Spelling of σῴζειν in the Present Tense

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David Fish
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Spelling of σῴζειν in the Present Tense

Post by David Fish » May 12th, 2016, 12:23 am

I have a serious question about the spelling of σῴζειν. In every use in the New Testament, in the present or imperfect tenses the ω is subscripted.

This is reflected in the entry to BDAG:
σῴζω fut. σώσω;
1 aor. ἔσωσα;
• pf. σέσωκα. Pass.:
• impf. ἐσῳζόμην;
• fut. σωθήσομαι;
• 1 aor. ἐσώθην;


William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 982.

Every standard Koine Greek text I have ever encountered has the subscript in the present/imperfect tenses, except for Black's Learn to Read New Testament Greek, where he introduces the vocabulary word as σώζω (with no subscript). I wrote to him asking if it was a typo, and for some explanation. His response to me was short: "Not a typo."

Mounce's Morphology of Biblical Greek, lists the root(s) of the verb as *σω and *σωι, but that it functions as if the root were *σω(ι)δ.

My question resurfaces tonight, as I was reading in Whitacre's A Patristic Greek Reader, specifically in the text of Gregory of Nazianzus' Oration 29.20, "The Mystery of the Incarnation: A Scriptural Tapestry of Jesus as Man and God." It is a rather amazing text, and it is the first text I have encountered where the verb σῴζειν is used in the present tense without the subscript. It is thusly used two times:

Σαμαρείτης ἀκούει καὶ δαιμονῶν, πλὴν σώζει τὸν ἀπὸ Ἰερουσαλὴμ καταβαίνοντα

A little later in the text, it appears again:

τῷ ξύλῳ τῆς ζωῆς ἀποκαθίστησιν, ἀλλὰ σώζει καὶ λῃστὴν συσταυρούμενον,

Can someone enlighten me as to whether or not this is common among the Patristics. I don't have access to Lampe (I can check it tomorrow). I have a copy of E. A. Sophocles' Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods here, and the word's entry is as σῴζω (with subscript).
David Fish
Ozark Christian College
Joplin, MO
dfish@occ.edu

Tony Pope
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Re: Spelling of σῴζειν in the Present Tense

Post by Tony Pope » May 12th, 2016, 3:46 am

This is a matter of convention. In Attic Greek the iota in σῴζειν was written as an adscript, i.e. ΣΩΙΖΕΙΝ. See the beginning of the article in LSJ. Over time in the Hellenistic period it fell out of use, as for other such iotas, but in medieval times it became fashionable to write them as a subscript.

The older editions of the NT up to the early 20th century (including Westcott & Hort and Nestle's 5th of 1906, which can be read online) do not show any iota in σώζειν, but at some point apparently Nestle decided to adopt the iota subscript for this verb and everyone else has followed suit. Westcott & Hort in their Introduction §410 say they are sure Greeks wrote it in this verb but no NT editor had adopted it so they hadn't either.

The manuscripts generally do not have it in σώζειν and other such cases after η or ω (Scrivener, Plain Introduction, 1861, §12). So Black is apparently following the manuscripts, whereas the modern editors prefer to give us the Attic orthography.

cwconrad
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Re: Spelling of σῴζειν in the Present Tense

Post by cwconrad » May 12th, 2016, 4:27 am

Tony has answered the fundamental question raised with regard to orthography. I would just add a note on the phonological history: the root of this word is σαϝο-. The adjective is σαϝός; the intervocalic digamma evanesces and the contiguous vowels α + ο contract to ω. The result is the odd-ball contract adjective σῶς/σῶν which is common in Homer and later; it isn't in the GNT but a later form σῶος appears in the LXX. The derivative verb is based on the adjective and uses the -ιζ-ο/ε formative element for causatives (that's become a formative element in English as -ize: σω-ίζω (perhaps even from σαϝο-ίζω); at any rate, the upshot is coalescence of the three vowels α, ο, and ι in σῴζω. Odd-ball vocalic combinations are not uncommon in Attic.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

David Fish
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Joined: June 3rd, 2011, 8:22 am

Re: Spelling of σῴζειν in the Present Tense

Post by David Fish » May 12th, 2016, 6:49 am

Thank you very much for the kind replies When I e-mailed Dr. Black, I was not attempting to be snarky, but I fear that he took it that way. It just lingered in the back of my mind until I saw the text from Gregory. I was pretty certain that someone would give me an answer. I would like to do more with the manuscripts themselves, but for lack of time, I usually work with the published texts. When I started out years ago, it was probably with the UBS 2nd edition, and I have been firmly entrenched in the UBS or NA camp ever since. I have access to some Byzantine-Majority texts (but consult them rarely). The iota subscript is absent from them.

Once again, I'm a lurker on B-Greek (who posts rarely), but I follow certain threads, so I know the scholarship that resides in this community. Thank you, Tony, and Dr. Conrad, for your cogent replies.

BTW, Dr. Conrad, the first major contribution that you made to my "re-education" was several years back when I first encountered your article about deponency. I have wrestled with the way I have taught that ever since. This current school year (ending this week) has been the first time I have taught 1st year Greek in about the last 10 years, spending more time with 2nd and 3rd year students. This time through, with my 3rd year students, we were reading Campbell's Advances in the Study of Greek, in which, as I remember it without looking at the book again, there is a chapter devoted to the issue. I remember asking my 3rd year students how they thought I should approach the subject. I felt very conflicted. Mounce, the author of the text we have used for at least 15 years, approaches the subject in a traditional approach. I have just adopted Köstenberger, Merkle, & Plummer's new text for 2nd year students next year. I received my print copy yesterday, though I had been given an advance copy in PDF format. I have been watching Plummer's http://dailydoseofgreek.com/read-greek/ videos. He usually says something like this: "Here we encounter a verb that prefers middle/passive endings." I have found myself parroting that in recent weeks.

At any rate, I am appreciative of your help!
David Fish
Ozark Christian College
Joplin, MO
dfish@occ.edu

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Spelling of σῴζειν in the Present Tense

Post by Stephen Hughes » May 12th, 2016, 8:59 am

David, you might like to look at μιμνῄσκεσθαι / μιμνήσκεσθαι in Hebrews 2:6, 13:3 for a similar example.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

cwconrad
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Re: With reference to verbal voice questions

Post by cwconrad » May 13th, 2016, 7:58 am

David Fish wrote:BTW, Dr. Conrad, the first major contribution that you made to my "re-education" was several years back when I first encountered your article about deponency. I have wrestled with the way I have taught that ever since. This current school year (ending this week) has been the first time I have taught 1st year Greek in about the last 10 years, spending more time with 2nd and 3rd year students. This time through, with my 3rd year students, we were reading Campbell's Advances in the Study of Greek, in which, as I remember it without looking at the book again, there is a chapter devoted to the issue. I remember asking my 3rd year students how they thought I should approach the subject. I felt very conflicted. Mounce, the author of the text we have used for at least 15 years, approaches the subject in a traditional approach. I have just adopted Köstenberger, Merkle, & Plummer's new text for 2nd year students next year. I received my print copy yesterday, though I had been given an advance copy in PDF format. I have been watching Plummer's http://dailydoseofgreek.com/read-greek/ videos. He usually says something like this: "Here we encounter a verb that prefers middle/passive endings." I have found myself parroting that in recent weeks.!
I would just note here that a lot of water has passed under the bridge on the matter of voice and deponency. The chapter on voice in Campbell's book, which was published earlier this year, is essentially the same as his paper read at the SBL meeting in 2010, and while the chapter focuses on the scuttling of the doctrine of deponency, it doesn't say enough about our now clearer understanding of middle-passive verb forms. There's a thread on the Campbell book here: viewtopic.php?f=66&t=3186&sid=32a5b9c08 ... b5a64a92c7 My own web-page on ancient Greek voice at https://pages.wustl.edu/cwconrad/ancient-greek-voice is in process of another revision. It's worth noting too that there's an important forthcoming paper by Rachel Aubrey on verbal voice in the GNT about which James Spinti and Michael Aubrey have recently been blogging https://evepheso.wordpress.com/2016/05/ ... dle-voice/ and http://anebooks.blogspot.com/2016/05/ab ... verbs.html.

With regard to teaching ancient Greek verb-forms and usage, I'd offer some suggestions: the first is to note that "active" voice-forms are a catch-all morphological paradigm for verbs that are not only semantically active but also intransitive, impersonal, and even subject-affected -- meaning they could take middle-voice forms; the second is that "middle-passive" voice-forms are all subject-affected in one way or another and they can be classified into a number of standard categories that should be brought to the attention of students; the third suggestion is that a distinction between "active," "middle", and "passive" as lexical forms and semantic categories of usage should be made clear in teaching.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

MAubrey
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Re: Spelling of σῴζειν in the Present Tense

Post by MAubrey » May 15th, 2016, 12:33 pm

My wife's paper is basically a condensation of her thesis into a 37 page paper. I think it's a fantastic piece, but well, I might have a bit of bias. She covers the diachronic and synchronic issues, as well as situating the Greek voice system within the large language typology in order to demonstrate why starting with the English active-passive alternation is problematic, before laying out the organization and usage of θη morphology within the larger middle system.
Mike Aubrey, Linguist
Koine-Greek.com

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