[B-Greek] Active for Passive?

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Tue Apr 13 15:45:12 EDT 2010

On Apr 13, 2010, at 2:25 PM, Yancy Smith wrote:
> 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.

Before accepting the proposition that EIDOTWN KAI MH EIDOTWN involves participles to be understood as semantically passive, I would weigh the possibility that the participle EIDWS (of course it would have to be EIDOS as a neuter) is being used as an equivalent of hEKWN and MH EIDWS as the equivalent of AKWN. These adjectives are used predicatively (with adverbial force) in conjunction with verbs of action. For instance, Prometheus explains to the chorus in the (Pseudo-)Aeschylean Prometheus Bound, Prometheus declares of his defiance of Zeus, hEKWN hEKWN hHMARTON. Derivative from this are the adjectives hEKOUSIOS and AKOUSIOS used of deeds done deliberately or unintentionally. I'm not altogether sure that this is what's involved here, but it's worth considering rhat EX EIDOTWN KAI MH EIDOTWN may mean "on behalf of those who have acted intentionally and those who have acted unintentionally."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
> [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’
> 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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