Re: question

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Aug 03 1999 - 06:01:44 EDT

At 2:24 AM -0500 8/3/99, Mitchell Gray wrote:
>Dear B-Greekers,
>I was wondering what kind of degree would someone need to have to be
>considered a scholar of the Greek language.

This all depends on who does the "considering." Many would argue that a
Ph.D. (in the language and or literature) is requisite, but I've certainly
known persons very competent in Greek who have no Ph.D., and I've known
persons who have a Ph.D. (in the language and or literature) that I would
hesitate to "consider" scholars or even competent Hellenists (the trade's
term for one professionally concerned with Greek) Others would judge a
scholar in Greek in terms of what he/she has published in Greek language or
literature, and still others in terms of the person's competence as a
teacher of Greek language or literature. You might consult the B-Greek
archives for threads on the distinction Jonathan introduced early in his
time as a B-Greeker between "little Greeks" and "big Greeks"--although many
seem to like it and use it regularly, I've never much liked the distinction
because it seems to me to rest upon a dangerous assumption of the superior
authority of one learner of Greek over another's. What all this comes down
to, perhaps, is where one discerns "authority" as in the gospel saying
about Jesus, "he teaches with EXOUSIA, and not as the scribes and
Pharisees." So ultimately, although there are certainly reputations held by
those deemed to be "scholars of the Greek language," this is a question of
judgment, a matter of where or to whom one turns to pose the questions.
Certainly there are reference works and persons to whom I would turn much
more readily for meaningful information or intelligent commentary when one
has a question to raise that calls for competence in Greek. But although
one may be "told" by others where or whom to turn to with questions, anyone
who regularly poses such questions has to develop his/her own sense of
which ones are more and which are less authoritative as resources available.

One could raise the question: "is the B-Greek list a 'scholar of the Greek
language'"? Our blurb says that it is a "scholarly" list, and it's perhaps
worth asking just what that means (I suspect that like many questions, this
will be answered differently by different respondents); to me it means that
the questions that are asked seriously on B-Greek and to which serious
answers are offered are questions of educated opinion. Educated opinion may
not necessarily offer a single definitive answer to a question, but one
assumes it is something more than a "shot in the dark" and that it is based
upon knowledge of the basic traditions of Greek grammatical and
lexicographic lore and upon a certain measure of experience and wisdom in
bringing that lore and one's intelligence to bear upon the questions. Not
all questions put to B-Greek are questions of educated opinion, but most of
them surely are, and not all answers offered on B-Greek are instances of
educated opinion, but most of them or many of them surely are. It's a
"scholarly" list because we all endeavor (when not horsing around, as we
have to do from time to time) to take the questions seriously and offer
serious answers.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:34 EDT