Deponent Verb in 2 Thess. 2:10

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WAnderson
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Deponent Verb in 2 Thess. 2:10

Post by WAnderson » July 4th, 2011, 5:30 pm

This is going to be a very newbie question, so please be kind :D

My (basic) understanding of the middle voice so far is that essentially the subject is both the actor and the recipient of the action. The question has to do with deponent verbs in particular. My "New Testament Greek Syntax" chart by Daniel Wallace lists three "classifications" of the middle voice: Direct (performs or experiences the action), Indirect (acts on its own behalf), and Permissive (allows something to be done on himself/herself). Then there's the so-called deponent, which is passive in form but active in meaning. But if it's active in meaning, in what sense is it "middle"? In other words, with reference to the aforementioned three "classifications," what is the relationship of the subject of a deponent verb to the action? Does it perform the action (direct), does it act on its own behalf (indirect), or does it permit the action to be performed on itself (permissive)?

An example would be in 2 Thessalonians 2:10, where "they" did not "receive" (dechomai) the love of the truth. "Receive" being a deponent verb, what part did "they" play in their not receiving the love of the truth?

Can someone clarify please? Thanks!
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Deponent Verb in 2 Thess. 2:10

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 4th, 2011, 10:57 pm

Classifying something as "deponent" isn't really helpful. It just means a middle-morphology verb whose active form is so rare or missing that you have to look it up under its middle form (here, δέχομαι) in the lexicon.

The rubric "passive [or middle] in form but active in meaning" is also unhelpful, because it imposes an English active-passive system onto Greek, which is more of an active-middle system. It is true that Greek middles (including deponents) are often glossed with English actives, but that doesn't mean that the meaning is "active." Another way to look at it is that English simply prefers lexically active verbs to express the same meaning where Greek prefers a middle verb.

As for Wallace's three classifications of the middle, it is incomplete. Rutger Allan has found at least eleven. Some of them overlap with Wallace's, but he also includes many more (e.g. spontaneous processes, mental processes, perceptions, mental activities, speech acts, bodily motions, collective motion, reciprocal actions, direct reflexives, indirect reflexives, true passives, etc.). One common thread behind all these categories is that the middle voice morphology marks the subject as being somehow affected by the action. (Note that the subject of active voice verbs can also be "affected" but they are not marked as such.) I realize that "subject affectedness" is somewhat vague, but really the best way to get a feel for it is to look at large set of middle voice verbs.

As for δέχομαι (“I receive, accept”), Allan classifies this as an "indirect reflexive" middle, along with κτάομαι (“I acquire”) and ὠνέομαι (“I buy”). For these, the subject is affected by the action by benefiting from coming into its possession. As for 2 Thess 2:10, the verb is negated (οὐκ ἐδέξαντο), so they did not receive the love of truth.

This approach described here is fairly modern and won't be mentioned in older textbooks. Typically, the older approach is to label δέχομαι as deponent and force you memorize its English active gloss. Now, this older approach doesn't really explain why the form is middle, but it supplies you with a translation.

Stephen
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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WAnderson
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Re: Deponent Verb in 2 Thess. 2:10

Post by WAnderson » July 5th, 2011, 1:08 am

Stephen, outstanding. Thank you. If you don't mind, just a bit of clarification to help me wrap my mind around this.
For these, the subject is affected by the action by benefiting from coming into its possession.
That being the case, could the negation therefore imply a perceived "benefit" from not receiving the love of the truth? In other words, might it say anything about their attitude toward that which they rejected/did not receive?
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Deponent Verb in 2 Thess. 2:10

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 5th, 2011, 7:14 am

sccarlson wrote:Classifying something as "deponent" isn't really helpful. It just means a middle-morphology verb whose active form is so rare or missing that you have to look it up under its middle form (here, δέχομαι) in the lexicon.

The rubric "passive [or middle] in form but active in meaning" is also unhelpful, because it imposes an English active-passive system onto Greek, which is more of an active-middle system. It is true that Greek middles (including deponents) are often glossed with English actives, but that doesn't mean that the meaning is "active." Another way to look at it is that English simply prefers lexically active verbs to express the same meaning where Greek prefers a middle verb.

[...]

This approach described here is fairly modern and won't be mentioned in older textbooks. Typically, the older approach is to label δέχομαι as deponent and force you memorize its English active gloss. Now, this older approach doesn't really explain why the form is middle, but it supplies you with a translation.

Stephen
Everything Stephen has said is correct and helpful. Just one or two comments here:

1. The distinction is formal and historical. By historical I simply mean that it looks back to a (somewhat theoretical) period when most verbs had active, passive and middle (reflexive) forms (Carl Conrad will inform you that even these traditional categories are somewhat suspect). By formal I simply mean that it's a distinction in form.

2. Deponents "lay aside" their active forms, and we are stuck in Greek with the middle and passive forms. The middle was originally the form of the verb used to express fully reflexive action, or action somehow "in the interest of the subject." Most middle deponents are verbs which were likely used so often in that form that active dropped out altogether or was used in such a radically different sense that even contemporary speakers felt it was really a different word, such as πορεύω, to take across, to convey, and πορευόμαι, to convey oneself, to go...

3. I still use the formula that Stephen suggests is bad, mainly because when teaching a beginning language you have to lie a lot... :shock: It's actually a helpful description that enables the student to get a quick handle on the idea and to know what forms to expect from the verb, though it certainly doesn't account for all the linguistic realities. The way to handle this at the beginning is simply to learn what each word means on a case by case basis, and to see how the word is actually used in context. Here is where learning true definitions and seeing the word used in multiple contexts really helps.

As for Wallace, et al., I think it's best not to worry overly much about various categories and conceptualizations. Develop a good working knowledge of the language first, and then you can worry about all the metalanguage that people like to use. The problem with many students is that they substitute the metalanguage for learning the real language, and then proceed to give all sorts of, ahem, interesting exegetical insights based more on the metalanguage... :roll:
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

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Re: Deponent Verb in 2 Thess. 2:10

Post by cwconrad » July 5th, 2011, 10:00 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
sccarlson wrote:Classifying something as "deponent" isn't really helpful. It just means a middle-morphology verb whose active form is so rare or missing that you have to look it up under its middle form (here, δέχομαι) in the lexicon.

The rubric "passive [or middle] in form but active in meaning" is also unhelpful, because it imposes an English active-passive system onto Greek, which is more of an active-middle system. It is true that Greek middles (including deponents) are often glossed with English actives, but that doesn't mean that the meaning is "active." Another way to look at it is that English simply prefers lexically active verbs to express the same meaning where Greek prefers a middle verb.

[...]

This approach described here is fairly modern and won't be mentioned in older textbooks. Typically, the older approach is to label δέχομαι as deponent and force you memorize its English active gloss. Now, this older approach doesn't really explain why the form is middle, but it supplies you with a translation.

Stephen
Everything Stephen has said is correct and helpful. Just one or two comments here:

1. The distinction is formal and historical. By historical I simply mean that it looks back to a (somewhat theoretical) period when most verbs had active, passive and middle (reflexive) forms (Carl Conrad will inform you that even these traditional categories are somewhat suspect). By formal I simply mean that it's a distinction in form.

2. Deponents "lay aside" their active forms, and we are stuck in Greek with the middle and passive forms. The middle was originally the form of the verb used to express fully reflexive action, or action somehow "in the interest of the subject." Most middle deponents are verbs which were likely used so often in that form that active dropped out altogether or was used in such a radically different sense that even contemporary speakers felt it was really a different word, such as πορεύω, to take across, to convey, and πορευόμαι, to convey oneself, to go...

3. I still use the formula that Stephen suggests is bad, mainly because when teaching a beginning language you have to lie a lot... :shock: It's actually a helpful description that enables the student to get a quick handle on the idea and to know what forms to expect from the verb, though it certainly doesn't account for all the linguistic realities. The way to handle this at the beginning is simply to learn what each word means on a case by case basis, and to see how the word is actually used in context. Here is where learning true definitions and seeing the word used in multiple contexts really helps.

As for Wallace, et al., I think it's best not to worry overly much about various categories and conceptualizations. Develop a good working knowledge of the language first, and then you can worry about all the metalanguage that people like to use. The problem with many students is that they substitute the metalanguage for learning the real language, and then proceed to give all sorts of, ahem, interesting exegetical insights based more on the metalanguage... :roll:
Stephen is one of the few teachers of beginning Greek who has abandoned the time-cursed doctrine of “deponency.” But there are others, and I hope their number will grow. I’ve never bought into the proposition that “you have to lie a lot when you’re teaching a beginning language.” What is true is that what one learns in a primer or in the first year of a course in a language is the elements that conform to the rules -- and also one reads texts that are carefully edited so as to exclude the idiomatic and exceptional structures and constructions of the language. But of course, those idiomatic and exceptional structures and constructions of the language are every bit as fundamental to the language as as the regular patterns that one learns in the first year. That means that leaving the first-year classroom or -- for an independent student -- leaving behind the primer and advancing into the language used in everyday intercourse and in literature is like leaving the Garden of Eden and being ‘exiled” to the real world. That is, I think, precisely what has happened to Groddel (who is going to have to give us a full name in order to conform to Forum Rules): his primer and standard reference works are useless to him when he wants to understand the usage of δέχομαι in 1 Thess 2:10:

2Th. 2:10 καὶ ἐν πάσῃ ἀπάτῃ ἀδικίας τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις, ἀνθ᾿ ὧν τὴν ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἐδέξαντο εἰς τὸ σωθῆναι αὐτούς.

Groddel asks, when told by Stephen, “For these, the subject is affected by the action by benefiting from coming into its possession.”:

“That being the case, could the negation therefore imply a perceived "benefit" from not receiving the love of the truth? In other words, might it say anything about their attitude toward that which they rejected/did not receive?”

And the answer is: Yes, it does indeed. Those who are perishing (τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις) have never made a concern for truth their own. They have never “taken it to heart.” That is fundamentally a middle-voice sense, one that is ordinarily described as “an indirect reflexive”, a verb denoting an action undertaken for one’s own benefit. Linguists would say, in terms of “roles” that the subject of this verb is both the “agent” and the “beneficiary.”

Is that too much to tell beginners? Do they have to be told that verbs like δέχομαι belong in the “D” category of verbs that are just too ornery to behave like decent upstanding regular verbs?

For Groddel and anyone else who’s after something more about middle-passive verbs in ancient Greek, I point once again to my own web-page:

http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/GrkVc.html
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

WAnderson
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Re: Deponent Verb in 2 Thess. 2:10

Post by WAnderson » July 5th, 2011, 1:41 pm

Apologies regarding my username, I missed reading the requirement that actual names be used. I've requested that my username be changed to WAnderson. Carl, thank you for the link, I'll check it out.

I'm finding this information helpful, but a further question arises specifically on the intent of the deponent in 2 Thess. 2:10. Although the basic meaning of dechomai is "receive, accept," there is also a sense of "welcome," or "receive kindly," or "approve," which speaks more to one's attitude toward what is received. So, I'm wondering how much we can confidently "read into" the negation of the verb. If their receiving of the love of the truth would have implied a "warm reception" of same, does their rejection merely imply indifference, or might it indicate an outright hostility toward the love of the truth--i.e., the opposite of a "warm reception" or "approval"?
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Deponent Verb in 2 Thess. 2:10

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 5th, 2011, 1:43 pm

WAnderson wrote:Apologies regarding my username, I missed reading the requirement that actual names be used. I've requested that my username be changed to WAnderson.
Done. Your password is unchanged.
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Re: Deponent Verb in 2 Thess. 2:10

Post by cwconrad » July 5th, 2011, 3:05 pm

WAnderson wrote:Apologies regarding my username, I missed reading the requirement that actual names be used. I've requested that my username be changed to WAnderson. Carl, thank you for the link, I'll check it out.

I'm finding this information helpful, but a further question arises specifically on the intent of the deponent in 2 Thess. 2:10. Although the basic meaning of dechomai is "receive, accept," there is also a sense of "welcome," or "receive kindly," or "approve," which speaks more to one's attitude toward what is received. So, I'm wondering how much we can confidently "read into" the negation of the verb. If their receiving of the love of the truth would have implied a "warm reception" of same, does their rejection merely imply indifference, or might it indicate an outright hostility toward the love of the truth--i.e., the opposite of a "warm reception" or "approval"?
My guess would be that the author's choice of the word δέχομαι with a negative qualifier in this instance does indeed imply hostility toward a preference for truth. But one has to ask, regarding those about whom he makes this statement - "those who are perishing," -- whether there's any significant difference between indifference and outright hostility. I suppose the question might be asked whether "love of truth" is something being personified; I doubt it. δέχομαι is used with both persons and things as objects. I think that the sense of "warm acceptance" makes more sense with personal objects. I think what we have here is better understood simply as indicating an "unreceptive" stance toward concern for truth. If I were trying to exegete this text as the basis for a sermon, I think that trying to draw this kind of fine-line discernment of nuances of οὐκ ἐδέξαντο is not justified, although I've seen often enough that sort of thing done "on the basis of what the Greek actually says."
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Deponent Verb in 2 Thess. 2:10

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 5th, 2011, 5:23 pm

cwconrad wrote: Stephen is one of the few teachers of beginning Greek who has abandoned the time-cursed doctrine of “deponency.” But there are others, and I hope their number will grow. I’ve never bought into the proposition that “you have to lie a lot when you’re teaching a beginning language.” What is true is that what one learns in a primer or in the first year of a course in a language is the elements that conform to the rules -- and also one reads texts that are carefully edited so as to exclude the idiomatic and exceptional structures and constructions of the language. But of course, those idiomatic and exceptional structures and constructions of the language are every bit as fundamental to the language as as the regular patterns that one learns in the first year. That means that leaving the first-year classroom or -- for an independent student -- leaving behind the primer and advancing into the language used in everyday intercourse and in literature is like leaving the Garden of Eden and being ‘exiled” to the real world. That is, I think, precisely what has happened to Groddel (who is going to have to give us a full name in order to conform to Forum Rules): his primer and standard reference works are useless to him when he wants to understand the usage of δέχομαι in 1 Thess 2:10:

2Th. 2:10 καὶ ἐν πάσῃ ἀπάτῃ ἀδικίας τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις, ἀνθ᾿ ὧν τὴν ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἐδέξαντο εἰς τὸ σωθῆναι αὐτούς.

Groddel asks, when told by Stephen, “For these, the subject is affected by the action by benefiting from coming into its possession.”:

“That being the case, could the negation therefore imply a perceived "benefit" from not receiving the love of the truth? In other words, might it say anything about their attitude toward that which they rejected/did not receive?”

And the answer is: Yes, it does indeed. Those who are perishing (τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις) have never made a concern for truth their own. They have never “taken it to heart.” That is fundamentally a middle-voice sense, one that is ordinarily described as “an indirect reflexive”, a verb denoting an action undertaken for one’s own benefit. Linguists would say, in terms of “roles” that the subject of this verb is both the “agent” and the “beneficiary.”

Is that too much to tell beginners? Do they have to be told that verbs like δέχομαι belong in the “D” category of verbs that are just too ornery to behave like decent upstanding regular verbs?

For Groddel and anyone else who’s after something more about middle-passive verbs in ancient Greek, I point once again to my own web-page:

http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/GrkVc.html
I am absolutely shocked and totally dismayed that someone as intelligent as Carl Conrad would disagree with me... :shock: :evil:

Well, ok, I'm not. What I do find interesting is how the older textbooks themselves, such as Crosby & Schaeffer, introduce them in a very factual way, and then simply give the meanings for each deponent verb as they come up. They certainly didn't need to go into a lot of theory as to why deponents were deponent -- they simply forced us poor students to learn them. Of course, I was familiar with the concept from Latin, so I found it even less troubling than my fellow students (none of whom had had Latin prior to starting Greek, interestingly enough). This was the real point to my post -- teach students that these particular words use these particular forms, and that these particular words have these particular meanings. Call them what you will, but somebody has to explain to the poor student why λύονται can sometimes mean "are being destroyed" but δέχονται never seems to mean "are being received." The older textbooks did this without unduly stressing any theoretical reasons.

So, I suspect you guys are right, and there are better, more up to date linguistic ways of doing it. In the meantime, until all the really new textbooks come out...
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

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Re: Deponent Verb in 2 Thess. 2:10

Post by cwconrad » July 5th, 2011, 6:27 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:What I do find interesting is how the older textbooks themselves, such as Crosby & Schaeffer, introduce them in a very factual way, and then simply give the meanings for each deponent verb as they come up. They certainly didn't need to go into a lot of theory as to why deponents were deponent -- they simply forced us poor students to learn them. Of course, I was familiar with the concept from Latin, so I found it even less troubling than my fellow students (none of whom had had Latin prior to starting Greek, interestingly enough). This was the real point to my post -- teach students that these particular words use these particular forms, and that these particular words have these particular meanings. Call them what you will, but somebody has to explain to the poor student why λύονται can sometimes mean "are being destroyed" but δέχονται never seems to mean "are being received." The older textbooks did this without unduly stressing any theoretical reasons.
Ι suppose that is what Plato meant when he talked about a γενναῖον ψεῦδος. :D
0 x
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

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