The distinguishing feature, then, about the New Testament language is that it has for its regulating factor that type of colloquial Greek which originally prevailed in Egypt, which received a fixed form, or at least a standard, in the translation of the Old Testament, and which henceforward served as a linguistic basis for all Greek-speaking Jews. Some of the vernacular features which appear in the New Testament vocabulary have been treated in connection with the LXX., notably the constant employment of diminutives, well exemplified by St. Mark… The instances of vernacular words, already given from the LXX., occur also in the New Testament. But there is a further line of inquiry of great importance, which shows not only that the New Testament language contains a very large colloquial element, but that much of this element is no recent growth; that it has descended from an early period in the current popular speech of daily intercourse.

The Comic poets supply a valuable group of instances of words which are, at least, exceedingly rare outside their pages, and often found nowhere else, but which appear in the New Testament… In the Comic poets, if anywhere, we should expect to find the current popular speech strongly marked. And when words meet us all through the Comic literature of Greece, from Cratinus at its beginning to Posidippus at its close, which scarcely appear anywhere else except in the New Testament, we are justified in accepting this as proof positive of our position.

The facts exhibited show clearly the existence of a language of popular intercourse from an early time, which verges on the borders of the literary language, but is excluded from composition except in the case of Comedy. Yet many of the words in question must have borne the stamp of refinement, and belonged to the diction of polite speech at a period long antecedent to literary production. By processes which can no more be discovered, these words have somehow lost caste, and while by no means rejected altogether, we may believe, from the conversation of the educated, have come to be regarded as more or less “vulgar” and “rough.” In this way the door of literature was barred to them. But they continued all along to have full play in the language of daily life, and accordingly, when Greek literary taste began to decay, and the real literary dialect no longer survived in spontaneous form, these words again asserted themselves, and by the time the New Testament was written, they have regained their place in the language of educated men, and are found occasionally even in the writers of the “Common Dialect”…

A most interesting and important contribution is made to the history of colloquial Greek in connection with the language of the New Testament by the vocabulary of Aristophanes. In his case we have the advantage of seeing the phenomena of the Greek popular vocabulary at a definite stage in Greek history. So a landmark is given by which the past of the colloquial language and its future may be estimated. Besides, Aristophanes lived in the Golden Age of the Attic dialect, when the sense for language had reached its highest pitch. Accordingly, one may expect that the “popular” words admitted by him are, at least, on the higher level of the “conversational ” type of speech. This gives an additional criterion for the New Testament vocabulary…