Re: Romans 1:21 EN DIALOGISMOIS: instrumental or locative?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Sep 04 1997 - 19:29:47 EDT

At 5:55 PM -0500 9/4/97, Jim Beale wrote:
>On Sep 4, 4:45pm, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>> This really seems like a locative usage to me, and I see that Wallace
>> makes "dative of the sphere" a subcategory of the locative dative. If it's
>> locative, then the phrase answers the question: "WHERE did they end up in
>> futility?" with "In their reasoning processes." But if it's instrumental,
>> then the phrase answers the question, "HOW did they end up in futility?"
>> with "By means of their reasoning faculties" or perhaps, "Through the
>> exercise of their reasoning powers." The more I think about this second
>> alternative, the more it makes sense to me. I guess I've generally not
>> like the instrumental with EN because it doesn't seem "right" to me,
>> although I know that it's occasionally found even in classical Attic, even
>> if it's not the norm. But there's no question but that the instrumental
>> with EN is an everyday thing in Hellenistic, certainly in NT Greek. So I
>> guess this is really quite plausible, if it's not in fact right. At any
>> rate, I'd like to see it demonstrated convincingly that it can't be
>> instrumental.
>I'm not sure how to resolve this question. It's not even clear that
>it should be resolved since it seems to me the locative (non-telic
>end) and the instrumental (means) are identical. The means of vain
>thinking is identical with the end of vain thinking. Self-deception
>is the means to being self-deceived. The presence of self-action
>makes me suspect that a middle voice is lurking in the bushes. But
>I don't see one!

Nice, Jim. Here we go with the problem of ends and means again! But
honestly, it appears that the locative is not really appropriate for
ends--or at least that's what I argued this morning about Rom 1:23, 25, and
26 where we have (as Eric noted) HLLAXAN/METHLLAXAN used in three different
verses, twice with EN + dative, the third time with EIS + acc. I argued in
response to that that the two instances of EN + dative should be understood
instrumentally, whereas only the EIS + accusative phrase should be
understood in terms of the end result of the change. Maybe that question
should be extended: are there clear and unambiguous instances of EN +
dative that have to be understood as meaning "into"?

And as for the middle voice, there's EMATAIWQHSAN--I know that this has
traditionally been called by the strange monicker, "passive deponent." But
as I see it this is really one of those intransitive aorists using -QH- as
a tense-stem, where the -QH- really has no passive significance at all:
this is the intransitive aorist of MATAIOOMAI, and I think that is IS

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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