[B-Greek] Modern vs. Erasmian pronunciation, something new

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Thu Nov 30 14:24:10 EST 2006


Louis Tyler egrapse
> Subject: [B-Greek] Modern vs. Erasmian pronunciation
> To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> For over twenty years I used the modern pronunciation for ancient (biblical)
> Greek because I wanted to be authentic.  The only examples of Erasmian that
> I heard were heavily English-accented and sounded artificial.

NAI.

> After several years of transition, I finally changed to Erasmian.  For years
> it bothered me that when I listened to Zodhiates's recordings, I couldn't tell
> the difference between, say, hHMEIS and hUMEIS.

NAI

> But I held onto the modern pronunciation, even with the ambiguities.
> One of the most outstanding examples of itacism is Matthew 5.9:
> MAKARIOI hOI EIRHNOPOIOI, hOTI AUTOI hUIOU QEOU KLHQHSONTAI.
> The modern pronounciation of this is MAKARII I IRINOPII, OTI AFTI II QEOU KLIQISONDE.

KALWS. ALLA OU DUNAMAI GRAPSAI EN TH ELLHNIKH
OTI OI ANAGINWSKONTES OU GINWSKOUSI
TI EIH U-PSILON. (French u, German ü).
In the following (1st century), the Y is ü,
-- MAKARIY Y IRHNOPYY OTI Af/vTY YIOU QEOU KLHQHSONDE

I share some of your concerns and even your history. During the 80's
to early 90's I
was using a modern pronunciation. Around 1995-1996 while sitting in
Africa far afield
from most NT centers, Bible translation colleagues convinced me that
no one in NT
studies would listen to "modern" materials, even if pedagogically
sound. The same
people all agreed that a "Koine" pronunciation would need to be used. I agreed.
But I had read plenty of old texts and was able to put together a
KOINH phonology
quite easily (having been a trained linguist). So I started
constructing pedagogical
materials with a goal to internalizing the language and using a KOINH
pronunciation.

> What really made me decide to try to come up with a Greek-accented version
> of Erasmian was that that such grammatical niceties as the indicative,
> the subjunctive, and the optative are often lost in the modern pronunciation,
> e.g.:  QELEI, QELHi, and QELOI are all pronounced alike with the modern
> pronunciation, i.e., QELI, QELI, and QELIi.

I am not sure if you made a favorable trade-off. Most US-Seminaries would
pronounce those three words as QELH (theley) QELH (theley) QELOy (theloy),
thus they still mix up two of the three.
While in the first century they would have been
QELI  QELH QELY, all three highly, clearly distinct.
   Anyway, I often see people refer to "Koine Greek" pronunciation and
assume that
Erasmian is 'in the ball park' (there are some surprises here for you discover)
or that classical/+/-Homeric is somehow closer to Koine by virtue of
being closer in time
to the Roman Imperial period than Modern Koine.
One of the problems is that Greek had a "great vowel shift" in the 2-3
centuries BCE,
post Alexander the Great, basically losing 'length' and all that that entails,
somewhat similarly to the English vowel raising
in the "great vowel shift" of the 15-16th century.

> After I started recording the Greek New Testament onto CD, I found out that my friend,
> Donald Potter, had written a book on how to best realize the Erasmian pronunciation.
> It turned out that the conclusions of his research agreed with my version of Erasmian.

Was he trying to reconstruct 1st century Greek or 16th century Erasmian?
(and why would anyone want to reconstruct 16th century Erasmian?)
If the former (1stC), I would hope that he read the letters and
non-literary papyri in the
Loeb paypri volume. Not to mention the NT papyri and uncials. Paul and
gospel writers
probably wrote and spelled something that NA27 do not reproduce (because their
readers can't pronounce it?):
e.g.,  HLEI HLEI LAMA SABAXQANEI

I would recommend studying Gignac 76 for a booklength summary of the
ancient data,
Horrocks 97 (who followed Allen at Cambridge) for a good linguistic
interpretation of
the data, or our website's PDF, for a 10 page summary, with ancient
examples and
comparison of four systems, pros and cons. (footnotes to Gignac and
Horrocks in PDF)
www.biblicalulpan.org under "courses" "Greek materials" ... PDF download at end.

ERRWSO
Randall Buth

-- 
Randall Buth, PhD
www.biblicalulpan.org
χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη
שלום לכם וברכות
ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
randallbuth at gmail.com


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