[b-greek] The threads on "proper" Greek pronunciation

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Wed Feb 06 2002 - 13:49:24 EST

While I have no objection to the continuing discussion of how Greek WAS
pronounced in the NT era and how it OUGHT to be pronounced by modern-day
students of Biblical Greek, I'm disturbed just a bit by the implication
that if the arguments are repeated long enough and at such length, there
will be some convergence of opinion in one direction or the other. My
experience, both as a B-Greeker and as a career academician, is that such
convergence of opinion is rare and hardly to be expected here.

I am one who myself taught an Erasmian-type of pronunciation in the course
of years of teaching classical Attic Greek; I justified it on the basis of
the convenience of distinguishing vowel and diphthong sounds as much as
possible when reading aloud and speaking about constructions and therefore
citing a Greek text in classroom discussion--but, at least for the last
twenty years of teaching, I tried to be up-front and clear in stating that
I never believed the Erasmian pronunciation adequately represented the way
Greek was pronounced at any one time or place in the course of its history
as a language spoken by native speakers. I am now a little bit more
skeptical than I used to be about the importance of observing those
distinctions between vowels and diphthongs in the classroom--but only a
little bit. I rather suspect that good students can learn Biblical or Attic
Greek well under a good teacher no matter which of the conventional
pronunciations is chosen and taught by that teacher.

Finally, I do think we need to be clear about what I take to be two very
distinct theses being argued here: (1) what good evidence indicates about
the actual pronunciation of Greek in the eastern Mediterranean during the
period of the composition of the GNT (which I'd guess spans the period of
roughly 50-150 CE); and (2) what is the most useful system of pronunciation
of Biblical Greek in a modern classroom setting?

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad@ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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