Re: 1 Cor 7:17

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Sat Sep 19 1998 - 13:51:13 EDT

On Sat, 19 Sep 1998 12:27:42 -0400 Jonathan Robie <>
>At 09:38 AM 9/19/98 EDT, wrote:

>There is a very good discussion of this in Robertson's Massive Yellow
>starting at the bottom of page 1024, which is found in a section that
>discusses lots of things that are pretty close to normal conditional
>sentences, but aren't easy to read as such. (I read this yesterday
>I stumbled on the phrase EI DOQHSETAI THi GENEAi TAUTH SHMEION >(Mark
8:12), which threw me completely.)
>In 1 Cor 7:17, EI MH does seem to be used as a fixed expression, meaning
>"except". See 1 Cor 7:5; Ga 1:7,19; Ro 14:14; Mt 5:13; Mt 11:27; Mt
>for further examples of this. Robertson says that this is also very
>in classical Greek.
>I don't think you will easily coerce this into "if A then B" form, which
>necessary if you want to construct an "if not A then not B" statement.
>Robertson treats this as an "elliptical condition", where the "if"
>is not expressed, and presents his view of the history by which this
>emerged. If he's right, then you have to infer your own A. However, I
>suspect that there *is* no A that you can write into such a sentence
>without changing its meaning, and I find it clearer to just treat EI MH
>a fixed expression that means "except".
>Also, you should be aware that a lot has been written about the fact
>"if" in natural language does not mean the same as "if" in formal logic.
>See, for instance, Paul Grice's "Studies in the Way of Words", which
>into a brief history of this question. My own observation is this: the
>mapping from natural language conditionals to formal logic is not well
>defined, and in most cases there is no really good mapping. If you write
>syllogism in order to express the meaning of a natural language
>conditional, then the syllogism generally omits some of the meaning that
>native speaker of the language might generally associate with the
>of the original sentence.

Would you care to summarize Paul Grice's thesis, or at least what were
some of his main points which stood out to you and why? I suppose I
could get the book and read it, and if you can wet my appetite perhaps
I will, but a brief thought regarding it would be delicious.

Actually, I know Charles has a special interest in the conditional (since
is doing doctoral studies regarding it), so he might be able to add some

Paul Dixon

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