[B-Greek] koine to classical (not!)

nebarry at verizon.net nebarry at verizon.net
Tue May 20 11:04:01 EDT 2008

Original Message:
From: Mark Lightman lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Date: Tue, 20 May 2008 05:39:35 -0700 (PDT)
To: david.pettys at yahoo.com, b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] koine to classical (not!)

>>Stick with New Testament Greek.  If you want to "study some classical
  Greek" read (i.e. re-read) Hebrews and the second half of Acts.<<
Just a few comments:

1) After a year and 1/2 study of Classical Greek, I had a semester of NT. 
I can only say that I did not find the grammar and syntax of Mark
challenging at all.  It was mainly a vocabulary exercise, something that a
fourth semester student is always going to face.  Interestingly enough, I
found that I knew most of the "less than ten times" vocabulary quite well,
since it was vocabulary that was often more common in Attic than in the
Koine of the NT.

2) Reading a variety of authors from contexts that are much less familiar
to us than the Bible (thanks to our knowledge of the English) pushes and
pulls our Greek and our ability to work with language in a way no other
experience does.  It's really not just about quality -- quantity counts, or
the more you read, the more you know.  We want our students to get to the
point where they are not simply remembering their English to get an
acceptable translation, but really seeing the Greek for what it is.  The
best way to do this is to read as much variety of Greek literature as

3) Acts does contain some "Classical" constructions, but it's not really
Classical.  Hebrews is really a literary Koine, closer to Plutarch or
Epictetus syntactically than anything truly classical.  

4) It's interesting that you would suggest avoiding Homer.  The ancients
disagree with you: when they needed to teach people Greek, they started
them with Homer as the foundation.  Lightfoot, among other biblical
scholars, noted certain similarities between Homer and pan-Hellenic, due in
part to the use of vocabulary and constructions which were not part of
Attic, but remained part of common speech (and remembering that Attic was
only one dialect among several in the ancient world...).

BTW, that's why I still like Crosby & Schaeffer for my beginning Greekies. 
It contains a nice variety of supplementary readings from all periods of
ancient Greek literature...


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