Re: Did Paul Speak Greek with a Turkish Accent?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Mar 18 1999 - 09:28:26 EST

At 6:46 AM -0500 3/18/99, Stephen C. Carlson wrote:
>At 09:13 PM 3/17/99, Dean Kyburz wrote:
>>Are recordings available of the NT in Koine? Would Paul have also spoken
>>the native language of Tarsus? Would he therefore have spoken Greek with
>>that type of accent? Should his geographical native tongue be called
>It would be an extreme anachronism to call anything "Turkish" in the
>Ancient Near East, because the (Seljuk and Ottoman) Turks did not
>arrive to that area until the Middle Ages.

Stephen is of course right (he usually IS!). But I'd add a couple other
comments on this: (1) I personally think one would need to have the sort of
information about dialectal pronunciation of Koine Greek in different parts
of the Mediterranean world in vast quantities to underpin an oral
representation of Paul's accent in speaking Greek--and I'm very skeptical
that sufficient evidence of the sort needed is extant. Although I don't
really approve of reading the GNT in a Modern Greek pronunciation, I do
suspect that it's a good deal closer to the way NT Koine sounded in the
first century than any of our reconstructed "Erasmian" schemes.

Just one other point. Who knows what sort of Greek pronunciation Paul is
likely to have learned in Tarsus? But I have heard from Greek-speaking
students that the dialect of the "Ionian" Greeks who fled from Izmir and
Ephesus and the Aegean coast of Turkey back in the 20's and 30's still
included pronunciation of hOLOS as OULOS--which is the way one finds it in
Ionic Greek of the 5th and 4th centuries B.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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