allelous vs. heautous

From: Carl William Conrad (
Date: Sun Feb 09 1997 - 17:27:07 EST

At 10:50 AM -0600 2/9/97, Bob Meyers wrote:
>I have a problem with the uses of allelous/eautous,
>particularly in Eph. 4:32, Col. 3:13, and Col. 3:16.
>I'm told varying things from different commentators and
>face to face consultants. Some say that allelous is
>transitive and eautous is reflexive, PERIOD.
>Another says that with an associated pros, eautous can
>be transitive, but NEVER without it.

I hate to have to say such a thing, but I will only express it as my
personal judgment: I think you have been led down the primrose path by
people who, if they say what you have cited above--at least with regard to
NT usage--, are misinformed. I won't say anything about whether
theological bias sways their assertions on this matter, only that I think
they are patently wrong in their assertion.

hEAUTWN: I give it in the genitive plural because that's where you'd
normally find it in a lexicon. It is compounded from an old Indo-European
reflexive pronoun *SWE (not Greek letters) which under phonetic rules
operant in Greek becomes hE; it appears regularly as a reflexive pronoun
in Homer, and Latin uses a derivative of the same Indo-European root, SE,
in the same way. In Greek, however, hE early lost that distinctly
reflexive force and came to be used in poetry (far less in prose) as an
all-person accusative pronoun, usually, but not always, for the 3rd sg. or
the 3rd pl. (exacly like Latin SE).

BUT--Greek regularly used forms of the intensive pronoun AUTOS with the
personal pronouns, particularly in the accusative, and in the singular
these were even compounded together: EME AUTON --> EMAUTON, SE AUTON -->
SEAUTON (thus Apollo's Delphic admonition to self knowledge, GNWQI
SEAUTON), hE AUTON --hEAUTON and a conracted form of that, hAUTON; in the
plural the comparable forms remain separate: hHMAS AUTOUS, hUMAS AUTOUS,

Whatever the reason, but I surmise it may have been because hE itself was
being used in poetry as an accusative personal pronoun for other than 3rd
person, the form hEAUTOUS in the plural began to spread to the
second-person plural--and also to usurp the function of the reciprocal
combo of ALLOS ALLON written as ALLHLOUS. By the NT period, Koine was
using hEAUTOUS and ALLHLOUS interchangeably for the reciprocal pronoun. I
don't believe that there's any difference of meaning whatsoever between
them in the Koine. HOWEVER, in the Attic revival of the 2nd century, this
would be one of the points distinguishing well-trained writers and those
continuing to write the language that is the ultimate parent of the modern
Demotic: purists would distinguish the reflexive from the reciprocal
pronoun whereas ordinary writers would not. But that doesn't take place
until the later first or about the early second century--roughly the same
time that Quintilian in Rome was teaching that only Ciceronian Latin could
be good Latin.

The upshot of all this is that there is no real differentiation between
the two forms hEAUTWN/OIs/OUS and ALLHLWN/OIS/OUS--both are reciprocal,
with or without PROS (and there's not a whit of difference between
hEAUTOIS and PROS hEAUTOUS, either. On the other hand, the singular form,
hEAUTOU/Wi/ON can only be reflexive: anyone wishing to talk to himself
LEGETW hEAUTWi with confidence that, unless he's schizoid, he alone will
be the intended listener. My witty sister-in-law once said, when asked who
she was, "I feel like LES MISERABLES, but I'm not plural yet."

>I know this has probably already been discussed extensively on the
>virginia greek list; and apologize for missing out and bringing up old
>stuff again --- but would appreciate answers from opinionated people,
>perhaps via reposted articles or private e-mail if you wish.

Opinionated I am, but if you are perhaps looking for an "authority"
regarding this, the article in Louw-Nida at #92.26 under the heading
"Reciprocal reference" seems to me succinct and accurate; it's shorter and
probably much more to-the-point than I have been in this response.

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

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:05 EDT