Greek passives

Ronald Ross (
Mon, 27 Jan 1997 15:19:26 -0600

Dear Greeks,

I'm a linguist (as opposed to a Greek scholar) who is currently working
on a paper dealing with the pragmatic / discourse constraints
(topicality, etc.) that favor and inhibit the use of the agentive
passive in biblical Greek, specifically in the writings of Luke. (I
have restricted myself to Luke solely as a means of limiting --for the
time being-- my data base.) I have been using GramCord to do my
searches. But I have some questions I would like to ask of those of you
whose Greek is better than mine.

I have been basing my GramCord searches on the following parameters:

Position 1: verb, passive (any person, number, tense, mood, etc.)
Position 2: preposition hUPO, genitive
Position 3: noun/pronoun genitive case

I have, of course, allowed for intervening words between these three

My general question is does Greek have agentive passive forms that would
not be detected by such a search? For instance, are there agentive
passives that carry out agent demotion with propositions other than
hUPO? Are there passives in which the order of the constituents could
be different from that assumed above? Greek has a morphological
passive and a periphrastic passive with some form of the word EIMI +
passive participle (for example Lk.21.24). Are there published studies
on the pragmatic or discourse constraints that determine the choice of
one form over the other? Are deponent verbs (i.e. passive in form but
active in meaning) allowed to express the passive voice? How? I ask you
indulgence if in any of these cases I am asking the obvious.


Ronald Ross
Department of Linguistics
University of Costa Rica
UBS Translations Consultant