Chris Servanti wrote:So can anybody here have a full conversation in Koine about either doctrines or maybe everyday life (I think the first would probably be easier because of vocabulary)?
You'd have to ask the Randall Buths and Louis Sorensons of the world, I sure can't. In my Greek Sunday School class, we have about 30 minutes that are almost entirely in Greek, with occasional English prompts, but we end with discussing the passage and its application in English. When I look at Youtube videos of discussion in Hellenistic Greek, I don't see examples where people have a fully adult conversation about a passage in Hellenistic Greek. I'd like to see examples like that.
Chris Servanti wrote:It is my dream to one day be able to debate in koine... not sure with whom... but it would be so awesome
IMHO, the best use of Koine is to appreciate the full richness of the text in its original voice, e.g. to appreciate how Mark, Luke, and John write so very differently. Much of that would get lost in a doctrinal debate, they don't teach different basic doctrine. I'm actually quite interested in seeing how far we can get discussing texts in my class, but that's going to be a very slow process.
A little perspective. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages publishes a set of proficiency guidelines
, the skills that we would expect a language learner to have at various levels of learning. I think you are asking how many people know Hellenistic Greek at the ACTFL Distinguished level:
Speakers at the Distinguished level are able to use language
skillfully, and with accuracy, efficiency, and effectiveness. They are
educated and articulate users of the language. They can reflect on a
wide range of global issues and highly abstract concepts in a
culturally appropriate manner. Distinguished-level speakers can use
persuasive and hypothetical discourse for representational purposes,
allowing them to advocate a point of view that is not necessarily
their own. They can tailor language to a variety of audiences by
adapting their speech and register in ways that are culturally
authentic. Speakers at the Distinguished level produce highly
sophisticated and tightly organized extended discourse. At the same
time, they can speak succinctly, often using cultural and historical
references to allow them to say less and mean more. At this level,
oral discourse typically resembles written discourse.
A non-native accent, a lack of a native-like economy of expression, a
limited control of deeply embedded cultural references, and/or an
occasional isolated language error may still be present at this
I suspect there are very few Distinguished speakers of Hellenistic Greek. Let's try a level down, Superior:
Speakers at the Superior level are able to communicate with
accuracy and fluency in order to participate fully and effectively in
conversations on a variety of topics in formal and informal settings
from both concrete and abstract perspectives. They discuss their
interests and special fields of competence, explain complex matters in
detail, and provide lengthy and coherent narrations, all with ease,
fluency, and accuracy. They present their opinions on a number of
issues of interest to them, such as social and political issues, and
provide structured arguments to support these opinions. They are able
to construct and develop hypotheses to explore alternative
When appropriate, these speakers use extended discourse without
unnaturally lengthy hesitation to make their point, even when engaged
in abstract elaborations. Such discourse, while coherent, may still be
influenced by language patterns other than those of the target
language. Superior-level speakers employ a variety of interactive and
discourse strategies, such as turn-taking and separating main ideas
from supporting information through the use of syntactic, lexical, and
Speakers at the Superior level demonstrate no pattern of error in the
use of basic structures, although they may make sporadic errors,
particularly in low-frequency structures and in complex high-frequency
structures. Such errors, if they do occur, do not distract the native
interlocutor or interfere with communication
If you drop down one level, perhaps there are a very few people on B-Greek who might qualify as Advanced High:
Speakers at the Advanced High sublevel perform all
Advanced-level tasks with linguistic ease, confidence, and competence.
They are consistently able to explain in detail and narrate fully and
accurately in all time frames. In addition, Advanced High speakers
handle the tasks pertaining to the Superior level but cannot sustain
performance at that level across a variety of topics. They may provide
a structured argument to support their opinions, and they may
construct hypotheses, but patterns of error appear. They can discuss
some topics abstractly, especially those relating to their particular
interests and special fields of expertise, but in general, they are
more comfortable discussing a variety of topics concretely.
Advanced High speakers may demonstrate a well-developed ability to
compensate for an imperfect grasp of some forms or for limitations in
vocabulary by the confident use of communicative strategies, such as
paraphrasing, circumlocution, and illustration. They use precise
vocabulary and intonation to express meaning and often show great
fluency and ease of speech. However, when called on to perform the
complex tasks associated with the Superior level over a variety of
topics, their language will at times break down or prove inadequate,
or they may avoid the task altogether, for example, by resorting to
simplification through the use of description or narration in place of
argument or hypothesis.
But for Hellenistic Greek, that's almost Superman level.
You start low and work your way up. At the Novice Low level, you know your name and a few nouns. At Novice Mid, you can communicate about predictable topics using isolated words and memorized phrases, and answer questions with two or three words. You keep working your way up ...
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;