In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Greek Language

  • Introduction
  • Transformational and Generative Grammar
  • Relevance Theory
  • Literary or Linguistic Stylistics
  • Particles and Prepositions
  • Systemic-Functional Linguistics
  • Functional Sentence Perspective
  • Cognitive Linguistics
  • Word Order
  • Voice and Deponency
  • Corpus Linguistics
  • Theological Lexicography

Biblical Studies Greek Language
Stanley E. Porter
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 January 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 March 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0023


The New Testament, apart from a few words in Aramaic and Hebrew, is written in a form of the Greek language used throughout the Roman Mediterranean world of the 1st century. The Septuagint, the name given to the Greek version of the Old Testament (most of which is a translation from the Hebrew Bible, though not all), is also written in this form of Greek. This Greek is derived from a form of Attic Greek that became widely used for administrative and other purposes and was spread throughout the Mediterranean world by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE and afterwards. This Greek is typified by instances of phonological, morphological, and syntactical regularization, as its use became greatly extended in scope, either by those for whom Greek was not their first language or in environments where a trade or other common language was needed. Some of the most noticeable changes from earlier Greek are the elimination of dialects (though some regional variety is still present), reduction in particles and conjunctions, use of periphrasis for morphologically bulky synthetic forms (e.g., in the perfect tense-form), and reduction in scope of cases and extended use of prepositions, among many others. Because of its widespread use, even by those for whom it was not a first language, this Greek is called Koine, or common Greek. There is a long history of study of the Greek language of the Bible, beginning with the ancient Greeks themselves, and continuing especially from the time of the Renaissance and Reformation to the present. As a result, it would be virtually impossible to include all pertinent works on the Greek language of the Bible, and even of the New Testament. It certainly cannot be done in a few hundred annotated references. As a result, this article focuses upon major reference works regarding Greek, and significant works that have been written within the last forty or so years that reflect recent developments in Greek language and linguistics. Generally, only articles that make a unique or historically important contribution to the study of the Greek language or that are recent are cited. The topic of translation is not discussed in any significant way.

General Overviews

There have been many different kinds of introductions to the basic issues in study of the Greek of the New Testament. The approaches used are often quite different, with some emphasizing linguistics and others more traditional philological concerns.

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