Stephen Carlson wrote:doing it now for Classical Greek
I can see why that would be a place where such an enquiry would happen readily.
It has been recognised since antiquity (by "antiquity" I mean the pre- Alexandrian period or perhaps before Persians) that different dialects tended to be used for different genres across historical periods.
Stephen Carlson wrote:text-type or discourse mode stuff isn't really a mature area of study
I find that surprising. The techniques for tackling texts that I teach my ESL students require them to recognise what type of text they are dealing with, and then to ask an appropriate set of questions of the text.
If we can draw from a ready-made classification system, we could just say that at a very basic level we classify "In the narrative text, in the analogies and teaching, in the presentation of a point of view, in songs and praise and in apocalyptic texts".
It is a complex question, but if we re-ask the question, What is a Gospel?
from the point of view of Greek literature, perhaps the answer will be somewhere between the popular novel (Chariton et al) and the wise sayings of the philosoper (Gos. Thom., Apophthegmata Patrum). If that assumption is true, then perhaps we need to look at the Gospels from either of two different analytical models, or in some cases both. Given the uncertainty, it would be useful to first look at the philosophical aphorisms of various philosophers in various schools and then look at the simple narrative syntax of the popular novel and then read the Gospels in that way. Inductively then the study of grammar follows the paradigm of the Incarnation - the Word "infleshed" - that is to say that the Gospel style is itself a preaching of Christ the incarnate Word.
There are personal letters in the corpus, that Hunt and Edgar present for us, have been used (perhaps primarily by historians) for decades now give us some idea of what a letter is so that we can understand the personal nature of correspondance in the NT corpus.
I can't really think of parallels for the preaching and teaching parts of the epistle outside of the patristic texts that follow in their stead for the later generations. The dialectic reasoning of the philosophical discourses accounts for only a small part of the Apostle's writings, I think.
The legal documents - and the assumed knowledge of the legals system that even individual words allude to - are in the background of the new testament text. Their precision, for example, however, and their lengthy listing of constraints and consequences are not really part of our literature, but I would be happy if someone could disagree with me on this.
The apocalyptic litterature is very short and to the point and changes track quickly, but again in keeping with the Incarnational preaching of the Church, the apocalypse of John is full of narrative which takes place in a system of time and space, even if it a sort of revelationary hyperreality - given though that the simulacrum has a reality to copy which is Jesus Christ in history. To understand it then - simliar to the Gospels - we could consider the syntactic patterns of the pagan revelations together with the popular novels.
I have not read widely in the pagan religous / magical texts, but I assume that that would be another text-type.
Are there other glaringly obvious text-types that I have, through the blindness of looking too closely, overlooked?What should a syntax do?
Of course, for us, who can read well enough in Greek to be discussing on this forum, reading widely is an answer for seeing things, but to design an intermediate syntax textbook (crutch - and I mean that as a good thing like a walking frame) for intermediate students to gain a perspective on how to contextualise and arrange into memory the syntactical structures that they are encountering, arranging it into even a slightly innacurately defined text-type schema.
There will be language derived patterns that are common to the language as a whole and not to a particular text-type and then there will be tendencies and then there will be commonplaces. A syntax writer who has read widely and can recognise them, will help the students greatly if they could share that experience.
"I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel." (Good Will Hunting - 1997)