Book Announcement: David I. Yoon, “A Discourse Analysis of Galatians and the New Perspective on Paul”

untitledI have finally received personal copies of my first monograph, a revision of my PhD dissertation, A Discourse Analysis of Galatians and the New Perspective on Paul (Linguistic Biblical Studies 17; Leiden: Brill, 2019). The title of the dissertation itself is “A Discourse Analysis of Galatians: A Study of Register, Context of Situation, and the New Perspective on Paul.” I wrote the second half of the dissertation during a particularly difficult period of my life, so it is especially rewarding to see its fruition in the form of a physical book. From an aesthetic standpoint, the book looks sharp, as Brill always does a great job with their books, and it has some interesting texture to the covers of the book not found in the previous books in the LBS series.

My study has two main tasks. First is to outline a methodology for discourse analysis (or more specifically, register analysis, a form of discourse analysis) based on the framework of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). I don’t think those outside of SFL really understand its basic foundations and what makes SFL such a powerful heuristic model for understanding and analyzing language, so I try my best to outline a broad overview of SFL, situated in the context of the broader field of linguistics. One huge benefit of SFL for discourse analysis is that it provides resources for analyzing not only the textual meaning, but ideational and interpersonal meanings of a discourse. It thus goes beyond analysis of cohesion, prominence, peaks of discourse, etc., and provides resources to analyze the field(s) of discourse and the tenor(s) of discourse—equally important I think, depending on what one is looking for. And in line with that, SFL is able to address broader topics like register, the type of language constrained by the context of situation. I see the great benefit of register analysis for biblical study; in fact, I am presenting a paper at the annual ETS meeting this year applying register analysis to the Pastoral Epistles to address the issue of Pauline authenticity.

The second main task of my study is to address an important issue in New Testament studies using discourse analysis, the New Perspective on Paul. It seems as if discussion of this topic has reached a plateau in the past decade or so, with the exception of a few recent works like Garwood Anderson’s Paul’s New Perspective and John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift. But there is a lack of any discussion on the New Perspective from a linguistic approach. I thought I would see if linguistic methodology would shed any light, and I found that it certainly does. But you’ll have to read the book to find out what I actually conclude!

I’m thankful for the opportunity to contribute to the areas of Greek linguistics and Pauline studies, and I hope that this book generates productive discussions and a step forward in these areas.

— David I. Yoon

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