About Micheal Palmer

MichealSCE2014-15CroppedI taught Hellenistic Greek at Bluefield College (VA) and Southern Seminary (KY), Classical Greek at NC State, and now teach English and occasionally give seminars for  teachers on language acquisition theory and methods. For the 1994-95 academic year I served as a Mellon Research Fellow in Greek Linguistics at UNC Chapel Hill while on sabbatical from Bluefield.

I have published a number of items about the application of modern Linguistics to the study and description of Ancient Greek as it was used in the Hellenistic period. My passion is reading Ancient Greek and studying the way the language functioned for native speakers in the ancient world.

I live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Además del inglés, hablo español. I spend time in Perú, my wife’s country of origin, as often as I can.

You can get a bit more information about me on the Linguist List site. They’ve listed a few publications in Greek Linguistics, but not my work with English Language Acquisition.

Feel free to leave comments on this page, but understand that I may respond to them via email and will delete them from this page after a few days.

If you have a question about the text of the New Testament, other early Christian literature, or the literature of the wider Hellenistic world, post that as a comment to the “Questions” page.

0 Replies to “About Micheal Palmer”

  1. I tried to post on the questions page but received an error message, so I am posting my question here.
    παυσονται in 1 Cor 13:8
    Because it is intransitive, am I correct in translating the middle voice as simply, “they will stop”? Is it linguistically erroneous to insert the idea, “stop for themselves”?
    Thank you!

    1. I’m sorry you had difficulty with the questions page, David.

      Your question is a great one. And you are correct that παυσονται in 1 Corinthians 13:8 is intransitive and its best equivalent in English would be simply “they will stop” rather than “stop for themselves.” To translate it as “stop for themselves” would not add anything terribly significant since “they will stop” already communicates that they will stop themselves, rather than stopping someone else, and “stop for themselves” would also sound forced and artificial in English.

      I think you are reading the middle voice form very well here. It communicates intransitive. It does not place particular emphasis on the subject in this context.

      By the way, παύω is only used one time in the active voice in the New Testament (1 Peter 3:10), and there it has the same causal sense that it has in the active voice in the literature outside the New Testament. When παύω appears in the active voice it has a direct object. That is, it is transitive. In 1 Peter 3:10 the direct object is τὴν γλῶσσαν. One of the functions of the middle voice for παύω is to make the verb intransitive.

      1. Thank you again for your reply! Am I correct in understanding that the middle voice serves to mark intransitivity? That is, if I were writing Koine Greek, and I wanted to write something intransitive, I would most naturally use the middle voice? However, I did find an instance where there is intransitivity but active voice – Genesis 8:22 θέρος καὶ ἔαρ ἡμέραν καὶ νύκτα οὐ καταπαύσουσιν.

        1. This is one of it’s possible functions. It has others, though.

          It’s basic function is to indicate that the subject is not only the AGENT of the action expressed by the verb, but is also impacted in some way by that action. This is the relation that lies behind many supposedly “deponent” verbs (better called “lexical middle” verbs) such as ἔρχομαι. When one “goes” somewhere, she or he does the going and ends up in a new location (being directly impacted by the going). So there is nothing defective about these verbs (the meaning behind the term “deponent”). They just fit the usage of the middle voice very well in all of their contexts.

          This same relation is also characteristic of very many intransitive verbs in English. In the English sentence “He fell,” the subject “he” is impacted by the falling.

          The same is generally true in ancient Greek, but there are clear exceptions. The verb πίπτω (fall) appears in the middle voice ONLY when the effect on the subject is in strong focus. See for example Matthew 10:29, 15:14, and 24:29; Luke 14:5, 21:24). The only place it is used in the middle voice in the New Testament outside those listed here is Revelation 4:10 where the same argument could be made, though it is less clear. In all other instances, πίπτω appears in the active voice despite its natural fit for the middle voice meaning.

  2. Since you’ve been at UNC Chapel Hill have you ever met or talked with Bart Ehrman pertaining to the writings of the NT? For myself I’ve found his lectures on the NT very informative.

    1. I was at UNC Chapel Hill for only one year, but I did meet Bart Ehrman that year. Since we worked in different departments (he in Religion, I in Linguistics) though, we did not see each other frequently.

  3. Hi, Prof. Palmer — I’m interested in reading your book _Levels of Constituent Structure in New Testament Greek_ but am currently overseas and can’t get my hands on a bound copy. Is there an ebook version or other digitized format available? Thanks! — Charles Law

      1. O.K., thank you for letting me know. The next time I’m in the U.S. I’ll try to see if I can find a copy. Maybe the time is ripe for a second edition (as if you need something to do in your spare time).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *