John 20:28

Wes Williams WesWilliams at
Mon Jan 28 11:37:33 EST 2002

> Greetings,
>  I was talking to a person on another forum and he maintained that
> grammatically HO KYRIOS in John 20:28 was referring to God the Father.
> Setting aside theological considerations, does the grammer allow for this
> understanding?
> Thanks
> Randy Shrode
> shroder at


The grammar allows for a reference to either the Father or to Jesus. The
context appears to lean in favor of Jesus because the words were addressed
to him, as Carl pointed out. There is the matter of the preceding MOU and
the presence of the article. Rolf Furuli, who used to post on this list,
said the following in his book "The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible
Translation, p. 220":

"Harris' third example above in John 20:28, where hO QEOS is used.42 In this
passage it is not possible to claim that the article has semantic
importance, and that Jesus is therefore identical with hO QEOS in John 1:1,
because the article is grammatically required (C.F.D. Moule, "An Idiom Book
of New Testament Greek," 2nd ed., pp 116-117). There is of course the
possibility that the article has semantic importance, but there is no way to
know for sure. Because the phrase has the possessive pronoun ("my"), the
word QEOS must be definite, and in Greek it cannot stand without the
article. We may illustrate this with the English possessive pronoun. If I
say "my book," the reference is definite. If I am referring to this
particular book and I phrase my words differently, I could say, "this book
of mine" or "the book of mine." However, I cannot say "book of mine," and if
I say "a book of mine" the reference is indefinite. Thus, a definite
reference in English requires the definite article or a demonstrative
pronoun. In Greek all kinds of references including a possessive pronoun
require the article."

In John 20:17, we have similar grammar of "my God" QEON MOU and TON PATERA
MOU (note the use of the article with PATERA MOU but without the article
with QEON MOU) where Jesus referenced the *Father* as QEON MOU. How does one
reconcile that Jesus calls the Father QEON MOU in 20:17 and Thomas calls
Jesus hO QEOS MOU in 20:28?

One possibility is that John is using a style of speech that _qualifies_
QEOS by the use of the adjectival MOU. This is supported by the use of MOU
in John 20:17. In line with this, Jesus is QEOS to Thomas in a relative
sense as the Father is QEOS to Jesus (cf. Ex 4:16, 7:1 where Moses is God to
Pharaoh and Aaron).

On a personal note, I used to believe that the reference was either to the
Father or an exclamation as someone would say today "my God!" when viewing
something amazing. About twenty years ago I adjusted my view in favor of a
reference to Jesus due to the speech reference, but the views I abandoned
are still grammatically possible, although weaker. Would not the exclamation
view require an O' as in Mt 15:28 "Oh woman, ..."?

Wes Williams

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