About R. Scott Clark
R. Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association
, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books
and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. Read more»
He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.
That oddly-rendered theta symbol used to bug the daylight out of me when I would come across it in texts. The same is true for the digamma when talking about Greek word roots.
I think that digamma is interesting. Atypically it represents the soft g in the Cyrillic Azeri orthography (now discarded in favour of the Latin one). However, according to Wikipedia (which in this instance I’m inclined to believe) it represented in Greek the labio-dental voiced fricative and from its shape is derived not only the “F” (our dear Head of Classics at school thought the digamma WAS “F” in ancient Greek – he never thought it might be “v”), but the upsilon. If the latter is true, then the way today’s Greeks pronounce the upsilon following alpha and epsilon, i.e., as a “v”, might well be the way it was pronounced by the ancient Greeks (e.g., Paul was always Pavlos and thank you was always evchristo – incidentally, I wonder whether the -mega and -micron of omega and omicron referred to the extent of opening of the mouth rather than the length of the vowel; if so, the second vowel of Nazareth and Nazoraios might have sounded more similar than we tend to think)!
I don’t know whether the antiquity or otherwise of some of the more unfamiliar (to us) representations is of interest here, but I would have thought it might be. The Cyrillic alphabet, developed from the Greek around the turn of the 1st millennium, might provide a clue. I think the third representations of the beta, delta and,most obviously, the sigma look more like the Cyrillic than the representations used today. Not, however, that funny theta.