[B-Greek] GNT Authors & their use of Greek

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Wed Mar 15 07:45:55 EST 2006

On Mar 14, 2006, at 10:56 PM, Matt Gumm wrote:

> Hello, everyone. I'm back on the list after about a two year  
> hiatus. I'm taking Baby Greek through one of the local churches  
> here, so I finally have some context with which to interact with  
> threads on this list.
>   I overheard someone talking to our teacher last week about how he  
> would characterize Peter's Greek, and the answer was that it wasn't  
> pretty (or something to that effect).
>   How would you characterize the different writers in the New  
> Testament in terms of their Greek usage? And at what point does  
> someone like me who is just learning become familiar enough with  
> the language to make these observations and judgments themselves?

There are two or three different questions here.

My own take on "Peter's Greek" is (a) to wonder whether it's really  
Peter's Greek, (b) to say, off the top of my head, that it's a lot  
better in 1 Peter than what we see in 2 Peter. But it's been a while  
since I've read through both of them, so others may have a clearer  
judgment on that.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by your second question: NT writers  
in terms of their Greek usage: who writes "good" Greek and who writes  
"less good" Greek? or who writes Greek that's easier to read? The  
second question is a lot easier to answer. The first question may  
involve some subjective reaction. Here's a response I offered not too  
long ago off-list to a request for "a few short verses/passages  
within the GNT that you feel really require a good grasp of Classical  
Greek in order to understand properly." I should note, the question  
was "translate properly" but I've changed this to "understand  
properly" because understanding is a more immediate objective than  

> You say "of Classical Greek" -- by which I take it that you mean  
> Attic or something more than what one learns in a course in  
> Biblical Koine.
> The first thing that comes to mind is: Luke 1:1-3, and so also the  
> prologue of Acts 1:1-11 (including account of the ascension of  
> Jesus), perhaps speeches in Acts like that of Stephen, Acts 7:1-53,  
> Paul's "Mars Hill" speech, Acts 17:22-31.
> There are lots of passages in Luke, perhaps 5:1-11, perhaps  
> 13:15-24, perhaps 16:19-31 (and in general, Lucan parables,  
> especially those that are distinctly Lucan with parallels in Mark  
> and Matthew).
> In Paul I think that the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians are  
> eloquent and rhetorically powerful, particularly once he gets into  
> his theses about 'wisdom" and "foolishness."
> Hebrews 9:1-10: 18 always seemed to me to require slow and patient  
> reading; perhaps to other readers this is easy going, but I think  
> the author of Hebrews has a style that is unique and perhaps more  
> intelligible to someone who has read some older rhetorical Greek.
> 1 Peter is worthy of study in terms of its Greek. Some might doubt  
> whether it really could be the work of an unlettered Galilean  
> fisherman (I don't want to argue the point);  if it's authentically  
> Petrine, the man must have learned a great deal about speaking  
> eloquently in Greek by the time he wrote it.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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