[B-Greek] tenses of GINOMAI

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Jun 23 06:05:18 EDT 2003

At 8:57 PM -0500 6/22/03, Steven Lo Vullo wrote:
>On Sunday, June 22, 2003, at 06:12  AM, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>> The fact is that there is no substantive difference of meaning between
>> EGENOMHN and EGENHQHN; both forms with essentially the same sense are
>> in
>> use during the Hellenistic era, but it is evident that EGENHQHN is
>> becoming
>> ever more frequent and it did eventually completely supplant the older
>While the aorist passive form of GINOMAI may have later in history
>become ever more frequent and eventually have supplanted the aorist
>middle form, I don't see any evidence that such an eclipse was underway
>in the era with which we usually deal on B-Greek, at least not in the
>Greek literature written and used by early Christians. The breakdown in
>historical sequence from LXX to GNT to Apostolic Fathers is as follows:

I don't dispute these figures at all--I've presented them (for GNT and
LXX--not for the Apostolic Fathers) in my paper, which I suspect has not
been read seriously by many; what I have argued is that these two forms are
older and newer forms bearing the same sense that continue to be concurrent
during the Hellenistic era.I would not too that the Atticizing movement in
late first and second centuries retarded the process for a while, as
educated writers took pains to use forms current in the 4th and 3rd
centuries BC.

>In the LXX, GINOMAI in the aorist middle in all its various forms
>occurs 1378 times (77%), while in the aorist passive in all its various
>forms it occurs 420 times (23%). In the indicative, it is 960 (72%) to
>366 (28%).
>In the GNT, GINOMAI in the aorist middle in all its various forms
>occurs 447 times (91%), while in the aorist passive in all its various
>forms it occurs 45 times (9%). In the indicative, it is 233 (88%) to 31
>In the Apostolic Fathers, GINOMAI in the aorist middle in all its
>various forms occurs 200 times (96%), while in the aorist passive in
>all its various forms it occurs 9 times (4%). In the indicative, it is
>68 (96%) to 3 (4%).
>Not only does there not appear to be any gradual historical trend in
>our literature of the aorist middle forms being eclipsed by the aorist
>passive forms, but on the basis of the numbers, the opposite could
>actually be argued, though I would not go that far.
>>  In fact, the two most common verbs which retained some passive
>> usage in the older aorist MP -MHN/SO/TO forms (as indicated by agent
>> constructions with hUPO + genitive) are EGENOMHN and APWLOMHN. My
>> endeavor to demonstrate that EGENOMHN and EGENHQHN are not distinct in
>> meaning constitutes the bulk of my appendix to the document I've cited
>> in
>> the URL above.
>I don't think agentive constructions with hUPO and the genitive are a
>truly convincing indication of passive voice. Even active verbs, both
>transitive and intransitive, may be modified by agentive hUPO with the
>genitive (e.g., Matt 17.12; 2 Cor 11.24; 1 Th 2.14; Rev 6.8). In light
>of this, I don't think it is beyond the pale to think in terms of
>someone or something "perishing" by the agency of another.

Of course they can, which simply means that semantic voice is not tied to
the morphoparadigms; even if the MAI/SAI/TAI/MHN/SO/TO and -QH- forms are
more likely to be used with the hUPO construction, it's found in the active
in classical Attic as in PIPTW hUPO or APOQNHSKW hUPO. But in my book,
whether anyone else actually reads it or not, when one perishes at
another's hand, there's a passive semantic function.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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