LOGIZOMAI: passive or active?

Dale M. Wheeler dalemw at teleport.com
Mon Mar 11 12:13:32 EST 2002

> > In a message dated 3/10/02 4:45:57 PM, moon at sogang.ac.kr writes:
> >
> > >It seems that LOGIZOMAI is used both with passive (Rom 4.3-4) and active
> > >meaning (1Cor 5.9). How is it possible?
> > >Especially I wonder whether the LXX translation (quoted in Rom 4.3) of
> > >Gen 15:6 has made the active statement of the original into the passive
> > >statement. In the original, it says "Abraham believed in the Lord. He
> > >counted it to him as righteousness".
>Thanks for the correct reference. So, your point is that LOGIZOMAI is a
>middle/passive form, which can be used as passive when the context
>requires. The "active meaning", e.g. 1 Cor 13.5, 2 Cor 5:19, is actually
>the middle meaning. Right?
>I kept track of what Carl said on the middle/passive form, and I was
>not able to apply his insight to this case. Thanks.
>Moon R. Jung
>Sogang Univ, Seoul, Korea

LOGIZOMAI is a **classic** example of why the Latin concept of deponency 
should not be applied to Greek verbs.  If you look at LSJ  at Perseus 
you will see exactly the same thing laid out for the entire history of 
Greek that is found in the NT and the LXX.  All the passive forms of LOGIZ- 
are *true* passives, "to be reckoned, considered", while all of the middle 
forms are *true* middles...the only problem is that they get translated 
into English as actives "to reckon", because its awkward in English to say 
"to personally, mentally, [by] himself, etc., reckon", but that's exactly 
what IS going on in Greek.  There are NO active uses of this verb in Greek 
acc. to LSJ, but that does NOT mean that its "deponent".  All it means is 
that from the Greek perspective, whenever anyone "reckoned", that person 
"reckoned, calculated, accounted, counted, considered" *personally*, ie., 
no one else did it for you, it is a personal, internal process, 
etc....that's what the Greek middle is really all about.  It can be used 
reflexively like English, but that's not its primary use.

If it weren't for the fact that ALL the dictionaries/lexicons up to this 
point in history, following the Latin idea of deponency, have listed the 
lexeme as LOGIZOMAI, in updating the CCAT/UPenn MorphLXX and the GRAMCORD 
MorphGNT, I'd go ahead and change this one to its correct form LOGIZW, for 
that *certainly* is what it should be. Maybe someday lexicography will 
catch up with linguistics...and then we can get rid of this deponency 
discussion and talk about what Greek verbs are really doing as to their 
"voice", sort of like the enlightening discussions we've had over the past 
several years about tense/aspect/lexis.

By the way, as pointed out by my colleague in revising the MorphLXX, 
Bernard Taylor (in his paper presented at the most recent SBL on the topic 
of deponency in the LXX), you can add to LOGIZOMAI the following 
non-deponent lexemes which only occur in the Mid and Pass: AISQUNOMAI, 
PUNQANOMAI.  We've actually catalogued many others which follow exactly the 
same pattern; some of them develop a late active form, which however does 
not skew the understanding of the use of the verb from Classical up thru NT 
times.  A large number of others are again true middles, but speakers have 
started using the passive form in place of the middle, evidently because it 
was more common (I think this is what Carl has pointed out 
previously).  Most likely ERXOMAI fits into this category; but until we get 
verbs like LOGIZOMAI out of the discussion, we'll not be able to analyze 
verbs like ERXOMAI to see if they are just middles (when you "go", its YOU 
doing it, not someone else) or whether there really are Greek deponents 
(ie., words which cannot bear a transitive or passive meaning, viz., you 
cannot be "go'ed"...you can be brought, however).  I suspect from the Greek 
perspective its the former, since a couple of times the active ERXW 
actually occurs, and in the Aor the verb becomes active...but that remains 
to be seen.

Dale M. Wheeler, Ph.D.
Research Prof., Biblical Languages          Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan St.                                  Portland, OR 97220
V: 503-2516416        F: 503-251-6478      E: dalemw at teleport.com

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