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Reading ancient texts for Modern Greek speakers
by Guest User - Monday, 12 March 2007, 05:26 PM
  Is there alot more to learn between speaking and reading Modern Greek to reading ancient texts such as the Septuagint or the new testament?
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Re: Reading ancient texts for Modern Greek speakers
by Greg Brush - Monday, 12 March 2007, 10:16 PM
  Oh, yes, absolutely!

The New Testament was written in Koine (common) Greek about 100AD, while the Septuagint is a Greek translation several centuries earlier of the Hebrew scriptures. As such, they retain a number of significant grammatical, not to mention lexical, differences from Modern Greek. The following observations are all for the language of that era:

1. Dative case still exists, which is gone in Modern.
2. Conjugated subjunctive mood still exists, and you may even find the old optative mood as well. Modern Greek no longer has an optative mood, and the formation of subjunctive is somewhat different now.
3. The conjugated perfect tenses still exist. In Modern, these are now composed tenses, formed from an auxiliarly verb (έχω) and another invariable component.
4. Inflected participles still exist. These are almost entirely gone in Modern. Furthermore, infinitives still exist. These are entirely gone in Modern. For this reason, a number of grammatical constructions of that era which required either subjunctive, optative, a participle, or an infinitive now are expressed in a different manner.
6. A number of words over the intervening centuries have changed their meanings, dropped out of use, or now compete with a newer Modern word, often from foreign sources over the last 400 years. On the other hand, there's a lot a basic vocabulary that's identical or very similar, and despite the spelling reform of about 20 years ago, a lot of the current spellings are still identical, or very close, to those of 2000 years ago.

The Koine is a transition from the ancient/classical language to the Greek of the modern era. I have never seen a Septuagint, but since it predates the New Testament by several centuries, I assume it is more conserving of some of these older usages that were already beginning to change in the koine period.

Greg Brush