[B-Greek] divine passive?
Matson, Mark (Academic)
MAMatson at milligan.edu
Wed Jul 30 17:20:37 EDT 2008
I have been doing a lot of research on the use of the third person
imperatives in the Lord's Prayer (am reading this weekend at CBA on
this). There are tons of questions about the use of these third person
imperatives. Mine here is fairly precise.
In Betz's commentary on the Lord's Prayer, and in a few other
references, Betz emphasizes that at least two of the imperatives are
passive, and he points to Blass-Debrunner for support that this is a
passivum divinum, a divine passive. The references in BDF are sections
130(1), 313, and 342 (1).
By suggesting this is a divine passive (i.e., a passive that seeks to
avoid directly naming God), he is suggesting that it really is
functioning equivalent to a second person imperative, and thus God is
the agent for the actions (hallowing his name, doing his will; and by
extension bringing in his kingdom). And a corollary to this, then, is
that this is eschatological in focus, since all of this will not be
"done" until the eschaton. For a lot of reasons I have problems with
this, but mostly they focus on the nature of the third person
imperative, not the passive aspect.
My question concerns this concept of the divine passive. How extensive
of a concept is it? Frankly, BDF's comments are obscure, and mostly (2
of the 3 entries) seem to be based on Jeremias's Eucharistic Words of
Jesus book. Jeremias seems to see a lot coming out of Aramaic. I could
not find a direct reference in Robertson or Moulton.
Is the heavy influence of Aramaic presence really that apparent and
common in biblical prayers? In contemporary Greek, was a passive
commonly used in prayers to avoid naming God? What little I could find
(including much earlier Homer, but also some Eleusinian prayers) it
seems that God is pretty directly named. And 2nd singular active
imperatives often used. But I very much might be missing something
here. I would welcome your input on this.
[P.S. I have a hunch the passive is there for far more mundane reasons,
like obscuring or shifting the agent]
Mark A. Matson
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