pragmatics at the well

From: Bryan Rocine (
Date: Wed May 03 2000 - 13:53:38 EDT

Dear B-Greekers, I thank you for your help with two

First question: In John 4:29 the woman that Christ met at
the well says to the men in her hometown MHTI OUTOS ESTIN hO
CRISTOS. After having checked some commentaries, I am not
entirely satisfied with the explanation that the woman's use
of MHTI here frames a question that avoids an overt
commitment to her proposition, something like, "Might this
man be the Christ?" Assuming she does herself believe, the
logic behind this suggestion is that the woman avoids the
antagonism of her Samaritan audience, an audience that would
supposedly bristle at an overt assertion that the man is

I doubt she would have to be so clever. Many townspeople
respond immediately to her testimony by going to see Christ
for themselves. Many of them believe, we are told, because
of the woman's testimony (v. 39). So, I wonder, shall we
rather understand MHTI as framing a rhetorical question that
has an obviously negative answer? How about this
translation: "(How) Could this guy not be the Christ?" The
only logical answer in the circumstance would be negative
(He could not NOT be Christ, ie. He must be Christ). Might
her langauge be emphatic after all, neither doubtful nor

My second question is about v. 17. The woman says OUK ECW
ANDRA and Christ quotes her ANDRA OUK ECW. What is the
significance of the movement of ANDRA?

Thanks again,

B. M. Rocine
Associate Pastor
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13206

(office) 315-437-6744
(home) 315-479-8267

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