Koine Greek 101!

22 Oct
I am in the slow process of learning Koine Greek, which is the type of Greek used to write the LXX and New Testament. Since I don't actually blog that much, I though I would just “take notes” as it were on what I've learned in Greek during the week.
So this post will be the first in a series of Koine Greek grammar/vocabulary/other cool stuff.
I mainly learned Koine Greek by reading Mark first in English and then in its Wescott-Hort Greek. I also use Wiktionary quite a bit and also the Perseus website. The first thing I had to learn was the Greek alphabet, and how to pronounce the words:
Αα – Aa (alpha)
Σσ/ς – Ss (Sigma)
Δδ – Dd (Delta)
Φφ – Ff (Phi)
Γγ – Gg (Gamma)
Ηη – “Eeta” (Eta)
Ξξ – Xx (Xi)
Κκ – Kk (Kappa)
Λλ – Ll (Lamda)
Ζζ – Zz (Zeta)
Χχ – “Ch” (Chi)
Ψψ – “Ps” (Psi)
Ωω – Oo (omega “big o”)
Ββ – Bb (Beta)
Νν – Nn (Nu)
Μμ – Mm (Mu)
Εε – Ee (epsilon)
Ρρ – Rr (Rho)
Ττ – Tt (Tau)
Υυ – Uu/Yy (Upsilon)
Θθ – “Th” (Theta)
Ιι – Ii (Iota)
Oo – Oo (Omicron “small o”)
Ππ – Pp (Pi)
Sigma is the only Greek letter (that I know of so far) that has a “final” form. As in, if Sigma appears at the end of a word, then it has to take that final form, like in the name Ιησους. There are two Sigmas here, one after Eta, and another after Upsilon. Greek also has a couple of letters that are only represented in English dipthongs. That is, two letters put together to make one sound. These are Theta, Chi, and Psi. Theta represents the “th” sound in English. Chi doesn't really have an English referent, but would something like “H-Ch”, kind of like making an “h” sound before saying “christ”. But saying it as a “k” sound is also acceptable. Psi is a letter that also doesn't have a natural English representation, but we say it naturally when we say the word “epsilon”. So even though we say the Greek word psyche (ψυχη) like “sai-kee” it would actually be pronounced “puh-sai-kee”.
After learning a bit about letters, I learned a bit about grammar. There are five cases that nouns come in:
1. Nominative
2. Accusative
3. Genitive
4. Dative
5. Vocative
An easy way to remember what role these cases have, here's a sentence that I got from a message board: “Hey Vocative, the nominee said he saw the accused with the general's date”
The Nominative is the person doing the action. The accused is the one who the action is being done to. Genitive denotes possession, and dative is who/what is being possessed or to who/what something is given. Vocative is just saying the thing out loud as a form of address.
Let me try to render that sentence (minus the vocative) in Greek: “Πετρος εβλεπει Παυλον και Ιακωβου Χριστω”. Being transliterated, this would be “Petros eblepei Paulon kai Iakwbou Christw”. I use “w” here to represent Omega (long “o”), like in the name “Joe”. Translated, this would be “Peter saw Paul with Jacob's Christ”.
I think this is all I'm going to write about what I've learned about Greek so far. As an ending for these posts in the future, I'm going to write about what cool new word I learned over the week (like Sesame Street! lol)
Today's word is: Βαλλω.
Ballw means “to throw”. This is the word used when the Pharisee accuse Jesus of using demons to “drive out” (εκ-βαλλει – literally “out-throw”) demons. This word is also etymologically related to the word Diablos. Diablos is derived from the Greek word Διαβολος which is Greek for “accuser” or “slanderer”. It came from δια-βαλλω: throw across. Think of it as “hurling insults across a room” like a tactless prosecutor does at a trial.
1 Comment

Posted by on October 22, 2010 in greek


One response to “Koine Greek 101!

  1. Kraxpelax

    October 23, 2010 at 3:25 am

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