RE: Koine and Attic

Edgar Krentz (
Wed, 16 Oct 1996 08:24:04 -0600

There has been a discussion by classicists about whether or not they should
teach KOINE [OR NT] Greek in their courses. I thought this submission by
Don Wilkins might be of interestt to b-greek readers.

>Date: Tue, 15 Oct 1996 15:27:59 -0700 (PDT)
>Precedence: bulk
>Subject: RE: Koine and Attic
>I can offer an additional response to John Quinn. A number of years ago I was
>teaching Greek at Biola U., a small Christian liberal arts college in so. Cal,
>and I was teaching classical while the seminary on the same campus was
>NT (koine). As the inevitable budget crunch came, the administration decided
>that classical was superfluous and that money could be saved by cutting that
>program and allowing the seminary to take over the teaching of Greek. Natur-
>ally I cried foul and tried to make a case for a classical foundation, but
>the decision had already been firm well in advance of my being informed of it.
>What I find particularly disturbing about this kind of decision is that in
>reality students who want to learn NT Greek learn it far more accurately if
>they begin with classical. In fact, when I first came to Biola, the depart-
>ment head explained that the students were taught classical because it was
>the better way to learn NT Greek. Moreover (and somewhat ironically), before
>teaching at Biola I had come from another small college of the same kind
>where I suffered the same budget cuts based on the same theories, and there
>too the former department head had established classical Greek as the best
>foundation for learning NT/koine.
>I have now been at UC Riverside for several years, and like faculty else-
>where I have a combination of students who want to learn Greek for classical
>and NT/koine purposes. Without any fear of contradiction, I tell them that
>what they will learn (we use Athenaze) will actually give them better pre-
>paration for reading the NT, if that is their goal, than what they would
>learn in an NT/koine Greek program. I back it up by pointing out that I also
>serve as a consultant in Bible translation, and by pointing to a key passage
>or two in the NT where most translations have got the Greek wrong because the
>translators who did the work did not begin with classical training and thus
>were short-changed in issues involving the optative, indirect discourse, etc.
>I may add that it is much easier to learn the minor differences between classi
>cal and NT/koine Greek than it is to unlearn the errors sometimes taught in
>koine programs and catch up on important details that have been neglected in
>those programs. So I am convinced that one can teach an essentially classical
>track and meet the needs of students who are mainly Bible-oriented by pointing
>out the occasional significant differences, and teaching an upper-division
>NT course now and then.
>Don Wilkins

Edgar Krentz, New Testament
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Tel: [312] 256-0752; (H) [312] 947-8105 Area code after Oct. 12: 773
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