Fields of Semantics?

Semantics - meanings etymology and the lexicon

Biblical Words and Their Meaning acts as an introduction to lexical semantics (as proposed in the title). There is a point in which Silva recognizes the tension found in the overwhelming accessibility of resources and scholarship that has done much of the work of lexical semantics for us (and on which most of remain dependent). This tension begs the question of exactly what sort of audience would benefit from this introduction. Is it targeting those who are pursuing a career in mastering the Bib Biblical Words and Their Meaning acts as an introduction to lexical semantics (as proposed in the title). There is a point in which Silva recognizes the tension found in the overwhelming accessibility of resources and scholarship that has done much of the work of lexical semantics for us (and on which most of remain dependent). This tension begs the question of exactly what sort of audience would benefit from this introduction. Is it targeting those who are pursuing a career in mastering the Biblical languages? To what extent can the interests of "Biblical Words..." apply to the lay person, the minister/pastor, or the seminary student? I think the answer comes two fold. First, anyone can benefit from understanding the nature of how scholarship approaches Biblical Words and their Meaning, if at the very least to shed light on how many of us (especially those in ministry) tend to use these semantics in popular fashion (sometimes appropriately and often inappropriately). Secondly, for the seminary student, the lay reader, and the minister, Silva argues at the end of the book that all of us (should/must) bear some responsibility for measuring the work of scholarship/resources with our own ability to apply proper interpretative process. In other words, one does not need to be a scholar in order to ask appropriate questions of the text in front of us. We simply need the tools to be able to recognize how lexical semantics works within the text (something which Silva provides in an identifiable chart at the end of the concluding chapter).

In his opening words Silva points out that modern linguistics is different today than it was a hundred years ago. The process of modern linguistics is first recognized as a distinction between synchrony (the present or static state/relationship to a word/meaning) and diachronic (the historical or developing nature/state of a word/meaning). Etymological study (the process in which words change and develop their meanings) is the tool in which to recognize the distinction between these two forms. Silva suggests that in the modern movement of Biblical semantics there is a growing awareness of the (lack of) ability of etymology to expose the appropriate context of a word/phrase in Biblical word study/exegesis. One of the areas that ministers (in specific) often misapply a basic approach to understanding the Greek language is in being overly dependent on cliche uses (in sermons and otherwise). For example, you might hear a pastor refer to the original meaning as "this" or "that", and thus assume the association of this meaning on the current word (often the english translation) in view. Silva goes on to suggest "less careful ministers give themselves over to excesses" regarding the minimalist attention we feel necessitated (and forced) to give to the Greek language. Silva goes on to say that this is not just a problem with lay people and ministers, but stems from some abuses in professional scholarship as well. All of this is suggested to point out Silva's main contention, which is that the most important recognition is synchrony (the present relationship and understanding of a word), and while diachronic and etymology can shed light on a words development, this does not automatically assume much (if anything) on the synchronic interpretation.

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