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[John_Lit] Johannine Greek

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  • McGrath, James
    Bob, I think there is a spectrum rather than simply two categories of good or bad Greek, or anything along those lines. Mark s Greek is more colloquial,
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2003
      Bob, I think there is a spectrum rather than simply two categories of
      'good' or 'bad' Greek, or anything along those lines. Mark's Greek is
      more colloquial, the author of Revelation is hard to classify but it is
      clear that Greek is not his first language. The two best examples of
      literary Greek in the New Testament are Hebrews and Luke-Acts, with
      James perhaps in third place. Paul's Greek is good, but not as polished
      as Hebrews (the key to discerning that Hebrews is not written by Paul is
      that the former author finishes his sentences!). John is perhaps best
      described as 'simple' Greek. It is in no way 'bad' Greek, but nor is it
      the polished literary and Greek rhetorical style of Hebrews. To simply
      say that 'If John is not the best Greek in the New Testament then Mark's
      style must be more literary and thus assumptions are turned on their
      head' to my mind makes no sense. It is like comparing the English of
      Queen Elizabeth, someone from London's East side, someone from
      Liverpool, a New Yorker, someone from Quebec, a native of Hawaii, an
      English speaker from South Africa, someone who immigrated to Chicago
      from Italy 5 years ago, and saying that if the latter's English is less
      polished then the South African must move to the top of the list! Greek,
      like English, was spoken differently in different parts of the world.
      When a language becomes something of an international lingua franca,
      this is what happens. Many in Ireland have excellent diction, because
      eloqution lessons are taken by many who don't want to have their future
      prospects determined by their brogue. Thus it is impossible to
      categorize authors geographically based on their language ability. It
      was possible to obtain a Greek education in places like Samaria and
      Galilee (I won't say Judea since that is less certain). It was also
      presumably possible to be part of an immigrant community in a major
      Greco-Roman city and to not speak Greek fluently, or even particularly
      well. However, there may be regionalisms that may be more indicative -
      just as someone who says "Yer man is up to his oxters in trouble, so he
      is!" can be identified as being from Ulster. :)

      I hope this clarifies my point, as well as answering your question.


      Dr. James F. McGrath
      Assistant Professor of Religion
      Butler University, Indianapolis
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