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I don't know Greek and even less about rules of Greek grammar. Can somebody please help me by reviewing a statement written by a popular Unitarian?

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!* - John, 20:28, NASB

Statement:

Thomas' words to Jesus in Greek literally read, "the Lord of me and the God of me." In Greek this is how one would refer to two persons. If one wanted to refer to one person he would say, "the Lord and God of me." This is confirmed by the first and Sixth Granville Sharp rules. However, Trinitarians make a convenient exception to the sixth rule for this particular verse. There are actually TWO important things to see here. First, there is the fact that both nouns, (1) Lord, and (2) God, are each qualified by the definition [sic] article ('the'). Second, both nouns, (1) Lord, and (2) God, are qualified by the words "of me." This is also telling. Thomas could have said, "the Lord and the God of me." But he did not.

I think it's good if it's read in context of his article, quoted from "The Trinity Delusion" website.

As much as I checked I think he's wrong. He doesn't have a good knowledge of Greek. I checked around 15 sources (commentaries and books defending the Trinity), and most of them don't even discuss if this is correct reading. Around 5 said that Greek is clear.

What is going on with this verse in Greek, and does he correctly represent the rules?

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Granville Sharp's first rule (p. 3) does not apply to John 20:28 because of the presence of the definite article before the second substantive (noun).

καὶ ἀπεκρίθη Ὁ Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ κύριός μου καὶ θεός μου

Now, in regards to the sixth rule, Granville Sharp wrote (pp. 14-16):

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In response to the Socinian claim, he wrote,

Except distinct and different actions are intended to be attributed to one and the same person; in which case, if the sentence is not expressed agreeably to the three first rules, but appears as an exception to this sixth rule, or even to the fifth, (for, this exception relates to both rules,) the context must explain or point out plainly the person to whom the two nouns relate: as in 1 Thess. iii. 6… And also in John, xx. 28. καὶ ἀπεκρίθη Ὁ Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ὁ ΚΥΡΙΟΣ μου ΚΑΙ Ὁ ΘΕΟΣ μου. If the two nouns (viz. ὁ κύριος μου and ὁ θεός μου) were the leading nominative substantives of a sentence, they would express the descpritive qualities or dignities of two distinct persons, according to the sixth rule; but, in this last text, two distinct divine characters are applied to only person only; for, the context clearly expresses to whom the words were addressed by Thomas: which perspicuity in the address clearly proves, likewise, the futility of that gloss for which the Arians and Socinians contend; viz. that Thomas could not mean that Christ was his God, but only uttered, in his surprise, a solemn exclamation or ejaculation to God. The text, however, expressly relates thay our Lord first addressed himself to Thomas: εἶτα λέγει τῷ Θωμᾷ Φέρε τὸν δάκτυλόν σου ὧδε, &c. καὶ ἀπεκρίθη Ὁ Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ (that is, without doubt, to Jesus,) ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου. So that both these distinct titles (for, they are plainly mentioned as distinct) were manifestly addressed αὐτῷ, to that one person, Jesus, to whom Thomas replied, as the text expressly informs us.

Succinctly stated, I suppose if one is going to rely on the authority of Sharp, they should be honest and rely on his entire testimony rather than disingenuously quote mining.


References

Sharp, Granville. Remarks on the Uses of the Definitive Article in the Greek Text of the New Testament, Containing Many New Proofs of the Divinity of Christ, from Passages Which are Wrongly Translated in the Common English Version. 3rd ed. London: Vernor and Hood, 1803.

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    I'd say the website OP asked about brings disingenuous quote mining to a whole new level, noting the title of the reference :D
    – Pete
    Jan 26 '15 at 19:34
  • O, thanks! That helped a lot. I knew hes not right about that, but couldn't find a response. Every commentary I have disagrees and I checked soooo many of them, including critical. Also James White in hes book ,,Forgotten Trinity" says that there is no question about this being directed to Jesus and even James D. Dunn in his book ,,Did the first Christians worship Jesus?" seems to agree.
    – Edgear
    Jan 26 '15 at 21:16
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    Anyone familiar with the reluctance of any Jew to even appear to use any reference to God in vain would realize that Thomas could only be referring to Jesus when he said "My God."
    – Perry Webb
    Oct 24 '18 at 7:58
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This is a fantastic verse!

Thomas, after years of clumsily wandering around the truth that was right there - not just in his midst, but with him most days and nights... Jesus talking, sharing, teaching, reading perhaps and retelling stories of ages past and adding a new dimension that pointed to ages future.

The man Jesus, the son of God, had called Thomas to be one of the 12! Thomas, like all of us, answered the call, the invitation, to be with Jesus, to trust him, to believe him, to follow him to some amazing, and, some dark, dark places - like us, he had no concept of what his 'yes' would entail or lead to - what it would do to his life - forever on.

Jesus tried to explain - again and again, in many ways, but they all had huge gaps in their understanding and belief. (remember they went fishing after Jesus died, as that was one of the only things they knew was true right then in their confused and troubled state John 21:3)

Jesus told them these truths - they heard the words, but knew not yet what they meant;

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. John 14:1

v5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.

v7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him

v10 The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father abiding in me does His works

16:17 A little while, and you will not see me; and again a little while, and you will see me

v32 I am not alone, because the Father is with me

20:24 "But Thomas,...said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

No one has seen the Father. But in Jesus, who is the image, the likeness, the form of the Father, they started to understand who God was - in Jesus, they got to KNOW God by knowing Jesus. From John 14:7, to 'see', means to know - to understand, to believe, to trust! Not see with the eyes - but know with the heart and soul - to sense the same spirit from God, in Jesus and also in them!

When Jesus came back in his ascended state with a new spirit life (1 Pet 3:18) - now the pieces started to fit, the words make more sense! This Jesus, who said he was the son of God (wow!), who said he and the Father were ONE! (not one substance or something, but one in purpose and spirit John 17:11,22) And Jesus said they should be 'one with him' as he was with the Father.

When Thomas saw Jesus resurrected, he saw in him God the Father - as 'the one’ that they are in purpose, power, love and glory. No, Thomas didn’t literally see God, he saw Jesus who had always been showing them the Father. He now understood the depth and significance of what Jesus had been telling them. Thomas was fully grasping for the first time that the Father God was IN Jesus and not that Jesus WAS God.

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself 2Cor 5:19

And echoing Job,

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Job 42:5

Thomas saw His God in Christ Jesus - just as Jesus had been telling them.

John 14:4 And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Clearly we would understand that Thomas knew from Jesus' words, and from his own understanding, that his God and Jesus were not the same person. Jesus is speaking to Thomas specifically. Thomas already expressed doubt in Jesus' words (John 20:25) unless I put my fingers in his hand etc.

Thomas is being prepared for his awakening when Jesus is raised from the dead and Thomas finally gets it. Did Thomas think Jesus raised himself? That's not what Jesus had been teaching them. John 11:23-

As if Thomas would expect his GOD to have nail holes in his hands! Let alone die on a cross and be dead for 3 days!

From this scriptural basis, carefully preserved for us, we can readily see the truth and not have to draw impulsive conclusions from one verse alone.

Thomas addressed two persons - His Lord Jesus, and through Jesus, his God Yahweh.


We can of course take these words and misunderstand what Thomas meant. We might construe it to mean Jesus IS God - as many have done. But to do so is to ignore the repetitive and consistent statements from Jesus who said that he was;

'a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God' John 8:40

who could do nothing of himself - no words, no miracles, unless the Father did it through him.

a Lamb sent to die (and was raised by his Father and God)

exalted to the heavens to be with the Father (appointed heir of all things Heb 1:2)

We can ignore the statements from the Apostles about Jesus having a God;

1 Pet 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 1:7, Eph 1:3, Col 1:3, 2 Cor 1:3, 11:31, Rom 15:6, Acts 2:36

Phil 2:9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above all names

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

who clearly understood and taught that Jesus was certainly NOT God, but the glorious son OF God.

Or we can stick to a few other verses that seem to say Jesus IS God when we read things into the Word of God that are not supported by the broad and consistent narrative.

Even when Jesus is ascended at God's right hand, he still refers to God as 'my God', Rev 1:5-6, 3:2, 12.

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    This is a really fantastic explanation that is entirely fanciful and unconvincing. It is without any logical development and argues in reverse - from the conclusion to create the story. let the text say what it says not insert another "back" story. You have completely ignored the obvious αὐτῷ = Jesus.
    – Dottard
    Oct 13 '20 at 9:42
  • And when God addresses the Son He calls Him God (Hebrews 1:8) and Lord (Hebrews 1:10), just as did Thomas. And you really didn't answer the question which is about the Greek text, not the underlying theology (-1) Oct 15 '20 at 4:47
  • Yep, re last comment, true and guilty. Heb - yes we all know what v8 means. V10 - keep reading... the quotes are from OT and refer to Yahweh - now the writer is applying them to Christ in a new setting - if we read on it gives the context in 2:5. Of course Jesus is Lord! - but that doesn't make him God. You would understand that too.
    – steveowen
    Oct 15 '20 at 5:27
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The context clearly and unequivocally shows that the addressee is Jesus Christ, for "Thomas answered and said to Him" (ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ), and thus both Ὁ κύριός μου and ὁ θεός μου apply to the one pronoun, αὐτῷ, standing for one person - Jesus.

Thomas is simply a sober-minded theologian, driving that what he has heard and seen to a logical conclusion: Jesus, he heard, told while in mission: "I lay my life down in order to take it back; nobody is taking it from me, but I lay down it of my own accord; I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up again῾(John 10:17-18). It was not immediately understood by Thomas when he heard this, but now he sees that this promise is fulfilled and Jesus indeed resurrected, that is to say, He indeed enlivened His own dead body bringing it back to life. No saint, no prophet, no angel no arch-arch-angel can or is authorised to do it, but only God. Thus, Thomas, through this logic is necessitated to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus.

To say, as some non-Trinitarian commentators do, that Thomas did not refer to Jesus with those titles but simply exclaimed in bewilderment like "oh my Lord and my God, [what a miracle I see!]" (to take aside the sorry fact that it makes Thomas less clever and logically consistent than he actually was) fails to stand a criticism. Why? Because then it will not be an "answer" ("ἀπόκρισις") to Jesus, but an exclamation to God, without directing this exclamation to Jesus (like: "O, my Lord and my God, what a miracle I see: Jesus has indeed risen!"), but such an exclamation is not an "answer to Him (αὐτῷ)" but a totally different thing.

Thus both ὁ Κύριος and ὁ Θεός are addressed to Jesus Christ, and since the second term is also with article, that destroys some Arians' claim that only the Father is addressed with the articled θεός and never the Son, for here in John 20:28 also the Son is addressed by the articled θεός.

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  • @Down-voter Hey, my old friend, anonymous down-voter! How’s life in shadows? I do not envy your lifestyle, but still, if you really have any counter arguments, hesitate not, lay them down to me! May 30 at 19:54
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Your question commits a fallacy of question framing. The Greek grammar and content does not prove that anyone was being addressed “as God” at John 20:28.

The simplistic fact that Thomas was speaking to Jesus does not mean he was identifying Jesus with a title.

This is true in both Greek and English. The view that Thomas was calling Jesus “God” is based upon the assumption that the phrase “My Lord and my God” is predicative. Don't let a grammatical term confuse you. English has predicates as well. At J 20:28 this requires a to-be verb (eg “are”) with Jesus as the subject (ie “you”) and the titles as predicate. This would be an expression by Thomas of “You are my Lord and my God.” That's possible but a big assumption.

Another possibility is the phrase is not a predicate but an object. That also requires a verb from the context. J 20:28 is bracketed by a verb spoken by Jesus, “believe.”

If this verb is understood with the titles as object then Thomas says “I believe in my Lord [a] and also my God.”

This is consistent with what Jesus commanded Thomas the last time they spoke at Jn 14:1:

Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God [accusative], believe also in me (Jn 14:1, ASV)


[a] John 13:13 attests nominative for accusative. (Cp. Jn 14:1)

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    Perhaps you can clarify your answer. You stated, “That also requires a verb from the context.” Aside from John 20:28 which is the verse in question, you only mention John 14:1. So, the “context” to which you refer is actually six chapters earlier? Jun 24 '20 at 3:31
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    Comparing apples and oranges, again. Per Buttmann, p. 151, “According to a construction not unknown to the Greeks also...the predicate term with verbs of naming sometimes stands in the Nominative instead of any other case” cf. John 13:13, 1 Sam. 9:9 (ὁ βλέπων), Rev. 9:11 (Ἀπολλύων). John 13:13 is not nominative for accusative. Jun 24 '20 at 16:39
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    +1 also for tying it back to John 14:1. It is odd, indeed, that Jesus says "You believe in God, believe also in me." Almost like they are two separate things! Feb 18 at 21:37
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In Psalm 35:23, there is a similar statement.

Wake up! Bestir yourself for my defense, for my cause, my God and my Lord!

In the Septuagint this reads at the end:

ο θεός μου και ο κυριός μου

The Psalmist uses identical language, but the ordering of God/Lord is flipped in the LXX translation. Of course, the author here isn't talking to two people. Lord and God are the same person.

I would take the greek rules of grammar with a grain of salt since it seems that the author (s) of John had a hebrew or aramaic language basic. In the hebrew, the text says: אֱלֹהַ֖י וַֽאדֹנָ֣י. This basically means exactly what the greek says. My God and My Lord or, since greek doesn't have a direct posessive ending or form like that, the pronoun is presented in the genitive case pointing to me.

I'll give an example in John where the use of greek shows the Hebrew tone. Take a look at the greek of John 18:15. Here, the verb Ἠκολούθει is third person singular. But the nominative form subject is two people, Simon Peter and "another disciple." Normally in greek, this would require a third person plural verb since the subject is a group of people. But in Hebrew, if the verb is talking about a list of singular subjects, then the verb is singular.

One example of this in Hebrew is in Exodus 4:29 where "Moses and Aaron went" which could technically be translated as Moses and Aaron, he went.. But it's really they. The Septuagint carries it over just as in John 18:15.

I would be careful about reading this as you describe. I see where you are pointing, and I would say that perhaps John saw Jesus as an empty icon (not idol) pointing at God just like Moses' serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14-16, Numbers 21). I don't think he would have considered Jesus to be a separate person from God (John 10:30).

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