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Note: Broken off from another question / answer.

1. Text:

Acts 22:16 - And now what is your resolution? Take a stance-be baptized, calling on the name of the Lord - be released from under your sins, (ἀπόλουσαι).

Setting aside the awesomeness* of my translation ...

The traditional translations use "washing" instead of "release". "Release" has a very legal connotation.

2. Question:

  1. What is the methodology that Lexicographers use for determining which root ἀπόλουσαι is derived from?

  2. Is there a clear answer from which root it should be derived from? ἀπολούω, to wash; or ἀπολύω, or ἀπόλλυμι, to abolish to release:


3. Issue:

ἀπολούω:

Or ...

ἀπόλουσαι derived from ἀπόλλυμι, or ἀπολύω?:


What gives? Is there a methodology to derive the correct conjugations of the verbs - to make a reasonable conclusion?

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  • Etymology is not directly correlative to how a word could or should be translated in a later context.
    – Dan
    Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 22:25
  • This is about elementary Greek morphology, not about etymology.
    – fdb
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 16:06

1 Answer 1

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ἀπόλουσαι is a second person singular aorist middle imperative (2S AMI) from ἀπολούω meaning "to wash away from oneself." It can not be derived either from ἀπολύω (2S AMI = ἀπολύσαι; "depart"1 ) or ἀπόλλυμι (2S AMI = ἀπόλου; "perish"). In addition to the morphologic discrepancies, the middle forms of both ἀπολύω and ἀπόλλυμι are intransitive verbs, meaning they can not take an external object. In Acts 22:16, ἀπόλουσαι has an object: τὰς ἁμαρτίας σου ("your sins"), constraining the lexical options.

The term ἀπολοῦσι in the Septuagint Ezekiel 32:12 and Daniel 7:26 (OG) is only superficially similar. Note the absence of an alpha in the ending and the circumflex accent on the penultimate syllable rather than the acute accent on the first syllable. This is a third person plural, future active indicative verb from ἀπόλλυμι ("they will destroy"). In addition to the morphologic problem, a third person indicative form would make no sense in Acts 22:16.

The other form you mention is found in Theodotion Daniel: ἀπολέσαι. This is an infinitive used with a genitive article ("in order to destroy") that is also morphologically distinct and would not make sense in Acts 22:16.


1. Although you are asking this to mean "release", in the Koine period (as reflected in BDAG), this meaning only applies in the active voice. The closest morphological resemblance to the actual form in the text is instead a middle, generally meaning "depart" in period literature (e.g. Acts 28:25 ἀπελύοντο; "they departed), although LSJ points out older usages of the middle closer to "refute" that could take an accusative object.

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  • - Susan, Thank you! A.) infinitive used with a genitive article - you mean the conjugation wouldn't make sense, not the denotation, (Col. 2:14)? B.) superficially similar - Unfortunately, because the precedence is the LXX, Artistotle, etc - It seems that the diacritics could have been injected, presupposing a conclusion; C.) Intransitive Verbs - Okay, that is exactly what I am asking. But, applying this to a couple hundred texts is going to take me a bit! Thank you! Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 22:20

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