Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mark Taylor on the Structure of James (Part 2)

Here's my second post on M. Taylor's, A Text-Linguistic Investigation into the Discourse Structure of James. As one reads through this book, the final two chapters seem particularly weighty and detailed. I'll therefore split these chapters up into several posts. The following is my summary of the first major portion of Taylor's discussion on the relationship between the various major sections in James.

Chapter 5 – Relationship Between Discourse Units in James
· Taylor seeks to explain how individual units with James “work together to present a unified message” (72)
· Notes that unity is achieved in James through
1. the use of imperatives;
2. use of catchwords;
3. references to God and the community;
4. the use of the tel- word group (allows for the development of the “perfection” theme);
5. the development of ‘double-minded’/ ‘world’ theme (this is the antithesis of the "perfection" theme);
6. the "law" theme;
7. the "salvation"/ "judgment" theme;
8. the "proper speech" theme;
· Suggests the author uses the following transition devices:
1) ‘hook words’ ("a common word at the end of one section and at the beginning of the next thus yielding a transition between the two," p. 77);
2) ‘hooked key words’ ("a transition being effected by (1) a characteristic term used in teh second unit and introduced in conclusion of the first, (2) a characteristic term in the first unit used in the introduction of the next, or (3) a combination of the two, p. 78)
3) ‘distant hook words’ ("key lexical items that appear to have some transitional/linking function but are separated by one or more intervening units," p. 80)
4) parallel introductions (Taylor here notes several parallels between the introductory statements of 1:2–25 and 2:1–13/ Taylor also suggests that several successive passages begin in similar ways- eg. 3:13; 4:1)
5) ‘overlapping constituents’ (when a passage both serves as the conclusion of a unit and the introduction of another unit) /Taylor here primarily identifies James 1:12, which he argues concludes 1:1–11 and introduces 1:13–25
6) proverbial statements (Taylor suggests that these statement primarily function as “transitional/summary statements linking larger units”) (83)

Taylor then devotes careful attention to James 1:12, 1:26–27; 2:12–13; 3:13–18; 4:11–12; 5:9; 5:12, which he argues are significant transitional/summary statements of proverbial character. He concludes, “In summary, 1.12, an overlapping transition, unites the opening chapter around the theme of the ‘blessed’ person who endures. The chapter closes with 1.26–27, a unit that brings the opening to an appropriate conclusion and anticipates the major emphases of the rest of the letter. James 2.12–13 summarizes the lead essay of the body proper (2.1–11), anticipates thematically the following two major units (2.14–26, 3.1–12), and stands in a unique relationship to 4.11–12. The pericope on wisdom, 3.13–18, significantly relates to what precedes and follows and stands as a major turning point in the letter. The remaining transition passages (4.11–12, 5.9, 5.12) have common structures and reinforce to the reader the key themes of speech and judgment. Collectively, these dynamics argue for a well-structured, intentionally arranged discourse” (90)

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