ECR Interview: Dr. James E. Sedlacek

School/Institution:

I am currently a lecturer at Nazarene Theological College, a partner college of the University of Manchester.  I recently completed my PhD and am pursuing research fellowships or teaching positions that also involve research.

Areas of Interest/Research:

New Testament, Greek Language, Linguistics

What is it about your field that you love researching?

I love to apply recent linguistic methods to Greek texts to see what new nuance is discovered.  I also like to test the grammars and the textual commentaries to see if the ideas contained in them will hold up to the rigor of linguistic investigation.  Often an item that was not explored previously, once investigated will be the key to solving a debated issue or clarifying issues confused by scholars in the debate.

What is one “big idea” in your scholarship?

The idea that the Greek Perfect tense-form contains two verbal aspects, a perfective one attached to the core lexeme, and an imperfective one attached to the reduplicant best explains the diachronic change observed for the Perfect over methods that seek only one aspect for the Perfect.  This idea is supported by the specific morphemes in the Greek Perfect and by the adverbs collocated to the Perfect.   Grammaticalisation studies provide the best approach to fairly evaluating both of these aspects on one tense-form.

What is your current research about?

My current research combines grammaticalisation analysis with a corpus-based approach to examine the verbal aspect for the Greek synthetic Perfect tense-form.  The grammaticalisation studies enabled me to build a robust case for the Perfect tense-form having two aspects in tension with each other.  The corpus-based approach allowed me to see how both aspects behave over a period of roughly 800 years.

Who is one of your academic heroes and why do you admire them?

One of my academic heroes is Chrys C. Caragounis, Professor Emeritus at Lund University.  The main reason is that he challenges many of those who seek to apply linguistics in biblical studies to be better informed of how the Greek language develops over time.  This diachronic development is central to understanding the changing features of the language.

What books have been formative for you in your study? Why were they so important? How did they shape you?

Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, with Reference to Tense and Mood, SBG:1 (1989), by Stanley E. Porter; Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek (1990), by Buist M. Fanning; The Development of Greek and the New Testament: Morphology, Syntax, Phonology, and Textual Transmission (2006), by Chrys C. Caragounis; Verbal Aspect, the Indicative Mood, and Narrative: Soundings in the Greek of the New Testament, SBG:13 (2007), by Constantine R. Campbell; and Time, Tense and Aspect in Early Vedic Grammar: Exploring Inflectional Semantics in the Rigveda, BSILL: 5 (2010), by Eystein Dahl, together formed me to think flexibly both about the categories of language and about the methodologies used to support linguistic claims.

Do you have any publications we can showcase?

In addition to my PhD Thesis, “The Verbal Aspect Integral to the Perfect and Pluperfect Tense-Forms in the Pauline Corpus: A Semantic and Pragmatic Analysis,” University of Manchester (2020), I have two articles published: “A Diachronic Analysis of The Form of the Greek Perfect and its Associated Uses: Arguing for a Complex Verbal Aspect,” Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Greek Linguistics (7-9/9/2017, London): Selected Papers, (2019) 235-247; and “Reimagining Οἶδα: Indo-European Etymology, Morphology and Semantics Point to its Aspect,” Conversations with the Biblical World, vol. 36, (2016) 146-163.

Where can we follow you online?

I keep a number of important details on my LinkedIn page.

LinkedIn:         https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamessedlacek/

My personal website contains my blogs in addition to connecting to other web-based presences.

Personal Website        www.jamessedlacek.com

If we ran into you at SBL/AAR and you didn’t want to talk about your field what would you want to talk about?

Of course, I am happy to talk about my field and my research anytime, but I am interested also in what other fields are doing.  I am constantly broadening my perspective this way.  I am excited to hear personal experiences of others regardless of their specific niche.  I might also discuss the area of the conference or the location of amenities.  Emerging resources also attract my attention, so many times I will be in a conversation with someone who is using such a resource.

Other than your thesis, what research/writing project are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

I am investigating how some authors use Greek conditional clauses.  I am expanding a corpus that allows the researcher to analyse conditional clauses across a broad time-span.  I am hoping to contribute in the area of what is meant by single clauses headed by a conditional marker, and what to infer whenever an author uses long series of conditional clause pairs while alternating the syntax.  Secondly, I am investigating the ranges of meaning for the Greek infinitive.  In particular, I am hoping to contribute in the area of what a double infinitive can mean.  Also, I am attempting to quantify the range of diachronic change observed for the Perfect tense-form.

>> Thank you so much Dr. Sedlacek for taking the time to share a bit about yourself and your work.


Are you a PhD student or Early Career Researcher working in Religion or Biblical Studies? If so, we’d like to hear from you. This website is dedicated solely to interviewing PhD students and ECRs on who they are, what they love about their work, and what has inspired them. If you’d like to be interviewed, head over to the Contact page and fill out the form. There’s no catch. Don’t be shy. Self-promotion is a virtue.

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