Myopia in exegesis and translation: how profiles of Biblical texts can give peripheral vision

Statement of Responsibility:
Longacre, Robert E
2005 Bible Translation Conference, Dallas, Texas, USA, Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics; SIL International, 2005-10
11 pages
The contention of this paper is that preoccupation with verse-by-verse concerns, whether in exegesis or in translation, is a kind of myopia which can be corrected by balancing attention to the thrust and scope of the entire document. To be specific, I’m suggesting that an attempt be made to capture the profile of a book of the Bible. The profile is a multiparameter affair reflecting the underlying template of the genre, its macrostructure (what it’s all about), and the relative heaviness of surface structure marking. It often reflects a rising-falling structure of some sort, whether narrative or non-narrative, as symbolized in the Freytag Pyramid and similar structures found in germ as far back as Aristotle. In this paper I consider the problem presented by Canticles: is it a collection of love lyrics or a more unified poem? I also consider the book of Job, especially the problem presented by the presence of chapter 28, ‘the hymn to Wisdom.’ Is it a somewhat awkward later addition to the book, or can it be shown to be an integral part of its structure? Finally, I consider the structure of the Gospel according to Mark. Here, the profile of the book can offer a sort of navigational guide for the exegete and translator. The book’s abrupt ending is compared with its abrupt start. The Markan flair for vivid narration, often with dialogue, is seen to be skillfully used to underscore strategic parts of the growing account, with something of an atmosphere of mounting mystery (who is this man?), while the Baptism and Transfiguration, and the rending of the veil at the Crucifixion give an ‘insider account’ of his identity. The parallel accounts of the two feeding miracles take their places in a complex development with theological overtones (Cf. John 6). Throughout the book didactic peaks regularly precede most action peaks—right up through the culminating debates of the last week followed by its great salvific events: Gethsemane, Calvary, and the Empty Tomb. Finally, the Gospel presents Him unveiled at last as Jesus, Son of God, Savior.
Publication Status:
Draft (posted 'as is' without peer review)
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Work Type:
Text analysis
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