Say good-bye to the “divine passive”

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[Editor’s Note: Often on the weekends, we will stray from our series of the moment and engage in interesting posts that catch our eye.]

by David Alan  Black

PicWhen was the last time you changed your mind about something? I mean something important? For me that was on Tuesday. I had just cracked open the latest issue of Filologia Neotestamentaria. In it was an essay called “The passivum divinum: The Rise and Future Fall of an Imaginary Linguistic Phenomenon.” Authors Smit and Rennson argue that the so-called “divine passive” construction in Greek exists only as an urban myth. Agentless passives with God as their implied agent are due, not to a desire to avoid pronouncing the Divine Name, but rather to other motives (e.g., the agent is already clearly implied in the context; the agent is not in focus but instead the subject is, etc.).

Besides being obviously impressed by the authors’ arguments, I was a bit perturbed to think that I had been teaching the “divine passive” for years. Get this wrong, and you’re probably going to be just as guilty of eisegesis as this preacher who insists that non-tithers have opened themselves up to demons. My, oh my! So keep on thinking, dear reader—and remember that Jesus came to lift every noose from your neck, both the ones you put there and the ones others put there. (See David Croteau’s excellent book, Tithing After the Cross—what one Amazon reviewer calls “… a Biblical but not dogmatic approach to a complicated topic that was treated with great care and biblical support.” Go David!)

People, we need each other. We need iron sharpening iron. So once again, I stand corrected, and I’m glad for that. Being open to correction helps us to run our races well and to practice the grace-filled living we were created for. Amen?


Tithing after the Cross is published by Energion Publications. David Croteau was interviewed long with fellow Energion author Steve Kindle on stewardship and tithing. The video is embedded below. Steve will discuss stewardship as proper care of the earth  on the February 2, 2016 “Energion Tuesday Night Hangout.”

David’s books can be viewed and ordered here: https://energiondirect.com/authors/authors-a-c/david-alan-black