New Testament Language & Linguistics: New at Midwest SBL

I'm pleased to share the news today that, in Feb 2017, a new session/section will appear at the annual Midwest SBL meeting. This section, co-created and co-chaired by me and Dr. Fredrick Long, is appropriately titled "New Testament Language & Linguistics." Our initial description is as follows: "Advances in linguistics continue to have relevance and implications for NT Greek studies. Likewise, given that NT scholars work with ancient texts and languages, NT studies are uniquely situated to offer insights to those in the field of linguistics and language study. As such, this session highlights studies focused on the linguistic dimensions and/or language-based features of NT texts. Topics related to phonology, morphology, syntax, discourse, and pragmatics, among related topics, are welcome for submission." In this seminal year we will be meeting at St. Mary's College (Notre Dame) and, I, along with Dr. Long, will offer a paper. In addition, three others will be presenting, too. I have included all five abstracts below. For those attending, we'd love to meet you. For those interested in participating next year, please stay in touch so you will receive the "Call for Papers."

Shawn Craigmiles
Paper TitleUses of ἀλλά and metalinguistic negation in Gospel of John

Proposal Abstract: This is an overview of the use of the conjunction ἀλλά within the Gospel of John, including a brief treatment of, and an appeal to, the linguistic phenomenon known as “metalinguistic negation” to explain the unusual occurrences in John 7:16 and 12:44. The aims are to identify the various constructions in which ἀλλά appears, the functions of these constructions, and the features most commonly observed, such as negation, ellipsis, and the presence of contrast pairs. It will be demonstrated that most occurrences of ἀλλά are in the context of a previous negation, such that either something from a previous utterance is being corrected, or two utterances are being contrasted in some way.

T. Michael W. Halcomb
Paper TitleIota & the Pronunciation of Koine Greek: A Historical & Phonological Analysis

Proposal Abstract: In this paper I offer both synchronic and diachronic analyses of the pronunciation of the letter iota (i) up to the fourth century CE. I argue that itacism (iotacism), that is, the process whereby six Greek vowels (h( u) or vowel pairs (hi( ei( oi( and ui) underwent changes with the result that they were all pronounced the same as iota (i), began prior to the Classical Era. Moreover, I aim to illustrate that during this time, three stages of Compensatory Lengthening were largely responsible for setting the process of itacism in motion. Understanding these phonological details not only has implications for understanding the pronunciation of Koine but also engaging in text-critical analyses.

Fredrick J. Long
Paper Title: The Semantics and Pragmatics of Ἀποκρίνομαι (“I answer”) in the Greek New Testament

Proposal Abstract: The “deponent” verb ἀποκρίνομαι (glossed “I answer”) occurs in the Gospels and Acts, mostly in the passive voice. Sometimes the verb is not translated, especially after some action or circumstance. The ancient grammarians Ammonius and Phrynichus distinguished the verb’s meaning by its verbal voice: “ἀποκριθῆναι has to do with making distinctions, ἀποκρίνασθαι with making a reply” (BDAG s.v.); so also LSJ. Somewhat consistent with this ancient distinction, Stephen Levinsohn maintains that as a speech orienter ἀποκρίνομαι indicates taking “control of the conversation with an objection or new initiative.” This paper explores the semantics and pragmatics of ἀποκρίνομαι in the GNT.

Troy W. Martin
Paper TitleChrist’s Healing Sore (1 Pet 2:24)

Proposal Abstract: Sores are disgusting and especially those oozing bodily fluids. Sores are a pathological problem in need of healing. These modern perceptions make the interpretation of the term μώλωπι (“sore”) in 1 Pet 2:24 quite difficult. The Petrine author asserts that Christ’s sore heals others, and this notion of a sore that heals strikes moderns as quite odd. This oddity arises in part from a lack of understanding about the ancient source domain of Peter’s salvific-hygenic metaphor according to which a μώλωψ is part of a restorative process. This paper seeks to remedy this lack of understanding as a way of overhearing this metaphor once again in an ancient context.

Benjamin J. Snyder
Paper Title: Technical Term or Technical Foul? —βαπτίζω and the Problem of Transliteration as Translation

Proposal Abstract: Modern scholarship strives to use proper terminology and define terms carefully to avoid anachronism or mischaracterization of ancient concepts. However, pitfalls inherent to the practice of transliteration as translation are largely ignored. This practice is a perfect Trojan horse since it espouses to accurately reflect original meaning by using an anglicized version of the original language. Paradoxically, however, transliteration wrongly leads to treating transliterated terms as terminī technicī and decontextualizes such terms which leads interpreters to imbue them with meaning from the interpreter's context. I use βαπτίζω as a case study to argue that transliteration should be abandoned.