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.


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:

“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 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:


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.

Community Pricing Is Back in Action

Things have been pretty quiet at the Community Pricing page for the last 10 months. While Pre-Pubs have been coming out at a very rapid rate, Community Pricing titles have been few and far between. Only two new titles were put up between August and May. In September we added James Bannerman’s two volume The Church of Christ. Then in February Gustav Oehler’s Theology of the Old Testament appeared.

But things are about to start picking back up. We have plans to add a new Community Pricing title at the beginning of every week for at least the next couple of months, and if the response is good, we’ll try to continue at that pace. Last week we added Herman Bavinck’s The Philosophy of Revelation, this week J. Armitage Robinson’s classic commentary St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians.

Here are the other titles you’ll find there:

Keep your eye on the Community Pricing page for the latest releases. If you’re into the whole RSS thing, you may want to subscribe to our Community Pricing feed.

What Are the Benefits?

Community Pricing is a wonderful way for you to add solid, hard-to-obtain public domain titles to your library at incredibly low prices. Many of the books that appear on Community Pricing are out of print, and often finding used copies at reasonable prices is close to impossible. The goal of Community Pricing is to make these classics available again in a much more useful format and offer you substantial savings off the print prices.

The best part about Community Pricing is that you get to set the price. If the majority of people think that a given title should go for $5 and enough people bid on it at that price, that’s what the price will be! There have been some phenomenal deals in the past—like the 15 volume R. A. Torrey Collection, which went for the outrageously low $15—and there are many more deals waiting to be had.

How Does It Work?

It’s pretty simple. We estimate the cost of production for an individual book or collection (e.g., $2500), and a graph is generated with a range of prices (e.g., $2-$20). You place a bid (i.e., pre-order) at the highest price you are willing to pay by clicking on the dollar amount. (You need to be logged in with your credit card information saved in My Account.) Once there are enough pre-orders to cover the production costs at a certain price, the title will remain on Community Pricing for up to another week (until noon PST the next Friday), giving you the opportunity to drive the price down even further, which is often what happens.

Ellicott’s The Pastoral Epistles of St. Paul will probably be a great example of this. On Wednesday it crossed the 100% line at $7. If enough people jump on board before noon today, it could go even lower and cross at $6. If you haven’t already, go place your bid and see if you can make it hit the $6 mark.

After a title closes on Community Pricing, it will then move over to the Pre-Pub page at a higher price, and production will begin. Once production is complete and it is ready to ship, you will be charged the very low Community Pricing price and be notified that your title is ready to be downloaded. (Don’t worry. You’ll also be notified about a week or two prior to this so you can prepare for the charge.)

How Can You Help?

The more people who use Community Pricing, the lower the prices will go. If a collection costs us $10,000 to produce, those costs can be covered with 100 $100 bids, 1000 $10 bids, or 10,000 $1 bids. We get our costs covered one way or the other, but obviously the last option is in your best interest. It’s possible that eventually books could go for as low as $1 or $2. There are three simple things you can do to help make that happen:

  1. Place pre-orders for all the titles you want.
  2. Spread the word to others and encourage them to use the Community Pricing program.
  3. Send your public domain suggestions to suggestlogos.com, and we’ll do our best to add them.

Head on over and check out the deals.

To read more about Community Pricing, check out these previous blog posts:

Update: As of 8:23 AM PST it has crossed the 100% line at the $6 mark!

Lots of Pre-Pubs Shipping Soon

If you visit the Pre-Pub page, you’ll see that there are more than a dozen individual titles and collections scheduled to ship in the next few weeks.

There’s something there for everyone.

A. W. Tozer Collection (57 volumes)Collected Writings

Pastoral Ministry

Holman New Testament CommentaryCommentaries

Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New TestamentLanguages

Church History

Norman L. Geisler’s Systematic Theology (4 volumes)Theology


If you see something here that interests but haven’t placed your preorder yet, you may still be able to get in at the discounted Pre-Pub price.

Update: The Early Church History Collection (7 Vols.) is now shipping and is no longer available at the Pre-Pub price.

New Counseling Product Guide

Doctrine is important. Very important. But having right doctrine isn’t enough. God intends to transform our lives by it. Unfortunately, there is often a disconnect between our theology and our behavior. The answer isn’t to scrap theology in favor of a practical Christianity that focuses exclusively on doing and being. Rather, Christians must do the hard work of connecting the dots between faith and practice, of carefully studying Scripture and doing theology with the goal of applying it to life’s issues and problems and living out its implications.

For this reason it is essential to have not only books that help you understanding what Scripture says (e.g., commentaries) and how you should synthesize its teachings (e.g., theology books), but also practical books—like Bible-saturated works on counseling and ethics—that help you apply God’s Word to how you live every day. Many commentaries and theological books will get you headed in the right direction, but they usually don’t take you far enough in the direction of application.

We’ve been creating a number of product guides to help you build certain portions of your library. We have guides on commentaries, Bible background studies, church history, Lutheran resources, Greek, Hebrew, and other ancient languages. We have just completed a product guide on some of our best resources on counseling. We think you’ll find some helpful books there that will enable you to live out the gospel and equip you to encourage others to do the same. Check it out to see what titles may be a good addition to your library.

Help from ‘Left Field’

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 am currently teaching a class on the parables of Jesus at my church. We are looking at the parables that occur in more than one gospel and taking note of how they are used in each. Along the way we have come across differences in wording, begging that question: ‘So what?’

This week we looked at the ‘salt’ passages, found in Matthew 5:13; Mark 9:49-50; and Luke 14:34-35. We noticed that there are some significant differences in how this parable is related to the preceding context in the different gospels. There are two new resources called the Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament that provide some really helpful insight into issues like this. These resources annotate where the NT writers used various devices to get our attention, emphasize things, build suspense, etc.

Another important contribution of these resources is a description in the left column that tells you what each line of the text is doing. This analysis is informed by things like the Greek conjunction used, the morphology of the verb, and the role that it plays in the larger context. We were using the Lexham High Definition New Testament in class, and it was really easy to point out how the different gospel writers wanted to connect the salt parable to the preceding context, since it was plainly spelled out in the left column. ‘Proposition means that there are no specific instructions about how to relate what follows to what precedes.  ‘Support’ indicates that what follows in intended to strengthen or support what precedes, but does not advance the story or the argument. ‘Principle’ indicates that what follows is a summary or conclusion drawn from what precedes, often providing the big idea for the section that follows. Take a look at the highlighted descriptions in the left column.

In Matthew’s gospel, the saying follows right on the heals of the Beatitudes. In Greek there is no specific conjunction that tells the reader how to connect it; it is just the next saying.

In Mark the section just before describes how it is better to cast off a part of you that causes you to sin than to keep it and risk being thrown into hell. The saying about the salt is connected to this with the Greek conjunction γάρ (for). This instructs us to understand what follow as supporting or strengthening what precedes, rather than introducing a new point. In other words, Mark has signaled with γάρ that the saying about the salt is connected to what precedes, supporting and strengthening it.

If you look at Luke 14:34, you will see that the verse begins with a bullet. In the ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament, you can see that the bullet stands in the place of the Greek conjunction οὖν (therefore). This word signals that what follows is a principle or summary drawn from what precedes. In other words, it either summarizes what precede, or introduces a new principle that is drawn from what precedes. The preceding section in Luke describes counting the cost of discipleship, illustrated by the consideration that should be given before building a tower or going to war against a superior force. This means that Luke wanted us to read the saying about the salt as drawing from and building upon what precedes.

In each of these gospels, the saying about the salt losing its saltiness warns us about the hazard of losing the distinctive quality that makes us who we are, illustrated by salt losing its saltiness. In Matthew Jesus has just taught that when we encounter persecution for pursuing righteousness, we should rejoice and be glad. In such circumstances, one might be tempted to water down their faith, or put their light under a basket (cf. 5:15). The reference to salt adds to this same point by asking the question: ‘What good is salt if it loses its saltiness?’ If we water-down or hide our faith, then what’s the point?

In Mark, the same point is made by the reference to salt. If there is some part of us that is causing us to sin, that might destine us for hell, is it really worth hanging on to? The reference to salt presents the same issue from a different angle. The salting with fire suggests a refining process. But if this process does not produce real, salty salt, then what’s the point? The Christian life is not about hanging on to what Jesus died to free us from, but about being the salt and light that he redeemed us to be.

In Luke, Jesus has just given a summary principle in v. 33 drawn from the illustrations of building a tower and going to war: “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (ESV). The saying about the salt is building upon this point, providing a practical illustration of what happens when someone follows without renouncing all: he or she is salt that is not salty. If the salt is no longer salty, then what’s the point?

This is just a one example of the kind of help that the left column information of the Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament can provide. It can really pay dividends in helping you understand the really hairy passages that use very complex grammar, unpacking it one bit at a time. Check out Romans 2:17 in the HDNT:

Paul wants to set up a very complex state of affairs, one which can get confusing in a hurry if you are just reading it in a continuous paragraph. His main point is this: Do you not teach yourself? The ‘complex’ marker tells you that the line that is only indented one place is the main idea of the complex clause. In this case, the main thought is the ‘principle’ line. The rest of the parts are indented and labeled to help you understand what role each plays, and to let you easily find the main idea.

We are nearing completion on this project, which means two things: it will be shipping soon, and the price will be going up when it is removed from Pre-Publication. Take warning; buy soon if you haven’t already!

If you missed them, be sure to check out Steve’s previous posts.