Re: 2 Peter 2:13

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Sep 12 1999 - 09:05:52 EDT

At 3:35 PM -0600 9/11/99, Dmitriy Reznik wrote:
>Dear Carl,
>Will you be so kind to help me with 2Peter 2:13? I have problems with
>translating ADIKOUMENOI MISQON ADIKIAS... I found in lexicons the idea of
>"being harmed by the reward of unrighteousness", buy I am confused with such
>an understanding of Acc (MISQON ADIKIAS).

Note: I've corrected your transcription: it's ADIKOUMENOI, not

It is an awkward construction, and I think what lies at the heart of the
awkwardness (from the perspective of a modern reader, who is uncomfortable
with passives to begin with) lies in the use here of an accusative of
direct object with a passive verb.

First of all, am I right in supposing that you're a native Russian-speaker
rather than a native English-speaker? Unless you are a native
English-speaker, you may not have ever heard a construction such as, "I was
given a book yesterday by a friend of mine." Here we say that "I" am the
subject, "was given" is a past-tense passive verb, and "a book" must be
understood as the direct object of "was given." In elementary school I was
taught to call it a "received object" of a passive verb, with the
explanation that what's happened here is that the Indirect object of an
active construction, "My friend gave me a book yesterday," has become the
Subject of the transformed structure, although the passive structure could
have been phrased, "A book was given me yesterday by my friend." In fact,
this last formulation is one nobody is likely ever to hear used in English,
although the other one, "I was given a book ..." is not that uncommon.

What this all amounts to with regard to the Greek sentence is this: the
subject is the hOUTOI of verse 12 (which can be carried backward to several
antecedents that seems to include several different classes of evildoers);
let's use "mistreat" for ADIKEW and call ADIKIAN a "cognate accusative"
like QUSIAN QUEIN ("sacrifice an offering" = "perform a sacrifice") or like
English "see the sights" or "do the deed." Let's understand ADIKIAN ADIKEW
as "perform a misdeed" or "mistreat."

Then we can understand the construction of 2 Pet 12-13 as "they will be
destroyed, being done wrong to (with) the retribution of their wrongdoing."
This is very awkward in English and so must become something like "given
the retribution of their wrongdoing by being done wrong to." Still awkward,
to be sure. In decent English, it has to be: "They will be destroyed,
avenged in retribution of their wrongdoing."

Does that help at all? Or how about: "given mistreatment, the reward of
(their own) mistreatment."

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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