The question here is one that seems very much to be at issue in every discussion of Biblical Greek pedagogy in this forum (and by far most of what's talked about here is Biblical Greek pedagogy rather than the Biblical Greek language or the Greek Biblical text): What sort of competence are we aiming at when we seek to learn or teach Bibilical Greek?Stephen Hughes wrote:Attested is not the same as standard.Jonathan Robie wrote:I agree completely.Emma Ehrhardt wrote:I will add, however, that there is a greater danger that we'll end up with non-standard greek in the novel composition books.
And especially if we're talking about this as a good project for newish students of Greek, I think we would want to steer them towards using attested texts. There's plenty to work within the GNT...
The answer may seem to be obvious: we want to be able to read the Biblical Greek text with understanding. I am not at all confident, however, that we share a clear notion of what it means to read the Biblical text with understanding.
We lament (many of us) that NT Greek pedagogy, judging from the textbooks available and the classroom methodologies with which we are familiar, aims at the ability to produce a "good" English (or?) version of any given NT Greek text. We would prefer (some of us) that successful learners acquire the abiity to "think" in Greek -- to read the successive words of the text in question and understand their cumulative impact on the meaning being communicated by that text.
We recognize (all of us, I think) that as readers in our own time and place we cannot grasp or respond to the text as did original readers or audience listening to the text read aloud: our perspective is so skewed by our own historical and cultural experience and environment that differs so extensively from theirs.
It seems to me that so much of our pedagogical discussion here involves rudimentary features of the language: images of concrete plants and animals and minerals and fundamental human actions/behaviors accessible to ancient humanity in much the same way as they are accesible to us today. Whether we use photographic images or pictographic images to link Greek words, I think it's rather easy to develop that concrete vocabulary. But what learning a language like the Greek in which the LXX and the GNT were composed means is going to involve, I think, different things for different learners. Being able 'to read the New Testament in Greek" probably means different things to different learners.
I think there are some questions here that we don't ask about what it is that we teach or learn when we teach or learn Biblical Greek. Have we really gotten beyond the notion that the vocabulary of the GNT is a special Greek language, intelligible as a linguistic corpus apart from its context in the world in which its composers lived? How seriously do we take the notion that we can't understand the usage of NT Greek words unless we more fully understand the usage of these words in speech and written texts of Greek-speakers generally of the era in question?
These are just some questions that come to my mind when I see attention being called to the difference between "attested" and "standard" vocabulary and usage. It seems to me that so much of our discussion of Biblical Greek pedagogy -- or more generally, ancient Greek pedagogy, involves implicit but undiscussed assumptions about what it is that we are trying to learn and teach.
I sometimes wonder how somebody in a congregation in Corinth may have heard and made sense, in terms of his or her own experience and social context, of a letter of Paul being read aloud by a reader soon after it had been received from the apostle. It seems to me that it's very difficult for us to conceive or imagine how that text was heard and responded to. And yet it seems to me that what we most want to understand is what Paul really intended that listener to experience and how much of what Paul intended would actually have been grasped by that listener. The Greek language that we teach and learn in NT Greek pedagogy should serve, I think, fundamentally as a conduit for those thoughts and the success with which they have been communicated, both in antiquity and in the context of our own experience. That's quite a bit to ask of our NT Greek pedagogy.