Re: koine and classical

On Wed, 24 Aug 1994 08:31:53 CST you said:
>	Could someone help me understand the basic difference between koine
>and Classical greek?  I have had a 3 or 4 years of NT Greek study and
>wonder how much of a jump it would be from koine to Classical.  Any
>comments would be appreciated.
>	Darren Williamson

One way to explain the differences would be by analogy: the Koine is to
Classical Greek something like what Shakespeare's English is to late 20th
century English. They are obviously the same language, but as language is
always in flux, very considerable changes have occurred. Many words have
changed their meaning from classical to koine and new words have come to be
more current for older normal verbs. The optative mood is an archaic relic
seen in very few expressions in the NT. A more complex aorist tense of the
classical Greek is being standardized into (but hasn't quite yet consolidated)
a single -a conjugation. A much-more varied range of subjunctive constructions
in the classical Greek has simplified to fewer types in koine, and the HINA
type has come to serve some functions it never served in classical Greek.
These are just a few of the more notable differences. There are significant
differences in pronunciation too, but these are less of a concern for one who
is only reading ancient texts.

One can learn the Classical after learning Koine--with some effort, and it IS
worth the effort, but there is definitely effort to be expended. It is far
easier to read Koine after knowing Classical Greek, and here we insist on
students wanting to read Koine doing a year of Classical Greek first. No one
should ever take the sequence I had: from reading Mark's gospel the first
year, to reading Homer the second year, to reading Sophocles the third year.

No doubt different teachers would give different advice about a self-teaching
text for classical Greek, but I would recommend the JACT Reading Greek, which
is published in two volumes by Cambridge U Press. The readings themselves are
fun and sizable, the grammatical explanations adequate, and there's a running
vocabulary. Another alternative is the British University series by Melluish
and Kinchin-Smith, Teach Yourself Ancient Greek, which really is a self-
teacher and which ranges over the whole spectrum of ancient Greek, but it
does some weird things.

I trust there will be some other advice here, but that's a start. Good luck.

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