Koine and Modern Greek are both descendants of the ancient Mycenaean dialect, which has evolved since the late Bronze Age. Though both are relatively similar, they have many articulate differences that set them apart. In this blog, we will explore the history, differences, and usages of both languages, which shape our understanding of the New Testament today.
Koine Greek, also known as Biblical Greek, is an ancient language first studied by classist scholars in Early Modern Times, undergoing a surge of research not until the 19th century. Before then, any branch of Greek other than Ancient Greek or Attic Greek was heavily frowned upon but finally gained historical recognition during the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire. It has thus exploded in popularity to become a common tongue throughout the Mediterranean region, as well as being the believed language of Jesus and the New Testament writers. It has spread across the world to be a standard means of communication, especially for Biblical Greek translators, who devote their studies to decoding Koine’s complicated and expressive grammar and vocabulary. When learning Koine Greek online during one of our modern Greek online courses, this is a topic that is covered extensively.
Modern Greek was born through Koine Greek—traced back to Dorian Greek settlers in 700 BC. The end of the Medieval Greek period and the emergence of Modern Greek is often connected to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, despite the fact that Modern Greek linguistics have appeared far before, around the fourth century AD. Regardless, scholars and researchers claim that through its frequent use in the Byzantine court and its sudden acceptance into the Greek Orthodox Church, the language went through rapid changes. When the Byzantine Empire fell, the language continued its activity in the Greek Orthodox Church and was later polished by Greek Enlightenment scholars.
Koine Greek is far more particular in its grammar and syntax rules than Modern Greek, as well as following inflectional linguistic morphology. This means that word endings depend on the situation, quantity, gender, and other elements. Retrospectively, Modern Greek relies more on how the words are arranged in a sentence to determine its meaning.
Phonics is also a huge part of Koine Greek study—with pronunciation setting the tone for a word’s definition or emotion. Retrospectively, Modern Greek relies more on how the words are arranged in a sentence to determine its meaning. When it comes to the Koine alphabet, ‘zeta’ is pronounced with an ‘s,’ while in Modern Greek, it is ‘z.’
As Modern Greek has developed from Koine, both languages contain similar vocabulary, only bigger differences in syntax. However, the meaning of certain vocabulary words has changed over time. For example, one of the most important terms for love in our modern Greek online course, ‘agape,’ means the same thing as ‘philia’ in Modern Greek. Strangely enough, ‘philia’ in Koine Greek is more of a friendly love than unconditional love, which is more defined by ‘agape.’
Though Koine and Modern Greek are practically considered the same language, they are different variations of each other that hold their own uniqueness. By understanding both, Biblical Greek translators can decipher the New Testament with more efficiency and a better understanding of Greece’s rich history.
At Greek To Me, we help students bring scripture to life with comprehensive online Koine Greek classes and a mnemonic approach to God’s teachings. Our unique spin on the Koine Greek course uses scientifically proven retention methods to aid the brain in absorbing complicated concepts. With hundreds of stimulating practice problems, scholar-written scriptures, and insightful academic teachings, we can help you incorporate your values into life the way God intended.
For more information on how to learn Koine Greek, enroll now and get connected with an abundance of exciting Koine Greek classes.