New Videos from the Biblical Language Center

You’ll want to be sure to read about and check out the new videos the Biblical Language Center has posted here, taken during their recent “Jesus in Jerusalem” Koine Greek immersion experience in January.

The first video provides a good example of some simple circling techniques that can be used with any text (here, the lead up to the triumphal entry). Take a sentence like ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ χρείαν ἔχει (Mar 11:3) and ask questions like: τίς ἔχει χρείαν; τίνος ἔχει χρείαν; and τί ἔχει ὁ κύριος;

A second short video shows some discussion of Barabbas and his activities, while another video provides some TPR-ish work on clothing and actions associated with clothing. Can you say ‘pants’ in Greek? Can you smell someone’s stinky feet in Greek? If not, perhaps it’s time you learned Greek . . .

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3 Responses to New Videos from the Biblical Language Center

  1. Christophe Rico has also just released a nearly hour long video

    where he covers quite a few words and constructions.

    ἑωράκαμεν τόν μὲν Βυθ, τὸν δὲ Ρικω, τὸν δὲ Michael Halcomb, τὀν δὲ Μᾶρκον. πότε οὖν ὀψόμεθα τὸν Δανιηλ Στρεεττ?

    • Χαιροις Δανιηλ. Αρτι νυν ειδον σε λαλουντα εν ΥουΤυβε.

      Καλον εστιν. Καλως λαλεις. Παντα σου λογους συνηκα. Αρα το «πρασσω τα πραγματα» TPR εστιν?

      Another brick in the village it takes to learn a language.

  2. Demetrios Zapatores says:

    Ah, Professor Streett! I am so very heartened to learn of your didaskalia – I also have been building this same approach over the past decade, yet I enter the overall program from another perspective: According to “my gospel of Koine teaching,” the contention of “Greek being a dead language” has never existed. For I am bilingual in English and the Modern Greek dialect, and attended Church as a child where services were always conducted in a form of Koine: Indeed! This dialect has always been very much alive, and has never ceased to be spoken, heard and read throughout our two millennia of Christianity.

    I am impressed that you hold to the modern Greek pronunciation and apply it to communicate the Koine dialect. Yes, the pronunciation may have changed somewhat over the centuries, and there are, admittedly, certain issues with the modern pronunciation; yet you are right to use it, as it is entirely valid, and culturally and linguistically descended from the Koine of the Apostles. And while the academic pronunciation has its points, it sounds wholly awkward and artificial when spoken – because unlike the modern pronunciation, it IS awkward and artificial!

    With your understanding of Koine as a living language, along with its promotion employing the Modern Greek dialect, I should like to encourage you to take another step and explore the dialect in its natural environment, wherein the Koine Gospel and Apostolic teachings have continued to this day, namely within the temple walls of a Greek Orthodox Christian Church. For one as learned as yourself, I believe it would be of service in your research – and perhaps, it may even offer edification in terms of your Christian walk.

    I am able to say this as one with an Evangelical background in the Jesus People Movement and in various Protestant Churches, and who, like Duane Pederson, James Bernstein, Jack Sparks and others, have also made the transition into Eastern Orthodox Christianity. And here is where we find the branch of Christianity that has providentially held the guardianship of the Koine Hellenic Dialect for two thousand years.

    A couple of points I’d like to share: I tell my students that Greek is a language perhaps more conservative than most, since elements of Classical, Koine and Medieval Greek are extant in the Modern dialect, so that a hypothetical time-machine could take us back 2,000 years where we’d hear some ancient speech that sounds identical to the modern. This is borne out in your video, where we hear “pou didaskeis?” which is the same in both Koine and Modern dialects. And this, of course, is unlike the case of English, which has undergone more extreme changes, since the Anglo-Saxon of Old English would be unintelligible and foreign to the modern ear.

    Another matter, re: Prof. Rico’s pronunciation of “soi” – he makes it sound like “soy” – the bean;
    and it has continually been presented this way to us in Anglophone teaching environments.
    This is one artificiality that has carried over from an “Erasmian” interpretation, and is actually an Anglicism. We notice that accents always appear atop the second element of a Greek diphthong – and there is a reason for this. Apart from any theory of tonality of accents, vowels and diphthongs have always been uttered with a syllabic stress; however the focus of stress would always go toward the end part, the resolution of the syllable. So it is “unGreek” to pronounce “soi” as though it were “sO-i” with emphasis on the first, omicron half of the diphthong. Better to pronounce it with emphasis on the second, iota half of the diphthong and say “so-I” . When done so with a rapidity, its sound would also explain the transition to the final Modern Greek pronunciation, which has resulted in the reduction of “oi” to the simpler “i” -iota pronunciation. (The implications here traverse the entire sound system, and are included in the larger discussion/debate and research of my own Koine Reconstruction, the subject of my dissertation, which is as yet Incomplete.)

    I am most appreciative of how you are bringing Koine Greek to life in the classroom, as it should be, a language not only of intensive study and extensive scholarship, but first and foremost a spoken idiom that gives us a more direct connection with the Oracles of God.

    God Grant You Many Years,

    Demetrios-Jas. Th. Tsapatoris
    Professor of Koine Greek
    St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary
    South Bound Brook, NJ


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