[B-Greek] 2 Thess. 2:6-7--two proposals

Webb webb at selftest.net
Fri Mar 2 14:42:01 EST 2007

Dear Carl,

"Perhaps "leaves the scene" (as suggested in BDAG) might do, but  
that phrase and "gets out of the way" both suggest very strongly that  
hO KATECWN ARTI "leaves the scene" or "gets out of the way"  
voluntarily, and I think that is probably not intended. "

Is your sense that hO KATECWN ARTI does not stop restraining "voluntarily"
based on the context and/or wider interpretive principles, or on the basis
of the grammar and vocabulary of the phrase hEWS EK MESOU GENHTAI itself? I
guess that if Paul hadn't made the restrainer personal, and I had read that
the impersonal restraining force will restrain hEWS EK MESOU GENHTAI, I'd
read that as "until it's out of the way". But since it is personalized, the
assumption that I bring to reading the sentence is that the restrainer can
and will restrain as long as he (sic) wishes to do so, and then he will stop
restraining. Unless something specific in the context informs me
differently, I'm going to assume that he's going to "voluntarily" get out of
the way. 
I am reading between the lines that you don't think the writer would have
expressed that notion with the words hEWS EK MESOU GENHTAI, because GINOMAI
indicates not a voluntary change to a new condition or state, but an
involuntary or at least quasi-involuntary transformation to a new condition
or state. I suppose I, who allow contractions in my translation could
cleverly split the difference by rendering it as "until he's gotten out of
the way"--which expands to "until he has gotten out of the way" and "until
he is gotten out of the way". But I guess it would really help me if you
could say how you think the writer could more naturally have said "until he
gets out of the way" in Greek, if a voluntary cessation of his restraining
action had been what he had had in mind.
I still am laboring under the assumption that GINOMAI can quite naturally be
used when the subject is, in Iver's terminology, the implied ACTOR. For
examples of GINOMAI being used where people are commanded to become
something, see Mt. 10:16; 18:3 (ambiguous); 24:44; Lk. 6:36; 12:40; Jn
20:27; 1 Cor. 4:16; 10:32; 11:1; 15:58; Gal. 4:12; Eph. 4:32; 5:1; Phil.
3:17; Col. 3:15; Jas 1:22; 3:1; 1 Pet. 1:15; Rev. 2:10; 3:2. 
For examples of GINOMAI being used where people are said to come, or not to
come, into such and such a state, for which change of state they themselves
would implicitly have been responsible, see Mk 1:4; Luke 13:2, 4; 16:11, 12;
Acts 7:52; Eph. 2:13 (ambiguous); Col. 4:11; 1 Thess. 1:5, 6; 2:5, 7, 10, 14
(ambiguous); Jas 2:4.

"How about "until he is out of the way"?"

I'm open to that, when you're finished persuading me that "gets out of the
way" conveys too active a sense.

"Difficulties arise when the alteration of condition or the coming into a
new state SEEMS to depend upon an external agent or instrumentality. "

As I said, there is no such difficulty for me when I read 2 Thess. 2:7.
Somebody's now holding somebody back, and unless something tells me
otherwise, I'm going to continue to assume that he's going to do so until he
decides to stop holding that somebody back. 

Webb Mealy

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Carl W. Conrad [mailto:cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu]
> Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2007 4:36 PM
> To: Webb
> Cc: 'B-Greek'
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] 2 Thess. 2:6-7--two proposals
> On Mar 1, 2007, at 6:23 PM, Webb wrote:
>> Dear Carl,
>> You gave EGEIRW as an example of a verb that can sometimes be
>> construed as
>> either middle or passive. But the difference between EGEIRW and
>> that EGEIRW can be transitive, and GINOMAI cannot. HGERQH EK MESOU
>> could
>> mean either "got up out of the middle" or "was lifted out from the
>> middle".
> HGERQH is, of course, the aorist of EGEIROMAI. Yes, there is an
> active EGEIRW, but the primary verb really is the middle; the active
> form is causative. More often than not we see HGERQH used without any
> hUPO + genitive agent construction; some would prefer to translate it
> always as "was raised" and call it some such thing as a "divine
> passive" (a designation I've always thought amusing). I would prefer
> to English HGERQH as "he rose." Although this verb is sometimes used
> in the active in the sense of "erect" a structure, it is most
> commonly used of persons rising or awaking.
> Nevertheless I think that there are frequent occasions when we might
> wish to understand GINOMAI without an agent-construction as
> essentially passive, as in the petition of the LP: 	GENHQHTW TO
> QELHMA SOU (Mt 6:10) -- I should note that I think GENHQHTW is simply
> an alternative form of GENESQW. We could understand this petition as
> "May your will come to be" -- but how is that supposed to happen
> unless someone obediently performs God's will? It makes good sense,
> therefore, to English the petition as "May your w1ll be done."
>> Unless there was absolutely no other way the sentence could make
>> sense, I
>> can't see a reason to express GINOMAI EK MESOU as something beyond
>> (1) "gets
>> out of the way" or (2) "gets [under his own power] out of the
>> situation".
>> And I think each of those readings makes good sense in and of
>> itself in 2
>> Thess. 2:7. For example, looking at option (1):
>> The lawless one is going to appear at some future point. There's only
>> (MONOS) one thing holding him back: the restrainer (hO KATECWN),
>> who, at
>> some future point, will presumably stop restraining, and at which
>> point the
>> lawless one will appear. I reckon that the idea of "to stop
>> restraining" can
>> be expressed equally well as "to get out of the way" (GINOMAI EK
>> MESOU).
>> What's wrong with that? Particularly in view of the fact that the
>> writer
>> personalizes the restrainer by calling him hO KATECWN, not just TO
>> the presumption is that this personal force has the option of
>> restraining so
>> long, and then stopping. If "until he gets out of the way" sounds
>> like an
>> unlikely rendering of ARTI hEWS EK MESOU GENHTAI, I'd like to hear
>> your
>> reason for thinking so. Otherwise I can't see what would induce me to
>> imagine another implied actor, who has the supposed role of
>> removing the
>> restrainer from the place where he metaphorically stands restraining.
>> On the assumption that you've encountered the verb GINOMAI in tens of
>> thousands of instances, I accept your statement it's not out of the
>> question
>> that GINOMAI can occasionally carry have an implicit passive sense.
>> So once
>> again, the question I'd have is, wouldn't that be the last option,
>> in the
>> case that a middle sense, "action performed by the subject and
>> involving the
>> subject", didn't seem possible?
> We need to distinguish what we understand the Greek formulation to
> mean and how we choose to English the idea expressed in the Greek
> formulation. I think that in the context hEWS EK MESOU GENHTAI does
> mean -- in the Greek, "until he gets out of the center of things."
> That is expressed with maximal economy, and I don't think that most
> who want to English it would be satisfied with that formulation. One
> might use, "until he's gone" and perhaps that would be sufficient,
> BUT if the interpreter supposes that this exit of the restrainer
> comes about through some instrumentality or agency beyond the
> "restrainer's" intention, the interpreter may prefer to English the
> formulation as "until he is removed." I wouldn't quarrel with that; I
> would simply emphasize that there is not a one-to-one correspondence
> between how we understand the semantic force of the Greek and how we
> choose to make it intelligible in English.
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
> 1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
> cwconrad2 at mac.com
> WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Carl W. Conrad [mailto:cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu]
>> Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2007 2:01 PM
>> To: Webb
>> Cc: 'B-Greek'
>> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] 2 Thess. 2:6-7--two proposals
>> On Mar 1, 2007, at 3:02 PM, Webb wrote:
>>> Dear Oun,
>>> 1.  Difference btw active vs passive -- may it have something to do
>>> with the nature of 'middle' in Gk?
>> What it really has to do with is the fact that the forms labeled
>> middle-passive and passive (QH) all, when intransitive, bear the
>> sense "enter into state X." The nearest English equivalent is "get" +
>> predicate word (which may be a participle): GINOMAI is the
>> quintessential middle-passive verb that can quite readily be
>> Englished (usually) as "get" or "come to be" with a predicate word.
>>> Not to me, it doesn't. It has to do with my understanding that
>>> GINOMAI is
>>> strictly an intransitive verb. It never EVER takes an object. If a
>>> verb
>>> can't take an object, you can't turn it into a passive. In English,
>>> for
>>> example, the verb "to be" doesn't take an object. Like GINOMAI, it
>>> can take
>>> a predicate nominative or a predicate adjective and whatnot, but it
>>> can't
>>> take an object. If a verb (let's say X is a verb) is capable of  
>>> being
>>> transitive, then it is capable of taking an object. "I X this
>>> thing." For
>>> the most part, that also means that I can use the object as the
>>> subject, and
>>> throw the verb into the passive voice to express an equivalent
>>> statement:
>>> "This thing is Xed by me". But you can't say "I am ammed". There
>>> is no
>>> passive voice for the verb "to be", or for any strictly
>>> intransitive verb.
>>> So in 2 Thess. 2:7, whatever GENHTAI means, it can't mean that
>>> something
>>> else acts on the subject of the verb. Whatever action there is, is
>>> carried
>>> out by the subject. From my limited knowledge of Greek, ARTI hEWS
>>> GENHTAI can't possibly mean "until he is taken out of the
>>> way" (pace KJV,
>> Of course GENHTAI can't mean that something else acts on the subject
>> of the verb -- but that may be implicit as it is always implicit in a
>> MP form: GINETAI EK MESOU means "gets to be out-of-the-way, out-of-
>> the-scene, off-the-table, out-of-this-world, out-of-this-life." Just
>> as EGEIRETAI means "enters into a waking (or upright) state" it is
>> open to interpretation as "awakes" or "gets awakened." While I think
>> one ought to understand this ambivalence of the Greek MP form, I
>> don't really have any objection to understanding EK MESOU GINETAI as
>> "gets removed" (passive) or "gets out of the way" (intransitive/
>> ergative: the subject may simply leave the center of action or he/she
>> may be forcibly removed by an external agent.
>> I have no quarrel with BDAG's entry on this passage.
>> 	6. to make a change of location in space, move
>> 	b. EK TINOS (Job 28:2): γ. EK MESOU be removed, Lat. e medio tolli
>> (cp. Ps.-Aeschin., Ep. 12, 6 EK MESOU GENOMENWN EKEINWN; Plut.,
>> Timol. 238 [5, 3]; Achilles Tat. 2, 27, 2) 2 Th 2:7 (HFulford, ET 23,
>> 1912, 40f: 'leave the scene'). Of a voice fr. heaven: EK T.
>> OURANWN G. sound forth fr. heaven (2 Macc 2:21; cp. Da 4:31 Theod.)
>> Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22; 9:35; cp. vs. 36.
>>> 2.  It should be 'And now you know what's ~ ', not 'And you know
>>> what's now
>>> ~'
>>> I've got a lot of translations in front of me, including Lattimore,
>>> who is
>>> not particularly influenced by the English bible translation
>>> tradition. No
>>> one them takes NUN with OIDATE. I'm inclined to trust them on this.
> ---
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Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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