[B-Greek] Koine, Erasmian, and Modern pronunciations

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Mon May 19 18:06:45 EDT 2008

James egrapse
I can't speak to the first, but as for Caragounis: he agrees with
Randall that there were more vowel sounds in Koine than in modern.
James >

I'm not sure on Caragounis. Caragounis argues AS IF the modern
vowel system was already in place, but in the footnotes admits
that many of the sound changes were taking place over a period
of time and may not have been in place by the Roman period
Koine. I use a 7 vowel system for the first century and treat a 6
vowel Koine as a 2-4th c. CE development.

On Erasmus I have not done a historical seach to separate the real
Erasmus from what is done in his name ('the feminine goddess'
TON QEON of some 20th cent. Americans should not be attributed
to Erasmus.)
However, it is commonplace for 'Erasmians' to join
HTA with EI in sound.
There is something fundamentally wrong with doing this and it is
part of the reason why 'Erasmian' is out of sync with any Greek of
any age.

1) the post-Alexander papyrii and inscriptions show that
EI sounded like I.

2) HTA did not immediately follow EI into I but remained
separate for many centuries. That means that in the
4th c BCE the Athenians were NOT pronouncing HTA like EI.
If they had been pronounced the same, then both of those
graphs would have joined I in sound in the 3-4 c BCE.
Restored Attic solves this by lowering HTA towards a
long 'ae'. That works for the 4c BCE. For the 3c BCE and
throughout the KOINH a correct reading joins EI with I in
sound and pronunciation.
The Westcott Hort NT was spelled with many EI in positions
where people knew the sound was I:
But people wanted their Erasmian and they didn't want to
mispronounce some words in the NT, so they changed the
Westcott-Hort spelling. That is logical and reasonable, except
for starting from a wrong starting point.


Randall Buth, PhD
randallbuth at gmail.com
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

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