A Relevant Way to Read: A New Approach to Exegesis and Communication

By Margaret G. Sim

An erudite introduction to relevance theory and its application to biblical criticism, illustrated through an examination of various New Testament texts.

ISBN: 9780227174425


In A Relevant Way to Read, Margaret G. Sim draws on her in-depth knowledge of New Testament Greek to forge a new exegesis of the Gospels and Paul’s letters. Locating her studies in the linguistic concept of relevance theory, which contends that all our utterances are laden with crucial yet invisible context, Sim embarks on a journey through some of the New Testament’s most troubling verses. Here she recovers some of that lost information with a meticulous analysis that should enlighten both the experienced biblical scholar and the novice.

Whether discussing Paul’s masterful use of irony to shame the Corinthians, or introducing the ground-breaking ideas behind relevance theory into a whole new field of study, Margaret G. Sim demonstrates her vast learning and experience while putting her complex subject into plain words for the developing student.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 144

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Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Margaret G. Sim is a linguist and biblical scholar who lectured for many years in Biblical Studies and Translation at Africa International University. She now lives in Ayrshire and works as a translation consultant for Wycliffe Bible Translators.


1. Introduction
2. Relevance Theory
3. Re-presentation
4. Verbal Irony
5. Small Words That Guide Interpretation
6. Conditional Sentences
7. Summing Up and Loose Ends

Suggestions for Further Reading
Index of Subjects and Authors
Index of Scripture References and Other Ancient Literature


Endorsements and Reviews

Margaret Sim shows how one of the leading theories of pragmatics – Relevance Theory – provides a comprehensive and enlightening account of how we communicate, and applies this rigorously to the New Testament. Her exposition shows how focusing on the communicative functions of words sheds light on many exegetical controversies involving issues such as how to identify irony, the flexibility of connectives, and the various uses of conditional sentences. The book is written in a clear and jargon-free manner that will make it accessible to advanced students of biblical studies and established biblical scholars with little or no prior exposure to linguistics and pragmatics.
Steve Nicolle, Assistant Professor, Canada Institute of Linguistics, Trinity Western University, Canada

In contrast to many linguistics text books that are obscure and hard to follow, Margaret Sim makes excellent use of her many years of experience of both linguistics and teaching to provide a beautifully clear and helpful introduction to relevance theory and the ways in which it can be of considerable value for understanding the Bible.
Peter Oakes, Greenwood Senior Lecturer in the New Testament, University of Manchester

Arguably, contemporary linguistics has more to offer New Testament interpretation than any other ‘new’ methodology. In this excellently written and accessible book, Margaret Sim shows how insights from relevance theory, a fresh and fast-growing area of linguistics, can illuminate New Testament texts and enhance our understanding of them. I highly recommend it to serious students of the New Testament.
Edward Adams, Professor of New Testament Studies, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College London

For those without any introduction to linguistics, Sim’s book will open up whole new vistas on how to engage the Greek NT.
Larry Hurtado’s Blog, 30 June 2016

Sim provides an excellent introduction to RT for biblical scholars. For those who have not mastered the complexities of RT but are devoted to interpretations for text, this book is a splendid introduction and an encouragement to apply the insights of RT to the interpretative task.
Kent E. Brower, in Journal for the Study of The New Testament: Booklist 2017, Vol 39, No 5

Sim provides a helpful introduction to the concept of relevance theory and its import for biblical scholarship.
Gregory S. Paulson, in Theological Book Review, Vol 28, No 1