"Semantic Priority Grammars"?
Posted: June 24th, 2012, 12:32 am
On page xvi of Dan Wallace's exegetical syntax, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (1996), he points out the existence a certain type of grammar:
My interest here is not to debate Wallace's point whether a semantic or structural priority grammar is better, but something more basic. (Personally, I think both have their place.) For the life of me, however, I cannot call to mind any "semantic priority grammars" of Koine Greek. Does such a thing exist, and, if so, what is it?Wallace 1996:xvi wrote:Another trend current among grammarians (whether of Greek or other languages) is that of organizing the material by semantic priority rather than by structural priority. Thus, the focus is on how purpose, possession, result, condition, etc. are expressed, rather than on the forms used to express such notions.
Semantic priority grammars are most useful for composition in a living language, not analysis of a small corpus of a dead language. This is not to say that such an approach has no place in a grammar on ancient Greek, but that an intermediate and exegetical grammar is more useful if organized by morpho-syntactic features.
It is anticipated that the average user of this work will either lack the ability or the inclination to think through all the ways in which, say, purpose can be expressed in Greek. But that user should be able to recognize forms as they occur in the Greek NT. When he or she sees a ἵνα or genitive articular infinitive in the text, the first question asked will not be, “How can purpose be expressed in Greek?” but “How is this word used here?” The initial questions are thus almost always tied to form. The value of an exegetical grammar is related to its usability in exegesis: since exegesis begins with the forms found in the text and then moves toward its concepts, so should an exegetical grammar.