John 1:38

Randy Leedy Rleedy at
Sat Nov 13 16:46:11 EST 1999

Garland Shinn wrote:
>>>The aorist passive participle STREPHEIS is used in John 1:38, and
usually translated "turning." Does anyone have insight into this
idiom? Why is the aorist active participle not used?

Perhaps this question has already been answered, but I'll post a
quick reply anyway, in case not, or in case I may add something

STREFW is one of those verbs with some complexities regarding its
voice with reference to transitivity/intransitivity. One may turn an
object (transitive) or one may turn oneself (intransitive or
reflexive). The latter idea is usually expressed with the passive
voice, and I'd say this is what is happening in John 1:38. It would be
a mistake to understand the passive voice as implying that Jesus was
turned by some outside agent; he simply turned. To use the active
voice, as Garland inquired about, would be to imply that Jesus turned
something or someone other than himself (though Acts 7:42 may well be
a counterexample to my claim).

A good many verbs work this way in their active/passive voices, and
sometimes the interpreter has his hands full to decide whether a
passive is truly passive (i.e., transitive) or whether it is
intransitive. To my knowledge, EGEIRW in reference to Jesus'
resurrection is one of the more notorious examples: is it that Jesus
AROSE or that he WAS RAISED? I believe one could find unambiguous
examples of both meanings, so that it may well be possible to maintain
that both are true, based on Trinitarian considerations that go
outside the list's scope.

Getting back to my main point, this matter is something with which
beginning and intermediate Greek students usually struggle, and it
includes many verbs, not just STREFW. Look through the BAGD article on
hISTHMI if you want a real challenge of this sort. Speaking of BAGD, I
find this lexicon to be extremely helpful on this matter, never
failing to point out the usage of the voices of verbs. I'll be
interested to see if anyone (e.g. someone who is more deeply into
modern linguistics) throws cold water on my enthusiasm over BAGD at
this point or whether the point is allowed to stand unchallenged.

In Love to God and Neighbor,
Randy Leedy
Bob Jones University
RLeedy at

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