θη passives of verbs of perception and cognition

Biblical Greek morphology and syntax, aspect, linguistics, discourse analysis, and related topics
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cwconrad
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θη passives of verbs of perception and cognition

Post by cwconrad » September 21st, 2015, 2:16 pm

(Note: I’m making this a new topic, since I think this is as much a matter of semantics as it is of grammar and syntax.)

Elsewhere in this forum (viewtopic.php?f=44&t=3279&start=10&sid= ... ca5#p22124)
Paul Nitz wrote: I wonder, is γινωσκω ever found in the midldle - γινωσκομαι?

I don't see the need to see γινωσκω as middle in meaning but active (κοινη, common) in form. If I "know," I just know. There's no extra self-affectedness indicated or needed. If I say "γνωσομαι" a self-affected idea comes in.
Louis L Sorenson wrote:I've found about 25x of γινωσκομαι (via TLG), many, if not all, with ὑπό following, or used with the 'passive' idea of 'being known by someone.'
In fact verbs of perception, cognition, and emotive response are subject-affected; many of them do indeed have middle forms (e.g. γεύεσθαι, αἰσθάνεσθαι, θεᾶσθαι, διανοεῖσθαι, ἡγεῖσθαι, λογίζεσθαι, φοβεῖσθαι, λυπεἰσθαι, ἥδεσθαι), but several of them have active forms, i.e. forms that are not marked for subject-affectedness. What’s perhaps more remarkable, if we reflect upon it, is that many of these verbs are construed in the same manner as transitive verbs, although they are not transitive (their subject is ordinarily an experiencer) and their apparent object is a source;there is no external object that serves as a patient altered by the action of the verb.

Rutger Allan in chapter 1 of The Middle Voice in Ancient Greek describes the construction of verbs of this sort in the same manner as transitive verbs thus:
… the transitive clause structure is extended to code other situationn types. An example of this phenomenon is the way mental events (perception, cognition,, and emotion) are treated. Examples of these are 'see', 'know', 'understand', 'want', and 'love' … This extension, from the prototypical transitive event to the mental event, has a metaphorical character. Its motivation can be found in the abstract commonality that is inherent in both types of events. On the one hand, we have the transmission of energy from an active initiator (the agent) to a passive endpoint (the patient), and on the other hand, we have the concept of a metaphorical mental path leading from a more active, conscious participant (an experiencer) to a more passive object-participant. In other words, mental phenomena such as gazes and direct attention can be conceived of as paths, analogical to a physical path like that of an energy flow.
I’ve been exploring questions concerning θη passives of verbs of perception, in particular the one at issue here, γνωσθῆναι, but also ὀφθῆναι, ἀκουσθῆναι, εὑρεθῆναι, and φανῆναι. I don’t think that forms of these verbs have stymied readers of the GNT, but to me, at least, they’ve raised some questions; they also seem to have given headaches to translators. We don’t ordinarily discuss translation here, but I wonder if perhaps our facile acceptance of “Biblish” — an archaic English found in older English versions of the Bible but far from today’s common usage —has blinded us to the eccentric English of standard versions of
Mk 2:1 Καὶ εἰσελθὼν πάλιν εἰς Καφαρναοὺμ δι᾿ ἡμερῶν ἠκούσθη ὅτι ἐν οἴκῳ ἐστίν …
Acts 2:3 καὶ ὤφθησαν αὐτοῖς διαμεριζόμεναι γλῶσσαι ὡσεὶ πυρὸς καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐφ᾿ ἕνα ἕκαστον αὐτῶν …
Rom 7:10 ἐγὼ δὲ ἀπέθανον καὶ εὑρέθη μοι ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ εἰς ζωήν, αὕτη εἰς θάνατον.
A few years ago I suggested that εὑρέθη in Mt 1:18
Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἡ γένεσις οὕτως ἦν. μνηστευθείσης τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ Μαρίας τῷ Ἰωσήφ, πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν αὐτοὺς εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου
should be considered middle rather than passive, noting that the Schlachter 1951 German version offers “erfand sich’s” for εὑρέθη and the 1979 Édition de Genève French version offers “se trouva”; the phrase εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα could be Englished, I suggested, as “revealed/disclosed/showed herself to be pregnant”.

The verb ὀφθῆναι construed with a dative in the sense “appear to … “ is frequent enough that readers of the GNT recognize the usage when they see it. My question is: is it really passive, or is it rather comparable to the θη imperatives such as βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος, “each must submit to baptism” — I think this is a “permissive” middle rather than a passive.

Each of these θη forms of verbs of perception — and we could add φανῆναι, the athematic aorist of φαίνεσθαι — and it could well be argued that all the θη “passives” are actually athematic aorist “active” forms — and also the perfect passive of such verbs is regularly construed with a dative case. The construction is sometimes called a “dative of agent with passive verb” but Smyth §§1488ff. claims it is a dative of interest. Perhaps all datives of the person are datives of interest, including the “indirect object.” If we understand the fundamental sense of ἠκούσθη, εὑρέθη, ὤφθη and ἐφάνη as “became evident” or “became public knowledge” — as nearly equivalent as could be to the idiomatic ἔρχεσθαι εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν in 1Tm 2:4 (L&N§27.4, 32.17).
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Paul-Nitz
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Re: θη passives of verbs of perception and cognition

Post by Paul-Nitz » September 22nd, 2015, 11:38 am

Lacking a "thumbs up" button, I'll use the manual method. "I LIKE THIS POST"
More of this please!
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Tony Pope
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Re: θη passives of verbs of perception and cognition

Post by Tony Pope » September 28th, 2015, 4:30 am

cwconrad wrote:
Rom 7:10 ἐγὼ δὲ ἀπέθανον καὶ εὑρέθη μοι ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ εἰς ζωήν, αὕτη εἰς θάνατον.
A few years ago I suggested that εὑρέθη in Mt 1:18
Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἡ γένεσις οὕτως ἦν. μνηστευθείσης τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ Μαρίας τῷ Ἰωσήφ, πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν αὐτοὺς εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου
should be considered middle rather than passive, noting that the Schlachter 1951 German version offers “erfand sich’s” for εὑρέθη and the 1979 Édition de Genève French version offers “se trouva”; the phrase εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα could be Englished, I suggested, as “revealed/disclosed/showed herself to be pregnant”.
I would like to suggest a possible refinement to the interpretation of εὑρεθῆναι. In Rom 7.10 we have the subject ἡ ἐντολή and a dative μοι (of interest, if you like). These are obviously different entities.
However, we also have a number of examples where there is a subject but no dative expressed. In some of these the context suggests a person or persons in whose interest the subject enters the given state:
Lk 9.36 καὶ ἐν τῷ γενέσθαι τὴν φωνὴν εὑρέθη Ἰησοῦς μόνος.
The voice spoke in the cloud and then Moses and Elijah disappeared, and Jesus was seen by Peter and company to be alone.
1 Cor 4.2 ... ζητεῖται ἐν τοῖς οἰκονόμοις ἵνα πιστός τις εὑρεθῇ.
People who manage someone's property are expected by the owner to be trustworthy.
Gal 2.17 εἰ δὲ ζητοῦντες δικαιωθῆναι ἐν χριστῷ εὑρέθημεν καὶ αὐτοὶ ἁμαρτωλοί
Arguably, the meaning is we may be found to be sinners in the eyes of the law, or in God's eyes.

However, it does not seem evident that in all these cases we have to suppose there is implied a person affected by the situation who is different from the subject.
Ac 5.39 ... μήποτε καὶ θεομάχοι εὑρεθῆτε.
Gamaliel warns that the chief priests will be unable to stop a movement that God has started; they will end up fighting against God. It does not seem necessary to postulate a third party to whom this situation is apparent, or even to suppose God is the person who observes he is being fought against.
1 Cor 15.15 εὑρισκόμεθα δὲ καὶ ψευδομάρτυρες τοῦ θεοῦ
If the Messiah has not been raised from the dead, argues Paul, we are claiming something about God that is not true. Here we could say others observe that we are false witnesses, or simply the situation arises that we are false witnesses.
2 Cor 5.3 εἴ γε καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι οὐ γυμνοὶ εὑρεθησόμεθα.
When we have put on our new heavenly clothes, we will not find ourselves naked. The context is focused on our own emotions (στενάζομεν, verse 2) so it seems inappropriate to introduce into it a person who observes us in whatever state.

To take up the example Carl gave,
Matt 1.18 ... εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου
it seems clear that Matthew does not mean to say Mary appeared to everyone around to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Joseph himself needed an angel to assure him of that. (verse 20: μὴ φοβηθῇς παραλαβεῖν Μαριὰν τὴν γυναῖκά σου· τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου.) Some expositors seek to avoid the difficulty by saying that in verse 18 ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου does not form part of what was evident to everyone (so it doesn't modify the verb εὑρέθη) and is rather tacked on to the end of the sentence for the reader's benefit. It seems to me a more natural reading of the Greek to say Matthew means she became pregnant through the Holy Spirit and that was the situation in which she unexpectedly found herself. This seems to be the force of the French translations that read "elle se trouva enceinte". I found the French commentator Lagrange helpful on this
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k6 ... .r=.langEN

To sum up, the θη form of εὑρίσκειν, when it is not a true passive, may according to context imply a person other than the subject to whom the new situation is apparent, or may imply that the subject him- or herself is the one to whom it is apparent.

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