Mike Aubrey's Masters Thesis

Mike Aubrey has uploaded his anxiously awaited thesis to Academia.edu:

The Greek perfect and the categorization of tense and aspect: Toward a descriptive apparatus for operators in Role and Reference Grammar

Click on the title to download a copy or read it online.

Mike has posted two reflections on his blog that you will find very helpful as you read his thesis. I’ve included links to those reflections below along with what he says about their value:

If you’re a Greek student/scholar. I would encourage you to read the two posts dedicated to discussing my thesis. This is because it’s not a work that’s oriented toward biblical scholars [or] to classicists. It’s a work by a linguist for linguists. The two posts I’ve put up […] on my blog are designed to provide some orientation for people whose primary interest is Greek rather than linguistics proper.

Part I: Challenges in language analysis: thesis prefatory material

Part II: Thesis Prefatory Material: A Narrative Account

Here’s the abstract that Mike included on Academia.edu:

This thesis attempts to expand the theoretical and methodological basis for operators within Role and Reference Grammar for purposes of language description, using the Greek perfect as a test case. This requires first examining the current theoretical and methodological approach to tense and aspect in RRG and its strengths and weaknesses. Here I demonstrate that while some areas of RRG have a well-developed and robust set of theoretical and descriptive tools for language description, operators such as tense and aspect are distinctly lacking in this regard. To that end, I propose a model for tense and aspect operators that attempts to fill in the gaps that exist in RRG while also maintaining the integrity and spirit of the linguistic theory. This involves three steps. I begin with a survey of the broader typological literature on tense and aspect in order to establish a set of morphosyntactic tests for the evaluation and categorization of operators. This is followed by an application of the proposed morphosyntactic tests to a particular grammatical problem: the Greek Perfect in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the tests. I then concluded with a synthetic model for tense and aspect operators that both satisfies the theoretical and typological claims of the broader literature and also validates the existing structure of the Role and Reference Grammar framework, thereby furthering the goals of RRG as a useful theoretical model for language description.

I encourage you to take the time to look at Mike’s work.

The Sociolinguistics of Translating Canonical Religious Texts

After reading some comments on Sociolinguistics over at the b-greek forum a few days ago, I was fascinated to find a 1994 paper by Eugene Nida on Sociolinguistics and translation today. The article is available online. If you are unclear on the distinction between Sociolinguistics and other forms of Linguistic inquiry, you will find this article helpful.

The Sociolinguistics of Translating Canonical Religious Texts

LSJ in Wikiform!?

That’s right. The Liddell, Scott, Jones Ancient Greek Lexicon (LSJ) is now available in a wiki implementation. Check it out. Just type a Greek word into the search bar in the upper right of the window.

Coptic fragment presenting Jesus as saying "my wife"?

The following video from Harvard professor Karen L. King has received a huge amount of discussion online over the last few weeks.

Is the fragment directly relevant to the discussion of Hellenistic Greek? No. It is written in Coptic, and there is no credible evidence that it is a translation of an earlier Greek original. While Dr. King assumes the fragment to be a translation, I have found no evidence to support this assumption.

Do I think the Coptic fragment is authentic? I’m skeptical. The provenance of the fragment is unknown. This is a serious problem for any attempt to argue for authenticity.

Dr. King’s assertion that the fragment is evidence of a previously unknown Gospel is highly questionable. It rests on assumptions that I see as difficult to support. If authentic, the fragment was once part of a larger document of some kind. Was that document a Gospel? Perhaps. But it could also have been a letter or a work of religious fiction.

Dr. King has been clear that the fragment does not provide evidence that Jesus was married. If it is authentic, it provides evidence only of what a later group of Christians thought about whether he was married, not evidence of the historical reliability of their thinking. By assuming the fragment to be a translation of an earlier Greek original, though, Dr. King is able to assert that the view it represents on Jesus marital status dates to an earlier period than I believe the evidence actually supports.

While I think it is unlikely that the fragment is actually authentic, that does not mean that I reject the idea that Jesus could have been married.

The question of Jesus marital status did not arise until at least a hundred years after his death, at a time when the early church was struggling with whether Christians should marry, or at the least with whether clergy should marry. The canonical gospels are entirely silent on the issue. [O.K., so here’s the only possible tiny connection between this post and the Greek texts!] They say neither that he was or that he wasn’t married. They never mention a wife, but neither do they assert that he didn’t have one. The assertion that he was single throughout his life is based on theology, not the Greek texts.

If responses appear to this post, I will try to steer them toward discussion of the relevant Greek texts and meanings of particular Greek words and phrases.

Michael W Halcomb's Koine Greek Videos

I discovered Michael W Halcomb’s series of videos on Koine Greek today and would like to recommend them to anyone beginning the process of learning to speak biblical Greek. I’ve only watch a few of the videos so far, but can tell that Michael’s method is well founded in language acquisition theory.

The videos should work very well for creating fluency. Each one is only a few minutes long and is focussed clearly on a single lesson objective.

Here’s the link: Michael W Halcomb’s Koine Greek Videos