Editor’s note: this interview was originally published March 9th, 2015.
Name: Daniel Rodriguez
Education: BA from Houston Baptist University; MA from Stellenbosch University; Hebrew Ulpan at Cambridge (2006); PhD from Stellenbosch (ABD, Dec 2015)
Past-time: One of his favorite pastimes is smoking his pipe and skateboarding
How did linguistics intersect with biblical studies in your life (or vice-versa)?
I started reading generative linguistics on my own in my first Hebrew class. I wrote an early paper as an undergrad on the syntax of Gen 12:1-3. I concluded that tree syntax diagrams could not be adequately used to describe the syntactical relationships there.
What informal or personal educational experience stands out the most to you in your learning career?
Eating with Jamie Johns, Christo van der Merwe, and Douglas Campbell. Reading Girard for the first time.
What would you say is your linguistic niche, or what are you most interested in? (limit of two topics)
Space. How space was thought of, talked about, navigated, and used in the Hebrew Bible. So I’m focusing on BH prepositions at the moment. As a translator, I’m also interested in easy-to-read translations, so I’ve been working on identifying multiple voices in Scripture as well. Specifically, I’ve worked on the prophetic dialogues in Isaiah and I’ve come alongside Campbell’s reading of Romans and offered some linguistic support, specifically for Rom 1:18 (and I’d love for Fresch to take me to task on that if he’d like).
Where is your field headed? What advances are being made others might should be aware of?
Linguistics is increasingly interdisciplinary. Those doing cognitive linguistics are expected to know some basics of psychology, biology, and evolutionary theory (at least the way I do it). And its increasingly intradisciplinary. Cognitivists and historical linguists have found common ground in usage-based methods (like grammaticalization) and the cognitivists are aware of their connection to philology. So a one-method-fits-all approach is becoming more-and-more unacceptable.
How do you hope your work will contribute (or counter) to this end?
My preposition work is based on some principles of evolution and attempts to be commensurate with recent findings in neurology (and of course grammaticalization).
What is your end goal with your training? (e.g., teach, research, preach, translate, etc.)
I still preach from time-to-time. That’s fun. I’d like to be back in a university setting one day. But for now, I like working in Bible translation. My research is very transferable to that field.
What books / articles are you currently reading or enjoying most? (Limit 3)
Girard’s The Scapegoat. Chip Hardy’s dissertation on BH preps. Langacker’s Cognitive Grammar. Oh yeah, and Campbell’s Deliverance of God.
Who have been your biggest role models?
Yancy Smith and Bob Bascom most recently. I’d like to be them when I grow up.
What is one piece of advice for those following in your tracks?
Argue what you think. Get used to being wrong. Take correction.