New IBR Research Group: Linguistics and the Biblical Text

It’s been pretty quiet on here for a while and there is one simple reason for that: Moving from Cambridge to Charlotte while getting ordained and prepping  new classes as a brand new professor. Chaotic, but simple. But now that the semester is slowing down and our new house is mostly put together, things will hopefully pick up a little more on the blog.

downloadAnother new thing that has entered my life over the last six months is helping to organize a new research group for the annual meeting of the Institute for Biblical Research (IBR). I have been a member of IBR for a number of years and have enjoyed attending the sessions, which tend to fall on the day between the ETS and SBL conferences. I’ve always found that appropriate since from a theological and academic perspective that is exactly where IBR belongs. Historically, IBR has always been broadly evangelical but places more emphasis upon participation in the biblical studies academy proper. Most of the book reviews I have written have been published in the associated Bulletin for Biblical Research (BBR), which usually provides good reading.

But I digress. In the autumn of last year a new research group began to take shape focused on linguistics. Although I am not a linguist by training, much of my work in the Septuagint finds a natural ally in linguistics. So I have done a fair bit of reading and ended up down a number of research rabbit trails that are more overtly linguistic in nature. One such rabbit trail was the 2017 Tyndale House Greek Preposition Workshop that I co-organized with Steve Runge in Cambridge. It was also during my time in Cambridge that I got to know Elizabeth Robar, who was the prime mover in this new IBR research group, which is called Linguistics and the Biblical Text.

Here is the description from the IBR website:

This new research group explores applied linguistics within the field of biblical research. The theme for the first session will be the role of linguistics within biblical studies. Linguistics has proven unique in its ability to expose just how the biblical message is presented and how interpersonal communication is portrayed and effected. But, simultaneously, linguistic studies are notorious for incoherent jargon that only distance their readers from the Word of God. Four invited scholars, a mix of experienced and younger, will present a review of the history of linguistics and the biblical text and a recommendation for how linguistic studies should be presented in order to promote fruitful engagement with all of biblical studies (and, conversely, what other biblical studies scholars ought to be able to expect from linguistics).

Now I freely acknowledge that amid all the activity in the past six months, Elizabeth did virtually all the legwork organizing our first year’s session. (I am assured that will change in the future.) But we are excited to announce a great panel for the 2019 San Diego meeting. The rundown of contributors is as follows:

Elizabeth Robar, Tyndale House, Cambridge, Presiding

    • Steve Runge, Faithlife Corporation / Stellenbosch University – “Using Linguistics vs. Doing Linguistics: Some Lessons from Koine Greek”
    • Randall Buth, Institute for Biblical Languages and Translation – “Linguistics as a Two-edged Sword, Cutting in Both Directions”
    • Kaspars Ozolins, Tyndale House (Cambridge) – “Linguistics and Dating the Biblical Text”
    • Kevin Grasso, Hebrew University of Jerusalem – “Doing Theology or Grammar: Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew Verbs”

If you’re planning to be at ETS or SBL — both of which overlap with IBR this year — then consider joining us for this session!


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