Friday, December 24, 2010

Discourse Analysis: A giant spotlight on what you haven't noticed when translating the GNT

Yesterday I was skimming through the blog when I noticed he had written an article about my old Greek instructor, Steve Runge. Turns out, Steve has gone on, gotten his doctorate and is now working for Logos Bible Software.

Steve was a great teacher. I can still remember his opening lecture for first semester Greek. He was full of excitement and zeal when he told us everything he's learned from knowing Greek (including an increased appreciation for classical music!). I can only imagine how tough it was for him to go through the endings chart over and over when there was so much else he wanted to teach. I will tell you one thing about the guy: He pushed us. We were translating chunks of text straight out of the GNT by the end of our first semester (way ahead of the class taught by the other prof).

Steve... err... Dr. Runge has written a new book Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament. All of the reviews on Amazon are positively glowing. In fact, Daniel Wallace wrote the Forward. How's that for high praise? The only thing that would be even better is if Runge were honored through cheer and song like Wallace was.

So, what is discourse analysis you ask? Well, busy pastor/teacher, it is like a breath of fresh air to the grind of translating the text for your sermon prep. I know, I know, you say "Zack, I see the text glowing in front of me, I hover my mouse over the word, review the applicable parsing info, and then move on. What I do can hardly be called translation, why should I take the time to learn this?" Precisely because you spend so much time mouse-hovering over the text. I know what that is like. I struggle with those same crutches (please don't be made at me, Dr. Runge!!). Discourse analysis takes you out of the trenches and forces you to look at the text as a unit. For instance, if you are doing mouse-over-translation for Col. 1:3 you aren't going to ask the question "Why does Paul use the article in τω θεω when he didn't use it the past two times. You are too busy trying to decide if you have to translate that as "the God" or just "God." (Note: example taken from Levinsohn's very very good book Discourse Features of New Testament Greek - also worth the read). Discourse Analysis helps you see the big picture, it reveals ways the argument or narrative is turning that might not be readily apparent through a word-by-word translation. The best part is it helps you ask those simple questions (why the article?) that you never would have asked before.

I have assembled quite a few free resources on DA below, including excerpts from Runge's new book. Check them out, read the reviews, and ask yourself one question: Could my preaching benefit from this?

*UPDATE* If you want a quick overview of the importance of DA, read Steve's comments for the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament that he edited here.

Greek NT Discourse Analysis Resources:

"The Relevance of Greek Discourse Studies to Greek Exegesis" SILJOT 2(2) 2006 by Levinsohn
Analyzing Discourse: A Manual of Basic Concepts by Dooley and Levinsohn
Sel-Instruction Materials on Narrative Discourse Analysis by Levinsohn (170pp)*
"οτι  Recitativum in John's Gospel: A Stylistic or a Pragmatic Device" by Levinsohn (14pp)
Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament by Steve Runge (TOC, Preface, Chapter 1) (Excerpt on Instantaneous Imperfects) (Larger Excerpt from the book)*
Also see Runge's blog NT Discourse.
"A Brief Introduction to Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek" DBSJ 12 2007 by Nasselli 
"The Greek Verbal Network Viewed from a Probabilistic Standpoint: An Exercise in Hallidayan Linguistics" Filologia Neotestamentaria 14 2001 by Stanley Porter and Matthew O'Donnell

*Note: Whenever possible I have attempted to link to the webpage that hosts the file. In the few situations where I have located the file on a google search, but have been unable to find the original post/site I have linked directly to the file.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Keeping it all together: Zotero

Zotero is helpful. Zotero is INCREDIBLY helpful. You should really consider downloading it if you don't have it already.

A bunch of books, journals, and websites
As I suggest resources (and I hope you all will start commenting with other resources too) you'll need some way to keep them organized. If you are anything like me you have books that you can't find, may have loaned or, or possibly never owned but have looked them over enough times in the bookstore that you think you do. Multiply that disorganization by 10 if you start having to track webpages and pdf files. Not only do you not have one place to store it all, but then you have to decide on a naming convention and then stick to it (very hard to do when you download a lot of stuff and don't want to organize it right away). This is where Zotero comes in.

Zotero connects to your Firefox web browser and it allows you to "capture" useful webpages, pdfs, Word docs, txt files, and just about anything else. All of these files and sites are then indexed to allow you to search throughout your entire digital library. You can also use it to keep track of your physical library.

It gets better. You can also use it to organize and track your physical library. When you view a book at amazon or maybe google books and small "Book" icon will show up in your address bar allowing you to capture the book data and put it in your library. Always double-check it because some sites allow you to capture data better than others. The best site for capturing data is the Library of Congress, sadly it is also the worst site for browsing through books. I'm pretty sure they made it as difficult as possible to cut down on transfer costs.

The best part is that you can get plugins for either Microsoft Word or for OpenOffice so that you can use it as your footnoting and bibliography management. This is like Endnote or Note Bene, yet free.

Library on the left, Bibliographic info for item on right
Once you have entered the bibliographic info for each item you can attach a file (pdf or otherwise) and then when you perform a search you'll be able to not only search titles, authors, and associated tags, but also inside each of those files (note: when a pdf is OCR'd, it's searchable, when it is merely page scans, it's not).

Earlier this morning I was looking for references to "water" so I typed "water" into my search bar and not only did I have every book and journal article that had water in the title, but also every searchable file that had water somewhere inside. I found out that John Piper's book Finally Alive has an extended section dealing with water in the Gospel of John -- exactly what I was writing about. This is why Zotero can be so useful.

It does take time entering all of the data, but from what I have found so far, even partially entering your library is worth the time. You can finally have access to everything you have without missing a book or article. This is my favorite download of the year.

More on Zotero later.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Samaritans - The Red-Headed Stepchildren of the OT

I looked everywhere for an online copy of the Samaritan Pentateuch and could only find dead links... until I stumbled upon the first page of an article scan in JSTOR that got me to search for "Samaritan Pentatech" in latin. I had looked everywhere in English and then in German, but Latin was the winner this time.

Page scans: Google Books

Now, this is from the 1790's, obviously a bit old. But in the few chances I've had to compare it to modern scholarly works on the SP they've matched up perfectly. If you would like it in book form you can get a very reasonably priced copy of a recent work on Amazon, but Von Gall's work is the current scholarly edition that I am aware of, but I could be wrong.

Also, if you would like to draw more deeply from Jacob's well, you can download page scans of the Samaritan Targums -- just be aware that there are some problems with this text... like they're in Samaritan script, among other things.

*UPDATE 12/31/11*

Thanks to this blogger, I now have a copy of Gall's critical edition of the Samaritan Pentateuch. This is (still) the only critical edition around.

Have you ever used the Samaritan Pentateuch before?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

JETS and TynBul

For those of you wanting to mix it up in a scholarly fashion check out the JETS archive and the TynBul archives. You can go to their respective archives (linked) or you can go to handy where you can find all of the same files (and a WHOLE bunch more) but in a more searchable format.

Contains: JETS - vol. 12-50 (previously BETS, which can be downloaded here). TynBul has vol. 1 - 56.2. The link above states it is current through three years ago, but that is apparently a bit out of date.

The Good: 1) FREE. 2) TynBul is all (to the best of my knowledge) OCR'd so the .pdfs are searchable (very handy if you have Zotero installed with the pdf searching plugin - post to come soon!). Many of the recent JETS articles are OCR'd as well.

The "ehh": The majority of JETS articles are page scans so there is no searching available.

Question:  John Piper once said that he typically goes to the Puritans when researching a passage because the scholarly journals and commentaries just aren't asking the same questions. I agree in part, but I've occasionally found some scholarly resources necessary when trying to accurately present the background or the context of the situation - to make the passage really come alive. Do you find scholarly journals useful in sermon prep / bible study prep? Why or why not?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

ICC Comentaries

I know this is old news, but I thought it should still be captured here.

The old International Critical Commentaries are available online now that the copyright has expired.

Why you would want them: If you are keen with the original languages, or you know enough to ask tough question that might not get answered in your typical commentary, then these scans will come in handy.

Commentary Leanings: Almost all of these are going to be pretty liberal. If you've ever been curious as to who had a better vocabulary, first or second Isaiah, or if you believe knowing how J and E used to pick on D and P in handwriting class will help you interpret the Pentateuch, then these commentaries will surely answer all of those questions.

Bummer Factor: These are not OCR'd, so you can't search within the PDF, but you can also download the "Full Text" through This is what I do: Download the scan because that is far nicer to read and cite from, but also download the full text. name it the same thing (except .pdf and .txt respectively) so that when you decide you need to use the recourse you can open the .txt file in Word or OpenOffice and do all of your searches there. That also allows you to copy and paste directly into your paper. It's an only slightly annoying way to get around the lack of OCR. *Update* almost all of the pdfs have been OCR'ed, so download them there.


Check out the list of OT commentaries and NT commentaries.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Welcome to Stranded Scholar!

I know what it is like trying to research a topic and then you get that sinking feeling: I don’t have the resources I need, nor do I have access to a library that does. That feeling happens frequently enough where I live. I had to get resourceful; I had to use ingenuity. This blog is the fruit of countless hours spent trying to find (legit) access to the materials I needed while studying the bible.

I hope to post a link or a how-to a couple times a week that will provide you access to those resources necessary to supplement that paper, sermon, article, or thesis.

If you have tips, tricks, or resources to share, please drop me a line!