Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 39:2 (Jun 1996)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

The Language of the New Testament: Classic Essays. Edited by Stanley E. Porter. JSNTS 60. Sheffield: JSOT, 1991, 238 pp., $47.50.

This anthology brings together what the editor considers to be “classic essays” dealing with a longstanding and much-debated question: What is the character of the Greek of the NT? His goal “is to give some idea of the history and progress of this continuing discussion.”

The collection opens with the editor’s own contribution, “The Greek of the New Testament as a Disputed Area of Research.” Then follow nine essays ranging in date from 1899 to 1980. In choosing these essays the editor has not always included the best-known piece by a contributor, especially if it is easily available elsewhere. Instead he has sought out (with only one exception) incisive complete statements, two of which (those by A. Deissmann and L. Rydbeck) are here available in English for the first time. The selections (with date of initial appearance) include Deissmann, “Hellenistic Greek with Special Consideration of the Greek Bible” (1899); J. H. Moulton, “New Testament Greek in the Light of Modern Discovery” (1909); C. C. Torrey, “The Aramaic of the Gospels” (1942); M. Black, “Aramaic Studies and the Language of Jesus” (1968); J. A. Fitzmyer, “The Languages of Palestine in the First Century AD” (1970; the bibliography has been updated for this edition); H. S. Gehman, “The Hebraic Character of Septuagint Greek” (1951); N. Turner, “The Language of Jesus and His Disciples” (1965); Rydbeck, “On the Question of Linguistic Levels and the Place of the New Testament in the Contemporary Language Milieu” (1967); M. Silva, “Bilingualism and the Character of Palestinian Greek” (1980).

The editor’s contribution is an excellent introduction to the issues involved, and it nicely introduces and summarizes each of the selected essays. The chronological arrangement works well overall, although the essay by Fitzmyer, touching as it does more on the context of the debate than the issues involved, might well have been placed right after the introductory chapter.

Acknowledging the usefulness of the introduction, readers may nonetheless wish that the editor had covered two areas a bit more fully. First, given the way that Silva’s essay raised the important matter of modern linguistics, and in view of the editor’s own expertise in that area (see p. 35 n. 3), a fuller discussion of the implications of linguistics for the future of the debate would have been both welcome and useful. Second, fuller bibliographic guidance to contributions to the topic since 1980 would have increased the utility of the collection. A few more recent items do get mentioned along the way, such as G. H. R. Horsley’s imp...

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