Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis

Lexham Press, 2010


The Discourse Greek New Testament revolutionized how we read the New Testament by applying discourse markers to the Greek text. Now, Steve Runge’s Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis offers readers a book-length treatment of discourse linguistics and how it can be applied to New Testament exegesis and interpretation.

In Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Steve Runge introduces a function-based approach to language, and seeks to describe grammatical conventions based upon the discourse functions they accomplish. This volume does not reinvent previous grammars or supplant previous work on the New Testament. Instead, Runge reviews, clarifies, and provides a unified description of each of the discourse features. That makes it useful for beginning Greek students, pastors, and teachers, as well as for advanced New Testament scholars looking for a volume which synthesizes the varied sub-disciplines of New Testament discourse analysis.

The approach in Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament is cross-linguistic. Runge looks at how all languages operate before he focuses on Greek. He examines linguistics in general to simplify the analytical process and explain how and why we communicate as we do, leading to a more accurate description of the Greek text. The approach is also function-based—meaning that Runge gives primary attention to describing the tasks accomplished by each discourse feature.

In this volume, Runge’s approach has less to do with the specifics of a particular language—Greek or English, for example—and more to do with how humans are wired to process language. We constantly make choices about how and what to communicate, and the choices we make have meanings associated with them.

While languages have their differences, they all have a common set of tasks to be accomplished. The choices follow patterns. When we choose to break the pattern, or follow the pattern differently, our reasons for doing so can powerfully communicate meaning.

What choices are implicit in the text of the New Testament? By choosing to say or write one thing—a particular word, tense, voice, mood, and so on—the New Testament writers have implicitly decided not to say or write another. There is some meaning associated not only with the decision to say or write something, but also with the decision not to say or write something. These patterns—or discourse functions—reveal a great deal about what the text of the New Testament communicates. This text fills a large gap in New Testament scholarship because it explains not just the “what,” but also the “why.”

Key Features

  • An introduction and overview for each discourse function
  • A conventional explanation of that function in easy-to-understand language
  • A complete discourse explanation
  • Numerous examples of how that particular discourse function is used in the Greek New Testament
  • Dozens of examples, taken straight from the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament
  • Careful research, with citation to both Greek grammars and linguistic literature, with links to those resources in your library
  • Suggested reading list for continued learning and additional research.
  • Covers such Discourse Devices as: Forward Pointing, Information Structuring and Thematic Highlighting

Praise for Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament

Steven Runge, scholar in residence at Logos Bible Software, has produced a book of great value for those who desire a clear yet well-grounded introduction to discourse analysis of NT Greek. . . . The strength of this book is that it covers a wide range of such features with technical competence but in a way that clearly explains the features, illustrates them with multiple examples from the NT, and enables the reader to use the information in his or her own study of the text.

—Buist Fanning, department chair and senior professor of New Testament studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

. . .Runge has made discourse analysis accessible, systematic, comprehensive, and meaningful to students of the New Testament. His presentation is clear, straightforward, and well researched. . . . I have learned a great deal from this volume and will continue to do so for many years. To students of the New Testament, I say, “ The time has come. Tolle lege!

—Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, from the foreword

NT Greek grammarians today are twenty years behind Hebrew scholars in applying insights from linguistics to our knowledge of the language and many applications at present are skewed. Ironically, linguists are often singularly unable to communicate. Steve Runge’s Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament brings us light years forward in the application of linguistics to Hellenistic Greek providing at the same time clear and simple explanations as well as examples that will help students to analyse and exegete texts on their own. This book is five stars—one of the most significant contributions to Greek grammar in the last 20 years!

—Peter J. Gentry, Ph.D. (Near Eastern Studies, Univ. of Toronto) Professor of Old Testament Interpretation The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Steven Runge’s Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament fills a significant gap in the available resources for teaching Koine Greek. Runge has taken complex linguistic notions that shed significant light on how Greek works and made them accessible to the masses. He takes us beyond morphology and syntax to explore the communicative goals that motivated the choice of particular words or grammatical constructions. The presentation is both compelling and a model of clarity. This impressive volume will provide advanced students of Greek with an effective tool for taking their Greek to the next level. It is “must read” material for every serious student of the Greek New Testament.

—Dr. Martin M. Culy, Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek Briercrest College and Seminary

Steven Runge has made a valuable contribution to the revolution [in discourse linguistics] by his insightful analysis of each New Testament book in his Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. Now he has taken the next step and provided a theoretical base for his applications in Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament. . . . I commend his pioneering work for serious consideration by all New Testament students and scholars. . . . I have always been interested in any type of analysis that will help me understand the New Testament better. Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament has helped me to do just that.

—Dr. William Varner, Professor of Greek Exegesis, The Masters College

Steven Runge’s Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament fills a significant need for a well-researched yet readable and practical guide to discourse analysis. Using cross-linguistic principles and providing copious examples from both narrative and epistles, Runge takes the reader from linguistic theory to practical exegetical application. Runge’s work will become a required text in my Greek classes.

—Dr. Gerald Peterman, Professor of Bible and Chair of the Bible Department, Moody Bible Institute

The Runge grammar takes the discourse tools used to study the Greek New Testament and makes them useful and understandable for those students who have never had the opportunity to study these areas. Linguistic/discourse studies have moved at great speed over the past couple of decades and non-specialists have been left behind in trying to understand these studies, much less apply them to the Greek New Testament. Steve Runge’s grammar makes the concepts simple enough that students, even those who have forgotten much of their Greek, can see clear and obvious benefits as a result of the study of Runge’s work. Quite simply, there is nothing else like it. Runge’s grammar is the tool for the beginning student in discourse studies of the Greek New Testament. Logos has done the Greek student a wonderful favor by making this work available. It should not be missed. It is like no other grammar that is available today.

—Dr. Samuel Lamerson, Associate Professor of New Testament, Knox Seminary

Having already completed his Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament, an ambitious project of marking selected discourse features (prominence in word order, forward-pointing devices, point-counterpoint sets, etc.) across the entirety of the Greek New Testament, Runge has now produced a full grammar that discusses these features and more. Building upon the work of Stephen Levinsohn and drawing upon insights from linguistic theory, Runge has produced an invigorating work that will repay the attention of all those who are interested in an alternative, though complementary, approach to that of traditional Greek grammars.

—Mark Dubis, Associate Professor of Christian Studies, Union University

Steve Runge’s Discourse Grammar will help students (and scholars) learn to pay attention to many of the more subtle ways in which ancient Greek writers (including the authors of the New Testament) signaled the structure of their thought and its more prominent elements. One need not agree with every suggested interpretation to benefit by becoming more sensitive to significant elements of the Greek language that are rarely given the attention they deserve.

—Dr. Roy E. Ciampa, Associate Professor of New Testament, Chair, Biblical Studies Division, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

I have spent the better part of a month with the Discourse Grammar, and not infrequently, while reading one section or another, I have felt like I am learning Greek all over again. This is a wonderful and even exciting prospect, and I cannot help but to wholeheartedly recommend this book to every serious student of Biblical Greek.

Esteban Vasquez

Discourse analysis is a burgeoning field of research that has great potential to aid students of the Greek New Testament. Unfortunately, it is poorly understood by many. By creating an accessible discourse grammar that brings together the fruit of careful research, clarity, helpful examples, and practical insights, Dr. Runge has put countless teachers and students in his debt.

—Dr. Constantine R. Campbell, Moore College, Sydney, AU

In this new digital title Steve Runge embarks upon a full scale delineation of the numerous insights acquired from applying discourse analysis to the Greek New Testament. The result is a clear, helpful, informative and responsible guide to the discourse features of the Greek New Testament. Runge’s Grammar provides a substantial discussion of the various discourse devices that are utilised in the Greek New Testament, thereby clarifying the core contribution that each device makes to a given text. This work offers a fresh and illuminating approach to the Greek New Testament and will make a superb addition to the more traditional Greek grammars.

—Jody Barnard, Bangor University, UK

In producing the Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Dr. Steven Runge has provided an important key to grasping and applying the principles of Discourse Analysis to the New Testament text. . . . For those interested in exploring Discourse Analysis as an additional exegetical approach to biblical studies it is the ideal starting point. If you what to understand Discourse Analysis and how it works then – read this first!

—Alan Macgregor, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK

In the last few decades, a number of nontraditional approaches to grammar and linguistics have made inroads into the study and teaching of biblical Greek, and all to the better. Runge’s Discourse Grammar is no exception. Though Runge’s Discourse Grammar does not seek to replace traditional approaches to understanding and explicating the grammar and syntax of New Testament Greek, it provides a whole new range of conceptual and analytical tools that complement and supplement the more traditional approaches. Moreover, Runge has done us a service because not only has he introduced numerous new resources for understanding the text of the New Testament, he has done so in a coherent and easy manner. His examples are really quite good because they really do explain and illustrate the linguistic tools he is seeking to present. I would highly recommend Steve Runge’s Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament.

—J. Ted Blakley, New Testament Studies, University of St. Andrews

An excellent attempt to bridge the gap between more traditional approaches to Greek grammar and syntax on the one hand and discourse analysis on the other. Adherents of both approaches will find Dr. Runge’s work helpful in understanding the differences between the two, and this in turn will hopefully promote further dialogue on effective ways to analyze and study the Greek of the New Testament.

—W. Hall Harris, Ph. D., Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

Product Details

  • Title: Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis
  • Author: Steve Runge
  • Publisher: Lexham Press
  • Pages: nearly 300

About Steve Runge

Steve Runge has a Master of Theological Studies degree in Biblical Languages from Trinity Western Seminary in Langley, B.C., Canada, a BA in Speech Communication from Western Washington University, and a Doctor of Literature degree in Biblical Languages from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, which was supervised by Christo Van der Merwe. In preparation for his doctoral research, Steve completed several years of study in the linguistic fields of pragmatics and discourse grammar. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at Northwest Baptist Theological College, Trinity Western University, and Associated Canadian Theological Schools (ACTS) while completing his education. He is also very active in the church. He and his wife were married in 1990. They have two daughters, and live in Bellingham, Washington. Steve presently serves as a Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software, and where, along with this volume, he has developed the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament and the Lexham High Definition New Testament.