[B-Greek] Gal 3:3 -- Question or statement?

Steve Runge srunge at logos.com
Tue Aug 24 15:37:47 EDT 2010

Hi Stephen,

I did a quick search for and survey of the form ESTE to see if it occurred in other places in an interrogative context. I found that in the majority of the clearly interrogative cases, there was a marker of some kind that disambiguated the matter. These markers included--big surprise here--

1. an interrogative pronoun, as in Acts 19:15, ὑμεῖς δὲ τίνες ἐστέ; hUMEIS DE TINES ESTE; or 
2. a negator that rendered the clause a rhetorical question, as in 1 Cor 3:3, 4, 16; 6:2; 9:1. Here is 3:3: ὅπου γὰρ ἐν ὑμῖν ζῆλος καὶ ἔρις, οὐχὶ σαρκικοί ἐστε καὶ κατὰ ἄνθρωπον περιπατεῖτε; hOPOU GAR EN hUMIN ZHLOS KAI ERIS, OUCI SARKIKOI ESTE KAI KATA ANQRWPON PERIPATEITE;

Although I only searched on the one form of EIMI, I only found a few other instances where NA27 punctuated an ESTE clause as a question and where neither an interrogative nor a negator was present, as in Gal 3:3. These were parallel passages from the gospels:

Mt 15:16: ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· ἀκμὴν καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀσύνετοί ἐστε; hO DE EIPEN· AKMHN KAI hUMEIS ASUNETOI ESTE;
Mk. 7:18: καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀσύνετοί ἐστε; KAI LEGEI AUTOIS· hOUTWS KAI hUMEIS ASUNETOI ESTE;

This was only a cursory survey, but I think illustrates that there are not many instances like Gal 3:3 where an interrogative marker of some kind is not found, assuming that the NA27 reading is correct. The Markan example seems quite similar to Gal 3:3, and I suppose one might make the same kind of case there as you and Mark Goodacre propose for Gal 3:3.

I think your reading is quite plausible for Gal 3:3. There are no clear interrogative markers present to decide the matter, so context alone is the determining factor. In light of how rare such unmarked interrogatives appear to be using ESTE--at least in the GNT--I think Mark should go forward with his paper. I for one would like to read it.

Hope this helps,

Steven E. Runge, DLitt
Logos Bible Software
srunge at logos.com

-----Original Message-----
From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Stephen Carlson
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 6:34 AM
To: Biblical Greek Mailing List
Subject: [B-Greek] Gal 3:3 -- Question or statement?

Galatians 3:3 is usually punctuated as a question:

οὕτως ἀνόητοί ἐστε, ἐναρξάμενοι πνεύματι νῦν σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε;


"Are you so senseless? Having started in the spirit, you are now
finishing in the flesh?"

But it also seems feasible that it could be a statement, i.e.: "You
are senseless in this way: having stated in the spirit, you are now
finishing in the flesh."

Are there any discourse or syntactic reasons that could shed light on
whether Gal 3:3 is a question or statement?  Or is it merely the fact
that 3:3 is in the middle of a barrage of questions? (By the way, I
take 3.1, 2, and 5 to be questions; v. 4b is a statement; not sure
about v. 4a).

Stephen C. Carlson
Graduate Program in Religion
Duke University
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