From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Thu Mar 05 1998 - 06:02:58 EST

Micheal Palmer wrote:
> Do any of you know of a place where the verb APOLEIPW appears in a context
> which marks it clearly as middle voice. Active voice examples are easy to
> find (2 Timothy 4:13, 20; Titus 1:5). I know of a few passive voice
> examples (Hebrews 4:6, 9; 10:26), but can't find any which are clearly
> middle.

It is true that BAGD gives Hebrews 4:6, 9; 10:26 as examples of APOLEIPW in
the passive voice but I am not sure about this.

I have a simple (simplistic?) working model of the semantic passive voice. A
verb is passive when the subject of the verb is the recipient of an action,
where the agent performing this action is not the subject. This agent may not
be explicit, but there must be an implied agent and the subject must be the
recipient of some sort of action. If these criteria are not met then I don't
call it a passive.

With APOLEIPW a semantic passive would be a case where the agent is leaving
and the subject is left behind. Now the Hebrews passages cited above do not
appear to meet this criteria. I can see no agent either explicit or implied
and there really isn't any action being suffered by the subject.

Why is APOLEIPW confusing? I think that it is easy with compound verbs to get
befuddled by the compound into thinking that the meaning of the word in all
contexts is made up of the combination of these two separate words. This is
clearly not valid for the majority of Greek compounds. Compounds loose their
distinctiveness with time and APOLEIPW has been in use since Homer. It is
quite likely that the translation "leave behind" puts an unwarranted emphasis
on the compound in many contexts. This is clearly true in the Hebrews 4:6, 9;
10:26 passages. There is no sense in these contexts that there is any agent
leaving the subject behind.

So if anyone can make any sense out of this argument, my conclusion is that
APOLEIPW in Hebrews 4:6, 9; 10:26 is not passive.

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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