New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity: Linguistic Essays

New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity: Linguistic Essays

New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity: Linguistic Essays

New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity: Linguistic Essays


This series, produced by the Ancient History Documentary Research Centre at Macquarie University, keeps New Testament and early church researchers abreast of emerging documentary evidence by reproducing and reviewing recently published Greek inscriptions and papyri that help illumine the context in which the Christian church developed.


This volume in the New Docs series is rather different in conception from its predecessors. When the first volume was produced at the beginning of this decade the primary purpose was to review the Greek documentary publications to discover how much new material was appearing annually which might be felt worth the attention in particular of those whose focus was the nt. By the time the fourth volume appeared (1987), this comprehensive testing had demonstrated conclusively that mm ought to be replaced, not merely revised. the frequency with which mm is reprinted shows that there is a continuing demand for such a tool.

When the decision was taken in late 1980 at Macquarie University to publish a bulletin to evaluate the need for a new mm, the project committee determined that there should be a commitment initially to produce five numbers. This fifth volume offers a stocktaking for the series. the linguistic essays it contains attempt to deal more fully than was possible in the preceding volumes with a range of questions adumbrated there. There is no suggestion that what is presented here is the ‘last word’ in comprehensiveness. Some of the essays draw upon the potential of certain aspects of General Linguistics for the study of ancient languages. An appendix surveys, in somewhat random fashion, what impact Linguistics is having on the study of Ancient Greek. Other essays evaluate selected books published on nt syntax and lexicography over the last generation. the fourth chapter, on lexicography, includes some detailed analysis of mm itself; this material serves as part of our rationale for planning a new dictionary to replace it. the final chapter, which most obviously partakes of the character of a ‘typical’ New Docs entry, is relevant to the present volume’s linguistic focus since it deals in part with the neglect of onomastics in nt research.

With the exception of this last-mentioned essay, readers who are familiar with the previous volumes will find here a change of tone. It must be said that portions of this book have not been as congenial to write as were its predecessors: iconoclasm is not really to my taste. Yet over the several years’ gestation which most of these essays have had and, indeed, during several years prior to that, I have come to feel that I should lay out more fully what is at stake in the debate on the existence of Jewish Greek, or what may be the effect on nt philology of neglecting nonliterary evidence for the situation of Greek at the turn of the era.

Furthermore, the reader of these essays should note that they contain a degree (small, I hope) of exaggeration of my own position. That these pages — taken as a whole; the final chapter provides the contrast — should lack that evenhandedness which was largely present in the preceding volumes has been a decision consciously made, after weighing the risk it involved. the intention is to provoke a rethinking of the questions raised here on the part of those who immerse themselves in the Greek nt. This book is written from the standpoint of how the nonliterary Greek sources may enrich and inform our appreciation of the context of early Christianity and the phenomenon of the nt books, but it will rightly be countered that this is not the whole story. the point being urged here, however, is that this is a part of the story that is too often neglected. the multiplicity and diversity of the new texts presented in the previous . . .

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