Is it possible that Paul thinks and writes in several different registers? And, if so, how do you determine which one is primary and which are subordinate in each case?
CAS: It’s not only possible, it seems clear that Paul does exactly that. The presence of rhetorical strategies in his writings demonstrates it sufficiently. But it is only possible to determine in each case which is primary and which are subordinate (a) according to one’s general interpretation of Paul’s thought and (b) depending on the value one assigns to each passage in relation to others, with the concepts deployed in them and with the intention that can be assigned to them. Now, identifying which ones are such concepts, what the passage intends to clarify, and what other passages attempt to clarify the same thing, again, is something that can only be done under such and such interpretative decisions. Moreover, it is not evident, among these three steps, that one is always better than another. After all, there will be cases where checking out other texts seems to more than shedding light on the intent behind the first passage, and vice versa; and the same goes for the assigning value to concepts in passages. Indeed, there are those who defend, on the one hand, the comparison of passages; and others who advocate, on the other hand, the examination of concepts that an author presents and/or that author’s intent. For example, sometimes you turn to the first of these methods, while I turn to the second, and vice versa. It doesn’t make sense, if you ask me, to hope that one method will solve the problems arising from the other’s, (tested by one for the other, in the same way that the other would do it). But why should this bother us? Are we to argue for a hermeneutics of uniqueness or a pluralistic hermeneutics?
AP: The different registers cannot be contradictory, but consistent. Sometimes it is difficult for us to see the coherence, but I think it must always be so. As a philologist, I suspect, in addition to the "hermeneutics," that to me it is almost always linked to apologetic mechanisms of one sign or another.
TWH: It's not easy to translate discussions on Systemic Functional Linguistics. My head is actually hurting a little bit right now. If you're curious what this talk about registers refers to, do a Google search and add the keyword Systemic Functional Linguistics. You can also view an article by clicking here. The bibliographic information is as follows:
Lukin, A., A.R. Moore, M. Herke, R. Wegener, and C. Wu. "'Halliday's Model of Register Revisited and Explored." Linguistics and the Human Sciences 4:2 (2011): 187-213.