[B-Greek] Active for Passive?
yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Tue Apr 13 12:41:56 EDT 2010
I’m often amazed by what Greek speakers can do with their language (as I also am by what Spanish speakers and English speakers can as well). Here is a puzzler from an inscription that I hadn’t noticed before. Adela Y. Collins draws attention to this inscription from Lydia in the course of her exegesis of Mark 10:45. It is interesting in its own right.
Μῆνα ἐγ Διοδότου Ἀλέξανδρος Θαλούσης μετὰ Ἰουλίου καὶ τῆς ἀδελφῆς ἐλυτρώσαντο τὸν θεὸν ἐξ εἰδότων καὶ μὴ εἰδότων. Ἔτους σλγ’
MHNA EG[ENETO] DIODOTOU ALEXANDROS QALOUSHS META IOULIOU KAI THS ADELFHS ELUTRWSANTO TON QEON EX EIDOTWN KAI MH EIDOTWN. ETOUS SLH’
Alexander, son of Thalouse, with Julius and his sister paid to the god Men of Diodotos a ransom for things knowing and not knowing [=known and not known. Year 233 (= 148–149 ce)
Although the two instances of the participle EIDWS are grammatically active, the only appropriate explanation of the inscription involves taking them in a passive sense. The inscription attests a ritual act whereby people secured their release from the effects of both deliberate and unwitting sins. The fact that the noun θεός (God) is the object of the verb λυτρόομαι (“pay a ransom,” “redeem”) implies that this verb is synonymous here with HILASKOMAI (“propitiate,” “cause a deity to become favorably inclined”). Evidently the group who set up the stele had lost divine favor because of some offense for which the ritual act serves as expiation.
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