JLIABG vol. 1, 17-37 Thematization, Topic, and Information Flow James D. Dvorak Associate Professor of Greek and New Testament, Oklahoma Christian UniversityIntroduction It is important to begin this article by stating two formative presuppositions. The first hasto do with the nature of discourse itself, namely that it is a semantic notion—it is "language thatis functional."1 From the perspective of Systemic-Functional Linguistics (SFL)—the linguisticmodel adopted in this study—discourse (a.k.a., "text") is a "metafunctional construct."2 Basicallythis means that a discourse fulfills multiple meaningful functions at once. The two mainfunctions, according to Halliday are: (1) it provides the ability to construe the human experienceof reality (ideational metafunction)3 and (2) it provides a way to enact interpersonal relationships(interpersonal metafunction).4 The second presupposition has to do with the fact that when humans perceive that adiscourse "makes sense" to them, it generally means there is some thematic element which flowsthrough the discourse allowing them to recognize it as being cohesive rather than a jumble ofunrelated words and sentences.5 This cohesiveness and concomitant coherence is the result of thework done by a third functional component of discourse, the textual metafunction. This functionprovides the means by which the construal of experience (ideational function) and enactment ofrelationships (interpersonal function) can be assembled into a coherent whole.6 When the threetypes of function/meaning are realized they each map their own kind of structure on to eachclause in the discourse.7 The end result is an organization within a discourse that allows thetransmission of meaning to occur or "unfold"; generally this is classified under the concept of"information systems." The purpose of this paper is to investigate further how the textual component of discourseaids in creating the flow of information. More specifically, I will narrow my focus to a1 Halliday and Hasan, Language, Context, and Text, 10-2. See also Halliday, "Semantic Choice," 45.2 Halliday and Hasan, Language, Context, and Text, 48.3 The ideational metafunction is often referred to as the experiential metafunction. There is a fourth function givenby Halliday, the logical, which is usually taken together with experiential to form the "ideational" function (cf.Halliday, "Semantic Choice," 23, 26-7). The logical function represents a small set of fundamental logical relations(e.g., "if . . . then") which explain basic tactic relations (Halliday and Matthiessen, IFG, 29; Halliday and Hasan,Language, Context, and Text, 21).4 Halliday and Matthiessen, IFG, 29-30; Halliday and Hasan, Language, Context, and Text, 16-23, 29.5 Jeffrey T. Reed, "Modern Linguistics," 251.6 Halliday and Matthiessen (IFG, 30) say that the textual metafunction may be regarded as an "enabling orfacilitating function, since both the others [the ideational and interpersonal functions] depend on being able to buildup sequences of discourse, organizing the discursive flow and creating cohesion and continuity as it moves along."Cf. also Halliday, "Semantic Choice," 29: "[I]t is through the semantic options of the textual component thatlanguage comes to be relevant to its environment . . . ."7 The clause is the "central processing unit in the lexicogrammar—in the specific sense that it is in the clause thatmeanings of different kinds are mapped into an integrated grammatical structure" (Halliday and Matthiessen, IFG,10).
JLIABG 18discussion of thematization and topic. Following a model developed by Porter and ODonnell,8 Iwill endeavor to trace the thematic elements through a discourse from the bottom up (i.e.,starting with the clause and working upwards to the clause complex and paragraph levels) in anattempt to elucidate the topics of these larger chunks.9 I also want to show how this kind ofapproach yields important information that can and should be used in the exegesis of biblicaldiscourse. To demonstrate this, I will use 1 Jn. 2:28—3:17 as the sample discourse for this study,though I will not attempt a full exegesis of the text in this paper.10I. Discourse Flow and Discourse Structure As mentioned above, the textual metafunction of language works to create discourse thatis structured or organized. The result of this compositional process is (in the case of the biblicaltexts) a written discourse that "unfolds" in a linear progression. The linear nature of discourse isdescribed by Brown and Yule as a "problem,"11 which highlights the constraint this phenomenonplaces on language use. Language users are not able to communicate all they want to "mean" atonce; they are restricted to the production of only one word at a time. They then have to organizethose words into clauses, clauses into clause complexes, and those complexes into largersegments of text—all in a linear fashion. The constraint of linearization is perhaps most evidentin the fact that language users must organize their messages in such a way that the movement ofmeaning proceeds in the direction that will meet their objectives as well as the expectations ofthe recipient(s) of the discourse.12 Thus, a well-chosen starting point or "theme" is necessary,because a poorly chosen theme may result in a misinterpretation, not only of a sentence, butpossibly of an entire discourse, as interpreters attempt to follow its "flow of thought."13 Thislinear "unfolding" or "movement" of meaning through a discourse is encapsulated in the notionof information or discourse flow.14 The so-called "problem of linearization" is not limited to the clause or the clausecomplex; it also constrains language use at higher levels (ranks), such as at the paragraph level.15Discourse producers, particularly those producing written discourse, will often arrange smallerchunks of the text in a certain order so as to give prominence to that chunk or to another chunk.These chunks are composed of thematically related material.16 For example, it is not uncommonfor writers to begin with one discourse chunk made up of one or more broad propositions only to8 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 54-77 (note that the page numbers referenced here are pre-publicationpage numbers).9 In this paper, I will not attempt to analyze the entire discourse of 1 John and, thus, will not attempt to discover a"topic" for the entire discourse (though I believe the approach represented here makes such analysis tenable).10 Cf. Cynthia Long Westfall, "Grouping in Discourse." Also, my analysis below makes extensive use ofOpenText.org.11 Brown and Yule, Discourse Analysis, 125; cf. Halliday, "Brief Sketch," 181. See also R. de Beaugrande,"Linearity."12 Brown and Yule, Discourse Analysis, 125; cf. Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 54-5. See also Hoey,Textual Interaction, 24.13 However, if in the process of interpreting a discourse something does not make sense in light of the preceding co-text, people will usually re-read earlier portions of the discourse (or ask a clarifying question, if spoken discourse) inan attempt to make sense of the new information. This is related to Grices maxims, on which see Levinson,Pragmatics, 100-66.14 Cf. Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 55; Brown and Yule, Discourse Analysis, 169-79; Halliday,"Architecture," 7.15 Porter and ODonnell refer to as the hierarchical nature of discourse. See esp. Brown and Yule, DiscourseAnalysis, 133.16 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 56.
Dvorak - Thematization, Topic, and Information Flow 19follow that chunk with another (or series of others) that draws specific points from thosepreceding propositions. This kind of organization is often referred to as thematization, though Iprefer to use the less technical term "staging."17 The important point here is that a certainarrangement of information, whether it be words in a clause, clauses in a clause complex, clausecomplexes in a paragraph, or paragraphs in a discourse will communicate a certain meaning. But,if the arrangement of any one of those components is changed the meaning of the discoursewould change.18 Given that linearization affects both the smaller and larger ranks of discourse (from theclause up), then it stands to reason that one ought to be able to determine the thematic structureat the discourse level by determining the thematization in each of its constituent parts. In otherwords, each rank from clause upward contributes to a "developing, cumulative instruction whichtells us how to construct a coherent representation" of the "topic" of each chunk and ultimatelyfor an entire discourse.19II. Terminology and Methodology Before proceeding to the thematic analysis in part three, it is necessary to define the termsand method I will use to discuss thematization at each level of discourse, starting with the clauselevel and moving upward to the paragraph level. Table 1 below introduces these terms and thelevels of discourse at which they are used.20A. Prime and Subsequent As I noted in the introduction, the textual metafunction provides the means by whichlanguage users create text. It enables the bringing together of ideational and interpersonalmeaning into a coherent whole. In doing so, it organizes the discursive flow and creates cohesionand continuity and thereby carries the line of meaning through a text.21 This results in a structurebeing mapped on to each clause in a discourse, which Halliday calls the "thematic structure."22 Thematic structure, which constitutes the clause as message, is made up of two distinctparts, Theme and Rheme, but I will follow Porter and ODonnell and refer to these thematicelements as Prime and Subsequent, reserving Theme and Rheme for the rank of the clausecomplex.23 Prime may be defined as "the peg on which the message is hung,"24 or "the point ofdeparture for what the speaker is going to say."25 Subsequent may be classified as what the17 See Brown and Yule, Discourse Analysis, 134. Cotterell and Turner, Linguistics, 241: "Discourse is characterizedby staging, the orderly progression in a necessarily linear sequence."18 This reflects the saying, "Meaningfulness implies choice" (see Lyons, Theoretical Linguistics, 413f.). A discourseproducer particularly in written discourse will organize discourse to "lead" a reader to certain conclusions in order tomeet their communicative objectives. See Hoey, Textual Interaction, 52-3.19 Brown and Yule, Discourse Analysis, 134; cf. Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 56.20 Table 1 is adapted from Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 57; I am indebted to these two scholars for thework they have produced and are producing related to discourse analysis of biblical texts, which the remainder ofthis paper reflects. I am also grateful for the excellent resource made available by OpenText.org, which I have usedsubstantially in this and other projects.21 Cf. Halliday and Matthiessen, IFG, 30; also Halliday, "Language Structure," 190.22 Halliday and Matthiessen, IFG, 64.23 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 57. ODonnell, Porter, and Reed, "Clause Level Annotation."24 Halliday, "Language Structure," 190.25 Halliday and Matthiessen, IFG, 58, 64; cf. Brown and Yule, Discourse Analysis, 127. See Fries, "On Theme,"229-30.
JLIABG 20speaker says or writes about the Prime.26 Slightly less metaphorically, the Prime of a clauseprovides a framework within which the Subsequent of that clause can be interpreted.27 Thus, thePrime orients the reader to the message of the clause, telling them how to understand the "news"conveyed by the clause; the Subsequent is the "news" (or "newsworthy") part of the clause—thepart that the writer wants the reader to remember.28Level Function Definition Who or what the clause is focused upon; provides the Prime framework within which the subsequent can beClause interpreted. Development of the prime; that which the writer Subsequent wants the reader to remember. Theme The change of participant as actor of process chain.ClauseComplex Additional process information for current actor Rheme (extension of process chain) Establishment of a new semantic environment for the Topic discourse.Paragraph Comment Support information for the current topic.Table 1 Thematic Elements in Discourse Every clause will have a Prime and will usually have a Subsequent, though it is possiblethat a clause consists of a single group or word, in which case only a Prime would be present.29For example, in 1 Jn 3:5, the Prime is a single word (a verbal group, οἴδατε (you know)) and nosubsequent exists. Identifying the Prime is relatively easy, since it is positioned at the front of theclause, realized by the first group element, whether a nominal group, a verbal group, or anadjunct.30 Prime may be a complex nominal or verbal group or embedded clause (see Table 3).31The Subsequent, if present, is realized in the remaining group elements in the clause.3226 Brown and Yule, Discourse Analysis, 126-27: "everything else in that follows [the Theme] in the sentence whichconsists of what the speaker states about, or in regard to, the starting point of the utterance" (quoting Mathesius,1942).27 Fries, "On Theme," 230.28 Fries, "On Theme," 234. See also the documentation on clause annotation on the OpenText.org site: ODonnell,Porter, and Reed, "Clause Level Annotation." Thompson (Introduction, 165) says the Rheme (Subsequent in ourterminology) is the "main information" the writer wants his audience to know.29 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 58.30 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 58.31 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 60.32 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 58.
Dvorak - Thematization, Topic, and Information Flow 21Conjunctions are not included in Prime-Subsequent analysis.33 See Tables 2 and 3, as well aspart three below for examples. Table 3 illustrates how an embedded clause can act as Primewhile having its own Prime and Subsequent structure,34 though in practice, embedded clauses arenot usually analyzed for Prime and Subsequent.ποταπὴν ἀγάπην έδωκεν ἡµῖν ὁ πατὴρ(how great a love) (the Father has given us)Prime SubsequentTable 2 Prime and Subsequent of 1 Jn 3:1 (clause 2) Two more points must be kept in mind when analyzing for Prime and Subsequent. First,as mentioned, the Prime will not always be a nominal group. When a verbal group is the Prime,the verbal process is highlighted and not the implied Actor.35 This leads to the second point:ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην δίκαιός ἐστιν(the one doing) (righteousness) (is righteous)Prime SubsequentPrime SubsequentTable 3 Embedded Clause as Prime with Its Own Prime and Subsequent (1 Jn 3:7)Prime-Subsequent analysis must be performed on the Greek text and not on a translation. Imentioned above that the Prime in 1 Jn 3:5 is the verb οἴδατε (καί (and) is not included). IfPrime analysis was done on an English translation (“You know”), the Prime would be "you";however, analysis of the Greek reveals that the process "know" is functioning as Prime.36 On thispoint Porter and ODonnell remind us: This recognizes the flexibility given to the writer of Greek to: (1) not specify a specific subject [i.e., chooses the unmarked option of leaving the subject implicit]; (2) specify the subject, but not place it in primary position [e.g., δέδωκεν ἡµῖν ὁ πατὴρ (the Father has given to us; 1 Jn 3:1), where Prime is δέδωκεν (has given)]; (3) specify the subject and place it in primary position in the clause.37B. Theme and Rheme Analysis of Prime and Subsequent provides a means for determining the message of eachclause in the discourse, but thematic analysis must extend beyond the level of clause if one is tograsp the discourse topic. The next rank up from the clause is that of clause complex. GivenSFLs predilection for focusing on the rank of clause, not much theoretical work has been doneregarding thematic structure and organization at this level. One exception is the work of Porterand ODonnell who suggest that in Greek changes in participant involvement may be the key to33 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 60.34 ODonnell, Porter, Reed, "Clause Level Annotation."35 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 59. ODonnell created a search algorithm to run on OpenText.org andfound that in 1 John the Predicator appears as Prime 87 times (primary and secondary clauses only).36 See Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 59.37 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 60.
JLIABG 22delimiting thematic elements in clause complexes.38 The main thematic elements at this level areTheme and Rheme, and together these elements constitute a Thematic Unit.39 Since analyzing Theme involves determining the Actor (subject, whether animate orinanimate) of verbal processes, it is important to remember that in Greek verbs are monolectic.In other words, the form of the verb not only contains information about the aspect, mood, andvoice of the process, but it also contains information about the Actor of the process.40 This meansan Actor does not have to be named explicitly in the clause to be understood; it may be inferredfrom previous co-text or extra-textual context. However, to be considered as Theme in Theme-Rheme analysis, the Actor must be explicitly stated in the text, and it will usually be indicated bya nominal group, though an embedded clause may also act as Theme (e.g., 1 Jn 3:3–4a; see Table4).41 Further, since primary clauses are responsible for creating the "flow" of information in adiscourse,42 the new Actor must be explicitly introduced in a primary clause.43 That which isTheme remains Theme until there is a shift in participant involvement—that is, when a newActor is named and a new process chain begins (a series of verbal groups that all have the sameActor). The Rheme is any "additional process information for the current actor" that serves toextend the process chain.44 Rheme is analogous to Subsequent at the clause rank; whereasSubsequent describes what is "newsworthy" about the Prime, Rheme describes the process(es) inwhich the Thematic Actor is involved or is experiencing. Table 4 represents the two Thematic Units in 1 Jn 3:3–4a. In both units (labeled asThematic Unit1 and Thematic Unit2 respectively), an embedded clause serves as Theme.Thematic Unit1Theme1 Rheme1(…) [πᾶς ὁ ἔχων τὴν ἐλπίδα ταύτην ἐπ᾽ ἁγνίζει ἑαυτόναὐτῷ] purify themselveseveryone who has this hope in himPrimeA SubsequentA38 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 63.39 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 60-7. The authors understand the potential confusion that could becaused by using "Theme" and "Rheme" at a level above the clause, since the two terms have historically been usedat that rank. Nevertheless, they argue that it is a risk worth taking. I will follow their terminology here, though Ihope to see in the future more thorough reasoning in support of their choice.40 See Porter, Idioms, 293.41 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 63.42 See Matthew Brook ODonnell, "OpenText.org."43 I follow the OpenText.org definitions of primary, secondary, and embedded clauses (see "Introduction to theAnnotation Model," [http://www.opentext.org/model/introduction.html]):Clauses are divided into two levels: (1) primary clauses; and (2) secondary clauses. The primary and secondarydistinction has to do with the two possible types of logical dependency, dependence (hypotaxis) or equality(parataxis). Primary clauses are connected to each other, while secondary clauses are connected to the primaryclause to which it is dependent. The majority of primary clauses consist of clauses with a finite verb. Secondaryclauses are typically distinguished by means of a subordinating conjunction. A second type of secondary clause, theembedded clause, involves the phenomenon of rank-shifting—a linguistic element is embedded to a level ofgrammar lower than the typical level at which it functions. The majority of secondary embedded clauses in Greekare participial and infinitival clauses.44 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 63.
Dvorak - Thematization, Topic, and Information Flow 23Thematic Unit1Rheme1(…) ἐκεῖνος ἁγνός ἐστινthat one is purePrimeB SubsequentBThematic Unit2Theme2 Rheme2[Πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁµαρτίαν] καὶ τὴν ἀνοµίαν ποιεῖeveryone who commits sin also commits lawlessnessPrime SubsequentTable 4 Thematic Units of 1 John 3:3-4aNote also that in each Thematic Unit in Table 4, the Theme appears as Prime, which begs thequestion whether Prime/Subsequent and Theme/Rheme are redundant categories. There is arelationship between Prime/Subsequent and Theme/Rheme, but it is one of markedness, whicheliminates the redundancy between them. In the case of 1 Jn 3:3–4a, the fact that the Theme alsoappears as Prime in each Thematic Unit indicates that the Theme is marked. Other possiblecombinations between Theme/Rheme and Prime/Subsequent include Theme in Subsequent andRheme in Prime. It is also possible to have a complex of clauses that is Rhematic material only,if, for example, no new participant or process chain is introduced in that span.C. Topic and Comment I noted above that the problem of linearization requires authors to organize and to arrangechunks of discourse in such a way as to meet their communication goals.45 These chunks ofdiscourse, which I refer to as paragraphs,46 are made up of thematically related materials.Modern writers have at their disposal certain conventions (e.g., indentation) that allow them toindicate when one of these sections ends and another begins, though some conventions may beused more for stylistic reasons than formal reasons.47 In addition to the common orthographicconventions such as indentation and line spacing, an author may choose to use section andparagraph headings containing thematic titles to provide a more overt break. UBS4 GNT doesthis by adding titles for each paragraph based on what the editors think each segment is about.48These devices are, in the words of Brown and Yule, "a particularly powerful thematisationdevice,"49 so it is appropriate to question whether or not the supplied titles do, indeed,encapsulate the topic of the paragraph—or even identify appropriate paragraph boundaries in thefirst place.5045 Cf. Hoey, Textual Interaction, 52-3.46 The paragraph has been notoriously difficult to define. See Brown and Yule, Discourse Analysis, 95-100.47 Brown and Yule, Discourse Analysis, 95 (citing Longacre).48 While the UBS4 provides a section in its introduction regarding discourse segmentation, there is nothingmentioned about the titles they chose to add to each paragraph.49 Brown and Yule, Discourse Analysis, 139. Cf. also Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 68.50 For example, the editors place a section break at 1 Jn 3:10 (creating a chunk from 2:28—3:10), a break that ischallenged by Westfall, "Grouping in Discourse," on solid linguistic and discourse sensitive grounds.
JLIABG 24 A helpful approach to discourse at this level—though it is not without its challenges51—isto search the discourse for places where new semantic environments are established.52 Thesesemantic boundaries, called "Topics," are signaled in many different ways, often by the use ofseveral types of signals at once. I will only discuss two of the major kinds of signals here.53 Onesignal is the use of discourse markers. In their lexicon, Louw and Nida create an entire domainspecifically for discourse markers (domain 91). As Porter and ODonnell note, domain 91 is agood starting point, but is not without its shortcomings. For example, although they include καί("and") and γάρ ("for") as "markers of a new sentence,"54 they fail to include δέ ("and/but")anywhere in the domain, though δέ quite often provides this function.55 Nevertheless, exegetesdo well to be familiar with the lexical items within that domain. A second signal to be aware of is the disruption of cohesion. As mentioned in theintroduction to this paper, cohesion is one of the main features of discourse—texts "hangtogether." Authors use grammatical and semantic features to create cohesion in a discourse; theseare usually related to the "paradigmatic features" of language like lexis, verbal aspect (and otherverbal features like voice and mood), person reference, the use of conjunctions, and the use ofdeictic markers.56 So, where there are disruptions in cohesion because of shifts in grammar (e.g.,changes in tense form, changes in person/participants, etc.) or semantics (e.g., breaking ofsemantic chains), especially in conjunction with the use of discourse or deictic markers, theauthor is likely signaling the establishment of a new Topic in the discourse. Everything betweenTopic shifts is the Comment, which, analogous to Subsequent (clause level) and Rheme (clausecomplex level), provides the supporting information for the current Topic.57 Together Topic andComment constitute the thematization functions at the paragraph and discourse levels.58 Once the Topic has been identified, one can use the Prime-Subsequent and Theme-Rheme analyses of the text to aid in illuminating and tracing Themes developed throughout theparagraph that make up the Comment.59 This is done primarily by analyzing the thematicparticipants as well as the process chains in which they are involved. In narrative, this processwill help the exegete determine the plot as well and discover how the author develops itthroughout the story. In non-narrative texts, such as letters like 1 John, this kind of analysisshould help reveal topics within the discourse and how those topics are used to develop theauthors argument. Though we will not attempt to describe the topic of the entire discourse of 1John in this study, the basic idea of Topic and Comment analysis is to attempt the formulation oftopic "headers" up to the highest level of discourse.51 For example, different authors writing with different purposes utilizing different genres (e.g., narrative v. non-narrative) will signal semantic shifts in different ways. Thus, there is no clear-cut, "one-size-fits-all" manner ofrecognizing semantic shifts. Nevertheless, there are several signals that one can watch for, as noted in the body ofthe paper.52 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 69.53 Cf. Westfall, "Grouping in Discourse."54 LN 91.1.55 Cf. Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 69.56 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 70. Cf. Porter, Idioms, 304-7. See especially Reed, "Cohesiveness,"28–46; Reed, "Discourse Analysis," 189–217.57 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 68.58 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 68.59 Porter and ODonnell, Discourse Analysis, 71.
Dvorak - Thematization, Topic, and Information Flow 25III. Thematization in 1 John 2:28—3:17 In this section, I will attempt a thematic analysis of 1 John 2:28—3:17. I will begin byanalyzing the text for Prime and Subsequent. Following that analysis, I will trace the Theme andRheme through the discourse chunk. Finally, I will attempt to identify the topic of the selecteddiscourse chunk.A. Prime and Subsequent Analysis The Prime and Subsequent analysis of 1 Jn 2:28—3:17 reveals several things about thetextual makeup of the text (see Appendix 1 for a table showing Prime and Subsequent divisionsof the clauses of this chunk). The text is made up of 69 clauses, of which 35 are primary Chart 2 Prime by Clause Component Chart 1 Prime by Clause Component (All Clauses in 1 Jn 2:28—3:17) (All Clauses in All of 1 John) Chart 3 Prime by Clause Component (Primary Clauses in 1 Jn 2:28—3:17)clauses and 34 are secondary clauses. A query of the OpenText.org database revealed that acrossall clauses in the entire New Testament Prime position is typically filled by Predicators (7227),
JLIABG 26followed by Adjuncts (5767), Subjects (5354), and Complements (2634).60 The pattern in 1 John(all clauses) follows the pattern Subject (137), Predicator (87), Adjunct (72), Complement (58).61So it appears that the author shows a preference—at least in this letter—for Subject > Predicators> Adjuncts > Complements in Prime. Narrowed to the discourse chunk analyzed in this paper,across all clauses, the Subject component fills the Prime position 27 times, while the Predicatorcomponent fills that slot 20 times. When narrowed further to just primary clauses in the analyzedchunk, the Subject is Prime 17 times and the Predicator 7 times (compare Charts 1, 2 and 3). Rank-shifting (shifting a clause downward to function as a word group) manifests itselfin the form of embedded clauses 18 times in the chunk.62 Of those 18 embedded clauses, 12appear in Prime position, leaving 6 in the Subsequent position. Of these 12 embedded clauses inPrime position, nine appear in rather rapid succession beginning in 1 Jn 3:3 and subsiding in3.10—that is nine rank-shifted clauses serving as Subject in Prime position, each in a primaryclause in a span of eight verses. This is a sign that John is "on about something" in this part ofthe chunk. Further, although the whole chunk is heavy with lexis from domain 88 of the LNlexicon63 (Moral and Ethical Qualities and Related Behavior), words from the domain occurred22 times in these eight verses (in both Prime and Subsequent positions across all clauses).Reference Equative Clause δίκαιός ἐστιν2:29 ([he] is righteous) τέκνα θεοῦ ἐσµεν3:2 ([we] are children of God) ἐκεῖνος ἁγνός ἐστιν3:3 (that one is holy) ἡ ἁµαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνοµία3:4 (sin is lawlessness) ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην δίκαιός ἐστιν (the one who does righteousness is righteous)3:7 ἐκεῖνος δίκαιός ἐστιν (that one is righteous) ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁµαρτίαν ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστίν3:8 (the one who does sin is of the devil) πᾶς ὁ µὴ ποιῶν δικαιοσύνην οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ3:10 (everyone who does not do righteousness is not of God) αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἠκούσατε ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς3:11 (this is the message which you have heard from the beginning) ὁ µισῶν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ἀνθρωποκτόνος ἐστίν3:15 (whoever hates his sibling is a murderer)Table 5 Representative Sample of Equative Clauses in 1 John 2:28—3:1760 Vocatives/Address are in Prime position 327 times.61 Vocative/Address are Prime 11 times in 1 John.62 About 21% (96 embedded clauses out of 461 total clauses in 1 John) of 1 Johns clauses show rank-shifting. See n.57 for a definition of rank-shifting.63 A BibleWorks search revealed 30 hits in the whole chunk.
Dvorak - Thematization, Topic, and Information Flow 27 In addition to the occurrence of vocabulary from domain 88 in the entire chunk, theauthor also leans heavily upon lexis from domain 13, particularly the forms of εἰμί (I am), mostnotably the form ἐστιν (is).64 There is nothing necessarily special about these terms per se (theyare very common), but in this section of the discourse chunk, the author uses them to move thediscourse along with equative clauses in the form of "this is that" (Table 5). The Prime-Subsequent data could probably be mined for more meaningful patterns, but the sample providedhere allows us to move on to the Theme-Rheme analysis. In fact, as alluded to above and as willbecome evident in the next section, Theme and Rheme analysis builds on the foundation createdby the Prime-Subsequent analysis.B. Theme and Rheme AnalysisAppendix 2 shows a more complete table of Theme and Rheme analysis; here I will only displaythe Themes (Table 6). Remember that a Theme is chosen when a new Actor is explicitlyVs Clause #65 Theme? Marked Theme?2:28 2_120 Y N 3_2 Y N 3_5 Y N3:3 3_15 Y Y3:4 3_18 Y Y 3_20 Y Y3;6 3_25 Y Y 3_27 Y Y3:7 3_30 Y N 3_31 Y Y3:8 3_34 Y Y 3_37 Y N3:9 3_39 Y Y3:10 3_45 Y N 3_46 Y Y3:13 3_58 Y N3:14 3_60 Y Y 3_63 Y Y3:15 3_65 Y Y 3_72 Y Y3:17 3_74 Y Y 3_78 Y NTable 6 Thematic Clauses in 1 John 2.28—3.1764 Domain 13 is "Be, Become, Exist, Happen".65 Clause numbering follows the OpenText.org standard.
JLIABG 28introduced in a primary clause. If the Theme appears in Prime position (determined in Prime-Subsequent analysis), then the theme is marked. As might be expected in a non-narrative discourse, particularly in a relatively short letter,the thematic units in this chunk of 1 John are relatively short. The longest Thematic Units occurtoward the beginning of the chunk. This seems to be the case because it appears that the author isperforming a bit of staging from 1 Jn 2.28 to 3.2. In that section, he makes the shift from theprevious chunk66 and sets up the main part of his argument in this chunk. The staging sectionbegins with the vocative τεκνία (children), serving as Theme, though it is not a marked Theme(i.e., it does not appear in the Prime position [see Prime-Subsequent analysis]). The processchain begun in 2.28 does not end until a new explicit Actor occurs as Subject in 3.1 ("theFather"), so the first Thematic Unit is fairly long, spanning nine clauses in all, eight of which areRhematic and taken to be an extension or expansion on the idea of "remaining in him." The Thematic Unit beginning with ὁ πατὴρ (the Father) is neither marked nor very long,but together with ἴδετε, which functions as a sort of discourse marker ("pay attention," "behold"[see LN 30.45]), a new participant is introduced. It is interesting that the Theme not only appearsin the Subsequent, it also appears at the very end of the clause, appearing only after aComplement (ποταπὴν ἀγάπην (how great a love)), the Predicator (δέδωκεν (he gave)), and asecond Complement (ἡµῖν (to us)). Though the Theme is not marked, what the Father gave(ποταπὴν ἀγάπην (how great a love)) receives emphasis because it is fronted in the clause, andthe process (δέδωκεν (he gave)), because it is foregrounded by the choice of the stative aspect(i.e., perfect tense), also receives emphasis. At this point in the text, "the world" is introduced into the discourse as a new participant.Again, the Theme appears in the Subsequent and is not marked. This process chain is longer,spanning nine clauses. The world is said not to know "us" because it does not know "him." Bythe use of an orthographic convention (inserting significant whitespace), the NA27 GNT suggeststhat a new break might occur at 3.2 with the term ἀγαπητοί (beloved), but the Theme-Rhemeanalysis shows that a break is unlikely because ἀγαπητοί (beloved) is not introduced as anActor, nor is any other new participant explicitly introduced. Thus, the Rhematic materialfollowing the introduction of "the world" (latter part of v. 1) to the end of v. 2 is related to thatTheme. The staging that occurs at the beginning of this chunk includes the ideas of remaining in"him" (presumably Jesus, based on preceding co-text), which is expanded upon in terms ofhaving boldness and not being ashamed at his parousia, as well as knowing that "everyone whodoes righteousness is born of him." In addition, the Father gave "great love" so that "we" mightbe called children of God. Finally, "the world" does not know the believers and, althoughbelievers are "now children of God," it has not been revealed to the believers what they will belike at the parousia, but the author assures them that they will be "like him."C. Topic and Comment AnalysisBy tracing the Themes through our text, a composite picture of the topic of the chunk shouldbegin to take shape. The table in Appendix 2 traces the themes through the chunk we have beenanalyzing; here is a trimmed down version of that table. Table 7 clearly shows that the author of1 John relies heavily on the nonspecific, rank-shifted clauses to help66 Defining discourse chunks in 1 John is not an easy task, because there is usually some level of overlap betweenchunks due to the high level of lexical cohesion. Cf. Westfall, "Grouping in Discourse."
Dvorak - Thematization, Topic, and Information Flow 29Reference Marked Thematic Participant Processes2:28 Children (you) remain [impv.]3:1 The Father gave great love3:3 Y Everyone having this hope purifies him/herself3:4 Y Everyone doing sin does lawlessness3:4 Y Sin is lawlessness3:6 Y Everyone remaining in him does not sin3:6 Y Everyone who sins has not seen him or known him3:7 No one deceive you3:7 Y The one doing righteousness is righteous3:8 Y The one doing sin is of the devil3:8 The son of God was revealed3:9 Y Everyone born of God does not sin3:10 (That which is) clearly seen is/are the children of God and the (φανερά) children of the devil3:10 Y Everyone not doing righteousness is not of God3:13 Brothers and sisters (do not be) surprised [impv.]3:14 Y We know3:14 Y The one not loving remains in death3:15 Y Everyone who hates his brothers is a murderer & sisters3:16 Y We ought to lay down our lives3:17 Y Whoever has the "stuff" of life3:17 (How can) The love of God remain in himTable 7 Summary of Thematic Participants and Processescreate and sustain his argument. But it is not enough to say that this chunk is about "everyonewho"—such would not make much sense or be that helpful for exegesis. What is more helpful isa look at the processes associated with each Thematic participant. What becomes clear, asalluded to above, is nicely summarized by the authors own words in 3:10 (even though not amarked theme): "clearly demarcated are the children of God and the children of the devil." Basedon what is thematized, and particularly on what are marked Themes, I might suggest that thetopic of this discourse chunk, though a bit verbose, is, "People demonstrate by their righteous orsinful deeds whether or not they are children of God, and this is most especially demonstrated bywhether or not they love other people by laying their lives down for them in the form of meetingtheir physical needs."Conclusion What I have attempted to do in this paper is describe a method of analyzing informationflow, especially related to thematization and topic. I began by describing Prime and Subsequentanalysis, which helps the exegete gain a sense of the basic textual makeup of the chunk (e.g.,identification of primary, secondary, and embedded [rank-shifted] clauses; "leaping off" points).Further, Prime-Subsequent analysis was shown to aid Theme-Rheme analysis, which is the nextstep in the method.
JLIABG 30 In describing Theme-Rheme analysis, I showed how to discover Themes in a text byidentifying the explicit participants in the primary clauses of the text. I also indicated thatThemes appearing in Prime position (attesting to the need for Prime-Subsequent analysis) areconsidered marked or highlighted. Further, as Appendix 2 demonstrates, Theme-Rheme analysisinvolves not only identifying the thematic participants, but also the processes of which thoseparticipants are Actors (subjects). Though not illustrated in the table in Appendix 2, thisprocedure involves analyzing the verbal groups for aspect (perfective, imperfective, stative),voice, mood, number, and polarity. Further, it requires an examination of the semantic domainsof the processes, so as to be able to identify shifts in semantic environment. Shifts in semanticenvironments usually indicate that a new topic is being introduced; recognizing these shifts is thepurpose of Topic-Comment analysis. Finally, after these kinds of analyses, the exegete should beable to assemble a composite representation of the topic of a discourse chunk. In the final part of this paper, I attempted an application—though only in a brief manner,given constraints of this project—of the method to the text of 1 John. Based on the results of astudy on chunking discourse (applied to 1 John) by my colleague, Dr. Cynthia Long Westfall, Ichose the discourse chunk from 1 Jn 2:28—3:17. The results are outlined above, so I will not re-hash them here. However, I will say that the method seems to have successfully identified somevery important features in the text, as well as many marked Themes, though, admittedly, themethod needs to be applied to the entire letter of 1 John to really get a solid sense for the authorsgoals and how he tried to meet them. Nevertheless, from the data I collected, a composite pictureof the discourse chunk formed (again applying the method to the whole letter would be necessaryto validate the composite representation of this chunk gleaned here) which may be summed up inthe following statement: "People demonstrate by their righteous or sinful deeds whether or notthey are children of God, and this is most especially demonstrated by whether or not they loveother people by laying their lives down for them in the form of meeting their physical needs." Itremains to be seen how this method might help develop a composite representation of an entirediscourse, particularly non-narrative discourses. I would recommend further study along theselines.
Dvorak - Thematization, Topic, and Information Flow 31 BibliographyBrown, G., and G. Yule. Discourse Analysis. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1983.Cotterell, P., and M. Turner. Linguistics & Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove: IVP, 1989.de Beaugrande, R. "The Linearity of Text Production." In Text Production: Toward a Science of Composition. Advances in Discourse Processes 11. Edited by R. O. Freedle. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1984. Cited 20–Nov–2006. Online: http://www.beaugrande.com/text_production.htm.Fries, P. H. "On Theme, Rheme and Discourse Goals." In Advances in Written Text Analysis, 229–49. Edited by M. Coulthard. London: Routledge, 1994.Halliday, M. A. K. "A Brief Sketch of Systemic Grammar." In On Language and Linguistics, 180–4. Collected Works of M. A. K. Halliday 3. Edited by J. Webster. London: Continuum, 2003._____. "Introduction: On the Architecture of Human Language." In On Language and Linguistics, 1–29. Complete Works of M. A. K. Halliday 3. Edited by J. Webster. London: Continuum, 2003._____. "Language Structure and Language Function." In On Grammar, 173–95. Complete Works of M. A. K. Halliday 1. Edited by J. Webster. London: Continuum, 2002._____. "Text as Semantic Choice in Social Contexts." In Linguistic Studies of Text and Discourse, 23–81. Complete Works of M. A. K. Halliday 3. Edited by J. Webster. London: Continuum, 2002.Halliday, M. A. K., and C. M. I. M. Matthiessen. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. 3rd ed. London: Arnold, 2004.Halliday, M. A. K., and R. Hasan, Language, Context, and Text. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.Hoey, M. Textual Interaction. London: Routledge, 2001.Levinson, S. C. Pragmatics. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1983.Louw, J. P., and E. A. Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains. 2nd ed. 2 vols. New York: UBS, 1989.Lyons, J. Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1968.
JLIABG 32ODonnell, M. B. "Introducing the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament." No pages. Cited 08-Nov-2006. Online: http://divinity.mcmaster.ca/OpenText/resources/articles/a8.ODonnell, M. B., S. E. Porter, and J. T. Reed, eds. "Clause Level Annotation." Cited 08-Nov- 2006. Online: http://divinity.mcmaster.ca/OpenText/model/guidelines/clause/0-1.Porter, S. E. Idioms of the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed.. Biblical Languages: Greek 2. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994; repr. 1999.Porter, S. E. and M. B. ODonnell. Discourse Analysis and the New Testament (in preparation).Reed, J. T. "Discourse Analysis." In A Handbook to the Exegesis of the New Testament, 189– 217. Edited by Stanley E. Porter. Leiden: Brill, 1997._____. "Modern Linguistics and the New Testament: A Basic Guide to Theory, Terminology, and Literature." In Approaches to New Testament Study, 222–65. Journal for the Study of the New Testament: Supplement Series 120. Edited by S. E. Porter and D. Tombs. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995._____. "The Cohesiveness of Discourse." In Discourse Analysis and the New Testament, 28–46. Journal for the Study of the New Testament: Supplement Series 170, Studies in New Testament Greek 4. Edited by S. E. Porter and J. T. Reed. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999.Thompson, G. Introducing Functional Grammar. 2nd ed.. London: Arnold, 2004.Westfall, C. L. "Grouping in Discourse." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. Washington, D.C., 20–Nov–2006.
Dvorak - Thematization, Topic, and Information Flow 33 Appendix 1: Prime and Subsequent Analysis of 1 John 2:28—3:17The following table displays the Prime and Subsequent analysis for each primary and secondaryclauses. Since connecting words are not included in the analysis of Prime and Subsequent, theyare placed in parentheses rather than removing them or replacing them with ellipsis marks.67Further, embedded clauses are identified by square brackets ("[" and "]"), but theirPrime/Subsequent structure is not analyzed.Vs Clause Prime Subsequent2:28 2_120 (Καὶ) νῦν τεκνία µένετε ἐν αὐτῷ 2_121 (ἵνα ἐὰν) φανερωθῇ – 2_122 σχῶµεν παρρησίαν µὴ αἰσχυνθῶµεν ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ 2_123 (καὶ) µὴ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ2:29 2_124 (ἐὰν) εἰδῆτε – 2_125 (ὅτι) δίκαιός ἐστιν 2_126 γινώσκετε – (ὅτι καὶ) [πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν 2_127 ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται δικαιοσύνην]3:1 3_1 ἴδετε – 3_2 ποταπὴν ἀγάπην δέδωκεν ἡµῖν ὁ πατὴρ 3_3 (ἵνα) τέκνα θεοῦ κληθῶµεν 3_4 (καὶ) ἐσµέν – 3_5 διὰ τοῦτο ὁ κόσµος οὐ γινώσκει ἡµᾶς 3_6 (ὅτι) οὐκ ἔγνω αὐτόν3:2 3_7 ἀγαπητοί νῦν τέκνα θεοῦ ἐσµεν 3_8 (καὶ) οὔπω φανερώθη [τί ἐσόµεθα] 3_10 οἴδαµεν – 3_11 (ὅτι ἐὰν) φανερωθῇ – 3_12 ὅµοιοι αὐτῷ ἐσόµεθα 3_13 (ὅτι) ὀψόµεθα αὐτὸν 3_14 (καθώς) ἐστιν – (καὶ) [πᾶς ὁ ἔχων τὴν ἐλπίδα ταύτην3:3 3_15 ἁγνίζει ἑαυτόν ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ] 3_17 (καθὼς) ἐκεῖνος ἁγνός ἐστιν3:4 3_18 [Πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁµαρτίαν] καὶ τὴν ἀνοµίαν ποιεῖ 3_20 (καὶ) ἡ ἁµαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνοµία3:5 3_21 (καὶ) οἴδατε – 3_22 (ὅτι) ἐκεῖνος ἐφανερώθη 3_23 (ἵνα) τὰς ἁµαρτίας ἄρῃ 3_24 (καὶ) ἁµαρτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν3:6 3_25 [πᾶς ὁ ἐν αὐτῷ µένων] οὐχ ἁµαρτάνει 3_27 [ᾶς ὁ ἁµαρτάνων] οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν 3_29 οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτόν3:7 3_30 Τεκνία µηδεὶς πλανάτω ὑµᾶς67 I used the OpenText.org clause divisions in this analysis. The clause numbers in the table correlate with the clausenumbers on the OpenText.org site.
Dvorak - Thematization, Topic, and Information Flow 35 Appendix 2: Theme and Rheme Analysis of 1 John 2:28—3:17The following table displays the main components of Theme-Rheme analysis. In addition toverse and clause references (first two columns), the clause type, Actor, implicitness orexplicitness of Actor, and process are displayed. The remaining two columns indicate whether ornot the clause is Thematic (i.e., Actor is stated explicitly in a primary clause), and if so whetheror not it is a marked Theme (i.e., Theme appears in Prime position [see Prime-Subsequent inAppendix 1]). Actor Clause MarkedVs Clause Actor implicit or Process Theme? Type Theme? explicit2:28 2_120 p children (voc/add) e µένετε Y N 2_121 s he i φανερωθῇ N N 2_122 s we i σχῶµεν N N 2_123 s we i αἰσχυνθῶµεν N N2:29 2_124 s you i εἰδῆτε N N 2_125 s he i ἐστιν N N 2_126 p you i γινώσκετε N N the one doing 2_127 s righteousness e γεγέννηται N N3:1 3_1 p you i ἴδετε N N 3_2 p the father e δέδωκεν Y N 3_3 p we i κληθῶµεν N N 3_4 p we i ἐσµέν N N 3_5 p the world e γινώσκει Y N 3_6 s the world i ἔγνω N N3:2 3_7 s we i ἐσµέν N N 3_8 p he i ἐφανερώθη N N 3_10 p we i οἴδαµεν N N 3_11 s he i φανερωθῇ N N 3_12 s we i ἐσόµεθα N N 3_13 s we i ὀψόµεθα N N 3_14 s he i ἐστιν N N the one having this3:3 3_15 p hope e ἁγνίζει Y Y 3_17 s that (one) e ἐστιν N N3:4 3_18 p the one doing sin e ποιεῖ Y Y 3_20 p sin e ἐστὶν Y Y3:5 3_21 p you i οἴδατε N N 3_22 s that (one) e ἐφανερώθη N N 3_23 s he i ἄρῃ N N
JLIABG 36 3_24 s sin e ἔστιν N N the one remaining3:6 3_25 p in him e ἁµαρτάνει Y Y 3_27 p the one who sins e ἑώρακεν Y Y he (the one who 3_29 p sins) i ἔγνωκεν N N3:7 3_30 p no one e πλανάτω Y N the one doing 3_31 p righteousness e ἐστιν Y Y 3_33 s that (one) e ἐστιν N N3:8 3_34 p the one doing sin e ἐστιν Y Y 3_36 s the devil e ἁµαρτάνει N N 3_37 p the son of God e ἐφανερώθη Y N 3_38 s he (the son of God) i λύσῃ N N the one born of3:9 3_39 p God e ποιεῖ Y Y 3_41 s seed e µένει N N 3_42 p he i δύναται N N 3_44 s he i γεγέννηται N N what is open and3:10 3_45 p public e ἐστιν Y N the one not doing 3_46 p righteousness e ἐστιν Y Y3:11 3_50 s this e ἐστιν N N 3_52 s we i ἀγαπῶµεν N N3:12 3_53 s Cain e ἦν N N 3_54 s he (Cain) i ἔσφαξεν N N 3_55 s he (Cain) i ἔσφαξεν N N 3_56 s deeds e ἦν N N (deeds) of his 3_57 s brother e ἦν N N brothers and sisters3:13 3_58 p (voc/add) e θαυµάζετε Y N 3_59 s the world e µισεῖ N N3:14 3_60 p we e οἴδαµεν Y Y 3_61 s we i µεταβεβήκαµεν N N 3_62 s we i ἀγαπῶµεν N N 3_63 p the one not loving e µένει Y Y the one who hates his brothers and3:15 3_65 p sisters e ἐστίν Y Y 3_67 p you i οἴδατε N N 3_68 s every murderer e ἔχει N N3:16 3_70 p we i ἐγνώκαµεν N N
Dvorak - Thematization, Topic, and Information Flow 37 3_71 s that (one) e ἔθηκεν N N 3_72 p we e ὀφείλοµεν Y Y3:17 3_74 p whoever e ἔχῃ Y Y 3_75 p he (whoever) i θεωρῇ N N 3_77 p he (whoever) i κλείσῃ N N 3_78 p love (of God) e µένει Y N