“You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins” (Amos 3:2).
How could this be good news? That was the struggle of one of Dr. JoAnna Hoyt’s students as she worked through the book of Amos. In her Hebrew discourse class, Dr. Hoyt would talk about how beautiful Amos was, but her student struggled to find anything but doom and judgment. What was there to love in such a difficult book?
Over a year after their class, this student was still wrestling with that question. She reached out to Dr. Hoyt for answers. Drawing on the linguistic discipline called discourse analysis, Dr. Hoyt guided her student to see the holistic beauty of Amos’s prophecy.
Yes, it condemns Israel for their sin and prophesies their impending woe. But in its final six verses, Amos’s prophecy shifts to an oracle of hope:
“I will restore David’s fallen shelter … I will bring my people Israel back from exile … I will plant Israel in their own land” (Amos 9:11-15).
In a seemingly hopeless situation, God gave his people the gift of hope. He even took the trouble to package it in elegant poetry. Here was the beauty Dr. Hoyt had always talked about.
It was a joy to Dr. Hoyt to lead her student into deeper admiration for a perplexing part of the Bible. This is one example of why DIU has always united its love for God’s Word with academic and linguistic analysis. A linguistic perspective helps students better understand Scripture for themselves so they can better communicate it to others.
Dr. Hoyt doesn’t just impart her love for Scripture to her students—she also shares her inquisitive spirit. One way she does this is bringing up unsolved mysteries in class to motivate her students to research them further. Many of her MA students discover their thesis topics in this way!
Most recently, Dr. Hoyt encouraged the DIU community to ask pioneering questions by co-coordinating the Hebrew Discourse Conference. The conference aimed to inspire students and scholars in the fields of Bible translation, Hebrew linguistics, and biblical studies to dive into the richness of Hebrew discourse.
The response was even more enthusiastic than she had hoped. The conference welcomed over twice as many participants as expected! More Hebrew Discourse Conferences are certainly in order. Meanwhile, selected papers from the proceedings will soon be published in print.
DIU’s Dallas campus, the International Linguistics Center, has helped to pioneer the field of discourse linguistics. Dr. Hoyt is confident that DIU will continue to be known for our excellence and leadership in the study of discourse in the biblical languages, which are taught in several of our key programs including:
Explore our programs to learn more about how we’re using rigorous linguistic and exegetical study to make the Scriptures clear and accessible.