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Reviewed by:
  • New Testament Philology: Essays in Honor of David Alan Black ed. by Melton B. Winstead
  • Hennie Goede
Winstead, Melton B., ed. 2018. New Testament Philology: Essays in Honor of David Alan Black. Eugene: Pickwick. Hardback. ISBN 978-1498244879. Pp. 264. $32.

New Testament Philology, edited by Melton Bennett Winstead, offers an interesting insight into the science of philology as applied to the NT. The term "philology" is in itself somewhat controversial, as it seems to have disappeared from the landscape of language studies, largely because it has been usurped by the field of linguistics, its successor. I therefore find it refreshing that this publication is explicit in its use of the term, and specifically in the application of the term to the study of ancient texts.

In the introduction, the editor provides a definition of "philology" that points to the complexities involved in studying a written text: "structure, etymology, word history, grammar, morphology, and more." Winstead describes philology not as a lost art, but rather as a necessary tool for a comprehensive understanding of a text. Yet the close relationship to and overlap with linguistics are also acknowledged in a footnote, indicating that the terms "philology" and "linguistics" are used interchangeably in this publication.

Among the methodologies or approaches utilised by the contributors are the following: discourse analysis (chs. 1 and 12), textual criticism (chs. 1 and 9), grammatical analysis (chs. 2, 3 and 5), etymology and semantics (ch. 4), pragmatics (ch. 5), literary analysis (ch. 6), creedal interpretation (ch. 7), relevance theory borrowed from research on communication (ch. 8), linguistic analysis (ch. 10) and metaphor theory (ch. 13). One essay (ch. 11) considers the usefulness of Scripture memorisation in the original languages. The editor concludes the publication (ch. 14) with a "defence of why utilizing linguistics is imperative in studying the New Testament," illustrated by Paul's use of prepositional compounds.

The goal of the book as stated by the editor is to "demonstrate for students the value of continued research in the Greek New Testament" (xiv). When considering whether the publication fulfils its goal, I was left in two minds. Some chapters, for example, chapters 2, 3, 5 and 14, make clear and valuable contributions to the field of biblical Greek grammar. Other chapters deal with the text itself. Some chapters operate at the methodological and theoretical level. And the vast majority of chapters provide analysis of units of language larger than words or clauses, using [End Page 589] diverse methodologies. All these chapters fit appropriately within the scope of NT philology as defined by the editor, and also fulfil the aim of the publication. Chapter 11 seems to be the odd one out and to my mind only marginally fits the definition, if at all.

When reading the publication, I asked two questions. One: does the research presented in each chapter guide me towards a better or more in- depth understanding of the text under investigation? And two: would the method employed also benefit my understanding of other texts in the Bible? Chapter 14 provides a good example, where the analysis of the σύν compounds in the letter to the Ephesians contributes to a more in-depth understanding of the author's rhetoric in explaining the believers' participation in Christ and with one another (245). Other chapters also answer the first question in the affirmative, while others fail to do so. The latter chapters do contain useful research, but their use is not to my mind directed at a better understanding of the text. The vast majority of chapters answer positively to the second question, as the methods employed can be generalised to other texts in the Bible, although some are restricted in use to certain genres. The value of the publication lies indeed in the different approaches followed by the contributors in their interaction with the Greek NT, all in pursuit of a greater understanding of the text as the Word of God. With their endeavours, they follow in the footsteps of David Alan Black, to whom these essays are dedicated, and express his love for the Koine Greek language.

Technically speaking, the publication is well-presented. There are minor language and editing errors, but...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2518-4628
Print ISSN
0254-8356
Pages
pp. 589-590
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-31
Open Access
No
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