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Greek Language

GREEK LANGUAGE. A major branch of the Indo-European language that is the presumed parent of all the languages of Europe except Basque, Finnish, and Hungarian, and of Sanskrit and the languages that derive from the Sanskrit stock in India. From Ireland to Pakistan this linguistic kinship can be demonstrated from vocabulary, morphology, and syntax. No monuments of the original Indo-European language exist, but the wide diffusion of demonstrably related tongues is strong argument for some form of early unity. The pattern of folk-wandering, which spread the Indo-European languages so widely, was a longer and more complex process than was imagined in the nineteenth century a.d. This century has revealed the Indo-European basis of Hittite, and in 1953 Michael Ventris showed that the language of the Pylos tablets was a primitive Greek, thus proving that the language was spoken in the Peloponnesus several centuries before the time once favored for the arrival in the area of the Hellenic tribes. The piecemeal nature of their southward infiltration, and the firm geographical subdivisions of the area they occupied, led to the survival into literary times of several dialects: Attic-Ionic, spoken in Attica and the Ionic areas of Asia Minor, with associated islands; Achaean, which included the Aeolic of Lesbos and the dialects of Thessaly and Boeotia, together with the undocumented dialect of the Arcado-Cyprian; and what L. R. Palmer calls West Greek, including under that name the dialects of Phocis, Locris, Elis, and Aetolia, together with the Doric of the Peloponnesus, the Peloponnesian colonies, and Magna Grecia. Of these dialects, Attic achieved the supreme position because of the worth and greatness of the literature in which it found expression. Attic Greek was one of the major achievements of the human mind. The richness and subtlety of its syntax, its flexibility, the delicacy of its particles—these and other linguistic features make Attic the most expressive medium ever developed for human thought. The dialects passed with passing of the city states and with the unification of Greece and were followed by a basic Greek that developed in the form of a simplified Attic. This, spread by Alexander’s conquests throughout the eastern end of the Mediterranean, was called the Koinē or Common Dialect. It was the speech of the LXX and the NT, and the major influence in bringing the contributions of Palestine, Greece, and Rome into the partnership that determined the form and shape of the NT, the global gospel of Paul of Tarsus, the Christian church, and modern Europe.

Bibliography: G. A. Deissmann, Bible Studies, 1901; J. H. Moulton, A Grammar of New Testament, vol. 1 (Prolegomena), 1957; W. H. Simcox, The Language of the New Testament, 1980, and The Writers of the New Testament: Their Style and Characteristics, 1980.——EMB

A manuscript page of the Book of Isaiah, from the 9th century A.D. in the Greek of the Septuagint (LXX). This volume is in the Greek library at Jerusalem. Copyright ''M.P.S.''

GREEK LANGUAGE, the Indo-European, Hel. language of the inhabitants of the Gr. islands.


Origin and classification

Although Gr. has been a primary subject of western scholarship since its rediscovery in the Renaissance, its grammatical and lexical qualities were interpreted in the light of Lat. until very recently. To date no systematic structural or generative grammar has yet been produced. Therefore, it is necessary to combine the classical analysis of Gr. with what recent linguistic insights have so far appeared. The origin of the Gr. language is lost in antiquity as are the initiation of most of the other languages which were spoken around the shores of the Mediterranean in the early 2nd millennium b.c. There is no doubt, however, that Gr. is related to the Indic-Anatolian language groups, esp. Hitt. (q.v.) and the better known Sanskrit. Recent evidence has demonstrated that as much influence may have come from one of the W Semite groups, such as the inhabitants of Ugarit (q.v.) or the maritime peoples of the most ancient Aegean. A careful survey reveals that a number of quite distinct dialects fall under the heading Gr., and that in some cases these are divergent enough to be considered as separate tongues entirely. It is highly unlikely that an Egypt. speaker of Gr. of Paul’s time could have understood much of a poem of Pindar or a modern Gr. novel without great effort and intense previous study. There is no question that the common colloquial dialect which came into being as a result of the Alexandrian conquest (322 b.c.) was as widely comprehended and popular as any language before the age of printing. Greek as a linguistic system may be classed with Estonian, Rumanian, the Indic dialects and the Slavic languages into the still comprehensible category of Indo-European. As with similarly highly inflected languages, Gr. proceeded through definite historical stages to lose many of the complex forms and difficult syntheses found in Sanskrit and Russian. As this came to pass a simple addition or subtraction of words came to bear the meani ng of the sentence. The result was to increase vastly the vocabulary while simplifying the syntax and adjusting the morphology. Certain of the relative and conditional aspects of the ancient elaborate forms were maintained and are commonly found in the Gr. Bible.

Mycenaean Greek

It is now widely accepted that the earliest known Gr. dialect was that utilized by the merchant-traders of the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean, known from the remains on Cyprus and other locations. Their language was decisively identified as Gr. in 1956. It is known from a number of inscrs. in the Linear “B” Syllabary (see Writing, VII.) The language shows affinities with both later Gr. dialects and W Sem. inscrs., of the same or later eras. Many place names, commodities and titles which appear in later texts, including the Gr. Bible, first occur in the Mycenaean economic records. To date no ritual or literary tablets have been forthcoming. The syllabic spelling presents some difficulties in recovering the proper pronunciation; however, some of the resultant forms demonstrate clearly the transition from Hitto-Sanskrit to the later classical Gr. usage. There is a strong possibility that the organization of the Linear “B” system and some of its phonetic equivalents were derived from the hieroglyphic Hitt. system. Any search for the origins of Gr. language and its semantic relationships must begin with the Mycenaean materials which must have been innovated if not yet widespread by 2100 b.c. This early stage of Gr. speech was soon superseded by later dialects which were dispersed with the increase of trade.

The Greek dialects

The Greeks of antiquity had only indistinct ideas of their own origins and divided their various sub-groups and dialects into several different systems. Much of this grouping was done on the basis of a combination of legend and folk etymology. The major divisions are still held to be valid; Doric, Ionic and Aeolic. It is now widely accepted that Aeolic, of which there is but scant literary evidence extant, should be replaced in classification by Achaean. Since most of the Doric influence was in the western areas of Gr. domination it may be simply denoted as W Gr. Among the remaining dialects denoted E Gr., are Arcado-Cypriot and the most important of all, Attic-Ionic. Since these were the dialects of the Grecian cities which colonized other areas of the ancient Near E and Mediterranean world, the Attic-Ionic became the dialectal grouping which most influenced the Gr. Bible.


The Homeric dialect is an offshoot of the Attic-Ionic, but at a stage before any real Attic lit. existed. Because of the popularity and preservation of the epics of Homer and other pieces in the same speech, the Homeric became a literary norm for centuries. Of special interest is the fact that the origin of the Homeric epics and the stage of the language they represent is contemporaneous with the classical Heb. of the 10th to the 8th centuries b.c., so that good and valid comparisons can be made between the philological and linguistic situation of the Psalms and the Homeric works. The problem of whether or not the Homeric text was reorganized and perhaps updated in later ages is a valid concern, although some—in fact longer portions of the text—seem to have been little affected.


The Ionic dialect contains some of the great works of classical lit., Herodotus, Hippocrates, et al. It is marked by a complexity of forms and innumerable foreign loanwords and phrases. The dialect predominated from the area of Smyrna to Miletus on the W. coast of Asia Minor. This was the background tongue of many of the churches which sprang up in the region of the Lycus Valley. After the Rom. conquest of this area the terms and modes of the ancient Ionic speech still lingered on in occasional references. Certain peculiarities of the NT Gr. syntax are attributed to Ionic influence. The most important Ionicism being the “infinitive of purpose with verbs of motion,” Matthew and Mark use such constructions frequently (e.g. Matt 5:17), Gr. “οὐκ ἠ̂λθον καταλυ̂αι ἀλλὰ πληρω̂σαι,” “I am come not to abolish, but to fulfill.” Other Ionicisms also are found throughout the vocabulary of the NT. They, as much as any other single factor, separate the NT style from its Attic origins.


The complex, sophisticated dialect of Athens, the vehicle of the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle is denoted as Attic. It became important in the 6th cent. b.c. and remained in evidence well into the Hel. age. The characteristics of Attic over against the NT idiom may best be seen in the simplifications introduced by the Koiné. The Attic maintains all the classic moods: indicative, subjunctive, optative, imperative and infinitive. The dual number and various specialized constructions, such as the sequence of moods and a bewildering maze of particles are rigidly adhered to in Attic texts. The intensity of the NT style is enforced by its avoidance of many of the sophistical artificialities of Attic style. The NT dialect however, was considered crude and rough by many admirers of the polish and subtlety of Attic prose. The reduction of forms to an analytical system was accomplished by the transference of Gr. to large populations of non-Gr. speakers. The result of this frictional process is denoted Hellenic.

Hellenistic Greek

After the conquests of Alexander the unity of the previously independent and autonomous Grecian states was assured. The further incorporation of the older archaic-religious-states of the E brought about the establishment of a universal, vernacular Gr. supported by a generalized and uniform Hel. culture. Although the tongue of the Macedonian court was Attic, the lingua franca which evolved was simplified considerably and influenced by the other dialects. Attic intermingled with its natural dialectal sibling, Ionic. In the phonology this meant the softening of the double “t” and the replacement of difficult consonant clusters, “rs” by simpler “ss” and “rr.” Undoubtedly many of the tonal and stressive aspects of Attic pronunciation also were dropped. The elaborate particles and hair-splitting distinctions between manifold prepositions were too difficult for foreign speakers to master and fell away from the emerging vernacular. The abundance of literary models, schools of rhetoric and the traditionalism of the times created an opposition to the vulgarizing influences in what has been called “Atticism.” This was a conscious usage of archaizing speech, obsolete terms and forms, in an attempt to regain the purity and finesse of the 4th cent. b.c. Athenian style. Needless to add the achievement of this imitation depended directly on how carefully one was schooled in the Attic conventions. Among the NT writers, Luke-Acts, Hebrews, Jude and some passages in the Pauline writings show similarities with the Attic style as it was understood during the first Christian cent. On the other hand, John’s gospel, epistles and Revelation and First Peter show the least effect of the classical dialect. One important advance of the new popularity of Gr. as a trade and business tongue was its written form in a phonographized alphabetic system. In almost all cases it soon supplanted the older syl abaries of the Semites and Ural-Altai. This meant that many more common people could learn to read and, although never great by modern standards, literacy certainly increased manifold with the development of the Hel. dialect, so much so that it was easier for Jews to quote the Gr. tr. of the OT, the LXX, than to transliterate or retranslate the Heb. original.

Koine Greek

The term koine, Gr. κοινή, means “common,” “everyday,” in an adjectival sense and has been applied to the non-literary type of Hel. dialect. The koiné is singularly the language of the NT, certain ephemeral types of papyri and possibly the writings of the Stoic philosopher, Epictetus (a.d. 60-140). In essence, the NT speech is the conversation of the street and market place. It is with rare exception uninfluenced by the Attic tendency within the Hel. speech of the time. The pattern for tr. Sem. thought into Indo-European garb was set in the LXX.

The Septuagint.

The actual speech of the LXX varies widely from book to book, however, the underlying literary vehicle is koiné. The history and development of the LXX is an involved process much of which is irrecoverable like the other phases of the vernacular it seeks to communicate. The effort for simplification often glosses over difficult parallelistic constructions in the Heb. and often resorts to paraphrase.

The LXX is the largest body of text in the koiné dialect. At points the tr. drew upon purely Gr. concepts for its rendering of Hebraic expressions while in other passages the Heb. was followed so closely to be unintelligible in Gr. The LXX, since it was the tr. of the OT, the oracles of God to Israel, held a place of supreme authority among the early Christian writers both canonical and patristic. The relative date of the LXX at the beginning of the Hel. age makes its text a primary source for the early stages of koiné. The fact that a number of diverse traditions were involved confuses the issue of differentiating the koiné elements from those of the late Attic style. The overwhelming majority of NT allusions and quotations from the OT are derived from one or another VS of the LXX. This propensity often blocks from view the current usage of some constructions at the time of the production of the NT canon as the LXX was already a slightly older VS with an earlier diction.

The non-literary papyri.

Since the last cent. approximately sixty thousand fragments of ephemeral, daily correspondence written on papyrus material have been published. These documents provide the largest single class of extra-Biblical materials available for comparison with the NT. They have provided parallel citations for a large number of NT hapax legomena and demonstrated the continuing trend in koiné Gr. away from synthetic and toward analytic forms of expression. The spellings, morphology and syntax of the non-literary texts is widely variant and discloses a similar linguistic situation to that of the NT authors, specifically the use of koiné by writers for whom it was a learned literary means of expression. With all Hel. style, the polish and precision of Attic Gr. is sacrificed for immediacy, stress and exclamation. The outcome is a dialect which is capable of outright drama and portrayal of life as it is lived rather than as it may be analyzed. The papyri yield all manner of subjects, lists, bills, suits, briefs, orders, memoranda, notes, receipts, official communications, business contracts and love letters. These represent many strata of Hel. society and give many mundane titles of the various functionaries of the Greco-Rom. world. The vast percentage of papyri has been recovered from Egypt but some have been forthcoming from other areas of the Near E. The wide divergence of social background and degrees of literacy represented in the papyri affords a linguistic lower limit considerably below the level of the NT which accords well with the other sources of koiné daily speech. The true position of the NT idiom in its situation in life can be studied. Also in the same style are inscribed materials on potsherds, and ostraca, which often represent the very extreme of the ephemeral written records. Such contents as “chits” or tallies for tax pu rposes, business and construction memoranda have been preserved on ostraca. Also in this regard are epigraphic inscrs. on stone which vary from official monumental stele to the universal graffiti scrawled by the semi-literate of all periods of history on the privy walls of all nations. The sum total of the non-literary written materials has increased vastly the knowledge of the Gr. language and the world in which it flourished. It represents the largest single advance in the study of the NT since the days of their composition.

The later classical authors.

The primary source from ancient non-Biblical writings for educated koiné Gr. is the collected discourses of the Stoic Epictetus. The statements were set down by his disciple Arrian (a.d. 95-175) in two works, an Encheiridion, “Manual,” and a group of Diatribai, “Lectures,” of which four books are extant. The language is Hel., but restrained and educated as well as precise. Many syntactical, lexical and conceptual parallels may be located in the epistles of Paul. Another class of writers who used the newly developed koiné idiom to a large degree were the scientific writers. Clear similarities to their works are found in the NT text. Chief among these are: Archimedes, mathematician of Syracuse (287-212 b.c.); Aristarchus, astronomer of Samos (c. 320 b.c.); Eratosthenes, mathematician and geographer of Alexandria (295-235 b.c.); Euclid, geometer of Alexandria (306-240 b.c.); Hipparchus, mathematician of Alexandria (190-125 b.c.) and Posidonius, mathematician of Rhodes (135-51 b.c.). Undoubtedly the nature of their writings allowed for little that is similar; however, it is remarkable that there are any parallel usages at all, in fact, quite a large number exist. In the same fashion that the non-literary texts give a lower extremity of koiné speech so the literary references show that koiné was applicable to abstruse and specialized thought. In this regard it was in no wise inferior to Attic.

The character of NT Greek

Although NT Gr. varies from both the classical dialect and the main branch of Hel., it is a consistent self-contained vehicle of communication, the aspects of which have been studied with great profit for the full understanding of the NT text. A brief outline of its phonology and morphology follows. For syntactical arrangements consult the Bibliography below (8).

Phonological system.

Morphological system.

Greek like all other Indo-European languages, alters the meaning and forms of individual words by the addition and alteration of prefixes and suffixes, a process known as “inflection.” Although the morphology of the NT words was much simplified from the former Attic system, it was considerably more extensive than in any of the major European languages with the exception of Slavic. Generally speaking, the degree to which Gr. words must be altered to fit other morphological units in the sentence or construction, a process called “concord,” is more extensive than Eng. However, Gr. words were inflected by clear and consistent principles so that the ambiguity of Eng. spelling and formation never occurs. Because of the flectional principle which governs the morphological units or “words,” the word order of Gr. is more flexible than Eng. or Ger. An example of the inflection is given as: Gr. “ὁ θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν” (1 John 4:16), “God is love,” which may be analyzed as: Ho (masc. sing. subjective form of the definite article) + the (root of proper noun for God, masc. sing.) + os (masc. sing. subjective ending) agap (root of common noun for love, fem. sing.) +ē (fem. sing. subjective ending [note: the word for love does not have the article preceding it so it is not definitized, therefore the sentence cannot be reversed into “Love is God”] es (root of indicative stem of irregular verb) + ti (masc. sing. active voice) + n (movable, suffixal ending to make pronunciation of construction more precise). Of special importance, as in the above illustration, is the flection of the Gr. verb. This is at its peak in the elaborate tense system which allows more consistent sequences to be indicated in individual verb forms than in E ng.

Parts of speech

The noun and adjective.

The common forms and meanings of the various inflections of the Gr. noun and adjective are basically similar and are indicated in the following tables:

There is also a neuter class of nouns and a neuter system for adjectives, but it differs little from the masc. except for nominative sing., which has a final “s” and the nominative and accusative pl. which is formed with a simple “ā” suffix similar to the fem. sing. nominative form. Two major classes of nouns are those which have complicated vocalic endings which undergo elision and those having stem formatives ending in a consonant which is elided in the declension of the system of nouns.

The pronoun.

The pronouns are treated as adjectives for the most part. Since the Gr. verb has personal suffixes the subject pronoun is rarely if ever expressed in classical Gr., but in NT koiné this principle was breaking down, and so constructions such as, “You know,” where the pronoun is written although it is inferred in the verbal suffix, do occur (John 21:15). The usage seems to imitate the Heb. in most cases (see below). The distinction of anarthrous (without the article) nouns and articular (with the article) nouns is important when pronouns are involved or substituted. The resultant forms are more precise yet more complicated than Eng.; e.g. “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts” (Isa 6:10 as rendered in koiné Gr. in John 12:40) appears as, “He has blinded (of them) the eyes and hardened (of them) the hearts” in a painfully literal tr. The distinction usually made in Eng. between pronouns “I, you, he, she, it” and the like as opposed to adjectives “this, that” is ineffective in koine.

The prepositions, conjunctions, adverbs and particles.

The Gr. prepositions are first and foremost functional in that they indicate the relationship of the nouns and pronouns to the rest of the construction. Much of the exactness of meaning in the NT is imparted by the prepositions. No single Eng. meaning can be assigned to a Gr. preposition, as subtle differences develop from the formulation and flection with which each preposition is used. The Gr. conjunctions are less complicated than Eng., and offer few difficulties in tr. The adverb is less frequent than in Eng., even though it may be easily formed from the masc. pl. genitive by altering the final “n” to “s.” Adverbs often stand in grammatical senses where they would be improper in Eng. as replacements for prepositions. The most difficult of all the Gr. parts of speech are by far and away the particles. The NT has possibly eighty per cent fewer than the best Attic prose, but even so, many are of such indirect and stylistic importance that they are left untranslated in the Eng. VSS. They serve a special function in introducing the more unusual modal constructions of the Gr. verb. However, they are not as crucial in the NT as in Attic lit.

The verb.

The Gr. verb bears considerably more of the total meaning of any construction than its Eng. counterpart. It may be implemented with a series of pronominal suffixes denoting not only the person initiating the action, 1, 2, or 3, but also the number whether sing. or pl. as follows:

Present Indicative Active Voice

The single Gr. form not only contains both subject and verb but also may signify either indefinite or progressive action depending upon the context. With certain phonological modifications the suffix system shown above is utilized for all tenses and moods of the verb. In Gr. as in Eng., the form of the verb must indicate concord in person and number with its subject in the construction. The possibility of redundancy based on the verbal suffixes often is exploited for many more degrees of emphasis than is possible in Eng. A full synopsis of the potential forms with a suggestion of their more common meanings using only the first person sing. suffix appears below.

Present System

Further forms identical to those of the Middle Voice as noted. Many verbs are not used in the Active Voice at all and are developed only in the Middle and Passive. In such cases the Middle Voice is tr. as though it were the Active. The oblique moods, the Subjunctive and Optative do not appear in the Future.

Future System

The past tense system in Gr. has an added aspect called the “Aorist.” This fully developed system denotes action completed in respect to the time of the statement. In effect, it is an idea of indefinite past experience with respect to the continuation of the past. It is of fundamental importance in the NT where many statements regarding the work of God in history are related in the Aorist system. Unfortunately no simple equivalence with Eng. or even within Gr. itself is forthcoming, and its true force must be gained from the context in which it appears. So frequent is the Aorist that two types of Aoristic formations developed in Gr. the First and Second Aorist, both of which are found in the NT.

The Perfective System is fully developed in Eng. only with the use. of the modal auxiliary verb “has” or “had,” as in “He had had a drink of water.” In most contexts it can be tr. by Eng. past tense but frequently in Gr. its exact meaning can be ascertained only from the context. Some common and exceedingly important verbs take only perfective forms but have present or imperfect meanings. The notion of “perfect” is used in this grammatical sense in regard to completed actions in past time. It places stress on the continuing results of the action fulfilled in the past but effecting the present time of the statement. A pluperfect also appears which emphasizes past actions in past time with an existing result in past time. It frequently has been said that the precision and depth of meaning available to the Gr. language rendered it the perfect vehicle for the thought of Plato and Aristotle. In the same manner the directness and precision of koiné made it the ideal vehicle for the “Word of God.”

Perfective System

Lexical system.

The lexica of NT Gr. was drawn from many sources, classical usage, Hel. simplifications, foreign expressions and Heb. and Lat. words. All these combine to make a unified speech, but the etymology of many terms is irrecoverable. There are very few terms which have simple 1:1 equivalents in Eng. Therefore, it often is necessary to treat the tr. of one Gr. term in totally different fashion in a number of different contexts. Since Gr. is highly inflected the meanings of many words must be taken as related to the phrases in which they occur, so that no mere root meanings will everywhere suffice. The vocabulary of the NT is not large; less than twenty-five words occur over 150 times. There are however, only a restricted number of hapax legomena. So many sources are now known for koiné Gr. from non-literary texts that the meanings of all words with only a few exceptions can be located in the extra-Biblical sources. Many compounds appear in koiné, and older confined prepositions give way to broader ones. The monosyllables common to classical speech are replaced by fuller polysyllabic terms. Words with difficult forms tend to be reduced; however, certain irregular verbs dominate the NT vocabulary. The meanings of many terms shifted and in most cases either softened or faded; few really violent concepts survived the centuries. The intent to give emphasis to speech is seen in the frequent use of adjectives and their derivatives. A wide variation between the various authors of the NT in their use and number of words is apparent, and due to the differences in their education and background. However, an even greater cause of this difference is the variation in subjects which they treat. The historical book, describing as it does places and activities, tends to a larger vocabulary than the epistle.

Hebraic influences on New Testament Greek.

Before the discovery of the non-literary texts, all variations in speech from the Attic which were found in the NT were attributed to Hebraic influence. This number is now reduced drastically, but there are Heb. allusions in the text. Many of these appear to be attempts to reproduce Heb. syntax in Gr. prose. Many phrases in the gospels are reminiscent of Heb. constructions. The writings of John show an especial affinity for the vernacular forms of speech and for constructions found in the LXX and the DSS. It is therefore perfectly proper to refer to both Hebraisms, possibly Aramaisms, and Septuagintisms within the NT lexica. Undoubtedly the transliteration of many names into the LXX set a pattern followed by the NT writers. The striking of all such Sem. idioms is the frequent use of καί, G2779, “and,” often with some additional adverb to imitate the Heb. waw, “and” so common in the Pentateuchal narratives. There is no doubt that this gives the text an immediacy and urgency absent from Attic and Hel. Gr. Another such case is the frequent use of instrumental ἐν, G1877, “by,” “by means of” as in 1 Corinthians 6:11 “—you were justified in (by means of) the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” for the Heb. ב, “by means of.” In many passages these subtle variations from the Hel. idiom indicate the pattern of speech actually used by the Lord and His disciples during His ministry.

The study of NT Greek

The text of the NT slowly appeared and was assembled at several centers during the apostolic age. With the barbarian invasions which overtook the W Rom. empire after the 4th cent. a.d., the knowledge of Gr. was lost to all but the clergy of the Byzantine church with its center at Constantinople. In time the Western Church under the rising Vatican forbade any Scriptures but the Vul. VS of St. Jerome (a.d. 340-420). It was only through the Jews of Spain and the displaced scholars who fled before the advance of Islam that any knowledge of the NT tongue was preserved. Of all the accomplishments of the Renaissance and the Biblical humanists this shines the brightest, that they infused life into the study of the koiné. Distinct periods in the study of the language and the text of the NT are distinguishable in the late Medieval, Renaissance, Reformation and Early Modern phases of Western civilization. The careful scientific study of the language began in the 17th cent., but it was not until the efforts of lower critical scholars such as Constantin von Tischendorf, and the papyrologist Adolf Deissmann recovered both the text and the comparative non-Biblical material in the 19th cent. That NT scholarship came into its own. Modern koiné scholarship has utilized all of the statistical and linguistic tools of the 20th cent. to discuss and expand the meaning of the NT in its idiom. The work of James Hope Moulton, an Englishman, and Archibald Thomas Robertson, an American, with a number of scholars in Germany raised the study of the koiné and its unique style to a fully recognized science in its own right. In the meantime, the work of the lexicographers was growing even more rapidly, and year by year the list of words appearing only in the NT has shrunk until it is hardly worthy of mention. The early work of word collecting reached a plateau with the lexicon of Walter Bauer and has matured even further with the appearance in Ger. and Eng. of the Theological Wordbook edited by Gerhard Kittel. Yet many more problems remain to be solved and the fascination of the speech of the apostles lingers on undiminished by the ages.


Classical Greek studies: W. Wackernagel, Altindische Grammatik (1880); Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyclopädie (1894-); W. W. Goodwin, A Greek Grammar (1895); K. Brugmann, Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen (1896-1916); F. Bechtel, Die griechischen Dialekte, 3 vols. (1921-1924); C. D. Buck, Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin (1933); O. Hoffmann and A. Debrunner, Geschichte der griechischen Sprache, 2 vols. (1953, 1954); E. Schwyzer, Griechische Grammatik, 2 vols. 2nd. ed. (1953); C. D. Buck, The Greek Dialects, rev. ed. (1955); L. R. Palmer, Achaeans and Indo-Europeans (1955); J. Chadwick, “The Greek Dialects and Greek Prehistory,” Greece and Rome 2nd. series III (1956) 38ff.; M. Ventris and J. Chadwick, Documents in Mycenaean Greek (1956); A. Thumb and A. Scherer, Handbuch der griechischen Dialekte, pt. 2 (1959); E. Vilborg, A Tentative Grammar of Mycenaean Greek (1960); J. Chadwick, “The Prehistory of the Greek Language,” CAH rev. ed. (1963); ed. H. Birnbaum and J. Puhvel, Ancient Indo-European Dialects (1966).

Old Testament and New Testament Greek studies: E. de W. Burton, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek (1893); J. W. Burgon, The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels (1896); J. H. Moulton, W. F. Howard and N. Turner, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, 3 vols. (1906-1963); L. Radermacher, Neutestamentliche Grammatik (1925); A. Deissmann, Light From the Ancient East (1927); G. Kittel, et al., Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament (1933 -) Eng. tr. TDNT (1964 -); E. Mayser, Grammatik der griechischen Papyri aus der Ptolemäerzeit (1934); A. Rahlfs, Septuaginta, 2 vols. (1935); A. T. Robertson, “Language of the New Testament,” IDB vol. III, 1826-1832 (1939); J. H. Moulton and G. Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Illustrated from Papyri and Other Non-Literary Sources (1942); L. Radermacher, Koine (1947); B. M. Metzger, Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek (1955); F. Rienecker, Sprachlicher Schlüssel zum Griechischen Neuen Testament (1956); W. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (1957); ed. G. D. Kilpatrik, ’H Καινὴ Διαθήκη (1958); ed. K. Aland, F. L. Cross, J. Danielou, H. Riesenfeld and W. C. van Unnik, Studia Evangelica (1959); eds. A. Huck, H. Lietzmann and F. L. Cross, Synopsis of the First Three Gospels (1959); C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom Book of the New Testament Greek, 2nd. ed. (1959); B. de Solages, A Greek Synopsis of the Gospels (1959); J. Barr, The Semantics of Biblical Language (1961); F. Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (1961); K. Beyer, Semitische Syntax im Neuen Testament (1962); M. E. Thrall, Greek Particles in the New Testament (1962); E. Nestle, Novum Testamentum Graece cum apparatu critico curavit (1963); M. Zerwick, Biblical Greek (1963) ed. K. Aland, Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum (1964); E. van N. Goetchius, The Language of the New Testament (1965); E. Risch, “Griechisch,” Lexikon der Alten Welt (1965) cols. 1165-1171; N. Turner, Grammatical Insights into the New Testament (1965); ed. S. Benko, The Catacombs and the Colosseum (1971).

The study of New Testament Greek: C. Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Graece 8th ed. maj. (1869-1872); M. R. Vincent, A History of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (1899); F. G. Kenyon, Recent Developments in the Textual Criticism of the Greek Bible (1932); The Text of the Greek Bible (1937); B. M. Metzger, Chapters in the History of New Testament Textual Criticism (1963); L. Deuel, Testaments of Time (1965) 257-347; F. P. Dinneen, An Introduction to General Linguistics (1967) 70-113.

See also

  • Language of the New Testament