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Logos Bible Software Blog: What's with All Those Extra Words? http://blog.logos.com/archives/2008/06/whats_with_all_those_extra_w...

June 10, 2008

What's with All Those Extra Words?

Today's guest post is from Dr. Steve Runge, a scholar-in-residence at Logos Bible Software, whose work focuses
on the discourse grammar of Hebrew and Greek.

This post is about another one of the discourse devices found in the Lexham
High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New
Testament. When reading the NT, we come across words like behold or truly
that we do not use much in English. So what purpose do they serve in the Greek
NT? These and other words function as '
, and serve to draw
attention to something unexpected or important that immediately follows.
Attention-getters are often used in combination with other devices, especially

When we are telling a story, we will often throw in extra words at different points
to add more drama or flair just before something surprising or important. Take a
look at some examples:

Just as I looked up, just like that this bear appears out of nowhere.
While I was turning into the driveway, bang, I ran over my sons bike.
We were walking down the trail when out of nowhere a mountain biker appeared.
I was doing some repairs on the house when, get this, one leg of the step ladder gave way and wham, I hit
the ground.

In each of these examples, the bolded words could have been left out without significantly altering the meaning of
what is communicated. We also find attention-getting devices in the NT that accomplish similar purposes. They
tend to be placed just before something that is surprising or important.

Here are some examples from the NT.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph. (Matt 2:13 )

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph. (Matt 2:19 )

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens
were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on
him. (Matt 3:16 )

And behold, a voice from heaven said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.
(Matt 3:17 )

In each of these examples from Matthew, the word behold is placed just before something surprising or
important, like the appearance of an angel or the voice from heaven. The same information could have been
communicated without the attention-getter, but it would not have had the same zing as it does with behold.

Examples of other attention-getters that are found in the NT include:

he who has ears, let him hear (e.g. Mark 4:9 , 23 ; Luke 14:35 ; Rev 2:7 )
truly (e.g. Matt 5:18 ; Mark 14:30 ; Luke 9:27 ; John 1:51 )
woe to you (e.g. Matt 23:13 , 15 , 16 , 23 , 25 , 27 , 29 )
alas (e.g. Matt 24:19 )
God is witness (e.g. 1 Thes 2:5 )

The important thing to keep in mind is that these attention-getters could have been omitted without significantly
changing the content of what was communicated. The presence of the attention-getter represents the choice to
attract extra attention to what follows. If you are interested in devices like these, check out the description on the
Pre-Pub pages of the Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament.
Links to previous blog posts describing other discourse devices can be found there.
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to previous blog with
Those Extra Words?
other http://blog.logos.com/archives/2008/06/whats_with_all_those_extra_w...
discourse devices can be found there.

Posted by Phil Gons at June 10, 2008 06:00 AM


I understand how some words are for attention. What about "stone them with stones" (Numbers 14:10 ; 15:35
and 36 ) or "burn with fire" (Ex 29:14 ; 29:34 ; 32:30 ) ? Are these extra words also for attention? I
t think of a way one could be stoned except with stones or burned except with fire?

Posted by: David Bergquist at June 16, 2008 03:15 PM


I think you are referring to the use in Hebrew of both a verb and noun of the same root to describe an action. This
is a separate issue from what I am describing in the Greek NT. I am focusing on optional elements the writer has
chosen to include. If it is required, then it cannot be optional.

Posted by: Steve Runge at June 16, 2008 03:30 PM

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