|A Discourse Analysis of First Corinthians||Ralph Bruce Terry|
|Home | Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6|
Areas for Additional Research
In chapter III it was suggested that a complex text was not just a product of a single macrostructure. The concept of meta-structure was introduced to account for recurring motifs and themes that are found in sizable works. This letter shows multiple macrostructures for different discourses. Is it possible for a single discourse to also have multiple macro-structures? How do macrostructures interact with meta-structures to produce a text? The work on mental structures is largely abstract, but there are plenty of texts available to inform it.
The constituent structure analysis in chapter IV of this study was done on only five selections covering forty-six verses, chosen to illustrate different texttypes. Although enough text was studied to indicate the direction a complete analysis would take, that analysis was not done. Further analysis is needed to demonstrate that the selections, arbitrarily chosen, are in fact representative of their texttype. Ideally such an analysis should not be limited to either I Corinthians or Paul's letters, but should expand across several authors and take texttype into account.
The study of peak in I Corinthians suggests that the themes of the opening thanksgiving point primarily to the items covered in the peak material of chapters 12-15 rather than to the whole letter. Is it possible that the opening thanksgiving in other New Testament books points to areas of grammatical peak within those books as well? The matter is worthy of further research.
The analysis of participant reference tracking in this study has been limited to items that occur in subject slots. The same kind of analysis needs to be done for items that occur in all kinds of object slots: direct objects, object complements, indirect objects, and objects of prepositions. There is also a need for tracking reference tasks across both subjects and objects. Specifically, when different subjects occur in the text, this study has not distinguished between those that are resumed from a distant subject slot and those which are picked up from an object slot. Such a distinction may or may not prove a useful tool of analysis. Also, most new topics are introduced in object slots. The question of the effect of new topics in object slots on word order within the clause needs to be asked and answered.
The question of Greek word order needs more work. There is a statistically significant difference between verb fronting in Luke and in I Corinthians. Is this difference due to a stylistic tendency on the part of Luke to imitate the "Biblical Greek" of the Old Testament? Or is it due to a difference between narrative and non-narrative types of text? If the latter, is such a difference due to a different dominant word order for narrative text, the presence of more motion and speech verbs (which favor verb fronting) in narrative text, or a different word order marking narrative storyline? These questions cannot be answered until work has been done on other Koiné Greek narratives.
Finally, there is a significant difference between grammatical devices that are usually associated with style in the two kinds of responses that are given to the Corinthians' letter and to the oral reports. These differences have been shown to be influenced by the rhetorical situation. If such differences exist within one document, do such differences exist between documents written by the same person? Different people write using different styles; that is, where a language allows variation of expression, they tend to utilize different grammatical forms in different ratios. This has traditionally been used as a tool for determining commonalty of authorship. To what extent is variation in style an indication of a different rhetorical situation rather than a different author? Computer aided analysis should allow this question to be studied with more precision than was ever available before.
This dissertation has not attempted to study all aspects of discourse in the book of I Corinthians. The scope of possible studies is extremely wide. Focus here has been on grammatical areas, with some attention to conceptual as well. As indicated above, more can be done in the grammatical areas. Much more can be done in the conceptual areas. But this study has demonstrated that discourse analysis is a viable tool for the study of texts, even ancient texts such as I Corinthians.
Back to top | Next: Appendix A, Texttype in I Corinthians