Attic Greek?

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Attic Greek?

Postby bchu » April 12th, 2014, 2:35 pm

I know nothing about Greek but I would really like to learn Koine Greek for the purpose of studying the NT. Unfortunately my school only offers Attic Greek. Is there a point for me to learning Attic Greek? How similar are they, and how useful/useless would it be for studying the NT?
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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby Jonathan Robie » April 13th, 2014, 6:09 pm

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Back to your question - Attic Greek is excellent preparation for Koine Greek. Go for it, by all means.
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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby Barry Hofstetter » April 14th, 2014, 6:07 am

Absolutely everyone that I know, including myself, who has started with Attic Greek has had no problem reading the Greek of the NT. In fact, it's normally seen as an advantage. There are differences, but these are easily recognized and generally cause no trouble at all...
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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 14th, 2014, 6:17 am

Yes, if you have the time and opportunity, I recommend starting with Attic and then moving to Koine.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby cwconrad » April 14th, 2014, 7:20 am

It's certainly easier to make a transition from Attic to New Testament Koine than to start with the latter and then move to Attic Greek. I went through the worst possible transition: from New Testament Koine in my first year to Homeric Greek in my second year, finally beginning to read Attic in my third year (and the Attic Greek I began with was Aristotle, not the easiest place to start). What I'm saying is: if you have the opportunity, then by all means start with Attic Greek, but with perseverance, it is possible to start with a later form of the language and go back to an earlier one later.
Carl W. Conrad
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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby Barry Hofstetter » April 14th, 2014, 7:58 am

cwconrad wrote:It's certainly easier to make a transition from Attic to New Testament Koine than to start with the latter and then move to Attic Greek. I went through the worst possible transition: from New Testament Koine in my first year to Homeric Greek in my second year, finally beginning to read Attic in my third year (and the Attic Greek I began with was Aristotle, not the easiest place to start). What I'm saying is: if you have the opportunity, then by all means start with Attic Greek, but with perseverance, it is possible to start with a later form of the language and go back to an earlier one later.


And didn't the Romans start with Homer in their Greek studies? It seems they had the same idea, that it's easier to move to later forms of the language from the earlier (though I have some doubt that this is the reason they would give for starting with Homer).
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Attic Koine

Postby Stephen Hughes » April 14th, 2014, 10:27 am

While during the classical period - before Alexander's vision of a Hellenised world was realised - each city and its surrounding villages had their own dialect, there were also trade / diplomatic languages used within trading partners / allies. The very distinctively regional features and the truely literary features were not used for such purposes. Athens was a very important city, and the Koine Greek is sometimes called the Attic Koine - the language of common communication based on Attic / in the area where Athens was influential.

The VOA has a programme, something called 'Special English'. It uses a subset of English -and they speak clearly and slowly. The choice of language there is based on an early twentieth-century idea that a simplified version of English adequate for communucation could be taught more easily to foreigner learners. The difference between native-speaker and Simple English is about the same in degree, more or less as between Attic proper and Attic Koine .

Koine (NT) Greek is a fully functioning language. Alexander dreamt and fought for a Hellenised world, where Greek learning, science and polity could be spread in it.

The speakers of Attic Greek were Greek. It sounds like an obvious enough statement, but it affects the way the litterature you will read was written. Attic Greek texts of the classical period assume a lot if cultural knowledge, Hellenistic Greek (another name for Koine Greek) texts do not. It's like the difference between the two statements: Her leg is better. & My neighbour across the way is recovering well after spraining her leg last week. Context and 'insider knowledge could give the same information to the first statement. It's a bit laborious for us non-Greeks to read commentaries to find that infofmation, but managable. The upshot of that for us reading Koine Greek is that the style is more explanitory, more encyclopedic even, which is great for us non-Greek Greek learners.
Stephen Hughes
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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby Shirley Rollinson » April 14th, 2014, 5:10 pm

bchu wrote:I know nothing about Greek but I would really like to learn Koine Greek for the purpose of studying the NT. Unfortunately my school only offers Attic Greek. Is there a point for me to learning Attic Greek? How similar are they, and how useful/useless would it be for studying the NT?

If Attic Greek is all they offer, then go for it.
The alphabet and basic grammar will be pretty much the same as for koine, but some of the spelling will be different. Along with your Attic classes, I'd advise getting a copy of the Greek New Testament, and starting to read it for yourself (preferably aloud), as that's what you want to be able to do eventually. Get a GNT with a dictionary included (bound in with it in the back) - that will give you some help with words whcih have changed (e.g. Attic -ττ- often becomes -σσ- in koine) and will also give help with irregular verbs.
If you want help learning koine, there are several free courses and resources on the web, and you're welcome to try my online textbook http://www.drshirley.org/greek/textbook02/index.html
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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby RandallButh » April 15th, 2014, 6:59 am

I recommend starting with starting ancient Greek through a spoken medium. Attic Greek would work fine, if spoken in class, otherwise an artificial language will be set up that may never quite 'lead to the water.'
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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby cwconrad » April 15th, 2014, 7:47 am

Shirley Rollinson wrote:If Attic Greek is all they offer, then go for it.]

RandallButh wrote:I recommend starting with starting ancient Greek through a spoken medium. Attic Greek would work fine, if spoken in class, otherwise an artificial language will be set up that may never quite 'lead to the water.'

I can well understand what's being urged here, but there's something about both of these exhortations that I find disturbing. I'm reminded of an adage whose author I cannot remember: "Knowing the best and doing the second best is the beginning of spiritual decay." With respect to getting a start with ancient Greek, that would seem to mean, "Don't do it until you can do it the right way." But most of us don't ordinarily live and interact in a world where "how" we are to begin Greek is a simple choice between a variety of alternatives. So I say, (1) beginning the study of ancient Greek with Attic may not be what one had in mind, but it's not a matter of making the best of a bad situation, and (2) learning Greek by immersion is very desirable but is unfortunately not an option for every one who wants to learn it; an opportunity to get a start with ancient Greek, whether in Attic or Koine, shouldn't be put off until one can do it in a classroom where the ancient language is used conversationally.

Speaking for myself alone, I started Greek sixty years ago; I began with Koine when I would have preferred beginning with Attic. I learned to pronounce it originally using the damnable American academic Erasmian method; I learned morphology and syntax and vocabulary the old-fashioned way; I went through rough transitions to reading Homer in my second year and Aristotle in my third year. I wouldn't recommend that sequence for others, but I had a teacher who inspired and motivated me and I came to love ancient Greek. Can I speak it today? No, I can't. Can I read it? Yes, pretty well, thank you, and write it tolerably. We can fantasize about the ideal learning experience for ancient Greek and work toward making that available for more of those who want to learn Greek, but surely we don't want to tell them to put off starting until they can do it in the only way that's right and proper. So, I guess that I'll second Shirley's "]If Attic Greek is all they offer, then go for it" -- but I wouldn't fash myself because I couldn't go right into an immersion classroom to start Koine Greek.
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