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Donna Rose
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« on: May 27, 2004, 01:02:45 PM »

Smiley

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Published by GreeceNow, May 17, 2004

English Orthodox Church


A church in downtown Athens offers liturgy in English for the English-speaking community

It is a bold step to take for a conservative institution; a necessary evil, as it were. The Greek Orthodox Church is now holding regular services in English at the Sacred Chapel of Saint Andrew (Aghios Andreas) in Plaka. An initiative of the Archbishop of Athens to cater to the growing number of English-language speakers who wish to go to church, the move has been very positively welcomed by the community.

GreeceNow spoke to Protopresbyter Thomas Synodinos who was responsible for executing the Archbishop's wishes. "There are many English speakers who live and work in Athens and come to church, but don't speak Greek," he explained. "A few days ago, an English man, who's been living in Athens for years but never learnt the language, came to thank me. He was very happy."

To accommodate English speakers then, the services will be conducted by Father John Raffan on Sundays between 7.30 and 9.15 a.m. (for the Orthros service ) and between 9.15 and 10.30 a.m. (for the Divine Liturgy), but also on special occasions, including Easter.

"This is the first time the Greek Orthodox Church has organized an English-language service on a regular basis," said Father John to AFP . And while media reports note that the announcement comes just months before a massive influx of foreign tourists for the Olympic Games , Father Thomas explains that it is simply the Church's aim to provide an accessible service to the existing community, made up of English-speaking diplomats from Orthodox countries, Greeks of the Diaspora (many of whom already follow the Greek Orthodox liturgy in English ) and foreigners attracted to the faith.

Linguistic riddles

A Scotsman who converted to Orthodoxy back in 1982, Father John stresses, "Many people believe the Orthodox faith appeals more to the heart, more to the senses also - the liturgy is very rich, they just feel at home with it." He adds that the liturgy translation is 'borrowed' from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The Church there already exercises a policy of "flexible bilingualism", with hymns sung in Greek and all plain texts, announcement and the sermon delivered in English.

This gesture will certainly make church-going a more meaningful experience for English speakers, but the majority of Greek church-goers do not understand much of the liturgical Greek either. That's because the service hails from the medieval Byzantine church tradition and is spoken and sung in third-century Greek, Koine , also the language of the New Testament and of texts attributed to historian Polybius and philosopher Epictetus .

While proposals have been made to perform the liturgy in modern Greek, to make the service accessible to the majority of Greeks, especially the youth (in the same way that the Vatican allowed the use of the vernacular) the Church continues to support the preservation of the Koine Greek, because it contributes to the "mystery" of the liturgy. It is generally believed that the use of modern Greek will not attract more people to the church, because the "beauty" and "splendour" of the traditional liturgy far outweighs the precise meaning of the words.

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The last article I posted was apparently "So last month on the forum!" LOL so here's another attempt, this time published 10 days ago. I hope I am posting this in the right forum, if not, moderators if you would be so kind as to correct me. Smiley
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hmmmm...
Brendan03
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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2004, 01:13:33 PM »

"Church continues to support the preservation of the Koine Greek, because it contributes to the "mystery" of the liturgy. It is generally believed that the use of modern Greek will not attract more people to the church, because the "beauty" and "splendour" of the traditional liturgy far outweighs the precise meaning of the words."   Shocked Shocked Roll Eyes
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2004, 08:17:27 AM »

   I pray that they retain the Koine Greek.

   I have a feeling that anything that uses anything American becomes less ancient (my NO RC parish for instance...lol).
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Tikhon29605
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« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2004, 03:36:06 AM »

How different is Modern Greek from Koine Greek? I studied Koine Greek in college and can understand a Divine Liturgy fairly well in Greek.  Can Koine Greek be THAT hard for Greeks to learn? I know it is different from Modern Greek, but how much different? Don't at least educated Greeks understand Koine Greek?
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Brendan03
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« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2004, 08:06:54 AM »

My understanding is that almost no contemporary Greeks understand Koine Greek unless they have specifically studied it as part of a seminarial training or advanced study of classics.  From what Greeks have told me, ones that speak fluent modern Greek, they don't understand much Koine.
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« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2004, 08:08:49 AM »

   That's not hard to believe. Just as most Russians and other Slavs would say that they don't comprehend Old Church Slavonic.
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« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2007, 05:43:18 PM »

I am going through the board looking for topics that should be moved into the new Western Rite sub board and came across this post so I thought I would comment.

When I lived in Athens I would go to this parish. It was great to be able to participate in the Liturgy in my native tongue. I think it might surprise many of you to know that this church would be packed some Sundays since with ex-patriots and native Greeks alike. Then again it wasn't that hard to pack the church since the building was so small.
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2007, 04:50:46 PM »

   That's not hard to believe. Just as most Russians and other Slavs would say that they don't comprehend Old Church Slavonic.

And as English speakers cannot understand Beowulf.

    Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum, þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
    Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum, monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah, egsode eorlas.   
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2007, 05:15:04 PM »

My understanding is that almost no contemporary Greeks understand Koine Greek unless they have specifically studied it as part of a seminarial training or advanced study of classics.  From what Greeks have told me, ones that speak fluent modern Greek, they don't understand much Koine.

Well, there are many similarities... But just hearing the NT readings wouldn't point those out.  If they actually looked at the vocabulary list, they'd realize that most of it has been carried over to modern Greek.

And as English speakers cannot understand Beowulf.

    Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum, þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
    Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum, monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah, egsode eorlas.   

Not quite that bad...
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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2007, 07:25:02 PM »

And as English speakers cannot understand Beowulf.

    Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum, þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
    Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum, monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah, egsode eorlas.   

Chaucer or another example from early modern English would be more accurate.  An educated native speaker's comprehension of Old English is very near zero percent.  Whereas an educated native speaker of a modern Slavic language will certainly understand more Slavonic than that (and Demotic Greek speaker for Koine Greek).  Comprehension is nowhere near 100%, but is isn't zero either. 

For instance take Wycliffe's Bible.  Not entirely accurate since it doesn't reflect some of the major grammatical changes in both Greek and Slavonic to their modern relatives.  But it does reflect the feeling of "I kind of get this, but it's a little cloudy."

You can read it here:
http://wesley.nnu.edu/biblical_studies/wycliffe/

So somewhere between Wycliffe and Chaucer.   

« Last Edit: October 16, 2007, 07:34:43 PM by Νεκτάριος » Logged
pensateomnia
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« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2007, 12:35:26 PM »

So somewhere between Wycliffe and Chaucer.   

That might be true. I would say somewhere between Chaucer and Shakespeare in difficulty. However, in my (limited) teaching experience, only about 20 percent of the American population seems to be able to read and actually understand an allusive passage of Shakespeare. I think studies actually indicate even lower levels of literacy over all. Reading comprehension is dismal in general -- even when a text is in simple, modern English -- and listening comprehension is even lower, especially if we're talking about something with thees and thous and specialized theological vocabulary.

Anyway, I personally don't know any native-born Greeks who were also educated in some humanities discipline in a Greek University who don't understand the Divine Liturgy itself -- especially because it is largely the same every week. Figure out the older syntax and morphology once, and you're set for life. But that, as always, requires effort and attention.
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2007, 01:38:41 PM »

My understanding is that almost no contemporary Greeks understand Koine Greek unless they have specifically studied it as part of a seminarial training or advanced study of classics.  From what Greeks have told me, ones that speak fluent modern Greek, they don't understand much Koine.

A friend of mine went through the same M.A. and Ph.D. Classics program that I did.  He was born in Greece and I always envied him for his abilities to grasp very difficult authors like Thucydides and Aeschylus almost effortlessly.  I asked him if his modern Greek contributed to that.  He replied that no one born in Greece grows up reading Thucydides or Aeschylus; it has to be learned like any other foreign language.  However, I've been to Greece and my modern Greek is very very rough.  Sometimes I default and will use a koine word with koine pronunciation.  The people look at me funny, but they know what I'm saying. 
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« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2007, 04:29:34 PM »

Quote
However, in my (limited) teaching experience, only about 20 percent of the American population seems to be able to read and actually understand an allusive passage of Shakespeare.

I would agree entirely, that is why I used the qualification of educated native speakers rather than just native speakers. 

Other factors that complicate any analogy is that there is no archaic text in English that is constantly repeated in the way that Greek or Slavonic liturgical texts are.  For most people texts like Chaucer or Shakespeare are read once (if that!) for school and then forgotten. 

I'm not so sure how the Greek education system works but in the former USSR and other communists states there is an amazing emphasis on literature.  Most Russians have dozens of poems entirely memorized, have read every major novel imaginable and are far more literate than the typical person from an Anglophone nation. 

Quote
Sometimes I default and will use a koine word with koine pronunciation.  The people look at me funny, but they know what I'm saying.

I know that feeling exactly.  I've used phrases like λιαν πρωι (from the evlogitaria) to mean early morning, and other liturgical borrowings to get my point across when conversing in Modern Greek.  Since this was mostly at a monastery it was always met with a smile and some confusion (it made no sense whatsoever to them that a foreigner would know liturgical Greek better than conversational Greek).  I'll have to try to Latin out on some of my Hispanic friends and see what happens. 
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