Re: Writing in Koine Greek?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Aug 18 1996 - 10:43:54 EDT

At 7:39 PM -0500 8/17/96, Edgar M. Krentz wrote:
>(2) Now for a difficult problem. One would need to agree on the definition
>of Koine Greek. I do not think one simply equates the GNT with Koine Greek.
>It is too small a linguistic basis on which to do Koine Greek Prose
>composition--and has an immense variety of styles, literary levels, etc..

This is a very good question: what constitutes a viable stylistic model for
Koine composition?

My immediate--first reaction--thought is that the narrative prose of
Luke/Acts is probably the best the NT proper affords. (God forbid one
should WANT to write like Paul, even at his most forceful (MH GENOITO!).

I think that basic Semitisms characteristic of NT prose ought to be
assimilated; to this end perhaps the LXX book of Genesis would be
appropriate, and I would think that 3rd & 4th Macc might be very
appropriate. But one ought to take in "standard" Hellenistic Greek of the
first century, and to this end some readings in Josephus (very good Greek!)
and Philo would be appropriate.

What to translate? Randy Leedy was working on a modern paraphrase of the
translators' introduction to the KJV; how about some Calvin, some Luther,
some Bonhoeffer, some Tillich? All very interesting challenges!

I would think that all of us who have ever taught Greek at any level have
composed Greek sentences and or paragraphs as exercises for students. I
write sentences, short paragraphs & narratives, occasionally dialogues as
exercises for my students in Attic Greek. How accurate they actually are is
another question!

A neat resource available to any who are really interested in this is the
web site established by Proessor Hardy Hansen at CUNY for his graduate
Greek Comp class there last spring; there are several resources as well as
his weekly assignments, models, and fair-copy versions of the assigned
work. Check it out:

Hansen indicated that he intended to do another correspondence course this
fall for students who had participated in his Summer Greek Institute at
CUNY this summer; announcements regarding it were to be posted at:

>Having said all this, your posting suggests to me that I propose a course
>in Koine Greek composition for our graduate program in academic year
>1997/98, my last year of teaching. I think it would be both fun and highly
>instructive for students.
>Would it be worth doing? YES! Easy? NO.

Well, Edgar, there's another one I'll sign up for in advance! You'll recall
that Fred Danker said he'd like to teach a course in our department at
Washington U while he yet lives; perhaps you both, as WU PhDs, ought to
come back here and do a special semester for Koine Hellenists!

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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