[b-greek] Re: EGEIRW in perfect in 1Cor 15 (my quibble)

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Fri Nov 24 2000 - 09:08:04 EST

At 8:00 PM -0600 11/23/00, Carlton Winbery wrote:
>Steven R. Lo Vullo wrote;
>>On 11/23/00 12:08 AM, Dmitriy Reznik wrote:
>>> Will you please help me to translate EGEIRW which is very often used in
>>> 1Cor 15 in perfect tense? Actually it is used in verses 12, 13, 14, 16,
>>> 17, 20. I would suspect it to be intransitive, as I have already been
>>> taught in this forum. But presence of G-d as the subject who HGEIREN
>>> Jesus makes me doubt. What would you say: should EGHGERTAI be translated
>>> as passive, or as intransitive middle?
>>Hi Dmitriy,
>>Although EGEIRW in the passive voice with an intransitive meaning is
>>certainly a legitimate option in many contexts, I think there are at least
>>two clues in 1 Cor 15 that favor the simple passive. You have already hit on
>>the first one: EGEIRW is used in the active voice twice in v. 15 with God as
>>subject and Christ as object. So the fact that in this context Paul had in
>>mind that Christ was raised by God is indisputable.
>>The other clue is that the discussion centers around the contention of some
>>in Corinth that there was no resurrection of the dead per se (vv. 12, 13,
>>15, 16). Paul uses the phrase ANASTASIS NEKRWN in vv. 12 and 13, where
>>NEKRWN seems to be an objective genitive, i.e., the action implied in
>>ANASTASIS is directed toward NEKRWN. The dead don't simply rise, they are
>>raised. This seems to be the implication of vv. 15 and 16 (cf. v. 29) also,
>>where the passive of EGEIRW is used of the dead in general, though in the
>>present tense instead of the perfect. Since it is difficult to think of
>>Paul, keeping in mind his theocentric mind, contemplating the dead in
>>general simply rising of their own accord, it would seem more natural that
>>he has in mind their being raised (i.e., by God).

The fact is that both ANISTHMI/ANISTAMAI and EGEIRW/EGEIROMAI are metaphors
of awakening from sleep; the fact is also that the active is neither is
very commonly used of raising the dead, although both are used that way and
EGEIRW more frequently; (active ANISTHMI: John 6:39,40,44,54; Acts 2:24,
2:32, 3:26; far more commonly however, we see ANISTAMAI intransitive with
reference to resurrection. As for ANASTASIS NEKRWN, I can see no compelling
reason to interpret NEKRWN as an objective genitive in view of the number
of times the middle/intransitive ANISTAMAI is used of the resurrection of

>>I think the perfect tense is used with respect to Christ because Paul wants
>>to emphasize that Christ was not only raised, but that in his resurrection
>>mode he remains alive. After all, the hope of Christians is not simply that
>>Christ was raised at some point in time, but that he remains alive and is
>>coming for his own. It is EN TWi CRISTWi (v. 22) that we shall be made alive
>>(ZWiOPOIHQHSONTAI, again passive, probably a "theological passive"), which
>>will take place EN THi PAROUSIAi AUTOU (v. 23). Christians can't be made
>>alive in Christ if he is not still alive, and he can't come to make
>>Christians live if he is not still alive. Paul wants his readers to know
>>that Christ was raised and remains raised and ready to fulfill God's
>>promises to Christians in the future.
>Steve does not mention Carl Conrad's reply to Dmitriy Reznik, but I hope he
>is aware of it. I have learned much concerning the developments of voice in
>the history of the Greek language from Carl's post. Certainly Carl is one
>qualified to speak concerning this subject. His posts have caused me to
>drop any talk of "deponent" verbs while teaching Greek. I agree with what
>he says about "intransitive" middles and also the intransitive verbs in the
>-QH + N forms (I still say "passive" in connection with these forms but not
>"deponent passives," but all are not passive.) However, in 1 Cor 15 and and
>many other places in Paul, I cannot see how to avoid the idea of the
>passive. For Paul, IMHO, God is the agent of resurrection as he is the
>agent of Paul's calling. While I do not like the terminology of "divine
>passive," I do think that for Paul (perhaps as a result of Hebrew
>background) the understood agent is God even though there is a reluctance
>to make it explicit in every statement. I can see God as the implied agent
>even when Paul uses adjectives that have a passive meaning such as Rom. 1:1
>"a called apostle" which I think clearly indicates "God called me."
>I think that Carl is right that there should be strong evidence in the
>context to read these as passives. In Paul, I think there is.

I don't disagree with Carlton on this matter, nor do I object to
translating HGERQH as "he was raised" or EGEIRONTAI as "they are raised" or
EGERQHSETAI as "he will be raised." I quite agree that Paul makes
abundantly clear in one passage after another that he understands
resurrection as something accomplished by God the Father, not something
that people do of their own initiative (and I don't personally know of any
instance of resurrection that someone performed on his own initiative!). My
point is much more of a quibble and has to do with what I take to be
English-speakers' assumption that the sharp antithesis in English between
active and passive is present also in the Greek, whereas I rather think
that the true passive is not all that common in Greek, that the
MAI/SAI/TAI;MHN/SO/TO morphology and the -QH- aorist and future morphology
all are essentially morphologies essentially of a middle/reflexive voice
that MAY, under the right circumstances with a clearly indicated agent
function as authentic passives. And those instances where I would myself
prefer an intransitive or subject-intensive 'translation' of such forms is
those where an agent is not identified because the statement with subject
and middle/reflexive voice form is focused NOT upon an agent but rather
upon the person involved in the action. That is, this really IS a quibble,
and the quibble does not concern whether or not resurrection is something
performed by God but whether the identification of the agent is as
important to the speaker/writer in a particular instance as is the clear
assertion that a particular person is involved in an experience of
resurrection. And so I prefer to say that when an agent isn't identified
ANISTAMAI and EGEIROMAI means the same thing, "I wake up and rise from

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
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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