Saying, if this is a question?

Post Reply
Jonathan Robie
Posts: 3777
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC
Contact:

Saying, if this is a question?

Post by Jonathan Robie »

I was talking with @Paul-Nitz about the syntax of questions in Koine Greek and we discussed a form of question that I have not paid enough attention to: questions using Εἰ. The pattern involves a verb of expression and a question appearing as reported speech.

Here are a bunch of examples. I have not looked at all examples, but in the ones I examined, εἰ does not introduce a question when it is not reported speech. Does anyone know of a good article or chapter on this? Or a good explanation of why this should be so?

Matt.12.10 καὶ ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν λέγοντες Εἰ ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν θεραπεῦσαι; ἵνα κατηγορήσωσιν αὐτοῦ.
Matt.19.3 Καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ Φαρισαῖοι πειράζοντες αὐτὸν καὶ λέγοντες Εἰ ἔξεστιν ἀπολῦσαι τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ κατὰ πᾶσαν αἰτίαν;
Mark.8.23 καὶ ἐπιλαβόμενος τῆς χειρὸς τοῦ τυφλοῦ ἐξήνεγκεν αὐτὸν ἔξω τῆς κώμης, καὶ πτύσας εἰς τὰ ὄμματα αὐτοῦ, ἐπιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας αὐτῷ, ἐπηρώτα αὐτόν Εἴ τι βλέπεις;
Luke.6.9 εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς πρὸς αὐτούς Ἐπερωτῶ ὑμᾶς εἰ ἔξεστιν τῷ σαββάτῳ ἀγαθοποιῆσαι ἢ κακοποιῆσαι, ψυχὴν σῶσαι ἢ ἀπολέσαι;
Luke.13.23 Εἶπεν δέ τις αὐτῷ Κύριε, εἰ ὀλίγοι οἱ σῳζόμενοι;
Luke.22.49 ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ περὶ αὐτὸν τὸ ἐσόμενον εἶπαν Κύριε, εἰ πατάξομεν ἐν μαχαίρῃ;
Acts.1.6 Οἱ μὲν οὖν συνελθόντες ἠρώτων αὐτὸν λέγοντες Κύριε, εἰ ἐν τῷ χρόνῳ τούτῳ ἀποκαθιστάνεις τὴν βασιλείαν τῷ Ἰσραήλ;
Acts.5.8 ἀπεκρίθη δὲ πρὸς αὐτὴν Πέτρος Εἰπέ μοι, εἰ τοσούτου τὸ χωρίον ἀπέδοσθε;
Acts.7.1 Εἶπεν δὲ ὁ ἀρχιερεύς Εἰ ταῦτα οὕτως ἔχει;
Acts.19.1 Acts.19.2 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ τὸν Ἀπολλῶ εἶναι ἐν Κορίνθῳ Παῦλον διελθόντα τὰ ἀνωτερικὰ μέρη ἐλθεῖν εἰς Ἔφεσον καὶ εὑρεῖν τινας μαθητάς, εἶπέν τε πρὸς αὐτούς Εἰ Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον ἐλάβετε πιστεύσαντες;
Acts.21.37 Μέλλων τε εἰσάγεσθαι εἰς τὴν παρεμβολὴν ὁ Παῦλος λέγει τῷ χιλιάρχῳ Εἰ ἔξεστίν μοι εἰπεῖν τι πρὸς σέ;
Acts.22.25 ὡς δὲ προέτειναν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἱμᾶσιν, εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν ἑστῶτα ἑκατόνταρχον ὁ Παῦλος Εἰ ἄνθρωπον Ῥωμαῖον καὶ ἀκατάκριτον ἔξεστιν ὑμῖν μαστίζειν;
Acts.23.9 ἐγένετο δὲ κραυγὴ μεγάλη, καὶ ἀναστάντες τινὲς τῶν γραμματέων τοῦ μέρους τῶν Φαρισαίων διεμάχοντο λέγοντες Οὐδὲν κακὸν εὑρίσκομεν ἐν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τούτῳ· εἰ δὲ πνεῦμα ἐλάλησεν αὐτῷ ἢ ἄγγελος;
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/
Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1979
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Saying, if this is a question?

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

BDAG notes the usage:

⑤ marker of direct and indirect questions (without particle following)
ⓐ (not in earlier Gk., B-D-F §440, 3; Rob. 916) w. direct questions (Gen 17:17; 44:19; Am 3:3–6; 6:12; TestAbr A 15 p.96, 8 [Stone p. 40]; 18 p. 100, 13 [St. p. 48]): εἰ ἔξεστιν; is it permitted, may one? Mt 12:10; 19:3 (cp. Mk 10:2); Lk 14:3 v.l.; Ac 21:37; 22:25. εἰ ὀλίγοι οἱ σωζόμενοι; are there only a few who will be saved? Lk 13:23; cp. Mk 8:23; Lk 22:49; Ac 1:6; 7:1; 19:2a. Cp. 6aβ.


Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 278). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
Benjamin Kantor
Posts: 64
Joined: June 24th, 2017, 3:18 am

Re: Saying, if this is a question?

Post by Benjamin Kantor »

I would not be surprised if it was a bit of a dialectal or register thing. Classical and literary Koine can use αρα or η, but they are not as common in the New Testament (except in some perhaps high register contexts; see BDF §440).

One might also note the fact that in Hebrew אם 'if' or האם is often used to introduce questions.

εἰ does not introduce a question when it is not reported speech
Aren't all questions "reported speech" unless a direct comment of a narrator (I don't think this happens in the New Testament)? Unless you mean an indirect question, but certainly ει can introduce an indirect question elsewhere.
For Koine Greek recordings and videos:

https://www.KoineGreek.com
Jonathan Robie
Posts: 3777
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC
Contact:

Re: Saying, if this is a question?

Post by Jonathan Robie »

Barry Hofstetter wrote: January 25th, 2019, 10:13 am BDAG notes the usage:

⑤ marker of direct and indirect questions (without particle following)
ⓐ (not in earlier Gk., B-D-F §440, 3; Rob. 916) w. direct questions (Gen 17:17; 44:19; Am 3:3–6; 6:12; TestAbr A 15 p.96, 8 [Stone p. 40]; 18 p. 100, 13 [St. p. 48]): εἰ ἔξεστιν; is it permitted, may one? Mt 12:10; 19:3 (cp. Mk 10:2); Lk 14:3 v.l.; Ac 21:37; 22:25. εἰ ὀλίγοι οἱ σωζόμενοι; are there only a few who will be saved? Lk 13:23; cp. Mk 8:23; Lk 22:49; Ac 1:6; 7:1; 19:2a. Cp. 6aβ.
Ah, I keep forgetting how much BDAG has to say about syntax sometimes. And BDR §440 is really helpful here.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/
Jonathan Robie
Posts: 3777
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC
Contact:

Re: Saying, if this is a question?

Post by Jonathan Robie »

Benjamin Kantor wrote: January 25th, 2019, 10:32 amI would not be surprised if it was a bit of a dialectal or register thing. Classical and literary Koine can use αρα or η, but they are not as common in the New Testament (except in some perhaps high register contexts; see BDF §440).
Yes, I notice this a lot in classical Living Greek circles where ἄρα is commonly used this way. I avoid that usage.
Benjamin Kantor wrote: January 25th, 2019, 10:32 amOne might also note the fact that in Hebrew אם 'if' or האם is often used to introduce questions.
Thanks for that.
Benjamin Kantor wrote: January 25th, 2019, 10:32 am
εἰ does not introduce a question when it is not reported speech
Aren't all questions "reported speech" unless a direct comment of a narrator (I don't think this happens in the New Testament)? Unless you mean an indirect question, but certainly ει can introduce an indirect question elsewhere.
I see that it does in Amos 3:3:

Amos 3:3 εἰ πορεύσονται δύο ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ καθόλου ἐὰν μὴ γνωρίσωσιν ἑαυτούς;
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/
Stephen Carlson
Posts: 3069
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Melbourne
Contact:

Re: Saying, if this is a question?

Post by Stephen Carlson »

This is actually a fascinating body of materials.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia
Post Reply

Return to “Syntax and Grammar”