Re: Little Greek Guide to Learning New Testament Greek

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Oct 30 1997 - 13:35:38 EST

At 9:19 AM -0600 10/30/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>At 08:09 AM 10/30/97 -0600, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>>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...
>Since this comment occurs in a footnote anyways, could I just lift your
>paragraph, and insert it as a quote in the footnote? I would probably do it
>something like this:
>Erasmian pronunciation. This is the pronunciation used here, and is based on
>the way that a medieval monk named Erasmus liked to pronounce Greek. It is
>almost certainly quite different from the way Greek was pronounced at the
>time of the New Testament, but it is widespread among scholars, and it has
>the advantage that every letter is pronounced, which makes it easy to grasp
>the spelling of words.
> Note: Carl Conrad says, "<your quote here>".
> Note: I agree with all of this. But he is STILL a medieval monk!
>If you have no objection, I'll do that.

Well, I think you have Vellenga's offlist post to you about this. Quite
honestly, if you're going to mention Erasmus at all, you really have no
business calling him medieval at all; monk, perhaps, but people wanting to
learn to read NT Greek really ought to know also that he is the prime mover
behind several printings of the first printed edition of the Greek NT, and
there's no way that he should be called medieval. Of course there's quite a
debate about when the Renaissance should be dated from, but 1453 is really
far too late--and he comes after that in any case. As I said before, he
should be put alongside the major Reformers, Luther and Calvin (and the
Minor ones too!). Luther too was a monk once upon a time, but you'd get a
rise out of a lot of people if that's the way you referred to him even in a
footnote, etwa: "Lutheranism is a style of piety practiced by many
Christians, and is based on the way that a medieval monk named Luther liked
to be pious." Now, how do you think that would go over? It's not altogether
false, to be sure, but it understates and therefore distorts the facts
about a historical figure and movement to such an extent that it might just
as well be a false statement. Erasmus was a giant in the history of the
Greek Bible, and the pronunciation of Greek that he taught is one of the
least important things about him.

Sorry about this, but it's not just a matter of getting my hackles up; I
really think it's enough of a distortion as it stands to be a misstatement.

Ciao, c

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

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