[b-greek] "Retained accusative"? (was: RE: instances of (accusative) objects in passive constructions)

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Mon Oct 22 2001 - 09:08:33 EDT


Warning: this is a LONG message!

I've omitted much of Alex's original message in order to focus more sharply
on a central issue here: the explanation of some of the accusatives with
"passive" verbs on Timothy Friberg's list (in the initial message of Tue,
16 Oct 2001 16:18:34 -0600 on this thread) as "retained accusative" on the
supposition that such constructions are 'converted' from active to passive
verb-forms and that the accusative direct object is "retained" from the
active construction. Alex makes clear that he views this explanation NOT as
a help to an English-speaker, NOt as an account of the thinking of the
Greek speaker formulating the text we are trying to understand.

At 11:54 PM +1000 10/19/01, Alex / Ali wrote:
> [omitted material]
>The questions Wayne conveyed on behalf of Timothy Friberg are intriguing
>ones, and they are matters that we looked at, in a different light, not so
>long ago, in a discussion during which my own contribution was but to
>mention the terminology 'retained accusative' which is used by some
>grammars.
>
>I'll start by commenting on Romans 3:2b. (Paul has asked what advantage has
>the Jew, and affirmed 'much in every way.') PRWTON MEN [GAR] hOTI
>EPISTEUQHSAN TA LOGIA TOU QEOU Firstly, in that they have been entrusted
>with TA LOGIA of God.
> [omitted material]
>It is easy to see that in the first form of the active sentences "the book"
>is direct object and "to her" is indirect object, and in the second, we have
>a double accusative construction. In the passive sentences, it is
>noticeable that it is what had been the *indirect object* (the recipient of
>the book) that is made the subject of the verb; but in the second it is the
>*direct object* of the active sentence (the book iself) that is made the
>subject.
>
>It is the first of the passive sentences that is most helpful to me in
>understanding the Greek construction. If a person were to hear only the
>words "She was given" they might imagine that the sentence could be
>concluded with words such as "to slave traders" or "to a husband in
>marriage" because the words "was given" could be taken as indicating that
>"she" is what would have been the *direct* object of an active verb. But as
>soon as we say "She was given *the book*" it becomes apparent that "she" is
>what would have been the *indirect* object of the sentence expressed
>actively.
>
>The nice thing about the Greek is that, in this regard, the languages have
>the same capabilities. It is possible in both languages to express the
>*indirect object* as the subject of the passive sentence, as well as the
>direct object.
>
>And so, amongst the constructions used by PISTEUW (which include its use
>with EIS and EPI, but perhaps not with EN!) is PISTEUW TI TINI, I entrust
>something to someone.
>
>EPISTEUQHSAN TA LOGIA TOU QEOU is simply the passive equivalent of an
>actively expressed sentence [(God) entrusted TA LOGIA of God to them], with
>what would have been the indirect object of the active sentence made the
>subject of the passive verb.
>
>The accusative case that would have been used of TA LOGIA in the active
>sentence is maintained when the sentence is recast in the passive.
>
>At 2 Thess 2:15 we read, KRATEITE TAS PARADOSEIS hAS EDIDACQHTE, hold fast
>the instructions which you were taught. Although the active form would in
>this instance use a double accusative construction (just as in English we
>say 'teach somebody something'), the accusative of TAS PARADOSEIS in the
>active is similarly maintained in the passive recasting of the sentence.
>
>For this reason, this type of accusative is sometimes called the "retained
>accusative" or similar. (See e.g. Smyth 1747, 1748; A. T. Robertson's A
>Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament, pages 96-97; BDF 159; Wallace's
>GGBB p197 and p439.)
> [omitted material]
>Timothy mentioned that he "suggested to several scholars that maybe the
>accusative (with the passive FOBEW) was accusative of specification or
>reference." I haven't yet looked at the FOBEW instances you supplied (but
>would not suggest the accusative in those instances be explained in terms of
>the "retained accusative"; they seem far more easily explained as object
>accusatives after a deponent verb). My own reading of the grammars
>convinces me that no single explanation is given for other instances of the
>type shown in your list. I think I mentioned a few weeks back John 11:44,
>EXHLQEN hO TEQNHKWS DEDEMENOS TOUS PODAS KAI TAS CEIRAS KEIRIAIS, in regard
>to which Grosvenor / Zerwick say "TOUS PODAS KAI TAS CEIRAS acc. of respect,
>lit. bound 'as to his feet and hands' with bandages, i.e. with his hands and
>feet bandaged"' but BDF 159 point 3 takes this as retained accusative.
>Wallace speaks of Revelations 16:9 under the heading "accusative of retained
>object" and says "this is also an example of cognate accusative." Instances
>of such varying grammatical terminology could be multiplied. This is of
>some relevance in answering the question of the helpfulness of giving some
>general explanation of such phenomena in the introduction to a revised
>ANLEX. It is in reference to this question that I make my final point.
>
>My own preferred terminology is to call the accusatives in many of these
>passive constructions "retained accusatives", because the reference to the
>accusative of the conceptualized active form of the sentence helps me easily
>to understand and so accept the accusative being present in the passively
>formed sentence. But where the terminology is deficient is that it tends to
>imply a deliberate reworking of a sentence from active to passive form. A
>Greek who heard Romans 3:2 would no more think of TA LOGIA as having being
>retained as the accusative of an active sentence than an English speaker
>would feel a need to resolve 'I was given a book' into '<Unspecified
>subject> gave a book to me.' I suppose what I am saying here is more a
>comment on our grammars than on the Greek syntax - they should do enough to
>help the reader understand the Greek without choking off understanding by
>creating a fear of anything that cannot easily be analysed in terms of their
>pre-packaged nomenclature.
> [material omitted]
>PS I notice, Timothy, that you mentioned in your list (under PERIKEIMAI)
>Hebrews 5:2, PERIKEITAI ASQENEIAN. Is the construction different from that
>of Acts 28:20, THN hALUSIN TAUTHN PERIKEIMAI (which isn't in your list)?

There are, in fact, several instances of what Alex refers to, with
appropriate citation from the grammars, as "retained accusative" in the
Friberg list of passages. I include the examples he's discussed and add
some others from the Friberg list here:

PISTEUW:
Rom 3:2 EPISTEUQHSAN TA LOGIA TOU QEOU (cf. 1 Cor 9:17 OIKONOMIAN PEPISTEUMAI;
        Gal 2:7 PEPISTEUMAI TO EUAGGELION; 1 Tim 1;11 TO EUAGELION ... hO
        EPISTEUQHN EGW; Tit 1:3 EN KHRUGMATI hO EPISTEUQHN EGW

ZHMIOW:
Mt 16:26 THN DE YUCHN AUTOU ZHMIWQHi (cf. Lk 9:25 THN DE YUCHN AUTOU APOLESAS H
        ZHMIWQEIS; Phil 3:8 CRISTOU IHSOU ... DI' hON TA PANTA EZHMIWQHN

KATHCEW:
LK 1:4 PERI hWN KATHCHQHS LOGWN ... Here the object of KATHCHQHS, hWN LOGWN =
        TOUS LOGOUS hOUS, has been assimilated into the case of the antecedent
        (cf. Acts 18:25 hOUTOS HN KATHCHMENOS THN hODON TOU KURIOU; Gal 6:6
        KOINWNEITW DE hO KATHCOUMENOS TON LOGON TWi KATHCOUNTI

PLHROW:
Phil 1:11 PEPLHRWMENOI KARPON DIKAIOSUNHS (cf. Col 1:9 hINA PLHRWQHTE THN
        EPIGNWSIN TOU QELHMATOS AUTOU

DEW:
Jn 11:44 EXHLQEN hO TEQNHKWS DEDEMENOS TOUS PODAS KAI TAS CEIRAS KEIRIAIS

DIAFQEIRW:
1 Tim 6:5 DIATRIBAI DIEFQARMENWN ANQRWPON TON NOUN, "persons who have ruined
        their mind(s)"; cf. KATAFQEIRW: 2 Tim 3:8 ANQRWPOI KATEFQARMENOI
        TON NOUN

DIDASKW:
2 Th 2:15 KRATEITE TAS PARADOSEIS hAS EDIDACQHTE

KNHQW:
2 Tim 4:3 hEAUTOIS EPISWREUSOUSIN DIDASKALOUS KNHQOMENOI THN AKOHN (KJV: "shall
        they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears")

LOUW, hRANTIZW:
Heb 10:22 hRERANTISMENOI TAS KARDIAS ... KAI LELOUMENOI TO SWMA

PERIKEIMAI:
Heb 5:2 KAI AUTOS PERIKEITAI ASQENEIAN (PERIKEIMAI functions as pf. pass of
        PERITIQHMI) cf. L&N: 49.4 PERIKEIMAI: to have in a position around
        oneself - 'to have around, to wear.'

POTIZW:
1 Cor 12:13 KAI PANTES hEN PNEUMA EPOTISQHMEN (where "we have been given
        to drink" = "we have consented to drink")

Some may quarrel with the inclusion of some of these in the category of
what the grammars cited by Alex term "retained accusative"; my own sense is
that these should probably all be understood as instances of direct objects
of "middle" voice verbs. But the item that interests me is Alex's sense
that the term "retained accusative" is misleading in its implications.
Again I cite the end of the last paragraph of his message:

> . . . But where the terminology is deficient is that it tends to
>imply a deliberate reworking of a sentence from active to passive form. A
>Greek who heard Romans 3:2 would no more think of TA LOGIA as having being
>retained as the accusative of an active sentence than an English speaker
>would feel a need to resolve 'I was given a book' into '<Unspecified
>subject> gave a book to me.' I suppose what I am saying here is more a
>comment on our grammars than on the Greek syntax - they should do enough to
>help the reader understand the Greek without choking off understanding by
>creating a fear of anything that cannot easily be analysed in terms of their
>pre-packaged nomenclature.

My own introduction to this enigmatic accusative case usage came when, as a
teen-ager in High School, I first confronted such marvels as the "adverbial
accusative," "the GREEK accusative ... also called the Accusative of
Specification." The passage of this sort that first puzzled me was in
Aeneid 2 (57): manus juvenem ... post terga revinctum -- "a youth with his
hands tied behind his back" (lit. "a young man tied behind his back hands")
Here MANUS is acc. pl. object of the passive participle REVINCTUM)

And the Latin grammar which I then consulted is still so much a standard
one that it is posted at Perseus' "Roman Perseus" site--Allen and
Greenough's _New Latin Grammar_. Here's the relevant entry for the
construction"

==========
Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar for S...
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0001&layout=&loc=397

PART SECOND-SYNTAX: CONSTRUCTION OF CASES: ACCUSATIVE CASE
Idiomatic Uses
397. The Accusative has the following special uses:--
The accusative is found in a few adverbial phrases (Adverbial Accusative):--
. . .
The so-called synecdochical or Greek Accusative, found in poetry and later
Latin, is used to denote the part affected:--
* caput nectentur (Aen. 5.309) , their heads shall be bound (they shall be
bound about the head).
* ardentis oculos suffecti sanguine et igni; (id. 2.210), their glaring
eyes bloodshot and blazing with fire (suffused as to their eyes with blood
and fire).
* nuda genu (id. 1.320), with her knee bare (bare as to the knee).
* femur tragula ictus (Liv. 21.7.10) , wounded in the thigh by a dart.

NOTE.--This construction is also called the Accusative of Specification.
In many apparently similar expressions the accusative may be regarded as
the direct object of a verb in the middle voice ( 156. a):
* intile ferrum cingitur (Aen. 2.510) , he girds on the useless steel.
* nodo sinus collecta fluentis (id. 1.320), having her flowing folds
gathered in a knot.
* umeros insternor pelle leonis (id. 2.722), I cover my shoulders with a
lion's skin.
* protinus induitur faciem cultumque Dianae (Ov. M. 2.425) , forthwith she
assumes the shape and garb of Diana.
==========

My point, if it is less than obvious, is simply this: while it may be
convenient for English-speakers to understand the accusative with "passive"
verbs in terms of a hypothetical original form of the clause with an
"active" verb and to call such accusatives "retained accusatives", it would
be simpler (IF one understands the middle voice) to understand such
accusatives exactly as Allen & Greenough suggest the Latin "Greek
accusatives" should be understood: "as the direct object of a verb in the
middle voice."

Of course, the above analysis on my part is predicated upon my assertions
that (a) the MAI/SAI/TAI & MHN/SO/TO morphology traditionally termed
"middle-passive" in the grammar books and teaching of Greek constitutes
essentially "subject-intensive" forms that may be either intransitive or
transitive and take direct objects and that MAY function ALSO as authentic
semantic passives but that NORMALLY function as "self-intensive" semantic
middles; and (b) the QHN/QHS/QH & QHSOMAI/QHSHi/QHSETAI morphology
traditionally associated in the grammar books and teach of Greek
constitutes essentially aorist and future paradigms that have supplanted
older MAI/SAI/TAI & MHN/SO/TO paradigms in the aorist and future tenses,
and that these too should be understood semantically as "subject-intensive"
forms that may be either intransitive or transitive and take direct objects
and that MAY function ALSO as authentic semantic passives but that NORMALLY
function as "self-intensive" semantic middles.

I might add that I hardly expect to win converts readily to this way of
looking at the "middle" and "passive" morphology--that I am well aware that
I am "one crying in the wilderness"--and by no means an eschatological
prophet.
--

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad@ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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