Rom 9:22 (Wallace's response)

Date: Tue Jun 03 1997 - 04:14:22 EDT

The following is a response by Dan Wallace to the recent discussion of his
Grammar and Rom 9:22.

Dear b-greek list:
As one who is not on this list, allow me a brief response to the criticisms
of my grammar at its discussion of Rom 9:22. First, I ask you all to show
some civility and scholarly deference. The grammar occasionally gets
lambasted by those who hear snippets; yet they do not take the trouble to
look at the page or read it in its context. That is neither civil nor
scholarly. This is the main reason I am not in this list: too much heat, too
little light. (To be sure, my book has much to criticize and I will take my
lumps where deserved; but this is not one of those places--at least not on
the basis of the arguments put forth so far.) To be specific, I did not say
that ALL perfect middle-passive participles in the NT, in an unqualified
sense, are actually passives. Although the statement may look unqualified,
it is in the context of speaking about KATARTIZW. 'Tis true, I could have
been clearer. Still, I listed three verses in parentheses at the point "in
the perfect tense, the middle-passive form is always to be taken as a passive
in the NT"--and each of these verses involves KATARTIZW. Now, to be sure,
this point may not be very impressive. I am by no means arguing
prescriptively (though charged!), but simply descriptively. But there is
more to the argument: "--a fact that, in the least, argues against an
idiomatic use of this verb as a direct middle." I find it incredible that
this was left out of the discussion by those who should have known better.

Second, no one (so far) has noticed the previous discussion of the direct
middle, on which the present treatment of Romans 9:22 is keyed. On p. 416, I
argued that "In the NT, the direct middle is quite rare, used almost
exclusively with certain verbs whose lexical nuance included a reflexive
notion (such as putting on clothes), or in a set idiom that had become fixed
in the language." Hence, with reference to Rom 9:22, my point is that if the
participle is a middle, it looks to be a direct middle. But if direct, we
would expect to find other instances of this principal part in the middle or
some sort of idiomatic expression. Neither is forthcoming with this verb in
the NT. Hence, to take it as a middle smells a little fishy. Not that it's
impossible, of course, just that corroborative proof is needed.

Third, the entire argument needs to be looked at. It seems quite misleading
to quote one part of one argument (not even the full sentence) as though
that's all I said about the matter. I gave four arguments, covering more
than half a page of text (pp. 417-18). Why wasn't this mentioned?

Fourth, the argument was presented as though I was making some sort of truth
claim, rather than a mere observation. Quite frankly, even if I had produced
100 examples on one side (passive) to none on the other (middle), this would
not seal the argument. Many factors go into an exegetical decision. Context
is a major one (and very much on the side of the passive in this text, I
believe). Read "The Approach of this Book," esp. pp. 1-2 (which addresses
the issue of a sufficient database) for my method. You would have seen there
that I try to avoid making dogmatic statements on the basis of mere
statistics. You may read them that way; they are not intended as such.

Fifth, this points up the need to read an author holistically. When I have
seen statements in other grammars that look odd, I give the author the
benefit of the doubt. I look at the broader context. I look up the
examples. And I try to give him the benefit of the doubt. I ask you to do
the same for me--before going to the b-greek for a discussion.

Sixth, as to the different printings of the grammar, allow me to clear up
some of the confusion. There are now (as of June 1, 1997) three different
printings of the book. The first two are identical except for the cover
(first is glossy; second is only semi-glossy). The third printing, which
came out last month, includes two more indices (Greek word and subject
indices). As well, about a hundred minor typos were cleared up and the
Syntax Summaries are indexed to the body of the book (pages in parentheses).
 I was very concerned about getting such a different book to the market
within a few months of the first edition. Hence, I asked that the publisher
make available for free these new indices. Zondervan was more than willing
to comply. They are available (as was noted) on the Internet at Bill
Mounce's web page. Or you may get hard copies directly from Zondervan. The
third printing mentions on the cover that it has the new indices. (CBD
bought up the remainder of the second printing; if one orders from Zondervan,
he will be sure to get the third printing.)

But the first printing--contrary to what some suggested--does have an index.
 It may only be a Scripture index, but it is still an index. All major
discussion are put in bold-italics. Romans 9:22 could have been easily

I hope this clears up some of the misunderstandings. Since, as many of you
may have heard, I am in very poor health presently, I will not be able to
respond further to this issue. I am happy for criticisms to come my
direction; I could sling a few myself (you wouldn't believe how much of the
grammar is in hidden text--all the things that I think are wrong with it)!
 All I ask is that you read a bit more carefully before you post.

Respectfully submitted,

Daniel B. Wallace

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:18 EDT