A tidy series of topic shifts: Colossians 1:16–18


I'm reading through Colossians at the moment and came across a beautiful series of topic changes in 1:16–18, part of what is traditionally referred to as the Christ Hymn. Here's a screen shot from the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament, a resource in Logos that's got a number of various discourse features annotated for you. The bracketed [TP word TP] tags are what signify a marked topic frame.

What caught my eye about this topic exchange is the alternating sequence of shifts. The four sentences alternate from being about "all things" to "Jesus" then back again, etc.

The first reactivates τα παντα as a topic in light of the preceding breakdown of some of this category's constituent parts.

The second marks a clear shift away from the comment being about "all things" to one about Jesus.

The third indicates a return to τα παντα as the primary topic instead of Jesus. Notice that παντα is now articular, whereas in the preceding proposition it was anarthrous. This is a typical correlation between topical and focal elements. (Note: there's a number of other factors in play in determining topical/focal relations).

Finally, the fourth signals that Jesus is yet again the primary topic of this proposition.

All in all, that's four tidy topic shifts between two referents. Well done, Paul.