Koine and Biblical and Medieval Greek • Re: Luke 12:20. Who are “they”?

In the light of the decision of almost every Bible translator, past and present, to go for the passive voice in English in this verse (Luke 12:20), it would be easy to assume that Luke’s use of the 3rd person plural with the verb in the active voice must have been an idiomatic variant for expressing the passive, analogous to the colloquial English “They have caught the spy and sentenced him to a long jail term.” In choosing an English construction such as this, the speaker conveys that he has seen no need to identify the individuals who did either the catching or the sentencing. Instead, he focuses on the fate that befell the spy, which would legitimize recasting the statement in the passive voice without any loss of meaning: “The spy has been caught and sentenced to a long jail term.”

However, if this were the case, I would expect to find it mentioned in Siebenthal’s grammar. In fact Luke 12:20 is listed in his index, but only for what he calls the “possessive dative” τίνι in the question, ἃ δὲ ἡτοίμασας, τίνι ἔσται; Neither have I found anywhere any general treatment of an active-for-passive verb form.

This observation leads me to ask two supplementary questions. First, is it fair criticism to suggest that Siebenthal ought to have included a mention, however brief, of Luke’s use of ἀπαιτοῦσιν in this verse?

Second, can this be the sole instance, in the whole of the LXX and the NT, of a conjectural 3rd person plural active-for-passive of this kind?

Statistics: Posted by BrianB — Tue Oct 24, 2023 2:57 pm

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