[b-greek] Re: Heb. 11:4b

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Mon May 28 2001 - 09:50:26 EDT

Another of the questions from the last week left unanswered.

At 7:36 PM +0000 5/22/01, Mark Wilson wrote:
>Heb. 11:4b
>"and through his faith, he was commended as righteous" (NET Bible)
>The NET Bible translation just does not strike me as having captured the
>sense of this verb.
>I know Carl Conrad has on several occasions suggested that QH verbs
>should often be considered intransitive or reflexive, in stead of passive,
>I wonder if this is one of those times.
>In the archives, he writes:
>generally speaking the MAI/SAI/TAI-MHN/SO/TO forms as well as the -QH- forms
>are essentially either intransitive or reflexive in sense--only the context
>and sometimes only an instrumental or agent construction will clearly
>indicate that a particular one of these forms is being used as a passive in
>an individual case
>If I understand him right, can I take EMARTURHQH as intransitive/reflexive,
>and if so, how
>would I translate that?
>"and through his faith, he gave witness (demonstrated) himself to be
>Is the more natural sense of EINAI "to be?" (as opposed to "as")
>Any suggestions, comments?

I would understand this construction as equivalent to a present-tense sort
of construction such as LEGETAI EINAI ABLABHS, which would normally be
Englished as "He is said to be harmless." I see no harm in the traditional
understanding of this as a passive of LEGW but how to explain the EINAI? If
the referent of ABLABHS is identical with the subject of LEGETAI, then
isn't the EINAI superfluous? Why not simply LEGETAI ABLABHS: "he's called
harmless." Yet I do believe that if we see a middle voice in THE LEGETAI
here (as in the EMARTURHQH of Heb 11:4b, then I think we'd need to
understand an underlying structure such as "he has it said of him that he
is blameless" and "he had it attested of him that he was righteous." That
is to say: the EINAI + pred. nom. phrases/clauses are "Indirect statements"
following upon an introductory verb of saying/assertion. The difference
between (a) "they say he is harmless" and (b) "he is said to be
harmless"--but the idiom seems to like this middle/passive with EINAI and
predicate nominative.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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