A Discourse Analysis of First CorinthiansRalph Bruce Terry
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Publication No.______


Ralph Bruce Terry, Ph.D.

The University of Texas at Arlington, 1993

Supervising Professor: Robert E. Longacre

This dissertation focuses on several features of discourse analysis as they relate to the letter of I Corinthians in the New Testament. The research in this study establishes that all of the problems addressed grew out of cultural traditions of the ancient Greek world which were in conflict with Christianity. The letter is composed of ten embedded discourses, five of which are in response to the Corinthians' letter and five of which are in response to oral reports. It is not the product of a single mental structure; rather, it resulted from a combination of the discourse macrostructures and a thematic meta-structure of "Obey Christ rather than your culture." This study analyzes constituent structures from a multiple perspective of hierarchy of units, transitions, and patterned relationships, especially chiasmus, and shows that such a perspective gives more insight than a single perspective could.

In performing a constituent structure analysis, the following items were found to affect the salience rank for hortatory text from foregrounding to backgrounding: present imperative verbs, present subjunctive verbs, present indicative verbs, future indicative verbs, verbless clauses, rhetorical questions, aorist verbs, and quotations.

This study adds additional support to the hypothesis that grammatical peaks are found in non-narrative texts, since chapters 12-15 (containing the two discourses foreshadowed in the thanksgiving in 1:4-9) show the grammatical turbulence characteristic of such areas. Using participant analysis, same subjects as in the previous clause were discovered as marked most often by only verb endings, while different subjects are most likely to be nouns. Non-narrative Koiné Greek text is most likely to contain clauses that are either SVO or SOV in order, with object position determined largely by the "weight" of the object. Old Testament quotations are most usually introduced by γράφω 'write', while quotations of hypothetical and reported speech are most often introduced by λέγω 'say'. There are significant grammatical differences between the sections in response to oral reports and those in response to the Corinthians' letter. These differences, usually associated with a writer's style, can be accounted for by the different rhetorical situations.

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