[B-Greek] Voice of BAPTIZOMAI & James 4:2-3

Kimmo Huovila kimmo.huovila at helsinki.fi
Fri Oct 19 03:23:26 EDT 2007


Interesting discussion on voice so far. Thank you all who have participated.

James 4:2-3
EPIQUMEITE KAI OUK ECETE, FONEUETE KAI ZHLOUTE KAI OU DUNASQE EPITUCEIN, 
MACESQE KAI POLEMEITE, OUK ECETE DIA TO MH AITEISQAI hUMAS, AITEITE KAI OU 
LAMBANETE DIOTI KAKWS AITEISQE, hINA EN TAIS hHDONAIS hUMWN DAPANHSHTE.

It seems that here is a contrast between AITEISQAI and AITEIN and KAKWS 
AITEISQAI. They did not ask for their benefit (middle: agent and benefactive 
the same), but they did ask (active, agent). They asked for their own 
pleasure (KAKWS, a different sence of benefactive from the good AITEISQAI). 
Kenneth McKay suggests that these middles "probably suggest more strongly the 
true (but unrecognized) interest (A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament 
Greek, 22).

This illustrates how small the distinction between middle and active can be. 
Iver, do you think that the two slots a middle subject has to fill must be 
valency slots instead of just two slots? That would explain why you hold that 
a middle BAPTIZOMAI would be the person baptizing himself (agent and patient 
being the same).

I admit that AITEW suggests someone's interest more than BAPTIZW, but could 
the same semantics of empasizing interest or benefit could hold for a middle 
of BAPTIZOMAI? "Get baptized for yourself" instead of just "be baptized".

Another question is how impossible is the idea of a person baptizing himself. 
Sure, the verb (when referring to Christian baptism) is in the active voice 
in 1 Cor 1:16. But was Jewish ritual baptism by self-immersion. Mishna 
(Mikvaoth) uses tabhal, to dip (oneself?). So who did the dipping in 
Christian (or Jewish or John's) baptism? Did the baptizer dip the baptizee or 
did the baptizee go under water himself, or some other way?

I am not here interested so much in the theological or cultural background for 
baptism other than how it affects voice. So, instead of asking what the final 
solution to the mode of baptism is, I am asking how do these different 
possibilities affect the understanding of voice.

Kimmo



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