On Mastering Diachronic Greek: Three Recent Items of Interest

As someone who has become convinced that to even attempt mastery of any period of the Greek language, one must also study the period before and after, I have been following the recent discussion on the internet about Koine Greek closely. I obviously do not agree with any of the one articles totally, but at least there is a dialogue happening.

For the above reason, I figured I would post the links here, just in case any current readers are unaware of them, and for future readers to check them out. To elaborate on what I wrote above, I’m convinced that the best path of Greek study for Orthodox Christians is found below, and using the pronunciation that Greeks use—since it is their language and all (imagine if Western scholars told Native Americans how to pronounce Cree?).

Mycenaean Greek







Four Reasons to Master Koine (and to Leave Attic Alone)

Dethroning Grammar for Mastering Greek: A Rejoinder

On Mastering Koine Greek: A Response to Bohlinger and Nguyen

How to Read Greek (and What to Read)

A funny thing is that Evangelicals, Protestants, and Catholics who actually know some Greek (as opposed to the “codebreaker types within those religions) answer the question of how to improve one’s Greek with something along the lines of “Read, read, read; and then read some more.”

The Greek Orthodox Church in North America, on the other hand, will teach Neohellenic Greek in their Greek schools (to be fair, I’ve found three Greek parishes in all of North America that teach “New Testament Greek”) to keep the culture alive while the Orthodox Church in Greece commends ignorance of Koine as “Koine has contributed to the “mystery” of the liturgy” The Fathers of the Church would be livid, as anyone familiar with St. Basil can assure you.

Lets us of the Greek Orthodox tradition remember that all Greek—from Homeric to Attic to Hellenistic/Koine to Medæval/Byzantine to Katharevousa to Demotic to Neohellenic—are all very much and absolutely an inextricable part of our Modern Hellenic culture, but more importantly, a part of our Eastern Roman religious heritage.

With that said, here are some suggestions on how to improve one’s Greek that I’ve found helpful and of which I implement:

9 October 2012 – N.T. Wright on learning Greek, and a review of A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible by Zondervan

24 November 2012 – Do You Need to Speak Greek in Order to Read it?

1853? – The Greek of Homer a Living Language

11 December 2013 – Daily Greek Reading Setup

5 August 2015 – Keep Your Greek: Don’t Lose Your Vocabulary

17 September 2015 – 5 Ways to Improve Your Greek Speaking Skills

27 June 2017 – A Strategic Approach to Reading Background Texts of the New Testament (tangent to this is Increase Your Brain Power with Classics)

4 July 2017 – This Is Why You Should Study the Apocrypha Alongside the New Testament

6 July 2017 – Practice Greek Like a Master Violinist

Reading in 3s

This is excellent advice, and after reading this, I suggest reading this from The Patrologist as well. The comments especially, where it is asked of him, “Having finished elementary Greek, would you suggest any particular Greek grammars/authors? Just start reading Greek? Where should I begin in moving out to classical Greek?” To which he responds with,

“I’d say just get on with reading a lot of Greek, as much as possible. If you’ve finished elementary (NT) Greek, then start working at reading the New Testament, as much as possible. Start easy – John, Mark, and get to harder texts later. Try out Reading in Threes (https://thepatrologist.com/2017/05/22/reading-in-3s/). Then branch out to the Apostolic Fathers, they are a good bridge out of New Testament Greek.

At some point, depending on your goals, it’s worth branching into some Classical. In terms of texts, anything on Geoffrey Steadman’s site (geoffreysteadman.com) is great. A grammar is not a terrible idea, but for now I’d just say read, read, read.”


The Patrologist

This was mentioned to me by a student recently in a small group class that I am kind-of mentoring, and I think it’s worth adapting and sharing. The original idea, or at least where the student got it from, is Daniel Wallace, here. It’s the idea that you should translate each chapter of the New Testament three times, and rotate chapters in and out of rotation.

Now, I don’t really think you should be translating, I think you should be reading passages at a level you can comprehend with just a little bit of help. But I do think this idea has a lot of merit. Here’s how I’m implementing it in my own readings: the rule of 3s (see also Where Are Your Keys technique: Three Times)

So, say I’m reading a text, like Ørberg’s Roma Aeterna (which I happen to be. Everyone raves about the first book, Familia…

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Biblical Criticism, Biblical Studies, Exegesis, and Hermeneutics

Stuff I have actually read:

6 May 2014 – Is Orthodoxy Compatible with Modern, Biblical Criticism?

June 2017 – Figure It In by Michael C. Legaspi

10 July 2017 – The Corruption of Biblical Studies

Stuff I have yet to actually read:


1871 – The last twelve verses of the gospel according to S. Mark : vindicated against recent critical objectors and established by John William Burgon

1896 – The traditional text of the Holy Gospels vindicated and established by John William Burgon

1896 – The causes of the corruption of the traditional text of the Holy Gospels : being the sequel to The traditional text of the Holy Gospels by John William Burgon

1883 – A Companion to the Greek Testament and the English Version by Philip Schaff – The second section of the first chapter is entitled “Three Elect Languages,” referring of course to Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. “While some of the Augustinian approach has been eroded by contemporary biblical criticism, its most fundamentalist ingredient has ironically survived as the foundation of that criticism. The fixation with scriptural words has been transformed into a fixation with the original languages of scripture, demonstrated especially through the preference for the Hebrew over the Greek Old Testament. In many respects, this preoccupation with the critical study of scripture in the original languages has reminded Romanides of the “three languages” heresy of the western middle ages which proclaimed that the true languages of theology could only be those of the cross’s superscription. But because the language of God is uncreated, the interpretation of scripture cannot reside with linguists but only with those who have experienced glorification.” – Andrew J. Sopko, Prophet of Roman Orthodoxy: The Theology of John Romanides

1908 – The Value of Byzantine and Modern Greek in Hellenic Studies

The Text Of New Testament 4th Edit