[B-Greek] BAPTIZW/BAPTIZOMAI

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Fri Oct 19 11:05:26 EDT 2007


I've grown somewhat confused as to precisely what Iver is asserting  
in the latest round of comments, both directly in response to me and  
in response to Randall Buth's messages. I'll comment on matters with  
regard to this most recent response of Iver below, but I'd like to  
pose some direct questions so as to be confident that there are no  
unexpressed presuppositions or assumptions here.

(1) Are we agreed that the -QH- aorists and futures express both  
middle and passive semantics, e.g. that APEKRIQH is identical in  
sense to APEKRINATO and is the more common later Hellenistic form of  
the aorist of APOKRINOMAI? I ask this because I rather think that  
there are many instances of the BAPTISQH/E- stem -- even within the  
GNT -- that are semantically middle and that were becoming or had  
become standard replacements for the older middles in BAPTISA-.  I've  
argued that specifically for those that have an accusative object (TO  
BAPTISMA hO\ EGW BAPTIZOMAI BAPTISQHNAI, Mk 10:38) and Randall has  
adduced another example from Pap.Oxy. 840, lines 9-16: ... καὶ  
προσε[λ]θὼν φαρισαῖός τις  
ἀρχιερεὺς λευ[εὶς ?] τὸ ὄνομα  
συνέτυχεν αὐτοῖς καὶ ε[ἶπεν] τῶ σω 
(τῆ)ρι, τίς ἐπέτρεψέν σοι πατ[εῖν  
τοῦτο τὸ ἁγνευτήριον καὶ ἰδεῖν  
[ταῦτα τὰ ἅγια σκεύη μήτε λουσα[μ]έν 
[ω] μ[ήτε μὴν τῶν μαθητῶν σου τοὺς π 
[όδας β]απτισθέντων; ... TIS EPETREYEN SOI PATEIN  
TOUTO TO hAGNEUTHRION KAI IDEIN [TAUTA TA hAGIA SKEUH MHTE LOUSA[M]EN 
[Wi] MHTE TWN MAQHTWN SOU TOUS PODAS BAPTISQENTWN?

(2) Unless I have misunderstood, Iver holds that BAPTIZW in the  
cultic sense of "baptize" is strictly transitive and is used strictly  
of an action performed by one person upon a second person or persons.  
A direct reflexive usage of BAPTIZW in this sense, even with the  
sense, "have oneself baptized (by another)" is not thinkable or not  
attested. Instances that we do find of middle usage of this verb in  
the sense "baptize" are metaphorical (Mk 10:38) or to be explained  
otherwise, as Acts 18:8: καὶ νῦν τί μέλλεις;  
ἀναστὰς βάπτισαι καὶ ἀπόλουσαι  
τὰς ἁμαρτίας σου ἐπικαλεσάμενος  
τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ. KAI NUN TI MELLEIS/ ANASTAS BAPTISAI  
KAI APOLOUSAI TAS hAMARTIAS SOU EPIKALESAMENOS TO ONOMA AUTOU. Here  
Iver seems to think that the middle imperative is influenced by the  
other adjacent middles APOLOUSAI and EPIKALESAMENOS. My own view is  
rather that many of the 12 instances of middle forms of BAPTIZW/ 
BAPTIZOMAI are semantically middle and that they do fall into the  
direct reflexive category in the sense "have oneself baptized" -- and  
that this direct-reflexive usage may be in play even when there's a  
hUPO + genitive construction indicating an external agent. How the  
academic linguists choose to explain a distinction between the agent  
of a direct reflexive of this sort and an external agent, I don't  
know, but I think that such an expression as "have one's hair cut by  
one's favorite barber" is perfectly intelligible and that it could be  
expressed unambiguously in ancient Greek as KEIRESQAI hUPO TOU  
KOUREWS TOU AGAPHTOU.

For my part, I am not at all convinced that BAPTIZW/BAPTIZOMAI in the  
distinct sense of ritual baptism really does differ in grammatical  
formation from the more basic verb BAPTIZW/BAPTIZOMAI with the sense  
of "bathe ritually." I cite the relevant parts of the BDAG entry:
--------
βαπτίζω [BAPTIZW] fut. βαπτίσω [BAPTISW]; 1 aor.  
ἐβάπτισα [EBAPTISA]. Mid.: ἐβαπτισάμην  
[EBAPTISAMHN]. Pass.: impf. ἐβαπτιζόμην [EBAPTIZOMHN];  
fut. βαπτισθήσομαι [BAPTISQHSOMAI]; 1 aor.  
ἐβαπτίσθην [EBAPTISQHN]; pf. ptc.  
βεβαπτισμένος [BEBAPTISMENOS ](Hippocr., Pla., esp.  
Polyb.+; UPZ 70, 13 [152/151 BC]; PGM 5, 69; LXX; ApcSed 14:7 [p.  
136, 8f Ja.]; Philo; Joseph.; SibOr 5, 478; Just.; Mel., fgm. 8, 1  
and 2 Goodsp.=8b, 4 and 14 P.—In Gk. lit. gener. to put or go under  
water in a variety of senses, also fig., e.g. ‘soak’ Pla., Symp.  
176b in wine) in our lit. only in ritual or ceremonial sense (as  
Plut.; Herm. Wr. [s. 2a below]; PGM 4, 44; 7, 441  
λουσάμενος κ. βαπτισάμενος [LOUSAMENOS KAI  
BAPTISAMENOS]; 4 Km 5:14; Sir 34:25; Jdth 12:7; cp. Iren. 1, 21, 3  
[Harv. I 183, 83]).
	1. wash ceremonially for purpose of purification, wash, purify, of a  
broad range of repeated ritual washing rooted in Israelite tradition  
(cp. Just., D. 46, 2) Mk 7:4; Lk 11:38; Ox 840, 15.—WBrandt, Jüd.  
Reinheitslehre u. ihre Beschreibg. in den Ev. 1910; ABüchler, The Law  
of Purification in Mk 7:1–23: ET 21, 1910, 34–40; JDöller, D.  
Reinheits- u. Speisegesetze d. ATs 1917; JJeremias, TZ 5, ’49, 418– 
28. See 1QS 5:8–23; 2:25–3:12; 4:20–22.
	2. to use water in a rite for purpose of renewing or establishing a  
relationship w. God, plunge, dip, wash, baptize. The transliteration  
‘baptize’ signifies the ceremonial character that NT narratives  
accord such cleansing, but the need of qualifying statements or  
contextual coloring in the documents indicates that the term β. was  
not nearly so technical as the transliteration suggests.
---------
For this reason I cannot so readily dismiss the relevance to our  
question of the clearly middle uses in the LXX cited above (4 Km  
5:14; Sir 34:25; Jdth 12:7). I don't have the Irenaeaus 1.21.3 text  
ready to hand, but I'd like to look at it. I don't understand why the  
verb BAPTIZW/BAPTIZOMAI when referring to the distinctive NT baptism  
should behave grammatically in a way different from its behavior in  
other contexts of ritual purification.

On Oct 19, 2007, at 1:09 AM, Iver Larsen wrote:

>> 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.

Of course it does. Archie Bunker sometimes tells Edith to "stifle  
herself" and sometimes simply to "stifle." I think that the NT Koine  
equivalent of that is FIMOW, as in Mk 4:39: ἐπετίμησεν  
τῷ ἀνέμῳ καὶ εἶπεν τῇ θαλάσσῃ·  
σιώπα, πεφίμωσο. καὶ ἐκόπασεν ὁ  
ἄνεμος καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη μεγάλη.  
EPETIMHSEN TWi ANEMWi KAI EIPEN THi QALASSHi: SIWPA, PEFIMWSO, KAI  
EKOPASEN hO ANEMOS KAI EGENETO GALHNH MEGALH. I'd say that the middle  
PEFIMWSO here is a pretty precise equivalent for "stifle" as a direct  
imperative.

> 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".

How might you say, "they had themselves baptized"?

> This word is in a different semantic category altogether, when it  
> refers to baptism.

BDAG doesn't seem to agree with you, and I frankly can't see any  
rationale for the verb behaving in a different way 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".

They're not very good English translations if they do that. NET has  
'Elisha sent out a messenger who told him, “Go and wash seven times  
in the Jordan; your skin will be restored and you will be healed.”'  
KJV has "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times."

> 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.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Ret)




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