Re: [Re: 2 Peter 2:13]

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Sep 13 1999 - 17:32:10 EDT

At 8:57 AM -0600 9/12/99, Dmitriy Reznik wrote:
>Dear Carl,
>Thank you very much! Even being a Russian speaking person, I know the
>construction you mentioned ("I was given a book"), and it shed light.
>Still the problem for me is the fact that while it is normal to say "to give a
>book", "to give mistreatment" doesn't seem to be a transitive verb (like "to
>give" is). So I understand your translation "they will be
>destroyed, being done wrong to (with) the retribution of their wrongdoing." to
>be the most literal version. Still we make "doing wrong" to be intransitive.
>Isn't it so? And is it normal for this word to be transitive in Greek, or it
>is just "bad Greek"?

Let me back up and inject a notion that I've been developing, one that I
think works pretty well, actually: it is that we ought to understand these
participles not as passives but as Middle-voice participles. In


We ought to understand ADIKOUMENOI not as "being done wrong to" but rather
"getting one's self mistreated" or "getting wrongdoing for oneself." It is
transitive and it does take a direct object; here it is "getting wrongdoing
for oneself, getting (in fact) requital for wrongdoing ."

The key proposition that I'm making use of here is the fact that ancient
Greek doesn't have a distinct passive (not even a majority of the -QH-
aorist and future "passives" are clearly passive; mot of them are
"deponents"--substitutes for what in older Greek would have been aorist or
future middles.

This is most easily seen in LUW. LUW TON hIPPON means "I untie the
horse"--BUT: LUETAI hO hIPPOS means "The horse gets untied"--this in
itself is neither strictly middle or passive; it depends upon what elements
are added to clarify the specifics. Consequently, in the form LUETAI hO
hIPPOS the statement may mean "the horse works his way loose" (without any
external assistance), whereas LUETAI hO hIPPOS hUPO TOU BOWTOU will be
translated as a passive, "The horse is untied by the cowboy." And yet in
this last sentence, it's questionable whether the Greek sense of LUETAI is
"is being untied"--I think it would be more accurate to say that literally
the sentence means "The horse gets loose via the agency of the cowboy."
That is to say: we often tend to distort the sense of a Middle-Passive form
when we force a passive translation upon it in English (or whatever the
target language). So the phrase above should be understood something like
"getting mistreatment for themselves, namely requital for mistreatment.

Does that make any sense at all? I've been trying to formulate a document
expressing this way of looking at the voices for some time now, but I
haven't quite yet got it into shape that I'm comfortable to publish, even
if I publish it only as a message to B-Greek.

Regards, cwc

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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