I remember as a second semester Hebrew student wishing that I could have my professor present while I worked through Hebrew texts at home. Unfortunately, my professors rarely made house calls, even when the syntax of a adversative clause lay on the line. Along with many others, my translation technique consisted of simply looking up words in BDB and mashing them together into a wooden translation, leaving aside the complicated question of syntax and structure. If only I had someone to take me through a text line by line.
Although there are many resources that can help improve your reading of Hebrew, one that I have recently benefited from is the Baylor Handbook on the Hebrew Bible Series. I have been working through the volume on Amos authored by a professor of mine, Duane Garrett. In the book, Garrett walks through every stanza, strophe, and line of Amos, describing the syntax and function of each grammatical construction, with a little commentary. This book does not address the text-critical problems of Amos, except where necessary for intelligibility, but focuses on the present form of the text.
By working through this book, students who have had a couple semesters of Hebrew can learn to read grammatically on a discourse level with a Hebrew Bible professor at their beck and call. I have not had a chance to reference any of the other volumes in the series, but have heard mostly positive reports from others.
One word of caution with the Amos volume: occasionally, words are missing or misspelled in the text. As you working through the book, I recommend having your Hebrew Bible open, for the simple purpose of verifying the text. With that caveat, I cannot recommend this work more highly.
You can read a review of the book here.
I wake up on the first of every month with a sense of anticipation. It’s kind of like Christmas, but, without all the baggage. For, it’s time for the biblical studies carnival: a monthly synopsis of blog posts on subjects related to biblical studies.
This month, Jim West has put together our carnival. And, as anyone familiar with Jim’s blog will know, it is not the least bit dull. In addition to his colorful commentary, Jim links to many good posts on Hebrew Bible, New Testament, DSS, ect. The carnival itself is dedicated to Mack Brady, son of Jewish Literature Professor of Penn State Christian Brady, who recently passed away at the young age of eight years old.
Some highlights of the carnival include a couple posts by my friend Brian Davidson on discourse analysis and the book of Jonah, Rusty Osborne’s post on John Walton’s guiding principals for ANE comparative study, and a link to the newly released Marginalia Review of Books site. And just in case that was not enough, we have the privilege of seeing Jim in a Snuggie.
I am looking forward to next month’s carnival, put on by Drewe at Delving into the Scriptures. Phil Long is always looking for new folks to host carnivals, so for more information see here.
I hope many of you are familiar with the work of Steven Runge, who is known for his efforts in the study of discourse analysis in both the Old and New Testaments. Among his publications are books such as Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis and the Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible Bundle (6 vols.) available in Logos, aiding readers of the ancient texts to better understand how meaning can be discerned from a discourse-pragmatic level.
In addition to the publications listed above, Runge presented a paper in 2007 at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature entitled “Joel 2:28-32a in Acts 2:17-21: The Discourse and Text-Critical Implications of Variation from the LXX.” Though this paper did not exhaustively seek to evaluate the manuscript evidence for Peter’s use of Joel, it did attempt to show the practical benefit of discourse considerations of the text. This remains a helpful resource for one example of the NT’s use of the OT, but from a different angle than is frequently employed.
Over at Runge’s blog, he has posted some comments on various aspects of discourse analysis, most recently part one of a series on a meaningful distinction between ἀλλά and εἰ μή (“rather” and “except” respectively). Runge states that the function of ἀλλά in a sentence is to offer a corrective to the preceding statement. As he notes, its usage implies that there is something wrong with what precedes the conjunction that is in need of correction. This need not indicate that the speaker himself is in error in his knowledge and speech, but rather, he may use the conjunction for a desired rhetorical effect.
The conjunction ἀλλά makes ten appearances by my count in the LXX of the Twelve. For the majority of its appearance, Runge’s distinction holds true, with the possible exception of Micah 6:8 and Malachi 2:16. Regardless, this can be on helpful distinction to aid a close reading of the text.
I encourage you to follow his posts here.