what was communicated. The presence of the attention-getter represents the choice to attract extra attention to what follows. If you are interested in devices like these, check out the description on the Pre-Pub pages of the Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. Links to previous blog posts describing other discourse devices can be found there.

Free Pre-Pub “Shipping” Soon

A little over a month ago we announced that Charles Sears Baldwin’s How to Write: A Handbook Based on the English Bible was on Pre-Pub for the whopping price of $0. We don’t normally give out free Pre-Pubs, but we wanted to give those of you who have never ordered a Pre-Pub a chance to test out the program with no cost or risk.

Several thousand of you have taken advantage of this offer. If you aren’t one of them, you’ve still got a little time left. The projected ship date is this Friday, June 13. If you haven’t pre-ordered it yet, don’t miss out on this no-risk freebie. (See the previous post for more details on how the Pre-Pub Program works.)

For those of you who have already pre-ordered it, you should have received a confirmation email informing you that the book is almost ready and asking you to verify that your credit card information is correct.

When the product “ships,” you will receive a second email with instructions on how to download and install your new book.

Enjoy!

Video Interview with Rick: What’s So Cool about the LGNTI?

Rick Brannan was kind enough to sit down with me and answer a few questions about one of the projects that he’s been working on for the last several months, the new Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament (LGNTI), which should be shipping any day now.

Click on the image below to watch Rick talk about this great new resource.


Windows Media Video: 5:31 | 14.8MB

You can also read about some of the features of the LGNTI or, better yet, watch Rick some demonstrate them in these two posts:

Searching As a Kind of Visual Filter

The visual filters in Logos are very helpful. If you haven’t used them much, take a couple of minutes to check them out by going to View > Visual Filters. Notice that you can select to see the visual filters available for All Resources or a particular resource chosen from the drop-down box.

My favorite visual filters are the Morphology Filter (cf. here and here) and the Active Bible Reference (cf. here). Other filters include Page Numbers and Bible Reading Plans. The Andersen-Forbes Analyzed Text of the Hebrew Bible has special genre and source visual filters that are pretty cool.

The morphology filter allows you to markup certain words based on criteria that you define. For example, in the Greek NT you can mark up all indicative verbs or plural nouns. It works the same way in the Hebrew OT. You can create as many of these filters as you’d like, save them, and toggle them off and on as appropriate.

One of the benefits of the morphology filter is that it calls your attention to certain words as you work your way through the text. This is great for resources that contain morphological tagging, but what if you want certain English words to stand out as you read or skim through a portion of Scripture, a chapter in a book, or a journal article? While you can use the morphology filter to mark up up English words in the reverse interlinears, there isn’t a visual filter for marking up certain words or phrases in your average English books. You could do this manually with the visual markup tools, but this might not always be the most efficient way to accomplish what you want.

What I like to do when I want my eyes to catch certain words as I work through a text is to use searching as a sort of visual filter.

Let’s say I’m studying the doctrine of the Trinity and working through portions of Gunton’s The Promise of Trinitarian Theology. I want to note especially where Gunton mentions language of subordination. I’m not so much just looking for all the occurrences of the term as I am reading a chapter and wanting certain terms to stand out. So I run a search on subordin* and get an instant visual filter applied as I work through the text.

If I want several terms to stand out, I would simply run multiple searches or add all the search terms in the same search (e.g., subordin* OR trinit*). Logos conveniently highlights each search term with a different color.

Perhaps you’ll find this helpful in your own reading and research.

“When I’m stumped . . . I go to Henry Alford.”

A couple of months ago, Dan Phillips emailed me about Henry Alford’s The Greek Testament and asked if we would consider making it available in Libronix. I was familiar with Alford’s work, but had never used it. I did some digging and concluded that it would be a perfect fit for Libronix. So I sent it along to our electronic text development department for a cost estimate, and now it’s up on Pre-Pub for a fraction of the cost of the hard-to-find print volumes.

If you don’t know much about Alford’s Greek Testament, you can learn a good deal by the subtitle: "With a Critically Revised Text; a Digest of Various Readings; Marginal References to Verbal and Idiomatic Usage; Prolegomena; and a Critical and Exegetical Commentary." Alford’s detailed analysis, which spans nearly 3,500 pages in print, covers the entire New Testament.

In his original email, Dan mentioned to me that John Piper often uses Alford’s Greek Testament and speaks very highly of it. He couldn’t remember where he heard Piper talk about it though. So he asked his blog readers for help, and we were able to track down the quote. It comes from the Q&A time at the end of Piper’s biographical lecture on Owen. Piper is answering a question about commentaries that he finds helpful. Here’s what he says:

When I’m stumped with a . . . grammatical or syntactical or logical flow [question] in Paul, I go to Henry Alford. Henry Alford . . . comes closer more consistently than any other human commentator to asking my kinds of questions. (John Piper, “John Owen: The Chief Design of My Life—Mortification and Universal Holiness,” 1:30:11–1:30:31)

My ears perk up when I hear a scholar like Piper talk about the tools that he finds most helpful. I’m excited to see Alford’s work digitized and look forward to consulting it in my own study.

In just the few days that it has been up, Alford’s Greek Testament has already crossed the 50% mark. Go check it out and see if you think it would be a good addition to your Libronix library.

To learn more about Henry Alford, see Dan Phillips’ very informative post "Great News for Greekers: Alford Gets Logosized."

“Will I Become a Rungeianite?”

On the subject of Steve and discourse grammar, there was a helpful exchange in the comments of Steve’s last blog post, which I thought it would be worth calling your attention to.

A commenter asked,

My main quandary when considering the LDGNT has to do with objectivity vs. subjectivity in conducting discourse analysis. I am inexperienced and basically ignorant of the concept of discourse analysis. I read some of Bill Mounce on the topic. What I would like to know is given that a particular scholar, in this case Dr. Runge conducts the analysis of the entire GNT, would another scholar arrive at the same kinds of results or would there be numerous differences with results? More or less, I am asking about “bias”. Would I become a Rungeianite? And I say that in all well intended humor. :)

Perhaps you’ve had the same question. Some components of grammar are more objective than others. Many—though certainly not all—aspects of morphology tend to be fairly objective and agreed upon by scholars. Syntax, on the other hand, involves a bit more subjectivity. What about discourse? How objective or subjective is the work that Dr. Runge has done?

Here’s Steve’s helpful response:

You ask a great question. Most of what I have analyzed is fairly objective in nature, and could be replicated by others using a comparable interpretive framework (i.e. a functional, cognitive approach to discourse typology). What I am doing is better characterized as *discourse grammar* as opposed to *discourse analysis*, with the latter focused on trying to find the overall structure and message of a book. My analysis would give you the building blocks for doing such an analysis, but is more focused on documenting grammatical features and describing their discourse function. Each blog post has focused on one grammatical phenomenon and then described the task that it accomplishes in the discourse. I have striven to annotate only well documented, well attested discourse features. Most of what I have annotated relies upon the research of translators and other linguists. Other parts are original research which has either been peer-reviewed or presented at conferences for feedback.

There are indeed aspects that involve subjectivity, as is the case with some of the decisions regarding the block outline. Let’s say there is a main clause with a subordinate clause, followed by a coordinate clause (linked by και ‘and’). Which clause does the coordinate clause link to: the main clause or the subordinate clause? Grammar alone cannot answer this question. In most cases the decision is fairly objective, but there are times when a good case could be made either way. This project is intended to function as a commentary, something that you interact with in order to ensure you engage all of the relevant issues related to the passage. In the same way that you might disagree with a commentator, I expect that some will disagree with judgments I have made.

I have posted conference papers presented at SBL and ETS at www.logos.com/academic/bio/runge. I also chair a new section at ETS called ‘Discourse Grammar and Biblical Exegesis’, focused on making discourse-related research more accessible to biblical scholars. These papers document the research underlying the HDNT analysis, and include footnotes and bibliographies for readers.

For more information about what Steve has been working on here at Logos, see the following:

Discourse Grammar in Mark and Luke

For those who want to learn more about discourse grammar, Steve’s area of expertise, I’d strongly encourage you to read Steve’s two recent publications:

The first was published in April in the Review of Biblical Literature (RBL). The second appeared in the inaugural issue of the Journal of the Linguistics Institute of Ancient and Biblical Greek (JLIABG).

Steve also recently posted his CV. Check it out to see a complete list of his publications and conference papers, many of which are available as PDFs on his bio page.

If you haven’t been keeping up with Steve’s series of blog posts, give them a look to learn more about what Steve has been working on here at Logos.

B. B. Warfield Is Coming to Libronix

Yesterday afternoon a long-awaited B. B. Warfield Collection appeared on Pre-Pub. If you haven’t noticed yet, we’ve been systematically looking at some of the gaps in what we offer from some of the most important figures in church history and doing our best to fill them. The ever important Works of John Owen and Works of Jonathan Edwards were put on Pre-Pub in March, and both are now under development. (If you missed them, it’s not too late to pre-order them at the reduced Pre-Pub price.) With enough pre-orders the B. B. Warfield Collection will soon join them.

Our collection includes the standard 10-volume Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, along with 10 other titles. Here’s the complete list:

The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield

  • Vol. 1: Revelation and Inspiration
  • Vol. 2: Biblical Doctrines
  • Vol. 3: Christology
  • Vol. 4: Studies in Tertullian and Augustine
  • Vol. 5: Calvin and Calvinism
  • Vol. 6: The Westminster Assembly at Work
  • Vol. 7: Perfectionism, Part 1
  • Vol. 8: Perfectionism, Part 2
  • Vol. 9: Studies in Theology
  • Vol. 10: Critical Reviews

Other Titles

  • Are They Few that Be Saved?
  • The Canon of the New Testament: How and When Formed
  • Counterfeit Miracles
  • Faith and Life
  • An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament
  • The Lord of Glory
  • The Plan of Salvation
  • The Power of God unto Salvation
  • The Right of Systematic Theology
  • The Saviour of the World

That’s more than 7,100 pages of Warfield’s most significant writings. And, of course, Bible references and many other important citations of additional resources in Libronix will be linked, making the study of Warfield more advanced than ever before.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said of Warfield, "His mind was so clear and his literary style so chaste and lucid that it is a real joy to read his works and one derives pleasure and profit at the same time."

To learn more about Warfield and his writings and to place your order, visit the product page.

Using the Topic Search in the Theological Journals

In Monday’s blog post we looked at some ways you can use the author field to find articles written by a particular person in the Theological Journals. As helpful as that is, you likely don’t always go hunting for articles with a particular author in mind. More often you’re probably interested in finding articles that relate to a specific topic you’re studying. This is where the topic search is very helpful.

Every article’s title, subtitle, and main headings have been tagged as topics, so topic searches in the Theological Journals function much like a field search would (i.e., searching only certain portions of text within a larger unit). So a search for topic(justification) limits the search to just the articles’ titles, subtitles, and headings and turns up 65 articles. This kind of searching enables you to easily generate a list of very relevant search results rather than having to work through every article that simply mentions the word justification.

But what if you want to be even more specific in your topic searching? Topic searching in the Theological Journals does not support multiple word topics, so you couldn’t do topic("justification by faith"), even though there are articles with that exact phrase in their titles and headings. Do you have to wade through all 65 hits you got from the topic(justification) search? Fortunately, there is another way to be more precise in the your topic searching.

To find articles containing both "justification" and "faith," you would simply use the search topic(justification) topic(faith).

Instead of 65 articles, we get 22.

You can use as many topics in a single search as you want, enabling you to be as precise as you want. For example, topic(justification) topic(faith) topic(works) would really narrow your results down, turning up a single article ("’A Right Strawy Epistle’: Reformation Perspectives on James" by Timothy George) that contains these three words in one of its headings: "For James ‘Justification by Works’ Refers to the Demonstration of Faith in Deeds of Love." So you can easily be as broad or as narrow as you want as you search the Theological Journals.

Using the topic search like this can also be a quick way to look up a particular article when you don’t know the precise title or location. Let’s say you’re looking for a particular article by Douglas Moo, and you know it has "works" and "law" in the title, but you can’t remember the exact wording or where it’s located. You could do author:moo, which gives you 8 articles in under 10 seconds, or you could do topic(works) topic(law) and get 6 articles in under 5 seconds. Either way you have what you’re looking for very quickly.

Attention-Getters

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Steve Runge, a scholar-in-residence at Logos Bible Software, whose work focuses on the discourse grammar of Hebrew and Greek.

I want to introduce one of the remaining concepts that is annotated in the new Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. You have probably heard at some point that sometimes the biblical writers will repeat key words because of their importance. This is not the only kind of repetition found in the New Testament. Bible translators studying both Scripture and other languages from around the world have found that sometimes the repetition of ideas or sentences has a different effect than highlighting the repeated word. Instead, the restatement of already known information is used to intentionally slow the pace of the story just before something surprising or important happens.

One of the ways the New Testament writers will slow things down before a significant speech is by saying ‘and answering he said to . . .’ even though no question was asked. Before significant event, they sometimes restate the action from the preceding sentence as backgrounded information in the sentence that follows (e.g. “They went to town. As they were going to town . . .). This repetition is often left untranslated, or is obscured in translation.

Repetition and other tools are used by writers to point ahead to significant conversations or events that follow, creating something like a speed bump with the unnecessary repetition. Here are some examples of what is called ‘tail-head’ repetition, where the end of one sentence (the ‘tail’) is repeated at the beginning of the sentence that follows (the ‘head’). We use this device in English to build suspense.

I heard a noise upstairs, so I decided to go up and check it out. As I was walking up the stairs, all of a sudden . . .

You can fill in the blank of what you think happens next, but it would likely be something surprising or unexpected, right? The same kind of repetition is found in the NT.

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:20).

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” (Matt 2:13)

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” (Luke 24:36)

In each of these verses, the bolded content was already mentioned in the previous verse. Note that just after the bolded content, big things happen. The italicized word ‘behold’ is an attention-getter, another forward-pointing device.

Another kind of repetition that frequently is used in the NT involves using extra speaking verbs to introduce speeches. This device is found in contexts where one speaker takes the conversation in a brand new direction, or where the speaker and hearer are both trying to take it different directions. In conversational English, we might report such a speech by saying, “So she says to him . . . then he says to her . . . .” Notice that even though the conversation that is being reported is a past event, it is acceptable to report it using present tense verbs (‘says’ instead of ‘said’). In English, the ‘historical’ present and the emphasis on the bolded words would attach significance to each turn in the conversation. The same kind of effect is achieved in the NT using repetition. Take a look at how Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus is reported. The bolding identifies the repeated elements. The repeated words omitted in the ESV translation are in brackets.

Jesus answered [and said] him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

Nicodemus [answered and] said to him, “How can these things be?” (John 3:9)

Jesus answered [and said to] him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? (John 3:10)

In v. 2, Nicodemus describes Jesus as a teacher sent from God. Jesus ‘answers’ even though Nicodemus has not asked a question. Jesus’ declaration that one must be born again takes the conversation in a whole new direction. Both Nicodemus’ reply and Jesus redirection are encoded using repetition. In v. 9, the Greek verb ‘answered’ is left untranslated, represented by a bullet in the ESV text.

As I have stated in earlier posts, the same basic content could have been just as easily communicated without the repetition (like what you often find in English translations), but would not have carried nearly the same zing as using the repetition. The use of these discourse devices represents the writer’s choice to attract extra attention to something, ostensibly because of its importance to the context.

If you are interested in devices like these, check out the description on the Pre-Pub pages of the Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. Links to previous blog posts describing other discourse devices can be found there.