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

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Fri Oct 19 11:34:56 EDT 2007


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Kimmo Huovila" <kimmo.huovila at helsinki.fi>
To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Cc: "Iver Larsen" <iver_larsen at sil.org>
Sent: 19. oktober 2007 10:23
Subject: Voice of BAPTIZOMAI & James 4:2-3


> 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).

Agreed. In the middle forms, the subject fills both the roles of agent and benefactive. For the 
active forms, the subject may still be beneficiary in addition to agent, but it is not in focus. 
Both middle and active forms are common in the NT.

>
> 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 am not sure what you mean by just two slots. If we take BAPTIZW in the general sense of immersing, 
then the middle could be reflexive with the subject being both agent and patient. It is just that 
this is not how the word is used in the NT when it refers to baptism. There is always a baptizer and 
a baptizee, who are different people.

>
> 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?

Jewish cleansing ceremonies and also proselyte cleansing were apparently by self-immersion, but 
there is no indication in the NT that this was carried over to John's baptism or Christian baptism. 
It appears rather that there was a deliberate contrast in order not to mix the two.

Iver Larsen





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