Re: Machen & "the language of the street."

From: Don Wilkins (
Date: Sun Oct 26 1997 - 17:42:02 EST

At 03:21 PM 10/26/97 -0500, Jim West wrote:
>At 03:00 PM 10/26/97 -0500, you wrote:
>>The precision and completeness with which the Koine Greek is analyzed on this
>>list amazes me. (As a matter of personal faith I believe the scriptures are
>>capable of such analysis.) Now help me here, Machen described Koine Greek as
>>"the language of the street." English "street talk" is not very gramatical.
>Neither is Koine. Especially if you compare it to Attic.
>>Was there Koine grammer?
>Surely; but again it was much looser than Attic.
>> And how do we know this grammer. Did the writers know and use excellent
>>grammer, or did we create a grammer to explain what they wrote?
>As in any language, grammar is deductive. When we learned to speak our
>mother tongue we learned inductively and then when we got to school we
>learned the rules which had been set out deductively. So it is with koine.
>For every rule there is an exception!
Jim's attitude may well be the prevailing one, and there are plenty of
unusual constructions in NT Greek, but I would maintain that koine--at least
NT koine--is grammatically correct the great majority of the time, and even
that where it appears to be incorrect it is probable that the oddity is to
be explained as translation Greek (Hebrew idiom, etc.) or historical
development of the language, etc. It is of course quite different from
Attic, but this is due to differences in audience and purpose, rather than
inferior grammar. Koine grammars should be descriptive, but sometimes are
critical of the original text, and the criticism may or may not be justified.

Don Wilkins

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