Fw: Re: More middles Rom 5:5

From: Trevor M Peterson (spedrson@juno.com)
Date: Sun Sep 28 1997 - 07:38:02 EDT

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From: "Carl W. Conrad" <cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu>
To: spedrson@juno.com (Trevor M Peterson)
Subject: Re: More middles Rom 5:5
Date: Sun, 28 Sep 1997 05:47:42 -0500
Message-ID: <v03110700b053e0c31856@[]>

At 6:33 PM -0500 9/27/97, Trevor M Peterson wrote:
>I've got a question regarding the middle/passive voice. If I understand
>correctly, you would generally assume middle unless an agent is clearly
>identified. Does this apply to intermediate agency? In Rom 5:5, we
>hAGIOU. Now, without the last phrase I would assume a middle force:
>"the love of God has poured itself out in our hearts." With the
>intermediate agency of the Holy Spirit, it seems that we could take it
>either passive or middle. I'm still leaning toward middle, but what
>would you do?

Good question. I wouldn't, I think, argue hard against someone who wants
read this as passive, but as you say, the Spirit is really an
here. I'm inclined to think that the real problem is more of English
translation than of understanding the Greek; the perfect tense is also
difficult to convey, inasmuch as what's emphasized is the present state
things rather than completion of a process. It's a metaphor too, isn't
it--of God's love as a liquid thing; it seems to me that it expresses a
perception of a present condition: "God's love is in full flow in our
hearts owing to the work of the Holy Spirit." Or, if one wants to use a
present perfect in English, one could say, "God's love has gushed at full
force in our hearts owing to the Spirit." I don't know if Paul thought in
terms of voice; what strikes me is that he's used this middle/reflexive
because he wants to emphasize the love of God and the experience of its
throbbing flood, its coursing through one's circulatory system, more than
any process of exactly HOW it came to pass. I'd probably never get away
with this in a translating committee, but I think the sense might be
expressed thus: "Through the Holy Spirit we sense the love of God pulsing
at full flood in our hearts."

Yes, I'd probably prefer to analyze it as middle, but I suspect most
would prefer to call it passive. The thing is, it's so metaphorical! Paul
could have said, "God has made our hearts throb with his pulsing love,"
it seems he wants to emphasize OUR experience rather than the agent, and
that has governed his choice of the middle/passive here.

As I say, it's a good question, and I'm not really satisfied with my
in terms of simple grammatical analysis. What would you say to forwarding
this question and my response to the list to get some other opinions on

Regards, cwc

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
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cconrad@yancey.main.nc.us
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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