Current Problems And Projects In New Testament Research -- By: Simon J. Kistemaker

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 18:1 (Winter 1975)
Article: Current Problems And Projects In New Testament Research
Author: Simon J. Kistemaker


Current Problems And Projects
In New Testament Research

Simon J. Kistemaker*

In surveying the field of New Testament studies I note not only the problems which are discussed today. I also put on record some of the projectswhich have been launched and others which could be launched or should be developed. Evangelical scholars tnay want to plan, contribute to, and eventually crystallize some projects.

By surveying the field, I focus attention on three main areas and a related one: the text, theology, and unity of the New Testament. Briefly I refer to related topics such as Gnosticism, Judaism, and Patristic studies.

I. Text

Three areas of study which are most prominent in textual studies of the New Testament are textual criticism, syntax, and exegesis. But before I go into these areas, I think it is fitting to mention the work of the lexicographer at this point. Ever since 1956, the English-speaking world has been using the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, prepared by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich. These two scholars translated the fourth revised and augmented 1952 edition of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch. This work is monumental in scope. Bauer conducted “a systematic search in Greek literature down to Byzantine times for parallels to the language of the New Testament.”1 Yet Bauer’s alphabetically-arranged lexicon does not meet the need of today’s translator. It is deficient in its composition. That is, the lexicon is arranged encyclopedically, not linguistically. Bauer, like many other lexicographer before him, provides the reader with a number of translations for a given word. Usually he provides a few examples, without comment, and leaves it to the user of the lexicon to find the correct meaning for the word in question.

The need for a linguistically-arranged lexicon is now being tilled. An editorial committee consisting of Dr. Eugene Nida, Professor Rondal Smith, and Professor Johannes Louw has begun, since 1971, the gigantic task of publishing a Greek New Testament Wordbook based entirely on semantic principles. One of these principles is that a lexicon should not merely give the translation of words. Rather it should classify words in structural categories. For example, a physical structure is the category for

*Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi.

house, wall, table; food is the category for bread, meat, table; and the economic structure includes the words money, coin, table. All three categories incorporate the wor...

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