Romans 10:10 and impersonal "passives"

Biblical Greek morphology and syntax, aspect, linguistics, discourse analysis, and related topics
Matthew Longhorn
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Romans 10:10 and impersonal "passives"

Post by Matthew Longhorn » June 6th, 2019, 6:05 am

ἀλλὰ τί ⸀λέγει; ἐγγύς σου τὸ ῥῆμά ἐστιν ἐν τῷ στόματί σου καὶ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου, τοῦτʼ ἔστιν τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως ὃ κηρύσσομεν. ὅτι ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃς ⸂ἐν τῷ στόματί σου κύριον Ἰησοῦν⸃ καὶ πιστεύσῃς ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου ὅτι ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν, σωθήσῃ· καρδίᾳ γὰρ πιστεύεται εἰς δικαιοσύνην, στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖται εἰς σωτηρίαν.
Just doing some reading and come across Romans 10:10 again and am puzzled as to why people see the verbs πιστεύεται and ὁμολογεῖται as being impersonal use of the media-passive form? Looking at the preceding context isn’t it more reasonable to see this as being a simple passive in meaning with either αὐτὸν or τὸ ῥῆμα as the referent?
In other words, a translation of "for with the heart it (Jesus or rhema or content of hoti clause) is believed resulting in righteousness, with the mouth it (Jesus as lord or rhema) is professed leading to salvation"
I am not denying the possibility of an impersonal translation of these words here, just questioning whether it is necessary?
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MAubrey
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Re: Romans 10:10 and impersonal "passives"

Post by MAubrey » June 6th, 2019, 3:08 pm

The glosses "is believed" and "is professed" would be fine renderings of a perfect medio-passive, but it isn't a very good translation of a present.
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Bruce McKinnon
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Re: Romans 10:10 and impersonal "passives"

Post by Bruce McKinnon » June 6th, 2019, 3:59 pm

MAubrey wrote:
June 6th, 2019, 3:08 pm
The glosses "is believed" and "is professed" would be fine renderings of a perfect medio-passive, but it isn't a very good translation of a present.
Mike, I wonder if you might be willing to elucidate on this comment? I follow your Koine Greek blog and hope to become clearer on modern day scholarship on tense/aspect issues. But I'm still in a state of confusion caused in part by the many different and sometimes inconsistent approaches to aspect theory.

My simplistic and now somewhat dated grammatical analysis is that Matthew's approach makes good sense.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Romans 10:10 and impersonal "passives"

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 6th, 2019, 5:26 pm

MAubrey wrote:
June 6th, 2019, 3:08 pm
The glosses "is believed" and "is professed" would be fine renderings of a perfect medio-passive, but it isn't a very good translation of a present.
The problem is not the Greek, but the English, in which "is believed" and "is professed" imply a perfective. If we paraphrase, though, say ἄνθρωπος γὰρ καρδίᾳ πιστεύει εἰς δικαιοσύνην, στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖ εἰς σωτηρίαν.. "For a person believes in his heart for righteousness and confesses with his mouth for salvation... Then we can better capture the force of the present in English.
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Matthew Longhorn
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Re: Romans 10:10 and impersonal "passives"

Post by Matthew Longhorn » June 7th, 2019, 4:08 am

Thanks for the response all.
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
June 6th, 2019, 5:26 pm
The problem is not the Greek, but the English, in which "is believed" and "is professed" imply a perfective. If we paraphrase, though, say ἄνθρωπος γὰρ καρδίᾳ πιστεύει εἰς δικαιοσύνην, στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖ εἰς σωτηρίαν.. "For a person believes in his heart for righteousness and confesses with his mouth for salvation... Then we can better capture the force of the present in English.
Barry, I guess I was trying to keep a focus I perceived on the object of the faith rather than transferring it to the person doing the believing or confessing. Whilst “is believed” may imply a perfective rather than imperfective verb form in my English, does it really necessitate this?
MAubrey wrote:
June 6th, 2019, 3:08 pm
The glosses "is believed" and "is professed" would be fine renderings of a perfect medio-passive, but it isn't a very good translation of a present.
Mike, can you clarify on this? Is this relating to a possible change of state reading of the perfect?
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Matthew Longhorn
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Re: Romans 10:10 and impersonal "passives"

Post by Matthew Longhorn » June 7th, 2019, 4:41 am

Change of state isn’t probably the best way to have put that, but wasn’t sure how to express it otherwise
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Romans 10:10 and impersonal "passives"

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 7th, 2019, 3:56 pm

Matthew Longhorn wrote:
June 7th, 2019, 4:08 am
Thanks for the response all.
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
June 6th, 2019, 5:26 pm
The problem is not the Greek, but the English, in which "is believed" and "is professed" imply a perfective. If we paraphrase, though, say ἄνθρωπος γὰρ καρδίᾳ πιστεύει εἰς δικαιοσύνην, στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖ εἰς σωτηρίαν.. "For a person believes in his heart for righteousness and confesses with his mouth for salvation... Then we can better capture the force of the present in English.
Barry, I guess I was trying to keep a focus I perceived on the object of the faith rather than transferring it to the person doing the believing or confessing. Whilst “is believed” may imply a perfective rather than imperfective verb form in my English, does it really necessitate this?
Actually, I think the use of the impersonal verbs here puts the emphasis on the actions of believing and confessing, not so much the subjects and objects, which are easily determined from context. The question is precisely why the present is used here. In older grammatical meta-language, it appears to be used to make a general statement which is always true from the time frame of the reader, a kind of gnomic present.

I'm not sure that addresses your question, but it's fun to think fresh about a verse which I first memorized in the KJV as a teenager... :)
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Matthew Longhorn
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Re: Romans 10:10 and impersonal "passives"

Post by Matthew Longhorn » June 7th, 2019, 4:08 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
June 7th, 2019, 3:56 pm
Actually, I think the use of the impersonal verbs here puts the emphasis on the actions of believing and confessing, not so much the subjects and objects, which are easily determined from context. The question is precisely why the present is used here. In older grammatical meta-language, it appears to be used to make a general statement which is always true from the time frame of the reader, a kind of gnomic present.

I'm not sure that addresses your question, but it's fun to think fresh about a verse which I first memorized in the KJV as a teenager... :)
Time for me to admit I am out of my depth, something I should do more regularly before typing. How are you classifying these as impersonal? Is it just the lack of specific identifiable subject performing the action?
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Romans 10:10 and impersonal "passives"

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 8th, 2019, 9:27 am

Matthew Longhorn wrote:
June 7th, 2019, 4:08 pm

Time for me to admit I am out of my depth, something I should do more regularly before typing. How are you classifying these as impersonal? Is it just the lack of specific identifiable subject performing the action?
Impersonal constructions are third person in which no personal subject is actually expressed. Often, however, a clause is the subject, or a general idea (often expressed elsewhere in the context or assumed). For example:

δοκεῖ μοι ἡμᾶς ἐκ Μακεδονίας ἐκπορορεύσθαι... "It seems best to me that we leave Macedonia." There is no person expressed as subject, but what seems best? "That we leave Macedonia," and that's the actual subject of the verb.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Matthew Longhorn
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Re: Romans 10:10 and impersonal "passives"

Post by Matthew Longhorn » June 8th, 2019, 10:38 am

Thanks Barry, that helps. I thought you somehow saw the verbs themselves as being “impersonal verbs” - in some sort of lexical sense that I wasn’t aware of. Phrasing it as an impersonal construction definitely is clearer and is something I can see.
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