Biblical Greek - Lesson 3

The Alphabet and Pronunciation

In this lesson, you will learn the Greek alphabet, which consists of 24 letters, and how to pronounce each letter using the Erasmian pronunciation system. The alphabet is divided into five sections to make learning easier. As you study the alphabet, you will notice some similarities to the English alphabet. You will also learn special pronunciation rules, such as the gamma nasal, which changes the pronunciation of gamma when it is followed by another gamma. Additionally, you will learn about the seven Greek vowels, diphthongs, iota subscript, diuresis, and breathing marks. Understanding these elements will be crucial for your study of the Greek language.


Bill Mounce
Biblical Greek
Lesson 3
Watching Now
The Alphabet and Pronunciation

I. Introduction to the Greek Alphabet

A. Alphabet structure

B. Pronunciation system

II. Learning the Alphabet in Sections

A. First section: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon

B. Second section: Zeta, Eta, Theta

C. Third section: Iota, Kappa, Lambda, Mu, Nu, Xi

D. Fourth section: Omicron, Pi, Rho, Sigma, Tau, Upsilon

E. Fifth section: Phi, Chi, Psi, Omega

III. Special Pronunciation Rules

A. Gamma nasal

B. Vowels and diphthongs

C. Iota subscript and diuresis

D. Breathing marks

  • Bill Mounce invites you to join this course on Biblical Greek and learn the language that he believes is not as hard as people make it out to be, and assures that his lectures will hit just the high points of Greek and that there are resources available on his website for deeper understanding.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the fundamentals of biblical Greek, including the alphabet and pronunciation, nouns and adjectives, pronouns and verbs, and the importance of further study. You will learn about the declension of nouns and the conjugation of verbs in different tenses, such as the present, imperfect, future, and aorist. This lesson provides a comprehensive overview of the basics of biblical Greek, making it accessible to beginners who are just starting to learn.
  • In the Learning Greek lesson, you will tackle memorization, learn about tools to assist you, understand the importance of exercises, and discover the significance of time, consistency, and discipline to enhance your Greek language skills and develop a closer connection with Jesus.
  • In this lesson, you learn the Greek alphabet and its pronunciation, discovering similarities to the English alphabet and mastering special pronunciation rules like gamma nasal, vowels, diphthongs, iota subscript, diuresis, and breathing marks, crucial for Greek language study.
  • You will gain insight into the importance of punctuation and syllabification in Greek, which will help you better understand the meaning and pronunciation of Greek texts.
  • Through this lesson, you will develop a solid foundation in English nouns, their types, functions in sentences, and practical tips for mastery.
  • In this lesson, you grasp the significance of nominative and accusative definite articles in Biblical Greek, exploring their roles in identifying subjects and direct objects, and applying the definite article in context.
  • This lesson equips you with the knowledge to identify and translate the genitive and dative cases in biblical Greek, enhancing your understanding and interpretation of biblical texts.
  • Gain insight into the importance of prepositions in Biblical Greek, explore their different categories and meanings, and learn how they modify verbs, nouns, and adjectives to enhance your understanding of the New Testament's original language.
  • In this lesson, you will learn about adjectives in Biblical Greek, their declension, comparison, and their crucial role in syntax, semantics, interpretation, and translation of Biblical texts.
  • By studying the third declension in Biblical Greek, you gain insight into noun and adjective formations, enhancing your ability to analyze and interpret New Testament texts.
  • You gain knowledge of first and second person personal pronouns in Biblical Greek, learning their forms, usage, and application in translating and interpreting New Testament texts.
  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of Greek pronouns, focusing on forms and genders, and learn to apply this knowledge to accurately interpret biblical texts.
  • By studying this lesson, you acquire a thorough understanding of demonstrative pronouns and adjectives in Biblical Greek, their forms, syntax, and proper application in New Testament passages.
  • This lesson equips you to comprehend relative pronouns in Biblical Greek and their role in connecting ideas and forming dependent clauses.
  • In this lesson, you gain an in-depth understanding of verbs in Biblical Greek, learning about tenses, voices, and moods, and how to apply this knowledge in biblical exegesis.
  • Master the present active indicative in Biblical Greek to understand the language's structure, form regular and irregular verbs, and accurately translate and interpret the text.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into contract verbs in Biblical Greek, learning to identify and parse them, enabling accurate translation and interpretation of the New Testament texts.
  • This lesson provides a deep understanding of the present middle-passive indicative verb forms in Biblical Greek, including their formation, usage, and tips for accurate translation.
  • This lesson provides you with a comprehensive understanding of the future active and middle indicative verb forms in Biblical Greek, equipping you with translation techniques and practice exercises to enhance your skillset.
  • Through this lesson, you acquire knowledge of verbal roots and future forms in Biblical Greek, enabling better interpretation of the New Testament by recognizing regular and irregular patterns.
  • This lesson teaches you how to understand and use the imperfect indicative in biblical Greek, offering insights into verb conjugations, context, and translation accuracy.
  • You will gain expertise in Second Aorist Active and Middle Indicative forms in Biblical Greek, their formation, usage, and importance in biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson equips you with knowledge of the First Aorist Active and Middle Indicative in Biblical Greek, covering formation, parsing, and translation techniques while providing examples from the New Testament.
  • By studying this lesson, you learn to identify and translate Aorist and Future Passive Indicative verb forms in Biblical Greek, enabling accurate exegesis and interpretation of the New Testament.
  • In this lesson, you acquire knowledge on forming, conjugating, and translating perfect indicative verbs in biblical Greek, with a focus on understanding context and handling irregular verb forms.
  • Through this lesson, you learn about Greek participles, their types, and translation techniques, enhancing your ability to analyze and understand the New Testament texts.
  • This lesson teaches you to identify, translate, and interpret present continuous adverbial participles in Biblical Greek, enhancing your understanding of New Testament exegesis.
  • Gain insights into aorist undefined adverbial participles, their types, and translation techniques to improve your understanding of the Greek text and biblical exegesis.
  • Through this lesson, you master the intricacies of adjectival participles in biblical Greek, including their forms, translation, and syntax, ultimately enhancing your ability to analyze and translate biblical texts.
  • This lesson teaches you the intricacies of perfect participles and genitive absolutes in biblical Greek, enabling you to accurately translate and understand complex grammatical structures.
  • Gain insight into the subjunctive mood in Biblical Greek, understanding its formation, functions, and importance for interpreting the New Testament's nuanced meanings.
  • Through this lesson, you learn to recognize and understand the various roles and functions of infinitives in Biblical Greek, ultimately enhancing your ability to study the biblical text.
  • In this lesson, you learn about the imperative mood in Biblical Greek, its forms and uses, negation, and the subjunctive as an alternative for expressing commands and requests.
  • In this lesson, you learn to understand and apply the imperative mood in Biblical Greek, including its formation, nuances, and its use in exegesis.
  • In this lesson, you gain a deeper understanding of non-indicative forms and conditional sentences, learning to differentiate between subjunctive, imperative, infinitive, and participle forms, as well as first, second, and third class conditional sentences, while expanding your vocabulary.
  • Gain insights into Biblical Greek constructs, conditional sentences, Greek particles, and techniques for parsing and translating complex passages, enhancing your ability to interpret the New Testament.

These lectures will take you through the main points of each chapter in Bill Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek (3rd edition). These Summary Lectures are also available at billmounce.com, along with other free resources for learning biblical Greek. [The first lecture was originally given in the course Dr. Mounce was teaching at Gordon-Conwell seminary. The syllabus he mentions was for that group of students and is not available.]


BillMounce.com also sells video lectures by Bill Mounce that cover every point in the grammar.

Recommended Books

Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar 3rd (third) Edition

Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar 3rd (third) Edition

William D. Mounce's "Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar" and its companion tool "Basics of Biblical Greek Workbook" are the best-selling and most widely accepted textbooks for learning New Testament Greek.
Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar 3rd (third) Edition

Dr. Bill Mounce
Biblical Greek
The Alphabet and Pronunciation
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] In chapter three, we're going to look at the alphabet and the pronunciation of the alphabet in terms of hints. There's 24 letters in the Greek alphabet, and what I'm asking you to learn is the name of each letter, how to write it as a small letter, in other words, not as a capital, and then how to pronounce each one. What you're going to see is that much of the Greek alphabet is similar to the English alphabet. And I'm actually going to break it down into five units. And there's a handout in the online class that breaks down into these five units. So be sure you get that before you start learning the alphabet. Now I use what is called a standard pronunciation, or probably more properly called an arrest me in pronunciation. Sometimes I think the only thing I can say for sure is that this is not the way Greek was pronounced. There's a lot of argument about, you know, how different is it from modern pronunciation to other systems. But most teachers teach arrests. Men is certainly of all the different pronunciation schemes as the one that best helps you learn Greek because it lets you distinguish between every sound. And if you learn raspy and you'll probably be able to communicate better with people from other schools. But certainly arrest me in pronunciation is not the way modern Greek is pronounced. So here's the first section, and I'm going to go through a little quickly in the summary lecture. I'll go a lot slower in the actual lecture, but here's the first of the units. Alpha is pronounced like the A and father. Beda is the be as in Bible. Gamma is a G as in gone. Delta, the D as in dog and Epsilon is the Short East sound as in met.

[00:01:58] So it's Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta Epsilon. Then the Greek, in a sense, diverges from the English as to what's going on. Of course, because Greek isn't after English as well before English. But anyway, you get a little difference and you get these three letters. Zeta, the Z is in days. ADA, which is the Long East sound, as in Obey and the Theta, the T as in thing. So the alphabet of girls. Alpha. Beta. Gamma. Delta Epsilon. Second Section. Zeta. ETA Theta. Then we're back kind of paralleling. English. The era can either be a long or short, like an intrigue. You get the intrigue and the euro does the same thing. It can be long or short. Kappa is a K is in kitchen. Lambda is the L as in law. Mu m as in Mother New. The N in new. And then you get a letter that's a little bit like an X in English, but it's the C like the X in Axiom. So it's Alpha, Beta Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, ETA Theta Iota Kappa Lambda Mu New C. Back again, paralleling English the short always on the crown, the always and not. The pee, as in the word peach. And in math, you call it a PI, but in Greek you call it a P. And then you have the role which is the ah, sound as in Rod. The sigma is the sound, as in study. And you notice there's two forms to the sigma. If the sigma occurs as the last letter in the word, it's the second form there with a kind of a tail along the bottom and anywhere else. The sigma is written as the first form. So Sigma. Then tell is the tears and talk and then oops salon the kind of like the German.

[00:04:28] You got to stick out your lips a bit to say ooh oops Alon. So again, alpha, beta. And if you're not saying this with me out loud, please do so. Alpha. Beta. Gamma Delta. Epsilon Zeta, ETA Theta Iota Kappa Lambda Mu New C, Alma Cron P Rho, Sigma Tao Epsilon. And then here, the last four three of them are double sounds C as the p, h and phone. He has a c h in lock. And see as the piece in lips. And of course, the final letter of the Greek alphabet is omega. A long old sound tone on Macron is a short old Omega is the long old. So one more time and again, please just go over this chart until you're second nature, because you can't really go on to the next chapter until you know this well. Alpha. Beta Gamma Delta. Epsilon Zeta ETA Theta Iota Kappa Lambda Mu New C r Macron P Rho Sigma Tao Epsilon C he c Omega. Very good. Now, here's one little oddity. When you have gamma. Gamma, the first gamma is called a gamma nasal and is pronounced as an N. You can see it as it came into English as Angel. The Greek is Angelus Angelus. There are several other combinations where that first gamma is going to be an RN sound, but the gamma gamma is the most common. You'll need to know for sure what the seven vowels are becomes really important in chapter four. They are Alpha Epsilon, Ala. So Epsilon is the short E sound. Ida is the long E sound iota. They can be both long and short. Amr KRON, which is a short ol sound epsilon and omega, which is the long old sound. Now, sometimes you're going to have two vowels side by side that form one sound.

[00:07:08] They're called diff songs and the second is always Yoda or oops along. So here's the chart and you need to spend time learning it. Alfie Yoda is pronounced eye as an eye roll, and the Greek word is eye roll. Epsilon Yoda is a as in eight Amirkhani. Yoda is only as an oil. And you can just go down the chart. There's also something called in Yoda subscript. Sometimes the Yoda is going to drop down below an alpha A2 or Omega is not pronounced, but it is important in terms of translating Greek. So make sure you know what any Yoda subscript is. And there is one day critical mark that you do need. And it's the diuresis. And what it does is this word Isaiah's You would normally think that the Alpha and Yoda would form a diff thong, but because they don't, they put the diocese over the Yoda. So you don't pronounce alpha Yoda as one sound. But as to easy is the word for Isaiah. And finally, there's something called a breathing mark of breathing. Mark is a little indication over every initial vowel in a word or roll. And we have smooth and rough breathing. The smooth breathing is the mark over the alpha in a past, the loss and it's not pronounced. It's just kind of there. But if it's a rough breathing, then the mark is reversed like you have over Hooper and it's pronounced as an H. It's not Hooper, it's Hooper. So any time a word begins with row or an epsilon, you're going to have a rough breathing. You notice like in Jesus's name ISAs, if the word begins with a capital letter, the breathing goes before the capital letter and the word begins with a diff song like Altus, the breathing is over the second vowel of the death song.