From: Dale M. Wheeler (
Date: Sat Sep 23 1995 - 00:25:44 EDT

In doing an updating of the GRAMCORD database, I ran into this same
RHSSW/RHGNUMI problem. The conclusion I came to was that we are dealing
with two different words, for the following reasons.

BAGD lists RHSSW in the following categories: "1. by-form of RHGNUMI, q.v.--
2. epic RHSSW...=ATT. RATTW...", but lists no entries under category 1. This
seems to indicate that BAGD doesn't agree with the possibility presented by
BDF(101 RHGNUNAI) that "perhaps the two verbs converged in Koine." BDF is,
however, equally clear in agreeing with BAGD that we are dealing with two
different words in the NT, with RHGNUMI and its alternate RHSSW meaning "to
break, tear (in pieces)" and the separate lemma RHSSW, which is an old Epic
verb, otherwise spelled RASSW that corresponds to the Attic RATTW, and means
"to strike, stamp." L&S also distinguishes the two roots pointing out that
the original form for the epic (viz., Ionic) form RHSSW was RASSW, and that
"the Ion. form is found also in the koine..."; then they list Mark 9:18 and
Luke 9:42 as from this root (cf., also Wisdom 4:19).

The Concordances, however, do not seem to have taken the Lexicon and
Grammars' information into consideration in constructing their works.
Aland's Computer Concordance and Moulton-Geden list all 7 together under
RHGNNUMI. The new electronic version of the Fribergs' database contained in
BibleWorks and BibleWindows has all 7 occurrences listed as from RJGNNUMI as
well, reversing their earlier decision to follow BAGD on this word and list
them separately. This may indicate on the Fribergs' part to accept the idea
that the two lemmas have merged in Koine, as suggested by BDF or to simply
lump all the composite verbs together (this, btw, is a major difference
between the Friberg and GRAMCORD database; GRAMCORD breaks all the composite
verbs into their specific lemmas, rather than lumping them together; e.g.,
DEIKNUW vs DEIKNUMI, etc). Strong's and NASBc have only 1 number for all
the entries; NIVc has a separate number for RHSSW, but then says that its an
alternate which is unused (?).

Given the point made by BDF (101) and Robt (Gr, p. 1219) that the passives
(present only ?) come from RHGNUMI and the actives come from RHSSW, the only
occurrence of RHGNUMI in the present is Matt 9:17, the present passive; all
the others are evidently from RHSSW 1 (which means the same thing as
RHGNUMI), since the other four occurrences are Aorist and Future. BDF (92)
includes this verb among a group of which they say, "Some verbs in -NUNAI
are replaced by other thematic formations or by synonyms built on other
stems..." This seems to agree with the statement of Robertson (Gr, p. 1219),
who says that "The active forms belong to RHSSW and the passive to RHGNUMI."
This is an exceptional statement by Robertson and seems thus to point to an
exceptional situation, i.e., the Aor/Fut/Pf which normally come from the
athematic -numi lemmas, in this case come from RHSSW.

Thus, following BAGD, Mark 9:18; Luke 9:42 are from RHSSW 2 "throw down,
dash to the ground," while the rest of the occurrences are from
RHGNUMI/RHSSW 1 "tear, burst, break." These are two separate words, with
different etymological histories, which just happen to become homographs in

BTW, it may be that Luke 8:29 is another example of RHSSW 2 (DIARHSSW).
Dale M. Wheeler, Th.D.
Chair, Biblical Languages Dept Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:27 EDT