Re: Little Greek Guide to Learning New Testament Greek

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Oct 30 1997 - 09:09:33 EST

Jonathan, I really dothink this is absolutely terrific! And one of the
beauties of a web "textbook" is that when errors are discovered or
potential improvements are envisioned, it's not necessary to go out and do
a brand new printing of a book. And with the possibility of doing sound on
the web, there are so many ways that instruction is enhanced. I don't know
that this will ever obviate the need for printed texts, but I think this
site of yours, in its own modest way very much like the heavily-funded
Perseus program, demonstrates that we really may be in the earlier phase of
a revolution as fundamental as that of Gutenberg.

I have only one real complaint, and that is with your description of
Erasmus as "a medieval monk." This may really have been meant as a
light-hearted caricature, and also I may just be too touchy about this, but
Erasmus is one of my intellectual heroes (and there aren't really that many
of them!); he is a figure belonging both to the Renaissance and the
Reformation; his efforts, however flawed, to produce a printed text of the
GNT, put the Greek text of the NT into the hands of lay people who, if only
they could learn Greek, could study the NT in the original language, and it
was his work especially, however many others have contributed to it over
the centuries, that set us on the course of dialogue over the meanings of
the Greek text of the NT that we are now continuing on B-Greek. I also like
to think, knowing full well that regrets about past history are utterly
futile, that if only he and Luther and Calvin could have sat down and
talked to each other at length, it's at least conceivable, however
improbable, that the reformation might have taken place without the
terrible bloodletting that accompanied it. Even the pronunciation scheme,
however little resemblance it bears to the manner in which Greek was ever
pronounced in any time or place in antiquity, enabled the teaching of Greek
in schools and the possibility of discussions of the GNT by people who were
pronouncing it the same way and could understand the passages voiced aloud
to each other. Granted, the modern Greek pronunciation could have been
used, but the one great advantage of the Erasmian pronunciation is that it
differentiates the vowel and diphthong sounds--however artificially--and
thus steers clear of the problem of the many vowels and diphthongs all
pronounced in modern Greek like an English long E.

So, perhaps it's a bit of exaggeration to say that Erasmus is the real
founder of B-Greek--I certainly wouldn't want to take that away from David
Marotta, but I do venture to say that Erasmus was a giant in the history of
the Greek New Testament, one of many on whose shoulders we all stand.I'd
like to think of him as more than a medieval monk. Would you consent to
calling him "the original Little Greek"?

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:35 EDT