[B-Greek] Caution re Meaning of the Biblical Text (was "referential complexity etc.")

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Wed Apr 28 08:56:45 EDT 2010


On Apr 27, 2010, at 3:57 PM, Dr. Don Wilkins wrote:
> I would like to respond to several posts here, including ...  Carl's:
> 
> Taking further advantage of Carl's permission to explore the topic, I  
> note that there are people who believe that the meaning of the  
> biblical text is what it means to a particular reader at a particular  
> time, place, etc., completely separated and disentangled from  
> whatever it may have meant to the original audience. I *think* that  
> we are all at a consensus in rejecting this position and viewing the  
> irrelevant mental and experiential baggage that a translator or  
> reader brings to the text as an impediment to correctly understanding  
> it. Whatever we individually think of the value of linguistics in  
> exegesis, I infer that we value and focus on the details of the  
> original text and the original scenario, i.e. the textual and  
> historical contexts. I would like to know if this is a mistaken  
> inference on my part.

I think that Don has now overstepped any "permission" given or 
assumed.

On Apr 26, 2010, at 3:10 PM, Carl Conrad wrote:
> On Apr 26, 2010, at 2:06 PM, Dr. Don Wilkins wrote:
>> I had not asked Randall to weigh in on this, but I'm glad that he  
>> did. I also appreciate Carl's humor and his tolerance in our (my)  
>> straying off-topic.
> 
> I don't think this is really very far, if at all, off-topic. It goes to the
> heart of questions we raise repeatedly about pedagogy, about what
> constitutes "fluency" or "internalization" of Biblical Greek (or any
> ancient Greek), about traditional grammar and/or linguistic analysis
> as providing a "metalanguage" for discussion of questions about the
> structure and meaning of Biblical or other Greek texts.

It seems to me that now it's no longer a matter of how we talk about
or explain Biblical Greek texts, i.e., a metalanguage deriving from
"dead grammarians" or live linguists, but rather it's now a matter of
Hermeneutics and the assumptions regarding the nature of the text
that we bring with us to our examination of the Greek text.

I do not think we can make any such assumption as that "there are 
people who believe that the meaning of the biblical text is what it 
means to a particular reader at a particular time, place, etc., 
completely separated and disentangled from whatever it may have 
meant to the original audience." Some of us may want to restrict
our exegetical endeavors to ascertaining the intention of the original
author in the original context of composition; others may wish to
extrapolate from that a meaning or several implications that
address an issue that is now current; others may indeed believe
that the Biblical text means what s/he reads it to mean without 
any consideration of what might be deemed an "original" intent
of the author. As one who has been rightly admonished by Don
Wilkins for broaching, however obliquely, an issue tantamount
to "plenary verbal inspiration", I think I must return the favor
at this time:

Let's refrain, please, from discussing the matter of assumptions
we bring with us to understanding the meaning of the Biblical
Greek text. 

Carl W. Conrad
Co-Chair, B-Greek List




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