One of the things that Gordon Fee put a lot of emphasis on was reading the scriptures out loud, a book at a time. He asked us to read 1 Corinthians out loud to ourselves at the beginning of the course. He talked about the fact that all reading in antiquity was reading out loud – that is the way life was. Silent reading developed much later. He deplores the near tragedy of silent reading and the fact that we teach children to read silently.
It’s true that in the early grades now we do not encourage silent reading. Teachers label the reading time with a variety of terms such as “Noisy reading”, “Buddy reading” “Paired reading” and so on. Eventually it will become “Quiet reading”. Note that this is not the same as “round robin reading”. It is usually a child centred (oh that word) activity where children read or reread their favourite books alone or together while the teacher uses the time to read with one on one with a student who needs more individual attention.
The flip side of reading the scriptures out loud is listening to the them being read or recited. At one of the chapel services at Regent recently I heard Jeromy Acton perform several passages from the Gospels as a monologue. It was a stunning performance, beautifully expressed with gestures and actions which set the scene as he successfully imaged the presence of several characters in the story through hand and body movements.
To assist you in hearing the word Iyov has posted a list of audio resources for listening to the scriptures. Lingamish suggests that one of the Greek recordings is “iconoclastic”. I have no idea what he is referring to. However, one reading sounds like English. You get the feeling that if you could identify a word or two it would make some sense in English. The other Greek audio file is read in a modern Greek accent, quickly and fluently. I did need to turn the volume up to hear it properly.
I definitely prefer the modern Greek accent. When I first started classical Greek classes the only other student was a Greek boy whose parents had encouraged him to learn some of the classical language. So that is the way I first heard Greek – with the modern accent. Some people don’t like it because it doesn’t distinguish all the different vowels. However, that goes a long way to explaining some of the variants in the manuscripts.
Update: I highly recommend that you read this information about modern pronunciation of Greek. In fact, I find the arguments for using a modern pronunciation convincing and I am reproducing them here.
- 1.) First of all, no one knows how ancient Greek was pronounced. Therefore, modern Greek pronunciation is every bit as valid a choice for a pronunciation convention as any other.
2.) That having been said, modern Greeks themselves read the classics using modern Greek pronunciation. (Who, then, are we to argue with such an overwhelming and practical recommendation – by the Greeks themselves!) They win the vote on this issue by qualified millions.
3.) Modern Greek pronunciation is REAL as opposed to theoretical.
4.) Thus, it SOUNDS far better and far more FLUID than the theoretical and stilted pronunciation conventions commonly used in classical academia. (Real language doesn’t sound like that.)
5.) Classical academia is generally not concerned with the art of vocal reading of Greek, regardless of favored pronunciation conventions. So one rarely, if ever, actually hears it read. (This fact, by the way, makes the choice of a pronunciation convention a de facto non-issue, depite the arguments.)
6.) The Bible highly recommends (commands!) vocal reading of its contents. (Joshua 1:8; Psalms 1:2; Acts 13:15; 1 Timothy 4:13; Revelation 1:3) With this in mind, if one would like to learn the art, a fluid pronunciation convention is a welcome asset to the endeavor. (And the Bible an excellent platform on which to begin.)
7.) For those who would argue that modern Greek does not make fine phonetic distinctions which facilitate the learning of correct orthography, e.g., omicron/omega; iotacistic melding of eta, upsilon, iota and various diphthongs, etc… one must remember that NO natural language voluntarily subjects itself to the straight-jacket of logical consistency for the benefit of learners. (Compare the ridiculous orthographic inconsistencies of English, which, by the way, did not appear to hinder its development and ascent to the unassailable position of planet Earth’s virtual lingua franca…)
8.) An application of the modern greek pronunciation convention in this issue lays a fine foundation for a rewarding adjunct study of the language of MODERN GREEK! Such is certainly a worthy endeavor because modern Greek is a world-class language with a tremendous legacy, having SURVIVED the merciless vagaries of linguistic evolution-and-devolution, which have obliterated virtually ALL of its great historical language contemporaries. Where are they…?! And yet, Greek remains and thrives…(however, see discussion of Oldest Language at this website.)
FINALLY, an added FREEBEE which lends subtle security to your personal choice of a pronunciation convention…regardless of which one it may be:
Most likely, no one will ever know or care which convention you’ve chosen – because, most likely, no one will ever ask you to read Greek aloud! It will, therefore, most likely, never be an issue…unless it’s selected from a tattered hat as a subject for academic debate. (And the debate, of course, will NOT occur in Greek! NOR will it occur in Greece!)
Thus, no one can justifiably hassle you about the pronunciation convention you choose! Simply choose one, apply it consistently and you will fare well! And for the reasons stated above, if you choose the MODERN Greek convention, you will fare weller (!)
I find it very sad that we are not used to hearing Greek read out loud. For me, the greatest advantage is that if I speak to a person of Greek nationality now using a few Greek words, they usually recognize that those words are, in fact, Greek. If we all agreed to use the modern Greek pronunciation then I think we would be more inclined to read Greek out loud and share it more fluently. It’s too bad that there is so little pulling together on this.