A Discourse Analysis of First CorinthiansRalph Bruce Terry
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Conclusions

This chapter has focused on the study of the smaller structures of I Corinthians from the triple perspective of tagmemic theory. That theory says that any text can be viewed three ways by examining its hierarchy of units (particle), transitions (wave), and patterned relationships (field).

Beginning with the particle approach, four types of structural paragraphs are found in I Corinthians: question-answer paragraphs, question-command paragraphs, chiastically structured paragraphs, and paragraphs with parallel structures. Orthographic paragraphs are of limited value in analyzing a text; however, by comparing them in editions of the Greek text and English translations, a rough approximation of the embedding level of each paragraph can be determined. This has the value of providing a control for the discourse analyst who approaches a text seeking to study the recursively embedded levels of paragraphs. The analysis shows that several devices are used to mark the beginnings of new paragraphs, including vocatives, exclamations, first and second person verbs, and various conjunctions. When Longacre's method of constituent structure analysis (1970; 1980; 1983a; 1989a) was applied to five passages, the following results were found: First, reason, amplification, and motivation paragraphs are at all levels of embedding, while clarification and evidence paragraphs are limited to lower levels. Second, a salience ranking chart shows that present imperatives are on the mainline of hortatory texttype. Present subjunctives when used in appeals are also on the mainline. Farther down in salience level, present indicative verbs mark several roles, including condition, explanation, introduction, and reason. Rhetorical questions are introduced to provide motivation. Still farther down in level, aorist verbs are used to show purpose and result. Finally, quotations are used to provide evidence.

This chapter has shown that with a wave perspective there are three types of transitions in I Corinthians: they can involve a change of topic within one clause, a change of topic while retaining a metaphor, and a change of topic with the corresponding grammatical signals indicating no change at all. Such areas of transition belong to both the preceding and following text, although a particle approach by its very nature assigns it to one or the other.

The field approach focuses on different patterns in I Corinthians, especially chiasmus. Not only do six of the discourses show major patterns of chiasmus as chapter III indicated, but each of the first eight discourses show chiasmus on a smaller paragraph level as well. There are three types of chiasmus that exist in I Corinthians: lexical, grammatical, and conceptual. Some patterns have only a single one of these types, but others show a combination of them.

Each of these three approaches to a text provides a different perspective on that text. Sometimes the same portion of text is under view, but the multiple perspectives give a more complete picture than any one approach. A chiasm can be studied as either a structured paragraph (particle view) or as a pattern of concepts (field view). A transitional paragraph can be assigned to a particular discourse or section of a discourse (particle view) or be seen as belonging to both (wave view). Not only does a multiple perspective approach provide additional linguistic frameworks for analyzing a text, it also sheds additional light on meaning. Thus a multiple perspective provides an analytical tool that no methodology using a single perspective can have.

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