instances of (accusative) objects in passive constructions

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Wed Oct 17 07:59:47 EDT 2001


At 10:34 AM +0200 10/17/01, Iver Larsen wrote:
>> I at first suggested to several scholars that maybe the accusative (with
>> passive FOBEW) was accusative of specification or reference. That was
>> quickly rejected, but for some of these many other forms it may be the/an
>> explanation. Or perhaps a causative sense to the passive verb may provide
>> some explanation. In some cases the verb takes two objects, leaving one of
>> them behind when one is promoted to subject. And in a few more
>> cases, there seems to be a "cognate accusative" construction.
>
>I looked a bit at the first three words below, and it seems to me that the
>causative idea is worth pursuing for the first two, and the cognate
>accusative for number three (singing a song is like being baptized with a
>baptism).

I too have looked carefully through the first three of the verbs listed in
the original message forwarded by Wayne. It will not surprise long-time
B-Greekers that I have found just about every instance of an accusative
object used with one of these supposedly (in terms of -QH- morphology)
"passive" verbs more intelligible in terms of a middle-voice meaning
assigned to the -QH- verbs. While a few of these accusative objects can
indeed be characterized as cognate accusatives (e.g. FOBHQHNAI FOBON,
BAPTISQHNAI BAPTISMA), I think that they, no less than the others (at least
in the list of passages cited for the first three verbs on the list) are
better understood as direct objects of middle-voice verb forms. The
"causative idea", insofar as I understand what is meant by it, really falls
under what I rather think is the function of an authentic middle voice,
i.e. undergoing a "self-transforming" experience, whether deliberately or
not.

One of the propositions regarding voice-forms that I've been urging
(mostly, I think, upon "deaf ears") is that:

(1) the -QH- forms of the aorist and future tenses are WRONGLY (or, at the
least, MISLEADINGLY) labeled as "passive"--that they are actually forms
that have supplanted in middle aorists and middle futures in the course of
the historical development of ancient Greek;

(2) while the -QH- forms may on occasion actually function authentically as
passives, they do so clearly and unmistakably only when an agent or
instrument is indicated by a hUPO + genitive construction (when the agent
is animate) or by an instrumental dative construction (when the efficient
cause is inanimate); otherwise the -QH- forms are every bit as ambiguous as
the so-called "middle-passive" endings traditionally used in the other
tenses (MAI/SAI/TAI KTL. & MHN/SO/TO KTL).

Now, back to Timothy Friberg's original post:

At 4:18 PM -0600 10/16/01, Wayne Leman wrote:
>One of these verbs, traditionally thought of as passive deponent, is
>FOBEOMAI, "fear." We marked it so in AGNT, even though we were unknowingly
>breaking one of the analytical founding principles of AGNT, viz., that we
>analyze forms according to first-century usage (for example, whether AP or
>N- for substantives; whether active or deponent for verbs). Recent computer
>advances have given us more direct access to the TLG database and have shown
>that some of our earlier determinations were in error. One of these is the
>verb in question, which has been reanalyzed as FOBEW, an active lemma.
>Though (still) active in the first century, GNT forms of this verb are
>entirely nonactive.

I won't have access to the TLG database to check first-century usage until
the end of November, but so far as I am aware, FOBEW is active at any
period of Greek only in the sense "terrify" or "frighten." If there is
evidence to the contrary, I'd like to see it. GNT forms show only FOBEOMAI,
FOBHQHSOMAI, EFOBHQHN because this verb appears in the GNT only in the
sense "fear" and the forms FOBHQHSOMAI and EFOBHQHN mean essentially "I
shall be afraid of" and "I feared" respectively, both as transitive verbs
that will take a direct object.

Now I return to Iver's response to the forwarded message:

At 10:34 AM +0200 10/17/01, Iver Larsen wrote:
>> WFELEW 6 passive instances with apparent accusative object; other active
>> instances: MT15.5;16.26; MK5.26; 7.11; LU9.25; 1C13.3
>>
>> BAPTIZW 5 passive instances with apparent accusative object; other active
>> instances: MK10.38 (2X), 39 (2X); LU7.29
>>
>Without having done  exhaustive research, my suggestion is that
>WFELEW is best described as a trivalent verb in Greek with the basic meaning
>of "something results in (or causes - or is the source of) a benefit to
>somebody." The first argument, which grammatically is subject (nominative)
>in an active form, would be the cause/source of the benefit. The first
>object (accusative) is the actual benefit or gain which results and the
>second object (accusative) is the experiencer of the benefit. (I am using
>the semantic experiencer role here, because there is a possibility that an
>experiencer that is not subject is expressed by accusative in Greek rather
>than dative or genitive.)

I would agree pretty much with this analysis, although in my more
traditional grammatical language I think I'd prefer to say that WFELEW is a
transitive verb that takes an internal object and an external object OR (to
use an alternative traditional explanation) that takes an accusative of the
person benefitted and an adverbial accusative of the extent of the benefit.

>Mr 8:36 TI GAR WFELEI ANQRWPON KERDHSAI TON KOSMON hOLON
>subject=cause/source of benefit: gaining the whole world
>1. object= actual gain: what? (implied: nothing)
	alternatively "how much gain?" (adverbial accusative)
>2. object=experiencer: a person
>
>Jhn 6:63 hH SARX OUK WFELEI OUDEN
>subject, cause/source of benefit: SARX
>1. object, actual gain. OUDEN
	alternatively "not at all" (adverbial accusative)
>2. object, experiencer: left implicit (people)
>
>1 Cor 14:6 TI hUMAS WFELHSW
>subject, cause/source of benefit: I (part of verb)
>1. object, actual gain: What?
	alternatively "how much gain?" (adverbial accusative)
>2. object, experiencer: hUMAS
>
>Similarly:
>Gal 5:2 CRISTOS hUMAS OUDEN WFELHSEI
>
>In a passive construction the cause/source of the benefit is suppressed - or
>made implicit - and the experiencer takes over as the grammatical subject.
>Luk 9:25 TI GAR WFELEITAI ANQRWPOS
>subject=experiencer: a person
>1. object= actual gain: what?
>
>Matt 16:26 TI GAR WFELHQHHSETAI ANQRWPOS
>subject, experiencer: ANQRWPOS
>1. object, actual gain: TI;
>
>Matt 15:5 DWRON hO EAN EX EMOU WFELHQHiS
>subject, experiencer: you - part of verb
>1. object, actual gain: DWRON hO
>Notice that the cause/source of the benefit (subject in the active sentence)
>is suppressed by a passive form. However, it is possible in Greek and
>English to bring such suppressed roles back by way of prepositions. If the
>suppressed role was an agent, the normal preposition would be hUPO, but here
>the role is a cause/source, and therefore the appropriate preposition is EK.

As I stated above, I think it would be far easier to understand these
constructions NOT as passive at all but rather as MIDDLE:

Luk 9:25 TI GAR WFELEITAI ANQRWPOS "What gain, after all,  does a person
get for himself?"
Matt 16:26 TI GAR WFELHQHHSETAI ANQRWPOS "What gain, after all, will a
person get for himself?"
Matt 15:5 DWRON hO EAN EX EMOU WFELHQHiS "Whatever gift you may reap the
benefit of from me ..."

Finally (from the original forwarded message):
At 4:18 PM -0600 10/16/01, Wayne Leman wrote:
>BAPTIZW 5 passive instances with apparent accusative object; other active
>instances: MK10.38 (2X), 39 (2X); LU7.29

Mk 10:38 (Jesus addresses the sons of Zebedee): DUNASQE PIEIN TO POTHRION
hO EGW PINW H TO BAPTISMA BAPTISQHNAI TO BAPTISMA hO EGW BAPTIZOMAI
BAPTISQHNAI? The same construction with slight change to transform the
question into an affirmative prophecy in Mk 10:39 TO POTHRION hO EGW PINW
PIESQE KAI TO BAPTISMA hO EGW BAPTIZOMAI BAPTISQHSESQE.

Lk 7:29 KAI PAS hO LAOS AKOUSAS KAI hOI TELWNAI EDIKAIWSAN TON QEON
BAPTISQENTES TO BAPTISMA IWANNOU.

Of course TO BAPTISMA in these instances is a "cognate accusative" but I
would contend that even so the so-called "passive" verbs here (BAPTISQHNAI,
BAPTISQHESESE, BAPTISQENTES) would be better understood as MIDDLE: "undergo
baptism for one's benefit". Iver might describe the sense here as "be
caused to be baptized" (I don't know that he would) but I think it would be
simpler to understand them simply as Middles: "have oneself baptized" or
"undergo baptism."

I'm going to follow up the rest of this list today and present a report of
my own findings. I must say I'm grateful for this "grist for my mill." On
the surface and at the outset it certainly looks like evidence for the
inadequacy of our traditional classification of voice forms and
particularly for the inadequacy of our traditional conception of
"deponency."
-- 

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/



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