Monday, November 12, 2007

Understanding 'ou' Questions better from the Greek

On Sunday in the sermon I read out a Bible verse with the wrong emphasis, I read,

ESV Matthew 17:24 "Does your teacher not pay the tax?"

out loud in a tone that suggested they thought that Jesus did not actually pay the tax.
But in actual fact the Greek is clear that they were expecting an affirmative answer, not a negative answer.
In Greek the question is worded with the Greek word 'ou'.
Questions with 'ou' are questions that are expecting a positive answer.
For example:

ESV John 6:70 Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the Twelve?..."

This is an 'ou' question (although here it is written as ouk because the next word begins with a smooth breathing mark).
In this question Jesus is asking in a way that let's the disciples know the expected answer is "Yes!"

=> So when the temple tax collectors asked if Jesus pays the tax, they were expecting the answer to be "Yes!"

This also sheds some light on the disciples' approach to Jesus in the storm when they said,

ESV Mark 4:38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"

- this again is an 'ou' question, and it shows that the disciples expected that Jesus did really care. Unfortunately the English translation does not show that, and we can easily think that they were shocked and saying, "Don't you care!!!!!!" But in actual fact they were saying, "You do care that we are perishing don't you?"

Isn't it good to know that Jesus does care?
- yes I'm expecting an affirmative answer there ;)