Greek & Hebrew: Biblical vs. Modern

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Hamalas

whippersnapper
So I have a spin-off question about languages from my other thread. I (like many of us here) will be studying biblical Greek and Hebrew in the next few years. My question is this: if one has learned biblical Greek and Hebrew how difficult would it be to learn modern Greek and Hebrew? Obviously they are different and obviously they are related. What I’m wondering is how easy would it be to make the transition from Old Testament Hebrew to modern Hebrew?

Have any of you tried to make this transition with either Hebrew or Greek? Do you think a familiarity with the modern languages would help to understand or retain the biblical languages?
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Ben, my wife is fluent in modern Greek, and it is difficult for her to read the various stages of the Greek language, though she can make them out a little. I asked a Greek pastor friend (when we were living in Cyprus) if he could translate certain of Chrysostom's (c. 347 – 407) homilies, and he said it would be very difficult for him, as there are many stages of the development of Greek: classical, koine, middle ages, pre-modern, and modern – and knowing one doesn't guarantee knowing the others.

The Old and NT were translated from the Hebrew and Koine Greek into the pre-modern (
literary Katharevousa) Greek of Neofytos Vamvas in around 1850, but it is hard for modern Greeks to understand it. When my wife would read the Scriptures to her mom and grandmother it would be in the modern version of Vamvas which is easily understood.

My own take is, it would be more profitable to study and learn Biblical Greek first, and whatever carryover into the modern is helpful would be gravy; and the same for the Hebrew. The true goal of your studies I think is learning the Biblical languages, so aim for them primarily.
 

Ephrata

Puritan Board Freshman
For what it's worth, my friend who studies modern Hebrew says that knowing the script is very helpful when he studies the original Scriptures.
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
According to people I know who know them all, it's not much help in Greek, but it's a bit more help in Hebrew.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
I would say it is a bit like someone who speaks fluent modern English trying to read Old English (FYI- The KJV is not Old English, it is actually Modern English). Yes you would understand some of the words and many of the letters, but you wouldn't really understand most of it.
 

Hamalas

whippersnapper
Thanks all, this is helpful. So would it be somewhat like learning one of the Romance languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian) after learning Latin? There would be lots of overlap but at the end of the day you're still dealing with a different animal?
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks all, this is helpful. So would it be somewhat like learning one of the Romance languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian) after learning Latin? There would be lots of overlap but at the end of the day you're still dealing with a different animal?

Yep. Which means that you have to be on the lookout for words that you know you don't know the meanings of but also words that might be attempting to convey a different meaning from the meanings you know.
 
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