Is the Pope Catholic?

Have you ever noticed that some questions don’t ask for information (which is the default purpose of questions)? Instead, while they have the form of a question, their purpose in communication is to emphatically state something. Such “questions” have traditionally been called rhetorical questions. (Later added note: “rhetorical” does not mean there is no meaning or that the meaning is insignificant. “Rhetorical” here means that the question form serves some other rhetorical purpose than to ask a question.)

One of my favorite routines to hear is a series of rhetorical questions that emphatically communicate “YES!!” Here are two that are typically in such a  series:

  1. Do fish swim?
  2. Is the Pope Catholic?

Feel free to add others in the Comments to this post.

Now, what does this have to do with Bible translation? Some languages, unlike English, do not have rhetorical questions. But if a translator is not aware of that, and is translating rhetorical questions from Biblical Hebrew texts or the Greek New Testament or from a Bible translation in some national language that uses rhetorical questions such as English and French, users of their translation will get the wrong meaning from those questions. They will think that the questions are asking for information since that is the only purpose of questions in their language.

I think I’m dealing with this issue in a translation of Genesis in one of the tribal languages I am checking these days. I have had to ask the translation team to do a study of questions in their language to determine if any questions can be used to emphatically assert something instead of asking for information.

When we know which questions in the biblical texts are rhetorical, not asking for information, we can know not to translate them as questions in languages which do not have rhetorical questions.

What are some rhetorical questions you can think of which occur in the biblical texts?

57 thoughts on “Is the Pope Catholic?

  1. WoundedEgo says:

    There is one that is never recognized as one but it is:

    2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

    Should read:

    “Did he who ignored sin [ie: God] commit sin by not counting sin?”

    This is a reference to the previous verses where he says:

    19 To wit, that God was in [by the agency of] Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, ***not imputing their trespasses unto them***; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

    Paul uses the identical sentence structure in another chapter to ask the same thing:

    2 Corinthians 11:7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?

    Paul often begins a new point by asking a rhetorical question, such as:

    Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

  2. Theophrastus says:

    Are there any questions in the Bible that are only “rhetorical”? I don’t think so — not in the Hebrew Scriptures at least.

    For example, at Genesis 4:9 “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is one of the most profound and important passages in Scripture, and the root of beginning to understand the Biblical roots of communal responsibility and sin.

    And drawing out exegesis from “rhetorical questions” is an important activity that a reader engages in when she reads the Bible. Consider the very first “rhetorical question” in the Bible — God’s asking Adam “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)

    Here is a classic Chassidic story about that “rhetorical quetsion”. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Lubavitch (1745-1815)h, sometimes called the Alter Rebbe [“old teacher”], was an important early Chassidic leader in Russia At the time, his religious opponents in Judaism (the misnagdim) accused him of fomenting revolution against the Czar, and he was imprisoned for eight weeks. Here is the story about him and that “rhetorical question”:

    One official who visited the Alter Rebbe in Prison was the Minister of Culture. He was an educated man and had also studied the Torah. There was a question which was bothering him.

    He asked the Alter Rebbe, “When God came to punish Adam after he ate from the Tree of Knowledge, He asked Adam ‘Where are you’? Why did He have to ask Adam where he was? Doesn’t God know everything?”

    At first, the Alter Rebbe told the minister Rashi’s explanation, that God did not want to frighten Adam, so instead of asking him first “Why did you sin?”, He asked Adam a question which wouldn’t threaten him.

    “I have heard that explanation,” the minister said. “I want to hear something original from you.”

    The Alter Rebbe looked the minister in the eye and told him, “Do you believe the Torah is everlasting, and holds in every generation?” The Minister said yes. The Alter Rebbe continued, “The same question God asked Adam, He asks every person, at every point in his life. At all times, God is asking us, ‘Where are you? What are you doing to fulfill your purpose in life.’ For example, you are XX years old (the Alter Rebbe explicitly gave the minister’s exact age, although he had no ordinary way of knowing it). God is also asking you, ‘Where are you in your mission in life? Are you doing what God expects you to accomplish during your lifetime?’ “

    Obviously, an interpretation such as this has profound and important consequences for those who read the Bible. The questions no longer become “rhetorical questions” — they become profound questions each of us must answer:

    Are YOU your brother’s keeper?

    Where are YOU?

    When the translator dismisses the questions as only “rhetorical” and writes them away, then an important part of the Bible is lost.

  3. wm tanksley says:

    My favorite is Romans 6:1… Two in a row. “What shall we say then?” (Don’t interrupt Paul with an answer!) “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” And then he goes on in 6:2, 6:3, 6:15, 6:16, and 6:21. I stop there for now, but Paul’s on a roll with the rhetorical questions.

    Now, I have a related question about Rom 9:19… I don’t know translation well (having only studied Greek and Latin briefly for a minor), so I’m asking because I truly don’t know; but is that a rhetorical question? It seems like a truly sincere question, albeit put into someone else’s mouth for rhetorical purposes. Would you translate it as a question in a language without rhetorical questions?

    I guess it’s actually two questions, not one; with the first one “Why does he still find fault?” not being rhetorical, and the second one, “For who has resisted His will?” being almost purely rhetorical with the intended answer “nobody.”

    -Wm

  4. wm tanksley says:

    Theophrastus, do you believe that a rhetorical question is less valuable than a truly interrogative question? It seems you do, but your examples seem to assume otherwise, because a rhetorical question is by definition a statement with informational content, while a non-rhetorical question is a statement with an informational blank to be filled in by the answer — yet you say the questions in the Bible should be studied for their content.

    You claim that God’s question to Adam was intended to teach Adam, but the purpose of a rhetorical question is to teach; that’s the strict difference between a rhetorical question and a non-rhetorical question.

    When God, as you eloquently say, asks each of us, “where are you?” does He know the answer? Do we know more of the answer than He does? How do we learn the answer?

    Either way — good comment. I truly enjoyed reading it.

    -Wm

  5. WoundedEgo says:

    I see no reason to consider the question “Where are you?” as anything other than him asking him where he was. The early part of Genesis certainly has plenty of examples of God being dependent on being physically present in order to know something. For example, he receives reports from this deputies about dangerous tower building and bad behavior in Sodom and must “go down” (from the sky) to see for himself.

    This is objectionable to those convinced by Platonic arguments about God being omni-this and omni-that, but it is true to the text.

  6. Wayne Leman says:

    When the translator dismisses the questions as only “rhetorical” and writes them away, then an important part of the Bible is lost.

    Who has dismissed rhetorical questions as only rhetorical?! 🙂

    I have only pointed out that the function of rhetorical questions is not to ask for information. Rhetorical questions are absolutely not to be dismissed in translation or anywhere else. They serve other important functions in communication.

    There is a long tradition in English grammar of calling these kinds of “questions” rhetorical questions. A perennial problem in scholarship has to do with labeling. If the word “rhetorical” is the problem, let’s not use it. We can substitute some other label. (A rose by any other name is still a rose!)

    The rabbi is right that rhetorical questions communicate in very important ways. Thank you for citing that example.

  7. Rich Rhodes says:

    There are so many open questions here, it’s hard to know where to start. So let’s start with speech acts. Ever since J. L. Austin lectured at Harvard in 1955 on “How to do things with words”, our understanding of rhetorical questions was changed forever.

    Austin noticed several very important things, but the one that is of particular interest here is that the form utterances take (statement, question, command) is sometimes different from the communicative effect. So while questions are usually requests for information.

    What time is it?

    They can also be used to give commands:

    Honey, can you take out the trash?

    Or, in the case of questions, to make assertions:

    Am I my brother’s keeper?

    The latter have been known to exist since the time of the Greeks and hence have a name, rhetorical questions.

    But, as always, if you use a less typical linguistic form, it has an extra layer of meaning. Use a question to give a command, and it generally softens the force of the command.

    Take out the trash. is harsher/less polite than Can you take out the trash?.

    Use a question to state an assertion and it often strengthens the force of the assertion.

    I’m not my brother’s keeper is weaker than Am I my brother’s keeper?.

    The argument (in the vein of Theophrastus) is that you should do what you can to retain the emphasis associated with rhetorical questions, which is an available strategy in English (or in Indo-European and Semitic languages generally).

    Wayne’s point is that, if you have a language that can’t use questions to give softened commands or to strengthen assertions, then what do you do?

    The answer is: all languages have ways of softening commands and strengthening assertions. Often there are particles, little adverbial like words, or adverbs which have analogous effects. (We have them in English, too, like please to soften commands, and most certainly/absolutely/definitely (etc.) to strengthen assertions.)

    At the same time, even when languages allow questions to be used as commands and assertions, we cannot assume that the conventions around those usages are the same from language to language. (Native English speakers can sound funny in other European languages using questions as polite commands, because the systems are quite different.)

    I should also point out that there are multiple kinds of uses rhetorical questions, so Am I my brother’s keeper? is very different from Is the Pope Catholic?, which in turn is different from <Whose image and inscription is this?, which is different from (parent to teenager) Where do you think you’re going?, but that gets us into pragmatics, Grice, and conversational implicature, and that’s another whole kettle of fish, isn’t it?

  8. Theophrastus says:

    Well, let me make my point a bit sharper.

    If one were to translate “Am I my brother’s keeper?” as “I am not my brother’s keeper”, I don’t see how the question that one asks oneself is retained. The former suggests that we should ask ourselves the question “Am I my brother’s keeper?”; I don’t see how the meaning is retained when we eliminate the question form.

    Similarly, if one were to translate “Where are you?” as “Adam, there you are!”, I don’t see how one would get the question that one asks oneself is retained. The former suggests that we should ask ourselves the question “Where am I (in my life’s work)?”; I don’t see how the meaning is retained when we eliminate the question form.

  9. Dannii says:

    Theophrastus, I see your point. However that specific example is a narrative, and I think any soul-searching self-critiquing it inspires is good although secondary. If a language uses questions in a different way than Hebrew and English, then I think the priority should be to reduce confusion over including secondary applications.

    In the language I’m studying, Walmajarri, both negative questions (Didn’t you find it?) and questions with alternatives (Will you have tea or coffee?) can cause confusion.

  10. Michael Peterson says:

    First, God’s question (“Where is Abel your brother?”) is not rhetorical because it invites information. For example, Cain could have very reasonably said “I killed him LORD — His body is over there in the field”. Moreover, the fact that God already knew the answer is irrelevent. By that argument, most legal proceedings are composed of rhetorical questions — good lawyers go to enormous lengths to know in advance the answers to the questions they ask.

    Cain’s response, tho’, is fascinating. Cain first lies (“I do not know”), then asks “Am I my brother’s keeper?” which is to state that Abel’s whereabouts is none of Cain’s business (Interestingly, God’s response does not negate Abel’s claim).

    What a great topic. Thanks.

    Blessings,

    Michael

  11. Theophrastus says:

    Note that the question I was claiming was “rhetorical” is “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (in the fine tradition of answering a question with a question.)

    However, as I hope the resulting discussion has made clear, I don’t really believe the question is rhetorical — in fact, it is a question that I ask myself every day.

    I think this same is true of many apparently “rhetorical questions” in the Bible — in fact, Scripture is full of long chains of “rhetorical questions” that have double meanings to us:

    Exodus 16:28 “Until when will you refuse to keep my commandments and my instructions?”

    Exodus 17:2 “For-what do you quarrel with me?
    For-what do you test the LORD?”

    Exodus 17:3 “For-what-reason then did you bring us up from Egypt,
    to bring death to me, to my children and to my livestock by thirst?”

    Exodus 17:4 “What shall I do with this people?”

  12. Wayne Leman says:

    If one were to translate “Am I my brother’s keeper?” as “I am not my brother’s keeper”, I don’t see how the question that one asks oneself is retained.

    You’re exactly right, for English and the many languages that have rhetorical questions and whose rhetorical questions have the matching functions/meanings. For languages which lack rhetorical questions, as Rich points out, there typically are other forms which communicate the same functions/meanings. We can’t very easily get a flavor of the translation equivalents in those languages by presenting another English sentence, since a paraphrased English syntactic form will often (or always, perhaps) have a different function/meaning in some important ways (even if they are “only” connotational, which is still important). Pike and many other linguists are exactly right that when form changes so does meaning, even if it is in fairly subtle, but nevertheless very important ways, which an English speaker like yourself with good language intuitions keys into so well.

    The English sentences “Am I my brother’s keeper?” and “I am not my brother’s keeper”, as you correctly state, do not have the same meaning, at least once we get away from simply referential or propositional meaning. (That is, these two sentences refer to the same things and have the same logical truth values.) But we can’t simply translate propositional and referential meaning and logical truth values. Important parts of meaning would get left out, which is what you are sensing, I think.

    As for the sentences in your second paragraph, “Where are you?” and “Adam, there you are!” I think there must have been some miscommunication. Like you and as Michael Peterson comments, I don’t see these as equivalent at all. “Where are you?” is a sincere question, even if we believe that G_d is omniscient and would have known where Adam was when he asked the question.

    I deliberately kept my blog post elementary, because there are a great many complexities when trying to find translation equivalents between languages which do not have the same form-meaning composite (a Pikean term). I just wanted to deal with the observation that some languages do not have rhetorical questions. I did not deal with what other forms can we find in those languages which will convey as much of the referential, propositional, connotational, and all other kinds of meaning as possible.

    It’s not an easy task to translate the Bible into languages which do not have some of the syntactic and morphological forms found in the biblical languages or in English. But language workers involved in such tasks often spend many arduous years studying those languages to discover what the translation equivalents are when syntactic forms don’t match. Such language workers, often missionaries, do not whip out a translation quickly with little regard for the complexities of meaning, genre, and all the other wonderful things about the biblical language texts. Instead, they pour their energies into careful research. They train native speakers, who will do the actual translation, to become self-aware of syntactic and semantic patterns in their own language. It’s a time- and energy-intensive task that is probably more difficult than translating the Bible to such a well-studied language as English. People involved in such tasks deserve our admiration and prayers. I am privileged to work with some of these people in quite a few different countries. The quality of their work becomes evident as I check their translations. It is high quality, often of better quality than most English Bible translations.

  13. Theophrastus says:

    It’s not an easy task to translate the Bible into languages which do not have some of the syntactic and morphological forms found in the biblical languages or in English.

    I am certain that this is the case.

    But my position is that if the Hebrew text has a double-meaning, then the best possible translation preserves that double meaning.

    Wayne points out that may not be possible. But, in the evolution of early modern English, Tyndale and his successors introduced new idioms and popularized certain grammatical forms that they believed better reflected the Hebrew. I don’t want to overstate my case: but to a small degree, “Biblical English” (“Biblish” as it is sometimes called) re-formed (reformed) the English language to match the Hebrew — and the English language and English literature are richer for it.

  14. Wayne Leman says:

    I don’t want to overstate my case: but to a small degree, “Biblical English” (“Biblish” as it is sometimes called) re-formed (reformed) the English language to match the Hebrew — and the English language and English literature are richer for it.

    And this process of biblicizing a language occurs in other languages also. Language change often takes time. But if a language community is small enough and homogeneous enough, a neologism can take off quite rapidly.

    And that is something I don’t think we can refudiate! (a Palinism that just might catch on and make it into the next editions of dictionaries)

  15. Kirsty says:

    “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18v4

    I’m involved in publishing children’s Sunday School materials – mostly on the design side, but I do a bit of editing. We are using this verse as a memory verse in the story of Abraham and Isaac, and I suggested that every time we repeat the verse we should answer it “NO”. Young children do not understand a rhetorical question like this as expressing certainty that there is indeed nothing to hard for the Lord, as opposed to expressing doubt over whether there is or not!

    I know the International Children’s Bible does not use rhetorical questions for this reason.

  16. jkgayle says:

    I have had to ask the translation team to do a study of questions in their language to determine if any questions can be used to emphatically assert something instead of asking for information.

    1Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

    2Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

    3Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

    4Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?

    Kirsty,

    It seems all of these rhetorical questions are retained in the International Children’s Bible, as difficult as they might be for an adult even. I see in the Preface, the editors have declared that rhetorical questions are too hard for children. And yet, haven’t the editors really retained them throughout (especially in Job 38)? And when searching “job,” I found the rhetorical question in Genesis 41:38 made much sharper by the International Children’s Bible than by KJV. What do you think?

    “And the king asked them, ‘Can we find a better man than Joseph to take this job? God’s Spirit is truly in him!'” (Int.Ch.B)

    “And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?” (KJV)

    Wayne,

    To which humans has Job’s God denied the agency to hear and to ask rhetorical questions in their own languages or in Job’s?

  17. William Ross says:

    >>>…4Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?…

    The ancients believed that the universe was made of water. They believed the ocean to be bottomless. So one of the most amazing feats of God, and one that caused some of the most consternation was this question of how you lay foundations when there is no bottom. It was considered an unanswerable question.

    Other cultures posited that the dry land was upon the back of a giant sea turtle, endlessly swimming, and that is what kept it up.

    God not only knows how, but he did it. This question was so “unfathomable” (pun intended) that it would silence Job. Interestingly, most of the stuff that was so unfathomable to Job and his contemporaries is common knowledge now. In this day and age he would have to ask harder questions, such as “Where is the nearest planet other than Earth that can sustain life?”

  18. Dannii Willis says:

    Kurk, I’m sorry but that’s a wrong way to think about it. You make it sound like certain types of rhetorical questions are some inalienable human right! We might as well ask why God denied those of us who speak European languages the use of cardinal directions in deixis or why the Biblical languages only have a pitiful three grammatical numbers.

    Anyone can learn these weird grammatical differences, but that doesn’t make them a wise choice for our translations.

  19. Wayne Leman says:

    Kurk asked:

    To which humans has Job’s God denied the agency to hear and to ask rhetorical questions in their own languages or in Job’s?

    Kurk, I don’t know if God designed each individual language with its unique characteristics or if people have determined what the grammatical forms are in each language. In either case, some languages have some forms, other languages have other forms. As you know, a number of Asian languages have honorifics. English does not. Who denied English from having honorifics?

    Linguists observe languages as they are. I’ll leave it to theologians to try to decide who determined what forms are used in one language and which ones in another language.

    The issue in my post has to do with how do we translate for languages which do not have rhetorical questions, regardless of whether it was God who decided that or people, over time, for their own languages. And these people can decide if they want to add rhetorical questions to their language tool box. Language is an equal opportunity employer. In only certain highly oppressive political regimes are their limits on which languages can be spoken. Perhaps some dictators have even decided certain syntactic forms cannot be used. But most people around the world are free to change their languages however they wish. Whether they do so or not is the question for Bible translators who must translate as their language IS, not as we might wish it were. And we always find that people, so clever as they are, have syntactic forms which have equivalent meaning and rhetorical impact to syntactic forms in other languages which are not in their own. The same goes for rhetorical questions. In languages without rhetorical questions there is a beautiful repertoire of language devices that do the same things as rhetorical questions, mean the same thing and have the same rhetorical impact. It’s really an amazing thing that translation equivalents can be found when at first we scratch our heads and say that some syntactic form is “missing” in a language. I personally consider such a statement to be rather ethnocentric, as if the languages with which we are familiar, including those of the Bible, are the standard by which other languages are to be judged in terms of language forms.

    Apart from the difficult theological question that you raised, I continue to welcome more examples of rhetorical questions

  20. Iver Larsen says:

    I am used to the dichotomy between real and rhetorical questions where the last category can have many different functions which do not necessarily carry across to another language, even if this language does use rhetorical questions.
    However, I recently looked at questions in the Gospels and decided that I prefer to add a third category which I called pedagogical questions. Such questions intend to cause the hearers to think. It is not just getting the “right” answer, but it is an opportunity to think deeply about a topic and then – maybe – try to put an answer into one’s own words.
    I found that the Pharisees in the Gospels almost always asked rhetorical questions, the disciples usually asked real questions of Jesus, while Jesus in most cases asked pedagogical questions.

  21. Theophrastus says:

    Dannii: I think that you can come up with arguments are not ad hominem attacks on J.K.’s intelligence.

    Further more, one can imagine, for instance, that if a language truly lacked rhetorical questions one could put a footnote in explaining that this was a feature of Hebrew.

    Wayne: I have a book published in Japanese, and I’m quite familiar with Japanese honorifics. It is an exaggeration to say English lacks honorifics (as the mere presence of the English word “honorifics” indicates) — we do not speak to a king (in English) the same way we speak to a close friend; we do not speak to a child the same way we speak to our boss. Similarly English has various markers to indicate “royal speech” (notably the use of the “royal we.”) Now, of course, it is true that English verbs do not decline according to politeness, relative position, and closeness the way that Japanese verbs do, but translators of Japanese novels into English have little difficulty reproducing those effects in English. In particular, translators from Japanese to English do not simply throw up their hands and attempt to abandon representing this feature of the language — it obviously carries semantic weight, and it needs to be captured in translation.

  22. jkgayle says:

    Dannii,
    I see that you’ve changed your assertion to me to “that’s a wrong way to think about it.” Thank you. You certainly sound nicer calling me “wrong” than you do calling me “stupid.” I suppose you’re following the letter of the guidelines for commenting here: “(2) Do not question the intelligence … of anyone, including … those who post or comment on this blog.” I certainly wouldn’t want to sound “stupid.” Perhaps it sounds much smarter to assume an abstract “universal grammar” (or “deep structure”) in which there can be no rhetorical questions. Noam Chomsky cannot think in any wrong way about his quick frequent “performance” of rhetorical questions in English as long as he keeps them from trickling down into his linguist “competence,” can he? (Dannii, I’m not talking about inalienable rights, unless the right of any human translator to let the Hebrew of the Bible sound Hebrew from time to time. That really doesn’t sound stupid to me, or to Adele Berlin, or to Everett Fox, or to Robert Alter, or to David Rosenberg, or to Martin Buber).

    Wayne,
    I understand your issue in your post. And I agree with your saying this:

    “And these people can decide if they want to add rhetorical questions to their language tool box. Language is an equal opportunity employer. In only certain highly oppressive political regimes are their limits on which languages can be spoken. Perhaps some dictators have even decided certain syntactic forms cannot be used. But most people around the world are free to change their languages however they wish.”

    The troubling thing to me is this:

    “Whether they do so or not is the question for Bible translators who must translate as their language IS…”

    Do “Bible translators” know better than “they” what “their language IS”? Are “they” themselves not able to render Hebrew rhetorical questions? Or Greek rhetorical questions? IS “their” language really so static, and are the languages of the Bible really to sound so un-Hebrew, or un-Greek?

    Nancy M. Tischler suggests that Naomi’s language to her daughters-in-law (in Ruth) must be translated with its Hebrew rhetorical effects: “She is blunt about her barren future and the physical needs of her daughters-in-law. The sardonic rhetorical questions have the power of poetic form to reinforce their cruel message. The parallelism and incremental structure underscore her rationale…. (page 161, A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible).

    Whatever Walmajarri IS, then, I wonder if Western male Bible translators really get what Naomi says, how the Hebrew writer makes the female speech so powerfully poetic and rhetorical. I wonder if men Bible translators who are English speakers buying into Chomsky’s “Deep Structure/ Surface Structure” binary know how capable women speaking Walmajarri are in stretching their own language to sound like Naomi’s? So Ruth 1:11-13 is an additional example of biblical rhetorical questions, and some that seem part and parcel of the message they must convey.

  23. Wayne Leman says:

    Theophrastus commented:

    Wayne: I have a book published in Japanese, and I’m quite familiar with Japanese honorifics. It is an exaggeration to say English lacks honorifics (as the mere presence of the English word “honorifics” indicates) — we do not speak to a king (in English) the same way we speak to a close friend; we do not speak to a child the same way we speak to our boss. Similarly English has various markers to indicate “royal speech” (notably the use of the “royal we.”) Now, of course, it is true that English verbs do not decline according to politeness, relative position, and closeness the way that Japanese verbs do, but translators of Japanese novels into English have little difficulty reproducing those effects in English.

    Thank you, Theophrastus, for this further explanation. With it you’ve just illustrated well my point, that languages have alternate ways of getting across the same meaning. Not all languages get across honorofic meanings by verb affixes or little words that indicate honorific status. But speakers of all languages can indicate honor.

    The same with the meanings of rhetorical questions. Not all languages have rhetorical questions. But all languages have the tools to communicate the meaning of rhetorical questions.

  24. Wayne Leman says:

    Kurk asked:

    Do “Bible translators” know better than “they” what “their language IS”? Are “they” themselves not able to render Hebrew rhetorical questions? Or Greek rhetorical questions? IS “their” language really so static, and are the languages of the Bible really to sound so un-Hebrew, or un-Greek?

    Kurk, those who translate the Bible are the native speakers themselves. Missionaries or linguists do not translate the Bible, or at least they haven’t for many decades from the days when some missionaries in the old days might have done so. These days missionary linguists typically train native speakers to be able to write their own language, discover the structures of their own language, etc.

    Again, if native speakers want to add rhetorical questions to their language, they are free to do so, then free to teach their fellow speakers the meanings of rhetorical questions. But since they (native speakers) already have the equivalents of rhetorical questions in their own languages, it is usually wiser to use the language resources they already have. Language engineering is difficult. It would be better, in some ways, for us not to use any translations of the Bible, but to teach people all over the world how to read Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. But how many people would do so? Most people prefer to speak their own language, with all of the warmth and familiarity that it has for them.

    Now, why don’t we get back to the question for this blog post and focus on listing rhetorical questions in the biblical texts? OK?

  25. Wayne Leman says:

    Kurk wrote:

    Dannii,
    I see that you’ve changed your assertion to me to “that’s a wrong way to think about it.” Thank you. You certainly sound nicer calling me “wrong” than you do calling me “stupid.”

    Kurk, I am the one who edited Danii’s comment to change the word “stupid” to “wrong.” The word “stupid” said about someone or their ideas on this blog does not pass our blog guidelines.

  26. jkgayle says:

    Now, why don’t we get back to the question for this blog post and focus on listing rhetorical questions in the biblical texts? OK?

    Wayne,
    I didn’t read what Theophrastus wrote to him before I myself addressed Dannii (Thanks Theophrastus, and Sorry Dannii and Wayne and others reading.) But apart from the ad hominem words, please know that I’m finding the discussing here to be focused on whatever list emerges. (Is “wrong” really better than “stupid”? My point here is that words and structures really do have personal consequences, and a translator’s or transpositionist’s attempt to change them has consequences as well. If your blog guidelines don’t allow “stupid” but do allow “wrong,” what if we still read them as similarly rhetorical?)

    Thank you for clarifying that the “Bible translators” you were speaking of and the “they” are all native speakers of the same language. This doesn’t erase the problem for me. It’s still one group telling another (or deciding for another) what the language “IS.”

    Since you have discussed here in this thread with Theophrastus the challenges of Japanese, then I’m interested in adding what Ezra Pound says about English and Chinese and Japanese. Whatever else we might think about what Pound’s English IS, we have to know that he regarded it becoming, in his work, like Japanese and Chinese. And Pound wasn’t content with what his contemporary native English speakers said about English and Japanese. For example, he saw:

    “They have not understood the function of the individual [Japanese Noh] plays in the performance, and have thought them fragmentary, or have complained of imperfect structure.”

    Pound’s work in translation let the Japanese sound variously Japanese in his English. This wasn’t for him just a wordplay exercise that carried no import. The message of the Noh plays in English is created and carried by their very Japanese structure.

    So, yes, on the list of biblical rhetorical questions. It should be quite a list:

    Naomi asks a few, and Moses and the prophets some, and God more, and, really, how many of the biblical authors or their rhetors don’t ask any?

  27. wm tanksley says:

    Theophrastus,

    I don’t really believe the question is rhetorical — in fact, it is a question that I ask myself every day.

    Everything in the Scripture is written for our learning, but not everything is about us. In this specific case, and in many of the cases you cite, the question being asked, whether rhetorical or not, isn’t being asked as a mere example for us. Cain’s question isn’t obviously a question that we should be imitating him in — and note that the context in which he asked it, he’s unmistakably using it not to gain information, but to AVOID giving information. Whether he’s his brother’s keeper or not, he’s certainly killed his brother and hidden his body.

    Asking yourself a similarly worded question may be useful, but when you do that you’re not following any kind of Biblical example, because you’re ripping the question completely out of its context. At least, I hope you are.

    -Wm

  28. Theophrastus says:

    JK: Your example of Pound is problematic, because Pound in fact never did master either Japanese or Chinese, and his “translations” are highly creative (in other words, many regard them as full of “errors”, and most we agree that they tell us more about Pound’s sensibility and his projections of them onto Asian literature). You may find the entries by Sanehide Kodama and Guiyou Hang in the Ezra Pound Encylopedia (e.g., on “Chinese Literature”, “Chinese Translation”, “Japanese Literature”, “Japanese Translation”) illuminating.

    I think a better example for your point would be Louis (and Cecilia) Zukofsky’s homophonic equivalent translations of Catullus or the homophonic equivalent fragments from the Hebrew Bible appearing in his lengthy poem “A”.

  29. Wayne Leman says:

    Kurk wrote:

    If your blog guidelines don’t allow “stupid” but do allow “wrong,” what if we still read them as similarly rhetorical?)

    Kurk, I think an appropriate thing to do when that is the case is to privately discuss with Danii how both words felt to you. I am not happy with the word “wrong” either, IF it is intended to be a reflection on the person whose has been told he is wrong, but I have seen “wrong” used to indicate that someone believes another person has a wrong idea. This is the sense in which I took what Danii wrote. We are allowed on this blog to critique other people’s ideas. You do this all the time on this blog, letting me know quite clearly how you disagree with something I have said. I think such exchanges can be difficult for those of us who are impacted by them emotionally (I’m one of them), but they can be healthy if we focus on critique of ideas and make sure we are not dissing the person who holds the ideas.

  30. Wayne Leman says:

    Kurk wrote:

    Thank you for clarifying that the “Bible translators” you were speaking of and the “they” are all native speakers of the same language. This doesn’t erase the problem for me. It’s still one group telling another (or deciding for another) what the language “IS.

    What group decides for a people speaking a tribal language what their language is, what syntax it has, etc.?

    As far as I know, it is only speakers of a language who determine what syntax, words, and meanings of those words and syntactic forms they will use. It is extremely rare in world history where one group tells another what their words mean or how they should speak.

    Am I missing something in what you are saying, Kurk? I’m not sure I understand what you are saying since I don’t understand how anyone other than language speakers themselves decides how they are doing to speak their language.

  31. jkgayle says:

    Yikes, Theophrastus! I didn’t even think about the othering problems of Pound (and didn’t he have tons of other problems?), some of which are noted in the Encylopedia you share here with us. (I’m looking there also at the entry on “Cathay” by Zhaoming Qian, who’s referencing one of his own books entitled Orientalism and Modernism: The Legacy of China in Pound and Williams. Isn’t this Said’s concept of “Orientalism”? Well, I think what T.S. Eliot says of Pound – quoted by Zhaoming Qian – is just fascinating, yes, illuminating: “the inventor of Chinese poetry for our time.” I recall that Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping say that Pound in “Cathay” adds Japanese confusion to the name of Li Bai, aka Li Po. Barnstone and Chou Ping go on to add:

    From the early metrical and end-rhymed translations of Herbert Giles to the free-verse translations of Ezra Pound, Arthur Waley, and Kenneth Rexroth, Chinese poems have been reinvented in English. The Chinese poem in English is like a stolen car sent to a “chop shop” to be stripped, disassembled, fitted with other parts, and presented to the consumer public with a new coat of paint. But despite its glossy American exterior, it’s a Chinese engine that makes this vehicle run, and fragments of the poem’s old identity can be glimpsed in its lines, the purr of its engine, the serial number, which we may still be able to read. In these thoughts on translation, I [Barnstone] wish to discuss ways I’ve found of negotiating between Chinese and English-language poetic paradigms, and to touch on the aspects of English that have proved compatible with the Chinese poem, which has been a part of Western poetic traffic since the early years of modernism. — pages xl to xli)

    Weren’t Pound and Louis Zukofsky friends, correspondents, and mutual admirer’s of one another’s work, especially their translations? In letters to Pound, Zukofsky seems to sound like he’s playing anti-Semitic in his Semiticisms. Then, from “A” – there’s this:

    Who said —
    ……..What did we gain by a pact? …
    ..And:
    ……..May God help him …
    ..And: Language serves all classes
    ……..In a society equally (1950
    Can the man who said all these things
    Answer all questions
    In ambassadorial memoirs
    And not have read
    Mao’s best-man poem:
    ……..Drawn by mountain and river
    ……..Many heroes submitted.

    What’s with the rhetorical questions? What’s gained? Ha!

  32. Mike Sangrey says:

    To add to the mix of interesting things about rhetorical questions:

    Rich mentioned that changing the imperative, Take out the trash, into a rhetorical question softens it. He also mentioned that please softens imperatives as in Please take out the trash. Additionally, one can flip the softening into an insistent sense by using both please and a rhetorical question, “Would you please take out the trash?”

    Perhaps the intensity is only obvious aurally. So, maybe it needs more than just a please when used in text. However, if this were the second or even the third time in the text the person asked, the other two times being “please-less”, then the stress on please would be very obvious. And so, the intensity of the imperative likewise would be obvious.

  33. jkgayle says:

    Wayne,
    Thank you for kind reflections here about how conversations often go at your blog. I do hope that’s useful not only for me (and it is) but also for others. You are always quite generous in what you allow (as divergences from the main topic and in the way of how we talk to, with, about, and sometimes at one another). Dannii and I talk at other blogs and are fb friends and have emailed some. We are mutually interested in our respective interests and work. Not everything shows here in just one thread.

    I don’t understand how anyone other than language speakers themselves decides how they are doing to speak their language.

    Wayne, I agree. There are those who are increasingly called “translinguals” (by Lydia H. Liu, Steven G. Kellerman, etc.). These creative types bend language, help it evolve, and so forth. (I’m thinking “third culture kids,” especially bi-lingual and tri-lingual ones tend to be so translingual). How people use language (their mother tongues and other tongues too) is always evolving, and that’s why “natural” seems so ossified here sometimes. It doesn’t take anyone of literary acclaim to make once unnatural language nature. But the important point, to me, is that the Hebrew Bible seems so much like that. When Robert Alter talks about how unnatural the language of the scriptures were to the ones using it (so limited in vocabulary, so different with its parallelisms, for example), he’s acknowledging how the spoken Hebrew of its users is so much more robust. We could argue these points of Alter, but the ways of users of any language can be fascinating and varied. To let one subset of language users define what “natural” language IS for everybody else using the language seems to me a bit unnatural.

  34. Mike Sangrey says:

    Kurk asked, “And yet, haven’t the editors really retained them [rhetorical questions] throughout [Job] (especially in Job 38)?

    I think that is a good question.

    Those Job questions are borderline rhetorical, aren’t they? It’s almost like God really IS expecting the answer, but Job would much, much prefer to take them rhetorically. And, in fact, does just that.

    Frankly, I would have hid under a rock. A big one.

  35. Mike Sangrey says:

    1 Cor. 14:36:
    Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?

  36. Mike Sangrey says:

    In fact, let me go further, but stay in 1 Cor. 14.

    14:6 …what good will I be to you, …? (τι υμας ωφελησω)

    14:7 …how will anyone know what tune is being piped or played on the harp? (πως γνωσθησεται το αυλουμενον η το κιθαριζομενον)

    14:8 …who will get ready for battle? (τις παρασκευασεται εις πολεμον)

    14:9 …how will anyone know what you are saying? (πως γνωσθησεται το λαλουμενον εσεσθε)

    14:15 So what shall I do? (τι ουν εστιν)

    14:16 …how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? The question here is more concisely formed in the Greek, “how shall he say ‘amen’?” (πως ερει το αμην)

    14:23 …will they not say that you are out of your mind? (ουκ ερουσιν οτι μαινεσθε)

    14:26 What then shall we say, brothers? (τι ουν εστιν αδελφοι)

    And then the two in 14:36 already noted in the comment above.

  37. jkgayle says:

    Grandma Simpson & Lisa are singing “How many roads must a man walk down?” together.

    Homer overhears and says, “Eight!”.

    Lisa: “That was a rhetorical question!”

    Homer: “Oh. Then, Seven!”

    Lisa: “Do you even know what ‘rhetorical’ means?”

    Homer: “Do I know what ‘rhetorical’ means?”

    http://www.westegg.com/simpsons/

  38. John says:

    “Is the Pope Catholic?”
    I think the answer to this may depend on what the speaker believes is the One, Holy, Catholic and Universal Church 🙂

  39. WoundedEgo says:

    Okay, well here’s a pedagogic question from Jesus that I think most here would get wrong (I’m referring to the second question in verse 44)…

    Luke 20:
    39 ¶ Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said.
    40 And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.
    41 And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David’s son?
    42 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
    43 Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.
    44 David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?

    To understand the answer to that question aright is to upend most popular NT thought…

    Buen provecho!

  40. Theophrastus says:

    Asking yourself a similarly worded question may be useful, but when you do that you’re not following any kind of Biblical example, because you’re ripping the question completely out of its context.

    Your view reflects a very particular form of exegesis (most commonly associated with Protestant readings of the Bible). In other traditions, there are multiple ways of reading Scripture.

    For example, in the Catholic view, there are the famous “Four Senses of Scripture” (Literal, Allegorical, Moral, and Analogical — see the Catechism of the Catholic Church 115-119); and in medieval exegesis (and still in contemporary exegesis) this is prominent: see, Henri de Lubac, Medieval Exegesis: the Four Sense of Scripture. In all except Literal, verses are frequently taken out of context. In the Patristic writings (just to be concrete, let me mention the sermons of John Chrysostom) verses are regularly taken out of context and mined for spiritual nuggets.

    In Judaism, there are traditional four ways of reading Scripture (Peshat [“plain”], Remez [“allegorical”], Derash [“comparative”], Sod [“mystical”]) — in all except “Peshat”, verses are taken out of context. More than a third of the Talmud is discussion of Biblical verses, usually taken out of context.

    Now, these various traditions and readings may or may not be of interest to you, and you may or may not accept them as valid religious expression. Nonetheless, a I argue that to be a useful reference, it is important that a translation of the Bible can be correlated to important religious writings which quote the Bible. If the translation renders classic religious writings as unintelligible, it is purely a sectarian translation, and one that is of limited utility. The question is: how can a reader of Chrysostom or the Talmud relate what she is reading (in highly esteemed works) about the Bible to the translation she has of the Bible?

  41. Theophrastus says:

    JK: An example of the Zukofskys’ method is given in “Lost and Found in Translation: Method” in Jed Rasula and Steve McCaffery’s Imagining Language (a book which I think you would find quite stimulating.)

    Here is Catullus’s Poem 86 — following Rasula and McCaffery (p. 247), I have interpolated the English and Latin so you can see the Zukofskys’ effect (and note that the translation revolves around a rhetorical question):

    Quintia formosa est multis, mihi candida, longa,
    Quintia’s foremost to multitudes; my eye can deed long, e-

    rectast. Haec ego sic singula confiteor,
    rect, honest. I can go seek, single out, con, feat her

    totum illud ‘formosa’ nego: nam nulla venustas,
    total — allow foremost? ah no go: nominal Venus tastes

    nulla in tam magno est corpore mica salis.
    no life in that mighty gust, corporeal missing salts.

    Lesbia formosa est, quae cum pulcherrima totast,
    Lesbia’s foremost, to quicken, pall care, a mate to taste.

    tum omnibus una omnis subripuit Veneres.
    whom all woman as one woman’s sure repute venerates.

    You can find their full translation of Catullus in Zukofsky’s Complete Short Poetry which is due to be reprinted early next year.

  42. Gary Simmons says:

    Theophrastus: I can’t comment too much on Japanese, but I did watch a subtitled anime in which a princess appeared and spoke in the royal plural (wareware). The show was called “Bleach,” and I *might* be able to find a link to the episode, if you like. [The main character, Kurosaki Ichigo, was confused by her use of the plural and looked around to see who else she was referring to.]

    Kurk: props for the Simpsons quotation.

    Thank you everyone for bringing up the pedagogical question. That’s good stuff there.

  43. Rich Rhodes says:

    @Mike,
    I’m not sure questions used as imperatives should be called rhetorical questions. If you’re wife asks you: Could you take out the garbage, please?, you’d better answer, though you’re more likely to respond with OK. than with Yes. (OK is used to accept contracts, yes is usually about truth value.

    But there’s a deeper matter here. The various differences in form around imperatives have very subtle shades of meaning.

    Take out the garbage.
    Take out the garbage, please.
    Please take out the garbage.

    Can you take out the garbage?
    Can you take out the garbage, please?
    Can you, please, take out the garbage?
    Please, can you take out the garbage?

    Could you take out the garbage? and all the forms with please

    Would you take out the garbage? and all the forms with please

    Will you take out the garbage? and all the forms with please

    By the time you get to the end your brain is mush.

    But what’s important to observe is that there are lots of very close meanings. Language is like that. For all that poets and writers play with language to drive us into creative and mind expanding possibilities, the ordinary working speaker runs around doing very precise things with language when the need is there. That’s the piece that’s missing in Bible translation. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul were all saying things that have precise meanings that our translations bleach out. And then we think that’s what the Bible is supposed to sound like.

    Meanwhile rather than doing the hard work of figuring out what the Koine actually says we devolve into arguments based on (the patently false) assumption that similar syntactic forms have similar communicative force across languages. We’re missing the forest for the trees. (Sorry, it’s late and I get a little touchy.)

  44. J. K. Gayle says:

    Theophrastus,
    You’re right, “Imagining Language” is even a fascinating title. And thanks for sharing more of “Zukofskys’ effect … around a rhetorical question.” Wow! It’s much different than the usual “literal” or “dynamic equivalent” approaches.

    Gary,
    Doesn’t Homer Simpson show that the “rhetorical question” can still be (mis)understood by the common (perhaps simple) person? Thanks for noticing pedagogy outside of the formal classroom.

    Rich,
    You make a very interesting (and precisely pertinent comment):

    “For all that poets and writers play with language to drive us into creative and mind expanding possibilities, the ordinary working speaker runs around doing very precise things with language when the need is there. That’s the piece that’s missing in Bible translation. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul were all saying things that have precise meanings that our translations bleach out.”

    Do you think that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were translating into Greek rhetorical questions of Jesus and others speaking Hebrew Aramaic when they wrote their gospels? Is there no creativity with what they render so precisely? Are they merely mapping ideas with a variant language, ever careful not to bleach out the communique when turning it into Hellene for the common person? And then Paul, Peter, James, John the epistle writer and the apocalypse writer, and whoever wrote “Hebrews” in Greek — did they have to choose between either “creative and mind expanding possibilities” or “doing very precise things with language”?

  45. Rich Rhodes says:

    Kurk,
    I left John out, not because I meant to imply he was playing with language, but because his Greek is so bad. Well, not exactly bad, but it sounds the way a not fully competent L2 speaker speaks. It lacks all the precision that a full competent speaker. (Failing to put in the very eloquent writer of Hebrews was late night oversight.)

    In short, I think it’s hard to argue that there’s much lost in “translation” from retelling in Greek something experienced in Aramaic, when most of what Jesus says is linguistically straightforward like Matt. 13:3b-9:

    A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.

    If there’s any word play at all, it’s only in the last sentence.

    That’s why I think arguments about the Bible NT as word play make no sense. Sure, there are places where Paul, especially, is playing with the words.

    For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father (πατηρ) of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family (πατρια) in heaven and earth is named, … (Eph. 3:14-15)

    And I read Paul as being very precise:

    Be prepared to preach the Word at the drop of a hat. Explain to people what they are doing wrong. Get them to stop and encourage them —- all with the utmost patience –– and be clear when you instruct them. (2 Tim 4:2)

    But I continue to maintain that it’s a mistake to think that there is much word play in the NT. It’s the window dressing not the meat.

  46. William Ross says:

    >>>…Be prepared to preach the Word at the drop of a hat. Explain to people what they are doing wrong. Get them to stop and encourage them —- all with the utmost patience –– and be clear when you instruct them. (2 Tim 4:2)…

    Whatever translation that is, it hath missed the proverbial boat. This is archaic but much more on track…

    2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

    This is an allusion to some farming stuff:

    Ecc 11:4 He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.
    Ecc 11:5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.
    Ecc 11:6 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

    Did you see it? Ecclessiastes is saying that it is a mistake to consider the conditions before you decide to sow. Just sow away.

    Specifically, if you consider the wind conditions… well, only God really knows what the wind is going to do. So just as you don’t know anything about things in the womb, babies still grow fine. So, ignore the conditions, sow on the good side and the bad side… maybe they’ll all grow just fine?

    That was all lost in that modern, but simplistic restatement.

  47. wm tanksley says:

    If the translation renders classic religious writings as unintelligible, it is purely a sectarian translation, and one that is of limited utility.

    The rest of your post was worthy and interesting, although I don’t agree that context is to be excluded in ANY discussion of text; in fact, your claim partially boils down to saying that the immediate context is less useful as a translation guide than text written by someone else far away.

    But this is simply false, documentably. For example, every translation will destroy the numeric patterns the “Bible Code” people (and of course the vastly earlier Rabbinic literature leading to Hermetic Qabbalah) seek hidden meaning in; but this doesn’t mean that every translation is sectarian. A subtler but more influential example is the translation errors that appear in early and influential translations in almost every language; the most famous being Erasmus’ slip that replaced “ligne” with “libre” at the end of Revelations (he lacked a Greek manuscript, and was working from Latin). Yes, people protest when they turn to a familiar verse and find it different; yet a choice has to be made, and it is made based on what is actually there, not based on sermons that were founded on the slip of a pen.

    I would suggest that the right thing to do with a context-free method of study would be to study it in a form as close to the original as possible; expecting a translation to carry all the same weight is expecting too much of such a delicate art, especially when so many of the studies you’re trying to protect are fragile works of art (no scorn intended or felt, by the way). Meanwhile, a context-sensitive method of study would be nicely supported by a translation which was heavily sensitive to contextual cues.

    And I think this is a very pertinent question on the topic of the original post: how do you translate something which appears to be a rhetorical in Hebrew into a language which has no rhetorical questions? If you translate it as a question, you lose the ability to read it as conveying information; if you translate it as a statement you lose the ability to ask yourself the question. Either way, you lose a certain ambiguity, and as a mere translator you probably do not feel qualified to insert speech forms that could place the ambiguity back somehow.

    You seem to think that translating as a question is always right, and translating as a statement is always wrong; but either way you’ll destroy one way to view the text.

    I don’t think there’s a good answer to this question (so it’s definitely not rhetorical!). There’s almost certainly no generally applicable one, although probably most languages have SOME way to handle the problem.

    -Wm

  48. wm tanksley says:

    I’m fascinated by WoundedEgo’s message about the incorrectly translated lack-of-question in 2 Corinthians 5:21. Does anyone know where I can read more about this? It seems like it should have a substantial effect on the surrounding text.

  49. WoundedEgo says:

    Some questions are riddles, designed to inspire inquisitiveness….

    Q. What do you call a cow with no legs?

    Q. What time does the Chinese man go to the dentist?

    Q. Matthew 22:45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?

  50. WoundedEgo says:

    If God made Jesus [into] sin, then he got what he deserved (death). But Peter says:

    1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit [breath [of life]]:

  51. Phil McCheddar says:

    Saul said, “Hear now, people of Benjamin; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, that all of you have conspired against me?”

    Then Ahimelech answered the king, “And who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the king’s son-in-law, and captain over your bodyguard, and honored in your house?”

    Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon?

    David called to the army, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, “Will you not answer, Abner?” Then Abner answered, “Who are you who calls to the king?” And David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king?

    But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this?

    If salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?

    Look at the birds of the air: … Are you not of more value than they?

    Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?

    Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

    Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?

    And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven?

    Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence?

    Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

    Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

    About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

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