Historical Greek Pronunciation
Quite a while ago, I decided to learn the ‘historical Greek’ pronunciation of New Testament Greek. At university I had learnt the usual Erasmus vocalisation, and was happy to continue doing so, whether in private devotions, or in the seminar room.
Happy, that is, until I heard this. As useful as these audio recordings may be, the American accent (sorry, no offence meant against any of my readers) on the Erasmus pronunciation made my gums recede half an inch up my teeth. And so I immediately started looking for alternatives.
Of course, Chrys Caragounis is the man to read on this, and you can pick up his book, The Development of Greek and the New Testament, from Mohr Siebeck for a mere (!) 129 euro here. Rather more accessible on the price-front is his online article on this subject, which outlines further reasons for abandoning the Erasmus pronunciation – and on more substantial grounds than merely ‘personal taste’. Nevertheless, after listening to those American Erasmus recordings, ‘personal taste’ was quite sufficient reason for me!
He also has a rather helpful CD Rom ‘An Easy and Quick Course in How to Pronounce Greek as a Greek’ available for purchase – though I believe you’ll have to contact him personally for details.
As a sample, here is a comparison for you to hear, between the American Erasmus, and ‘Historical Greek’ pronunciations of that most beautiful of texts, Ephesians 1:3-4 (‘Euvloghto.j o` qeo.j kai. path.r tou/ kuri,ou h`mw/n VIhsou/ Cristou/( o` euvlogh,saj h`ma/j evn pa,sh euvlogi,a pneumatikh/ evn toi/j evpourani,oij evn Cristw/ (for copyright reasons I’m ending the ‘Historical Greek’ sample here) kaqw.j evxele,xato h`ma/j evn auvtw/ pro. katabolh/j ko,smou ei=nai h`ma/j a`gi,ouj kai. avmw,mouj katenw,pion auvtou/ evn avga,ph’).
Obviously, the bottom line is that however you sound when you speak NT Greek, it doesn’t matter. What counts is that you adopt a known system, and use it consistently. Just, whatever you do, please don’t sound like the woman in the audio page linked to above. That’s just wrong. Morally.