Wallace: Beyond the Basics
clayton stirling bartholomew
c.s.bartholomew at worldnet.att.net
Sun Aug 8 15:15:20 EDT 1999
Carl is right, Wallace is "worth consulting." I even do so myself once
in a blue moon.
However, I would not want anyone to get the impression that my problem
with Wallace is the number of genitive categories he lists. This is not
My problem has to do with semantic theory, not lexical semantics but
semantics in general, semantics of everything including words,
grammatical forms, word order, you name it. Everything!
Lets set up a humorous (non-serious) continuum representing semantic
theory with Dr. Johnson (Dictionary of the English Language, 1775) on
one end J. Derrida on the other end.
Dr. Johnson <- - - -> J. Derrida
My intent in comparing S.E. Porter to Wallace was to illustrate that
Porter falls to the right of Wallace on this continuum. A long way to
What does this matter? Well, I think it matters because the student who
studies Wallace may end up thinking about NT Greek and all language more
like Dr. Johnson.
In Derrida's terminology, there is a metaphysics of presence in
Wallace's treatment of the Greek case system (and everything else). S.E.
Porter has not completely escaped this but his treatment is much less
likely to produce students who go around thinking there are 35+ kinds of
I am not saying here that I accept J. Derrida as a serious voice in
linguistics. I do not. I think Derrida is sort of a bad joke on the
academy. But Derrida has had some beneficial side effects by making us
rethink a number of issues about how language works.
On this topic, I am currently reading "Is There Meaning in this Text",
by K. Vanhoozer (Zondervan 1998). Vanhoozer has some ideas worth
considering, however he falls into one serious trap. He accepts
Derrida's reading of Saussure. A good exercise is to read "Against
Deconstruction", by John M. Ellis (Princeton 1989) before reading
Vanhooser. Ellis will keep you from tumbling into the deep pits that
Vanhooser marches into without blinking an eye.
Anyway this is off topic so I will desist
Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062
>From: "Carl W. Conrad" <cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu>
>Date: Sun, Aug 8, 1999, 5:18 AM
> If I may add a relatively brief note to this discussion, I want to say that
> I have had some disagreements myself with Wallace's presentation of a few
> particular issues--in particular, it has seems to me on occasion that he
> (like some others) has unnecessarily invented some grammatical categories
> for analysis of case usage and verbal usage that traditional grammarians
> didn't find necessary and whose usefulness I am inclined to question.
> Nevertheless, I value the book and find it very much worth consulting when
> significant grammatical issues in interpretation of NT texts arises.
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