A Discourse Analysis Of The Use Of Psalm 8:4-6 In Hebrews 2:5-9 -- By: George H. Guthrie

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 49:2 (Jun 2006)
Article: A Discourse Analysis Of The Use Of Psalm 8:4-6 In Hebrews 2:5-9
Author: George H. Guthrie

A Discourse Analysis Of The Use Of Psalm 8:4-6 In Hebrews 2:5-91

George H. Guthrie

Russell D. Quinn*

In the fall of 2001, at the annual meeting of the Institute for Biblical Research, Stanley Porter presented a plenary address entitled “Developments in Greek Linguistics and New Testament Study.” A subtext for the presentation might have read, “The Lack of Developments in the Use of Greek Linguistics in New Testament Study.” In part, Porter decried the lack of incorporation of the practice of discourse analysis in the day-to-day task of most NT scholars, this in spite of recent advances in the field. What we need, Porter suggested, is more work demonstrating the practical fruit of discourse analysis when applied to specific conundrums of NT exegesis and interpretation.

In this article, we wish to address an issue of interpretation that begs for the incorporation of discourse analysis as a means to its answer. That interpretive question has to do with the use of Ps 8:4–6 in Heb 2:5–9. We chose this text in part for the practical implications of its interpretation in current translation work, recognizing that several translations have opted for a thoroughgoing anthropological rendering of the text.2 The question of how one translates the quotation of Psalm 8 at this point hits near what, for most of us, is the day-to-day task of interpreting, translating, and teaching portions of the NT. Therefore, we offer this brief study as a suggestion concerning the need for discourse analysis in addressing such passages.

I. Psalm 8 In Judaism And The New Testament

In its OT context, our psalm follows several psalms of lament requesting deliverance (Psalms 3–7), and offers a beautiful, praise-filled counterpoint to

* George Guthrie is Benjamin W. Perry professor of Bible and Chair of the School of Christian Studies at Union University, 1050 University Drive, Jackson, TN 38305. Russell Quinn is a Ph.D. candidate at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280.

these, a song that proclaims God’s glory and the dignity of human beings. An inclusio frames the psalm, a refrain celebrating the majesty of the Lord’s name: “O Yahweh, our Lord, how magnificent is your name in all the earth.” Two primary movements make up the body of the psalm. Psalm 8:lb-2 ...

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