Re: 1Cor 7:10,11

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Fri Oct 30 1998 - 12:01:12 EST

Steve Amato wrote:
> "To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not
> separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or
> else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his
> wife." 1Cor 7:10,11 (NIV)
> I noticed that "separate" and "does" (same word) are both in the passive in
> the greek, but translated active. Why? Doesn't that affect the
> interpretation?


This is a case where the aorist passive of XWRIZW is used in both cases, once
as an infinitive and once as a subjunctive. If the verb were active then we
would expect to find an object. That is we would expect to find something that
the wife was tearing apart. Since the verb is passive, the wife becomes the
focus of the activity even though she is the subject. So she is separated.

The rendering of this in the active voice in English which is shared by NIV,
NASB, and RSV is nothing more than translating a Greek idiom into an English
idiom. It would be awkward and would not improve our understanding of the
passage to render it:

"The wife should no be separated from . . ."

If you check a lexicon or two you will find the gloss given for that passive
of XWRIZW is "to depart" or something like that.

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

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