[b-greek] Re: question about james 5:14

From: Steven R. Lo Vullo (doulos@chorus.net)
Date: Sun Nov 26 2000 - 21:28:21 EST

On 11/26/00 7:17 PM, Mike Sangrey wrote:

> "Steven R. Lo Vullo" <doulos@chorus.net> said:
>> Perhaps with "expressed" rather than "asked." Surely a rhetorical
>> question is "expressed." I think perhaps there is a little bit of
>> semantic nitpicking here. :-)
> Actually, it's sort of a perverse marriage of syntactic and semantic
> nitpicking. Perhaps we could switch to being pragmatic? <chuckle>

Wayne, Mike, et al,

In the spirit of the 2000 electoral season, I herewith retract my earlier
concession to Wayne, pending a recount. Trusty aides have informed me that,
according to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate dictionary, under "rhetorical," is
the following entry: "b : employed for rhetorical effect; especially:
*asked* merely for effect with no answer expected *a rhetorical question*"
[first emphasis mine]. Also, in the glossary of the _Analytical Lexicon of
the Greek New Testament_ (Friberg, Friberg, and Miller), is the following
definition of a rhetorical question: "a question that is *asked* not for the
purpose of getting information but to emphasize something else (e.g. a
truth), to express surprise, to rebuke someone, to provoke thought, etc"
[emphasis mine]. It seems that, at least according to some authorities, it
is perfectly natural to speak of *asking* a rhetorical question, presumably
because the very nature of a question is *something asked*! ("an act or
instance of asking" according to Merriam Webster).

> Syntactically, it "appears" as a question. Semantically, it isn't. If it
> were, the author/speaker would wait for an answer.

Thanks, Mike. I was talking about the syntax. If I correctly understood the
point to which I was responding (and if I didn't, please forgive me), it was
that even if the clauses in James 5.13-14 were *not* interrogative
syntactically, they could be *taken* as such semantically, as rhetorical
questions. Then it was pointed out that there are rhetorical questions in
the GNT. My point in responding was that, yes, there are rhetorical
questions in the GNT, but we recognize them as such because of, not in spite
of, the syntax. If, syntactically speaking, the clauses in question in James
are not interrogative, we have no compelling reason to presume they are
rhetorical questions in the Greek itself.


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