Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis


by Steven E. Runge

The Discourse Greek New Testament revolutionized how we read the New Testament by applying discourse markers to the Greek text. Now, Steve Runge’s Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis offers readers a book-length treatment of discourse linguistics and how it can be applied to New Testament exegesis and interpretation.

In Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Steve Runge introduces a function-based approach to language, and seeks to describe grammatical conventions based upon the discourse functions they accomplish. This volume does not reinvent previous grammars or supplant previous work on the New Testament. Instead, Runge reviews, clarifies, and provides a unified description of each of the discourse features. That makes it useful for beginning Greek students, pastors, and teachers, as well as for advanced New Testament scholars looking for a volume which synthesizes the varied sub-disciplines of New Testament discourse analysis.

The approach in Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament is cross-linguistic. Runge looks at how all languages operate before he focuses on Greek. He examines linguistics in general to simplify the analytical process and explain how and why we communicate as we do, leading to a more accurate description of the Greek text. The approach is also function-based—meaning that Runge gives primary attention to describing the tasks accomplished by each discourse feature.

In this volume, Runge’s approach has less to do with the specifics of a particular language—Greek or English, for example—and more to do with how humans are wired to process language. We constantly make choices about how and what to communicate, and the choices we make have meanings associated with them.

While languages have their differences, they all have a common set of tasks to be accomplished. The choices follow patterns. When we choose to break the pattern, or follow the pattern differently, our reasons for doing so can powerfully communicate meaning.

What choices are implicit in the text of the New Testament? By choosing to say or write one thing—a particular word, tense, voice, mood, and so on—the New Testament writers have implicitly decided not to say or write another. There is some meaning associated not only with the decision to say or write something, but also with the decision not to say or write something. These patterns—or discourse functions—reveal a great deal about what the text of the New Testament communicates. This text fills a large gap in New Testament scholarship because it explains not just the “what,” but also the “why.”

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