Re: Deponents and APEKRIQHN

Carl W. Conrad (
Mon, 20 Jan 1997 19:15:54 -0600

I don't think this ever reached the list; maybe it wasn't meant to!

>Date: Mon, 20 Jan 1997 13:30:55 -0600
>To: David Long <>
>From: "Carl W. Conrad" <>
>Subject: Re: Deponents and APEKRIQHN
>At 10:44 AM -0600 1/20/97, David Long wrote:
>>The idea of thinking about "deponents" the way a Greek would, as truly
>>middle, made a lot of sense to me. However, I'm perplexed with how I should
>>understand APKRIQHN as a passive, e.g., in John 5:7:
>>As a side question, a quick glance at the concordance showed that John
>>didn't use the participle of APOKRINOMAI that's so common elsewhere (the
>>quick glance at least took in Matthew) in the phrase "Answering, he said,
>>...". What is the significance of the phrase and its absence in John?
>This verb is another of those that has concurrent forms in the period and
>within the texts of the NT. You will find some writers using a middle
>("reflexive") aorist APEKRINAMHN while others in the same era are using a
>what is traditionally called a "passive" form for the aorist: APEKRIQHN.
>There is not a whit of difference in meaning between these two forms.
>I've tried to explain this previously--and shall try again--by noting that
>what is called "aorist passive" is in ORIGIN and also in much ACTUAL USAGE
>really "intransitive"--what I call "third aorist." The -QH- forms
>developed as a type of intransitive non-thematic aorist came to be used in
>the aorist precisely in contradistinction from "middle"/reflexive forms in
>the aorist when a passive sense was called for. I would prefer to say,
>therefore, and I believe it would far better reflect actual usage, that
>APEKRINAMHN is a "middle/reflexive" form of the aorist of APOKRINOMAI
>while APEKRIQHN is an INTRANSITIVE aorist form of the same verb; moreover,
>they both mean exactly the same thing.
>I don't know that confusion can be altogether avoided--but students who go
>on with Greek traditionally learn lists of so-called "middle" deponents
>and other so-called "passive" deponents; when they discover that a verb
>like APOKRINOMAI has both forms, it is small wonder that they begin
>climbing the walls.
>The problem lies partly with the complexity of the Greek verb (600+ verb
>forms for a verb that has them all!--think how much easier Greek might be
>without so complex a verb!), but the problem of learning the Greek verb is
>made all the more burdensome by such stupid notions as "deponency."

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