Carl W.Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Wed Oct 24 10:05:42 EDT 2007

On Oct 23, 2007, at 2:28 PM, Iver Larsen wrote:

> Dear Carl,
> As we grapple with a difficult concept that has not been well  
> understood or described in traditional Greek grammar, I think it is  
> still useful to continue our discussion as we work together for an  
> increased understanding.

I appreciate your continued dialogue.

> So, I am commenting on some of the issues below, since we are going  
> back to the broader issue of voice beyond just BAPTIZW:
> ----- 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>
> Sent: 23. oktober 2007 02:45
> <snip>
> CC:
> It appears that we are more fully in agreement here than I was
> thinking, although I find some of your phraseology problematic,
> especially when you speak of -QH- forms with an "active" sense.
> Perhaps this is something that requires further clarification; I may
> also be misunderstanding Danker's phraseology when he describes (in
> BDAG) some verbs as "passive with active sense." I have supposed that
> he is referring to the traditional notion of deponency, but he may be
> using the term "active sense" to indicate that the verb is transitive
> and takes a direct object; inasmuch as middle-voice forms, although
> often intransitive, are nevertheless commonly enough transitive and
> take a direct object, I find that use of "active sense" misleading.
> The morphology of a Greek verb doesn't necessarily have anything to
> do with transitivity; it might be better to speak of "agentive" verbs
> where the subject is the initiator of the action. I do think it's
> useful to distinguish between "agentive" and "non-agentive" middle-
> voice verbs.
> Iver: You are right, the term "active sense" is not helpful. I did  
> not intend it to be the same as transitive, but it is probably a  
> remnant of the "deponency" terminology that we want to get away  
> from. It seems to me that there are many middle forms that can be  
> adequately explained in terms of semantic roles, but some are  
> probably beyond explanation. I cannot see any syncronic or semantic  
> reason why LEGW should be active and APOKRINOMAI middle-passive.  
> However, there may well be historical reasons, e.g. the sense of  
> "answer" may have developed from the middle sense "defend myself".

APOKRINOMAI falls in the category of speech acts, which are commonly  
middle inasmuch as they involve interaction with a second party.  
Among such verbs: APOLOGEOMAI, DEOMAI (ask, beg), LOIDOREOMAI,  
MIMNHSKOMAI (mention), AMEIBOMAI (answer, respond), ARNEOMAI,  

Sidney Allen (The Middle Voice in Ancient Greek) develops the case  
for a proposition that I had suggested some time ago: that the  
"Active" voice forms are the default morphology for verbs that are  
unmarked for subject-affectedness while the "Middle" or "Middle- 
Passive" voice forms are distinctly marked for subject-affectedness.  
Some verbs may implicitly have the element of subject-affectedness  
but not express it; some "Active" verbs have passive semantic force  
even: APOQNHiSKW (be executed), PASCW (have done to oneself), PIPTW  
(be killed on the battlefield) and can take the hUPO agent  
construction -- PASCW can even take a direct object of the treatment  
suffered, thus functioning syntactically as an Active verb while  
semantically passive.

> ________________________
> CC:
> ... Clearly APEKRIQHN is the standard aorist form of the
> verb. On the other hand EGENOMHN is still the standard NT Koine
> aorist of GINOMAI while EGENHQHN is relatively rare. A less-common
> verb is AGALLIAOMAI: BDAG lemmatizes this as AGALLIAW but the middle
> is clearly the standard form, even if Lk 1:47 has an active
> HGALLIASEN, Rev 19:7 AGALLIWMEN and Jn 5:35 has an aorist infinitive
> AGALLIAQHNAI (the LXX has only one active form -- in the Odes of
> Solomon! -- in 72 instances.
> Iver: For these verbs, Danish uses the "reflexive" "sig" (self). We  
> say "gl¾de sig" og "fryde sig" for rejoice. We can also say "Det  
> gl¾der mig" (It makes me happy). So, maybe "jeg gl¾der mig" really  
> means "I make myself happy" rather than just "I rejoice". (I don't  
> know if you can follow these examples in a foreign language, but it  
> is interesting how often the reflexive word in Danish corresponds  
> to a Greek middle. In these reflexive middles the subject is both  
> agent and experiencer (or beneficiary).
> I am not sure about Lk 1:47 - HGALLIASEN TO PNEUMA MOU - but it may  
> just be possible that the active is used because the agent could be  
> different from the experincer in that the agent is "my spirit" and  
> the beneficiary is an implied  "me". In that case, this is like the  
> common situation where the active form is causative compared to the  
> middle: "My spirit made me happy" or "My spirit caused me to rejoice".
> A synonym for "jeg fryder mig" is "jeg jubler". This word does not  
> use the reflexive, and I can see no reason for it. In the same way,  
> I think that there are not always an explanation for why some verbs  
> in Greek are middle while others are active, when there is no  
> apparent difference in semantic roles. Why is POREOUMAI MP and  
> PERIPATEW active?

I think I've answered this last question above. There are other verbs  
of motion, most prominently BAINW and its compounds -- that are  
Active in formation, but there are quite a few verbs of locomotion  
APALLATTOMAI ... Many of these are intransitive and have counterparts  
that are transitive, active and causative.

One of the verbs that puzzles me is EGEIRW/EGEIROMAI. I'm quite  
convinced that the standard form of this (the lemma) really ought to  
be the middle EGEIROMAI which is intransitive, while the active form  
EGEIRW is active and causative, but the present tense imperative  
EGEIRE/EGEIRETE is regularly active in the sense "get up" --  
evidently spoken in an urgent sort of way.

> ________________________
> CC: ... I'm thinking of what is commonly referred to in the  
> grammars as the
> "causative middle":
> Smyth ¤1725. "The Causative Middle denotes that the subject has
> something done by another for himself: EGW GAR SE TAUTA EDIDAXAMHN
> 'for I had you tught this' Xen. Cyroped. 1.6.2, PARATIQESQAI SITON
> 'to have food served up 8.6.12, hOSOI hOPLA AFHiRHNTAI, TACU ALL
> POIHSONTAI 'all who have had their arms taken from them will soon get
> others made 6.1.12, hEAUTWi SKHNHN KATESKEUASATO 2.1.30. [This last
> does indicate beneficiary with a reflexive pronoun, of course. Smyth
> also notes that this force does not belong exclusively to the middle
> and points to a similar discussion of a Causative Active in ¤1711.]
> Iver: These are interesting examples that I was not familiar with.  
> A common usage of the middle is when the subject is both agent and  
> beneficiary, but here it seems that the subject is only the  
> beneficiary and the agent is unspecified, but different from the  
> subject. I probably wouldn't call them causative middle, especially  
> if the causative sense does not belong exclusively to the middle,  
> but there is a similar "causative active".

I would agree that "causative" is not really a very good term for  
this. I think, however, that the grammars take note of it because a  
modern reader may very well assume that the subject of a verb is the  
one who always carries out the act personally.

> CC:
> BDF ¤317 (p. 166) The middle in the sense of 'to let oneself
> be ...' (cf. German _sich lassen_) (causative; cf. °314) also occurs
> in scattered passages in the NT:
> 'get themselves emasculated' (cf. APOKOMMENOS LXX Dt. 23:1;
> PERITEMNESQAI on the other hand is treated as a pass.). EBAPTISAMHN:
> Acts 22:16 BAPTISAI KAI APOLOUSAI (1 Cor. 6:11 APELOUSASQE) can be
> explained as causal; but in 1 Cor. 10:2 -ISANTO appears to be
> spurious (KLP; in p46 corrected from EBAPTIZONTO) and -ISQHSAN alone
> to be correct; EBAPTISQH in Lk 11:38 in an entirely different sense
> 'to dip his hands' is incorrect (EBAPTISATO is correct with p45
> minusc. 700). APOGRAFESQAI Lk 2:1, 3 also belongs here 'have oneself
> enrolled' on account of the aor. -GRAYASQAI in v. 5. -- Mayser II 1,
> 89; 109, Robertson 808f.
> BDF ¤314 (p. 165) The passive in the sense of 'to allow oneself to
> be ...' (cf. German _sich lassen) was common from earliest times:
> ADIKEISQE 1 Cor 6:7 'let yourselves be wronged' (in the sense of
> allowing it), likewise APOSTEREISQE in the same vs. BAPTIZESQAI 'get
> oneself baptized' (in the sense of to cause it; aorist EBAPTISQHN,
> cf. however ¤317.
> Permissive: DOGMATIZESQAI 'submit to regulations (lit. let yourself
> be regulated)' Col. 2:20, GAMIZESQAI (¤101), SUSCHMATIZESQAI and
> METAMORFOUSQAI Rom 12:2, hILASQHTI 'let yourself be disposed to
> grace' (lk 18:13. Causative: hAGNISQHNAI Acts 21:24, 26 DIAKONHHNAI
> MT 20:28=MK 10:45, often PERITEMNESQAI (also in the sense of allow).
> Cf. Robertson 808f.
> Iver:
> Since these excerpts are rather self contradictory, it shows that  
> more research is needed to sort out what is actually happening.

Perhaps so, but I think the point is valid that both middle and  
passive can be used in this manner -- and the reason for that is that  
the morphology that's marked as "passive" is really an alternative  
form of the "middle." I think that much of what is written in  
conventional grammars about middle and passive forms and what they  
mean -- especially in Koine Greek -- needs to be understood with a  
new realization of this fact about the QH morphology.

> BDF ¤317 says that the middle can be used in the sense of "to let  
> oneself be" (lassen sich), but in ¤314 they say that the passive  
> can be used in the same sense of "to allow oneself be" (sich  
> lassen). It looks like these are the same MP forms, whether middle  
> or passive in morphology, but I would need more time to properly  
> research this.
> BDF does not build on your insight about MP forms, and it seems to  
> me that some of these forms are better analysed as passive, even  
> when the morphology may be middle, e.g. "to be enrolled" is  
> probably passive throughout Luke 2 rather than one middle and the  
> rest passive. I have already indicated that my analysis of BAPTIZW  
> lead me to consider Act 22:16 as passive, even though it is middle  
> morphology.

Yes, BDF does appear to be inconsistent, but so are the grammars when  
they speak of a "permissive passive" -- and in this forum we have  
recurrent questions about what the meaning of "passive imperatives"  
such as BAPTISQHTW can possibly be. I'd say that the real key to all  
this is that we're dealing with middle-passive morphology in both the  
MAI/SAI/TAI forms and in the QH forms and that, already in Classical  
Attic but increasingly in Hellenistic Greek MAI/SAI/TAI aorists with  
middle semantics are shifting into QH aorists with the same middle  
semantics. QH can indicate passive semantics too, but in Greek  
passive usage is simply one category of what is essentially middle  
morphology. And that's still not expressed quite rightly.

> __________________________
> CC:
> Robertson does indeed deal with this in his big grammar, 808f., but I
> won't cite that.
> Guy Cooper (1998 revision of Kruger), Attic Greek Prose Syntax:
> Revised and Expanded in English, Volume 1 (Attic Greek Prose Syntax),
> ¤52.11.0: "The middle is used to show an action which is carried out
> at the command or behest of the subject"; ¤52.11.1 "This force is
> simply a matter of conception É understood without difficulty in ages
> of widespread and often easy subordination. It is a causal use of the
> verb which is not essentially different from comparable uses of the
> active."
> Iver:
> Kimmo in an off-list comment referred to something similar in John  
> 19:1 where the text says that Pilate "took - ELABEN - Jesus and  
> scourged him - EMASTIGWSEN". The difference is that here active  
> forms are used rather than middle.
> What is happening here has nothing to do with middle versus active.  
> It is a cultural implication in hierarchical societies where an  
> action is described as done by someone in authority, when in fact  
> it is understood that some servants, disciples or soldiers did the  
> actual work. Cooper says the same when he explains that this is  
> related to expected subordination and is not essentially different  
> from comparable uses of the active.
> It is therefore confusing to say that "the middle is used to show  
> an action carried out at the command of the subject" as if this was  
> a characteristic of middle verbs, when exactly the same can be said  
> about active verbs.

More anon regarding your response to my part 2.

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

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