Google Group: Ancient Greek Best Practices

Paul D. Nitz introduced me this week to a new Google Group entitled Ancient Greek Best Practices. The group is intended for discussion of “the Communicative Approach.” Here’s the way their welcome page explains it:

The Ancient Greek Best Practices Group exists to discuss communicative approaches to learning/teaching Greek.  This approach views Greek as communication, not code.  This discussion board is rather disinterested in debating whether the Grammar/Translation method is superior.  We are all convinced (or deeply interested) in a Communicative Approach to teaching Ancient Greek.

The Communicative Approach can include such methods as Total Physical Response  (TPR – James Asher) and Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS – Blaine Ray), picture books and audio (Living Koine), “shadowing,” or other methods we will invent here on this discussion board.

You can join the group by here.

You can see Paul demonstrate the method with his students in Malawi on Youtube. He has posted videos of several lessons there.

I would like to thank Paul for sharing his work with me and invite him to tell us all more about it.

Updates to bibliographic entries for Bortone and Luraghi

I have updated the entries for the following two books

  • Luraghi, Silvia. On the meaning of prepositions and cases: Semantic roles in Ancient Greek. Studies in language companion series 67. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2003.
  • Bortone, Pietro. Greek prepositions from antiquity to the present. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

in A Comprehensive Bibliography of Hellenistic Greek Linguistics. The updates include a brief description of each book and a link to Mike Aubrey’s reviews.

Thank you for a very successful 2012

In 2012 the readers of this blog have come from 140 different countries. I want to thank you for your overwhelming support!

It has been a real pleasure to interact with such a wide diversity of readers!

Coptic fragment presenting Jesus as saying "my wife"?

The following video from Harvard professor Karen L. King has received a huge amount of discussion online over the last few weeks.

Is the fragment directly relevant to the discussion of Hellenistic Greek? No. It is written in Coptic, and there is no credible evidence that it is a translation of an earlier Greek original. While Dr. King assumes the fragment to be a translation, I have found no evidence to support this assumption.

Do I think the Coptic fragment is authentic? I’m skeptical. The provenance of the fragment is unknown. This is a serious problem for any attempt to argue for authenticity.

Dr. King’s assertion that the fragment is evidence of a previously unknown Gospel is highly questionable. It rests on assumptions that I see as difficult to support. If authentic, the fragment was once part of a larger document of some kind. Was that document a Gospel? Perhaps. But it could also have been a letter or a work of religious fiction.

Dr. King has been clear that the fragment does not provide evidence that Jesus was married. If it is authentic, it provides evidence only of what a later group of Christians thought about whether he was married, not evidence of the historical reliability of their thinking. By assuming the fragment to be a translation of an earlier Greek original, though, Dr. King is able to assert that the view it represents on Jesus marital status dates to an earlier period than I believe the evidence actually supports.

While I think it is unlikely that the fragment is actually authentic, that does not mean that I reject the idea that Jesus could have been married.

The question of Jesus marital status did not arise until at least a hundred years after his death, at a time when the early church was struggling with whether Christians should marry, or at the least with whether clergy should marry. The canonical gospels are entirely silent on the issue. [O.K., so here’s the only possible tiny connection between this post and the Greek texts!] They say neither that he was or that he wasn’t married. They never mention a wife, but neither do they assert that he didn’t have one. The assertion that he was single throughout his life is based on theology, not the Greek texts.

If responses appear to this post, I will try to steer them toward discussion of the relevant Greek texts and meanings of particular Greek words and phrases.

Greek-Spanish Lexicon and LMPG Online: new digital resources

On Dec. 19, Juan Rodríguez Somolinos notified me of the online publication of a small part of the new Diccionario Griego-Español (DGE). Here’s what he had to say:

The members of the Diccionario Griego-Español project (DGE, CSIC, Madrid) are pleased to announce the release of ‘DGE online’ (, first digital edition of the published section (α-ἔξαυος) of our Lexicon. Although still in progress, the DGE, written under the direction of Prof. F.R. Adrados, is currently becoming the largest bilingual dictionary of ancient Greek: it already includes about 60,000 entries and 370,000 citations of ancient authors and texts. Simultaneously, we are releasing the edition of ‘LMPG online’ (, the digital version of the Lexicon of Magic and Religion in the Greek Magical Papyri, written by Luis Muñoz Delgado (Supplement V of DGE). The digitization of this smaller Lexicon is considered as a successful prototype of this ambitious digitization initiative: further on DGE online will be improved with similar advanced features, such as the implementation of a customized search engine. Any critics and suggestions on that matter will be very welcome. We hope these new open access dictionaries will be of your interest and will become, to some extent, valuable tools for Ancient Greek studies.

What is available right now is limited, but the project should eventually provide a very valuable resource for students of Ancient Greek who are able to read Spanish.

Αλφα (and coming posts on pronunciation)

I added a page today giving a brief history of the pronunciation of Α/α.

This is the first in a set of pages I intend to write on issues of pronunciation. These pages will not be linked from the main page of this blog, but will form part of the materials supporting my online grammar. You can find the one on ἄλφα here. It is not intended to be an authoritative source, but a simple explanation for the curious.

Kαλὰ Χριστούγεννα / Merry Christmas!

Every year at this time I post a Christmas greeting including the Greek phrase καλά χριστούγεννα. I wish all of you a beautiful and joyous holiday.

To hear the pronunciation of καλά χριστούγεννα, click the triangle below.


New audio added November 25, 2016


Scope of a Hellenistic Greek Grammar (again)

Between January of 2010 and January of 2011, I posted five separate discussions and invited comments on the topic of what belongs in an advanced grammar of Hellenistic Greek. Some of those posts generated quite thoughtful responses, but they have until now been scattered at several different locations on the blog. Here is an index listing all five so that they can be read together (if you have some time to kill, or if you’re just enthusiastic enough about Ancient Greek to care).

Scope of a Hellenistic Greek Grammar

Scope of a Hellenistic Greek Grammar II: Jewish and Early Christian Literature

Scope of a Hellenistic Greek Grammar III: Papyri

Scope of a Hellenistic Greek Grammar IV: the now-defunct BDF project

Scope of a Hellenistic Greek Grammar V: The “Problem” of Dialect

If you would like to add to any of these discussions, it’s not too late.