New Testament Greek Pronunciation

From: Attilio Tafuri (
Date: Mon Nov 20 1995 - 06:09:02 EST

I am not a classical greek scholar, and I apologize if I am too far from the
purpose of this listserve, as I would like to ask something which is not
stricly related to greek grammar.

I am quite puzzled by the actual pronunciation of New Testament Greek in I
century A.D. It seems that every tradition has got its own idea about that.
In Italy, where I come from, NT greek pronunciation is highly influenced by
classical greek and considered equivalent to the latter. Moreover, it is
quite simplified, as spirits are not reflected in reading, 'H' and 'E' are
equivalent, and so on.
Italian language, which very easily retains greek words in its daily
lexicon, seems to translitterate them according to the actual greek 'sound'
at the time of acquisition. So, for instance, 'YDWR' is 'IDRO' but also
'SUDORE' (much older).

Can we conclude that oldest pronunciation of 'Y' was equal to diphthong 'OY'
and that more recently (but how recently?...) it was read as an 'I' ?

St. Ambrose taught the people of Milan to invoke Christ saying 'KYRIE
ELEHSON', which, according to (let me say so) 'national' tradition, should
read as 'Krie eleson' (where '' is French 'u'). In fact, every Sunday we
everybody say 'KRIE ELISON'.

Can we conclude that pronunciation of NT Greek could be the same or similar
to that itacistic of IV century A.D.?

My ignorance suggests me no reasonable answer, as I still haven't found any
books or publications clearing up the matter.

I thank anybody who may spend a little time after my curiosity.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:32 EDT