I have updated the topical index for my online grammar to include the topics raised in lessons 22 (Present Middle and Passive) and 23 (Imperfect Middle and Passive). These deal mostly with voice and aspect, but also include the formation of the relevant verbs.
Today I finished reading all of the instances in the New Testament of what has traditionally been called the future passive (296 instances) and started reading the 485 instances of the future middle. I hope to have something insightful to say about them when I finish, but it’s a daunting task.
I have updated lessons 22 and 23 (Present and Imperfect Middle/Passive). The changes to lesson 22 are very minor—just a few wording changes. The main change to lesson 23, though, is the deletion of the discussion on transitivity. I will introduce that topic in a later lesson with much better examples. This change helps unnecessary complication, tightening the focus on the issue of voice.
I also made a few changes to the course lexicon (cumulative vocabulary list) to improve entries for some of the verbs presented in these lessons.
I’ve uploaded lesson 23: “Imperfect Middle and Passive” to my online grammar. It has six vocabulary exercises, but is still missing a couple of practice exercises for recognizing imperfect middle/passive forms that I will add over the next few days.
The vocabulary exercises consist of a flashcard set, four brief drag and drop vocabulary games, and a practice vocabulary quiz.
Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you notice any typographical error or other problem.
Thanks to Mike Aubrey for making me aware of the free download of Rutger J. Allan’s dissertation on the Middle Voice in Ancient Greek. You can download the whole dissertation or individual chapters here.
While Dr. Allan was dealing with Homeric and Classical Greek, many of his observations and conclusions appear to be very applicable to the hellenistic period as well.
In each of the lessons dealing with the middle and passive voices, I have taken the opportunity to introduce a little more detail needed for a clear understanding of the functions of these voice categories. In lesson 22 I have included an unusually long discussion of transitivity as it relates to the passive voice.
While I think understanding transitivity is crucial for correctly understanding Greek voice, I’m unsure about how helpful my discussion of it is for beginning students. I would love to hear candid remarks on how helpful this discussion is or how obscure, confusing, or problematic you consider it to be.
I have thick skin. I can take criticism. I want the grammar to be useful to as many students as possible, so I don’t mind hearing recommendations for change!
Mike Aubry has posed a very clear description of the issues of polysemy, markedness, and the relation between the Greek active and middle voices over at ΕΝ ΕΦΕΣΩ. Have a look.
I highly recommend reading Mike Aubrey’s recent post on Dionysius Thrax over at ΕΝ ΕΦΕΣΩ.
He’s also posted his first installment of thoughts on the SBL panel discussion on Deponency. I was unable to attend this year, but am glad to hear that a consensus appears to be arising around the approach to Greek voice that I have tried to reflect in my lessons on the Aorist Middle and Passive (Lessons 19, 20, and 21).
I just finished reading “Deponency and Greek Lexicography” by Bernard A. Taylor, in Biblical Greek Language and Lexicography. He works slowly up to the argument that we should dispense with the notion of “deponent” verbs altogether, arguing that this designation comes from Latin rather than Greek and no ancient Greek grammarian ever mentioned a similar notion.
He also argues for basing lexical entries on the aorist rather than the present. This is a notion we have kicked around here as well. Using the aorist infinitive would emphasize the “default” form of the verb. It’s nice to see a discussion already in print as of 2004 making this argument.
In the conclusion to his article, Taylor proposes a need to broaden the textual base for a lexicon of the Septuagint. Pointing to the work Frederick Danker has done in including non-Christian and non-Jewish works in the new version of BDAG (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition), Taylor urges a similarly broad base for a new lexicon of the LXX.
I hope to someday see that kind of broad base both for a new lexicon of the LXX and for a new Hellenistic Greek lexicon more broadly.