From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Feb 26 1996 - 05:55:44 EST

On 2/25/96, Dale M. Wheeler wrote:

> Fellow Parse-ologist...How would you parse the Perf Ptcs of hIMATIZW in Mark
> 5:15; Luke 8:35 (only 2x in NT); Passive (=BAGD) or Middle ?? Cf., ENDUW,
> whenever it refers to one putting on one's clothes is parsed as middle
> (quite correctly and understandably). I seriously doubt that the demoniac's
> mom showed up to clothe him, or that the demons came back and did him a
> final favor for his longstanding hospitality, or that the prim and proper
> townsfolk came out to make sure he was clothed. Are we assuming that Jesus
> clothed him (ala Adam and Eve ??)? Or is this the DIVINE PASSIVE ?? I
> unfortunately don't have M&M at home to check the Koine uses to see if there
> are clear passives used in this sense. So what is the verdict ??

Well, here we go again. I was going to pass on this one, inasmuch as I've
already, in my post on APOLLUMI, indicated my preference for classification
as middle voice. But I couldn't resist the comment on the DIVINE PASSIVE; I
might prefer to call it the SUPERNATURAL PASSIVE. Of course, "they found
him dressed." In English we'd call this not a participle but an adjective,
but that's another questionable dichotomy. They found him in the state of
one who is fully clothed. There's not even any consideration of an agent;
the entire focus is on the present state of the erstwhile demoniac.

To digress again, let me refer to the marvelous construction one finds
repeatedly in Latin poetry, usually referred to as a "Greek accusative with
a passive participle." Here's an example from Aeneid 7.75-6 (describing,
with participles in the nominative sg. fem., Lavinia, the daughter of King

        regalisque accensa comas, accensa coronam
        insignem gemmis ...

One is taught to translate this something like, "And she, set on fire as to
her royal hair and set on fire as to her crown marked with jewels ..." One
is told that COMAS and CORONAM here are "Greek accusatives"--accusatives of
specification with a passive verb. But of course they are really direct
objects of the verb ACCENSA. How can that be--direct objects of a passive
participle? But it isn't really a passive participle, but a MIDDLE
participle. Or is it a DIVINE PASSIVE? No one will ever argue it should be
translated "having ignited her royal hair, having ignited her crown marked
with jewels," because that's awkward, and poor Lavinia didn't set herself
on fire: she CAUGHT fire. But the construction here is the same as that of
hIMATISMENON in the verses in Mark and Luke.

No doubt this is all very perverse of me, since we are confronted with the
practical problem of tagging these verbs for a computer concordance. The
happiest of unhappy alternatives, I think, is to mark hIMATISMENON in these
two verses as "middle-passive" and force the user to scratch her or his
head and make a decision in terms of personal preference. That is, the last
think you should expect is for grammarians to reach a consensus!

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

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