Monday, May 31, 2010

The Relationship of Discourse Analysis to Exegesis

In recent studies of the Bible there has been and emphasis on something called Discourse Analysis. Much of what has been discovered by this trend involves overlap with traditional steps of exegesis, yet where they intersect discourse analysis provides a strengthened concentration on the matters it covers.

Traditional exegesis has emphasized context. It could be argued that discourse analysis is context on steroids because of the heightened analysis. It emphasizes co-text which refers to the relationship of the text to the larger context of linguistic data in which it is set. It also focuses on the "intertext" which would involve the larger linguistic frames of reference. And when they speak of context it usually means the historical context. Here it is important to ascertain the situational features that shape the text: “place of writing, occasion, and readers’ circumstances.”

However, Discourse Analysis also includes grammar, but usually focuses more on the big picture, so it is concerned with the macrostructures that connect larger units like paragraphs. It also helps in outlining and understanding the flow of the argument so that one might best understand how a particular passage functions in the overall text. Here the cohesion and coherence of a text are studied to see what is communicated and how.

Discourse Analysis also provides exegetes with fine tuning for many other hermeneutical considerations such as analyzing the “sequence of information, the overall form and the structural conventions of a given discourse,” the study of deixis, speech acts, intertextuality, genre analysis, and rhetorical analysis. And it goes on from there. There is no end to the various aspects of Discourse Analysis, yet it certainly has great payoff in helping exegetes gain from the overall context and flow what is often missed in microsyntactical and lexical studies.

1 comment:

Matt Hauck said...

Any books to recommend for an introduction? I think Young's grammar covered some of this, but it was in a chapter or two at the end of the book.