APOLLUMI and voice

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Sat Oct 27 09:19:04 EDT 2001


For my own benefit may I share with you a look at APOLLUMI in 1 Corinthians?

This verb is a divalent verb with an agent and a patient that may be + or -
human. The verb in itself has a weaker sense of "lose something" and a
stronger sense of "destroy, kill someone". There are a several active and
middle forms in 1 Corinthians. There are no morphologically passive forms in
the NT, i.e. forms with the -QH- suffix, but there are syntactically passive
forms and middle forms, both of which are monovalent derivations of the
basic divalent form.

It seems to me that English has something similar to the
active-middle-passive, not in the morphology, but in the semantics. If I say
"I have lost one of my sheep" this is a divalent verb with an agent - me -
and a patient - the sheep. If I say "One of my sheep got lost" this is a
monovalent verb. The patient - poor sheep - is now the subject and is in
focus. That is similar to a middle form. No agent is specified and it is not
possible to add an agent. I cannot say in English "One of my sheep got lost
by me".
If we take the stronger sense of "destroy, kill", I can say "I killed one of
my sheep." This is again a divalent verb - active form would be used in
Greek. If I say "One of my sheep was killed" this is a passive in English,
but middle in Greek, at least in form. One can check the passive in English
by supplying an agent or cause as in "One of my sheep was killed by a car".
There is a difference in focus between the active "I killed one of my sheep"
and the passive with supplied agent "One of my sheep was killed - by me."

1 Cor 1:19 APOLW THN SOFIAN TWN SOFWN  - I will destroy the wisdom
1 Cor 1:18 hO LOGOS GAR hO TOU STAUROU TOIS MEN APOLLUMENOIS MWRIA ESTIN
for the word about the cross is nonsense to those who are getting lost
(perishing)
1 Cor 15:18 ARA KAI hOI KOIMHQENTES EN CRISTWi APOLONTO
then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have got(ten) lost (have
perished)
1 Cor 10:9 KAI hUPO TWN OFEWN APOLLUNTO
and they were being destroyed/killed by the serpents
1 Cor 10:10 KAI APOLONTO hUPO TOU OLOUQREUTOU
and they were destroyed/killed by the destroyer

APOLONTO is parsed as aorist middle, because it is middle in form, even
though it may be middle or passive in sense. (Perish or be killed).
APOLLUNTO is parsed as imperfective passive. One can argue that this parsing
is based on syntax in that it is possible to supply an agent to a passive
form but not to a middle form. The last two do have a hUPO. It is not so
much the question whether the hUPO is actually there as whether it could be
there. And the hUPO is still there in 10:10 with the middle verb.

Finally, I like it that when Jesus talks about the lost sheep, he is not
using middle, but active. The father seems to focus on his own sense of loss
more than the lostness of the son:
Luke 15:24 hOUTOS hO hUIOS MOU...HN APOLWLWS KAI hEUREQH
this my son is the one I had lost and he has been found
(I am not sure I am ready to go that far in my real translation, though.)
At the same time, the one who loses his life in Luke 9:24 is actively losing
it or discarding it. It is not just getting lost by some other person's
fault.

If I am not on the right track, I am ready to be enlightened.

Iver Larsen




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