Thursday, September 10, 2015

John 20:28-Further Reflections

[Written a number of years ago, but somewhat edited now]

Maybe Jesus did not correct Thomas in John 20:28ff because the apostle did not render "worship" to him, but rather just acknowledged him as God's Shaliach (in so many words). While it is possible that John used a nominative Ὁ Κύριός and ὁ Θεός for the vocative forms κύριε and θεέ, Max Zerwick observes that the construction Ὁ Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου is "nom. w. art. for voc. sec. 34; if not rather an exclamation" (A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament)

While I have traditionally tended to view Ὁ Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου as an example of one NT writer employing nominatives for vocatives, I now think that there is good evidence for possibly understanding this construction as a nominative of exclamation. Firstly, out of the approximately 88 times that Jesus is addressed as "Lord" in Scripture, the vocative form κύριε is utilized. Never is Κύριός used when Jesus is addressed--Jn 20:28 would be the only exception. Moreover, the papyrological evidence also tends to favor the nominative of exclamation idea. Κύριός (as a nominative of address) is not used in the papyri, as far as I know, when one person is addressing another. Even if Thomas called Jesus "my God and Lord" though, the text still does not present a genuine problem for Jehovah's Witnesses in view of how ELOHIM/QEOS is used elsewhere in Scripture and extra-biblical writings.


Sean Killackey said...

In my emails with J. P. Holding, where my original points have yet to be answered sufficiently and therefore remain viable against the Trinity, I have brought up that if Jesus cannot be God, then so many proof texts would fall. Yet if you accept the proof texts, like this that seem to ID him as God (though again their are viable alternative interpretations) you seem to have to accept Modalism or Tritheism, for how can all be God, and yet each by himself?

I don't know if you've seen the posts recently, but I also brought that if they say Lord is the same as God and that Lord is Jehovah (though Trinitarains seem to blend the title Lord with the LORD that stands in for Jehovah into one hybrid title-name) then it is hard to see how Jesus being Lord could be abstract. Which would again leave the original problem.

They are quick to argue that John 20:28, or John 8:58 proves that he is Jehovah, but when they are confronted with the logical problem that at first seemed so easily dismissed (thee cannot equal one, though expressed differently now) they are quick to deny that Jesus is actually GOD.

How can you say that Arians (are those who you brand as such) are heretics for denying the Deity of Christ? J. P. Holding argues that it is not that God is (more) divine that differentiates him from the angels (it is what he can and does do), so if the deity of Jesus is his divinity (which is what J. P. Holding seems to think - I will ask for him to elaborate tomorrow) and that is the same as the angels, then how did Arius deny the deity of Christ, unless this deity, was actually the Godhood of Christ? Which if that is the case then the early Trinitarians agreed that Jesus is GOD, which would leave the problem in tact.

Edgar Foster said...

Hi Sean,

Holding and I have butted heads through the years, but he can be a nice guy too. But what he and other Trinitarians will say is that the word "God" refers to the divine substance which each person instantiates or to which each person bears an indentity relationship. They might illustrate how each person can be divine, but yet be a distinct person, by appealing to Peter, James, and John (all humans, but three distinct persons). The analogy has its own problems, but a Trinitarian might claim that all analogies are limited.

What Trinitarians mean when they deny that Jesus is God--usually--is that he's not the divine substance or he's not the Father, or he's not the whole of the godhead, but he's still fully divine (almighty, omniscience, omnipresent, etc).

If Holding is making the claims you mention above, then I would indeed be confused by his disagreement with Arius. Maybe he'll clarify what he means.

Duncan said...

Sean Killackey said...

However the divine nature is not the whole of God, for if it were it would be modalism where each was the whole of God. However, as W.G.T.S. says they are "each Trinitarian person is as great as the Trinity if the reference be had to essence, but not if reference be had to persons. Each person has the entire essence, and the Trinity has the entire essence. But each person has the essence with only one personal charactrstic; while the Trinity has the essence with all three personal characteristics. No Trinitarian person is as comprehensive as the triune Godhead."

Holding as says that God is not more divine than the angels (, so if his being divine comes from his diety/divinity, then Arius never truly denied it, which is ludicrious, which is why the deity of Christ is that he is GOD, which is why their is a problem to begin with. I will wait for clairification on what is meant by that. What do you think, is Jehovah more divine than the angels? I do.

Also J. P. Holding has been quite cordial, though I don't think he has done a good job in answering my points, hence why I asked that he email Mr. Paulson, who proposed an interesting idea, but one which I think has a flaw in that it doesn't really have much to do with the Trinity. See for yourself if you wish, Edgar ( I will respond this evening, or tomorrow morning.

Edgar Foster said...

From wehat I remember, Trinitarians normally try to avoid the problem you mention regarding the divine essence by arguing that the persons are "virtually" identical to the divine essence, not identical in the absolute sense. This problem was heavily discussed in the Middle Ages. It was concluded (as Augustine had previously written) that each divine person is not identical with another divine person in the godhead, but there does remain a point of identity with the godhead itself (in terms of divine attributes).

Yes, I do believe that Jehovah is more divine than the angels; and most theologians and believers that I know (beloning to almost any church) would agree. So I'm not sure what Holding is suggesting.

I like Matt and James, but I don't want to enter a fray with either gentleman at present. But I must say that Matt's answer doesn't seem to be an attempt to show the plausibility of the Trinity, but it looks like he's trying to demonstrate why the doctrine is not unreasonable--because it eludes human comprehension. So Calvin spoke concerning double predestination: it's a mystery. I don't see an answer there as to how three persons can be one God.


Anonymous said...

"And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in me, does not believe in me but in Him who sent me. He who sees me sees Him who sent me" - John 12:44-45

A couple of videos for you on this topic...

John 20:28 & The Blind Guides

John 20:28 & The Failure of Trinitarian Academia


Duncan said...

It's the either/or perspective I have a problem with. The overall context is set by John 6:46 & 14:9. It is Thomas & his understanding - light dawns. John 20:24, 25 14:9-11.

Yes Jesus is the agent but isn't the dawning of Thomas aimed at the agent's lesson & understanding the works.