Re: Bad Greek

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Fri Nov 08 1996 - 08:30:36 EST

Edgar has pointed out that there are some Greek texts which teach literary
that not all Greek is literary, and that even non-literary Greek can be
"good Greek"
if it is grammatical. This makes sense to me, and I was especially interested in
the list of authorities he cited -- I haven't the energy for them right now, but
it is good to know that they exist, and that his message will be available
in the

I love the simple elegance of 1 John and the Gospel of John. I don't really
if contemporary writers would have judged this to be "good Greek", I like to
it out loud and let John's pregnant phrases sink in.

I grew up in the post-Hemingway era, and I don't like flowery language, so some
things which may be "good Greek" drive me up a wall. John doesn't waste words.
If I were Luke's writing teacher, I would have asked him to rewrite this
which is a bit overdone for my taste:

Acts 2:14 (GNT) Staqeis de o Petros sun tois endeka ephren thn fwnhn autou
kai apefqegxato autois: andres Ioudaioi kai oi katoikountes Ierousalhm
pantes, touto umin gnwston estw kai enwtisasqe ta rhmata mou.

But the fact that this is a bit much for me is not important: this is a
style, and I assume Luke uses it well.

I were teaching writing a century ago, this would have been appropriate
in English narrative. Things change. And I imagine that Greek style changed in
different places and at different times, and of course, as Edgar has pointed out
(and Wallace in his Grammar), different styles are appropriate for different
purposes. Luke is using a particular style here, and I assume that he is
using it

Instead of comparing each text to some theoretical notion of "good Greek",
it may
be more useful to try to identify the attributes of each writer's style, and
out exactly what it is that constitute's that writer's style.


Jonathan Robie
POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703
Ph: 919.598.5728 Fax: 919.598.6728
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