I’m finishing a paper for a biblical theology seminar. The topic of the paper is the use of discourse analysis in biblical theology.
Discourse analysis primarily focuses on analyzing the meaning (semantics) of a passage or speech above the sentence level. That is, someone using the tools and methodologies of discourse analysis would examine meaning at the paragraph, section, book, and higher level of the text.
I already appreciated macro-structure (structure above the sentence level) analysis. I recognized the benefit of macro-structure analysis to show (for example) that 1 Corinthians 13 was not about marriage. However, the research for this paper has demonstrated that macro-structure analysis is even more important than I originally thought.
We must exegete the words, phrases, clauses, and sentences. This type of micro-structure analysis is very important. However, we can’t stop there, and that can’t be our focus. If we leave our interpretation at the micro-structure level, then I believe we are missing much of the author’s meaning (or, at least, we are likely to miss his meaning). It is very similar to the old adage, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”
Primarily, I want to encourage my readers to consider macro-structure, even up to the book level. It seems that the books of the New Testament in particular were written to be read as a whole. We miss something when we only read bits and snippets.
I may post my paper – or parts of it. It will take alot of editing to be suitable for a blog post.