[B-Greek] BAPTIZW/BAPTIZOMAI (part 3)

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Fri Oct 26 06:55:19 EDT 2007


On Oct 26, 2007, at 5:09 AM, Randall Buth wrote:

> Iver egrapse:
>> and possibly in Luke 11:38, although here it is likely that the
> "dipping oneself" (which happenes
> to be aorist passive) does not refer to full immersion but a
> ceremonial cleansing of the hands. I
> would have expected a middle form of BAPTW rather than a passive of
> BAPTIZW, so it seems
> that both the distinction between BAPTW and BAPTIZW as well as the
> distinction between middle
> and passive have been blurred. >
>
> Perhaps, though this neglects another 1st century item, hemerobaptism
> daily immersers. Luke 11:38 can refer to full self-immersion, as
> washing the whole outside of the body, in contrast to the inside of
> the body. the Lucan context does not mention hands, probably
> significantly. Mk 7 is not necessarily parallel and becomes a kind of
> red herring,  'des faux amis'.
>
> Iver palin:
>> If you [referring toCarl] agree that Acts 22:16 can NOT mean "baptize
> yourself",
> then I think we have reached fairly good agreement after all.
> This has been my main point throughout, namely, that
> the sense of BAPTIZW when used for Christian baptism can not be  
> reflexive,
> no matter whether the form is middle or passive.>
>
> Carl will need to answer for himself, though I think that he is
> inclined to agree with me. Acts 22:16 is a straightforward middle. i
> read it naturally as reflexive. While there is nothing wrong with NT
> Greek in reading a QH 'aorist-passive' as middle,  'dip yourself' (cf.
> Lk 11:38, whether hand or body), the other direction is not as easily
> adopted, to read a middle as a full passive. Iver is free to read that
> as 'get yourself ceremonially baptised', and speculate how that would
> have been understood in the 30's of the first century. I would say
> that the language, timing, culture, and archaeology all point to a
> 'middle' understanding of Acts 22:16 and the practice. So we differ
> and others can weigh the probabilites of the different complete
> pictures.

Okay, let me make my final clarification: I do indeed believe that  
Acts 22:16 is a straightforward middle, and I do believe it is  
reflexive. As we've noted before, this does not necessarily mean that  
the addressee will perform the action directly upon himself -- it  
could be performed/directed by another -- but the verb-form BAPTISAI  
in a woodenly-literal English version does mean "baptize yourself." I  
think the sense is "get yourself baptized."

I think the clarification process has gone about as far as it can go.  
My own conclusion is that BAPTIZOMAI in the GNT in the middle-passive  
and in most of the QH passive forms (except when clearly involving a  
hUPO + genitive agent construction) is essentially middle and  
reflexive, probably in the sense of "get baptized." The active  
BAPTIZW probably should be understood as the causative of BAPTIZOMAI  
and mean "direct/oversee/officiate at the baptism of X." And I'm  
inclined to think also that we should understand all these usages of  
the verb in the GNT as variants of the same verb. That doesn't bear  
upon an institutional technical usage of the verb after an authority- 
structure for the nascent Christian church has come into being.

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




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