R. W. Funk and the two different structuralisms

Stirling Bartholomew
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R. W. Funk and the two different structuralisms

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » August 8th, 2016, 2:51 pm

There were at least two different forms of structuralism, one was a branch of linguistics and the other a branch of literary criticism. While R. W. Funk certainly shows traces of linguistic linguistic structuralism in his koine grammar, you cannot divorce Funk the grammarian from his hermeneutical framework which was based on some significant assumptions about language and culture which seem to fit more in the stream of post-structuralism[1] (literary criticism). Reading Funk naively as if he is just another NT grammarian is not a good idea. His general theory about language and culture is the foundation for his grammar work.

Having had some “conversations” with English lit PhD candidates and NT students immersed in some form of post-structuralism (literary criticism) from the late 70s through the early 90s, I was surprised last night to find a young philosopher Brett Yardley PhD talking about this in relation to R. W. Funk.

The underlying philosophical concept that under girds Funk's work is his understanding of language and reality which are wrapped up in history. Both precede from what he sees as the “problem of language,” the circular conundrum of which came first: joint understanding or previously understood language.iii For Funk the two create a form of dualism where the two, language and understanding, “give birth to each other” and “also hold each other captive.”iv Since both must occur simultaneously, Funk denies a univocal reality.v For Funk, reality is the shared experiences common to all men that give birth to language and vice versa. As reality evolves or progresses overtime, it is first shaped as men inherit language from history and then subsequently reshape it using that language to create new shared experiences which modify the language for future generations. Second, Funk affirms univocal language.vi He desires that language be cleaned of all equivocal elements so that words “square” (match one-on-one) with the reality man experiences. Taken together, these two presuppositions put a figurative expiration-date on words since their meaning is derived from a reality limited to the shared experiences of the communicator and the intended audience. Once that shared reality has entered history, the words become empty shells devoid of their common experience based meaning and weigh down modern language as “historical litter.”vii

Brett Yardley PhD
http://www.brettyardley.com/fail-forwar ... ert-w-funk
[1] I am not tagging Funk post-structuralist. I am simply saying his ideas about language and culture share certain attributes with people who have been identified with a very vague conglomeration of ideas sometimes referred to as post-structuralism.
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Louis L Sorenson
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Re: R. W. Funk and the two different structuralisms

Post by Louis L Sorenson » August 8th, 2016, 3:16 pm

So how did Funk's theory of language make Funk's BIGHG different from Smyth, BDF, Robertson and more modern authors such as Porter, Rijksbaron, Runge, etc. Did Funk's theory and influence continue? (I think Funk is close to Goetchius at least in his approach to presentation). Can we see some solid examples of how Funk's theory is demonstrated in his grammars. BDF was translated from the German into English by Funk, but it was also updated. So does BDf also show some of Funk's beliefs about language?

I guess to be able to understand this more fully, we need to know a little more about structuralism and post-structuralism[1] (literary criticism). Was Structuralism was replaced by Chomsky's language model? And what theories of language are used into today's grammars or grammatical expositions on ancient Greek?
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Paul-Nitz
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Re: R. W. Funk and the two different structuralisms

Post by Paul-Nitz » August 12th, 2016, 7:46 am

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:Reading Funk naively as if he is just another NT grammarian is not a good idea. His general theory about language and culture is the foundation for his grammar work.
I suppose it's not easy to answer in simple way why is it not a good idea. But if you would try, I'd appreciate it.

I wouldn't like to feel I cannot profitably read the likes of Funk, Levinsohn, and Runge intelligently without understanding linguistic theories. But plumbing the depths of linguistic theory seems impractical.
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Robert Crowe
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Re: R. W. Funk and the two different structuralisms

Post by Robert Crowe » August 12th, 2016, 12:36 pm

I take that a post-structural approach is simply an honest appraisal that we cannot lay down hard and fast rules and meanings. Funk is saying his work is his best attempt, but that it is open to an ongoing process of trial and improvement. Well, hopefully improvement. It's really just a disclaimer to anything definitive.

For instance, we would be doing this in a small way when we scribble an addition to a lexical entry.

At the literary criticism level, it is to keep an open mind about the message of an author. For instance, I once heard it preached that in the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus was talking about himself, whereas I had previously understood it as a story about a mere pedestrian sinner. Which of these angles was Luke taking? To be honest, we don't know.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: R. W. Funk and the two different structuralisms

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » August 12th, 2016, 1:03 pm

RE: Post-structuralism

I didn't invent this term and I am not an expert on this framework or literary criticism in general. Check out wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-structuralism.

In the late '70s over a period of two years I had some heated discussions with a recent graduate of Denver Seminary[1] who was studying Biblical Greek and Chinese and espousing what was to me a strange ideology. That was my first encounter. Later on early 80s working with a bunch of English Lit ABDs (former PhD cand's) I encountered more of this and into the early 90s even more of it from an Armenian Phd in deconstructive engineering who carried Derrida's signature in his wallet.

Will not attempt to explain any of this but Saussure was at the bottom of it.


[1] David, a friend and colleague had been involved as a member of a small group of students at Denver who met with Vernon Grounds weekly for discussion of ultimate questions. David befriended this other member of the group ( Derrida disciple) and dragged him back to Seattle after graduation where they all formed a community of sorts. I was a non-resident member of the community.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: R. W. Funk and the two different structuralisms

Post by Stephen Carlson » August 12th, 2016, 10:41 pm

Paul-Nitz wrote:I wouldn't like to feel I cannot profitably read the likes of Funk, Levinsohn, and Runge intelligently without understanding linguistic theories. But plumbing the depths of linguistic theory seems impractical.
Don't know about Funk, but to understand Levinsohn and Runge, I've found Cooley & Levinsohn's Analyzing Discourse: A Manual of Basic Concepts to be helpful.

One of the difficulties in understanding Levinsohn is that his work has matured and grown over his career, so early Levinsohn is not quote on all points the same as the recent Levinsohn. This I think is a sign of a fecund research program, though those wanting a worked-out system may be disappointed.
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MAubrey
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Re: R. W. Funk and the two different structuralisms

Post by MAubrey » August 13th, 2016, 8:17 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Paul-Nitz wrote:I wouldn't like to feel I cannot profitably read the likes of Funk, Levinsohn, and Runge intelligently without understanding linguistic theories. But plumbing the depths of linguistic theory seems impractical.
Don't know about Funk, but to understand Levinsohn and Runge, I've found Cooley & Levinsohn's Analyzing Discourse: A Manual of Basic Concepts to be helpful.

One of the difficulties in understanding Levinsohn is that his work has matured and grown over his career, so early Levinsohn is not quote on all points the same as the recent Levinsohn. This I think is a sign of a fecund research program, though those wanting a worked-out system may be disappointed.
Often times you simply have to ask him directly. The third edition of Discourse Features is currently being worked on with substantial changes.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: R. W. Funk and the two different structuralisms

Post by Stephen Carlson » August 13th, 2016, 11:19 pm

MAubrey wrote:Often times you simply have to ask him directly. The third edition of Discourse Features is currently being worked on with substantial changes.
I'm curious to see how it turns out. I recently discovered that his first edition anticipated Helma Dik on Greek word order in a number of point just a couple years before she published.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: R. W. Funk and the two different structuralisms

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » August 14th, 2016, 12:15 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
MAubrey wrote:Often times you simply have to ask him directly. The third edition of Discourse Features is currently being worked on with substantial changes.
I'm curious to see how it turns out. I recently discovered that his first edition anticipated Helma Dik on Greek word order in a number of point just a couple years before she published.
On the other hand, it would be difficult to chart the features of Levinsohn within the work of Helma Dik. They are not actually very similar, only on very few issues do they correspond. I don't detect any dependence between them. They both have used ideas that were out there already.

Wonder why nobody talks about Robert Longacre in these discussions. He was the first guy I read on Discourse Analysis. Longacre offered a formal representation of his grammar.

Taking pot shots at works written for an audience of non-linguists is easy, I have done it. A lot of people have found benefit in D. A. Black's book and M. Sliva's work on lexical semantics.
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Paul-Nitz
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Re: R. W. Funk and the two different structuralisms

Post by Paul-Nitz » August 17th, 2016, 4:33 am

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:The underlying philosophical concept that under girds Funk's work is his understanding of language and reality which are wrapped up in history... ...weigh down modern language as “historical litter.”vii
Brett Yardley PhD http://www.brettyardley.com/fail-forwar ... ert-w-funk
Is this quotation (see top post) germane to understanding Funk’s approach to writing his grammar? The excerpt from Bret Yardly’s article, “The Biblical Interpretation Method of Robert W. Funk” which is quoted deals specifically with Funk’s hermeneutics. Funk melded Bultman with his own linguistic based theory and redefined the concept of κηρυγμα as a Word Event. As far as I can imagine, his Bultmann-like theories did not influence how he presented his grammar. How would they? If a person does or does not accept the Biblical text as the Word of God, they will certainly accept it as period Greek and be aiming to explain that Greek in any grammar they write. The question is not their view of Scripture, but their view of language and how it works.

There is a different excerpt from Yardley’s article which does mention Funk’s theory and how he approached his grammar, though it's not very illuminating:
“For many years in Greek studies, scholars considered New Testament koine Greek to be substandard in comparison to Classical Greek. To the consternation and embarrassment of New Testament scholars, theories abounded that koine Greek was the layman or backwater dialect of Classical Greek. However, Funk was the first to apply modern linguistics to the analysis of Greek Syntax in A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek which “argued that New Testament Greek is a dialect in its own right and not a vulgarization of classical Greek.”ii Funk successfully answered the question: “Should not the language of the NT be treated as a dynamic idiom that deserves its own definition rather than as a corruption of the Attic dialect, and should not insights from modern linguistics and second language pedagogy be used for the analysis and teaching of NT Greek?”iii As a result, New Testament Greek studies are now seen as a separate entity or sub-field of Greek with its own integrity instead of an arm or detail of Classical Greek.”
http://www.brettyardley.com/fail-forwar ... ert-w-funk
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