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Difficulty of Greek texts outside the NT

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#1 Richard Liantonio

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 06:18 AM

I'm trying to branch out and read more Greek texts outside of the NT and am wondering if anyone could comment on ranking the general level of difficulty of texts outside the Bible (specifically the texts available in Accordance). I understand that each group of texts has a wide variety of difficulty, but any guidance would be helpful, no matter how detailed or generalized.

Perhaps even more specifically, of the texts available on Accordance, what would be the easiest ones outside the NT, which ones would be moderate and which ones would be challenging. Types of answers I'm looking for are "Ignatius of Antioch is comparable to Paul in difficulty," "Philo is really hard," "the didache is pretty easy Greek," etc.


#2 Bob Kuo

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 10:46 AM

I had a Greek reading class in Seminary that used Decker's "Koine Greek Reader: Selections from the New Testament, Septuagint, and Early Christian Writers" (http://www.amazon.co...t/dp/0825424429). As the title suggests, you start out with some NT readings and end up reading some of the LXX (Septuagint), the Church Fathers, and also some of the early ecumenical creeds. I highly recommend the work book if you are trying to transition to Greek outside of the NT.

For me, the most profitable reading was in the LXX. FIrst, it helped me when studying how the NT uses the OT as the NT writers often quote the LXX and sometimes the LXX translation differs significantly from the MT (Hebrew Masoretic Text). Second, I studied the translation style of LXX in both Amos and Habakkuk by comparing every place the LXX differed from the MT.

Some of the difficulty of reading the LXX is that dictionaries like BDAG or Louw-Nida do not necessarily contain the words found in the LXX that are not in the NT. Another difficulty is that the LXX's grammar sometimes reflects the text it was translated from and may be awkward Greek. Nevertheless, I recommend reading the first few chapters of Genesis in the LXX - if you have a decent proficiency in reading NT Greek you should be able to handle it.

#3 A. Smith

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 04:01 PM

Decker's koine reader is a fantastic place to start. I find the LXX pretty comparable in many places to the NT. When I was starting out, I translated Ruth as my first extra-NT passage. It was helpful. May want to shy away from wisdom and prophetic lit for right now if you're beginning. I also find the early church fathers fairly simple because they are so influenced by the NT. I use the AFL modules in accordance for this. All in all, though, I would start with the LXX. As someone has wisely said, sell all your books and buy a copy of the LXX. It'll do you more good than all the others for understanding the NT (sell them all, except your grammars, that is!)

One last thing. Don't get too hung up on vocab. This is the most difficult part of branding into a new corpus. Just accept the idea of mousing over for definitions (do your self a favor and turn off tagging ID for now). I wouldn't feel guilty about needing to look up defs, if I were you.

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#4 Outis



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Posted 27 April 2012 - 04:32 AM

I might be the wrong person to be commenting here, but, perhaps, my words might be of some use. In school they had us learn attic greek first and then koine only after we had obtained mastery of the more ancient texts. So, it's difficult for me to comment too much on the comparative difference in difficulty between too many of the texts. But if you can walk through Luke, Hebrews and especially 2 Peter, then you should be able to walk through the AF-T module. Should a text have a more archaic style, it might be good to get Ann Groton's intro to Attic http://www.amazon.co...n/dp/158510034X. Or maybe Rod Decker has something to bridge the gap.

It would be useful to walk through the LXX too. But, remember that the LXX is a translation from the hebrew. This might seem like such an obvious statement that it isn't worth mentioning. But it's very important to remember, since there are times when the LXX goes pretty functional equivalent, and on the other hand, there are times it's almost too literal. In either case, the solution to figuring out what it is saying is not studying the greek more, but instead studying the hebrew. Way back when we were in our ecclesiastical latin class in college we got to a phrase in the vulgate OT which, literally translated reads "it became a long time till his nose became red." We had no idea what Jerome was doing. What he was doing was translating the hebrew idiom literally. Unless you know Hebrew, you'll miss the idiom and be frustrated with the translators of the LXX.

Have fun. It sounds like a worthwhile project.
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#5 R. Mansfield

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 03:40 PM

Rod Decker's Koine Greek Reader is mentioned earlier in this thread. It is now available for Accordance!

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#6 bpkantor



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Posted 22 January 2019 - 10:08 AM

I think one thing that is also worth taking into account is what you individually and personally are most familiar with. In other words, while Plutarch's Lives might be difficult in terms of Greek, someone who is an expert on Alexander, or Cicero, or one of the others covered in the Lives might have a better time going because they know the subject matter.


The same could be said about Josephus and the history of the Jewish revolt.


All things being the same, though, I would says some of the Apostolic Fathers will be easiest to branch out into after reading the New Testament.

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For recordings of Koine Greek texts (biblical and non-biblical), Koine Greek animated cartoons (both biblical and non-biblical texts), and resources on pronunciation, see:



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