Saturday, November 28, 2015

John 20:28 and the Definite Article (C.F.D. Moule)

From page 116 in the 1953 Edition.


Duncan said...

Moule himself notes (page 117) that there may be an underlying Semitic idiom that can explain the use of the definite article in this instance. So it is really just conjecture on his part & I would not attach to much significance one way or the other.

dokimazo said...


I'm trying to figure out your intention or I should say Moule's.
I have a copy of this book and Moule seems to indicate a Trinitarian understanding whether articular or anarthrous. So whether or not the article means anything or not preceding the noun in 20.28 he still seems to maintain a Trinitarian view. I do like his reference to Philo deuteros theos and John 1.1 logos. All that being said to Moule the Nature of the theos in John 1.1 is to me a predisposed Nature of three persons.


Edgar Foster said...

Duncan, part of what Moule says here is not conjecture. He's probably right when he states that the construction in Jn 20:28 "could not be anarthrous" since it's possibly a nominative for vocative accompanied by a possessive.

We also have to consider how John uses or omits articles in other parts of the Fourth Gospel: John 1:18; 5:17, 31; 5:43; 6:51, 55; 10:18; 14:23 (etc).

Edgar Foster said...


My point is a little different one from Moule's, but I believe he's trying to determine or articulate whether certain anarthrous constructions are idiomatic, semantically important or whther we can explain texts like Jn 1:1; 20:28 some other way.

Duncan said...

Edgar, Agreed! - we can be reasonably confident of that point. Jewish commentators use the same argument but context is the controlling factor - Seeing (the son) & believing (in the father) is the thrust of the account so a polemic against Domitian is less probable, as is Angelology.

"it is clear that this alleged statement of Thomas' in no way refers to Jesus as the eternal god of Israel."

Duncan said...


I presume that you have read

Have you made any observations from it?

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan, I have read Segal, but have not written any observations on the book. Maybe one day.

dokimazo said...


So when Thomas says: "Ho kurios mou kai ho theos mou",the definite article really doesn't necessarily dictate who he was nor does the definite article play a necessary role in understanding the text. It is just perhaps as Moule says a sematic idiom of some sort. I would like to read more on the possibility of such statements with this construction as being idiomatic. And also your statement that, 'it is clear that this alleged statement of Thomas' in no way refers to the eternal god of Israel' Also just wondering did you mean not to capitalize 'god' in your statement.


Duncan said...


It is a direct quote from:-

'Trinity Doctrine Error: A Jewish Analysis' By Gerald Sigal

The google link provided shows the relevant section.

My typo - the book does use a Capital G (I am surprised that he does not use G-d).

IMO ho theos is in the Septuagint tradition. I cannot be certain about the specifics in grammar (this applies to many passages). Looking at the context is primary IMO.

The overall context militates against the Trinitarian claim where Jesus describes his Father as Mary's God, as opposed to himself, and John indicates that he writes this Gospel, including the account of Jesus and Thomas, not to tell us that Jesus is himself God but instead that Jesus is God's son:

We have seen the Lord. (20:25).

I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God. (20:17)

These things have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you may have life in His name. (20:31).

Since John writes that we might have life believing in the name of Jesus, one should also be reminded of Jesus' words at John 17:3, "Father.... this is eternal LIFE that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You sent."

John 12:44 He who BELIEVES in ME

[BELIEVES] in HIM who sent me.

John 12:45 He who SEES ME

SEES HIM who sent me

John 14:9 He who has SEEN ME


John 20:28 MY LORD

and MY GOD.

Duncan said...

This may be helpful

Professor Tessa Rajak - The Greek Translation of the Torah

Also came across this interesting comment which also has possible implications.

> Dear Liz,
> In this case I may supply some information. There are not many fragments
> the LXX from B.C.E. and the first century C.E., but in all extant
> the name of God is written as YHWH in old Hebrew characters, Aramaic
> characters, or as the Greek phonetic transcription
> IAW; it is never written KURIOS. In the LXX manuscripts from the middle of
> the
> second century C.E. we find the socalled "nomina sacra" - QS with a bar
> above where QEOS is expected and KS wirh a bar above where the
> tetragrammaton is expected (and other abbreviations as well). Thus, after
> C.E. (the date of the youngest
> LXX manuscript with YHWH) and before 150 C.E. the tetragrammaton and IAW
> were removed when manuscripts were copied and KS was written instead. The
> same nomina sacra are found in the oldest NT manuscripts, so a change of
> that text were made as well. A study of the oldest manuscripts of the
> Syro-Hexapla and their mariginal notes, suggests that the Syriac form PIPI
> was
> made when the LXX original had the tetragrammaton in Aramaic characters,
> and that the Syriac form HEHE was used when the LXX original had the
> tetragrammaton in old Hebrew characters. Thus, a situation similar to the
> one
> described in connection with the LXX and the NT is possible for the
> as well, i.e., the original Peshitta may have contained the
> but this was later removed and substituted with MRY.

Duncan said...

> It is generally believed that the tetragramaton was substituted by )DNY a
> long time before the C.E., and that it was no longer used in the first
> century C.E. However, evidence for this is lacking! We know that the
> community did not pronounce the name, but their
> substitute was )L and not ADNY. I am not aware of any evidence for the
> substitution of YHWH by )DNY in the B.C.E. or in the first century C.E. In
> the Tanakh God is referred to by )DNY YHWH, as YHWH, and as )DNY. This
> that both words are legitimate refrences to God, and to point to passages
> where )DNY is used with reference to God as evidence for non-use of YHWH
> a non-starter. What we must demonstrate is SUBSTITUTION, i.e., that )DNY
> some text is used when YHWH is expected. But such evidence is lacking.
> Therefore, we have the strange situation, that if the NT writers
> substituted YHWH with KURIUS, they did so (as far as we know) without any
> antecedent. In other words, when a NT writer should translate a Hebrew or
> Aramaic conversation between Jesus and others into Greek, the word )DNY as
> substitute for YHWH was not used in that conversation? So why then should
> the writer then use KURIOS? And similarly with qoutations: Both the Hebrew
> and LXX manuscripts contained YHWH, so why should the writer substitute
> with KURIOS? Since it cannot be demonstrated that YHWH had been
> by )DNY in the days of Jesus, and since we know that the changes to nomina
> sacra occurred between 50(75) and 150 C.E. there is no good reason to
> believe that KURIOS was found in the NT autographs. It is more likely that
> YHWH occurred.
> As for the Mischna and rabbinic literature, there are passages indicating
> that the tetragrammaton was not pronounced by some, but there are other
> passages
> indicating the very opposite, that some groups used it for a long time.
> Thus, there is evidence that some groups in
> the second and first century B.C.E. ceased to used the name while others
> (such as the Pharisees and the Morningbathers) continued to use it.
> An interesting example indicating a late use of the tetragrammaton is
> Shabat 13 (14:5), where the Minim (possibly
> Christians) are mentioned:
> "The blank spaces of the books of the Minim, we may not save them from the
> fire. R. Jose said: On weekdays one must cut out the tetragrammata which
> they contain, hide them, and burn the rest. R. Tarfon said: May I bury my
> son if I would not burn them together with their tetragrammata if they
> to my hand."
> The removal of the name of God caused, as you say, "the blurring of
> identities"; in the NT there are about 100 occurrences of KURIOS in the
> mastertext where it is difficult to know whether the word refers to Jesus
> to his father. I would argue that the writer did not want to confuse the
> two, but it was the change of the text by the introduction of the nomina
> sacra caused the confusion.
> Best regards,
> Rolf Furuli
> University of Osl