Attic Greek?

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Attic Greek?

Post by kesan21 » October 13th, 2018, 7:59 am

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I know nothing about Greek but I would really like to learn Koine Greek for the purpose of studying the NT. Unfortunately my school only offers Attic Greek. Is there a point for me to learning Attic Greek? How similar are they, and how useful/useless would it be for studying the NT?
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Attic Greek?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » October 13th, 2018, 9:10 am

Okay, the short answer is that it helps greatly. Pretty much the universal experience of those starting with Attic Greek and then later reading the NT is that NT Greek presents no challenges whatsoever. It was certainly my experience -- after a year and half of Attic Greek, including a semester of reading Plato I had a course in Mark. I thought it was frightfully easy, except for vocabulary, which is always the beginning student's bane. The semester after that the offerings were Aristophanes and Thucydides, and that was a bit rougher.... seriously, though, you won't go wrong starting with Attic, in fact, quite the opposite.
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Re: Attic Greek?

Post by RandallButh » October 14th, 2018, 4:46 am

I will add another perspective, maybe a third point on a triangle.

Attic Greek and Koine Greek are the same language and tightly connected dialects. It doesn't matter where one starts. However, a student should know that in the field of Classics and also NT, most of the classes do not teach the language like a living language. So one may assume that the school involved probably teaches Attic Greek as a system of items to consciously analyze and assemble. When you get an opportunity you should also learn to listen and to speak the language at the speed of normal speech. That is what will put the language deep inside you in the place in the brain where languages are mapped. That will also make reading more natural.

You may also learn that the Greek language went through a major sound change after Alexander the Great, something like the great English vowel shift between Chaucer and Shakespeare. So if your main interest is the post-Alexander period, you will probably want to internalize that sound system. In the process you will also find many levels of 1st and 2nd century Greek, from very colloquial (some private letters) to in-between (much of NT), to quite literary, some even writing epic poetry or mimicking the Ionic dialect (Lucian, the Syrian Goddess [giving us insight into pagan culture of the time]).

Meanwhile, enjoy your Attic classes, and look for ways to internalize the Koine dialect when you get the opportunity.
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