Gal 4:3 ἦμεν and ἤμεθα

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Stephen Carlson
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Gal 4:3 ἦμεν and ἤμεθα

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 6th, 2011, 9:10 pm

Galatians 4:3 has two forms of the first-person plural imperfect of εἰμί:
Gal 4:3 wrote:οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς, ὅτε ἦμεν νήπιοι, ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου ἤμεθα δεδουλωμένοι ·
So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. (NRSV)
In the space of a single verse, Paul alternates between the imperfect active ἦμεν and the imperfect middle ἤμεθα. Is there any reason for this? Is there any difference in nuance between the two forms?

Stephen
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Re: Gal 4:3 ἦμεν and ἤμεθα

Post by cwconrad » December 7th, 2011, 6:48 am

I don't think there's a dime's worth of difference, any more than there's a difference of meaning between the forms εἶπα and εἶπον. The verb εἶναι takes a couple millennia to complete a transition from standard voice-form that is unmarked (active) to standard voice-form that is marked for subject-affectedness (middle). The future in ἔσομαι/ἔσσομαι is attested in Homer; the imperfect in ἤμην is already appearing in Classical Attic; the 2 sg. imperative middle ἔσσο is found in Sappho, while the present in εἶμαι doesn't become standard until well into the Christian era. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that somebody's written about this -- and if not, why not?

Concurrent forms and usages are a matter of interest in their own right; the question can always be raised: is there in fact a difference in meaning between the concurrent forms? I recall that Dan Wallace argues in GGBB that the older aorist middle forms ἁπεκρίνατο (7x in the GNT) have a forensic sense as opposed to the much more common ἀπεκρίθη (83x in the GNT) but I don't think that distinction can be maintained. "Six of one and half a dozen of the other," we say. It's like the argument over the differences in John 21 between ἁγαπὠ and φιλῶ, πρόβατα and ἄρνια, βόσκε and ποίμαινε: some look for profundity in these differences, while others can't see any.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
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Re: Gal 4:3 ἦμεν and ἤμεθα

Post by refe » December 7th, 2011, 2:05 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Galatians 4:3 has two forms of the first-person plural imperfect of εἰμί:
Gal 4:3 wrote:οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς, ὅτε ἦμεν νήπιοι, ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου ἤμεθα δεδουλωμένοι ·
So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. (NRSV)
In the space of a single verse, Paul alternates between the imperfect active ἦμεν and the imperfect middle ἤμεθα. Is there any reason for this? Is there any difference in nuance between the two forms?

Stephen
Isn't ἤμεθα perfect middle, and couldn't it just be corresponding to δεδουλωμένοι?
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Re: Gal 4:3 ἦμεν and ἤμεθα

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 7th, 2011, 2:11 pm

refe wrote:Isn't ἤμεθα perfect middle, and couldn't it just be corresponding to δεδουλωμένοι?
No and yes. It is an imperfect middle, but it's used here in a pluperfect periphrastic construction with the perfect particle δεδουλωμένοι.

Stephen
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Re: Gal 4:3 ἦμεν and ἤμεθα

Post by refe » December 7th, 2011, 2:24 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
refe wrote:Isn't ἤμεθα perfect middle, and couldn't it just be corresponding to δεδουλωμένοι?
No and yes. It is an imperfect middle, but it's used here in a pluperfect periphrastic construction with the perfect particle δεδουλωμένοι.

Stephen
Sorry, I didn't really think through my response. But that's what I mean, isn't the switch to the middle determined more by the fact that it's in the periphrastic construction with δεδουλωμένοι than anything else? It doesn't seem to really say much about the two forms of εἰμί, but is rather determined by the needs of the construction.
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Re: Gal 4:3 ἦμεν and ἤμεθα

Post by cwconrad » December 7th, 2011, 4:34 pm

refe wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:
refe wrote:Isn't ἤμεθα perfect middle, and couldn't it just be corresponding to δεδουλωμένοι?
No and yes. It is an imperfect middle, but it's used here in a pluperfect periphrastic construction with the perfect particle δεδουλωμένοι.

Stephen
Sorry, I didn't really think through my response. But that's what I mean, isn't the switch to the middle determined more by the fact that it's in the periphrastic construction with δεδουλωμένοι than anything else? It doesn't seem to really say much about the two forms of εἰμί, but is rather determined by the needs of the construction.
For what it’s worth, there are 13 instances of εἰμί in the 1st pl. impf. indic in the GNT, of which 8 are ἦμεν, 5 are ἤμεθα. Both forms are found with periphrastics: Gal 4:3 ἤμεθα δεδουλωμένοι; Acts 20:8 ἦμεν συνηγμένοι. It really doesn’t appear that usage within a periphrastic has any bearing on the choice of the middle.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Gal 4:3 ἦμεν and ἤμεθα

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 7th, 2011, 5:36 pm

cwconrad wrote:For what it’s worth, there are 13 instances of εἰμί in the 1st pl. impf. indic in the GNT, of which 8 are ἦμεν, 5 are ἤμεθα. Both forms are found with periphrastics: Gal 4:3 ἤμεθα δεδουλωμένοι; Acts 20:8 ἦμεν συνηγμένοι. It really doesn’t appear that usage within a periphrastic has any bearing on the choice of the middle.
For what it's worth, there's a textual variant here in Gal 4:3, where A B C D1 Ψ 1739 1881 and the Byzantine text read ἦμεν instead of ἤμεθα. I think on scribal grounds the critical text is correct (supported by P46 01 D*FG 33 1175), but these scribes apparently did not see the periphrastic construction as a reason to keep ἤμεθα.

Stephen
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Re: Gal 4:3 ἦμεν and ἤμεθα

Post by David Lim » December 10th, 2011, 10:56 pm

cwconrad wrote:It's like the argument over the differences in John 21 between ἁγαπὠ and φιλῶ, πρόβατα and ἄρνια, βόσκε and ποίμαινε: some look for profundity in these differences, while others can't see any.
I thought it would be the difference between "αρνιον" and "αμνος"? Isn't an "αρνιον" a young "προβατον"?
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Re: Gal 4:3 ἦμεν and ἤμεθα

Post by cwconrad » December 11th, 2011, 6:40 am

David Lim wrote:
cwconrad wrote:It's like the argument over the differences in John 21 between ἁγαπὠ and φιλῶ, πρόβατα and ἄρνια, βόσκε and ποίμαινε: some look for profundity in these differences, while others can't see any.
I thought it would be the difference between "αρνιον" and "αμνος"? Isn't an "αρνιον" a young "προβατον"?
Sure, but ἄμνος is used by John the evangelist only in chapter 1; the pairs of words I've cited are those found in the dialogue of Peter and the resurrected Jesus in John 21:15-19, where some commentators insist upon a very important distinction between φιλῶ and ἀγαπῶ but don't look twice at the interchanges of πρόβατα and ἄρνια, βόσκε and ποίμαινε -- the fact that the author's style here is to employ synonyms without making any discernible nuanced distinction.
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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 Lim
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Re: Gal 4:3 ἦμεν and ἤμεθα

Post by David Lim » December 11th, 2011, 12:18 pm

cwconrad wrote:
David Lim wrote:
cwconrad wrote:It's like the argument over the differences in John 21 between ἁγαπὠ and φιλῶ, πρόβατα and ἄρνια, βόσκε and ποίμαινε: some look for profundity in these differences, while others can't see any.
I thought it would be the difference between "αρνιον" and "αμνος"? Isn't an "αρνιον" a young "προβατον"?
Sure, but ἄμνος is used by John the evangelist only in chapter 1; the pairs of words I've cited are those found in the dialogue of Peter and the resurrected Jesus in John 21:15-19, where some commentators insist upon a very important distinction between φιλῶ and ἀγαπῶ but don't look twice at the interchangeσ of πρόβατα and ἄρνια, βόσκε and ποίμαινε -- the fact that the author's style here is to employ synonyms without making any discernible nuanced distinction.
Ohh I see haha. You know that there are some commentators who can pull many comments out of "sheep" and "lambs" too, right?
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