Re: Middle or Passive or Middle/Passive?

Carlton Winbery (
Mon, 13 Jan 1997 19:08:55 +0400

Henry wrote;
> 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
Both BAGD and LSJ give this verb as deponent. In the present tense there
is no way to distinguish middle or passave. The translation is the same
"in order that he might show mercy . . ."

Carlton L. Winbery
Fogleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College
Fax (318) 442-4996
Phone (318) 487-7241