A discussion was going on the "Nerdy Language Majors" facebook group about the pronunciation used in the Gospel of Mark film in relation to Greek pronunciation today. I thought I would address some of the points here (due to length):
Thank you for the feedback and the constructive criticism. Definitely appreciated. Let me address a few of your points...
First, I would not suggest that a native speaker of Greek today should adopt a restored Koine pronunciation. They can if they want to hear the phonology of the ancient language, but they already grew up with their pronunciation and it may actually cause too much interference if they try to switch over at this point. For that reason, I would recommend that a native speaker continue to interact with the scriptures in their native pronunciation. After all, their pronunciation is only different in a few main particulars from that of the Koine period.
Second, for non-native speakers of Greek learning the language, it is very important to use a pronunciation system that reflects the phonemic oppositions that were in play during the Koine period. For this reason, a modern pronunciation will not work. There were a number, few but important, phonemic contrasts that existed in the Koine pronunciation that are no longer present in Greek today. These can affect morphology.
So in terms of why we didn't get a native Greek speaker to do the recording: A separate Modern Greek pronunciation version of the ancient text would be ideal for a native-Greek speaking audience. It should be done in addition to what I have done. Let me just say that first. For non-native Greek speakers learning ancient Greek, a restored Koine pronunciation is ideal (it is more similar to Modern Greek than an "academic" pronunciation so it is still like the real living language today) and it most accurately reflects the phonemic contrasts of the ancient period. I might finish here by noting that if someone finds a native Greek speaker who is willing to do a recording of the Gospels with a restored Koine pronunciation (I could coach them in that if they don't already study historical phonology), I would be happy to work with them on that.
Now, in terms of the actual critiques of my pronunciation from the perspective of a native Greek speaker. Let me divide these into three categories: (1) differences based on diachrony, (2) differences based on influence of my linguistic background, and (3) prosodic differences (i.e., inflection, rhythm, etc). Only the last two of these categories are real critiques.
1) DIACHRONY (i.e., chronological change)
If you present my recordings to a native Greek speaker who does not have a background in historical phonology, they will think it sounds strange. The vowels η and υ-οι are pronounced differently: i.e., ἥλιος [elios] and λύω [lyo] (or lüo). Also, the fricative consonants β, γ, δ maintain their ancient stop realizations after nasals: e.g., λάβε [laβε] but λαμβάνω [lambano]. There are a number of other nuanced differences, but these are the main ones. This will probably always sound unusual to a native Greek speaker today, but it is the way they pronounced it in the Koine period.
2) VERNACULAR INTERFERENCE
I am not a native Greek speaker and thus it is inevitable that some of my own linguistic background will seep into my Greek. I won't be perfect in my pronunciation. I fully admit that and am always trying to get better. Any pointers are gladly received. I especially appreciate the pointer on the /o/ vowel. I will do my best to imitate native Greek speakers on that one, since it is presumably the same as it was in the ancient period.
Let me make another point here, though, that might help brings us back to the reality on the ground in the Koine period. Take a look at a quote from Josephus:
Josephus, Ant. 20.263: ἔχω γὰρ ὁμολογούμενον παρὰ τῶν ὁμοεθνῶν πλεῖστον αὐτῶν κατὰ τὴν ἐπιχώριον παιδείαν διαφέρειν καὶ τῶν Ἑλληνικῶν δὲ γραμμάτων ἐσπούδασα μετασχεῖν τὴν γραμματικὴν ἐμπειρίαν ἀναλαβών, τὴν δὲ περὶ τὴν προφορὰν ἀκρίβειαν πάτριος ἐκώλυσεν συνήθεια.
For my compatriots willingly acknowledge that I far exceed them in Jewish learning. I have also made a great effort to acquire Greek learning by taking up the study of the grammatical discipline, but my native language has prevented me from attaining precision with respect to Greek pronunciation (προφορά)
Josephus wrote in a higher literary register of Greek than just about all (if not all) of the New Testament authors. Nevertheless, as a Greek-speaking Jew living in Palestine, he could not avoid his native pronunciation of Hebrew/Aramaic affecting his pronunciation of Greek, even if only slightly.
Anyone who has studied a number of regional varieties of Koine Greek, with respect to pronunciation, realizes quite quickly that there are essentially two main factors in the different pronunciations of Koine around the Mediterranean: (i) the rate/time at which certain universal changes take place and (ii) the impact of the local languages on the pronunciation.
Therefore, while I always want to get better and pronounce my Greek like a native as much as possible--where the sounds have stayed the same from the Koine period--local languages influencing the pronunciation of Greek was a hallmark of the Koine period, and that surely did not stop communication.
3) PROSODIC FEATURES:
Again, here I fully admit that this is something that I want to get better at. I believe prosodic rhythm and inflection is one of the last features of speech to become "nativized" for non-native learners. It takes a while to get this just right. Without real effort, non-native speakers might speak a language for decades and never adapt here. So I fully appreciate advice and pointers here. In fact, if your friend would like to give me more detailed critiques I would be glad to receive them and improve on the next time.
Hope this is helpful. If anyone has any further questions, feel free to keep them coming.