John 4:29

Barry Hofstetter nebarry at
Sat Jan 4 22:17:24 EST 2003

----- Original Message -----
From: <Clwinbery at>
To: "Biblical Greek" <b-greek at>
Sent: Saturday, January 04, 2003 9:25 PM
Subject: [b-greek] Re: John 4:29

>>MHTI OUTOS ESTIN hO CRISTOS; ‘he couldn’t be the Messiah, could he?’ Jn
4:29. Some persons have argued that the occurrence of mh/ti in Jn 4:29 is
contradictory, since it would appear from the context that the individuals
posing the question regarded Jesus as a possible Messiah. On the other hand,
asking the question in this form would have certainly fit the circumstances
in which there was strong opposition to anyone claiming that Jesus was the
Messiah. This form of the question would have avoided an overt commitment,
while at the same time indicating people’s evident interest and concern.<<

There are times when something is said ironically in a particular context to
express nearly the opposite of what is actually intended.  For example, I can
imagine saying to my wife at 11:00 p.m., as our daughter suddenly flits across
the room (she should be in bed, of course) "I didn't see what I think I just
saw, did I?"  In this case, I can see Mrs. Samaritan Woman using the negative
form of the question actually to emphasize her hope that this is really the one:
"He couldn't really be the Messiah, could he..."  There is probably a fancy name
for this as a rhetorical device.

Of course, that gets into contextual exegesis as opposed to Greek analysis

N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Adjunct Professor, CUTS
  Reformed Theology Discussion
     rtdisc at
  Biblical Exegesis Group
     bibexegesis at

More information about the B-Greek mailing list