From: Sungenis@XXXXXXXXXX
Date sent: Sun, 4 Mar 2001 12:49:56 EST
Subject: Re: Scott Windsor's Quotation of You
To: NA27@XXXXXXX (Dr. James White)
Copies to: (and some others)
In a message dated 3/2/2001 2:52:05 PM Eastern Standard Time,
NA27@XXXXXXXXX writes:

<< Robert:

Scott Windsor is relying rather heavily upon you and a phone conversation with you on his website. One of the rather glaring issues has to do with the basic use of mh to indicate a question that expects a negative answer. All basic grammars document, of course, that questions using mh expect a negative answer, while questions using ou expect a positive (Mounce, 289, Davis, 173, etc.). Yet, this appears on his web page:

69. Scott:

* Let's go on to this other point though, Jesus turns to the 12 and I assume you would agree that these are part of the elect, the called, the drawn. (James responds "right.") And He turns to them and says, "Will you also leave?" He gave them a choice! Was He only kidding when He said that?
70. James:
* Oh, wait-wait-wait-wait-wait! This is where we have to look at what the Scripture actually says. There is a way in the Greek language that you can phrase a question that expects a negative answer, and that is the way Jesus phrased this.
71. Scott:
* He may have phrased it that way, but He still gave them a choice. * "The Greek wording does not use the type of wording used with a rhetorical question." * (Telephone conversation, Robert Sungenis, February 6, 2001). * Obviously it was not purely a rhetorical question, because Peter answered Him! [WC=24]
Could you please tell me, Robert, how your response is related to the direct assertion I made, specifically, that the form of the question, using mh, expects a negative answer? And could you also tell me how the phrase "rhetorical question" is related to what I said? Thanks.

(Robert Responds)

I agree it is generally acknowledged that OU before the main verb implies an affirmative answer to the question; and that MH before the main verb implies a negative answer to the question, but there are several qualifications to this general rule which directly impact what you are trying to make of John 6:67 in your view of Predestination:

1) MH before the main verb does not always expect a negative answer. For example, in John 7:31, MH before POIEESEI expects an affirmative answer, not a negative one. In other words, the implied answer to the question of whether the Christ will do more signs than Jesus is affirmative.

2) When MH expects or implies a negative answer, a negative answer is not required, nor will the answer always be yes or no. For example, in John 3:4, the question introduced by MH may expect a negative answer, but the answer given in John 3:5 is not a negation; rather, it is given in the form of a higher order truth not contemplated by the question. The same thing occurs in a comparison of John 4:12 and John 4:14.

3) Most importantly, as I understand your thesis regarding John 6:67, you conclude that because the Apostles are predestined, they therefore cannot say NO to Jesus' question of their loyalty to Him, and thus they must answer "No, we will not leave You." In order to support this conclusion, you assert that the use of MH, which in Greek expects a negative answer, agrees with your view of Predestination, which holds that the Apostles have no choice but to give a negative answer to the question posed by Jesus.

With all due respect, I ardently disagree with your attempted coalescing of Reformed Predestinarian theology and the Greek grammar of John 6:67, and that is why I told Scott Windsor what I told him for his rebuttal. John 6:67 is not teaching Predestination; rather, it is merely teaching that the question posed by Jesus anticipates, but does not force, a negative answer.

The problem I see in your conclusion is that you turn the mere anticipation of the negative answer suggested by MH into an absolute requirement that a negative answer be given, without any contingencies. That is not what the Greek MH means or implies. The anticipated negative answer is not understood as an absolute, but only as an anticipation. I will also add that it is not an absolute answer precisely because the person answering the MH has the right to answer affirmatively or negatively based on his prerogative to choose. Your mistake is in interpreting the MH as something which forces the replier to answer in the negative, but MH serves no such purpose in Greek grammar. MH only anticipates; it does not force.

Further, MH anticipates a negative answer not because the Apostles are "predestined," for predestination is not a subject of discussion in this verse. Rather, a negative answer is anticipated because up until this time, as the context of John 1-6 tells us, the Apostles have been Jesus' closest companions, both personally and theologically. It would be natural for Jesus to pose His question in the form of MH, since He would expect the Apostles, as opposed to the Jews who were only wanted free food and drink, to stay with Him.

I must also mention that, in your deliberations with Scott Windsor, you attempted the same coalescence of your theology and Greek grammar by claiming that the perfect tense of DIDOMI in John 6:39 must mean that the people given to Jesus were predestined, since the perfect tense refers to a punctiliar event in the past with continuing effects into the future. But as I said to Scott, the only thing we can conclude of the Greek perfect tense in John 6:39, on a grammatical basis, is that the sum total of people gathered precedes the fact that they will not be lossed, as well as preceding the raising up of these same people on the Last Day. That is all the verse is saying, and no more.

That the perfect tense of DIDOMI is not giving a specific theological support of Reformed concept of Predestination is further noted by the use of the present tense of DIDOMI in John 6:37, in which Jesus says that all that the Father IS PRESENTLY GIVING will come to Jesus. If we went by your estimation of the purpose of the Greek grammar in John 6:39, then the Greek grammar of John 6:37 would clearly undercut your thesis.

This can all be settled by acknowledging that neither the present nor perfect tense of DIDOMI is attempting to establish a particular view of predestination. The verbs are only showing that the action of "giving" precedes the coming to Jesus and the resurrection on the Last Day.

Robert Sungenis
------- End of forwarded message -------
I then wrote to Robert regarding his point 1) as follows:

From: Sungenis@XXXXXXXXX
Date sent: Mon, 5 Mar 2001 19:00:28 EST
Subject: Re: Question

In a message dated 3/5/2001 3:40:17 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:
(Robert wrote)
1) MH before the main verb does not always expect a negative answer. For example, in John 7:31, MH before POIEESEI expects an affirmative answer, not a negative one. In other words, the implied answer to the question of whether the Christ will do more signs than Jesus is affirmative.
(Scott askes)
That verse seems to be looking for a negative. "Should Christ do more than this man?" Since He is the Christ - the answer would be no. (my paraphrase).

Your thoughts?


Robert responds:

Scott, the verse literally translated is as follows: The Chirst when comes, not more signs will he do which this man did? Phrased this way, the expected answer is "yes."

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