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Mounce Archive 25 - Punctuating Greek

Categories Mondays with Mounce

Bill Mounce is traveling this month and is taking a break from his weekly column on biblical Greek until April. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your Greek-studying pleasure.

In today's post from the archive, Bill Mounce suggests we use punctuation to aid in Greek translation. Most translators, he says, use English punctuation sparingly; however, some phrases that are tricky to translate might be helped by some punctuation, such as dashes.

You can read the entire post here.

I don’t think I have ever been in a Greek class — either as a student or a teacher — in which punctuation was discussed as a tool for translation. We look at case and tenses and the meanings of words, but not how punctuation can help convey the meaning of the passage.

This is not a good thing. Because Greek uses endings (for the most part) to convey the relationships among words, Greek can insert words and even phrases between two related words (or phrases). English, on the other hand, uses word order and proximity to indicate relationships. In the sentence, “The black cat chased the little mouse,” we know the cat is black and the mouse is little because “black” is close to “cat” and “little” is close to “mouse.” But this does not work in Greek.

(Continue reading the entire post here.)


William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics on the ZA Blog. He is the author of numerous works including the recent Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures and the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek. He is the general editor of Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV. The Mounce Reverse-Interlinear™ New Testament is available to freely read on Bible Gateway.

Learn more about Bill's Greek resources at

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