Lesson 20: The Middle Voice, The Aorist Middle

Well… After a very long wait, I’ve finally uploaded my lesson on the Aorist Middle. As I have done with a few other lessons, I’ve uploaded it without the automated practice exercises. I hope to finish those over the next few days. For now, I’d love to have your reaction to the discussion and the particular examples I’ve chosen.

Feel free to criticize, suggest revisions, etc.

6 Thoughts to “Lesson 20: The Middle Voice, The Aorist Middle”

  1. That looks pretty great, Micheal.

    Personally, I would be inclined to treat voice as a whole in the lexicon and not distinguish middle from passive (even in the Aorist & Futures), but that’s a view that I would need to argue for in detail–consider though, the passive at the end of Genesis 3:10:
    Τὴν φωνήν σου ἤκουσα περιπατοῦντος ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ καὶ ἐφοβήθην, ὅτι γυμνός εἰμι, καὶ ἐκρύβην.
    I heard the noise you made while walking in the garden and I was afraid becauseI am naked and so I hid.
    ἐφοβήθην is an interesting one two that sometimes looks like an English passive and sometimes looks middle.

    It looks like you’ll be dealing with this issue more thoroughly in your next issue based on your reading and translation exercises. I’m on the edge of my seat. It’s exciting to see a nuanced explanation of Greek voice–especially after seeing absolutely no change in Mounce’s 3rd edition on this subject.

    I do wonder whether it might be better to present the non-reciprocal & reflexive discussion first considering that it is far more common.

    I don’t know if you’ve seen it yet, but Porter, Reed, & O’Donnell’s discussion of the middle is surprisingly good (I say surprisingly because of the state of description for most intro grammars).

    1. I’m in agreement with you here, Mike. The next lesson will make exactly this point. Middle and Passive aren’t really represented by separate mophology in any tense/aspect in Ancient Greek. In lessons 19 and 20 I’ve tried to include hints and cautions against thinking they are separate. Lesson 21 will make that very explicit.

      Thanks for the example from Genesis 3:10. I’ll borrow it for lesson 21!

      Your point about the order (suggesting I present the non-reflexive usage first) is well taken. I struggled with this because I want students to understand the similarity between middle and passive senses—the overlap of the subject representing the PATIENT. This is easy to illustrate with the reflexive usage and a little harder to see in other instances. Still, I’m not comfortable with waiting so late in the lesson to address the principal usage of the middle voice. I may revise that.

      I have not seen Porter, Reed, and O’Donnell’s discussion of voice. Where can I find it?

        1. Thanks, Mike. That’s a very brief, but reasonably clear discussion.

    2. I’m working on lesson 21 right now, and I thought you might like to see a contrasting set of examples of the aorist middle/passive I’m using. The verb is the one Mike Aubrey mention above (κρύπτω). Compare Hebrews 11:23 with John 12:36. In Hebrews ἐκρύβη has a clear passive sense. In John, though, the identical form is clearly used with a middle sense.

  2. […] who translated the Septuagint used the Greek word ἐφοβήθην for the Hebrew word, the passive form of φέβομαι the root of φόβος.[11]  This form does not occur in the New Testament […]

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