As the New Testament of the Bible was written in Greek, it is helpful to have a knowledge of the Greek alphabet and language. The Greek language has a rich history, dating all the way back to the thirteenth century BC. The Greek alphabet was derived from the Phoenician alphabet, as was Hebrew. Phoenicia (now Lebanon) was a country on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

The form of Greek used by writers from Homer (8th century BC) to Plato (4th century BC) is called Classical Greek. There were three dialects to classical Greek, Doric, Aeolic, and Ionic (of which Attic is a derivation).

Alexander the Great, who was tutored by Aristotle, spoke Attic Greek and conquered the known world in the 4th century BC, spreading the Greek language and culture thoughout the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea . Thus began the Hellenistic Age. A common Greek language arose among the people and became known as Koine Greek (the word meaning “common”). Koine Greek was the language form used by the New Testament writers.

Acts 16:6-10 tells us the Holy Spirit forbade Paul on his missionary journeys from “preaching the Gospel to the province of Asia.” Paul was then urged in a dream to “come to Macedonia to help us.” This passage suggests it was no accident that the Christian message, in the beginning when it was taking shape, entered the world of Greece, merging with the intellectual quest for Truth and understanding.

The Greek Alphabet

References1 Martin R. Theological Foundations. Course Lecture and Texts. Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio, 2003.
2 Mounce, WD. Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1993.
3 Ratzinger, JC. Introduction to Christianity. Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1990.

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