If you want to be truly comfortable reading the New Testament in Greek, it helps to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. Of course, Koine Greek is not a living language, which makes immersive learning approaches much more difficult (if not impossible). Although it’s a comparably poor substitute to interacting with live speakers, I found that listening to audio recordings of the Greek NT helped improve my pronunciation, vocabulary acquisition, and generally helped me understand the rhythm and flow of Greek as a spoken language.
Since Koine Greek is not a living language, different pronunciation systems have developed over time. Before you begin memorizing vocabulary and reading your Greek New Testament, you’ll need to pick one pronunciation and stick with it. Depending on what introductory Greek grammar you use, it may or may not thoroughly explain the various pronunciations. So I’ve briefly outlined the three most common below for you. I’ve provided links with the basics for each, and listed NT audio recordings as well.
This is the most common pronunciation, especially in seminaries and universities. Most textbooks will use this as the standard, and may only mention alternate options. Erasmian is used for its teaching value, as it allows a student to hear each individual sound distinctly and consequently helps spelling accuracy. That said, it’s not the pronunciation you want to use if you plan on learning modern Greek at some point, which sounds completely different. The primary reason why people use this pronunciation is because that’s what their professor and colleagues use.
Erasmian Pronunciation Basics: This page is a great summary of the Erasmian pronunciation with audio files. There’s also several links to additional resources near the bottom.
Erasmian Vocabulary Practice: Zondervan has two different CDs available to help practice the pronunciation of vocabulary, Basics of Biblical Greek Vocabulary and New Testament Greek Vocabulary (Learn on the Go).
Erasmian NT Recordings: Although it only has selected readings from the New Testament, Readings in the Greek New Testament by Jonathan T. Pennington offers a good cross-section of the NT, and will allow you to hear larger portions of scripture outside of just vocabulary words in an Erasmian pronunciation.
Reconstructed Koine Pronunciation
This pronunciation attempts to more closely recreate how people would have spoken Greek during the 1st century. It is closer to modern pronunciation, although the pronunciation of a couple letters are different. It was developed by Randall Buth of the Biblical Language Center. Because it is relatively recent and there has not been widespread adoption, there are not many audio resources available for Reconstructed Koine. That’s said, here’s what I’ve found if you want to go this route:
Reconstructed Koine Pronunciation Basics: Here’s an explanation of how Reconstructed Koine differs with Erasmian, with several links and alphabet audio files. For someone who wants a rather in-depth explanation on the particulars, this PDF from the Biblical Language Center is for you.
Reconstructed Koine NT Recordings: The only recordings I’ve found are of the Gospel of John and the Epistles of John. They are available for purchase at the Biblical Language Center store, although here is several free sample recordings they provide as well. I would consider the lack of lengthy audio recordings a real weakness, especially if you want to listen to long portions of the NT in Koine Greek.
Modern Greek Pronunciation
Last, but not least, we have the modern Greek pronunciation. There are several recordings by native Greek speakers available of the entire NT, which allows you to truly master Greek pronunciation. You can listen to these audio recordings while driving around town, or while you read along in the NT. This allows you to “study” and immerse yourself in the Greek NT without having to read it. And if you decide to learn modern Greek, you don’t have to relearn the pronunciation. (Just try using the stilted Erasmian pronunciation with a native Greek speaker, and see how they react.)
Modern Pronunciation Basics: This page by Harry Foundalis offers a great explanation of modern Greek pronunciation, with audio recordings for each letter.
Modern NT Recordings: Spiros Zodhiates, a native Greek speaker born in Cyprus, recorded the entire NT, which is available for purchase online. It claims to follow the Nestle-Aland text (26th edition), although I haven’t verified that. Zodhiates speaks at a slower pace compared to the typical faster clip of a native speaker, which helps comprehension. An alternative recording of the entire NT can be downloaded through Faith Comes by Hearing. For language, select Greek. You then will have two options, choose the Ancient 1904 Patriarchal Text. This is a recording of the same Greek NT that the Greek Orthodox Church uses, which is based on the Byzantine textform. The NT is read at a much faster pace on this recording. I would recommend buying Zodhiates’ recording first, and only listen to the Patriarchal Text recording after you can comprehend the NT well at the slower reading speed.
If you haven’t read them already, check out my other posts to help you read the New Testament in its original language.
Teach Yourself Biblical Greek Series:
- Teach Yourself Biblical Greek: Introducing the Process
- Choosing an Introductory Greek Grammar
- What Greek New Testament Should I Get?
- Memorize the Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament
- Koine Greek Pronunciation and Greek NT Audio Recordings
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