The Language of the New Testament—Greek
Whereas the Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew, with some portions in Aramaic, the New Testament was, apart from a few individual words (e.g. Mark 5: 41, 7: 34, 15: 34//Matt. 27: 46), written virtually entirely in a form of ancient Greek. This much has long been recognized by scholars and others alike. However, there have been a number of issues surrounding this Greek of the New Testament. These include: (a) the nature of this Greek, (b) the use of Greek in the early church and possibly by Jesus and his followers, (c) the characteristics of this Greek, and (d) recent innovations in the study of the Greek of the New Testament.
a. The Nature of the Greek of the New Testament
Classical philology dedicated itself to studying the best examples of literary Greek produced by the most distinguished Greek stylists. When these same scholars and others turned to the Greek of the New Testament, it was clear that the Greek that they were reading was recognizably similar in many ways, but in many ways also quite different. The periodic (intricate and involved) sentences of classical Greek were noticeably missing in New Testament Greek (exceptions would include Luke 1: 1–4 and arguably some parts of Hebrews), being replaced by a much more straightforward and linear or paratactic style; some of the linguistic forms that distinguished some of the best authors were missing (for example, the optative mood or the dual number); and the vocabulary was restricted in scope (there are only a little over 5,000 different words used in the New Testament), among other features. As a result, when biblical scholars especially (who often in the past were classically trained) turned their attention to the Greek of the New Testament, they had to explain how it was that a Greek text could be so culturally important and convey such deep theological truths while being written in what appeared to be an inferior form of Greek—certainly not a form of Greek that could rival the style of writers such as Thucydides, the great tragedians, or even Plato. As a result, there were a number of explanations put forward to explain the nature of this Greek.
The first theory was that the Greek of the New Testament was a special form of Greek, called by various names, such as ‘biblical Greek’, ‘Jewish or Christian Greek’, ‘ecclesiastical Greek’, ‘synagogue Greek’, or even a divinely inspired Greek (so-called Holy Ghost Greek). This position, advocated by some in the eighteenth and even late into the nineteenth century (such as Friedrich Blass 1898), and revived again in the twentieth century, tried to come to terms with the powerful impact of the New Testament while not having a suitable linguistic point of comparison. Their explanation was that the elevated thought demanded some form of elevated language, even if it did not appear to be elevated in comparison with other forms of Greek.
With the discovery of quantities of Greek documentary papyri in the sands of Egypt near the end of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, however, the situation changed dramatically. Suddenly there was a wealth of evidence that the Greek of the New Testament did not stand alone, but, so it was argued by such scholars as Adolf Deissmann (e.g. in Porter 1991: 39–59) and James Hope Moulton (e.g. in Porter 1991: 60–97), was part and parcel of the Greek used throughout the Graeco-Roman world. To use the language of more recent discussion, it reflected one of the registers of usage of the Graeco-Roman world. Deissmann and Moulton, among others, undertook in their publications to show at various points where items of New Testament Greek lexis and syntax were to be paralleled in the Greek papyri from Egypt. Some questioned whether the examples from Egypt were suitable parallels, themselves having possibly been influenced by Semitic languages, but, as Teodorsson (1977: 25–35) so ably makes the point, there are no other types of Greek to be found in Egypt, or elsewhere, from this time.
The deaths of Deissmann and Moulton left discussion open for a backlash against their ideas and a resurgence of a form of Semitic language hypothesis, usually focusing upon Aramaic, although it has been argued that Hebrew was in use in Palestine during this time. The enduring Semitic hypothesis has taken a number of different forms, from arguing that the New Testament reflects Semitic language because in many places it is a direct, theological translation from Aramaic (Charles Torrey in Porter 1991: 98–111), to the more widespread and persistent belief that the New Testament is directly dependent upon an original Aramaic stratum. Earlier forms of this hypothesis failed adequately to support their retroversions into Aramaic (recently revived by Maurice Casey 1998), although more moderate forms of the hypothesis have continued to identify the possible influence of Aramaic upon the Greek of the New Testament (e.g. Matthew Black in Porter 1991: 112–25 and Joseph Fitzmyer, e.g. in Porter 1991: 126–62).
More recently, two earlier theories have been revived. Gehman (e.g. in Porter 1991: 163–73), Turner (e.g. in Porter 1991: 174–90), and most recently Walser (2001), are each identified with attempts to revive the notion that the Greek of the New Testament constitutes a special form of Greek. They believe that this was a special dialect of Greek used in the synagogue and early church, which is reflected in grammatical peculiarities of the Greek of the New Testament. There has also been a revival of Deissmann's and Moulton's belief that the Greek of the New Testament was reflective of at least some of the dialects or registers of Greek in use throughout the Mediterranean area in the first century (such as Moises Silva e.g. in Porter 1991: 174–90, Lars Rydbeck e.g. in Porter 1991: 205–26, and Stanley Porter 1989, 1996). Much of the most recent discussion has occurred within the growing recognition that first-century Palestine was heavily multilingual.
Progress on the issue of the nature of the Greek of the New Testament seems to focus now upon differentiation of registers or dialects of usage, with recognition that particular registers may well have local or even personal characteristics (e.g. see Porter 2000c).
b. The Use of Greek in the Early Church, and Even by Jesus
The question of the type of language found in the New Testament is closely related to the question of the language of the early church, and even of Jesus and his closest followers. By the time of the emergence of the books of the New Testament, and the Apostolic Fathers in the late first and early second centuries, it is clear that Greek was the language of the Christian church. This comes as a surprise to many, who cannot imagine peasants as being able to use Greek. This stereotype is based upon a number of misunderstandings, however. These include a failure to realize the integration and Hellenization of the Mediterranean world certainly from the time of Alexander on (if not before), enhanced by the conquests of the Roman Empire, the importance of a lingua franca for economic survival within such a world, the linguistic competence of the early Christians, such as Paul and even James (see Johnson 1995), and the diverse socio-economic nature of the early church as it quickly spread outside Palestine, among others.
If it is granted that, at least by the time of writing of the New Testament books, Greek was a major language of the early church, and the conclusion seems undeniable, then the question becomes whether Jesus himself and his disciples may have spoken Greek. Aramaic was the predominant language of the Jewish people ever since their return from exile in the fourth century BCE, and Aramaic continued to be widely used, especially in Palestine by Jews. The development of the Targumic tradition—Aramaic paraphrases or translations of the Hebrew Scriptures—probably constitutes evidence that Aramaic, rather than Hebrew, became the language of communication and religion for a significant number of Jews, at least within Palestine. Nevertheless, there remains dispute over the earliness and relevance of the Targumic tradition for study of the New Testament.
The question of the language(s) of Jews outside Palestine, however, is often neglected, but proves illuminating. The translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek—what has come to be called the Septuagint (or sometimes in its earliest form, the Old Greek)—beginning in the third century BCE in Egypt and continuing up to the Christian era, indicates that Greek became an important language not only for communication but also for the religion of the Jews. The situation in Egypt is probably reflective of the situation elsewhere in the Graeco-Roman/Mediterranean world, such that even Palestine was influenced by the use of Greek for religious purposes, as is evidenced by the discovery of a variety of Greek documents, such as apocryphal Greek manuscripts and a number of Greek manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures as well as other Greek documents, even among the Dead Sea documents (e.g. Minor Prophets Scroll, Bar Kokhba letters, Babatha archive). Thus, there is substantial evidence to establish that the vast majority of the Jews of the time, who lived outside of Palestine, used Greek as their primary language, even if they also spoke a local language or Aramaic.
In discussing the languages in use in Palestine itself, and hence the potential language of Jesus, there are three possibilities. There is substantial textual and epigraphical evidence to establish that Aramaic was widely used in Palestine by Jews of the time. This evidence includes the biblical books of Daniel and Ezra, non-canonical books such as 1 Enoch, and a range of inscriptional, ossuary, epistolary, papyrological, and other literary evidence. It is highly likely that the Gospels, when they record Jesus using Aramaic, are citing the original wording that he uttered and offering a translation for readers who knew Greek but not Aramaic, rather than suggesting that Jesus spoke Greek and used the occasional Aramaic word.
A more highly contentious issue is the amount of Hebrew used in Palestine at the time. As already noted above, it appears that few outside Palestine knew Hebrew, apart possibly from those in some restricted religious contexts. There is even serious question about how widespread knowledge of Hebrew was in Palestine, including questions about its use in the synagogue. It has been argued on occasion that a form of Mishnaic Hebrew was in use, as confirmed by Judaean Desert documents, such as the Hebrew Bar Kokhba letters, as well as ossuary, numismatic, and literary evidence. Some have even argued that, while Aramaic was the language of the upper social level, Hebrew was the language of the lower social levels. Nevertheless, if Hebrew was used at all, its usage was probably not widespread, and the number of Hebrew inscriptions found in Palestine is small.
There is even more controversy over whether Jesus and his disciples spoke Greek. It is fairly easy to establish that in Galilee in particular Greek was widespread, especially by those who engaged in commercial enterprises. The same is true, although probably to a slightly lesser extent, in Judaea. Besides the evidence offered above concerning the lingua franca of the Roman Empire, there is the evidence from the Gospels (see below), literary evidence, and a diversity of epigraphic evidence. The last includes several key letters from the time of Bar Kokhba (c.132–5 CE) that attest to the fact that it was at times easier to find someone who could write in Greek than who could do so in a Semitic language—and these letters come from the Jewish revolutionaries themselves.
Although there are some who deny that Jesus spoke any language other than Aramaic, there is a growing number of scholars who recognize that Jesus certainly spoke Aramaic but probably also spoke Greek on occasion. Most scholars do not wish to attempt to identify such episodes, even if they recognize it as possible that Jesus did speak Greek. A few scholars have been willing to try to identify such episodes. The criteria for identification might well include the plausibility of Greek being used in the particular context. For those episodes where Greek is presumed, the use of independent accounts is helpful in establishing what may well have been said on the occasion. Those passages that have been identified as possible instances where Jesus conversed in Greek with others are the following (see Porter 2000a, 2003):
1. John 12: 20–8, where the Greeks approach Jesus (but Jesus is not recorded as saying anything);
2. Luke 17: 11–14, the healing of the Samaritan leper;
3. John 4: 4–26, Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman;
These possible instances have been arranged in order of increasing probability. The first is an episode where it is plausible that Greek was used, but provides no possible wording. The second and third are found in only a single episode, where multiple independent attestation cannot be established. Instances 4–8 depend upon the independence of the accounts, but have both the presumption of Greek being used in the context and the possibility of independent accounts attesting to this fact. The last instance has the greatest degree of probability and likelihood that Greek was spoken; since all four Gospels record the same basic event and specifically the wording of Jesus, there is a high likelihood of independence in the Gospel traditions, there is no interpreter recorded as being present, and there is very little chance that Pilate would have spoken Aramaic. In fact, it is plausible that on this basis we have the very words of Jesus in Greek in this episode.
At the very least, this discussion indicates that it is highly probable that Jesus was himself multilingual, knowing Aramaic and Greek, and possibly Hebrew (Luke 4: 16–30), even if we cannot establish with certainty the language of a given episode, especially where the question of Greek is involved.
c. Characteristics of New Testament Greek
The language that the New Testament was written in is a form of Hellenistic Greek. Hellenistic Greek was the lingua franca of the Graeco-Roman world, and became so after the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE. Although a number of indigenous languages continued to be used in various regions—such as Aramaic in Palestine, but also various other local languages in Asia Minor (e.g. Phrygian)—Greek became the language of commerce, administration, and even government. Numerous multilingual inscriptions from the Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman periods, as well as references in literary authors and the record of communication throughout the empire by means of letter, make clear that the common language was Greek.
The history of the development of the Greek language is an intriguing one, and of relevance for describing the Greek of the New Testament. Although Linear A has yet to be deciphered, it has been established that the language of the Myceneans was a form of early Greek, reflected in their script, called Linear B. When the Mycenean age closed abruptly in the thirteenth century BCE or so, the Greek territory fell into what is often called a dark age. It emerged again from this dark age in the ninth century BCE. This is often referred to as ‘the period of the dialects’, and includes the Archaic and Classical literary periods. It is called ‘the period of the dialects’ because there were a number of different local dialects used by the Greek city-states. Scholars are undecided as to whether they came about through a series of migrations or invasions, or whether they came about as local developments of linguistic tendencies already found in those areas (see Horrocks 1997: 7–15). The major three dialects were West Greek, Attic-Ionic, and Boeotian, with many scholars now adding a fourth, Arcado-Cyprian. These languages were recognizably similar in most regards and were appropriately given the label Greek, although there were distinctive regional peculiarities in terms of morphology, syntax, and vocabulary (e.g. the use of an versus ke as the conditional particle). Most importantly, there were differences in pronunciation that perpetuated divisions among the dialects.
The Attic form of the Ionic dialect gained in significance due to the literary, cultural, and economic power of the city of Athens. As a result, the Attic dialect came to be established as the literary standard, and it is the dialect in which much of the literature of Classical Greece is preserved. Attic also came to be the language that was used for administrative purposes. This form of Greek is what Horrocks calls ‘Great Attic’ (1997: 27–31), due to its widespread significance and usage. As a result, there were a number of changes that took place in the language as it was regularized in terms of the other dialects and more widespread usage. Many of these features (e.g. the use of -σσ rather than -ττ characteristic of Attic Greek, and the loss of the dual number) are ones that were carried into the Greek of the Hellenistic period, and hence into the Greek of the New Testament. This process of Attic forming the basis of the administrative as well as literary language of the Classical Greek world then became more widespread with the conquests of the Greek mainland by Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great's father, and then with the conquests of Alexander himself (who was educated by Aristotle, and who shared his father's reverence for things Greek).
There have been a number of opinions regarding the nature of the development of the Greek of the Hellenistic world, and more particularly of the Greek of the New Testament. Some scholars have maintained that the Greek of the Hellenistic world was an amalgamation of features of the various Greek dialects, and that each of them contributed in recognizable ways to this linguistic hybrid. This theory is not so widely held in recent research, which indicates that the basis of the common Greek of the Hellenistic period—a virtually dialectless form of language in wide-spread use for administration and even literature, consistent in linguistic structure, even if subject to regional pronunciation differences (Palmer 1980: 189–90)—is the Great Attic of the Classical period. This form of a common Greek language, based mostly upon the Attic form of the Ionic dialect, became the common Greek, or Koine, of the Hellenistic world, and was widely disseminated, initially through sporadic trade, but especially by Alexander and his conquests from 330 to 320 BCE. This process of dissemination by soldiers, merchants, and bureaucrats moved Greek further from its language base, and, as a result, a process of simplification and systematization took place. With the establishment of the Greek kingdoms after Alexander's death—the kingdoms of the Diadochi included Greece, Asia Minor, Ptolemaic Egypt, and Seleucid Syria—the cultural milieu of Greek domination continued, even if local languages survived. The evidence for this is seen especially in the Greek documentary papyri from Egypt, along with those from Palestine. Greek was clearly the second language of a huge number of people—but it was the first language for many as well.
As a result, Greek was forced to become a suitable tool for the range of communication contexts in which it was utilized. The result was register adaptation according to need and circumstances. There was even an effort in the second century CE to rebel against the widespread use of Greek in forms that did not match the supposed standards set by Classical usage. This so-called Atticistic movement tried to impose the characteristics of the earlier period, and resulted in introducing instances of artificial Greek usage that hyper-corrected to Attic norms (e.g. in use of the optative mood in some writers). These register differentiations can be distinguished along the following lines (Porter 1989b: 153):
vulgar usage—found in many documentary papyri;
non-literary usage—official and documentary papyri, scientific and related texts, inscriptions, and some more popular philosophers, such as Epictetus;
literary usage—historians and philosophers of the Graeco-Roman era, such as Philo, Josephus, Polybius, Arrian;
Atticism—Plutarch and Lucian, among others.
Some of the noticeable features of Hellenistic Greek include the following:
paratactic style and word order was utilized more than periodic style;
the subtleties of classical pitch accent were replaced by stress accent;
vowel reduction occurred as itacism (the tendency toward the use of the i sound) occurred;
the personal endings of verbs and nouns were simplified and regularized;
the final nu was used more frequently;
prepositions were used increasingly with the accusative case;
certain particles fell out of use;
the older mi verb forms were regularized with omega forms;
sigmatic aorist verbal tense-forms tended to replace non-sigmatic forms;
a little later the perfect tense-form came under pressure;
the optative mood virtually disappeared (except in certain Atticistic writers, where it was often used unnaturally) under pressure from the subjunctive mood;
the middle voice began to be restricted in usage;
the subjunctive with hina began to replace the infinitive to indicate purpose and result clauses;
the dative case eventually disappeared under pressure from the accusative; and verbal periphrasis increased in frequency.
Many of these features, as well as others, continued to develop in subsequent periods, and can be witnessed in the Greek of the Church Fathers and later the Byzantine period.
d. Recent Innovations in the Study of the Greek of the New Testament
The greatest innovation in recent study of the Greek of the New Testament is the utilization of modern linguistic methodologies for the study of this ancient language (see Porter 1989a). Traditionally, the Greek of the New Testament has been studied according to the canons of classical philology, which (as noted above) has resulted in some of the confusion and misunderstanding regarding the language. Modem linguistic methodologies have, for the most part, been developed for the study of modern languages, especially English. The result has been resistance to their use, especially since their employment requires development and modification of the methods so as to be suitable for application to Greek. Despite the efforts of some to resist such efforts, there have been a number of recent methodological innovations and resultant conclusions in the study of the Greek of the New Testament. Several can be mentioned here, if only briefly (see Porter 1997, 2000d).
1. Verbal Structure Analysis of the Greek verbal structure has developed from one that was time-based (well into the nineteenth century; Winer 1882) to one that was based on the purported objective kind of action (Aktionsart; late nineteenth into the twentieth century; Moulton 1908) to one that was based upon realizing the subjective perspective of the speaker or writer (aspect; twentieth and twenty-first centuries; Porter 1989b, Fanning 1990, McKay 1994, Decker 2001, Porter and O'Donnell 2001). As a result of recent research, fewer and fewer scholars are arguing for the time-based nature of the tense-forms in Greek, even in the indicative mood. Scholars for the last 100 years have increasingly realized that the non-indicative moods (e.g. the subjunctive, optative, imperative, as well as participle and infinitive) do not indicate time by the selection of tense-form. In some ways, this makes the Greek verbal structure more like, rather than unlike, the Hebrew verbal structure (incidentally, this calls into question some of the unwarranted disjunctions drawn between Greek and Hebrew, and their respective mindsets, on the basis of language). Most Western European languages are quite heavily time-oriented in their verbal system, unlike some Eastern/Oriental languages, and Greek in this regard relies upon contextual indicators, including genre and temporal and discourse indicators, rather than verbal morphology (the so-called tense-forms of the verbs) to determine the time of an event. Instead, the selection by an author or speaker (the choice is often sub- or un-conscious) of a particular tense-form indicates the author's perspective on the action. The full exegetical implications of these findings have not yet been realized, as it is only recently that commentaries on the Greek texts of the New Testament are being written that try to appropriate these insights into Greek verbal structure (see e.g. Gundry 1993). However, more and more exegetes are noting that the verbal tense-forms in Greek are used to indicate the author's perspective on the action, and to shape the discourse in its communicative function.
2. Case and Frame Analysis Case and frame analysis are related in recent research in Greek, since they are both concerned with what are often called semantic cases. The traditional category for discussing cases in Greek is in terms of morphological case-forms: that is, the cases that are indicated by the endings on words, including the nominative, accusative, genitive, and dative (and sometimes the vocative) cases. As noted above, there were some changes in the formal case systems in Hellenistic Greek, which finally resulted in the disappearance of the dative case and an increase in occurrence of the accusative case. Recent case and frame analysis, however, is not concerned with formal cases but with the underlying semantic functions that are represented by various cases. As a result, there have been a number of analyses of the semantic cases of New Testament writers. Simon Wong (1997) in his analysis of case in Paul defines the following: agent, experiencer, patient, complement, reference, benefactive, locative, source, goal, path, instrument, comitative, manner, and measure. Frame analysis in recent New Testament study (pioneered by Paul Danove 2001) focuses upon what is called valency: that is, the number of places that a verb can take (one, two, or three). These places are then correlated with semantic cases. The result of such efforts is to develop a lexicon of the Greek of the New Testament that analyses verbs, and verbal elements, in terms of their valency and semantic frames.
3. Written Texts and Literacy Studies The analysis of ancient languages, including ancient Greek, is limited to the textual remains, whether these are in the form of scraps of papyri of documentary texts or extended literary texts such as Thucydides. In the application of modern linguistic methodology—most often developed in terms of the spoken forms of modern languages—the fact that such methods must be applied to written texts has not been fully appreciated. There are two major points to notice here that are being taken into account in recent research. One is that the literary remains are inherently skewed, because many of the documents that have survived from the ancient world have survived only as a result of chance and caprice, others because of interest, and others because of the limitations of literacy (see Harris 1989). Therefore, there is nothing that guarantees that the remains that we have for examination are at all representative of the texts that were being generated in the ancient world. In fact, we know that there were huge numbers of works written in the ancient world that have disappeared without any trace being found so far. There is also the problem that even if we were to have all of the written texts from the ancient world, we would still not have any of the spoken texts, since these have literally disappeared into the air in a pre-recording device era. However, the second point to note is that recent research has made clear that it is unwise to overemphasize the differences between spoken and written language. In the past, much research drew firm distinctions between the two, whereas more recent research has indicated that written and spoken forms of languages fall along a continuum (Biber 1988). The entire range of the continuum needs to be explored, and in some ways is represented by the various authors and books of the New Testament.
4. Register Analysis Whereas dialect analysis is concerned with the permanent differences in languages, such as differences in spelling, syntax, and pronunciation, register analysis is concerned with the non-permanent differences. Register in fact is used in a variety of ways to describe differences in usage of a language, without wishing to draw the kinds of firm lines of distinction that are often implied by the use of the notion of dialect. To be more precise in terms of our analysis here, register is concerned with analysis of the features of language that resulted from a particular context of situation. Recent studies of register in terms of the Greek of the New Testament have made advances in analysing the various features of the Greek used in the New Testament in terms of the ideas that are being conveyed, the people who are involved in the interaction, and the medium by which the communication takes place. As a result, one can analyse a book such as Mark's Gospel and note a number of features of that book that are different from, say, one of Paul's letters. The medium might be similar—that is, a written document—but in the original context an oral reading was probably expected, certainly for Paul's letters. The people involved are quite different, however. One of the recent questions in Gospel research is whether the formally anonymous Gospels were written primarily with a particular church in mind, or whether they were written from the start with a much wider audience envisioned, or some place in between (see Bauckham 1998). Paul's letters, by contrast, were written by the apostle himself, perhaps with some help or accompaniment, for a specific church or group of churches in a specific city or region. The ideational level is highly contrastive between the Gospel of Mark and a Pauline letter. The biographical structure of the Gospel is quite different from the occasional and theological nature of the Pauline letters (for contrasting examples, see Porter 2000b, 2000e on Mark, and Porter and O'Donnell 2000 on Romans).
5. Discourse Analysis and Corpus-Based Studies Discourse analysis, or sometimes (better?) called text linguistics, has taken modern linguistics to a new and potentially much more productive level of analysis. What distinguishes discourse analysis is attention to an entire discourse. Traditionally, much modern linguistic research confined analysis to small linguistic units, such as the word or sentence. Discourse analysis appreciates the fact that language, when it is used, is not used simply in terms of individual words or sentences, but as entire discourses. These entire discourses set the parameters for the consequent analysis. Discourse analysis, originally derived from conversational analysis, has been applied in an intense way to the study of written texts. Approaches to the material include both top-down and bottom-up analyses. Top-down analyses begin with the shape of the discourse (register or genre) and proceed to analyse the increasingly smaller parts that make up the discourse. Bottom-up analysis begins with smaller units and assembles the discourse from these smaller units. Discourse analysis has found that there is usually an abundance of data to be analysed. This has resulted in studies that concentrate on various dimensions of the discourse, such as discourse boundaries, cohesion (the linguistic elements that create a unified discourse) and coherence (the ideational elements that create comprehension), and focus and prominence. Reed (1997) provides an interesting instance of how use of discourse analysis can address not only issues of recent provenance but ones of long standing, such as the literary integrity of Philippians. Studies of discourse analysis—as well as other areas of Greek language study—are also benefiting greatly from advances in corpus linguistics (see O'Donnell 1999 and forthcoming). Corpus linguistics is less a method than an approach that believes that observations regarding language should be based upon study of as large a corpus of texts as possible. In many ways, the New Testament comprises a representative corpus for study of Greek, but efforts are under way to develop a larger corpus of Hellenistic texts for study. Machine-readable and retrievable formats have increased the possibilities of utilizing such resources.
These are only some of the issues being discussed at the forefront of recent New Testament Greek study. There are other issues that have been introduced and will no doubt attract further attention in the future. It is fair to say that, despite a lengthy history of study, there is still much more to be learned from close examination of the Greek of the New Testament, especially as innovative methods are developed and refined.