Re: Mt. 18:3

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Aug 20 1999 - 11:57:11 EDT

At 2:40 PM +0100 8/20/99, Maurice A. O'Sullivan wrote:
>Apologies to the list:
>I now see that STRAFHTE is a regular _2nd_ aorist form --- it is only in
>the 1st. aorist form that the change from E to A in the stem occurs in the

Do you mean "first aorist passive" as opposed to "second aorist passive"?
This is actually a matter of vowel gradation or "ablaut." The verb STREFW
shows the E-grade in the present and first aorist active STREFW/ESTREYA,
the zero-grade (where the -A- arises from the Rho of STRF to yield STRAF)
in the older form of the aorist "passive" ESTRAFHN, but the E-grade
persists in the "first aorist passive, ESTREFQHN, a form which already
appears in Homer as a competitor to ESTRAFHN. What is at work here is that
Attic dialect is more CONSERVATIVE than Ionic and Koine, as (curiously, I
think), American English is more CONSERVATIVE than British English, tending
to use older "strong verb" past-tense forms even where British English adds
"-ed" to a present-tense form.

>At 11:43 20/08/99 +0100, you wrote:
>>In Mt. 18:3, there occurs STRAFHTE -- 2nd aorist subjunctive passive of
>>As I began to look at the change from E to A, I saw that BAGD lists this
>>2nd aorist passive as occurring ( in addition to Homer ) in pap., LXX, and
>>several examples from Josephus.
>>This might lead one to think that this was a Koine form, or at least
>>something that emerged around the turn of the era --- at least I might
>>have <g> had I not turned to Smyth s.586 where I find this note:
>>b. Liquid stems of one syllable change e to a,
>> as te-ta-mai, e-ta-thn (tein™ stretch, ten-). But
>> streph™ turn, trep™ turn, treph™ nourish have
>> estrephthn, etrephthn, ethrephthn (rare),
>> though the perfect middles are estrammai,
>> tetrammai, tethrammai.
>> 586 b. D. estraphthn is Ionic and Doric; Hom.
>> and Hdt. have etraphthn from trep™. Hom. has
>> etarphthn and eterphthn from terp™ gladden.
>>[ as you can see I have left the Perseus transliteration intact ]
>>Which raises a more general query:
>>How much of what might be seen as Koine forms are in fact the persistence
>>of long-standing dialect forms which in course of time and usage
>>predominate over "pure" Attic
>>( = literary ? ) forms?
>>Perhaps Carl, Edgar et al. might have examples that come to mind --- I
>>don't expect any sweeping generalisations from scholars <g>
>>A subsidiary query, on the specific verse:
>>The widespread translations
>>RSV, NAB: "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and ....
>>NRSV: "Truly I tell you, unless you change
>>turns the passive into an active, to accommodate the English usage.
>>Why not a middle form, rather than a passive, in the original, I wonder?
>>BTW, in the Matthean use of " turn " I detect a very direct connection
>>with the OT use of SHUV, literally "turn", in the physical sense, for the
>>idea of repentance which in Greek becomes METANOIA, an intellectual concept.
>>Maurice A. O'Sullivan
>>[ Bray, Ireland ]
>>Confucius said: "To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study
>>is dangerous."
>>Analects 2:15
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>Maurice A. O'Sullivan [ Bray, Ireland ]
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Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

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