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Transitioning from Koine to Classical Greek

Alex Madlinger

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Hey Classical people,


I'm sneaking over here from the Religion board to ask a question. I was admitted to the MA in Religions in Antiquity at Minnesota, and that degree is housed in a classics program. As such, I'll be expected to pass exams in Classical Greek. However, as a seminary-trained student of early Judaism and Christianity, I've only had exposure to Koine Greek. Does anyone have any advice for me about this transition?

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I don't have a lot of advice, except that it would be worth it to get an attic greek grammar (Smyth is the standard) or textbook. The grammar in koine is simpler (from what I understand, though I don't have any experience in koine personally) and there is a whole mood that don't exist in koine (optative, used much more frequently than subjunctive in classical Greek). Other than that, I would say just start reading some classical texts on your own. Intro commentaries like Helm's Plato will help with some of the trickier classical grammar. Congrats on the acceptance, and good luck!

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I would recommend making the transition through the Atticizing church fathers.  As RomulusAugustus mentioned, Koine tends not to use the optative, but it really depends on what you're reading.  The style of Chrysostom and Athanasius, for example, is more Attic than the NT but still easier than, say, Demosthenes or even Plato.  So maybe something like Acts -> Athanasius (Vita Antonii or De incarnatione) -> Chrysostom (any of the homilies) -> Basil (Ad adolescentes) -> maybe Plato.  Xenophon is relatively easy, so he'd also be good for getting used to the optative and other differences from Koine.  In addition to the resources RomulusAugustus mentioned, the Bryn Mawr commentaries are excellent for just getting through the text, as are the Oklahoma Classical Culture ones.  Geoffrey Steadman has quite a few free commentaries on his website.  


I think some Homer is also on the MA reading list; Theodorus Gaza wrote an Atticizing prose paraphrase of the Iliad, which would be useful if you want to practice Epic or Attic by means of the other.

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