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Author Topic: Zondervan's New Testament Greek - Volcabulary Guide CD set  (Read 1153 times) Average Rating: 0
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Margaret
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« on: January 18, 2007, 07:19:20 PM »

 : I am Greek Orthodox and purchased the Zondervan New Testament Greek Volcabulary Guide set today to use to expand my volcabulary and improve my pronunciation.

The outside of the set says "Hearing the Greek properly pronounced simplifies your learning process."  Great!  Only not so great. 

In the introductory track, Jonathan T. Pennington the "voice" of the CD set, tells us that "there is no way of knowing how koine Greek was pronounced...I'll be saying the words in the most common North American pronunciation."  [Tell this to faithful Greek Orthodox who for 2,000 years have heard the Word in the Epistles and Gospels read out loud.  Tell this to any Greek Reader or Chantor who has gotten a word out of place or mispronounced a word.]  I can understand Greek in a Savannah or a Boston accent, so I continued.

Listening to the first 499 words was painful.  I couldn't even understand most of them -- words I use daily -- without looking at the book that accompanies the set.  Pennington did not even attend to use the correct vowel sound for the letters:  i.e. epsilon was pronounced like a long u sound, the diphtong au was pronounced like a short e sound.  Bizarre.

DON"T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS SET!!!!  I wrote to Zondervan and told them what I thought.
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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2007, 08:30:16 PM »

They are either using the Erasmian pronunciation (a medieval version) or the reconstructed Koine pronunciation (which is probably how it was pronounced).  It's useful for academics learning the language as it distinguishes all the vowels, and for linguists because it shows the roots, etc, but for Church use (which uses the modern pronunciation, which is not how it was pronounced, but which is a living form of Greek) it is horrible and useless.

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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2007, 08:31:33 PM »

Erasmus' conventions work much better with literature from the classical era. Though are still viable for some dialects into the hellenistic period. But the upsilon you mentioned actually survived with it's ancient pronunciation in tact longer than any other ancient vowel or diphthong. It was pronounced as a 'u' in the speech of the Imperial City into the 12th century...and would survive for several centuries after that in some local dialects (Cypriot, I believe, amongst them, though dont quote me on that). Of course, all languages have vowel shifts with time...fortunately for the study of Greek, they happened far less frequently in said language than they did in English.
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2007, 08:57:01 PM »

I think the problem stems from treating languages like koine and latin as "dead" languages.
A language is not "dead" as long as it's being used down the generations. In the Churches of East and West, latin and koine are living trees, not fossil ferns as they are in the secular and protestant academic world.
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2007, 09:08:57 PM »

I think the problem stems from treating languages like koine and latin as "dead" languages.
A language is not "dead" as long as it's being used down the generations. In the Churches of East and West, latin and koine are living trees, not fossil ferns as they are in the secular and protestant academic world.

I dont know if that's the case, I think it's more a desire to pronounce things in the manner the author originally intended. Which is why in certain circles people will go to great lengths to correctly pronounce Chaucer, even though doing so will make it incomprehensible to the modern ear. Greek and Latin are not the only languages where academics pursue this goal...linguists tend to do it in all languages, living or dead.
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« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2007, 10:08:34 PM »

I think the problem stems from treating languages like koine and latin as "dead" languages.

At the same time, it would be anachronistic (or just pig-headed) to say that modern Demotic Greek is the same thing as Homer's verse, Herodotus' history or Plato's prose. Spelling, morphology and syntax in each of those dialects are different (even compared to katharevousa), and the first category (spelling) shows us incontrovertibly that so too was pronunciation. (What that pronunciation was exactly is another matter!)

At any rate, we now have epistolary evidence from Hellenistic Egypt that documents several shifts in pronunciation (e.g. mildly literate people will consistently misspell words by using an eta where there should be a iota -- or some such thing -- a reading that indicates that the conflation of vowel sounds dates to a fairly early period, at least in the diaspora!).

For what it's worth, some of the best scholars I know over at Harvard insist on Byzantine (i.e. modern) pronunciation in their courses, although they work heavily in the manuscripts, so they have an appreciation for Byzantine Greek.
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