DIATASSW -- Titus 1:5

From: Mark House (mhouse@fuller.edu)
Date: Sun Jan 30 2000 - 23:17:25 EST

 "Kevin Smith" <kgs@iafrica.com> wrote on Sun, 30 Jan 2000 14:02:


<<Concerning DIETAXAMHN in Titus 1:5, is there any significant behind that
fact that it is middle rather than active? I could not find any real
difference between the active and middle uses of DIATASSW in the NT. Am I
missing something?>>

"clayton stirling bartholomew" <c.s.bartholomew@worldnet.att.net> replied on
Sun, 30 Jan 2000 11:31:

 <<Perhaps in Titus 1:5 the middle functions like the active, but looking
over the active/middle/passive instances of DIATASSW we find in 1Cor. 7:17
an example of the middle form which appears to me to show a distinct
function over against the active. 1Cor. 7:17c KAI hOUTWS EN TAIS EKKLHSIAS
PASAIS DIATAXOMAI. In this context the middle seems to imply an action of
establishing a state of order, a process in which Paul participated not just
as an external agent but also to some extent as a direct participant, so
that the middle could be seen as showing Paul's participation in the order
and ordering EN TAIS EKKLHSIAS.

<<This may seem like splitting hairs to some folks but I see this as a
different kind of action than that of an agent who just initiates a action
from without. This is not a case where Paul just does something to the
churches, rather he does something within the churches so that he is both an
initiator and a recipient of his own action. I may be just dreaming this up
and I am sure someone on the list will point this out. BAGD does not draw a
distinction between the meaning or function of the active and middle of
DIATASSW. However, LEH does draw a distinction, giving for the middle: "to
arrange for oneself" [ti] 4 Mc 8:3. This distinction is also noted in LS
(intermediate). I think this meaning "to arrange for oneself" is applicable
to 1Cor. 7:17c but not Titus 1:5.

<<As far as Titus 1:5 is concerned I don't see that the middle has much

I'd be inclined to agree with all just about all that Clay had to say except
his last sentence. If Paul had the option of choosing the active, it stands
to reason that he used the middle on purpose in both contexts. I've often
wondered whether in some of these ambiguous contexts a good way to render
the middle might not be to insert the word "personally" into the
translation: "As I personally directed you." This is admittedly very close
to the so-called "intensive middle" ("as I myself directed you"), but seems
to have a more contemporary flavor. But regardless of how one brings it out
in English, the presence of the middle, especially when reinforced by the
use of the (unnecessary) first person pronoun, would seem to signal an
emphasis on Paul's direct and personal involvement in the instruction to
Timothy. It would seem that Paul wasn't just pointing to an incident from
history, but to a very personal interaction which Timothy would have

I just got done teaching the middle again in Beginning Greek, and this is
the approach I have tended to take. I'd be interested to hear what some of
the others think.

Mark House
Adjunct Baby Greek Prof.
Fuller Theological Seminary

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