Occasionally I like to look at Modern Greek and see how well my knowledge of Koine Greek helps me figure it out. Usually the answer is "not much." I can tell you however that Sherlock, the do-everything utility that comes with Mac OS X, handles Modern Greek pretty well. Here's a sentence from the above-noted article on Dylan:
Ο Dylan έφτασε στη Νέα Υόρκη τον Ιανουάριο του 1961, κάνοντας αμέσως αισθητή την παρουσία του στη folk κοινότητα του Γκρίνουιτς Βίλατζ.And here's the translation, unrevised, from Sherlock:
The Dylan reached in the New York in January 1961, making immediately perceptible his presence in the folk community of Gkrj'noyjts Vj'latz.Good enough. And for you Koine fans out there, you can see the faces of some old friends: παρουσία (presence) and κοινότητα (community). έφτασε gave me some trouble, but it must be derived from φθάνω (arrive, reach); the Koine form would be ἔφθασεν (cf. Matthew 12:28). And the orthography of Γκρίνουιτς Βίλατζ (Greenwich Village) is itself a short course in Modern Greek phonology.
All of that leads me to yet another question: Should Biblical scholars know Modern Greek? My friend Fr. Bill Gartig believes that scholars should use the Modern Greek pronunciation in their study, on the grounds that the living tradition of a language is always preferable to an artificial reconstruction. And in fact it is now normal for scholars of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible to use the Israeli Hebrew pronunciation when vocalizing the text; anyone who uses the vocalization found in older, Christian textbooks will be derided for using "seminary Hebrew."
I've differed with Bill about this on the grounds that the Masoretic Text is uniquely the sacred text of Judaism, while the Greek Bible (LXX and New Testament) is not in the same sense the special property of Greek-speaking Christianity. We should pay attention to how today's Jews vocalize the text, because that text and its vocalization has been the special gift of that faith community. But does that analogy hold true between, say, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Greek Bible?
Nevertheless, I have to admit that most of the reasons I would give a bible scholar for learning Modern Hebrew and its pronunciation could also be used to support learning Modern Greek. Does anyone in Biblioblogdom have any light to shed on this?
UPDATE (2/10): More here.
UPDATE: "Expecting Rain" readers: More here.