From: A K M Adam (F49ADAM@ptsmail.ptsem.edu)
Date: Mon May 06 1996 - 14:10:26 EDT

Dear Carl,

Pardon me for pursuing this off-list, and feel free to forward this to the list (or simply post an
answer to the list) if you think that the best course. I trust that you will exercise discretion if you
so do, so that my comments about Shaughn--which I make by way of confession about my own first
reaction--are not broadcast to the whole list.

When you say,

> (granting that the forms of both participles are really MIDDLE, even
> though traditional interpreters want to argue that SWZOMENOIS is here IN
> FACT PASSIVE. I now think that it would probably be more honest to say
> that SWZOMENOIS is morphologically MIDDLE but capable of being
> understood in a passive sense.

how is it that SWZOMENOIS is morphologically middle (but not passive)? Are you positing that we are
mistaken to describe *any* forms in Hellenistic Greek as passive, or are you suggesting that (though
there is some basis for using the term "passive" for first-century usage) this instance doesn't fit
that legitimate category?

I hasten to add that I am generally sympathetic with your dissatisfaction with the state of our
discourse of verbal "voice," and am eager to work toward a more suitable analysis. For the time
being, however, it looks to me as though Shaughn is proposing what I thought a woodenly mechanical
middle interpretation of SWZW, one that depended on assumptions about "what the middle means"
rather than on how the word in question is used.

Until I learn differently, I expect I'll keep teaching my students that they should treat mid/pas forms
as passive unless they know of a middle use of the verb in question, and that the significance of the
middle form of a verb can't be predicted on the basis of a rule such as "action upon oneself," but will
vary depending on the verb in question. I've been driven 'round the bend by students asking, "Well,
can't it be middle?"

Please help clarify this point. . . .

Grace and peace,
A K M Adam
Princeton Theological Seminary

"To translate is human; to parse, divine"

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