For an Answer Home Mars Hill  Index Bibliography Glossary
The Bible Gateway The Blue Letter Bible The Greek New Testament (NA26) Greek & Hebrew Lexicons

powered by FreeFind

Mars Hill  Apologetic Discussions



<< Previous Post

Response >>

To Robert: More on John 20:28 and Statistics


Hi Robert:


Nice try :) ... but Jesus was NEVER addressed with the "nominative of address" by ANYONE in the GNT and the Father WAS addressed at least once at Revelation 4:11 with a similar form.

Therefore our phrase from John 20:28 is used only once in the GNT in a completely different context and not in isolation. This fact favors the interpretation that the phrase is an exclamation similar to the one "K" mentioned when he said:

I hope you gentlemen don't mind my butting in, but, oh well, here I go (()) My Grandfather died a few years ago. If I get to see him resurrected, would it be unusual for me, at that very first moment when I realize he's standing before me, to exclaim: Oh my god, Grandpa, it's really you! Now, the question is, did I call my Grandpa "oh my God"?

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.  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...;-)

The reason I left so much of the raw data visible was to allow for more discussion of the different phrases, otherwise I could have given the statistics and left it at that.  And so when we analyze the data we find that not only did Thomas use two words (KURIOS and QEOS) that had never been used before in reference to Jesus, but he used them in a different way than was normally used to address the Father as well, even if we limit our examples to the NT.

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.

Sometimes in order to analyze what a writer said it is often necessary to determine HOW he could have said it using a different phrase. This is particularly applicable here when one considers that if Thomas had answered and said to Jesus KURIE hO QEOS MOU we would not be having this discussion at all! This is because when one looks at the statistics using only the NT it becomes clear that when someone is being addressed with a divine title that contains both KURIOS and QEOS (leaving out John 20:28) the odds are in favor 3 to 1 that KURIE hO QEOS would be used. This latter phrase also has the distinction of combining the form of KURIOS used exclusively used for direct address to Jesus by the disciples with QEOS in a way that makes the phrase completely unambiguous. The other way that this text could have been expressed is found also in the book of John with an expression by Nathanael at John 1:49 where he prefaces his statement with SU EI (you are) as in "you are the Son of God" (cf John 20:31).

The following footnote is from the NET bible to which I understand Dan Wallace has contributed. Many of the footnotes are also in his Exegetical Syntax. The following is from John 20:28:

Should Thomas’ exclamation be understood as two subjects with the rest of the sentence omitted (“My Lord and my God has truly risen from the dead”), as predicate nominatives (“You are my Lord and my God”), or as vocatives (“My Lord and my God!”)? Probably the most likely is something between the second and third alternatives. It seems that the second is slightly more likely here, because the context appears confessional. Thomas’ statement, while it may have been an exclamation, does in fact confess the faith which he had previously lacked, and Jesus responds to Thomas’ statement in the following verse as if it were a confession. With the proclamation by Thomas here, it is difficult to see how any more profound analysis of Jesus’ person could be given. It echoes 1:1 and 1:14 together: the Word was God, and the Word became flesh (Jesus of Nazareth). The Fourth Gospel opened with many other titles for Jesus: the Lamb of God (1:29, 36); the Son of God (1:34, 49); Rabbi (1:38); Messiah (1:41); the King of Israel (1:49); the Son of Man (1:51). Now the climax is reached with the proclamation by Thomas, “My Lord and my God,” and the reader has come full circle from 1:1, where the author had introduced him to who Jesus was, to 20:28, where the last of the disciples has come to the full realization of who Jesus was. What Jesus had predicted in John 8:28 had come to pass: “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he” (Grk “I am”). By being lifted up in crucifixion (which led in turn to his death, resurrection, and exaltation with the Father) Jesus has revealed his true identity as both Lord (kuvrio" [kurios], used by the LXX to translate Yahweh) and God (qeov" [qeos], used by the LXX to translate Elohim). [e.a.]

Therefore, Wallace does make a comparison specifically to the LXX usage of KURIOS and QEOS. The statistics when looking at just the NT alone favors the interpretation that Thomas either did not directly address ANYONE (ie a joyful exclamation), or that the odds are slightly in favor of addressing the Father. When the LXX evidence is added the statistics favor this even more.

Interestingly, of the instances of QEOS used as vocative, both the LXX and the GNT have almost the exact same percentage, about 20%. In addition the use of KURIOS as vocative is exceedingly rare in both as well. I found one example of both KURIOS and QEOS used together in Stafford's Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, page 353. The reason I missed it is that BibleWorks had not tagged either the QEOS or KURIOS in that verse as vocative.

I think that when we look closer at the forms of address used of God, what Thomas said is definitely both an outlier and ambiguous. While both forms are used, they are used in a markedly different way that in either the LXX or the GNT. What statistics do you have with respects to two parallel accounts, one with vocative and one with nominative? I hope you statement is not based on the sole example of QEE in the GNT which is translated into Greek from Aramaic.

It looked to me like the Septuagint always clearly distinguished between the angel of Jehovah and Jehovah, and that the MT included a YHWH or two in the passage (although in the NWT the footnote references the LXX). If you are adamant that the phrase APEKRITHE ... EIPEN AUTW(i) be exactly duplicated in any text that we use as a parallel to John 20:28 or even that AUTWi/AUTOUS be used then I don't see that the Hebrew can be used at all.  In another search I checked to see how often AUTWi was used with KURIE in the GNT I found that it was only present 42 times out of a total of 107. This clearly shows that AUTWi is not needed at all when making a direct address.

In addition I do think that your argument based on the occurrence IS statistically based because you are not making a grammatical argument at all. If you said that you did not think it was grammatically possible based on some legitimate rule of grammar then it would be different. Even Wallace does not do this. He buttresses his example with the statement which emphasizes the narrow set of statistics of how often in the NT "God" is addressed with QEE. However, even in the NT 60% of the time when QEOS is used as an address it is either QEE or accompanied by KURIE, not KURIOS.

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:  I don't think I made that argument at all, for I limited my comments to the Greek of the LXX. I have not compared the Hebrew and the Greek as yet. Also I think that it matters not so much who Gideon was actually addressing but who he thought he was addressing. Gideon did not find out it was an angel until after the angel disappeared. If the MT has Gideon calling someone Jehovah that he had not yet realized was even an angel, then we have quite a conundrum, don't we?

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 eariler.  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:  That is a statistically based argument, not a grammatical or contextual one.

Perhaps at John 20:28 those words are used PRECISELY because the vocative is missing. The lack of any vocative in this context and the lack of AUTWi may have been awkward. Remember, Thomas did not say AUTWi, John added it. I believe that he explains why at John 20:31 :).

One cannot ignore that the sentence in verse 30-31 which contains the word PISTEUW twice which is a reference to the usage in the passage which just was completed!

Although I can see what I wrote was ambiguous, I meant that in this scenario, the exclamation of KURIOS was meant for Jesus while the exclamation of hO QEOS MOU! was meant for the Father. 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.

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:  Convinced of what?  If Thomas had just then at that point realized that he was standing face to face with Jehovah God, why is it that no one ever bothered to tell him that before? And if all of them had just found out at that same point that Jesus really is Jehovah, why is it the only thing that you read is this short statement "The Lord of me and the God of me?" And we see nothing else about it in the rest of the bible. It would have to be the single most IMPORTANT REVELATION in the scriptures and yet we don't see it recorded as such.

Winer states on this expression that: "On the other hand, Jno. xx. 28, although directed to Jesus (EIPEN AUTWi) is rather exclamation than address; and, in the Greek authors, such a Nom. has early and strong prominence. (Bhdy. as above, Kru. 12). (Winer 183)

The footnote to the NET which is influenced by Wallace says that the expression is an exclamation and does not provide an argument against the possibility that it was not addressed to Jesus. The fact that Winer makes this statement is proof that it is a grammatical possibility.

Karl Rahner, S.J., Theological Investigations, Vol. i, p. 136 says:
The article in Jn 20:28 is explained by the MOU which normally requires the article before it; by its use with the vocative [case]...and by its presence in the established formula ‘the lord and the god’...It should be further noted that ‘the god of me’, whether it is taken as vocative or nominative, is predicative in sense and so cannot be used as evidence either way to show whether the god in New Testament usage ever appears as subject of a statement referring to Christ.”

Wallace has an interesting comment on the possessive MOU used with respects to Jesus and QEOS. He says:

The idea of possession in such expressions is not to be pressed in the sense that the Lord owned fully by Thomas. But in a broad sense, the Lord belongs to Thomas-now, on this occasion, in a way not true before. (Wallace 82, Possessive Genitive [belonged to, possessed by]

Apparently he sees a problem with the Trinitarian interpretation while accepting the normal usage of the Greek possessive. The genitive serves to limit and therefore if interpreted as we do other genitives in this type of construction it limits the application of QEOS to Jesus if we interpret that Thomas is calling Jesus QEOS. This means that he is being called QEOS in a different sense than if Thomas had said he was KURIE hO QEOS hO PANTWKRATHR or "The Lord God the Almighty" as the phrase is used in Revelation.



<< Previous

Response >>

Return to Robert - MS John 20:28 Index