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31.228 Questions Expecting a "Yes" or "No" Answer

Please make sure you read Croy section 228. Here Croy explains how the words οὐ and μή can be used in Greek to anticipate the answer to a yes-or-no question. A question which expects a positive answer can contain the word οὐ, while a question expecting a negative answer can contain the word μή.

Here is an example from a Biblical passage:

James 2:14

Τί τὸ ὄφελος, ἀδελφοί μου, ἐὰν πίστιν λέγῃ τις ἔχειν, ἔργα δὲ μὴ ἔχῃ; μὴ δύναται ἡ πίστις σῶσαι αὐτόν;

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Thtat faith cannot save him, can it? (answer: no!).

You can see here how being able to skew a question so that it anticipates a yes answer or a no answer is a powerful rhetorical technique. This is an important feature of Biblical Greek to keep in mind whenever you come across a yes-or-no question.

Biblical Greek Online. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. Page last updated: December 6, 2005 9:35 AM

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