[B-Greek] Active for Passive?

Yancy Smith yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Tue Apr 13 14:25:18 EDT 2010


Eric EGRAYE:
Maybe this is far fetched, but could the participles be referring to the people who committed the sins either knowingly or unknowingly? The ransom would be for the sinners rather than for the sins.

Yancy EGRAYE:
Yeah, I had considered that and I think it is too far fetched. EX EIDOTWN but seems to assign a separation or source role to EIDOTWN (i.e. "paid the ransom to the god from things/for things knowing and unknowing") and not a beneficiary role. But I like your intuition that the participles must function in an adverbial role, but in relation to what? It seems to me that it has to be in relation to the verb. For the beneficiary role I would expect hUPER and not EX. I don't think grammar can solve this puzzle very well. And yet the writer must have thought he was communicating something to someone.


[Original message from Yancy] 
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 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.

Yancy





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