Double negatives

David Miller milledm at mcmaster.ca
Thu Nov 18 01:14:56 EST 1999


I am looking at the questions in Romans 10:18-19.  The standard view is
that, because of the double negative, the expected answer is "Yes" when MH +
OUK occur together in a question.

Thus, 10:18 (MH OUK HKOUSAN] should be read as follows:  "Did they not heae?
Yes, they did."

10:19 [MH ISRAHL OUK EGNW] should be translated: "Did Israel not know?  Yes,
they did."

Leon Morris, however, suggests that while this is the case in 10:18, in
10:19 "MH introduces the question, but OUK is found with the verb: the
question negates the suggestion that Israel did not know.” (Morris 393 #78)

After excluding questions with EI MH, I am left with Rom 10:18-19, 1 Cor 9:4
and 9:5, 1 Cor 11:22, and 1 Jn 3:10 and 4:8.  The passages in 1 John both
negate participles so they can be excluded.  1 Cor 9:4-5 follow the pattern
of Rom 10:18 exactly.  1 Cor 11:22 clearly expects the answer "yes" [MH GAR
OIKIAS OUK EXETE EIS TO ESTHIEIN].  MH does not occur in the LXX, so I could
not check the pattern there.

So, my question is:  Is there any evidence outside of Romans 10:19 to
confirm (or negate) Morris' suggestion?

Thank you!

David Miller
Hamilton, ON





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