[B-Greek] Koine Greek fluency

N.E. Barry Hofstetter nebarry at verizon.net
Fri Jul 22 09:28:18 EDT 2005

>From: Mike Sangrey <MSangrey at BlueFeltHat.org>
>Date: Fri Jul 22 08:05:02 CDT 2005
>To: Biblical Greek <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
>Subject: [B-Greek] Koine Greek fluency

>What is a good definition of Koine Greek fluency?
>I would love to see some discussion around this topic.  What does Koine
>Greek fluency look like?  How do I know (or how does a student know)
>when they are fluent?
>FWIW:  Part of where I'm coming from has to do with Bible translation.
>I put translations into two categories:  analytic and synthetic.  The
>analytic translation enables an exegete to analyze the text.  A
>synthetic translation enables a person of normal heart language ability
>to read the text.  The former type of translation is needed, but might I
>suggest that a fluent Koine Greek Bible student is one who can word the
>text in clear, accurate and natural English (or whatever their heart
>language is) with a minimum of analysis.  In other words, if you can
>read the Greek and then say in English what it says in Greek and do so
>in a way that a normal English speaker (a person in the KMart parking
>lot) can understand, then you're Koine Greek fluent.
>So, how do you define Koine Greek fluency?

I think this is good.  I would add that somebody with full reading fluency does not have to resort constantly to parsing guides, grammars, or lexicons to do this.  When I started my graduate Classics program at OSU, I remember one of the second year grad students mocking me for still making vocab lists while reading Sophocles -- I was so shamed that I immediately made sure that no one saw my vocab lists any more!

Another anecdote:  As an undergraduate senior in Classics, I had gotten in the habit of taking my Greek NT to church and Sunday school.  One Sunday school, a deacon in the church and the pastor got into a dispute on the meaning of a particular passage.  After a couple of minutes, the deacon turned to me and said, "What I would like for Barry to do is to tell us what the Greek REALLY means..."

So I read it for him, my translation sounding word for word like the NASV.  He was highly disappointed (I think he really expected me to come up with some amazing exegetical insight to support his interpretation).  "That's what it really says in the Greek?"  "Yes," I replied, "that's what it really says in the Greek."


N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Adjunct Faculty, CUTS
bhofstetter at cuts.edu
Visiting Faculty: Reformed Theological Seminary

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