Middle or Passive or Middle/Passive?

Henry T. Carmichael (HTC@ctronsoft.com)
Mon, 13 Jan 1997 18:44:52 +0000

Dear B-Greek Listers:

I'm working through Hebrews, and am arrived at 2:17, which says, in part,

<... eis to Hilaskesqai tas Hamartias tou laou.>

I saw <Hilaskesqai> as a passive infinitive, but A.T. Robertson "Word
Pictures ..." has it a middle, and who am I to argue with him? But I
cheated, and looked in the "New Analytical Greek Dictionary" (sorry,
Prof. Winbery) which has it a passive.

Is this another of the dual-voice verbs, or is it really a passive. And
if it is, how might it be rendered in English?

Middle: "for to expiate, Himself, the sins of the people" (archaic, I
know), or "for His expiating the sins of the people".

Passive: "for the sins of the people to be expiated"

I see that the 1885 RV and Darby have "to make atonement for the sins of
the people" - translating it as an active, and Charles B. Williams
has, "to atone for the people's sins", also an active.

I know it is difficult to convey the force of the middle in English, but
I frequently try to do it - but it makes for rather awkward reading.

I would appreciate any help on this.

In Christ