ENDUW/ENDUOMAI (correction/clarification) Middle and passive

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Wed Oct 31 11:17:06 EST 2001

Thanks, Carl, for responding to my query. Let me comment on the new data.

You said about ENDUW:
> The fact is that there are NO aorist passive (-QH-) forms in the GNT for
> this verb; I got my figures from Accordance but have found that all 6 of
> the forms tagged as aorist passives are in fact aorist middles and not one
> of them can be considered passive in form or meaning. Upon rechecking I
> find the following forms given in these instances:
> Lk 24:49 ENDUSHSQE; 1 Cor 15:53 ENDUSASQAI (2x), 1 Cor 15:54 ENDUSHTAI
> (2x); Col 3:12 ENDUSASQE. Obviously all of these are middle and I think
> there's no doubt that these are the right readings in each
> instance. What a
> re-check of the Accordance data shows is that in each of these instances
> there is a variant that is identified as passive; I can't imagine such
> forms very well, but I guess they'd be something like ENDUQHTE (subj. 2
> pl.), ENDUQHNAI (2x), ENDUQHi (2x), and ENDUQHTE (imptv 2nd pl.). That's
> all that I can imagine is meant by the tagging, although I think it's
> utterly conceivable that such forms as these were ever
> grammatically viable.
> The upshot: ENDUOMAI is the standard form (27x in GNT) of this verb with
> the sense "dress oneself," but the active also appears, 3x only (Mt 27:31
> and Mk 15:20 ENEDUSAN AUTON TA hIMATIA; Lk 15:22 ENDUSATE AUTON) in the
> sense "put clothes upon a person".

I am not familiar with Accordance, but could it be the case that although
these six verbs are middle in form, they were tagged as potentially passive
in meaning? I realize you discarded the possibility that they could be
passive in meaning, but I am not so sure.

The active ENDUW has two objects in the accusative as can be seen above in
Mk 15:20, one is the experiencer, the person who is clothed, and the other
object is in semantic terms the "patient", what the person is clothed in or
Now the passive transformation as I understand it will make the agent
implicit. The agent is still hanging in the background and could be made
explicit again by a hUPO or similar preposition. Furthermore, one object is
transformed to become subject and the other object is retained. This means
that the experiencer fills the subject slot and the patient remains as the
only possible object. The passive transformation is from "I clothed him in a
dress" to "He was clothed in a dress (by me)."

You mentioned Luke 24:49:
hEWS hOU ENDUSHSQE EX hUYOUS DUNAMIN - until you are clothed in power from

Here the subject is the experiencer you-plural, and the remaining object is
the patient: power. The implied agent is the Father or Jesus. It is
theoretically possibly to supply hUPO QEOU/EMOU. The EX hUYOUS is if not the
agent then the source or realm where the power will come from.

The semantic difference between the middle and passive of these forms is
that in the middle the subject is agent-experiencer combined, and the
patient is object. In the passive the subject is the experiencer, and the
patient is object. The agent is implied with the potential of being made
If I say a sentence with the meaning of middle like "I clothed myself with
this dress" or "I have put on this dress" it is not possible to make
explicit another agent, because the agent is already explicit, although
combined with the experiencer. You cannot say "I clothed myself with this
dress by me/him/her/someone".
But if I make a passive statement like "I was clothed with this dress" then
I am still the experiencer, but not the agent. You can supply "I was clothed
with this dress by him/her/someone".

Is this not what you have been saying, Carl, that the mark of the passive
meaning is that it is possible to make explicit the agent? That would not be
possible for the middle meaning, because the agent is already explicit and
combined with the experiencer.

For the other five instances you mentioned, one can similarly argue that God
is the implied agent and therefore the meaning is or at least could be

I can imagine several instances of this and other verbs in the middle form
where it would not be clear from the context whether the meaning was middle
or passive. The only difference is whether the agent is implied and could be
made explicit or whether the agent is joined in union with the experiencer,
and it doesn't seem to be significant whether the tense is present,
imperfect, aorist, future, or perfect.

When it comes to grammatical tagging, I am wondering whether it would not be
simpler - and linguistically more accurate - to drop the whole question of
deponency - thank you, Carl -  keep the three tags A, M and P but make the
distinction between M and P on contextual grounds only, not morphology, for
all tenses. In that case, one would find a number of instances where a form
is unquestionably middle in meaning, others which are unquestionably passive
in meaning, but many which would need double tagging as either middle or
passive. (I have suggested this to Tim Friberg, but whether he takes the
suggestion, I don't know. There may be disadvantages that I don't see at the

What do you think?

Iver Larsen

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