[B-Greek] referential complexity: frames & scenarios andGalatians 6:18

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Tue Apr 27 00:37:27 EDT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Mark Lightman" <lightmanmark at yahoo.com>
To: "Steve Runge" <srunge at logos.com>; "Carl Conrad" <cwconrad2 at mac.com>; "Dr.
Don Wilkins" <drdwilkins at verizon.net>; "Steve Runge" <academic_67 at yahoo.com>
Cc: "B Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>; "Randall Buth"
<randallbuth at gmail.com>
Sent: 27. april 2010 01:25
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] referential complexity: frames & scenarios andGalatians

> The meaning of the Greek NT and a translation, or a set of translations,
> overlap about
> 97%.  We obsess over the other 3%, which is one issue.

Whether it is 97%, 95% or 92% I don't know, but it is probably true that
translations have a success rate between 90% and 97% in terms of communicating
the intended meaning. And we tend to discuss the small percentage where the text
itself is not clear or not clearly understood by us, since we are so far from
the original language and culture.

> But a deeper issue is your contention that there is some deeper meaning in a
> text, any text, that only a linguist can unpack.  If it were true
> that we who have not read that many books in linguistics "lack the necessary
> background to really understand complex clause structural issues on
> their own"
> then we would not be able to understand the Greek NT, the English NT,
> Shakespeare or the Denver Post.  But we do, don't we?

I would not understand Shakespeare or the KJV and I struggle with your Pope, and
I don't read the Denver Post. Nor do I understand the rules of American football
nor of golf, but if I was sufficently interested, I could study and learn.

> You need a guide to explore and understand Roman ruins.  You do not need a
> linguist to explore and understand language.  You never have and you
> never will. People understood language just fine before Linguistics was
> invented, and they will understand it just fine if Linguistics goes the way of
> Phrenology.  That was the point of my egg salad post, another bad analogy to
> be sure, but it's Monday for me too.

Does this mean that you were speaking with tongue in cheek? Or maybe just
without thinking clearly?

A person who grew up in a particular language environment and learnt that
language as a child do not need linguistics to use and understand the language.
She will need to develop vocabulary along the way, though. If we all grew up
learning Hellenistic Greek and lived in the 1st century, this list would have no
or very little function.

By extension, if you learn Greek or Hebrew with Buth, there is less need for
linguistic analysis to understand the text. But it required a linguist to come
up with this kind of courses in the first place.

If you were to make an alphabet for a language or describe its grammar, or work
on translation, you cannot do that properly without linguistic training. In
terms of exegesis, I have found my training in mathematics to be very valuable,
believe it or not.

If you were taught Greek in the traditional way that Carl has outlined, then
modern linguistics can help you gain a better understanding of the language,
especially in terms of discourse features.

Since I am practical linguist more than a theoretical one, and a Bible
translator, I thorougly disagree with Elizabeth's last post, but I won't comment
further on that.

Iver Larsen

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