Editor’s note: this interview was first published April 13th, 2015.
The following interview is part of an ongoing series titled Scholars in Press, which aims to showcase a particular variety of scholars who contribute to biblical studies through their linguistic skills.
Name: Jimmy Parks
Education: MA in Biblical Languages from Houston Baptist University
Favorite activity: Since moving to Bellingham WA, my favorite thing to do is to go hiking and camping.
How did linguistics intersect with biblical studies in your life (or vice-versa)?
I wanted to learn to read and interpret the biblical text for myself, and I wanted to be able to interpret in a way that didn’t rely solely on intuition. What started as an interest in hermeneutics, has come all the way to Cognitive linguistics. This framework provides a way for me to interpret and analyze language that is both repeatable and falsifiable.
What informal or personal educational experience stands out the most to you in your learning career?
I had some great professors at HBU, but Phillip Marshall stands out as the major influence on my academic interests. He helped me by encouraging my interest in theoretical linguistics, and by keeping me grounded in the actual languages that I was interested in understanding (Ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek). It was interactions with Phillip that helped me understand that I could do research outside of the structured setting of the classroom.
What would you say is your linguistic niche, or what are you most interested in? (limit of two topics)
I am most interested in Syntax. I am especially interested in the frameworks of Construction Grammar and Role and Reference Grammar.
Where is your field headed? What advances are being made others might should be aware of?
In Cognitive linguistics, the field of syntax is making advances in developing and strengthening frameworks like CG and RRG which explain the interaction of all the linguistic constraints of language in a mono-stratal depiction. These tools help show that syntax cannot be divorced from semantics or pragmatic constraints.
How do you hope your work will contribute (or counter) to this end?
I hope to provide work that both shows the necessity of a Cognitive framework for future linguistic investigation, as well as a thorough linguistic description of Greek and Hebrew which are properly informed by the frameworks developed by Cognitive linguistics.
What is your end goal with your training? (e.g., teach, research, preach, translate, etc.)
Research and teaching
What books / articles are you currently reading or enjoying most? (Limit 3)
The Syntax-Semantic Interface by Robert Van Valin
Left-Dislocation in Biblical Hebrew (dissertation) by Josh Westbury
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Who have been your biggest role models?
Phillip Marshall and Josh Westbury
What is one piece of advice for those following in your tracks?
If you’re interested in something, then keep reading and asking questions. Don’t expect someone else to do the work for you.
Do you have online resources you would like to refer people to, either your own or others?