SBL Slides: Exploring Perspective in Preposition Analysis

For students and scholars of the biblical languages, preposition analysis tends to reinforce an idea: “Prepositions are little words that amount to nothing. They are associated with such a loose set of senses that they are virtually interchangeable and should be treated accordingly.”

I’m working to dispel this attitude. Not only do prepositions contribute important syntactic information within a clause, but they convey vastly important information about the spatial and metaphorical relations within a scene. They participate in cognitive frames, spatial relations, and cultural scripts in which they relate crucial information about participant interactions.

In this presentation for SBL 2022, I focus on the role of conceptual viewpoint and how viewpoint shapes the way in which we construe a scene in a different ways. The meaning of a preposition is not found in the objective relations among objects, but in the dynamic cognitive scanning processes of an active conceptualizer. The Greek preposition ὑπέρ serves as illustration for my point, but it applies across preposition analysis.