From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Jun 01 1997 - 09:44:01 EDT

At 8:09 AM -0400 6/1/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>In Rom 9:22, Paul wrote:
>Which interpretation is better:
>1. "vessels of wrath, prepared for destruction"
>2. "vessels of wrath, having prepared themselves for destruction"
>Wallace's "Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics" argues for the first.
>Chrysostom said that the perfect participle was to be interpreted as middle
>in this verse, and took the second interpretation. Wallace says that
>Chrysostom's view "has little to commend it", and goes on to say, for
>instance, that middle-passive is always to be taken as passive in the
>perfect tense.

There are many excellent observations in Wallace's book, but WHY would he
want to say something so sweeping as this? That is precisely the kind of
nonsense about middle and passive that drives me up the wall.

>I looked for other other middle-passive perfect participles, and found many
>examples where the construction seemed to be middle, and many where it
>seemed to be passive. Gramcord lists 32 middle-passive perfect participles
>which are to be taken as middle. For instance, this looks middle to me:
>Mark 1:6 (GNT) kai hn o Iwannhs *endedumenos* tricas kamhlou kai zwnhn
>dermatinhn peri thn osfun autou kai esqiwn akridas kai meli agrion.
>I think John *wore* camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist.
>Translations like "was clothed with" attempt to give this a passive meaning,
>but this doesn't feel right to me.

I too think this is middle, although I won't dispute the translation, "was
clothed with"--after all, our translations are suited to English usage and
are not necessarily determined by the construction of the Greek. Another
observation on voice: traditional Latin grammar accounts for a very common
construction in hexameter poetry, an example of which is VINCTUS POST TERGA
MANUS, as a "Greek accusative," and explains it as an accusative of respect
qualifying a perfect passive ptc (here VINCTUS). I say that's nonsense, and
(reversing BB's penchant for Latinizing the Greek) I would Hellenize this
Latin as DEDEMENOS OPISQEN TAS CEIRAS and construe it as a perfect middle
participle with TAS CEIRAS being the direct object--OR, if one insists that
DEDEMENOS be understood as passive, I'd still say that CEIRAS is direct
object of it (just as [structurally] one would term "kick" the direct
object of "was given" in "The chair was given a kick."

>Most instances of the middle-passive perfect participle *do* seem to be
>passive, e.g.
>Matt 5:10 (GNT) makarioi oi *dediwgmenoi* eneken dikaiosunhs, oti autwn
>estin h basileia twn ouranwn.
>So both translations actually seem plausible to me. Can anybody comment on

I think the assertion that all perfect m/p ptcs. are passive is absurd, but
I personally think that in Rom 9:22 KATHRTISMENA probably IS passive rather
than middle. It looks to me like Chrysostom wants to interpret the phrase
in an Arminian fashion (anachronism acknowledged). Despite my own powerful
Arminian tendencies, I really do think that Paul is making a particularly
powerful predestinarian assertion here.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(704) 675-4243

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