[B-Greek] LInguistic question on Luke 1:1

Steven Lo Vullo slovullo at mac.com
Sat Jul 19 04:12:45 EDT 2003

On Friday, July 18, 2003, at 02:05  AM, Kenneth Litwak wrote:

> I have a question for anyone on the list who has
> training in linguistics.  Based on current thinking in
> linguistics, is there a resource I can go to that
> would provide guidance in determining how a first
> century reader/hearer would go about determining the
> meaning of a word in its context if the word was
> polyvalent?  The specific word I am interested in is
> PEPLHROFORHMENWN.  I want to know if linguistics can
> help in determining how someone, coming to LUKE 1:1
> for the very first time, without later assumptions of
> commentators, would go about determining from the
> semantic domain of this word, what it means.
> What is the effect of this not being a particularly
> common, and fairly formal word?  I"m not interested in
> anything but a linguistic perspective.  I don't think
> it is right to determine what this word means based on
> some interpretation of the rest of Luke's Gospel since
> the first audience has not gotten there yet. I'm
> hoping there’s a good book or article out there that
> talks about the process of determining the meaning of
> a word from its semantic domain by a hearer/reader.
> Thanks.

Ken, I think it is important to keep in mind that a literary work does 
not exist and is not read in a vacuum. As it circulates, prospective 
readers are sure to encounter preview, review, discussion, debate, 
approbation, criticism, etc., that precedes their actual reading of the 
work. Hardly anyone ever begins a book without any prior knowledge of 
what it is about and why it was written, based on other's reading of 
the work. For this reason alone we cannot discount the relationship of 
PEPLHROFORHMENWN to the rest of the Gospel. Even though a person 
reading Luke for the first time "has not gotten there yet," as you say, 
there are, nevertheless, certain expectations generated from what one 
has heard in advance about the purpose and content of the work. Such 
pre-understanding may very well contribute to how one takes a word 

Steven Lo Vullo
Madison, WI

More information about the B-Greek mailing list