Middle vs. Passive in 1 Cor 10:2

Middle vs. Passive in 1 Cor 10:2

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 16th, 2013, 5:50 am

According to my sense of the manuscript weight, the textual tradition is evenly divided between the aorist middle and aorist passive in 1 Cor 10:2, and so are the SBL and Nestle-Aland critical texts:
1 Cor 10:2 SBL/NA wrote:καὶ πάντες εἰς τὸν Μωϋσῆν ἐβαπτίσαντο/ἐβαπτίσθησαν ἐν τῇ νεφέλῃ καὶ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ,

What difference in nuance, if any, is there between the aorist middle ἐβαπτίσαντο and the aorist passive ἐβαπτίσθησαν? Could it be volitional (got baptized vs. were baptized)?
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Re: Middle vs. Passive in 1 Cor 10:2

Postby cwconrad » April 16th, 2013, 12:17 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:According to my sense of the manuscript weight, the textual tradition is evenly divided between the aorist middle and aorist passive in 1 Cor 10:2, and so are the SBL and Nestle-Aland critical texts:
1 Cor 10:2 SBL/NA wrote:καὶ πάντες εἰς τὸν Μωϋσῆν ἐβαπτίσαντο/ἐβαπτίσθησαν ἐν τῇ νεφέλῃ καὶ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ,

What difference in nuance, if any, is there between the aorist middle ἐβαπτίσαντο and the aorist passive ἐβαπτίσθησαν? Could it be volitional (got baptized vs. were baptized)?


One might ask whether baptism is ever an involuntary process. Undnergoing baptism for the dead, whatever it means, is surely a voluntary action. We've raised the question previously about a passive imperative of this verb in Acts 2:38: Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς· μετανοήσατε, [φησίν,] καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν καὶ λήμψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος. And what's the difference between βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος in that exhortation and βάπτισαι in Acts 22:16 καὶ νῦν τί μέλλεις; ἀναστὰς βάπτισαι καὶ ἀπόλουσαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας σου ἐπικαλεσάμενος τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ? The verb would appear to be transitive and therefore to permit a passive transformation, but the active voice form seems to be used of the one performing the ceremony, while the middle-passive or passive forms all would seem to point to the neophytes undergoing/submitting themselves to a process. The semantic distinction, it seems to me, is about as subtle, if I may use an old-timey expression, as "frog-hairs split four ways."
Carl W. Conrad
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Re: Middle vs. Passive in 1 Cor 10:2

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 19th, 2013, 1:58 am

Would it be reasonable to suppose that the aorist middle is marked for volitional activities and the aorist passive marked, if at all, for undergoing the process? For verbs like βαπτίζειν, these two forms don't really conflict but rather focus on different facets of the same event.
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Re: Middle vs. Passive in 1 Cor 10:2

Postby cwconrad » April 19th, 2013, 5:37 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:Would it be reasonable to suppose that the aorist middle is marked for volitional activities and the aorist passive marked, if at all, for undergoing the process? For verbs like βαπτίζειν, these two forms don't really conflict but rather focus on different facets of the same event.


What troubles me about a hypothesis of this sort is that its formulation is so "iffy.": "is marked, if at all, ... "My question would be, "If βαπτίζειν is not one of those verbs, what sort of verbs does it include? The sliding scale that Bakker ("Voice, Aspect and Aktionsart: Middle and Passive in Ancient Greek”) drew up for Classical Greek verbs was constructed largely, I think, on degree of transitivity and causation. I think that we probably need to compile data for the categories of verb regularly used in the middle voice and see whether we can construct for the Hellenistic era a mapping of the extent to which verbs in those categories are used with -θη- endings.
Carl W. Conrad
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Re: Middle vs. Passive in 1 Cor 10:2

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 19th, 2013, 7:45 am

I'm asking what difference in meaning, if any, lies between the two forms in this context. It is possible that the two forms could so overlap as to entail the same event even as they still denote, or focus, on different parts of it. If I recall Allan's work correctly, the aorist middles tend to go with volitional actions while the aorist passives tend to indicate undergoing the process without regard to volition. Could that be the difference in nuance? Or is it something else? Or are they exact synonyms?
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Re: Middle vs. Passive in 1 Cor 10:2

Postby cwconrad » April 19th, 2013, 1:13 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm asking what difference in meaning, if any, lies between the two forms in this context. It is possible that the two forms could so overlap as to entail the same event even as they still denote, or focus, on different parts of it. If I recall Allan's work correctly, the aorist middles tend to go with volitional actions while the aorist passives tend to indicate undergoing the process without regard to volition. Could that be the difference in nuance? Or is it something else? Or are they exact synonyms?


I'm just trying to think of what sort of data we'd need to accumulate to answer such a question. How is "this context" defined? I've been thinking of GNT verbs that are found in both the MP1 and MP2 (θη) forms. In a middle-only verb like ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι, for instance, there are the following instances in John's gospel:
John 5:35 ἐκεῖνος ἦν ὁ λύχνος ὁ καιόμενος καὶ φαίνων, ὑμεῖς δὲ ἠθελήσατε ἀγαλλιαθῆναι πρὸς ὥραν ἐν τῷ φωτὶ αὐτοῦ.

John 8:56 Ἀβραὰμ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ἠγαλλιάσατο ἵνα ἴδῃ τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ἐμήν, καὶ εἶδεν καὶ ἐχάρη.


It's hard to see ἀγαλλιαθῆναι here as involuntary, especially as it follows upon ἠθελήσατε.

The middle 3sg. aorist ἀπεκρίνατο appears 7x (in Mk, Lk, Jn, and Acts), the 3sg.aorist ἀπεκρίθη appears 83x (in Mt, Mk, Lk, Jn, Acts, and Rev.).

The verb εὐαγγελίζομαι, on the other hand, is clearly a transitive middle verb (the active is found 2x -- in Rev!); all four instances of the passive -θη- form are clearly semantically passive.

The verb ἵστημι/ἵσταμαι in the GNT raises some questions. I'm inclined with Randall to distinguish between the intransitive ἴσταμαι, στήσομαι, ἕστην and the transitive causative ἵστημι, στήσω, ἔστησα. But can we draw any clear distinction between στῆναι and σταθῆναι? Mark 3:24-26 would seem to require the sort of contextual pattern called for:

Mark 3:24 καὶ ἐὰν βασιλεία ἐφ᾿ ἑαυτὴν μερισθῇ, οὐ δύναται σταθῆναι ἡ βασιλεία ἐκείνη· 25 καὶ ἐὰν οἰκία ἐφ᾿ ἑαυτὴν μερισθῇ, οὐ δυνήσεται ἡ οἰκία ἐκείνη σταθῆναι. 26 καὶ εἰ ὁ σατανᾶς ἀνέστη ἐφ᾿ ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἐμερίσθη, οὐ δύναται στῆναι ἀλλὰ τέλος ἔχει.


I think that validation of Stephen's hypothesis, that in a given context the middle (MP1) form involves voluntary action while the passive (MP2) form involves involuntary action, would require a lot more evidence. It may well be the case, as Rutger Allan has shown in his diagrams of middle categories using the different MP1 and MP2 forms in Homer and Classical Attic, that there was such a distinction at one time but that such a distinction was not felt so keenly in a later era. Was it still felt at all in the Hellenistic era? My guess is that the -θη- forms may have been employed in the infinitive (perhaps also the imperative and subjunctive) sooner than in the indicative; that would be like the inroads of -α inflections in 2nd aorist verbs -- they weren't seen in as soon in the 2nd sg. and pl. as quickly as in the 1st sg. and 3d pl.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
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Re: Middle vs. Passive in 1 Cor 10:2

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 19th, 2013, 1:32 pm

cwconrad wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm asking what difference in meaning, if any, lies between the two forms in this context. It is possible that the two forms could so overlap as to entail the same event even as they still denote, or focus, on different parts of it. If I recall Allan's work correctly, the aorist middles tend to go with volitional actions while the aorist passives tend to indicate undergoing the process without regard to volition. Could that be the difference in nuance? Or is it something else? Or are they exact synonyms?


I think that validation of Stephen's hypothesis, that in a given context the middle (MP1) form involves voluntary action while the passive (MP2) form involves involuntary action, would require a lot more evidence.


Actually, I don't think the passive/MP2 form is "involuntary" but rather "undergoing ... without regard to volition." They both could involve a voluntary action but focus on different parts of it.
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Re: Middle vs. Passive in 1 Cor 10:2

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 19th, 2013, 1:34 pm

cwconrad wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm asking what difference in meaning, if any, lies between the two forms in this context. It is possible that the two forms could so overlap as to entail the same event even as they still denote, or focus, on different parts of it. If I recall Allan's work correctly, the aorist middles tend to go with volitional actions while the aorist passives tend to indicate undergoing the process without regard to volition. Could that be the difference in nuance? Or is it something else? Or are they exact synonyms?


I'm just trying to think of what sort of data we'd need to accumulate to answer such a question. How is "this context" defined?


Oh, I was referring to the textual variation in 1 Cor 10:2, quoted in the first post.
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Re: Middle vs. Passive in 1 Cor 10:2

Postby cwconrad » April 19th, 2013, 1:45 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
cwconrad wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm asking what difference in meaning, if any, lies between the two forms in this context. It is possible that the two forms could so overlap as to entail the same event even as they still denote, or focus, on different parts of it. If I recall Allan's work correctly, the aorist middles tend to go with volitional actions while the aorist passives tend to indicate undergoing the process without regard to volition. Could that be the difference in nuance? Or is it something else? Or are they exact synonyms?


I'm just trying to think of what sort of data we'd need to accumulate to answer such a question. How is "this context" defined?


Oh, I was referring to the textual variation in 1 Cor 10:2, quoted in the first post.


But are you still suggesting that in 1 Cor 10:2 ἐβαπτίσθησαν refers to involuntary baptism (in the cloud and in the sea)?
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Middle vs. Passive in 1 Cor 10:2

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 19th, 2013, 2:10 pm

cwconrad wrote:But are you still suggesting that in 1 Cor 10:2 ἐβαπτίσθησαν refers to involuntary baptism (in the cloud and in the sea)?


No, and I didn't think I was suggesting involuntary baptism before. More like they (merely) became wet/drenched. I did suggest that aorist middle indicated volition, however.
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