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Koine to Attic Suggestions?

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Koine to Attic Suggestions?

Postby SomaSemaPsyches » Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:51 am

Hello everyone,

I recently realized that most of my Greek googling leads me to this site, so I made an account. And for my first post, I was hoping some of you could help me out by recommending good texts for transitioning from Koine to Attic.

Here's where I'm at: I've had three official seminary semesters of Koine (along with a reading group for another semester). I worked through Clayton Croy's Primer and Wallace's Basics of New Testament Syntax. I've memorized all NT occurrences up to about 15 words; and with my slight knowledge of Attic and Greek Philosophy generally speaking I'd say I have a vocabulary of around 1,000 words. Provided I have some minor vocab help (Zondervan's NT Reader), I can sight-read all of the gospels, revelation, 1, 2, and 3 John and 1 Corinthians, but I struggle with sight-reading the rest of the NT.

But I can hardly make out a single sentence of Plato — and I'm about to begin a Ph.D. program in Ancient Philosophy! I've tried to rectify this using Grotton's Alpha to Omega but I'm not finding the sentences entertaining enough … nor numerous enough. I've completed chapter 34 in this; and I can translate the sentences near perfectly, but I'm not sight-reading them like I was with my NT sentences. I need a pen and paper and some slight diagramming to make sense of them. This doesn't feel right to me, and makes me think I'm doing something wrong. (Or is Attic simply just that much harder than Koine?)

Does anyone have any suggestions about how to ease this transition? specifically a text that I would like? I love Wheelock's Latin, if that helps. And I can handle far more Vocab than most texts provide. I just don't know what to do. I think Greek 1 and even Greek 2 at a university would be a waste, and yet I don't feel prepared for Greek 3 (third semester, not third year) — which is where I'd like to be in the next couple of months.

I appreciate the help!

Doug
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Re: Koine to Attic Suggestions?

Postby Qimmik » Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:22 pm

I don't think koine Greek is all that different from Attic Greek. But Plato manages to sound like real conversation, with all the ellipses, anacoloutha, idioms, etc. It isn't as straightforward as reading, say, Caesar in Latin. And most students who come to New Testament Greek from a Christian background already know most of the text in English almost by heart, which makes it easier.

The standard textbook for Attic Greek today for post-secondary school students seems to be Mastronarde:

http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Attic-Greek-Donald-Mastronarde/dp/0520275713/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406029464&sr=8-1&keywords=mastronarde+greek

People seem to hate it, though.

What Plato did you try to read? The Apology is the easiest Plato with which I'm familiar. Just taking a quick look on Amazon, I found this edition, which seems to provide copious notes on the language for students in just your situation:

http://www.amazon.com/Plato-Apology-Greek-Edition/dp/0865163480/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1406029583&sr=8-9&keywords=plato+apology

Morwood's Oxford Grammar of Classical Greek has all the essentials of Attic grammar, with a brief note at the end on New Testament Greek, in a concise and inexpensive form:

http://www.amazon.com/Oxford-Grammar-Classical-Greek-Morwood/dp/0195218515/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406030340&sr=1-2&keywords=morwood+oxford+greek&dpPl=1

My suggestion would be to start reading--or rather engaging with--the Apology with a text like the one above that provides extensive help with the Greek. Make sure you can analyze every verb form and every syntactic construction. Equip yourself with a good translation, but only turn to it after you've wrestled with the Greek, and use it to check your own understanding of the Greek. Translations of Plato and other classical authors tend to be less literal than NT translations, I think, which is less helpful in unpacking the syntax.

At the same time as you are engaging with the Apology, I would suggest that you try to work your way through either Mastronarde or Morwood. Focus particular attention on the basic verb forms and the syntax. Morwood is particularly good on getting at the essentials of the syntax without the clutter of fine points, which you will acquire over time by reading. The noun inflexions you should already be familiar with, but I think some of the basic Attic verb forms are rare in NT Greek (e.g., the optative?). Don't try to master all the irregular principal parts of all the verbs at once--you can acquire them as you encounter them. But try to get the big picture--the basic verb paradigms.

But no matter how you go about it, you will have to put in a lot of effort.

Good luck!
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Re: Koine to Attic Suggestions?

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:19 pm

And most students who come to New Testament Greek from a Christian background already know most of the text in English almost by heart, which makes it easier.


I agree with that. I made this transition from NT-LXX to Homer & Tragedy and it was painful!

Plato Dialogues are much easier than Tragedy. Vocabulary and syntax are quite different from NT greek which often sounds like the LXX. Attic uses particles all the time. Hyperbaton is frequent. Dialogue often omits anything that can be assumed. So don't expect well formed clauses. All of this and more will eventually loosen up your reading skills so you don't expect nice tidy little clauses like you find in the Gospels.

My only suggestion is to get a diglot of Plato or use hyper-text. It beats staring at the incomprehensible.
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Re: Koine to Attic Suggestions?

Postby Markos » Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:53 pm

SomaSemaPsyches wrote:But I can hardly make out a single sentence of Plato...


I would strongly recommend Frank Beetham's book:

http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Greek-Pl ... 1904675565

Very few things I ever did with Greek were more helpful than this book. It is one of the few Greek resources that I would pay full price for.
(Or is Attic simply just that much harder than Koine?)

It is.
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Re: Koine to Attic Suggestions?

Postby akhnaten » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:05 am

Hey. I don't know what work or edition of Plato you're trying to read, but if it is straight-Greek with no commentary, that would be very hard.
My first suggestion, I guess, would be to find the syllabi for 1st-3rd semester Greek at your uni, and see how comfortable you are with whatever Greek texts are read.
I don't think Alpha to Omega is all that good. I have heard it does not prepare people for reading Greek, but that may be the fault of unmotivated students or lackluster professors.
You may want to look at Mastronarde (it is boring) or Hansen and Quinn (it is boring)--esp. if they are taught at your uni. Maybe your Greek level is high enough you can easily manage the boring parts of the book and get right to the chapters where you're reading Greek authors.
--
On beginning Plato, I can offer a couple resources. I am just beginning Greek this summer (reading Mastronarde's text and Croy's), and the goal is to begin reading moderately annotated Plato in January. I have looked at some texts for this (the carrot on the stick). The different texts are geared towards beginning through intermediate audiences, so taking a look at all three may help determine your reading level:

1) Steadman's annotation of Crito: this is HEAVILY annotated. Seems like 60-80% of the words/phrases have glosses or brief explanations. It even glosses the imperfect of 'to be', common demonstratives, etc.! I have only glanced through this, but it looks like it should make Plato more than approachable for those that have finished a first-year textbook. If you mark the glosses that you need, you may figure out what you need to work on (particles or the perfect system or adverbs or what have you). Free ebook!
http://geoffreysteadman.com/platos-crito/

2) Greek- A Prose Reading Course, v.2: this is a moderately annotated edition. Significantly less annotated than Steadman, but still a considerable number of glosses. For "post-beginners", and may be of more use if Steadman's has more glosses than you want. It is not free, but still inexpensive (and at some uni libraries). Publisher's Webpage

3) Dyer's Edition of Crito: Annotated edition. Provides glosses and mainly grammatical commentary for words and phrases in considerably more detail than #1 or #2, but also has much greater expectations for the reader's level. But, it is surely the reading level to aim for (and may be useful when reading a passage for the second or third time after using #1 or 2). There are two editions for this--I think the textkit version has slightly more references:
textkit edition: Apology, Crito, and other Extracts
google books edition: Apology of Socrates and Crito

4) Mastronarde's Apology
Mastronarde has glossed much of the third section of Apology (and some of a speech by Lysias) for classroom use after finishing his textbook. Can be found by scrolling down here: Mastronarde's Resource Page
--
There is also a very interesting textbook I found for reading the Anabasis from 1888 I found. I may review on textkit once I have advanced more in Mastronarde. If the Anabasis is part of the Greek series at your school, though, leave a note and I'll write a briefer review sooner.
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Re: Koine to Attic Suggestions?

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Thu Jul 24, 2014 1:51 pm

Frank Beetham, Learning Greek with Plato: A Beginner's Course in Classical Greek. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2007. Pp. xiv, 503. ISBN 987-1-904675-56-3. £19.99 (pb).

http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2007/2007-09-50.html

I found this at my local library. I wonder if anyone on Textkit has opinions about it. It has lots of reading material from Plato intended for beginners. I have no way of knowing how well it would serve since I didn't come to it as a beginner. The brynmawr review points out that it uses grammar-translation methodology with little emphasis on actually encountering the greek text directly. In other words Plato's text is something to decode and render into English. This is what Mounce-Wallace do with NT Greek. It has been the subject of endless critique on the b-greek forum.
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Re: Koine to Attic Suggestions?

Postby SomaSemaPsyches » Thu Aug 07, 2014 3:15 am

I'm sorry I didn't write back for so long. I forgot I had written this!

I think Beetham's book would suit me very well; I'm going to order it and go through it during fall semester.

Thank you all so much for the help!
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