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To MS Re: John 20:28 and Statistics


Hi MS,

Very impressive!  Would you mind telling me what tool you used to gather these statistics?  Grammcord?  Bibleworks?

I'd like to reiterate my view that statistics can be interpreted almost as many ways as the Bible itself.  Depending on how one positions the data, differing conclusions can be reached.  Your conclusion that when Jews address their God, they almost always use "a form of the vocative," for example, could ligitimately be cut quite differently that you would like it to, viz:

Jews almost always address God (meaning the Father) using a form of the vocative.
Thomas uses the nominative of address in John 20:28
Therefore, it is unlikely that Thomas is addressing the Father.  If not, EIPEN AUTW(i) points to him addressing Jesus.

You wrote:

MS:  Needless to say, I think the statement that Wallace makes is very deceiving.

ROBERT:  I'd suggest you take up your complaint with him - I think you can get in touch with him through the DTS website (  First of all, he clearly is dealing with the NT only, so your statistics from the LXX are "interesting," but may or may not be relavent to the discussion.  I've not studied enough to know if there was a tendancy away from the vocative during the 300-odd years between the LXX and the NT.  Certainly using a statistical model of modern English usage based largely on 18th Century texts would be questionable.  Secondly, I suspect he's dealing with THEOS, though your point about KURIOS is well taken.  It would be interesting to see Dan's response to a question in that area.

Now, a significant percentage of your stats are passages that contain BOTH the nominative and the vocative, if I'm reading them correctly. Thus, I could just as easily argue that Jews "usually" address their God with "a form of" the nominative.  What would that prove?  I do think, though, the fact that so many passages contain both forms is significant in supporting my argument that the inspired writers didn't care too much about which form of address they used.  As I said, the fact that often a passage containing the vocative is paralleled in another gospel with the nominative, and the lack of contrary grammatical evidence, suggests that there is no semantic or referential distinction between the two modes of address.

MS:  In addition, even the argument that you use with respects to the EIPEN AUTWi is statistically based. So I suppose that although I think I could find a few instances which would at least satisfy me that someone is speaking to someone else but addressing God (like the one given by twocents) the statistics are split between our two positions, but in different ways.

ROBERT:  No, my argument is not based on statistics - though I did ask about other examples.  MS, my argument is based on the meaning of the words in the passage:  APEKRITHE...EIPEN AUTW(i).  The example two-cents offered is interesting, but not parallel at all:  The Angel of the Lord is addressed as Jehovah; even Witnesses agree to this, right?  You interpret it as the Angel REPRESENTING Jehovah, just as Christ is representing Him.  So, two-cents' example actually supports the idea that Jesus is addressing Christ as "my God."  The question, then, is what does "my God" really mean?  Is it equivalent to calling Christ by the divine Name in a representational way?  As you mention this possibility, below, I'll address it further there.

MS:  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.

ROBERT:  Well, MS you could make the argument, but unless there were words equivalent to APEKRITHE...EIPEN AUTW(i), you wouldn't have much evidence to support it.

MS:  So what it comes down to is context.

ROBERT:  Precisely!

MS:  Not only does John 20:31 hurt your position, because it follows this even so closely, but it is clear that what Thomas came to believe was the same thing that the others came to believe and that was not that Jesus was God, but that he truly had been resurrected.

ROBERT:  No, MS, the CONTEXT is very clear.  Sorry for repeating myself, but you really haven't addressed this point at all - and I don't think you can surmount it (how's that for confidence? ;-)).  The IMMEDIATE context says that Thomas ANSWERED AND SAID TO HIM.  As I've stated twice before, v. 31 in no way undermines what John writes 3 verses earlier.  V. 31 is the "thesis statement" of John's entire Gospel - it is not an "exegesis" of v. 28.  There is no contradiction between v. 28 and v. 31 UNLESS you presuppose that the Son of God cannot be Thomas' God.

MS:  Furthermore, there is also the option that two persons were being addressed with this statement.  Both Trinitarians and JW's teach that the Father, God does everything through the Son by means of the spirit.  It seems natural for Thomas to make an exclamation to both of them, if both were being addressed at one time. I am undecided as to how to take it. I may need to do more research.

ROBERT:  Well, if so, then Jesus is included in the statement "my God."  Both the Father and Jesus are Thomas' God, according to this view.  How many Gods does Thomas have, MS?

MS:  And then we also teach that we must not be dogmatic on this. It may be true that Thomas was calling Jesus his God. Even this does not mean that he felt that Jesus was equal to the Father as QEOS, for he knew that Jesus had one who was also positioned above him as his QEOS. (John 20:17)

ROBERT:  In what way could Thomas call Jesus his God without breaking the 1st Commandment?  Does Thomas have two  that are God to him?  How many do you have that are God to you, MS?

Have a great weekend, MS!


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