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I have a couple of questions about the volitional form of verbs that I've become unclear on lately. Here is a Bible passage containing the grammar in question:

(Note that I'm using a Bible passage as I have before because it directly relates to the topic. I'm not trying to bring any spiritual discussions into this post.)

「主{しゅ}の名を呼び求める者はだれでも[救]{すく}われる」のです。ところで、信じたことのない[方]{かた}を、どうして呼び求められよう。聞いたことのない方を、どうして信じられよう。また[宣]{の}べ伝{つた}える人がなければ、どうして聞くことができよう。[遣]{つか}わされないで、どうして[宣]{の}べ[伝]{つた}えることができよう。 ー ローマの[信徒]{しんと}への手紙 10[章]{しょう}:13-15[節]{せつ}

As the scripture says, "Everyone who calls out to the Lord for help will be saved." But how can they call to him for help if they have not believed? And how can they believe if they have not heard the message? And how can they hear if the message is not proclaimed? And how can the mesage be proclaimed if the messengers are not sent out? - Romans 10:13-15

So, my questions are:

  1. How does the volitional form work in this type of rhetorical question (without a か I might add)? Would the same meaning come across if these questions simply ended in 辞書形+か (like どうして信じられるか)?

  2. Can Verb-意志形 always be replaced by Verb-辞書形+でしょう/だろう in this type of question? Because substituting that into these questions seems to make a little more sense to me. どうして信じられるでしょう → "How can they (possibly) believe?"

    Of course, it does not make sense that you could substitute it when Verb-意志形 means "let's do X". (あとで外食しよう → "Let's go out to eat later", is clearly different than あとで外食するでしょう → "We'll probably go out to eat later")

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I don't think you need to be defensive about posting Bible verses, anymore than you should be offended if someone asked questions about text from some other religious tradition. As long as it's a relevant question, there's no problem. –  AHelps Nov 3 '11 at 5:18

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted
+50

Note that this isn't just the volitional, which for 呼び求める would be 呼び求めよう, it's the volitional of the potential form, and it's specifically paired with どうして. It is, as you say, a rhetorical question.

どうして呼び求めることができよう(か) would have the same meaning, I don't know why they use that form in some sentences and not in others in your quote.

This form has a stronger sense of "impossibility" than your other suggestions. From the speaker's point of view, it is impossible for someone to "call to him for help if they have not believed".

聞いたことのない方を、どうして信じられよう。 (聞かなければ、信じられない。)

Some commentary on どうして + ことができよう in Japanese: http://oshiete.goo.ne.jp/qa/5764430.html

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How does the volitional form work in this type of rhetorical question (without a か I might add)?

This kind of question often end in volitional form. (~しよう, ~だろう, etc.)

か is not absolutely needed if there is a question verb (どうして) in the sentence.

Would the same meaning come across if these questions simply ended in 辞書形+か (like どうして信じられるか)?

~ようか sounds like you're thinking about this question, rather than asking someone else.

どうして信じられる(のだ/のか) can be a rhetorical question, but often requires a listener.

どうして信じられるか is used as a quoted question, どうして信じられるか、分からない

Can Verb-意志形 always be replaced by Verb-辞書形+でしょう/だろう in this type of question? Because substituting that into these questions seems to make a little more sense to me. どうして信じられるでしょう → "How can they (possibly) believe?"

Yes, especially in modern Japanese.

Of course, it does not make sense that you could substitute it when Verb-意志形 means "let's do X". (あとで外食しよう → "Let's go out to eat later", is clearly different than あとで外食するでしょう → "We'll probably go out to eat later")

Hmm. I think the Japanese translation of Bible is a special kind of Japanese (翻訳調?). It's definitely not 文語調. But it is not the kind of 口語調 we usually speak.

I don't know if you can substitute it when it means "let's do", but I think it's sometimes substituted when it means “I will (agree to) do”.

e.g. I think such kind of expression is very likely to appear in it.

呼び求めよ、然{さ}すれば、我は汝の呼び求めに応えるであろう
悔い改めよ、そうして、我は汝の罪を許すであろう

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FYI, There are multiple Japanese translations of the Bible just as there are multiple translations of other languages too. I usually use the [新共同訳]{しん・きょう・どう・やく} version, but there are also [口語訳]{こう・ご・やく} and [新改訳]{しん・かい・やく} versions that I'm aware of. –  istrasci Apr 26 at 20:23
    
@istrasci, oh, I searched であろう in the 新共同訳 version, and found a lot of unusual であろう. It might be a feature of translation. 創世記17章02節 わたしは、あなたとの間にわたしの契約を立て、あなたをますます増やすであろう / 出エジプト記04章23節 わたしの子を去らせてわたしに仕えさせよと命じたのに、お前はそれを断った。それゆえ、わたしはお前の子、お前の長子を殺すであろう –  Yang Muye Apr 26 at 21:12
    
Anyway, I finally found an entry in 大辞林: であろう(活用語の連体形に付いて)話し手自身の決意をやや重々しく表す。 「僕はここに最後まで留まる-・う」 「こんな所にはもう二度と来ない-・う」 –  Yang Muye Apr 26 at 21:50

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