CWRISQHi - follow up

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Sat Aug 5 08:28:20 EDT 2000

At 3:52 AM +0000 8/5/00, Mark Wilson wrote:
>Carl wrote:
>The truth is
>>rather that -QH- forms serve in the aorist exactly the same function as
>>MAI/SAI/TAI KTL. and MHN/SO/TO KTL. serve in the other "tenses"--which is
>>to say, aorists in -QH- tend to be reflexive or intransitive, depending on
>>whether or not there is some clear indicator that the subject is being
>>acted upon by an external agent or force.
>Here is the passage:
>1 Cor. 7:10b and 11:
>In 10b, I can not seem to even "force" a passive sense to this prohibition;
>it seems Active or Reflexive. However, 11a seems
>to slightly indicate a contrast (DE) from what is said in 10b.

Why do you want to "force" a passive sense on the prohibition? I'd say it's
a mistake to suppose that any passive sense should be intended here unless
an agent or external factor (hUPO + genitive, instrumental dative) is
clearly indicated as the decisive factor in the sense to be understood in

In 11 does have an adversative element at the outset, "but even supposing
that she does go her own way (i.e. apart from her husband), she should
continue unmarried ..." That is to say, 11 goes on to set forth what the
woman should do if the admonition in 7:10b has already been violated--or at
any rate, that's the way I'd understand it.

>Can one give 10b a Reflexive force, and give 11a a Passive sense, yielding
>something like:
>A wife [is] not to separate herself from her husband.
>But, and if, she has been separated from (by her husband)
>Is this at least a possibility?

As I've already stated above, I really think that the CWRISQH- form should
be understood as reflexive ("separate herself," "go her own way apart from
her huband") UNLESS there's some clear indication in the text that an agent
or external factor is at work in bringing about the separation. I'd still
want to convey the sense of 10:7b-11 as "that a woman should not separate
from her husband, but even if she does separate (from her husband), she
should continue (to be) unmarried or (else) reconcile with her husband
(yes, I'd take KATALLAGHTW also as reflexive in force).

>Carl also said:
>>If I say, "John and his wife are getting separated", is the verb in this
>>instance passive? No--unless what's being emphasized is the action
>>performed by a court, which may be the case in a particular context, but
>>normally it means that the couple in question are taking steps to dissolve
>>their marriage: in Greek the "voice" involved would be middle, I >think.
>As this is worded, I almost get the sense that this particular divorce
>situation involves mutual consent or agreement.

That's simply the way I worded it. But in the wording of the Greek of 1 Cor
7:11 it appears to me that the separation is essentially a deliberate
action on the part of the wife--she has decided to live independent of her
husband--or, taking the prohibition: "she ought not to take up an existence
independent of her husband ..."

>However, what I am trying to determine is whether or not in 1 Cor 7:11 the
>wife is "abandoned." In other words, I am wondering if it is possible that
>Paul prohibits a wife from divorcing in 10. And then addresses what her
>responsibility is if she is "abandoned."

I just don't see in 1 Cor 11 any indication whatsoever that she has been
"abandoned" by her husband; the following KATALLAGHTW ANDRI, as I've noted
above, appears to me reflexive just as CWRISQHi is in sense; KATALLAGHTW
ANDRI means that SHE should undertake the initiative for reconciliation
with her husband--and that presumably because SHE has originally taken the
initiative in the separation.

>It seems odd for Paul to prohibit a wife from divorcing her husband, and
>then immediately advise her what to do if she does.

I really don't think "divorce" is contemplated here in a legal sense
whatsoever. If you consider the larger context, it's a matter of Paul's
advice (grounded, as I see it, in his sense of eschatological urgency, to
persons and couples in the Corinthian congregation across a whole spectrum
of tangled intimacies and breakups. He's giving what he understands to be a
Jesus-LOGION in this instance, rather than his own personal advice. I think
he's saying that what Jesus urges is that a wife SHOULD NOT separate from
her husband but that Jesus well understands that his fundamental
command/instruction may not be heeded and therefore proceeds to give some
instruction governing a situation where the basic instruction has been

>Another question:
>What would be the main reason a Passive sense should be rejected in 1 Cor

In my opinion, the main reason is that there's no explicit indication of
any external agent or factor bringing about the separation. Moreover, it
seems to me that KATALLAGHTW in 11 implies there must be some effort at
reconciliation--i.e. the attitudes of each party to the other are the main
things that have to be worked on. I certainly wouldn't want to understand
KATALLAGHTW ANDRI to mean "she should be forced to come to terms with her
husband." It really seems to me that the language here shows a realistic
understanding of the nature of strained relationships in a bad marriage or
in a marriage that's going bad.

>May I also ask:
>If one were to presume that CWRIZW and AFIHMI are not simply stylistic
>variations, what would be a possible reason for using these two different

And why could they NOT be simply stylistic variations? Couldn't we in
English convey the sense with stylistic variants as: "A wife should not
separate from her husband, but if she does, she should continue in an unwed
state or get back together with her husband; and a husband should not leave
his wife either." It seems to me that "separate from" and "leave" really do
mean the same thing here.

>And my final question (in this post)  :o )
>Why the switch from Aorist Passive MH CWRISQHNAI for the wives to the
>parallel prohibition to the husbands with the Present Active MH AFIENAI?

I wouldn't want to be dogmatic about the answer to this one--I'm not sure
that the answer is clear at all regarding the choice of tenses. One
possibility, however, is that the wording of


may indicate not that ANDRA GUNAIKA MH AFIENAI is parallel to GUNAIKA APO
ANDROS MH CWRISQHNAI but rather is a continuation of the apodosis in the
condition of verse 11: "but even if she does separate, she should remain
unmarried or get reconciled with her husband and the husband should not
(simply) leave her." That is, perhaps AFIENAI is present tense for the same
reason that MENETW is present tense, and the meaning may be something like,
"but supposing that a wife has separated from her husband, in that case she
should stay unwed or come to terms with her husband, and the husband should
go on not leaving her--i.e. the husband should not simply acquiesce in the
separation but undertake active efforts to seek a reconciliation (like
Yahweh and Israel?).  I find that one intriguing possibility regarding the
present tense of AFIENAI, but that's not much more than a guess on my part
(I really jumped into this exchange because it seemed to me that the voices
of CWRISQHNAI were being misunderstood).


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at OR cwconrad at

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