Double negatives

Steven Craig Miller scmiller at
Thu Nov 18 11:22:28 EST 1999

To: David Miller,

<< The standard view is that, because of the double negative, the expected 
answer is "Yes" when MH + OUK occur together in a question. ... 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) >>

A question introduced by MH normally expects a negative answer, but where 
the main verb is itself negated by OU an affirmative answer is now 
anticipated. At Romans 10:18 Paul asks "have they not heard?" and expects 
an affirmative answer "they have heard"; now when Paul asks "did Israel not 
understand?" (if I understand you correctly) Morris wants to suggest that 
Paul is expecting a negative answer, is that correct? According to most 
grammarians, the answer expected is affirmative "they did understand." Is 
it possible you have misunderstood Morris? For isn't that the same thing as 
negating "the suggestion that Israel did not know"?

If you haven't misunderstood Morris, the question which needs to be asked 
is what evidence does Morris provide for such an interpretation?

-Steven Craig Miller
Alton, Illinois (USA)
scmiller at

"There was indeed a passing hope that the United States might shed the 
dubious distinction of being, as someone quipped, the only nation in the 
history of humanity 'to move directly from' barbarism to decadence 'without 
an interval of civilization'" (Frederick W. Danker, "A Century of 
Greco-Roman Philology," 185).

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