Re: 1Co 1.18

From: Shaughn Daniel (
Date: Mon May 06 1996 - 04:44:12 EDT


>> But, more importantly, how
>> does one demonstrate what is middle and what is passive in the context? I'm
>> leaning toward the position that BOTH forms are PASSIVE because of 1.19
>> APOLW par APOLLUMENOIS and MWRIA par EMWRANEN. Both transitive verbs,
>> hence, transitive participles, hence, passive objects, hence, one active
>> person/thing being GOSPEL/CROSS/GOD.

> Part of the reason for taking APOLLUMENOIS as middle and
>SWZOMENOIS as passive
>is that the lexicons classify them in these voices for the sorts of
>contexts we have
>here. (Cf. BAGD, s.v. APOLLUMI, #2; and s.v. SWiZO #2,b; L&S s.v.
>s.v. SWiZW #1.)

The discussions have been going in two directions: a. the middle voice and
the relative reflective nature of such and b. whether APOLLUMENOIS is
transitive or intransitive. As far as I recall, everyone wants it to be
middle (German "medium"). If it is middle, then what does that signify? Is
the middle signifying that it has lost all reflexive meaning in Paul and/or
never contained reflexive meaning for Paul (too long to go into now and
perhaps beyond the interest of this list, but Paul's theology in Ro
supports the idea that "all", both Jew and Gentile, with law and without
law, are culpable)? If it is middle and NOT passive, then what does that

BAGD (I'm using the latest German version: the 6th edition reworked by Kurt
and Barbara Aland), has divided the word APOLLUMI into 1. Active and 2.
Medium and they gloss v. 18 with "d. Verlorenen" ("the lost ones"), which
is the highest abstraction in language we get, I guess. The simple active
statement has been transformed into a middle/passive participle. I'm trying
to reconstruct the simple passive sentence of an ambiguous middle/passive
participial construction to get to the simple active sentence. That would
provide three possibilities:

1. "the lost ones": people are/become lost as a result of internal cause(s).
2. "the lost ones": people are/become lost as a result of external cause(s).
3. Both 1 and 2.

Which result in these active sentences:

1. People lose themselves by depending on their own wisdom.
2. God destroys people by destroying their wisdom.
3. Both 1 and 2.

> Shaun's insistence on a purely reflexive meaning for the middle
>voice is to take
>too far the idea of the middle's calling special attention to the subject
>804). In fact, Turner indicates that, in Hellenistic Greek, the reflexive
>middle is
>relatively rare - especially so in the NT (Moulton, III:54).

"Insistence" is too strong here. I believe I said that I was "leaning
towards" the idea that APOLLUMENOIS is PASSIVE in the context as well. What
I am insisting upon at the moment is that: a. APOLLUMENOIS is ambiguous in
voice (EITHER middle OR passive as Friberg etal have) AND b. its idea of
transitiveness/intransitiveness is best found in the context (APOLLUMENOIS
being construed by vv. 19f) AND c. these participles can be expanded to
their natural simple active states. APOLW is transitive in v. 19 and has
GEGRAPTAI GAR which explains the ambiguous intransitive (?) APOLLUMENOIS of
v. 18. The gloss "to perish" v. "to destroy" has been thrown around.
"Perish" is "to pass away completely" or "to become destroyed or ruined".
Webster categorizes that as "intransitive". Etymologically, they have the
Latin perire, from per "to destruction" + ire "to go". That aside, "to pass
away completely" and "to become destroyed or ruined" still entail the
questions: why and by what means do they pass away and/or are becoming
destroyed or ruined?

> About the context in v. 19 and its influence on our understanding
>of v. 18: Paul
>is not saying here that God is destroying the wise-of-this-world but that
>He is
>destroying the worldly kind of wisdom by establishing a new kind of wisdom.

I would formulate the statement as such: Paul is really saying that God has
destroyed the worldly-wise (hence, they are APOLLUMENOIS, v. 18) by
destroying (APOLW, v. 19) their wisdom. Of course, there are fluctuations
here. Maybe "destroy" is too strong. The ideas range from "bringing to
nothing" to "frustrate" to outright "destruction" (ranging from immediate
to delayed or over time).

> This
> brings about the downfall of the worldly-wise, since their base of wisdom
>is taken away.
> But does that make God the cause of their destruction?

Yes, in my opinion, it does make God the cause because the message is
claimed to be of God and in turn destroys the means (worldly wisdom) by
which the worldly-wise judge themselves, the world, and others. And, btw, I
wish to express my appreciation for your interaction with me on this
thread. It is definitely stimulating! =)

Shaughn Daniel
Tuebingen, Germany

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