Matt 6:25: what clues are there that it is a question?

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Matt 6:25: what clues are there that it is a question?

Postby GlennDean » November 11th, 2012, 2:03 pm

I definitely have a hard time knowing when a verse is a question - look at Matt 6:25 (I have put the part of the verse that is the question in larger font):

Διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν, μὴ μεριμνᾶτε τῇ ψυχῇ ὑμῶν τί φάγητε [ἢ τί πίητε,] μηδὲ τῷ σώματι ὑμῶν τί ἐνδύσησθε: οὐχὶ ἡ ψυχὴ πλεῖόν ἐστιν τῆς τροφῆς καὶ τὸ σῶμα τοῦ ἐνδύματος; ("Therefore I say to you, 'Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?).

My question is: what in the verse would give me a clue it was a question? If you didn't know it was a question, then the translation becomes extremely awkward (for ex "Life is not more than food and the body is not more than clothing"). I had trouble with Matt 6:25, but unless I see something like an interrogative pronoun, I generally don't translate the verse as a question - the general problem I have is that so many times I don't translate a verse as a question (like in Matt 6:25) and then my translation is extremely awkward.

Thank-you for your assistance,

Glenn
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Re: Matt 6:25: what clues are there that it is a question?

Postby cwconrad » November 11th, 2012, 3:37 pm

GlennDean wrote:I definitely have a hard time knowing when a verse is a question - look at Matt 6:25 (I have put the part of the verse that is the question in larger font):

Διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν, μὴ μεριμνᾶτε τῇ ψυχῇ ὑμῶν τί φάγητε [ἢ τί πίητε,] μηδὲ τῷ σώματι ὑμῶν τί ἐνδύσησθε: οὐχὶ ἡ ψυχὴ πλεῖόν ἐστιν τῆς τροφῆς καὶ τὸ σῶμα τοῦ ἐνδύματος; ("Therefore I say to you, 'Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?).

My question is: what in the verse would give me a clue it was a question? If you didn't know it was a question, then the translation becomes extremely awkward (for ex "Life is not more than food and the body is not more than clothing"). I had trouble with Matt 6:25, but unless I see something like an interrogative pronoun, I generally don't translate the verse as a question - the general problem I have is that so many times I don't translate a verse as a question (like in Matt 6:25) and then my translation is extremely awkward.


BDAG
οὐχί 3. an interrogative word in questions that expect an affirmative answer, not? (X., Cyr. 8, 3, 46; PGrenf I, 1 I, 25 [II BC]; Gen 40:8; Judg 4:6; TestAbr B 10 p. 115, 5 [Stone p, 78]; JosAs 6:5; ApcEsdr 2:13; Just., D. 49, 2) οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ τελῶναι τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν; Mt 5:46. Cp. vs. 47; 6:25; 10:29; Lk 6:39; 12:6; 15:8; 17:17 (v.l. οὐχ); 24:26; J 11:9; Ro 3:29; 1 Cor 1:20; Hb 1:14; 1 Cl 31:2; D 1:3. ἀλλ᾿ οὐχὶ ἐρεῖ αὐτῷ . . . ; will he not rather say to him . . . ? Lk 17:8. ἢ οὐχὶ . . . ; 1 Cl 46:6.—διὰ τί οὐχὶ μᾶλλον ἀδικεῖσθε; 1 Cor 6:7a; cp. vs. 7b. πῶς οὐχὶ . . . ; (1 Esdr 4:32; Just., D. 18, 3; 89, 3) Ro 8:32.—DELG s.v. οὐ. M-M.


I think that the chief "clue" here is the fact that the οὐχί precedes a clause. Different langauges have different ways of doing this; many add on a phrase following the clause: French n'est-ce pas?, German nicht wahr?, gelt's? Italian non è vero? I recall a German girl telling me something she thought obvious and adding, oder? ("or?"). Earlier Greek used something similar, ἆρα (shortened from ἣ ἄρα which seems to be a similar "or?" This usage of οὐχί before a clause to indicate that the clause is offered with the expectation that you'll agree with the assertion. A quick search for οὐχί in the GNT indicates that the great majority of instances appear ahead of clauses expecting an affirmative answer.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Matt 6:25: what clues are there that it is a question?

Postby GlennDean » November 11th, 2012, 4:53 pm

Thanxs Carl!! That information is a gem!!

Is οὐχι the same word as οὐ, οὐκ, οὐχ ?
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Re: Matt 6:25: what clues are there that it is a question?

Postby David Lim » November 16th, 2012, 9:40 am

GlennDean wrote:Is οὐχι the same word as οὐ, οὐκ, οὐχ ?


According to various lexicons like Thayer's, "ουχι" is a strengthened form of "ου / ουκ / ουχ". Luke 14:28 and John 14:22 are examples of "ουχι" used not at the front of a question, but like "ουκ" simply negates the immediately following clause. Likewise Matt 6:26 is an example of "ουκ" used in front of a complete sentence to make it into a question expecting an affirmation.
δαυιδ λιμ
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Re: Matt 6:25: what clues are there that it is a question?

Postby GlennDean » November 16th, 2012, 9:37 pm

Thanxs for info David! After reading your post, I double-checked my lexicon and sure enough, some 10 entries below the entry "οὐ, οὐκ, οὐχ" is the entry οὐχι (not sure how I missed it).
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