[B-Greek] FW: Galatians 1:6-7 and EI MH
iver_larsen at sil.org
Sat Jun 13 06:58:11 EDT 2009
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve Runge" <srunge at logos.com>
To: "Iver Larsen" <iver_larsen at sil.org>; "B Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 11. juni 2009 18:22
Subject: RE: [B-Greek] FW: Galatians 1:6-7 and EI MH
> From my standpoint, it is more helpful to attribute the emphasis and
> prominence to the decision to take the long way of disclosing something,
> rather than to attribute it to EI MH. The latter is just a tool. Jump down to
> your Esther example, it is a great one.
IL: That EI MH has the potential for emphasis is inherent in what it means. It
is probably correct that it is not always emphatic, and emphasis is often the
result of several factors working together, phonological, lexical, syntactic and
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Iver Larsen [mailto:iver_larsen at sil.org]
> Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 10:06 PM
> To: Steve Runge; B Greek
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] FW: Galatians 1:6-7 and EI MH
> Hi, Steve,
> At the moment I don't have a lot of time to research this interesting question
> in detail, but I think it would be helpful to approach it from a different
> angle also.
> You mentioned the possibility of emphatic usage, and I like that. A certain
> emphasis seems to be present in all examples of EI MH, maybe akin to the
> emphasis in OU MH.
> EI MH x is at times equivalent to "surely x". The writer may set up a
> scenario, usually by a question, and then he gives an answer that may be
> obvious, but surely is seen by the speaker to be correct and emphatic.
> For instance, in Esther 6:6 we find:
> εἶπεν δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς τῷ Αμαν Τί ποιήσω τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ, ὃν ἐγὼ θέλω δοξάσαι; εἶπεν
> δὲ ἐν ἑαυτῷ Αμαν Τίνα θέλει ὁ βασιλεὺς δοξάσαι εἰ μὴ ἐμέ;
> EIPEN DE hO BASILEUS TWi AMAN: TI POIHSW TWi ANQRWPWi hON EGW QELW DOXASAI?
> EIPEN DE EN hEAUTWi AMAN: TINA QELEI hO BASILEUS DOXASAI EI MH EME?
> The question Haman puts to himself is: Who could the king want to honor?
> Surely, it must be me! Who else?
> It seems a stretch to demand that the question is rhetorical and especially
> that the expected answer is: No one. But I accept that the EI MH appears to
> narrow down the answer to one idea or person. So, I would be more inclined to
> consider "no one else/nothing else".
> SER: We need to recognize that Haman did NOT need to ask a question. He more
> simply could have stated, "Surely the king wants to honor me." This would have
> communicated the same content without drawing out the main point. By using the
> rhetorical question, a void or blank is opened up by the interrogative that
> the reader needs to fill in. The answer to the question is provided in the
> exceptive clause.
> I would say rather than wondering about the use of EI MH versus ALLA, the more
> relevant distinction is EI MH versus direct disclosure. It is this choice to
> take the longer, more complex way of disclosing something that results in the
> added emphasis attributed to the answer. Each of the examples below could
> probably be rephrased to eliminate the exception, avoiding the circumlocution.
> Doing so also has the effect of softening the rhetorical impact of the
You did not defend your claim: "Then I realized that even though the rhetorical
questions are technically positive, they expected a negative answer where εἰ μή
was used. In other words, the expected answer to the question is nothing or no
The various examples I gave - including Esther 6:6 - shows that this is not
necessarily the case. The question Haman puts to himself was: "Who might the
king want to honor?" The question is an open question that does not expect the
answer "no one". There would be several possible recipients of such an honour,
but the EI MH narrows down the list to one person: me, and only me.
I think we are in general agreement about the usage of EI MH, namely that it
introduces or chooses a specific instance (person, event or situation) that
makes the general statement in the main clause invalid or inapplicable or at
least narrows it down. (It can also function on the phrase level in a similar
manner, but I won't deal with that.) In most cases the general statement
includes a negative, but that is not always the case, and I don't think that is
the crucial point.
When we have a question, the function is somewhat different, and we don't need
to squeeze one set of data to fit the usage with another set of data, although
there should be some similarity or commonality. That similarity is, I think, the
focus on one particular person or event. A question may have many possible
answers, but the author wants to choose one and focus on it in the EI MH clause.
Try to look at the eamples below from that perspective.
I want to come back to 1 Cor 7:17 below, because it is unsual, and therefore
interesting. Please jump down:
> Let me move down to the other examples below:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Steve Runge" <srunge at logos.com>
> To: "B Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: 10. juni 2009 23:30
> Subject: [B-Greek] FW: Galatians 1:6-7
>> So far as I have been able to determine, there will be an expectation of a
>> negative answer, no matter how slight that negative is. This does not mean
>> that there will be no instance where a writer does not follow this principle,
>> but I know that I can account for all NT tokens of EI MH. The example from
>> 4:9 is one of those marginal ones. What I have outlined is a principle, not a
>> rule. I expect there will be exceptions. ;-) That was for you, Carl.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Iver Larsen [mailto:iver_larsen at sil.org]
>> Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 11:55 AM
>> To: Steve Runge; Elizabeth Kline; B Greek
>> Cc: Charles Johnson
>> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Galatians 1:6-7
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Steve Runge" <srunge at logos.com>
>> To: "Elizabeth Kline" <kline_dekooning at earthlink.net>; "B Greek"
>> <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
>> Cc: "Charles Johnson" <cpj5117 at gmail.com>
>> Sent: 10. juni 2009 21:27
>> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Galatians 1:6-7
>>> Here is an excerpt from my blog post that accounts for both your cited
>>> exception from 2 Cor, and that from Cooper.
>>> "What about εἰ μή? Can it be used in non-negative contexts? The answer
>>> in most every case is “no”. But there is one exception (pun intended):
>>> rhetorical questions. This apparent exception confused me even more
>>> than the original problem, since it seemed to break with the expected
>>> pattern of negation. Then I realized that even though the rhetorical
>>> questions are technically positive, they expected a negative answer
>>> where εἰ μή was used . In other words, the expected answer to the question
>>> is nothing or no one.
>> Does the question have to expect a negative answer? Does this apply to the
>> following examples?
>> Rom 11:15: εἰ γὰρ ἡ ἀποβολὴ αὐτῶν καταλλαγὴ κόσμου, τίς ἡ πρόσλημψις εἰ μὴ
>> ἐκ νεκρῶν; EI GAR hH APOBOLH AUTWN KATALLAGH KOSMOU, TIS hH PROSLHMYIS EI MH
>> ZWH EK NEKRWN
> What will there acceptance result in? Surely, life from the dead. (What else
> than life from death?)
>> Eph 4:9 τὸ δὲ Ἀνέβη τί ἐστιν, εἰ μὴ ὅτι καὶ κατέβη εἰς τὰ κατώτερα [μέρη] τῆς
>> γῆς; TO DE ANEBH TI ESTIN, EI MH hOTI KAI KATEBH EIS TO KATWTERA MERH THS GHS
> What does the "he went up" mean? Surely, it meant that he also had gone down
> the lower parts of the earth.
>> 1Jn 2:22 Τίς ἐστιν ὁ ψεύστης εἰ μὴ ὁ ἀρνούμενος ὅτι ᾽Ιησοῦς οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ
>> Χριστός; TIS ESTIN hO YEUSTHS EI MH hO ARNOUMENOS hOTI IHSOUS OUK ESTIN hO
> Who is THE liar? Surely, it is the one who denies that Jesus is (not) the
> 1 Cor 7:17: Εἰ μὴ ἑκάστῳ ὡς ἐμέρισεν ὁ κύριος, ἕκαστον ὡς κέκληκεν ὁ θεός,
> EI MH hEKASTWi hWS EMERISEN hO KURIOS, hEKASTON hWS KEKLHKEN hO QEOS, hOUTWS
> Surely, as the Lord has apportioned it to each person, as God has called each
> on, him/her should live in that way. How else?
IL: Although it is clear enough that the EI MH with the imperative focuses on
one specific demanded action: "live as God has called you to", there is no
general statement nor a question. Quite often EI MH corresponds to "the only
one" (e.g. Mark 2:7 (Luke 5:21), John 6:22, 13:10). In the verse above I would
say that the general set of possible actions in the background is very large and
vague. There are many ways you might choose to live, but Paul is focusing on the
only one you should actually put into practice. This practice is further
developed and explained in the following verses 18-24.
English translations don't know what to do with EI MH here. NIV and NET chose
"nevertheless", and NRSV has "However that may be", but this can hardly be
correct, because the link is not to the preceding verses. KVJ has "But" which is
not correct either. NCV has "But in any case" which is somewhat better, but not
quite right. Modern idiomatic versions do not translate it at all, thereby
suggesting that the force of it is carried by context. RSV has "Only" which is
IMO the best option of those I have looked at, although I am not opposed to not
translating it at all.
Coming back to Gal 1:7, the general statement is that the false teaching is not
another gospel. It is only that (EI MH) some people are troubling you and trying
to turn you away from the gospel of Christ.
Many English versions render EI MH with "but" in this verse (NIV has
"evidently"). Even though "but" is possible, I would prefer "only" or "It is
only that"... (Sorry if I betray myself to be a translator rather than a
grammarian. My suggestions may not always be the best English renderings since I
don't have that native speaker intuition.)
More information about the B-Greek