Koine Greek

From: Ulrich Schmid (schmiul@uni-muenster.de)
Date: Tue Aug 20 1996 - 14:42:09 EDT

Concerning the recent discussions on pronounciation and the *canon* of Koine
Greek literature, I may point to a body of sources often neglected - the
manuscripts. There is quite a lot of manuscripts extant from the time span we
use to relate to Koine Greek, manuscripts of all sorts, biblical (LXX, NT),
literary, documentary, etc. It doesn't matter what type of text one refers to as
long as one can read the hand (or has access to transcripts). As a rule of
thumb, the less trained a scribe was the more one can learn about the way Greek
*sounded* (vowels) at that time at a given place.
Moreover, one can learn from the manuscripts for example on the level of
morphology the way how verbal forms changed (the interchange of perfect stem +
aorist ending and vice versa, the frequent use of the sigmatic aorist, the use
of the augment or reduplication with composite verbs, etc.). One can do the same
type of study for the level of syntax too (e.g. parataxe versus hypotaxe). If
one wishes to know more about Koine Greek, one should also consult the *pysical*
evidence of that time.
Students devoted to biblical Greek should be interested in studying at least a
few pages of a NT manuscript stemming from the first five centuries. Especially
telling examples are the Papyri (P 45, P 46, P 66, P 72, P 75) and Codex
Sinaiticus. For details on editions (facsimile, transcripts) one may consult the
various handbooks on textual criticism (e.g. Metzger, Alands, etc.).

Ulrich Schmid, Muenster (Germany)

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