Re: Mk 3.5

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Apr 14 1999 - 08:44:53 EDT

At 7:33 AM -0500 4/14/99, Moon-Ryul Jung wrote:
>Dear Carl,
>You wrote:
>>It may not be
>> the easiest thing to convey in English, but on the other hand, it's not out
>> of question to convey PERIBLEYAMENOS as "after casting his glance around
>> the room."
>I have some questions prompted by this thread.
>1) After joining this mailing list, I seem to learn a lot about the middle
>voice of Biblical Greek. But I remember that I read some book which
>said the force of the middle voice almost disappeared in BG. What is
>the rationale for this claim or hypothesis?

If you can find any such rationale, or if you can remember what book it
was, I'd like to know. It strikes me as a claim or hypothesis that would be
difficult to defend.

>2. How does the translation "casting HIS glance around the room"
>incorporate the reflexive meaning of the form?

As I don't know Korean, I can't say whether there's anything comparable in
that language, but in French one can say "je me lave les mains" to mean "I
am washing my hands"--and the Greek equivalent here would be LOUOMAI TAS
CEIRAS, despite the fact that one can use the active LOUW for washing
something that is neither oneself nor belonging to oneself. There are lots
of verbs in Greek that found only in the middle and that, I believe, must
have been felt to have some sort of self-projecting or self-involving
understanding of the action implicit: e.g. ERCOMAI, POREUOMAI, BOULOMAI.
One might compare the French for "I go away," JE M'EN VAIS, for which a
literal English version can only be ludicrous: "I go myself away!" Then
there are verbs that are active in the present tense and middle in the
most important Greek verbs is EIMI, which has a future that is middle:
ESOMAI; what is interesting to me is that this verb is already shifting
into the middle in Koine (impf. HMHN) and in modern Greek it is altogether
middle: EIMAI, EISAI, KTL.

>3. What would the active form PERIBLEYAS be translated?

"After looking around at ..." My previous suggestion that the middle form
PERIBLEYAMENOS should be translated "after casting his glance around the
room at ..." should not be taken deadly seriously! What I meant to suggest
is that, with regard, to voice, different languages have different senses
or "mind-sets" about voice, and where the difference is radical (as in the
case of French JE M'EN VAIS) one can only resort to the comparable way the
target language has of expressing the same idea. Nevertheless, we CAN say
in English "casting HIS glance around the room"--we may say that "HIS" is
redundant here: whose glance but his own would he be casting around the
room? And yet the incorporation of that personal pronoun makes it clear
that the action in this instance is conceived as one in which the agent is
actively involved: it is not simply an involuntary instinctive response to
look up and down and all around before Jesus makes the next move: it is
very deliberate. My own thinking about voice is that when this very
deliberate purpose enters into the action as the describer envisions it,
the describer is more likely to use the middle voice in Greek. My suspicion
is that this is exactly what's involved in those Greek verbs that are
active in the present tense but middle in the future also, although I don't
think I can prove it--I simply suspect that grabbing (LAMBANEIN) as an
action in the present tense requires less will power than the assertion
that one is going to grab (LHYESQAI) something in the future. MANQANEIN as
an action in the present tense may be simply a matter of coming to realize
a fact or two, but MAQHSESQAI seems to hint at the expenditure of
intentional effort at future learning. All this is undoubtedly much too
subjective and tentatively phrased, but I don't think it is sheer fantasy.

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

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