RE: Passive Infinitive in John 3:30

From: Clayton Bartholomew (
Date: Mon May 26 1997 - 10:31:00 EDT

RE: Passive Infinitive in John 3:30

Jim Beale wrote:
I was reading through John's Gospel, and I stopped to wonder at
John 3:30,


Since EME is in the accusative, and ELATTOUSQAI is passive, I
wondered why this verse is invariably translated as if the
nominative and the active voice were present? Why not rather
translate it as passive, "It is necessary for Him to increase,
but for me to be decreased"?

Richmond Lattimore agrees with you: *I must be diminished*.

The Vulgate and Neo-Vulgate appear to agree with you: *minui*.
(Bearded Bill will probably correct me on this.)

Fribergs tag ELATTOUSQAI in J 3:30 as ambiguous middle/passive. I see
no reason to disagree with them on this.

BAGD lists ELATTOUSQAI in J 3:30 as an intransitive use.


I think that there are two possible answers to your question. The
English translators opted for reading ELATTOUSQAI as a middle form
and/or for strictly stylistic reasons the chose to avoid the phrase
*but for me to be decreased* because it is not a natural English

I noted also that Jay P. Green, Sr. followed the pack on this one. He
does not always follow the pack.

Clay Bartholomew
Three Tree Point

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