Re: New Testament Greek Pronunciation

From: David Moore (
Date: Mon Nov 20 1995 - 09:54:55 EST

On Mon, 20 Nov 1995, Attilio Tafuri wrote:

> 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 'Kürie elčeson' (where 'ü' is French 'u'). In fact, every Sunday we
> everybody say 'KěRIE ELčISON'.
> 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.
        You might want to check out the second volume of Moulton's
_Grammer of the Greek New Testament_ which has a section on sounds and
writing of 1st-Centruy Greek (pp. 37-144).

David L. Moore Southeastern Spanish District
Miami, Florida of the Assemblies of God Department of Education

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