[B-Greek] BAPTIZW/BAPTIZOMAI

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Fri Oct 19 01:09:35 EDT 2007


>From Iver:
An
 additional comment on the interplay between middle and reflexives:

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Carl W. Conrad" <cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu>
Sent: 18. oktober 2007 14:40
Subject: [B-Greek] BAPTIZW/BAPTIZOMAI

CC:
I think nevertheless that its middle usage is distinctive, rather
like that of LOUW/LOUOMAI "wash, bathe" (middle 38x/45 in LXX, GNT:
Jn 13:10 LELOUMENOS, Acts 9:37 LOUSANTES {AUTHN}, Acts 16:33 ELOUSEN
{AUTOUS}, Heb 10:22 LELOUSMENOI TO SWMA, 2 Pet 2;22 hUS LOUSAMENH EIS
KULISMON BORBOROU), KEIRW/KEIROMAI ("cut one's hair," normally middle
as a direct reflexive; Acts 8:32 KEIRANTOS of shearing a sheep, Acts
18:18 KEIRAMENOS "have one's hair cut"; 1 Cor. 11:6 KEIRASQAI "have
one's hair cut"), or XURAW/XURAOMAI, regularly middle as direct
reflexive; Acts 21:24 XURHSONTAI, 1 Cor 11:5 2x EXURHMENHi, XURASQAI,
all in the sense "shave, or have shaved.").

As a direct reflexive the middle BAPTIZOMAI belongs in a standard
middle-voice category. One bathes, has a haircut, shaves one's self,
but we don't add "one's self" in English even if the action is
performed by another. I think we can describe these middle-voice
usages as involving the subject as both agent and patient -- and even
if an external agent is specified with a hUPO + genitive phrase, and
we want to call the usage "passive," nevertheless the subject remains
an agent willingly undergoing the ritual bathing.

IL: In Danish - and several other languages - these types of words are overtly reflexive. We would
have to say "I washed me", "I shaved me", but in English the reflexive is often deleted in the
surface structure, so you can say "I washed" and "I shaved". Such semantically reflexive forms are
middle in Greek, but of course, the middle covers much more than reflexives, and for certain verbs,
a reflexive pronoun is used rather than the middle.

CC:
If that analysis is correct, then we ought to understand the active
BAPTIZW in a causative sense where the patient is another person or
persons. Moreover, although the NT usage most commonly is in the
sense of ritual bathing and specifically to baptism, it can refer to
ritual bathing of other sorts, as in Mark 7:4 KAI AP' AGORAS EAN MH
BAPTISWNTAI OUK ESQIOUSIN). Cf. 2 Kgs 5:14 KAI KATEBH NAIMAN KAI
EBAPTISATO EN TWi IORDANHi hEPTAKI; Judith 12:7 EBAPTIZETO EN THi
PAREMBOLHi EPI THS PHGHS TOU hUDATOS; Sir. 34:25 BAPTIZOMENOS APO
NEKROU KAI PALIN hAPTOMENOS AUTOU TI WFELHSEN EN TWi LOUTRWi AUTOU?

IL: I said above that in Danish we would have to say "I washed me", there is no way we could say "I
baptized me". This word is in a different semantic category altogether, when it refers to baptism.
Since you mention 2 Kgs 5, let us look at it a bit. In verse 10, the LXX has "Go and wash" POREUQEIS
LOUSAI with a middle aorist imperative of LOUOMAI. Many English versions say "Go and wash", but
several express the implied reflexive overtly: "go and wash yourself".
Then in v. 13, the servants repeat those words to the king: He simply said to you: LOUSAI. When the
narrator comes in and explains what the king did, he chose the word EBAPTISATO, but in the context
that word has to be fairly equivalent to ELOUSATO, clearly a middle form and sense. I suppose the
semantic difference is that with EBAPTISATO it is clarified that he immersed himself completely
(seven times) in the river.

Iver Larsen




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