Re: Dative agents

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Apr 09 1997 - 21:45:46 EDT

At 5:49 PM -0500 4/9/97, Ronald Ross wrote:
>Begging the indulgence of those who feel the discussions have become
>"too linguistic", I would like to ask a linguistic type question, which
>I doubt will produce any lengthy discussions. I am still working on my
>paper on relative topicality of agent and patient as a determinant of
>voice, and I have come across what seems to be a agentive passive of a
>kind I was unaware of and have only found reference to in Goodwin's
>grammar of Classical Greek. It is in Acts 27.11. There are two
>coordinated agents --the centurion and the owner of the ship-- but there
>is no preposition and the two agents are in the dative case. However,
>Goodwin says that dative agents are normal only with the perfect and
>pluperfect passive and this passive is imperfective. How common is this
>in biblical Greek?

I would say that you don't have an agent construction here at all: EPEIQETO
is not passive but middle: not "was persuaded by" but rather "gave heed to"
or "put faith in" or "trust." PEIQOMAI quite regular is used with a dative
of the person in the sense of "heed" or "obey," and I think that's all we
have in this instance. Offhand, I'm not aware of a dative of agent in the
NT used with other than a perfect or pluperfect passive--and those are
themselves relatively rare compared to imperfects and aorists. So this does
not really appear to be exceptional.

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 - 15:38:12 EDT