Floyd Knight Jr.
The goal is not to present the best social-linguistic interpretation or rhetorical and discourse analysis of the Biblical text, but (1) to describe the major polysemous probabilities, (2) to list the reasons for such ambiguity from discreet point to extra-linguistic features, and (3) to create scalar scores for each of these options and variations. Pastors and scholars would be able to understand from a meta-linguistic level why multiple interpretations are possible and where and why scholars justify one interpretation over another.
Like the GREEK NEW TESTAMENT, the Critical Discourse Hebrew Bible would adopt the A, B, C, and D ratings for the various discourse or semantic units in question and the competing interpretations. It would also list the variables that would change the scalar ranking of an interpretation.
Why? Two reasons. The first is to update the methodology of Biblical Studies. Most of the current methods rely--whether consciously or unconsciously--on an outdated approach, that is, on the method of verification rather than falsification (specifically "weak" falsification). There is a vast difference in seeking to determine whether another person's exegesis is wrong or right versus seeking to determine "how," "in what ways," and "to what degree" a particular interpretation is more probable than another. The former is like towing your car to your mechanic and, after having him look at it, he tells you that your car won't run or start; or like being sick and after making an appointment to see your doctor and after being examined, the doctor tells you that you're sick. Those comments are not really helpful. Terms like right, wrong, correct or incorrect aren't much better. What is needed are specifics like "what," "how" and "why" as well as the various advantages and disadvantages (i.e., strengths and weaknesses) of the various solutions, treatments, or repairs. This is what scholars and pastors need to make their own independent evaluations on what is the better interpretation from their perspectives after knowing the variables..
By understanding how human language works universally, how Classical Hebrew works specifically, and how meaning is shaped by the interaction of the various linguistic levels (e.g., discourse, syntax, and lexemic) and extra linguistic factors (social, institutional, and historical, etc.), scholars are more likely to see the polysemous nature of the exegetical enterprise and, therefore, all the probable meanings. Consequently, instead of looking for just one correct interpretation, they will be looking for multiple interpretations and seeking to justify why one interpretation is more probable than another.
My second reason is theological and confessional. I hope the use of linguistic terminology and methodology will foster more ecumenical and collegial exchanges across the denominational and theological divides. Being a scholar who is kind, gentle and grace-filled isn't a weakness or a sin (Ephesians 4:1-3).
I am the fifth of seven children and the oldest surviving son born into a multiethnic family. My mom was Okinawan and from a Samurai family. My dad was African-American and a reitred Non-commissioned Officer in the US Army.
W. E. B. Dubois talked about the dual Souls of African-Americans. Okinawans also have dual-souls. Consequently, my siblings and I have double, dual souls: (1) African and European dual souls and (2) Japanese and Okinawan dual souls.
I am a Born Again, Evangelical, Bible Teaching, Christ-Centered, Ordained, Disciples of Christ Minister and have Priviledge of Search and Call under the Ordain Ministerial Partnership Provisions of the United Church of Christ. For over 27 years, I have served African-American, Anglo, and Hispanic churches in rural, urban, suburban and collegial settings in a variety of denominational appointments: Disciples of Christ, Freewill Baptist Churches, and the United Methodist Church.
My personal mission is (1) to live--in gratitude, joy and faithfulness to God--a life of integrity and accountability to my spouse, my sons, my family and my church and (2) to use my spiritual and earthly gifts and skills to edify and empower others to become disciple-makers and to find ultimate–as well as temporal–fulfillment in God.
I received my Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis where Dr.Theodore Mullins (Hebrew Bible) was my adviser. I received my Master of Divinity degree from Boston University School of Theology where Dr. Simon Parker (Hebrew Bible) was my academic adviser. I am also a former Ph.D. student and a Disciples Divinity House Scholar at the University of Chicago where Drs. Gosta Ahlstrom (Hebrew Bible) and Ioan Couliano (History of Religion; History of Christianity; and Early Christian Literature) were my doctoral advisors.
I am currently a Ph.D. student at Northern Illinois University with a major in Linguistics. My dissertation adviser is Dr. Betty Birner. I eventually hope to add a second doctorate in the History and Literature of Ancient Syria-Palestine and join the growing number of Hebrew scholars seeking to integrate Discourse Analysis/Text Linguistics, Pragmatics, Probability Studies, and Alternative World Semantic approaches into Biblical Philology and Exegesis.
My goal is to eventual edit a Critical Discourse and Exegetical version of the Hebrew Bible that would model the textual apparatus of The GREEK NEW TESTAMENT for discourse level analysis. Different probabilities of pragmatic, discourse and exegetical interpretations of the various discourse units would be presented in scalar fashion according to known and hypothesized sitz im leben and the various social discourse, rhetorical settings, literary devices catalogued, contrastive and comparative rhetorical structures outlined, social-communicative functions and settings listed, and optional discourse structural interpretation or analyses proposed by different scholars.
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