[B-Greek] Analysis of middle-passive forms (was "John 11:4 and the Middle/Passive of DOXAZW")

Tim Mclay timmclay at ymail.com
Mon Feb 28 19:03:30 EST 2011

I've been lurking a bit and just noticed this discussion. I can't remember where 
they are published but Bernard Taylor has written a couple of articles in whch 
he argues that the so-called deponents all have a middle force. He is mlore 
known in LXX circles, but it is interesting that I don't see much on the XX when 
it is biblical Greek as well. Is there ever much discussion?

From: Carl Conrad <cwconrad2 at mac.com>
To: Mark Lightman <lightmanmark at yahoo.com>
Cc: B Greek <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Sat, February 19, 2011 1:53:33 PM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Analysis of middle-passive forms (was "John 11:4 and the 
Middle/Passive of DOXAZW")

On Feb 19, 2011, at 11:36 AM, Mark Lightman wrote:

> Hi, Carl, thanks.  Those are all helpful comments.
> I guess I would just say that, for me, the most PRACTICAL APPLICATION of your 
> ideas on voice are:
> 1.  If you see a passive, whether MAI SAI TAI or QHN QHS QH, don't just assume 

> that it is a passive.  See if you can find some "middle" force.  If not, then 
> fine, construe it as a passive.  I think Bryant should be applauded for trying 

> this out with John 11:4, even if he turns out to be wrong.
> 2.  If you see a verb that people call deponent, don't assume it is just an 
> active.  See if you can find some "middle" force.

> Further deponent sayeth naught.

All I have sought to do in my work on ancient Greek Voice is to challenge
some misconceptions (the notion of deponency, the notion that "passive"
verbs have "active" functions, the notion that -QH- endings indicate
a passive sense unless the verb is irregular ("deponent"). I haven't tried
to lay down any new rules and I continue to believe that voice usage in
ancient Greek is a complex matter. Ultimately it is the verbs oneself 
and their idiosyncrasies that one must know rather intimately so as to
listen to them when one encounters them in one's reading. Grammar
and its rules don't really have much to do with reading and Greek 
well; grammar is useful only for texts that one has already basically
understood, to clarify HOW they mean what they mean.

> Now, I understand why you misunderstood me, but when I said that Jesus breaks 
> the rules of grammar I meant to say nothing about his own diction.  What I 
> was that statements ABOUT Jesus by his followers break the rules of grammar 
> because, since  He is seen to be, among others things,  both God and man by his 
> followers, ordinary logic, among other things, doesn't apply.  I don't want to 

> get into this right now, but just wanted to make this clear.  I said nothing 
> about Jesus' own grammatical abilities because I don't know anything about 
> this.  (Not that that has stopped me before.  :)

And here I would contend, as I think George would also, that I misunderstood
you because you didn't really say what you meant to say. Jesus spoke in 
riddles -- AINIGMATA, PARABOLAI -- but that doesn't mean we should
do so.

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

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