Re: 1Co 1.18

Carl W. Conrad (
Sat, 4 May 1996 10:04:42 -0500

At 9:20 AM -0500 5/4/96, David L. Moore wrote:
>Shaughn Daniel wrote:
>> 1Co 1.18a o logos gar o tou staurou TOIS men APOLLUMENOIS mwria estin,
>> 1Co 1.18b TOIS de SWZOMENOIS hmin dunamis theou estin.
>> TOIS SWZOMENOIS is apparently a present passive dative masculine 1p plural
>> participle from the Gk verb SWZW. One can reconstruct the present active
>> sentence by common sense: God SWZei (present = "saves" or "is saving") some
>> people. The "some people" is transformed into "those saved" or "being
>> saved", depending on whether the present is understood as simple or
>> continuous (some use progressive for continuous). The participial phrase is
>> then put in the dative case, which brings in the idea of "to/for" those
>> people. TOIS SWZOMENOIS ("to/for those being saved" OR "to/for those
>> saved") is parallel to TOIS APPOLLUMENOIS ("to/for those being destroyed"
>> OR "to/for those perished" OR "to/for those destroying themselves"). The
>> form of TOIS APOLLUMENOIS is either passive or middle, entailing that
>> either a. God APOLLUsin someone or b. someone APOLLUtai him/her-self.
>> Question: for all I know, the -MENOIS is a middle/passive ending for
>> present participles: if correct, then why can't SWZOMENOIS be construed as
>> middle here implying "those saving themselves"? On the deeper philosophical
>> level and connection with "working out one's salvation" in Phil, it would
>> seem that dunamis/logos is in a believer and this is the life
>> principle/power/energy/thing which allows the one "possessed" with it to
>> "continually transform" themselves into "righteous" people. I'm not wanting
>> to debate whether that is the case philosophically or theologically. I'm
>> more interested in knowing if that is a LOGICAL explanation based on the
>> ambiguity of the participial evidence. It may not be the best explanation,
>> but it is an original thought with me (although I'm sure someone else has
>> thought through it before as well).
> We don't really have to interpret both paticiples as grammatically
>Although they have endings that are identical, APOLLUMENOIS may be middle,
>"being lost,"
>and SWZOMENOIS may be passive, "being saved."

I quite agree with this (APOLLUMENOIS middle, SWZOMENOIS passive). I think
it would almost be preferable to cite two different verbs (and compounds)
from the OL- root:
(AP)OLLUMI, -OLW, -WLESA, -OLWLEKA: destroy, waste, lose
(AP)OLUMAI, -OLOUMAI, -WLOMHN, -OLWLA: perish, be ruined

APOLWLA = Latin PERII:"I'm done for!"

Actually I haven't check the Hellenistic/NT forms to see whether they've
changed from the classical Attic, but it's worth noticing that the "second"
perfect, APOLWLA corresponds (as often) to the middle in the Pr, Fut, & Aor.

So I'd read the antithesis as TOIS MEN APOLLUMENOIS, TOIS DE SWZOMENOIS in
the way (I think) that it's usually translated: "to those who are
perishing, ... but for us who are being saved ... "

There's no question that SWZOMENOIS c o u l d be middle here, but it seems
to me that what is implied here is that the GOSPEL is the instrument
whereby we are being saved. In sum, APOLLUMAI is closer to what we
traditionally deem "intransitive" than to a real middle voice, while SWZW
really does have all three traditional voices (even if the Passive IS a
secondary development out of the Middle, in synchronic terms the verb is
used in all three voices in the Hellenistic period).

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR