Dialectology and the Gospels
by Steve Douglas
January 20th, 2010 | 10 Comments
Since starting my research of the Gospels for my dissertation, I have repeatedly wondered (as I idly mused earlier) if there have been any attempts to identify where the Gospels may have originated/developed based upon dialectal considerations. As I run across patterns such as Matthew’s preference for plural nouns and lexical issues such as synonym substitution that by all appearances don’t significantly influence thematic or other conscious stylistic differences, I automatically think dialect, although of course idiolect variation occurs within a single dialect. This is contingent, of course, on being able to identify the place of origin for other texts with which they may be compared, so I recognize it’s a tall order. I assume there are plenty of guesses about where certain Gospels (John, for instance) originated based upon other considerations.
I imagine that narrowing down geographical areas in which the texts (or their authors) might have originated and developed has the potential to influence our understanding of the issues related to the transmission and composition of the traditions/texts of the Gospels.
I’d like to ask anyone who reads this blog and is informed about these issues: how have they been treated in the literature? And if you aren’t personally aware, do you think you could refer me to someone who might be? I’d certainly appreciate it!