Re: 1Co 1.18

Dale M. Wheeler (
Tue, 07 May 1996 01:26:56 -0700

I've come to this discussion late, but I'd like to make some suggestions
about various things which have come up and have not been addressed by
the others, who have pretty much covered all the other bases.

Shaughn said:

>Blass/Debrunner/Rehkopf (17.Auf. Grammatik) has a discussion under sec. 92
>"Verba auf -NUNAI". To summarize/translate that: In the NT the act. pres.
>is equally formed athematically and thematically; in impf. only thematic
>construction; and in passive the older athematic construction rules." As an
>example of active presence they give the following: AP-OLLUNAI: APOLLUEI Jn
>12.25, APOLLUE Ro 14.15, APOLLUWN Ac 9.11. For the passive: APOLLUNTAI Mt
>9.17, APWLLUNTO 1Co 10.9.
>So here is the problem I see: we've got three roots to choose from
>(APOLLUNAI, APOLLUMAI, APOLLUMI) while each verb in itself could vary btwn
>transitive and/or intransitive in relation to the tenses in which it is
>used. How does one solve that part of the problem?

This is one of the things I had to get used to in BDF as well, namely that
they insist on listing verbs by their infinitive forms; thus verbs that are
listed as -NUNAI are simply the infinitive forms of -MI verbs. Thus we are
not looking at three verbs here, but just two. Also the point that BDF is
making in this and subsequent sections has to do with the flux taking place
in Hellenistic/Koine Greek as the language changes; the specific point has
to do with the loss of -MI verbs, as speakers opted for the "simpler" -W
forms (ie., DEIKNUW rather than DEIKNUMI). In the midst of this flux, as
they point out, the change happened more rapidly in the active than in the
middle and passive forms. APOLLUMI happens to be one of those verbs caught
in a temporal snapshot in Koine as it goes through this flux. As others
have pointed out, the active/transitives have converted to -W forms, while
the intransitive usage has universally retained the middle form, though
with meanings we would construe in English (which I think is important to
keep in mind) as passive. At times one cannot tell the difference between
the athematic -MI forms and the thematic -W forms, at other times one can.
For example, DEIKNUEIS in John 2:18 is a thematic -W form; as BDF #92
points out, it never occurs as DEIKNUS which would be the athematic -MI
form, rejecting the thematic -EI characteristic of the -W verbs. But to
prove the point that this is a language in flux, DEIKNUW never occurs,
its always DEIKNUMI (BDF #92). What does this have to do with APOLLUMI ?
Well, what you are wrestling with is, I think, exactly what the grammars
and Lexica are wrestling with with respect to this verb, since it is both
in -MI vs -W flux and it only has Active and Middle forms; Has this verb
split (like hAPTW and hAPTOMAI) into two separate verbs from the perspective
of Koine speakers, one following the Active forms and being transitive and
the other following the Middle forms and being intransitive with passive
(again from an English perspective) ideas, ie., deponent, OR, is this
still one verb with Active and Middle (possible Passive) forms. My reading
of BDF and BAGD is that they think this verb has split, and that the middle
form is middle deponent (note: the fact that they are in the same article
does not mean they think they are one verb; cf., hAPTW). I would agree with
them (if I'm reading them correctly). One other thing on this score; you
mentioned that the Friberg text parses this as Middle/ is a
singular limitation of the Friberg text that they have chosen to list all
deponent verbs in the Pres, Impf, and Pf as Middle/Passive regardless of
what the Lexica have to say about their actual forms (Appendix 5.3ff). BAGD
and the other Lexicons are absolutely clear about the fact that certain
verbs are Middle Deponent and others are Passive Deponent and you can
differentiate the two (eg., DAIMONIZOMAI (pass), SELHNIAZOMAI (pass),
FOBEOMAI (pass), FAINOMAI (pass, though there is an active), KOIMAOMAI
(pass), ODUNAOMAI (pass), DEOMAI (pass), EPISTAMAI (pass), PAROIXOMAI (mid),
KREMAOMAI (pass), ARNEOMAI (mid; cf., BDF #78 for the 1x pass), hILASKOMAI
(mid), EPANGGELOMAI (mid), PERIBLEPOMAI (mid in NT), to list a few). On this
issue you must take the Friberg parsing with a grain of salt.

Shaughn further said:

> BAGD (I'm using the latest German version: the 6th edition reworked by Kurt
> and Barbara Aland), has divided the word APOLLUMI into 1. Active and 2.
> Medium and they gloss v. 18 with "d. Verlorenen" ("the lost ones"), which
> is the highest abstraction in language we get, I guess. The simple active
> statement has been transformed into a middle/passive participle. I'm trying
> to reconstruct the simple passive sentence of an ambiguous middle/passive
> participial construction to get to the simple active sentence. That would
> provide three possibilities:
> 1. "the lost ones": people are/become lost as a result of internal cause(s).
> 2. "the lost ones": people are/become lost as a result of external cause(s).
> 3. Both 1 and 2.
> Which result in these active sentences:
> 1. People lose themselves by depending on their own wisdom.
> 2. God destroys people by destroying their wisdom.
> 3. Both 1 and 2.

Two things impress me about the above. First, I think "die Verlorene" should
not be understood as the English phrase "the lost one", as you have said, a
very abstract concept, but rather as "the lost." The term is to my mind a
technical theological term in German referring to a particular theological
view of the Lutheran "non-elect"; these are not people who are becoming lost,
but rather are a concrete group of individuals who have been lost
from the "time" of Divine decree (I'm not implying that I agree with this
construction, but I think this is the way the term is traditionally used). And
while...Ich hab' auf der Universitaet Deutsch als Hauptfach studiert, I'd
that you ask several native German speakers who understand the theological
dialect (it almost is) how they understand it. There are a lot of "choosing"
words in this context, and this theme is again picked up in 2:8ff.

Second, and related to this, while there continues to be debate about this, I'm
becoming more and more convinced that substantival ptcs like this one are simply
noun substitutes in Greek and nothing is to be made of the fact that they are
present or aorist; this choice has solely to do with what the verbal nuance of
verb is...the lost is a stative idea and so present is appropriate (occasionally
a writer will make a distinction, like John with Pres and Aor PISTEUW, but I
think that is the exception, not the rule). If you were to insist that
"perishing" and "being saved" are linear/progressive, you would, it seems to
me, be forced to say the same about "the believers" in v 21 or "the boaster"
in v 31, etc., etc.

One final observation about your suggestion; as others have noted, I think you
may be creating a false correspondence between the passive meaning of a verb
and it passive function in a given context. In other words, just because a
meaning verb is used does not mean that the subject of that verb has absolutely
no role to play in receiving the effect of the verb; all it may mean is that the
author is not discussing that part of the equation at this stage in the
of his argument. An author may hold views which he does not disclose--nor is he
obliged to disclose them to be understood--in a particular discussion, since it
is not germane to the point that he is making. In this context Paul may not be
concerned with the issue of how these people "get lost" (non-elect, haven't yet
believed, etc.), but simply that they are, and as a result do not possess the
requisite abilities to benefit from the Gospel, to experience its DUNAMIS.

Well, for what its worth, that's my $.02 worth (actually, due to length, I may
have rendered $.05 worth). Isn't being on bgreek great; you can interact with
people from around the world, from different perspectives, and different
specialties. It certainly enriches my labors.

Dale M. Wheeler, Th.D.
Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail: