Double Negatives

David Miller milledm at
Fri Nov 19 08:22:30 EST 1999

Upon re-reading Morris, I found, to my chagrin, that I had indeed
misunderstood his double negatives.  I must have been in a bit of a fog when
I read him the first time.  Morris does in fact agree with everyone else
that Rom 10:19 should be answered in the affirmative.  I am not sure what I
am doing studying Greek, when I can't even read English!

I searched for MH in the LXX using GRAMCORD's LXX database.  The reason I
came up with zero hits was because MH is classed as a particle in the GNT
database and as an adverb in the LXX database.  I went directly from a GNT
to a LXX search.

David Miller
Hamilton, ON

Steven Craig Miller wrote:
<< 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?

J.K. Aitken wrote:

> Thus, 10:18 (MH OUK HKOUSAN] should be read as follows:  "Did they not
  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
> not check the pattern there.

On a quick check MH occurs in the LXX 3048 times! Do you mean a particular
construction does not occur. Excuse resposnding to the minor point rather
than the major question...

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