"How do we know how Koine Greek was pronounced?"

Resources and methods for teaching and learning New Testament Greek.
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Benjamin Kantor
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"How do we know how Koine Greek was pronounced?"

Post by Benjamin Kantor » January 21st, 2019, 11:24 am

"How do we know how Koine Greek was pronounced?"

I have heard this question come up in a number of different contexts. Sometimes it is from those outside of the field just interested in my work. At other times, I think this question comes up by those who are wondering what the best/right pronunciation is to use when reading/speaking Koine Greek.

I decided to make a very simple video explaining this (2-3 minutes long):

https://www.kainediatheke.com/blog/how- ... -2-minutes

Obviously it is over-simplified, but it is meant to be clear and intelligible to someone even outside of the field. There are instructions at the end for going deeper for those interested.

Would appreciate any feedback!

Feel free to show it to students if you think it would be helpful.
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For Koine Greek recordings and videos:

https://www.KoineGreek.com

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: "How do we know how Koine Greek was pronounced?"

Post by Barry Hofstetter » January 21st, 2019, 1:00 pm

I think it's quite nicely done. In a recent discussion on this, someone asked the question (and I'm paraphrasing, because I don't remember exactly when or where the discussion took place), "But how do we know which vowels to start with? How do I know that ι doesn't actually equal ει like the ei in weigh?" You might want to give a brief nod to that in a revised version of the video or have a follow up video that's more in depth.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Benjamin Kantor
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Joined: June 24th, 2017, 3:18 am

Re: "How do we know how Koine Greek was pronounced?"

Post by Benjamin Kantor » January 21st, 2019, 2:51 pm

Thanks for the feedback! It's well taken.

Yes, that is of course a very good question. I actually have a number of those that came up for me as I was making the video and I just kept telling myself, "I need to keep this at about 2 minutes" :)

Eventually I do plan to make a much longer video that actually explains with examples specifically how we know specifically how Koine Greek was pronounced with the rest of the vowels and consonants.

Of course, as you know, there are several other pieces of evidence that are important (not just spelling "mistakes") that are helpful and in some cases necessary for determining Koine pronunciation. These would be namely:

> Transcriptions of Greek into other scripts (e.g., Latin, Hebrew, Armenian etc.)
> Transcriptions of other languages into Greek (e.g., Latin, Hebrew, Late forms of Akkadian)
> Greek loanwords in other languages (e.g., Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic)
> Evidence of the modern spoken Greek dialects
> Actual phonetic descriptions in ancient grammatical treatises, etc.

All of this extra stuff basically comes along to say, "Yes, what the spelling interchanges seem to be indicating is indeed what is happening."
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For Koine Greek recordings and videos:

https://www.KoineGreek.com

Jonathan Robie
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Re: "How do we know how Koine Greek was pronounced?"

Post by Jonathan Robie » January 22nd, 2019, 8:35 am

How did you produce that video? The hand looks like it was automated somehow. How hard is this kind of presentation to do?

In a longer video, I assume you would admit that there are some areas of ambiguity in what we know ;->
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Benjamin Kantor
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Joined: June 24th, 2017, 3:18 am

Re: "How do we know how Koine Greek was pronounced?"

Post by Benjamin Kantor » January 22nd, 2019, 12:10 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
January 22nd, 2019, 8:35 am
How did you produce that video? The hand looks like it was automated somehow. How hard is this kind of presentation to do?

In a longer video, I assume you would admit that there are some areas of ambiguity in what we know ;->
I used a service called Explee with the educational license. It took me roughly a day. They have a great service. It looks quite professional in the end even though I'm not a professional :) Even though I don't think it is super important academically, I think packaging and professionalism makes a big difference when one is trying to spread the word for something small and niche like what we're doing with speaking the language, so I have made an effort to do such things when I can.

Yes on the ambiguity. And definitely has to be reserved for the longer video, since then I have to explain the difference between phonology and phonetics and this thing is going to start getting long quick :) Hopefully within the next few months I can get around to that.

(My current project is making a mini-film in Koine Greek (cartoon) of the Martyrdom of Polycarp)

I'll have to wait until I have my next slot on the docket open to make the longer video.
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For Koine Greek recordings and videos:

https://www.KoineGreek.com

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