[B-Greek] Rm. 13:3b: "QELEIS..." WHY is it a question?

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Sat May 30 10:04:30 EDT 2009


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Carl Conrad" <cwconrad2 at mac.com>
To: "A. J. Birch" <AJB1212 at ono.com>
Cc: "B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 30. maj 2009 14:34
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Rm. 13:3b: "QELEIS..." WHY is it a question?


>
> On May 29, 2009, at 2:15 AM, A. J. Birch wrote:
>
>> οἱ γὰρ ἄρχοντες οὐκ εἰσὶν φόβος
>> τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ.
>> θέλεις δὲ μὴ φοβεῖσθαι τὴν
>> ἐξουσίαν· τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποίει, καὶ
>> ἕξεις ἔπαινον ἐξ αὐτῆς·  (Romans 13:3)
>>
>> "hOI GAR ARCONTES OUK EISIN FOBOS TWi AGAQWi ERGWi ALLA TWi KAKWi.
>> QELEIS DE MH FOBEISQAI THN EXOUSIAN· TO AGAQON POIEI, KAI hEXEIS
>> EPAINON EX AUTHS·" (Romans 13:3)
>>
>> My question is about the phrase, "QELEIS DE MH FOBEISQAI THN
>> EXOUSIAN·": all the Bible-versions I've consulted treat this phrase
>> as a question, but my Greek text punctuates it as a statement; is
>> there any GRAMMATICAL basis for either of these 'readings'?
>
> Upon reviewing the question and the responses from list-members that
> have been offered, it occurs to me that nobody has yet really offered
> an answer to A.J. Birch's question. Everybody has accepted the
> proposition that the clauses in question must be a question, but
> nobody has (adequately) explained WHY it must be interpreted as a
> question.

If almost everyone thinks it is a question, that must be the natural and 
expected interpretation.
In my view, the following support the question option: DE, the negative MH and 
TO AGAQON POIEI, which fits best as an answer to a question.

If it was to be a statement, it would be something like: You want to not be 
fearing the authority.
It is unusual to tell somebody what he wants. You could tell him what he should 
want, but not what he does want. If it was to be a statement, I would have 
expected it to be something like
KAI OU QELEIS FOBEISQAI THN EXOUSIAN
 (The rulers are a threat to evil, and you don't want to be fearing the 
authority).

I was not able to find any example of "X wants to not do Y" as a statement. It 
seems normal to say "X does not want to do Y", e.g.
2 Th 3:10 - εἴ τις οὐ θέλει ἐργάζεσθαι μηδὲ ἐσθιέτω
EI TIS OU QELEI ERGAZESQAI MHDE ESQIETW

I suppose a native speaker of Greek could give better reasons than I can. Or 
maybe a native speaker finds it easier to say how it should be understood than 
give reasons for why that is the case?

Iver Larsen
 




More information about the B-Greek mailing list