Review of Runge's "Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament" Pt 12

In chapters 10-14, which make up the rest of Part 3 of Runge’s Discourse Grammar, eight specific types of framing devices are brought into view in addition a few general types.  In this review I will look at 4 specific, all of which are given in chapters 10-11:  Topical Frames, Temporal Frames, Spatial Frames, Conditional Frames, Comparative Frames and Reason/Result Frames.  I will deal with each of these in turn.

In the previous review I covered the topic of “frame of reference” which is basically the element of discourse that helps set the context for what is being said.  You can read more about that HERE.  With that idea of “frame of reference” in mind, we can more aptly look at the various types of frames Runge offers. 

The first type of frame is a Topical Frame, which is denoted with the open and closed bracket symbol and the superscripted letters TP [TPTP].  Here, I am using the dots to denote the place where the content belongs.  Remember, when a writer/speaker chooses to use a specific frame, that writer/speaker is also choosing to convey certain meanings in certain ways.  When it comes to the TP, the composer has two primary functions in mind:  1) To highlight the introduction of a new participant or topic, or 2) To draw attention to a change in topics (210).  Chains of topic frames are found all throughout the NT and are “used to help structure the discourse by clearly delineating transitions from one topic to another” (210). 

For Runge, the TP nearly always (if not always) precedes the main verb.  Frequently, an author will place the subject in the TP.  Let me give an English example of my own and then a biblical example from Runge:

[TP This TP] was built in 1960.

In this simple example we see the general subject “this” preceding the main verb “was built”.  The word “this” is forward positioned and therefore, receives emphasis.  Even more, it is “marked”.  Now, let me add more:

[TP This TP] was built in 1960.  [TP Cell phones TP]were built much later.

Here you can see that a change in topic has taken place.  Notice that the subject is placed before the main verb “were built” and therefore it is marked and is receiving emphasis.  We also have a point/counterpoint (see earlier reviews) but I have left that unmarked so as not to be confusing.  Here is an example of TP that Runge gives from the Jn 1.2-3:

2 [TPοὗτοςTP] ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν.
3 [TPπάνταTP] διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ [TPχωρὶς αὐτοῦTP] ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν γέγονεν

2 [TPThis oneTP] was in the beginning with God.
3 [TPAll thingsTP] came into being through him, and [TPapart from himTP] not one thing came into being that has come into being.

Notice that in the movement from verse 2 to 3, we do not have a topic change but rather the introduction of a new participant.  In verse 2 the subject is “This one” (Jesus) and in verse 3 the new participant is “All things”.  Here, I don’t really agree with the second TP that Runge provides.  It seems to me that in the second TP we do not have the introduction of a new person, topic or a change in topic; “all things” and “not one thing” are the same thing!  So, I question this.  (I also question the TP Runge assigns to “the Word” in Jn 1.1, which precedes “was” but then the leaving of “God” which precedes “was” as an unmarked TP in the following part of the verse; the explanation he gives does not do it justice, in my view.  There seems to be some inconsistency in the method here.  Or, it is just not explained as well as it could be.  By the way, I also question Runge’s use of the TP in James 1.3-4 where 3 ends with “endurance” and 4 begins with “endurance.  It seems that we have a THL (Tail-Head Linkage) here, which intimately connects the two.  However, Runge suggests that verse 4 signals a new topic.  Again, I see some inconsistency in the method here; either that or it is just not explained well enough.)  I do think the TP is worth paying attention to but I think that the examples used in Runge’s grammar work against his own methodology at points.

The next type of Frame is a Temporal Frame (TM), which is marked with the symbol [TMTM].  Of all of the frames this may be the easiest one to spot.  Even so, there are more to them than might initially meet the eye.  You are probably already aware that placing TM at the beginning of a clause attracts attention to it.  You might not have been aware, however, that TMs are typically associated with changes of scene or pericope or that in a non-narrative setting, TMs “often highlight switches from now to how thing were or will be at some other point in time” (216).  TMs can also indicate the “resumption of another story or plot” (216).  So, here is an example of my own and then an example from the Bible, which Runge supplies.

[TM Yesterday, the fifteenth day of October, at noon, when it started to rain TM] I woke up. 

As you can see, this is an incredibly easy TM to spot!  In some real sense, the TM is basically just modifying the main verb (woke up).  Temporal frames have to do with time, that is “when” something happened.  Let me draw this example out even more:

[TM Yesterday, the fifteenth day of October, at noon, when it started to rain TM] I woke up.  However, [TM today, October sixteenth, the day after my birthday, it was around 8 am TM]  that I woke up.

You notice here that there are two TMs.  In fact, the TMs actually offer a sort of point/ counterpoint example, however, I’ve left that unmarked to avoid confusion.  Here the second TM denotes a switch from one point in time to another.  Notice also that the TMs are both placed before the main verb.  So, you can see how the TMs work.  It’s pretty simple.  Here’s a scriptural example provided by Runge:

1 [TM Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος, ἡγεμονεύοντος Ποντίου Πιλάτου τῆς Ἰουδαίας, καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου, Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας, καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος, TM]
1 Now [TM in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,TM]
2 [TM ἐπὶ ἀρχιερέως Ἅννα καὶ Καϊάφα,TM] ἐγένετο ῥῆμα θεοῦ ἐπὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν Ζαχαρίου υἱὸν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ.
2 [TM in the time of the high priest Annas and Caiaphas,TM] the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

Here, you can see how the first TM establishes a specific year in which the events occur while the second TM reveals a slight switch not necessarily to a different time, but within the time a new focus—from Pilate to Annas and Caiaphas.  Notice in each of these examples how the TM provides the framework or context for what is to follow!

The next type of frame to consider is the Spatial Frame (SP), which is denoted by [SPSP].  One way to recognize the SPs is that most of them “consist of a prepositional phrase placed in an initial position in the clause” (220).  As with the preceding frames, this serves the purpose of “attracting more attention to it than it otherwise would have received in its default position at the end of the clause…the frame makes changes in place or location stand out more” (220).  Like the TMs, the SPs are quite easy to spot; a good number of stories start begin by mentioning a time or place.  In illustrating this frame, let me do the usual and give an example of my own followed by an example from the Bible the Runge offers.

[TM Once upon a time TM], [SPin a faraway land SP], there lived a monster.

You should recognize this familiar storyline right away!  You should also recognize that the TM and the SP are used together here.  They are both forward positioned and receive the initial attention.  However, they are not the most important elements of the sentence but rather, the monster is.  Indeed, the TM and the SP both get their main importance and meaning only as they relate to the monster.  Here’s another example:

[SP In Kentucky SP], you can see blue grass.

Again, this is easy!  The place is clearly identified.  It fronts the main verb and receives forward positioning.  Now, the one thing we have to be careful with when it comes to SPs are that the places need not always be physical locations, they can also be abstract.  For example, it can refer to “in Christ” or “in the Spirit” or “in a dream” or any of the like.  Here is an example from the NT that Runge gives: 

13[TMνυνὶTM] δὲ [SPἐν Χριστῷ ἸησοῦSP] [TPὑμεῖς οἵ [TMποτεTM] ὄντες μακρὰνTP] ἐγενήθητε ἐγγὺς ἐν τῷ αἵματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ.
13But [TMnowTM] [SPin Christ JesusSP] [TPyou, the ones who [TMonceTM] were far away, TP] have become near by the blood of Christ.

You notice here that the TM precedes the SP.  You also notice that the SP is a more abstract concept as it does not refer to an actual physical location; it is more spiritual in meaning.  I don’t think I need to drag this example out; it is quite simple to catch; the NT is replete with this frame, so, pay attention and you’ll see it probably somewhere on every page!  The thing to remembers is that these frames, because they can be physical or abstract, can carry deep physical significance as well as deep theological significance.  Ernst Lohmeyer actually used the same SPs (though he didn’t call them that) in Mark’s account to denote both! 

The next frame of reference under review is the Conditional Frame (CE – Conditional Exceptive) which is denoted by [CECE].  Runge asserts that CEs are found only in the epistles and reported speeches of the NT.  These frames are easy to notice because they are introduced by the conditional particles eva,n and eiv.  These particles “establish a specific condition that must be met before the main clause that follows holds true” (227).  Again, in typical fashion, let me give an example of my own followed by a biblical example provided by Runge.

[CEIf I want to have good health CE], I need to eat right and exercise frequently.

You can recognize the conditionality of the initial dependent clause because of the “if”.  The “if” is paving the way for something that follows; they are establishing a specific condition that must be met before the following independent/main clause holds true!  The condition of good health can only be achieved, it can only be true, if I “eat right and exercise frequently”.  I trust you get the point.  Here is an example Runge gives from 1 Jn 1.6-8:

6 [CE Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν,CE] ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν·
6 [CE If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness,CE] we lie and do not practice the truth.

7 [CE ἐὰν δὲ ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατῶμεν ὡς αὐτός ἐστιν ἐν τῷ φωτί,CE] κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετʼ ἀλλήλων καὶ τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας.
7 But [CE if we walk in the light as he is in the light,CE] we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

8 [CE ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν,CE] ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν καὶ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν.
8 [CE If we say that we do not have sin,CE] we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

Notice that each of these verses begins with a CE!  Also notice that the specific conditionality is met with the information that follows.  “Each conditional frame of reference provides a state of affairs for which the main clause applies.  The prominence assigned to the condition alerts the reader that this must hold true before the main proposition holds true” (229).  Runge provides several more helpful examples in his grammar, which I will leave for you to check out.  This is pretty self-explanatory!  Let’s move on to the next frame.

The Comparative Frame (CP) is denoted by [CPCP].  CPs “establish a basis against which something in the main clause is compared.  The comparison typically describes the manner in which the main action should be done, with the frame setting the stage for what follows” (233).  Runge suggests that CPs should be thought of in terms of highlighting key ideas.  Thus, the CPs are not used for emphasis, they are used to draw attention to what is already most important or what is already a key idea.  The Greek constructions, says Runge, are often best rendered in English with rhetorical questions.  Let’s see how this works.  We’ll stick with the same format: my own example then Runge’s from the NT.

[CPIn the same way that the sun is bright and beautiful CP], you are bright and beautiful.

You can see here how the initial dependent clause sets the stage for a comparison.  You can also see how the dependent clause is easily comparable to that which precedes it.  Now, an important thing to remember here, at least in my estimation, is that this is different than a point/ counterpoint example.  That should be pretty easy for you to notice, although, the difference between a comparison and a contrast is not always so easily distinguished!  Here’s an example from Lk 6.31:

Καὶ [CP καθὼς θέλετε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι CP] ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς ὁμοίως.
And [CP just as you want people to do to you, CP] do the same to them.

Right away you should notice the comparison.  Here, it is a comparison between actions.  One way to recognize this is to take note of recurring words.  In this case, in English, the recurring word is “do” which in Greek is poiw/sin / poiei/te.  There are many CPs in the NT and Runge offers at least a couple that are very complex and are worth your attention, however, I will not provide those examples here; I neither want to reproduce his grammar nor muddy the waters at this point any more than need be!

The final frame under review in this post is the Reason/Result Frame (RR), which is denoted by the symbol [RR RR].  Now, it should be stated from the outset that within the NT, RRs “are relatively infrequent” (237).  Even so, we should say a few brief words about them.  Runge notes two important points:  1) They can be prepositional phrases that reiterate a proposition from the preceding context using a pronoun (e.g. dia. tou/to), or 2) They can also be subordinate clauses introduced by o[tior i[na (237).  As such, we typically find RRs at the end of a main clause.  This is because it is functioning to provide a result/reason for what follows.  Here’s an example of my own and then one from the NT that Runge points out.

[TM When I was driving on the interstate TM], [RR because it was raining so hard RR], I had to pull over to the median.

Easy example, right?  You can see the TM that is forward position, which allows for attention-getting.  This is followed by the RR, that is, the reason that I had to pull over:  “because it was raining so hard.”  The amazing thing about these “frames” is that we use them all of the time, like I said at the beginning of this post.  However, many of us have just never had ways to describe them or what sort of effect they were causing; we know how to do it, we just don’t know how to explain or classify it.  Runge has helped us tremendously in this regard.  Here is an example from Jn 8.45 that he gives:

45 [TP ἐγὼ TP] δὲ [RR ὅτι τὴν ἀλήθειαν λέγω,RR] οὐ πιστεύετέ μοι.
“But [RR because [TPI TP] am telling the truth,RR] you do not believe me.”

Here, we have nothing but the pronoun placed in the forward position.  It is immediately followed by the postpositve and then the RR “because I am telling the truth”.  In short, the reason that people do not believe is precisely because he is telling the truth!  The author could have just said “But you do not believe me.”  However, the RR slowed down the discourse and gave the reason for why the people did not believe, namely, “because” he was the one telling them the truth; they didn’t want to hear it from him. 
These two chapters have been of great benefit to me, providing me with some descriptors to qualify what I or others are saying.  While there are portions of these chapters that raise a number of questions for me, I did not desire to raise all of those here, rather, I wanted to keep it simple.  Runge, of course, spells these things out in much greater detail.  At this point, there are 7 chapters left in the book, so, be on the lookout for at least a handful of more reviews.  If you still haven’t picked up Runge’s book, head over to Logos and do so.  In the meantime, check out the previous posts in the series by clicking the links below:

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