Buth and diacritic marks/accents

Buth and diacritic marks/accents

Postby Jesse Goulet » January 25th, 2012, 3:29 am

I read at Buth's website that the rough-breathing vowels/diphthongs fell out of usage by the Koine period, and the acute, circumflex, and grave accents fell out of usage after the Classical period as well.

So if this is true......then why in the world are they still present in our latest editions of the Greek New Testament!? Did Metzger and his team of textual critics forget to consider issues of historical pronunciation or did they mistakingly assume that an Erasmian pronunciation as used back then? Or are the latest editions of the GNT just out of date since Buth's scholarship is new, and if so should the next editions omit any breathing and accent marks in them?
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Re: Buth and diacritic marks/accents

Postby Bob Nyberg » January 25th, 2012, 10:17 am

I read at Buth's website that the rough-breathing vowels/diphthongs fell out of usage by the Koine period, and the acute, circumflex, and grave accents fell out of usage after the Classical period as well.

So if this is true......then why in the world are they still present in our latest editions of the Greek New Testament!? Did Metzger and his team of textual critics forget to consider issues of historical pronunciation or did they mistakingly assume that an Erasmian pronunciation as used back then? Or are the latest editions of the GNT just out of date since Buth's scholarship is new, and if so should the next editions omit any breathing and accent marks in them?


It seems like spoken language changes much faster than written language. For instance, I've been told that years ago the "k" was actually pronounce in English words like "knight" and "knob." We no longer pronounce the "k" sound in those words and yet we retain the archaic spelling.

My guess is that the diacritics of Koine Greek were retained in spelling even though the pronunciation changed over the years.

Just a thot.

Bob
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Re: Buth and diacritic marks/accents

Postby Mark Lightman » January 25th, 2012, 10:59 am

Or are the latest editions of the GNT just out of date since Buth's scholarship is new, and if so should the next editions omit any breathing and accent marks in them?


Actually, Buth is rough on the rough breathing, has grave concerns about the grave, and is circumspect regarding the circumflex. He does believe that the proper syllables should be stressed, and were he an editor I suspect his GNT would essentially follow the Modern Greek “monotonic” system.

1 John 1:1 from the upcoming A Buthian Greek New Testament:


ώ ήν άπ αρχής, ώ ακηκώαμεν, ώ εωράκαμεν τύς ωφθαλμύς ημών, ώ εθεασάμεθα κέ έ χίρες ημών εψηλάφησαν περί τού λώγου (no rabbits here!) τής δζώης.
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Re: Buth and diacritic marks/accents

Postby RandallButh » January 26th, 2012, 4:33 am

Well, that was a nice piece that Mark wrote and it would have been easy to follow for anyone who heard it read outloud in the first century. Of course, very few Greek literates managed to mangel Greek orthography quite so densely as Mark (see below), but that is part of humor. The Greeks had a long tradition of trying to spell correctly and there were many treatises compiled over the centuries (mostly lost to us today) where spelling was discussed and passed on from generation to generation. (PS: There was no reason to add δelta to ζωῆς, *δζωης wouldn't be pronounced clearly as spelled, so it must be counted a Markian mistake.)

What is really amazing about Greek spelling, though, is the fact that the accent marks were basically ADDED after the 9th century CE! They were added by people who did not speak them, but who decided to record a tradition from over a millenium, recorded and passed on through the Second Sophistic 'on the side'. If that feat wasn't amazing enough, they then required scribes to write that way for over a millenium so that now all ancient texts are recorded in such a system. We can be grateful to them for letting us see what 4th century BCE Athenian accentuation was, or was supposed to be.

The result can be followed quite easily in the Swanson Greek New Testament series. Throughout separate books of the NT, Swanson presents a line from Vaticanus, exactly as spelled, ΕΙ ΓΕΙΝΩΣΚΕΤΕ ΤΙ ΤΟΥΤ ΕΣΤΙΝ, but with punctuation and diacritics added, εἰ γεινώσκετε τί τοῦτ' ἔστιν, and then any deviant meanings from about 60-70 chosen manuscripts are collected and presented by line underneath. Vaticanus, and each line, are spelled according to the chosen exemplar for that line, with any other of the 50 texts that agree with the line being cited to the side. (Westcott Hort, UBS, and Tischendorf are also cited somewhere). Agreements on a line are by meaning, not always by spelling. Where a text agrees with a reading but uses a different spelling the variant spelling may cited below in a band of 'spelling footnotes', in the second band of footnotes after 'lacunae' (which lists the chosen manuscripts that are not extant for the line in question). Swanson makes for a fascinating reading of the history of the GNT text, but its a heavy slog for Erasmians, they can't/shouldn't read these texts outloud (cf. line 1: μεισῖν 'to be hating' is not and never was [mesin]!)
e.g.
John 7:7
(Underline is in Swanson to point out a change. Swanson is also allowed spacing that lines all the words up vertically, exactly. Where I typed multiple spaces to do that, the program deleted to one space. But you can imagine how it would look if straightened up vertically, too. For manuscript designations, abreviations, and choices, see Swanson's introduction in any volume--RB)

οὐ δύναται ὁ κόσμος μεισῖν ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δὲ μεισεῖ, ὅτι ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ αὐτοῦ Β*
οὐ δύναται ὁ κόσμος μεισεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δὲ μεισεῖ, ὅτι ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ αὐτοῦ Bc, p75
οὐ δύναται ὁ κόσμος μισεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δὲ μεισεῖ, ὅτι ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ αὐτοῦ p66
ὁ κόσμος οὐ δύναται μισεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δὲ μισεῖ, ὅτι ___ μαρτυρῶ ________ א*
οὐ δύναται ὁ κόσμος μισεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δὲ μισεῖ, ὅτι ___ μαρτυρῶ ________ אc
οὐ δύναται ὁ κόσμος μισῖν ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δὲ μισεῖ, ὅτι ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ αὐτοῦ N
οὐ δύναται ὁ κόσμος μισῖν ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δὲ μεισεῖ, ὅτι ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ αὐτοῦ W
οὐ δύναται ὁ κόσμος μησεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δὲ μησεῖ, ὅτι ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ αὐτοῦ θ
οὐ δύναται ὁ κόσμος μισεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δὲ μισεῖ, ὅτι ἐγὼ περὶ αὐτοῦ μαρτυρῶ 33
οὐ δύναται ὁ κόσμος μησεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δὲ μισεῖ, ὅτι ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ αὐτοῦ 28
οὐ δύναται ὁ κόσμος μισεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δὲ μισεῖ, ὅτι ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ ἐμαὐτοῦ 1071
οὐ δύναται ὁ κόσμος μισεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δὲ μισεῖ, ὅτι ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ αὐτοῦ D M K L M U Γ Δ Λ Π Ψ f1 f13 124 2 157 565 579 700 1424 u w t

and in the spelling band:
δυνατε M N, μισει νυ Γ*, μισιν Δ, μησειν 579
(Note above how relatively stable 'eta' was. Even though HTA became [i] in sound after the second century CE, only three manuscripts inserted it anywhere above. Greek schooling was fairly effective. The spelling convention that was most difficult was EI/I, because that was probably the first sound to shift in the 4th c BCE and apparently it was not uniform in the schools--RB)

And the point of all of this is to say that the scribal revolution that systematically added the accents was in the minuscule revolution of 9c CE and following, long, long, long after they dropped out of the spoken language. Amazing.

Finally, I must add that I appreciate Mark's humor. I trust that it was as smooth and easy to read for others as it was for me. However, some on the list may read Mark's comments literally so it must be explicitly stated that Dr. Buth does NOT in any way want to see a monotonic GNT and he would advocate writing such texts in the full, accepted spelling.

Having said that, I see no problem with writing emails in 'plain' orthography:
και προς φιλους ουτως γραφων χαιρω

So welcome to the Greek world. I would recommend that anyone wanting to read the historical texts learn to understand Greek by how it sounded in the first century. (For discussion, see: http://www.biblicallanguagecenter.com/k ... unciation/) Then all of the above is transparently easy to follow and you will start to feel/hear what the scribes were doing or what Paul's audiences were hearing when a letter was read. Imagine, treating Greek like the Greeks treated Greek. πως γαρ ου!
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Re: Buth and diacritic marks/accents

Postby nicholasj.ellis » January 28th, 2012, 7:32 pm

χαιρεν Randall,

Nice hint on Swanson's GNT,. I'd never thought of using it to display spelling features, but now that you display it that's a terrific showing of orthographic variation within the manuscripts. Very helpful indeed.
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Re: Buth and diacritic marks/accents

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 28th, 2012, 8:21 pm

nicholasj.ellis wrote:Nice hint on Swanson's GNT,. I'd never thought of using it to display spelling features, but now that you display it that's a terrific showing of orthographic variation within the manuscripts. Very helpful indeed.


Yes, but be aware that Swanson does not show accentuation differences. The accentuation in Swanson is largely editorial.

Stephen
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Re: Buth and diacritic marks/accents

Postby Jesse Goulet » January 29th, 2012, 10:36 pm

All very interesting, but none of this tells me how accents were pronounced. I have Buth's vowels, diphthongs, and consonants down to a decent habit now (such as pronouncing the beta as a "v"), but I'm still confused how to go about using the accents.
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Re: Buth and diacritic marks/accents

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 29th, 2012, 10:52 pm

Jesse Goulet wrote:I read at Buth's website that the rough-breathing vowels/diphthongs fell out of usage by the Koine period, and the acute, circumflex, and grave accents fell out of usage after the Classical period as well.


Greek accents were originally tonal and the three accents corresponded to differences in pitch (acute = rising, grave=falling, circumflex=rise-fall ). Over time, these tonal accents gave way to stress accents, in which all three simply correspond to an increase in volume. This is how English does accentuation.

Some European languages, like Swedish, use tonal accents, but English does not, so the near universal practice is to use Modern Greek / English -style stress accents for all three accents.

Stephen
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Re: Buth and diacritic marks/accents

Postby Jesse Goulet » January 29th, 2012, 11:33 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Greek accents were originally tonal and the three accents corresponded to differences in pitch (acute = rising, grave=falling, circumflex=rise-fall ). Over time, these tonal accents gave way to stress accents, in which all three simply correspond to an increase in volume. This is how English does accentuation.

So did this switch occur before or after the Koine period? I'm curious because if it happened before the 1st century, then why did the scribes maintain all three accents in the 9th century, as Buth showed above?
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Re: Buth and diacritic marks/accents

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 30th, 2012, 2:40 am

Jesse Goulet wrote:So did this switch occur before or after the Koine period? I'm curious because if it happened before the 1st century, then why did the scribes maintain all three accents in the 9th century, as Buth showed above?


Well, it's hard to tell. My sources indicate that the pitch accent was slowly dying throughout the Koine period. During this time, both the pitch and stress accent were used at the same time.

Scribes were able to maintain the accents over the centuries because their educational system continued to teach the classical accent system even though they didn't pronounce it. For most nouns, this wasn't a problem but for the more obscure ones there were disagreements over the proper accent. For verbs, the accent was recessive, so the correct accent was (and is) predictable by and large.

Stephen
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