Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Wed Oct 24 01:20:48 EDT 2007

Dear Carl,

It may be worth clarifying in this mail, too, where we agree and disagree.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Carl W. Conrad" <cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu>
To: "Iver Larsen" <iver_larsen at sil.org>
Cc: "BG" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>; "Wayne Leman" <wayne_leman at sil.org>
Sent: 23. oktober 2007 19:09
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] BAPTIZW/BAPTIZOMAI (part 2)

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this verb and the process
which it represents; most of my thinking has been outside the box and
speculative, something I think I need to state clearly at the outset.
Whatever I suggest is tentative, and I can't help but feel that there
are hermeneutical and theological factors in play with respect to how
we think about the evidence that we must sift here when we talk about
whether the baptizee undergoes the process of baptism voluntarily and
deliberately -- and is therefore more than a "patient" -- or whether
the baptizee is manipulated, directed, or otherwise the passive
object of what the baptizer does to him or her.

Iver: This is one area where we disagree. I have no doubt that the baptizee as described in the NT 
undergoes baptism both voluntarily and deliberately. This is different from the practice in some 
churches today, but that is another matter which I will steer clear of.
However, the fact that the patient roles submits themselves to undergo the action, does not change 
the semantic role of patient, nor the grammar. Volition belongs to lexical semantics and pragmatics 
and IMO does not have a bearing on semantic roles of agent and patient.

I have gone through each and every instance of BAPTIZW in the NT and shown that in all cases you 
have an agent, a baptizer, and a patient, the baptizee. In no case is the agent the same as the 
patient, so none of these are reflexive. It is therefore irrelevant and potentially misleading to 
compare with LOUOMAI. There are two examples of the active LOUW in the NT, where the agent and 
patient are clearly different. (Act 9:37; 16:33). For the other three examples which are MP forms, 
one is probably middle, and the other two most likely passive, alhtough this is debatable.

(1) what LOUSAI as an aorist middle imperative means and how it's
best translated ("wash," "wash yourself," or perhaps "bathe," or even
"cleanse yourself"

IL: Interesting but irrelevant. It is IMO a mistake to try to transfer the meaning and usage of 
LOUOMAI to the meaning and usage of BAPTIZW.

>> In all of these cases we clearly have one person or group of  people acting as agent and another 
>> person or group of people  filling the slot of patient. That is why none of these can  possibly 
>> be reflexive. Nor is it relevant to talk about  benefactive, since the person who baptizes 
>> someone does not  benefit from it.

Twelve of these instances are MP in form; they may very well be
passive semantically, but in view of the fact that -QH- forms might
conceivably be middle semantically, I don't quite think this is an
open-and-shut case.

Iver: I disagree again. The fact that some -QH- forms for some verbs can function as middle does not 
negate the fact that this verb in the sense of Christian or John's baptism is consistently and 
without exception used with an agent and a patient who are different, and that should be enough to 
prove that not only are all the -QH- forms truly passive, but even the single middle is to be 
understood as passive. The volition in terms of baptism relates to the baptizee agreeing to be 
baptized and sometimes the baptizee takes the initiative as the eunuch who said (Act 8:36): "Look, 
here is water. What prevents me from being baptrised?" He willingly and deliberately underwent 
baptism, but he could not have been baptized if Philip had not been there to perform the baptism, in 
whatever way it was performed. (It apparently required a substantial amount of water, presumably for 
submersion to take place, cf. Jhn 3:23.)

The question of causative only appears to enter into one instance, that of John 3:26 which says that 
hOUTOS BAPTIZEI, where hOUTOS refers to Jesus. Here Jesus does not do the actual baptism (c. Jhn 
4:2), but the event is conceptually attached to him as agent because he is the leader.

Iver Larsen 

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