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To MS , Re: Still More on John 20:28

This was the final post of substance in this thread.  MS did post a brief reply, thanking me for helping him to focus his comments and saying that he would respond to me in detail shortly.  There were no additional posts from MS in this thread. 


Hi MS,

Thanks for your comments.  I'll include my previous comments under RH, yours under MS and my response under ROBERT.

RH:  MS, let's not exaggerate. Jesus is called RABBI numerous times. RABBI is indeclinable - the form is nominative in all cases. Jesus is called HUIOS DAUID in Matthew, though "Son of David" is in the vocative in Mark. In John 13:13, Jesus says his disciples call him "KURIOS," and commends them. Clearly, if there were some sort of distinction between KURIOS and KURIE in terms of address, Jesus would have said so here. The terms are semantically transparent - KURIOS *may* reflect somewhat more elevated or formal diction, but there is no difference in meaning or referent. Harris sees KURIOS in John 13:13 as a nominative of address, and it is certainly possible to see it that way, given that Jesus is repeating what this disciples called him.

MS:  Hey, no fair! you know what I meant, remember, you are supposed to be reading my mind. We have been discussing elevated titles that speak to lordship or godship, remember. But since you brought it up, Joseph was called hUIOS DAUID at a Matt 1:20 :)

ROBERT:  Hah!  Seriously, MS, if the nominative of address is used interchangeably with the vocative with other titles (and hUIOS DAUID certainly has a messianic as well as a simple genealogical connotation), why can't you see that it is also so with "elevated" titles?  Can you provide grammatical support for a semantic or referential distinction between the two forms of address?

RH: Rev 4:11 demonstrates that the elders are comfortable addressing their God with the nominative of address, just as is Thomas. Of course, your statistics - as you cast them - indicate that 96% of the time, Jews addressed their God with a form of the vocative, so I guess we should conclude that the Father is NOT being addressed in Rev 4:11, based on your logic? (If you did, I would point out that here LEGONTES serves the same function as EIPEN AUTWi).

MS:  Maybe I should have expressed this as follows: "The Father is given the full range and breadth of expression with respects to being addressed as KURIOS/KURIE and QEOS/QEE as well as having these terms amplified with hO PANTOKRATWR while being combined with the more elevated composite term KURIE hO QEOS. This pattern continues even after Jesus is resurrected and in the company of hO PANTOKRATWR as can be seen in the book of Revelation where he continues at all times to be distinguished from hO QEOS."

ROBERT:  OK, this clarifies the second point I raised, but not the first one.  Rev 4:11 shows that John uses this form of address when believers are addressing their God.  Thus, if John wanted to express the idea that Thomas has just come to realize that Jesus is his God, he would most likely have used this form.

RH: This "fact" favors no such thing, MS. An exclamation "similar" to K's would be blasphemy, unless K were directing the "my God" statement to his God. Second Commandment and all that. You might say that Thomas was being reverent and making a prayerful exclamation, but this argument is easily surmounted by the words John uses to describe the entire CONVERSATION taking place between Thomas and Jesus. There is a clear exchange of statements and responses: "He said to Thomas...Thomas answered and said to him...Jesus said to him."

MS:  I disagree that QEOS must refer to hO QEOS here. It is more likely that it refers to hO LOGOS based on two considerations. The MOU qualifies the articular QEOS and Thomas was directly told in a prior conversation with hO KURIOS MOU that he should believe both in him and God. (John 14:1) Then he tells Thomas that he is the way to the Father. (John 14:6) The confession that Thomas makes would naturally include both the Father and the Son.

ROBERT:  Sorry, MS, this seems like a non-sequitor to me.  Are you now positing a 5th explanation as to what Thomas was saying?  I'm having trouble keeping up ;-)  I thought you were arguing that Thomas' words were really an exclamation, directed to no one in particular (or perhaps to the Father), and you cited K's comments about seeing his dead grandfather as a similar expression.  I addressed this point with two objections:  1)  An exclamation such as K suggested would be blasphemy (second commandment); 2) if you posit a 'reverant' exclamation directed to the Father, this flies in the face of the immediate context, in which we are told that Thomas "answered...and said to him (Jesus)."  Now, instead of answering my points,  you say that Thomas' words WERE directed to Jesus, but hO THEOS MOU doesn't refer to hO THEOS, but "more likely" refers to hO LOGOS.  "My Lord and My Word!"  Well, "my word," that would certainly sound more like an exclamation! ;-)

Seriously MS, your apologetic on this verse is simply all over the map.  First you say it's most likely an exclamation directed to no one, now you say it's directed to Jesus, but hO THEOS is really a reference to hO LOGOS.  Of course, MS, if the REFERENT of hO THEOS is hO LOGOS, that means hO THEOS is attributed to hO LOGOS, which is exactly what I have been arguing all along!  Thomas calls Jesus "my God."  All the statistics you've amassed do nothing more than possibly demonstrate that Thomas used words not previously addressed to Jesus - but since Thomas is portrayed as receiving the full measure of his faith in this very moment, this is not surprising at all.  You have not demonstrated evidence to support anything beyond the uniqueness of this expression IN RELATION TO JESUS (though not in relation to God - Rev 4:11), certainly nothing that would lead us to accept the argument you proposed - at least initially - that Thomas is not addressing Jesus.

RH:  Even you must admit, below: "Of course, we know that Thomas spoke the words AUTWi (to Jesus) and that his exclamation en toto was of course an ANSWER or acknowledgement to Jesus that he had in fact been weak in faith but now he was totally convinced." So, once again, your argument boils down to trying to prove a distinction between "spoken to" and "directed to." I submit this is a non-distinction. Rev 4:11 establishes that John felt comfortable using the nominative of address in relation to God.

MS:  He used it to the _Father_ because only the _Father_ receives the whole depth and breadth of superlative titles in Scripture.

ROBERT:  MS, I said that the distinction between "spoken to" and "directed to" is a non-distinction.  You didn't respond to this point.  Even if I grant that the Father receives the ALL the superlative titles, and Jesus only receives 75% of them, you have not demonstrated that hO KURIOS MOU KAI hO THEOS MOU *cannot* be addressed to Jesus in this verse, which is what John tells us Thomas did (APEKRITHE...EIPEN AUTW(i)).  To my knowledge, there is only one reference to Jesus as the "first and last," while all others are attributed to the Father.  So, there is certainly precedent for a divine title being ascribed to Jesus only once in Scripture.  Rev 4:11 is addressed to "him who sits on the throne," and the Elders call Him "the Lord and the God of us."  Thus, they are addressing THEIR GOD, just as Thomas is.  Further, you're once again back on the "can't be addressed to Jesus" tangent, when you have argued above that hO THEOS MOU "more likely" refers to hO LOGOS.

RH:  Again, if Thomas has come to believe that Jesus is also his God, John would likely have used this form of address when quoting Thomas. To argue that the referent of Thomas' statement DEPENDS on the form of address, and in fact, should override AUTWi, is a variation of the referential fallacy. You argue that the referent determines form; the referential fallacy that the referent determines lexical meaning. A rose is a rose...;-)

MS:  It is more important WHAT a writer is trying to say that how he says it.

ROBERT:  John isn't "trying" to say anything.  He said it, through inspiration of God's Spirit, and said it quite clearly.  Further, the easiest way to determine WHAT an author is saying is by looking at how he says it.  John writes APEKRITHE...EIPEN AUTW(i).  Since you rely so heavily on statistics in your argument (at least the one that posits the Thomas is not addressing Jesus), I decided to to a little research myself.  There are 108 occurances of a form of EIPON followed by AUTW(i) in the NT.  74 are EIPEN AUTW(i).  23 occur with a form of APOKRINOMAI.  Ten of these are preceded by APEKRITHE.  John uses EIPEN AUTW(i) 17 times.  I checked all 108 occurances.  In every case, the words following AUTW(i) were addressed to the referent of AUTW(i).  In addition, there are 127 examples of AUTW(i) preceded by a form of LEGW (20 combined with a form of APOKRINOMAI), and in every case I checked (about half), I did not find a single example where the person addressed was OTHER THAN the referent of AUTW(i).

MS:  The phrase is an exclamation which fits all of Wallace's criteria for an exclamation and he indeed sees it that way, albeit in more nuanced way.

ROBERT:  No, Wallace does not "see it that way," regardless of what you mean by "nuanced."  Wallace defines the Nominative of Exclamation quite narrowly (pp. 59-60), and says that this specific kind of exclamation is not a form of direct address.  Since APEKRITHE...EIPEN AUTW(i) makes it quite clearly a form of address, John 20:28 does NOT fit the criteria as Wallace defines them.  Wallace includes John 20:28 in the Nominative of Address section, demonstrating quite clearly how he "sees it."  In the three examples of the Nominative of Exclamation, two are incomplete sentences in discourse.  The last example, Mk. 3:34, contains LEGEI without an accompanying AUTOIS, thus Jesus said (but not necessarily "to them") "Behold...."  As I have repeatedly said, MS, if you want to argue that Thomas' address of Jesus is unique or unprecedented (not, of course, with regard to Jews addressing their God), your statistics may prove your case.  However, they cannot overthrow the clear language John uses to literally spell out for us who is being addressed here.

MS:  Because an exclamation does not have a verb and it uttered with emotion and spontaneity it should come as no great surprise that is is an enigmatic expression. A good writer would then explain in the narrative exactly what was meant by the phrase. John did this in the very verse that followed Jesus' response to this exclamation. The only way John could have made it any clearer would have been to INTERRUPT the conversation and insert it as a parenthetical expression. However, in my view, reasonable persons will not try to rip this explanation (20:31) from the context.

ROBERT:  So you keep saying.  But MS, John says in this verse TAUTA DE GEGRAPTAI - TAUTA clearly referring back to TW(i) BIBLIW(i).  He is proclaiming his purpose in writing his entire book - he is not simply clarifying v. 28, as you would have it.  John is perfectly capable of clarifying for us a particular word or phrase that may be confusing to his readers (cf., John 2:21, where he specifically repeats the word NAOS and defines it for us as SWMATOS).  Had John wished to clarify Thomas' words, doubtless he would have used similarly clear language.  Instead, he tells us his purpose in writing his Book as a whole.  I don't believe I am "ripping" v. 31 from it's context at all - in fact, I am leaving it IN it's context - as well as v. 28!  There is no contradiction or undermining of v. 28 in v. 31.  Jesus is Thomas' God, and is God's Son.

MS:  If Thomas indeed did just call Jesus God and come to realize that Jesus was God, 20:31 is very much out of place and an anti-climax!

ROBERT:  Only if one believes that the "Son of God," as John uses the phrase, is a lesser being than "God!"  However, earlier John defines for us his view of "Son of God" (Jn 5:18).  Notice, I said JOHN defines for us, and so he does, for he is not quoting the Jews, but is further defining what "calling God his own Father" meant.

RH:  What do you mean by "never been used before?" Certainly you don't dispute that KURIOS and THEOS are both applied to Jesus previously in John's gospel (though not in forms of address). Jesus commends the disciples for calling him "KURIOS" in John 13:13.

MS:  Come on, Robert, you can do better than that :) The word is not used of Jesus by the disciples in a way that helps you at all. Of course when they refer to Jesus in dialogue with others and not in direct address they would need to use the nominative, but this is not the nominative of address! See John 11:28 "And when she had said this, she went away, and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, "The Teacher is here [hO DIDASKALOS PARESTIN], and is calling for you." (NAS) I also cannot find any example in the GNT where DIDASKALOS is used with the meaning of DIDASKALE. (vocative)

ROBERT:  Actually, MS, I DID do better than that, but perhaps I didn't phrase it clearly.  Let's try again:  KURIOS and THEOS are both applied to Jesus in John's Gospel (though not in direct address).  The vocative forms of these words do not change the lexical meaning of the words, nor their referents (as your "of course" admits, above!).  Thus, if the nominative form is used predicatively, and the nominative of address is lexically transparent when compared to the vocative, there are no grounds for arguing that there is some sort of lexical or referential difference between the vocative and the nominative of address, here or anywhere else.

You also didn't really address John 13:13.  As I said, Harris sees this as a nominative of address, and it is certainly possible.  Also as I said before, if there were some sort of referential difference between KURIOS and KURIE, Jesus WOULD have used the vocative here, knowing that his disciples were reserving KURIOS for the Father.

RH:  We also must consider whether Thomas was familiar with Ps 35:23 (34:32 LXX): "HO THEOS MOU KAI HO KURIOS MOU." Thomas may well have been alluding to it, if not actually quoting it. John certainly would have no problems writing a quotation from Thomas applying a verse in the OT to Jesus; he was probably aware that Paul had done so on several occasions, as he had himself with "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" in Revelation.

MS:  If he did, he reversed the order! In this particular verse it comes as no surprise that the KURIOS that follows QEOS maintains the nominative by attraction to it. In addition, Psalm 35:23 does not fit the profile of an exclamation.

ROBERT:  And the reversed order is significant how?  We know the NT writers often paraphrased the OT, why not Thomas (or John)?  Two nominatives with the article joined by KAI are termed a "covertible proposition," thus there is lexically no difference in the order of the nouns.  While it's true that KURIOS probably follows the form of THEOS here, the same is true in John 20:28.  Thus, it is also no surprise that THEOS that follows KURIOS is in the nominative, and so your statistics regarding THEE/THEOS must be abandoned.  And Ps 34:23 (LXX) does, indeed, fit the profile of a nominative of address.  The psalmist is speaking to - addressing - his God (KURIE occurs 5 times in vv 22-24).

MS: In addition, most of these occur in Revelation which is known for having non-standard Greek in the first place. Some might even eliminate Revelation from the statistics on that basis alone. In Revelation (the only book that uses QEOS in a direct address, to the Father) we find KURIE hO QEOS hO PANTOKRATWR used 3 times and one time as hO KURIOS KAI hO QEOS HMWN.

ROBERT:  And the latter, along with Ps 34:23 (LXX), provide ample precedent that John COULD have used this phrase to translate Thomas' words, if Thomas had just come to recognize Jesus as his God.  Of course, a precedent is really not needed, for John makes is clear in the immediate context that no matter what words Thomas says, they are directed to Jesus (EIPEN AUTW(i)).

RH: Of course we would be having this discussion, because you would deny that Thomas is calling Jesus his God, regardless of the language used to express that idea. You have admitted that Rev 4:11 is a parallel phrase, directed to the Father. Since all examples of KURIE hO THEOS are also directed to the Father, you would argue that this is the case here as well - just as you are now! To say otherwise is simply disingenuous, MS. It does prove a vital point, though, and that is that your counter-example is not a counter-example at all.

MS:  The KURIE hO QEOS is actually a stronger and less ambiguous term, amplified if you will It has hO QEOS in apposition to KURIE which is an even stronger way to call the Lord, God that an predicate nominative as in KURIOS ESTIN hO QEOS is saying something about the Lord, while KURIE hO QEOS combines the two terms into one title.

ROBERT:  MS, one of your major arguments is that Jesus was never addressed as KURIOS or THEOS.  You cite Rev 4:11 as though this helps your cause, because here, the phrase is directed to the Father.  Now, it seems obvious to me that IF Thomas had addressed Jesus as KURIE hO THEOS, you would have run the phrase through your analytical search engine in Bibleworks and found 193 examples of KURIE hO THEOS applied to the Father, and none to Jesus (unless we counted 20:28).  Thus, MS, you would be making essentially the same argument, namely that the Son could not be addressed with a title which everywhere else is reserved for the Father.

MS:  And you fail to address the hO PANTOKRATWR which elevates this already exalted title. My counter example stands.

ROBERT.  Well, MS, I "failed" to address PANTOKRATWR because you implied that had Thomas REALLY been addressing Jesus as his God, he would have used something including PANTOKRATWR.  I find arguments based on what the NT writers DIDN'T say to be quite meaningless.  The idea that if only the Father is called "Almighty" that He alone is God is logically falacious.  Jesus is the Son, he is not the Father.  Even if PANTOKRATWR is reserved as a title for the Father, this does not preclude Thomas calling Jesus his God in Jn  20:28, particularly that's precisely what John tells us Thomas did.

MS:  Since I see you approvingly quote Harris below, I'd like to point out what his view is with respect to QEOS both in the NT and the OT. He unequivocally says that it refers to the Father.

Murray J. Harris in "Jesus as God," page 47 says, "When (hO) QEOS is used, we are to assume that the NT writers have hO PATHR in mind unless the context makes this sense of (hO) QEOS impossible (fn 112)

112. A related question demands brief treatment. To whom did the NT writers attribute the divine action described in the OT? To answer "the Lord God" (YHWH elohim) = LXX KURIOS hO QEOS) is to beg the question, for the authors of the NT wrote of OT events in the light of their Trinitarian understanding of God. A clear distinction must be drawn between what the OT text meant to its authors and readers and how it was understood by the early Christians who lived after the advent of the Messiah and the coming of the Spirit. Certainly the person who projects the Trinitarian teaching of the NT back into the OT and reads the OT through the spectacles of the dynamic or Trinitarian monotheism of the NT is thinking anachronistically. On the other hand, it does not seem illegitimate to pose a question such as this" To whom was the author of Hebrews referring when he said (1:1), "At many times and in various ways God spoke in the past to our forefathers through the prophets"? That it was not the Holy Spirit in any ultimate sense is evident from the fact that in neither the OT nor the NT is the Spirit called "God" expressis verbis. And, in spite of the fact the LXX that the LXX equivalent of YHWH, viz., KURIOS, is regularly applied to Jesus in the NT so that it becomes less a title than a proper name, it is not possible that hO QEOS  in Heb. 1:1 denotes Jesus Christ. for the same sentence (in Greek) contains "(the God who spoke...) in these last days has spoken to us in a Son (EN hUIW)." Since the author is emphasizing the continuity of of the two phases of divine speech (hO QEOS LALHSHS... ELALHSEN), this reference to a Son shows that the one who speaks in both eras and hUIOS as his final means of speaking shows that in the author's mind it was not the Triune God of Christian theology who spoke to the forefathers by the prophets. That is to say, for the author of Hebrews (as for all NT writers, one may suggest) "the God of our fathers," Yahweh, was no other than "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (compare Acts 2:30 and 2:33; 3:13 and 3:18; 3:25 and 3:26; note also 5:30). Such a conclusion is entirely consistent with the regular NT usage of hO QEOS. It would be inappropriate for elohim or YHWH ever to refer to the Trinity in the OT when in the NT QEOS regularly refers to the Father alone and apparently never to the Trinity.

ROBERT:  I am very familiar with this quote, MS, as I am Rahner's, below.  Both essentially make the same point, namely that hO THEOS (and anarthrous THEOS in general) refers to the Father in the NT, not the Trinity or (except in rare occasions) the Son.  I agree completely with them.  The key qualification in Harris' statement, of course, is: "unless the context makes this sense of (hO) THEOS impossible."  Here's what he says about John 20:28:  "As used in this verse, KURIOS and THEOS are titles, not proper names, the first implying and the second explicitly affirming the substantial deity of the risen Jesus" (p. 129).  So, he obviously sees John 20:28 as one of the exceptions, huh?  He further states, "While other Christological titles such as KURIOS and hUIOU THEOU imply the divinity of Jesus, the appellation THEOS makes that implication explicit" (p. 293).  He cites John 20:28 in the next sentence as "the first recorded use of THEOS in reference to Jesus."

RH:  I've already addressed SU EI in a previous post. I've also provided examples of how John could have made clear that Thomas was praising the Father while addressing Jesus, as you have suggested, which also would mean that we would not be having this discussion now, had he written one of them.

MS:  So I see. You said:  "We don't need to insert SU EI into this verse to understand it's meaning, any more than we would need to in all the other 135 occurrences of "my God" in the Scriptures. In fact, I'm unaware of any of them that use such language."

I decided to do some statistics on the subject of QEOS MOU in the Greek. In the NT there are 13 occurrences. 12/13 occurrences have a reference to the Father or distinguish God from Jesus in the immediate context; 5/13 are a reference to the God of Jesus. 1/13 distinguishes between Jesus and God in near context (same chapter). 2/13 are used in direct address. (John 20:28 is excluded from the analysis)

Because I combined the MT and the LXX I came up with 146 instances of "My God". Of those, 52/146 (36%) are clear instances of direct address using "My God." 45/52 (86%) are instances of direct address where the phrase is a predicate nominative in apposition to a personal pronoun like SU (you), frequently with EIMI. For example expressions using EI SU are common like:  Psalm 89:26 He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, My God, [LXX, PATHR MOU EI SU QEOS MOU] and the rock of my salvation. (ASV)  In all of these, EIPEN is found only once, APOKRINOMAI and AUTWi are not found at all in direct address in the OT.

ROBERT:  MS, APOKRINOMAI and EIPON/LEGW AUTW(i) are common in the NT, and EIPEN AUTW(i) occurs in John's Gospel 17 times.  In every case what follows is a direct address to the referent of AUTW(i).  Even your numbers show that 7 times, "My God" occurs w/o a personal pronoun, including Ps 34:23 (LXX), so it is hardly without precedent.  Of course, we wouldn't expect to find EIPEN or APOKRINOMAI or AUTW(i) when the Psalmist directly addresses God, just was we know Thomas didn't say EIPEN AUTW(i), as you noted.

RH: Well, no matter who wrote the footnote and no matter what Wallace's input was, it certainly doesn't pertain to the vocative vs. nominative of address, which is what we were discussing. You don't dispute what the author of the footnote says about the use of KURIOS for YHWH and THEOS for ELOHIM in the LXX, do you?

Yes, see Murray Harris quote above!

ROBERT:  Let's set this one in context.  You had criticized Wallace for presenting misleading statistics with regard to NT usage of the nominative of address for God.  You presented your own statistics which included LXX and NT usage.  I answered that you should take your complaint directly to Wallace, but that he probably was investigating usage of THEOS, and his statement explicitly says he was dealing with NT usage.  You responded by quoting the footnote to the NET Bible, and said, "Therefore, Wallace does make a comparison specifically to the LXX usage of KURIOS and THEOS."  I answered that even if we attribute this note to Wallace (which is not proven at this point), the comparison was not with regard to the nominative vs the vocative.  The writer of the note was attempting to exegete the passage in light of the titles Thomas ascribed to Jesus, and looked to the LXX usage of KURIOS and THEOS - not necessarily in forms of address, but generally.  So, your attempt to use the NET Bible to support your contention that Wallace did, in fact, compare NT and LXX usage in forms of address is not proven.

Secondly, I have no idea how Harris' quote disputes what the writer of the footnote says about LXX usage of YHWH and THEOS.  Harris argues that YHWH in the OT refers to the Father, and not the Trinity.  This statement is somewhat narrow (it is a footnote, after all); for example,  I don't think Harris would dispute that OT passages that refer to YHWH are, at times, applied to the Son in the NT (he says as much in his discussion about Heb 1:8).  However, nothing in what Harris writes conflicts with what the NET Bible footnote says:  "'Lord (kuvrio' [kurios]), used by the LXX to translate Yahweh and God (qeov' [qeos]), used by the LXX to translate Elohim."  Indeed, Harris says: "Thomas was addressing Jesus as one who shared Yahweh's authority and functions and exercised Yahweh's rights" (p. 123).  In a note on this page, Harris writes: "While distinct from Yahweh, Christ shares his status and nature" (fn 86).

RH:  If Thomas's phrase was floating all by itself without a context, and if we accept your interpretation of the statistics, then we might conclude that taking ONLY the statistics into consideration, your conclusions are possible. However, the verse IS in a context, and this context makes it abundantly clear who is being addressed: "Answered...and said to him (Jesus)."

MS:  Wallace says : "The nominative substantive is used in an exclamation without any grammatical connection to the rest of the sentence ... The keys to identifying a nominative of exclamation are: (1) the lack of a verb (though one may be implied), (2) the obvious emotion of the author, and (3) the necessity of an exclamation point in translation." (Wallace 59-60)  To me this means that Wallace sees the exclamation for what it is. Do you consider this to be an exclamation as well?

ROBERT:  I've already addressed Wallace's comments on the Nominative of Exclamation, above.  Wallace's comments are DESCRIPTIVE, not PRESCRIPTIVE.  That is, when we find a fragment, without grammatical connection to the rest of the sentence, such as Ro 7:24 or 11:33, and if it fits Wallace's other criteria, it may be considered a Nominative of Exclamation.  Wallace does not mean that we should take a phrase that we consider an exclamation and divorce it from it's context.  So, I repeat, John 20:28 HAS a context, and you can't use Wallace to wrench it out of that context.  Wallace doesn't, and neither should we.

I don't consider John 20:28 an example of a Nominative of Exclamation, nor does Wallace.  I would term it an exclamation in a broader sense, as something spoken with deep emotion, and this is the sense I see in the footnote in the NET Bible.  But this exclamation is a nominative of address, directed AUTW(i).

RH: I'll address your last point first. Your argument here is that if the Greek is translated from the Aramaic, we can draw no conclusions about the nominative vs the vocative? Is that right? OK, what language was Thomas speaking in, MS?

MS:  No, my point is that it is only one example and it seemed to me that you were making a broad general statement based on one example alone.

ROBERT:  Well, MS, you DID mention translating from the Aramaic as though it had some bearing on the issue as well.

RH: Harris quotes several scholars who see John's use of hO KURIOS owing something to the Semitic vocative (_Jesus as God_, p. 108).

MS:  I enjoy some of the points Harris makes!

ROBERT:  And the scholars he quotes?

RH: With regard to examples, I wonder how carefully you read my posts, MS. I said that Robertson had listed a number of examples, and I provided the reference to his big grammar. Compare the parallel accounts of the woman who reached out and touched the hem of Jesus' garment (Matt 9:22; Mk 5:34; Luke 8:48). The noun "daughter" is "thyga'teer" in the nominative sing (eta in the ending, and penult accented), but "thy'gater" in the vocative (epsilon in the ending, and antepenult accented). Keeping in mind that these are parllel accounts of the same event, and all these writers were inspired, note what happens from once account to the next. In Matthew's account "Thy'gater" is vocative and preceded by the verb "eipen", but in both Mark's and Luke's account the same noun is presented in the nominative "thyga'teer"...even though direct address is presented in all three accounts. This change cannot be accounted for by just a simple change of a single character in the ultima either, for notice that the accent also changes and this could be done only with conscious deliberation.

Direct address (vocative) occurs several times in John's Gospel, sometimes with Jesus using the nominative singular for Father "pateer" (eta in the ultima and also the accent), but at other places using the vocative "pa'ter" (epsilon in the ultima and the accent over the penult). For example in John 12:38, in praying Jesus uses the vocative "pa'ter". Also in John 17:1,5, & 11. But later in John 17, Jesus still in direct address uses the nominative "pateer'", for example in 17:21, 24, & 25. And the same point applies here with regard to the conscious deliberation in the changing of the accent.

Finally, MS, you really didn't engage my argument that your examples of combined forms in a single passage actually argues for the transparency with which the NT writers viewed the forms with regard to lexis and reference.

MS:  I think I have provide more on this in this post. If not, let me know. There is no doubt that the enigmatic statement that Thomas made is very much without parallels if it indeed is a confession that Jesus is the Lord God.

ROBERT:  MS, I may have missed it, but did you provide any evidence at all that the nominative of address is NOT the same semantically or referentially than the vocative? - it is rather a key element of your argument.  I have now provided specific references, in addition to those cited by Robinson, in which the NT writers (and Jesus Himself!) do not discriminate between the two forms of address.  And I have agreed that the statement is unique (with reference to Jesus), but this in and of itself does not prove that Thomas didn't address it to Jesus, in light of the surrounding context which makes it clear that he did.

RH: Look at how you're trying to make your case. You running all over the Bible, trying to show that the plain meaning of APEKRITHE...EIPEN AUTW(i) is not the true meaning of this text. Why don't you just show me grammatically how it's possible that a phrase following EIPEN AUTW(i) is NOT addressed to the referent of AUTW(i). Of course AUTWi is not NEEDED when making an address, MS. I never said it was. But when it's present, as it is here, it makes it clear to whom the address is directed.

MS:  I think it makes clear to whom the person is speaking, not addressing. Think about it. Jesus taught Thomas to pray to the Father in his name, right? That's what we do. Well, how would you pray to the Father in Jesus' presence? Since Jesus was resurrected Thomas was under obligation to include the Son in his exclamation to the Father, was he not? (cf John 14:11-6)

ROBERT:  Again, you argue for a distinction between "speaking to" and "addressing," which you have not demonstrated exists.  If I were to pray to the Father in Jesus' presence, I'd ADDRESS the Father explictly, "Father....", just as Jesus taught his disciples, and conclude with "through Jesus Christ my Lord."  Catch the word "through," MS?  We come to the Father THROUGH Jesus, not TO Jesus.  Had Thomas addressed the Father through Jesus, John would have told us in plain language, just as plain as Jesus' language.  That he didn't, that he did not include any qualifying vocative to the Father, that there is no mention of the Father in this context at all, that we lack any lexical/grammatical evidence that a "spoke to/addressed to" distinction even exists, makes your assertion speculative at best.

The WTS frowns on relative worship, doesn't it?  I fail to see the distinction between worshipping Jehovah through his Son and "addressing" Jehovah through his Son.  Do you pray to the Father by speaking to Jesus, or do you pray to the Father by addressing Jehovah through Jesus?  Perhaps you could clarify this point for me?

RH:  MS, please. My argument is based in the meaning of APEKRITHE...EIPEN AUTW(i). I've discussed how AUTW(i) is dative, and means "to him." How is this NOT a grammatical argument? EIPON is a 2nd aorist of lego, and commonly uses the dative in narratives, whether implied or expressed, but not always (cf., John 8:55). So when John follows EIPEN with the dative AUTW(i), he is not merely conforming with grammar, but is using the dative for emphasis: "said TO." All you can prove is that Thomas may have addressed Jesus in a unique way - not that Thomas didn't address Jesus at all. And by "unique," I mean in terms of how Jesus was ADDRESSED, for he was CALLED THEOS and KURIOS, and the nominative of address is precedented by Ps 35:23 (34:23 LXX) and Rev 4:11. Simply because the referent in the two precedents was the Father does not DICTATE that it is the Father here. It may, however, indicate the new role Jesus had taken in Thomas' devotion.

MS:  A new role like mediator for example? As I explained above Thomas would now have greater appreciation that Jesus was the "way" to the Father. (cf John 14:1-6)

ROBERT:  MS, you asserted that my argument was based solely on statistics, just as yours is.  I had been resting my argument PRIMARILY on grammar, and I elaborated, above.  Since you did not directly respond to this point, I hope you now see that my argument rests largely on grammar (though I have presented other evidence, including statistical evidence, as well).  I'm sure Thomas did have a greater appreciation for Christ's role as mediator, but that doesn't overthrow John's careful wording of this passage.  MS, the entire exchange between Jesus and Thomas is presented by John as a DIALOG.  There are clear markers in the text indicating who is speaking to whom.  You have presented no evidence that a distinction exists between "spoken to" and "addressed."  I don't think such evidence exists, and it seems unreasonable to conclude that Jesus cannot be the focus of address on the the marginal evidence you have as yet provided.  Since the "spoken to/addressed

RH:  No, it is a contextual one, MS. If Gideon is reported to say, "O Lord!" but we have no indication in the text that he said this TO the angel (who isn't even there!), arguing that he is speaking to the Angel fails to take context into account.

MS:  I was referring to you continued appeal to the use of EIPEN AUTWi, etc. It is not ungrammatical for Thomas to speak to Jesus but address the Father, so you argument MUST not be grammatical.

ROBERT:  You had written:  "However, the account at Judges 8:22 does prove that someone could reverently say to the effect "My God" due to a suprise like seeing a miracle, even if no one was present. I could even make a case for this being directly towards the last person Gideon was speaking to. If an angel could do a miracle and then disapear it seems probable he could still hear what Gideon had to say to him with the last remark of the converstation."

I responded that unless there were words similar to APEKRITHE...EIPEN AUTW(i), your case would be hard to prove indeed.  You accused me of making a purely statistical argument.  Not so.  I was merely pointing out to you that if the context does not indicate that Gideon is speaking to the angel (now departed), you'd have a hard time proving that he was.  Of course, Gideon is addressing his God.  At least God thought so, since He answers in the next verse ;-).

Since it seems self-evident to me that one is addressing the person one is speaking to, and since you have offered no evidence to encourage me to abandon that presupposition, I continue to appeal the GRAMMAR of EIPEN AUTW(i), that the plain meaning of the text is that Thomas "answered...and said to him (Jesus)."

MS:  "Contextual" is a catch-all phrase which means something different to everyone.

ROBERT:  I disagree.  I think most of the folks I've discussed the Bible with, including most Witnesses, generally agree on what "contextual" means.  Even if there are some who do not, I have been very clear about what I mean by the context, haven't I?  Haven't I repeatedly appealed to the DIALOG that is occurring, and the specific language John uses to introduce Thomas' words?

MS:  If it is not ungrammatical then your only valid argument based on the Greek text is statistical.

ROBERT:  This is not true, MS.  Your argument (at least this version of it) is that someone may actually "address" one person while speaking to another.  I see no indication in any of the Greek Grammars I have consulted that such a distinction is explictly or implicitly defined, and you have cited none.  I see no indication in the lexical meaning of APOKRINOMAI or EIPON or AUTOS that such a distinction is explicitly or implicitly referenced, and you have not provided evidence to the contrary.  So, MS, your argument rests on an unproven semantic meaning or grammatical form - the "relative" address (spoken to another) - at least, you have not provided any grammatical/lexical evidence to support it's existence.  I am not arguing statiscially that your argument is unlikely; I am arguing that you have not proven your primary assertion at all.

RH: I wouldn't term it a "lack" of the vocative. The vocative is expressed in the nominative, and is signalled by EIPEN AUTW(i). Bibleworks uses Friberg semantic tags, doesn't it? What tag to they assign to KURIOS and THEOS in this verse? Why would the context be "awkward" without AUTW(i)? EIPEN doesn't require the dative, and can stand on it's own just fine. In fact, if John left AUTW(i) out, it might have made your case a bit more secure. Thomas would have simply SAID (to noone in particular, you might plausibly argue) "My Lord and my God." As it stands, the nominative of address is clearly signaled by AUTW(i), and designates to whom the address was directed.

MS:  I am speaking of morphology. My recent analysis of all the instances of QEOS MOU shows that in direct address for a great majority of the time a personal pronoun like SU is used with or without the verb EIMI. This is precisely what John 20:28 is lacking. I just looked at all the examples in the NT where KURIOS and QEOS are used together and tagged as vocative by Friberg and guess what? .... They all have the second personal pronoun SU/SOU/SOI and one has EI in addition. This shows just how unusual John 20:28 would be if it is to be interpreted as you say ... a lonely exception to the rule.

ROBERT:  MS, you didn't answer my question at all.  You had said that John used AUTW(i) because the verse would have been "awkward" without it.  I asked you why?  Instead of anwering me on grammatical grounds, you throw more statistics at me, with your own idiosyncratic interpretation of them.  I've been trying to show you all along, MS, that statistics may be bent a number of different ways, and you seem to bring at least as many presuppositions to them as you do the Bible itself.  MS, based on what you just said, John 20:28 would be UNUSUAL no matter WHO it was directed to!  If all other occurences of KURIOS/THEOS include the second person pronoun, and this one doesn't, it is unique in that regard, no matter who it is addressed to.  I could just as easily say the uniqueness is BECAUSE it is directed to the Son, and not the Father, as are all other occurances.

Only one has EI?  Then 99% of your statistics disprove your argument that we should expect SU EI here if Thomas were calling Jesus his God, as John says he is.  Rahner, says KURIOS/THEOS in John 20:28 has a "predicative sense," so if you insist that they must be appear as predicate nominatives to be ascribed to the one spoken to, if effect, they are - according to your own authority!

Statistics aside, the function of "SU" is to provide the subject or object (direct or indirect) of a sentence.  When a title is used to address someone (hUIOS DAUID, for example), there is no need to supply SU or SU EI.  You wouldn't argue that since the angel did not say "YOU ARE Son of David" to Joseph, and since that title is elsewhere in the NT only applied to Jesus, that Joseph was not being addressed or called by that title, would you? (SOU appears in Mat 1:20 in reference to "your wife," not to the title).  The "lack" of SU is no lack at all, MS.  John is very clear about who is being addressed, and to whom Thomas is ascribing the titles.

I don't see how AUTW(i) would make that verse any less awkward - indeed, for your case, it makes it much more awkward, for had Thomas simply "Answered and said..." you could plausibly argue that Thomas uttered a reverent exclamation to no one in particular, or to the Father.  Instead, that dative AUTOS is staring you in the face, and you must posit a relative form of address you have as yet to prove even exists.

RH: So, if my count is correct, you now have posited 4 explanations for Thomas' words, all designed to deny it's clear meaning: 1) Thomas is speaking to Jesus, but addressing God. 2) Thomas is making a prayerful exclamation. 3) Thomas is calling Jesus his God, but not in an absolute sense. 4) Thomas is addressing both Father and Son.  You may not be dogmatic about what the verse means, but you sure seem to be with regard to what it DOESN'T mean! ;-)

MS:  Looking at the footnote to the NET bible it appears that this is standard exegetical practice. Actually, I have provided a great more detail recently than has the NET on this subject :)

ROBERT:  OK, MS, if say you're sincerely trying to follow sound exegetical practice, I'll take you at your word.  I hope you can see, though, that from this side of the debate, it has not appeared that way.   You began this discussion arguing that it was not clear that John 20:28 was a "direct address to Jesus" (post "Judges 6:22 and John 20:28", dated 9/15/2000).  I took this to mean that you denied that John 20:28 was vocatival at all.  Then you said Thomas was speaking to Jesus but addressing the Father ("John 20:28 and Statistics", dated 9/17/2000), admitting the vocative, but introducing the notion that one could speak to one person but address another; and then you added 3 additional possibilities ("Robert: John 20:28 and Statistics", dated 9/20/2000), and one more in your most recent post.  This APPEARS to be a scatter-shot approach to apologetics, rather than coherent exegesis, but perhaps this is just an artifact of the way our discussion has developed.

RH:  There is no indication in the words spoken by Thomas nor in Jesus' reply that Thomas is addressing two persons. KAI links the two nouns, and there is no distinguishing reference to Jesus or the Father on either side of it. While KURIE KAI THEOS may be a more common way to join the two nouns, both KURIOS and THEOS, when joined by KAI always refer to the same person (yes, that's a statistical argument). In the two verses that provide the closest parallels (Ps 34:23 LXX and Rev 4:11), one person is in view. Again, there is no difference semantically or referentially between vocative and nominative of address (that's a grammatical argument).

MS:  Thomas was specifically told by Jesus (John 14:1-6) that BOTH the Father and Son were to be his objects of PISTEUW.

ROBERT:  And where did Jesus say they were to speak to him when addressing the Father? ;-)  How can you posit two persons are being addressed when the two closest grammatical parallels have only one?  Indeed, since you have all the data on all combinations of KURIOS and THEOS, please tell me how many address two persons?  (Yes, another statistical argument; I know how you enjoy them! ;-)  ).

MS:  Also, I know you have been making statistical arguments all along :)

ROBERT:  Hah!  Yes, in part.  But what about my point that there is no semantic or referential distinction between the nominative of address and the vocative?

RH:  Harris calls this comment "curious" and I agree. How an exclamation can be "directed to Jesus" but not be addressed to him is quite beyond me. Sounds like having one's cake and eating it, too.

MS:  Notice that neither Harris or Wallace say it is not possible or ungrammatical.

ROBERT:  Another attempt to prove something from a negative?  MS, arguments from silence prove nothing.  Neither Harris nor Wallace say it IS grammatically possible to speak to one person while addressing another, nor that such a form of address even exists.  Harris says that Winer's statement is "curious," and by that I take him to mean exactly the same point I've raised to you: namely, the non-distinction between "spoke to" and "addressed."  Winer's statement is not based on grammar in any case.

MS:  As I said before, EVERYTHING we express to the Father is to be done through Jesus. As sinful humans it must be that way.

ROBERT:  Yes, but that doesn't preclude Thomas speaking/addressing Jesus directly.  Since that's what John says Thomas did, I'm happy to take John at his word.

RH: Yes, the footnote uses the term "exclamation," but it's obvious from the context that the author of the note views that exclamation as being directed to Jesus. "Does not provide an argument against...?" MS, you know that arguments from silence prove nothing, right? There's no argument there that Thomas is NOT speaking to Jesus, either. So what? I'm not sure Winer "proves" a grammatical possibility at all - he does admit the phrase is "directed to Jesus," regardless of what he means by exclamation. Your quote doesn't prove that Winer thought the "addressee" was the Father, or no one, either! His argument is not based on grammar, but on extra-Biblical uses of the nominative of address as an "exclamation." Finally, even if you have a "grammatical possibility," you need far more that a possibility when faced with the clear meaning of "Answered...and said TO HIM."

MS:  See Rahner below.

ROBERT:  OK, please see my comments there, as well.

RH: You know what Rahner is getting at here, right? He's trying to say that THEOS is not used as the SUBJECT of a sentence in reference to Christ. If Christ is called THEOS predicatively, he's still being called God, MS. Rahner would have us infer a subject, which can only be "You are" in this case, since Jesus is the one spoken to.

MS:  He states his reason for quoting the grammar. He ways it CANNOT be used as EVIDENCE that "the god" refers to Christ. This means that in his view it cannot be used as proof that Thomas called Jesus the Almighty God.

ROBERT:  MS, I don't mean this in a sarcastic way, but have you read Rahner?  If you have, I can't see how you could make this statement.  Here's what he says just prior to your quote:  "In some few texts THEOS is also used of the Son....In Jn 20:28 Thomas says to the resurrected Christ, hO KURIOS MOU KAI hO THEOS MOU" (p. 135).  He continues: "Thus we have six texts in which the reality of the divine nature in Christ is expressed by the predicate THEOS" (p. 136).  Rahner's argument is somewhat complex, and we need not delve too deeply at this time.  In brief, he argues that conventionally hO THEOS is used in the NT to signify the Father.  THEOS is applied to Jesus in several passages (and Rahner says his Deity is established in a number of other texts as well), but never as a SUBJECT (this is his point about 20:28 being "predicative").  Thus, Rahner concludes: "in the greater number of texts hO THEOS refers to the Father as a Person of the Trinity....Besides this, there are six complete texts in which hO THEOS is used to speak of the Second Person of the Trinity, but still in a hesitant and obviously restricted way (the restriction is concerned of course not with the reality but with the use of the word)" (p. 143).  See, MS?  Rahner says the restriction is not in terms of "reality," but only in terms of usage.  That John 20:28 is one of the six texts mentioned is clear:  "Originally it [hO THEOS] is associated with the Father and thus primarily signifies him alone; it is only slowly, as it were shyly and cautiously, that the expression is detached from him and evolves in such as way that a few texts (Jn 20:28; Rom 9:5; 1 Jn 5:20) venture to use it of Christ" (p. 138).

I hope you now see that Rahner, in fact, DOES use John 20:28 as evidence that "hO THEOS" refers to Christ and ascribes full Deity to him.  Rahner's concern in the footnote you cited is to ensure that we don't assume that Christ is being called hO THEOS by Thomas as the SUBJECT of the sentence (in fact, the word "subject" is in italics in the original).  Rahner's view is that the predicative use of THEOS preserves the distinction between the Father and the Son, while still ascribing full Deity to the latter.

RH: You avoided my question, MS. How many Gods does Thomas have?

MS:  There is one true God and Jesus does not exhaust the category of true God for a Trinitarian.

ROBERT:  But Jehovah does exhaust this category for the Witness, does it not?

MS:  My opinion is that Thomas most likely addressed the Father as hO QEOS here.  Therefore it is my position that Thomas addressed hO QEOS in His entirety, not merely the second person of hO QEOS.

ROBERT:  MS, the inherent presupposition in this statement is that hO THEOS "in his entirety" (whatever that may mean) is the Father.  Of course if you approach the text with a unitarian presupposition, you must deny that Thomas calls Jesus his God.  However, to state that as a proof that Thomas is not speaking to the Father is simply to restate your presupposition - that is, to beg the question.

MS:  You see, I don't think you realize that in your view Thomas is not addressing 66.667% of hO QEOS! Jesus made it clear at John 20:17 that his God was the God of Thomas and that this was the Father. He did not qualify it as in the Father is the first person of a total of three who are God as you do.

ROBERT:  MS, I don't think you realize that you are making a strawman argument.  No Trinitarian I'm aware of argues that God may be divided into thirds.  Perhaps you have a creedal statement you could cite to that affect?  As I said above, the only thing that can be proven about what the NT writers didn't write is that they didn't write it.  I think it more profitable to address what the NT writers DID write, and John writes that Thomas calls Jesus his God.

MS:  It seems obvious to me that when Wallace cautions against a particular interpretation of the literal meaning in a text like this that has such importance for Christology and which would weaken the Trinitarian interpretation that it is exactly as it seems to me.

ROBERT:  Well, MS, the "literal meaning" that Wallace is "cautioning" us about is that Thomas POSSESSED or OWNED his Lord and God.  If it "seems" to you otherwise, you're welcome to your opinion, but remember that a credible appeal to authority reflects the authority's opinion, not yours.  Just to make sure I was reading Wallace correctly, I emailed him and asked him for clarification.   I presented your entire argument, including your quote from the ExeSyn, as well as my response.  Here's his reply:  "You are absolutely correct that he has applied eisegesis to my comments. I fail to see how he could possibly understand what I wrote as meaning what he said!  As Texans are fond of saying, that dawg won't hunt!"

So, MS, as with Harris and Rahner, you have misunderstood what the scholar in question is actually saying.  The authority you cite to support your position actually supports mine.  Appeal denied ;-)

RH: He is discussing the aspects of the possessive genitive, and saying that while often it indicates simple possession (Thomas literally says "the hands of me," meaning his hands - the ones that belong to him), there are copious examples where the idea of POSSESSION or OWNERSHIP is not to be pressed. Thus, the Lord is not Thomas' in the sense the He is "fully owned by Thomas." Wallace says that in a "broad sense," Thomas is calling Jesus his God because Jesus "belongs to Thomas now in a way not true before." Thomas doesn't OWN Jesus, but he is now claiming Him as His God as he had not claimed before.

MS:  Yes, but it could also be used to show that MOU limits QEOS here if it is referred to Jesus. It could, for example be a reference to hO LOGOS, and not hO QEOS.

ROBERT:  If it "could," Wallace doesn't say so.  MOU does not "limit" the titles KURIOS and THEOS, but instead makes them intensely personal.  In fact, Wallace says that Jesus "belongs to Thomas in a way not true before."  If we are not to press the idea of possession too far, this statement could only mean that Thomas fully embraces Jesus as his God ("my OWN God"), and the only way he could do so without breaking the first Commandment is if Jesus were True God.

Kind regards,


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