The Library Basement
Reading under ground

Whom do scholars work for?

Mike Aubrey posed this question:

Should placing a priority on exegetical payoff in linguistic & grammatical research be viewed as a strength or a weakness?

Upon reading this I was conflicted. I ultimately agree with Mike's point, that the primary goal of linguistic research should be to understand the language in and of itself. But I am reluctant to agree to it outright, since I think there is already enough bashing of "pragmatic" Greek instruction going on. So I pointed out that researchers should have a further goal in mind for their work.

I'll appropriate the term "primary" (as used by Aubrey in his reply to me) to quite literally mean "first." Yes, the first thing a linguistic researcher needs to do is the understand the structure of the language in question. Further tasks such as exegesis and translation should depend on this foundation. But I do not want to confuse "first" with "most important." Very few people are going to be interested in the structure of Hellenistic Greek for its own sake. They will want to use this knowledge to gain some other benefit. When it comes to the biblical languages and corpus, most people are going to want interpretive insight.

It is good for scholars to assist seminarians and pastors with their ultimate goal of a better understanding the scriptures. As I understand giftedness in the church, scholars work to serve the body of Christ with knowledge. I believe that "pragmatic" Greek instruction is an absolutely appropriate ultimate goal for scholarly research. This is because Christians are called to study and preach the scriptures, not to learn Greek.

I think this same basic argument applies in secular contexts as well: know your audience.

Category: language Tags: Greek