Saying, if this is a question?

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Jonathan Robie
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Saying, if this is a question?

Post by Jonathan Robie » January 24th, 2019, 9:42 pm

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;
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Saying, if this is a question?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » 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.


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.
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Benjamin Kantor
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Re: Saying, if this is a question?

Post by Benjamin Kantor » January 25th, 2019, 10:32 am

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.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Saying, if this is a question?

Post by Jonathan Robie » January 25th, 2019, 10:51 am

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.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Saying, if this is a question?

Post by Jonathan Robie » January 25th, 2019, 10:54 am

Benjamin Kantor wrote:
January 25th, 2019, 10:32 am
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).
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 am
One 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;
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Saying, if this is a question?

Post by Stephen Carlson » January 25th, 2019, 7:26 pm

This is actually a fascinating body of materials.
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