Passive verbs in Romans 10:10

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ronsnider1
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Passive verbs in Romans 10:10

Post by ronsnider1 » February 10th, 2016, 6:23 pm

I do not know if this has been addressed previously, but I could not find it with a search. The text of Romans 10:10:

καρδίᾳ γὰρ πιστεύεται εἰς δικαιοσύνην, στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖται εἰς σωτηρίαν.

My question involves the two passive verbs pisteuetai and homologetai. Does anyone have any idea why they are passive and how would one identify the subject of each verb? It seems that there would have been quite a few ways to say this that would make the subject obvious, as in the previous verse.

Shedd has suggested that this is passive for the sake of "abstract universality".

Does anyone have some definitive view on this?
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Re: Passive verbs in Romans 10:10

Post by MAubrey » February 10th, 2016, 9:45 pm

Well, they're middle, rather than passive. For them to be passive, you need an agent that could be expressed in a ὑπό phrase. Verbs that refer to speech acts (confession) and verbs that refer to mental activity (believing) commonly appear in the middle voice, as is the case here. Now, these two verbs also have active forms that can express the very same meaning and that's where things get more complicated. The fact that these two verbs appear in the middle rather than the active is very much likely a result of the fact that the their subjects don't refer to anyone in particular. So Shedd isn't wrong on that point. "Abstract universality" is another way of saying that, practically speaking. Another big influence here is likely the orientation Paul chooses here to contextualize the verbs in relationship to the subject's physical body: καρδίᾳ and στόματι as bare datives.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Passive verbs in Romans 10:10

Post by Barry Hofstetter » February 11th, 2016, 7:17 am

In other words, the subject is not expressed for the same reason we sometimes use "they" in English, as in "You know what they say..." It's considered a generic or universal reference. The middle expresses a certain self-affectedness for the subject, something which we usually imply from context in English (which means it's best to translate with the English active voice and let context do the rest).
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Re: Passive verbs in Romans 10:10

Post by cwconrad » February 11th, 2016, 8:55 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:In other words, the subject is not expressed for the same reason we sometimes use "they" in English, as in "You know what they say..." It's considered a generic or universal reference. The middle expresses a certain self-affectedness for the subject, something which we usually imply from context in English (which means it's best to translate with the English active voice and let context do the rest).
I (thought I had) posted a response to this question yesterday afternoon; evidently it vanished. I was understanding it exactly as Barry suggests: the equivalent of an impersonal construction, much like a bilingual sign I've sometimes seen:
Aquí se habla español; Spanish spoken here.
Comparable is the celebrated opening of Vergil's account of the descent into the underworld in Aeneid 6:
Itur in antiquam silvam ....
While students will regularly attempt to English that as "it is gone into an ancient forest ... ", it is actually an impersonal construction, something like "Their passage leads ..." or "They pass ..." , French "on va ..."I would certainly agree with Mike that it's middle rather than passive.
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ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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Re: Passive verbs in Romans 10:10

Post by Shirley Rollinson » February 12th, 2016, 8:38 pm

ronsnider1 wrote:I do not know if this has been addressed previously, but I could not find it with a search. The text of Romans 10:10:

καρδίᾳ γὰρ πιστεύεται εἰς δικαιοσύνην, στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖται εἰς σωτηρίαν.

My question involves the two passive verbs pisteuetai and homologetai. Does anyone have any idea why they are passive and how would one identify the subject of each verb? It seems that there would have been quite a few ways to say this that would make the subject obvious, as in the previous verse.

Shedd has suggested that this is passive for the sake of "abstract universality".

Does anyone have some definitive view on this?
I've been assuming that they were both middle, with a generic "he/someone" given by the verb ending, and middle because "he" is intimately involved in the believing and confessing. "someone believes . . .someone confesses . . "
However, I've just noticed that the KJV translates the στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖται as "with the heart confession is made"
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