Koine Greek

Formerly spoken in

Indo-European languages

  • Koine


Grc (historical Greek language until 1453 )

Grc (historical Greek language until 1453 )

The Koine (also Koine, stress on the second syllable) is the ancient Greek vernacular language from the Hellenistic to the Roman Empire ( 300 BC to 600 AD). Sometimes the late antique Greek (ca. 300-600 AD) will not be counted for the Koine. Greek was for centuries the most important lingua franca in the eastern Mediterranean, and also in the Latin West, the language was quite widespread.

Greek κοινή [ γλώσσα ] Koine [ glossa ] means " common [ language ] ". Greek language, the word kini [k ʲ ini ] is pronounced. Reconstructed contemporary pronunciations are [ koi̯nɛ ː ], [ kynɛ ː ], [ kyni ].

In today's linguistics is called " Koine " also refers to any dialect, which is accepted as a national standard in a language community (see lingua franca ).


The Koine Greek ( Modern Greek also Kini Alexandrian, Alexandrian common language ') was created by the mixing of the different Greek dialects ( Attic, Doric, Ionic, Aeolic ) during the several years of campaigns of Alexander the Great, whose army is different from Macedonians and Greeks regions recruited. Due to the great political and cultural significance of Athens in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, the basis of the Koine was the Attic.

The great territorial extension of the Macedonian Empire under Alexander the Great made ​​the Greek general lingua franca in southern Europe as well as Syria and Palestine to Egypt ( Ptolemaic Dynasty). The importance of Koine Greek in Asia Minor and Egypt did not fade even with the spread of Latin by the Romans and was named after the division of the Roman Empire into a western and an eastern part ( n in 395 BC) in Ostrom around 630 to sole official language. Thus, it formed the basis for the Greek of the Middle Ages and modern times.

Isidore of Seville looked at the Koine at the end of antiquity as the fifth Greek dialect besides Attic, Doric, Ionic and Aeolian ( etymology 9,1,4 f ). The Koine belongs to the ancient Greeks, but is quite different from the classical Greek of Sophocles or Plato, and very much of the language in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, including through simplification of the grammar and the sound inventory. Modern art language katharevousa builds more on the Koine than on the classical Attic.

Greek in the Bible

The writings of the New Testament of the Bible are written in Koine, the general (of all spoken ) language. The Septuagint is the spread in the New Testament period Koine translation of the Old Testament and source of most of the Old Testament quotations in the New Testament. It allows linguists insights into how the Jewish scholars of the last pre-Christian centuries have understood the Hebrew Tanakh (or Old Testament ). It can be observed that the Greek translation was created very precise and well thought out.

In Palestine there since Hellenism and Greek cities; just the top layer formed made ​​use of Greek, while mostly Aramaic was spoken in the common people. A New Testament witness to the Greek settlements is the mention of the Decapolis (Greek δέκα, deca, ten ' and πόλις, pólis ' city' ) designated federal Greek colony cities in the northeast of Palestine.

In addition, it is said in John 19.19-20 EU, that in the execution of Jesus, the plaque with the inscription "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews " in three languages: Hebrew, Latin and Greek was written, what the spread of Greek illustrated as a lingua franca. The spread of the new religion was greatly facilitated by them: by the Gospels (Greek εὐαγγέλιον euangelion "good news", "good news " ) were written in Greek, Christianity could rapidly in the urban population throughout the eastern Mediterranean spread ( on the country people spoke mostly other local languages ​​, which is why the new religion spread slowly here ).

Further use of the term Koine

Based on the importance of Koine Greek, this term is also generally applied to languages ​​that can be in an environment of dialects area as a common unit of language (default language) have emerged. In this sense, one can also view high German as a Koine, which is used as the standard variety of the German language area without having been completely displaced the many dialects.