Friday, November 27, 2009

Jesus as God by Murray Harris

My Lord and My God! (John 20:28)

John 20 contains four resurrection pericopes: the discovery of the empty tomb (vv. 1-10), the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene (vv. 11-18), the impartation of the Spirit to the disciples (vv. 19-23), and the confession of Thomas (vv. 24-29). In this latter pericope the climax is reached when, in response to the invitation of Jesus to touch his wounds and the directive to display faith (v. 27), Thomas utters the words “My Lord and my God” (v. 28) and Jesus declares those who believe without seeing to be "blessed" (v. 29).

Four aspects of verse 28 call for attention. There is the grammatical problem (how is "my God" to be construed?), the historical problem (did Thomas actually make this confession?), the theological issue (what are the sources, meaning, and theological significance of Thomas's confession?), and the literary issue (what is the significance of the Thomas episode in the Fourth Gospel?).

A. The Grammatical Problem
The crucial phrase “my God” has been understood in several ways.

1. Predicative
a. Referring to God the Father: "Thomas answered him: (Jesus, you are) my Lord; (Father, you are) my God."

On the first view each half of Thomas's affirmation is directed to a different addressee: "my Lord" to Jesus, "my God" to the Father, either as indwelling Jesus[1] or as dwelling in heaven. This decidedly aberrant interpretation is rendered implausible by the presence of kai [and], by the absence of a distinguishing vocative (Jesus or Father), and by the frequent conjunction of “lord” and “god” in various combinations in the LXX in reference to one person. In addition, the immediate context (vv. 24-27, 29) contains numerous references to Jesus, but none to the Father, so that a sudden apostrophe is highly improbable, especially since the whole statement is introduced by "and said". Finally, the repeated "my", so far from necessarily indicating two distinct addressees simply reflects the repetition of the pronominal suffix with copulated nouns in Hebrew and Aramaic and has the effect of personalizing Thomas's response.

b. Referring to Jesus: "Thomas answered him, `My Lord is also my God’."
E. A. Abbott (Grammar §2050), who at first defended the translation[2] "My Lord is also my God," adduced several lines of evidence in favor of his contention that "lord" would have been used if the vocative had been intended (Grammar §2049). (1) The one LXX instance of a vocatival ‘the Lord’ (viz., Ps. 35:23) is explicable by its special context. That is, "my Lord" conforms to the preceding vocatival nominative ("my God"). Apart from this one exceptional use, "Lord" is never vocatival in the LXX, although the vocatival expressions "God" and "my Lord and my God" (e.g., 2 Kings 19:19) are common. (2) In Classical Greek the vocatival nominative is (a) accompanied by ‘to him’ or ‘he’, (b) idiomatic, like the English "You, Mr. cricketer, Mr. Yorkshireman," or (c) found only in poetry (e.g., ‘the words’). (3) While using ‘lord’ freely, the papyri never have a vocatival, ‘the Lord’. (4) The Latin versions have dominus (not domine).

Abbott paraphrases the verse thus: “My dear Lord—is actually none other than my God." Thomas here "speaks about his Master in the act of it replying to his Master.”[3] Instead of continuing after "my dear Lord" with "has indeed risen from the dead" or "has been indeed restored to me," Thomas expresses his inspired conviction, in a moment when he was overcome by joy and amazement, that his Lord had become to him one with his God. According to Abbott, the omission of esti might have been prompted by the evangelist's desire to force his readers to think out the full import of the confession, while the emphatic kai (and) is frequent in John (§§2050-51).

First, one must admit that, judged by the usage of Classical Greek, the LXX, the NT, or the papyri, the use of “Lord” as a vocative is uncommon. But that “Lord” may be a nominative of address in Johannine usage is evident from John 13:13 and Revelation 4.11; that it may be applied to Jesus is clear from the former verse. Second, it is extraordinary to treat not as adjective when (a) it stands between two articular nouns in the same case, each modified by ‘of me’, and (b) esti is lacking. Third, there are at least two reasons why the evangelist may have written ‘the Lord’ rather than "lord". (a) In comparison with "lord", which is not infrequently used in the Gospels in the sense “sir!”,[4] the vocatival ‘the Lord’ is more formal and respectful, more sonorous and emphatic in tone (cf. John 13:13), and therefore would be appropriate when a disciple was addressing his Lord.[5] For John "lord" perhaps represented too mundane a usage, being often followed by a request for help[6] or a question.[7](b) Although the nominative used in a vocatival sense was established Greek idiom,[8] John's two uses of "the Lord" in this sense (viz., John 13:13; 20:28) may owe something to the Semitic vocative,[9] expressed by the articular nominative in Hebrew (GKC §126e) and the emphatic state in Aramaic (Rosenthal §43). Fourth, it has not always been observed that Abbott later reversed his preference and took kai. to mean "and" (not "also"): "Thomas said to him [the words], ‘My lord-and my God’,” the vocatival "the Lord" being "exceptional Johannine usage.”[10]

2. Exclamatory: "And Thomas exclaimed: `My Lord and my God!"'
a. Referring to God the Father

Another interpretation, associated with the names of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Faustus Socinus, proposes that Thomas's cry was an exclamatory statement, expressing his astonishment and his praise to God for the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus:[11] "Praise (or, glory) be to my Lord and my God!" Accordingly, “my God” sheds no light on the view of Jesus held by either Thomas or the evangelist.

Insuperable objections attend this Socinian interpretation. (1) It renders the preceding (ἀπεκρίθη…καὶ εἶπεν, “answered…and said”) αὐτῷ (“to him”= Jesus) inexplicable (cf. Bauer 227). Why would John (or Thomas) introduce an indirect expression of praise to the Father by a phrase that directs the ex hypothesi [by hypothesis] praise to Jesus? The least he might have expressed in this case would be something like "he said blessed be the Lord and my God" (cf. Ps. 17:47 LXX [Engl. 18:47]; 143:1 LXX [Engl. 144:1]); "he said my Lord and my God" (cf. Matt. 13:28; Rom. 11:33). (2) It is clear from the ‘me’ after ‘to see’ in verse 29a and the parallelism between ‘to believe/have faith’ in verse 29b (where ‘in me’ must be inferred) and ‘to believe/have faith’ in verse 29a, that ‘in me’ (or a phrase of similar import)[12] is to be supplied with ‘to believe/have faith’. Verse 28 is therefore most naturally understood as an expression of Thomas's belief in the risen Jesus as his Lord and God. (3) All the previous uses of ‘the Lord’ in John 20 (viz., vv. 2, 1.1, 18, 20, 25; cf. v. 15) refer to Jesus. In the literary artistry of the chapter, there seems to be a marked progress in meaning (but not in referent) from Mary Magdalene's "my Lord" (v. 13) to Thomas's , “my Lord and my God” (cf. v. 17). (4) The preceding and following verses emphasize the relationship of Thomas to Jesus: Thomas said (v. 27), ‘the word was Jesus’ (v. 29). It would be unlikely that the oratio recta [direct speech] that follows the intervening ‘Thomas answered and said to him’ (v. 28) would not be directed to Jesus.

b. Referring to Jesus
If Thomas's ejaculation is a statement about Jesus (and not a cry addressed to him), one must supply some such expression as (to him) ‘it is’. F. C. Burkitt paraphrased the confession thus': "It is Jesus Himself, and now I recognize Him as Divine" (48). But once again the presence of ‘to him’ is fatal to this interpretation.[13] Also, to understand Thomas's cry as a simple exclamation of surprise is to rob the cry of the ingredient of direct, personal encounter that is demanded by the context.

3. Vocatival, Addressed to Jesus: “In response Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”

Several observations support the interpretation that Thomas's words are vocatival and addressed to Jesus. This view prevails among grammarians, lexicographers,[14] commentators and English versions.

a. “Answered ...and said” implies a response to Jesus on the part of Thomas. While this phrase, representing the Biblical Aramaic [as in Dan 2:5, 8, 26; 3:14; 5:17] or the Hebrew need not mean more than "he spoke up" (BAGD 93c), given the context and the presence of “answered him” indicates that the oratio recta “my Lord and my God” is the response of Thomas to Jesus' invitation (v. 27). Thomas is not here replying to a formal question[15] ("Thomas replied," JB) but is reacting to a challenge to his faith ("Thomas said in response," NAB1) in the form of a gentle command of Jesus (v. 27).

b. “Said to him” (v. 28) is clearly parallel to “he says to Thomas (v. 27) and “he said to him” (v. 29) on the one hand and “ him” (v. 25) on the other. In each case there is a speaker (or speakers), a statement that immediately follows, and a person addressed.[16] The whole phrase “Thomas answered and said to him” may be rendered, "In response Thomas said to him.”[17] What follows will be not simply an assertion or ejaculation made in the hearing of Jesus but an exclamation actually addressed to him.[18]

c. The articular nominative of address is an established NT usage (BDF §147), although the pre-Christian papyri seem to lack instances of this enallage of case (N. Turner, Syntax 34). It should be observed that the elements of harshness, superiority, and impersonality that sometimes attach to the use of the idiom in Classical Greek are lacking in the almost sixty NT examples.[19] One finds “the God” rather than “my God” (cf. Matt. 27:46)[20] because the expression is parallel to and therefore influenced by “my Lord”.[21] The article is used with “god” not merely because a vocatival nominative is commonly articular in Hellenistic Greek but in particular because when a possessive pronoun follows a vocatival nominative, the noun is always articular (cf. Abel §42g; C. F. D. Moule, Idiom Book 116).

I conclude that “my God” is neither predicative nor simply exclamatory. It is neither an assertion made about the Father or Jesus, nor is it an ejaculation referring to the Father that was made in the presence of Jesus or referring to Jesus but not addressed to him. Rather it is an exclamatory address, an exclamation specifically directed to Jesus as its subject and recipient.

B. The Historical Problem
The historical issue may be stated thus: Does the christological confession of Thomas simply reflect the church's liturgy or the theology of the Johannine circle in the 90s without having a historical Sitz im Leben Jesu, or was the confession actually made by Thomas in the 30s and then incorporated into the emerging liturgical traditions of the church?

In the resurrection narratives of the Gospels, as in the records of the pre-resurrection ministry of Jesus, C. H. Dodd distinguishes two types of pericopes that originally stood as independent units of oral tradition: the “concise”, which report the bare essentials of what occurred or what was said, and the "circumstantial," which report arresting details and traits of character in order to heighten interest.[22] While the story of Doubting Thomas (John 20:26-29) formally belongs to the class of concise narratives, it represents (according to Dodd) an intermediate type. Since it depends for its intelligibility on the connecting passage, 20:24-25, which itself presupposes 20:19-23, it could never have been an independent pericope. Thomas is not individualized in the way Mary Magdalene is. He typifies and acts as spokesman for disciples who doubt (cf. Matt. 28:17; Luke 24:37-41).[23] Viewed thus as a dramatization of incredulity, this pericope, including the confession of verse 28, is a Johannine creation. The evangelist has expunged the reference to the disciples' doubt that was found in his source before verse 20 so that in a separate episode (vv. 24-29) he might personify apostolic doubt (Brown, Gospel 2:1031-32).

Such a theory would seem difficult to sustain on stylistic grounds. Of the 51 characteristics of Johannine style isolated by F. M. Braun (1:401-3) only two are in evidence in the Thomas pericope (John 20:24-29), viz., the expression “answered and said” (v. 28) (or equivalent), which is found some 33 times in the Fourth Gospel but only twice in the Synoptics,[24] and partitive “from” (v. 24), found 31 times in the Fourth Gospel and 26 times in the Synop­tics.[25] This would suggest that the evangelist is here dependent on tradi­tional material. Yet indications of John's editorial work are not lacking. The pericope builds on the previous episode (vv. 19-23) in the notes of time ("eight days later") and place ("once more in the house," "although the doors were locked," v. 26; cf. v. 19).

Since the Thomas episode displays this distinctive lack of Johannine stylistic characteristics, it is therefore unlikely to be purely a Johannine creation that was prompted by theological motives. Rather it embodies a pre Johannine tradition unused by (or perhaps unknown to) the Synoptists in which Thomas was given a place of prominence. And since Thomas's confession is integral to the episode, forming its climax (along with v. 29), it too must be considered tradition and not a Johannine creation. It is scarcely conceivable that the evangelist would have inherited this Thomas tradition in a form similar to 20:24-27 (ending with the dominical rebuke: "Stop disbelieving; have faith!") and then added as his own contribution the climactic response of Thomas (v. 28) for which that dominical rebuke merely serves as a foil.[26] Verse 28 stands or falls with verses 24-27, the whole pericope (vv. 24-29) being either a Johannine creation or (as I have argued) a pre-Johannine tradition.

If, then, neither the episode as a whole nor the christological confession in particular may be traced to the theological creativity of John, they must derive from an earlier written source or an earlier oral tradition. This does not, of course, prove the historicity of the confession (v. 28) but it does establish that one should not look to the fertile and creative theological imagination of John for the original impulse behind the confession and it leaves open the possibility that the ultimate source of this pre-Johannine tradition was an actual encounter between Thomas and Jesus after the resurrection. I must now discuss the grounds for believing that the Thomas episode is rooted in history (without addressing the wider issue of the historical reliability of the Fourth Gospel in general)[27] and deal with the objections to the episode's historicity.

1. Grounds for the Historicity of the Thomas Episode

a. It is difficult to believe that the early church would have invented an incident in which Jesus publicly reproves "one of the Twelve" (John 20:24) for his disbelief (v. 27b) and even after his confession of faith (v. 28) gently chides him for demanding visual evidence for the reality of the resurrection (v.29a) in addition to the verbal testimony he had already received (vv. 18, 25).[28] Moreover, there is a close verbal correspondence between John 4:48 (where Jesus condemns sign-seeking; cf. John 2:23-25) and John 20:25 (where Thomas demands signs)[29].

To render v. 27b by "do not become unbelieving”[30] is to overlook Thomas's own admission of unbelief in verse 25: “Unless I see…I will not believe" implies that he did not then believe because he had not yet seen.[31] The phrase should be translated as "stop being an unbeliever,”[32] "do not persist in your disbelief,”[33] or "doubt no longer”[34] implying Thomas's state of unbelief. And in verse 29a, whether it be construed as a question (as in RSV)[35] or a statement (as in NEB), there is not only an implied commendation for belief (which becomes explicit in v. 29b) but also an implied reproof for believing only after seeing, for rejecting the oral testimony of the witnesses to the resurrection.

b. Similarly, is it credible that one of the Twelve would be pictured as obstinately incredulous by the creative pen of some early Christian? The fact that Thomas finally confesses does not lessen the improbability that anyone would create and put into Thomas's mouth a demand (v. 25) that reflects obstinacy and self-assertiveness.

The evangelist records Thomas's unwillingness to believe as a vigorous denial ("I will certainly not believe"),[36] not simply as a polite refusal ("I shall not believe"). And what Thomas refused to believe for a week were the oft-repeated and detailed reports[37] of Mary Magdalene (vv. 17-18) and his trusted fellow disciples (v. 25a) con­cerning the resurrection appearances of Jesus. But he was not merely demanding that Jesus should appear to him personally to confirm the truth of others' testimony. In his insistence that he should touch as well as see the wounds of Jesus, he was seeking a privilege denied to Mary Magdalene (v. 17)[38] and not afforded to the other disciples (v. 20: "He showed them ...they saw the Lord") or at least not sought by them (Luke 24:39).[39]

c. The incident as recorded contains several other indications of verisi­militude that are unlikely to be fabrications: the note regarding Thomas's absence from the previous meeting of the disciples (v. 24; this is an essential ingredient of the whole episode); the fact that Thomas had neither tell nor been excluded from the company of the Ten (v. 26a) in spite of his rejection of their uniform and repeated testimony; the recognition that locked doors made an appearance of Jesus antecedently improbable ("in spite of the fact that the doors were locked,[40] Jesus came and stood among them," v. 26b); and the specific indications (v. 26a) of time ("eight days later") and place ("once more in the house"), which cannot naturally be interpreted symbolically.

d. Thomas's response to the testimony of the other disciples (John 20:25) is formulated in light of the invitation of Jesus reported in Luke 24:39. That is, "I refuse to believe it unless I see the mark of the nails on his hands and put my finger right into the mark of the nails and put my hand right into his side” presupposes the invitation, "See my hands and my feet—it is I myself; handle me and see." This complementarity that falls short of a precise verbal correspondence (witness John's "hands and side" and Luke's "hands and feet") argues for the historicity of Thomas's word in verse 25. Clearly It camas had listened carefully to the full report of the disciples concerning the appearance of Jesus (Luke 24:36-43 = John 20:19-23).

e. There is a remarkable consonance between the character of Thomas expressed in the earlier episodes of the Fourth Gospel involving him (viz., 11:16; 14:5) and the personal traits exhibited in his encounter with Jesus recorded in John 20. In John 11:16 Thomas acts as spokesman for the disciples in saying, "Let us go [with Jesus into Judea to Lazarus], that we may die with him [Jesus]." Here Thomas expresses that intense desire for the uninterrupted companionship of Jesus and that willingness to die with him rather than abandon his cause, which at least partially account for his presence with the Ten one week after the resurrection in spite of his persistent unbelief (John 20:24-26). In John 14:5 Thomas responds to the simple assertion of Jesus, "You know the way to where I am going," by posing the question, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" His faith could not advance beyond what he "saw" (cf. John 20:25). "How can we be expected to recognize the route if your destination remains unclear to us?" In addition, one finds in these earlier stories a streak of pessimism (John 11:16b) and a combination of forthright honesty and intellectual obtuseness (John 14:5) that are clearly reflected in John 20:25. Admittedly, this consistent picture of Thomas in the Fourth Gospel could have originated in a skillful evangelist's creative literary artistry, but the presence of certain negative elements in each portrayal of Thomas suggests rather that the Johannine depiction of Thomas corresponds to reality.

f. Finally, it may be noted that if the apostle John is the author of the Fourth Gospel[41] this Thomas episode will reflect eyewitness testimony.

The cumulative effect of these observations is to heighten the probability that John 20:24-29 embodies accurate historical reminiscence.

As for the historicity of the christological confession itself (v. 28), first it seems arbitrary to acknowledge the historicity of the pericope in general but to deny the confession to Thomas, for within the pericope verse 28 is pivotal. Verses 24-27 look forward to verse 28 as their climax and without it (in the pre-Johannine period of the tradition) they would simply have stood as an ugly torso, an indictment against one of the Twelve ("Do not persist in unbelief! Become a believer!," v. 27)—hardly a pericope worth enshrining in oral tradition! Similarly, verse 29 looks back to and presupposes verse 28, which then has the effect of defining "belief” as the recognition and confession of the lordship and deity of Jesus Christ (cf. v. 31). Second, if addressing Jesus as “the Lord said” was characteristic of the primitive Palestinian church (1 Cor. 16:22),[42] why should a personal version of this address (“my Lord”) be denied to a member of the Jerusalem church? It is not a necessary cor­ollary of this view that Thomas's understanding of the lordship of Jesus in A.D. 30 was identical with the Johannine view at the time of writing.[43] Third, if “lord” came to be an appropriate title to apply to Christ after the resurrection (Phil. 2:9-11),[44] there is no reason to deny either its suit­ability on the lips of one of the Twelve immediately after the resurrection with a christological sense or therefore the possibility that theos too was an opposite term of address at that time (assuming that "lord" and "god" cannot be distinguished with regard to the status designated; see below, §C.2.c).

2. Objections to the Historicity of the Thomas Episode
a. It is claimed that in this pericope Thomas simply is the personification of the attitude of doubt shared to some extent by all the early disciples. The details of the narrative are literary rather than historical.[45]

In reply, it cannot be said that, simply because a person epitomizes an attitude or embodies an ideal, that figure must be fictitious. In any case Thomas does more than perform the negative role of dramatizing incredulity. He also represents those whose secure faith is hammered out on the anvil of vigorous skepticism. And his doubt was not complete, for he gathered with the disciples on the Sunday after he had publicly expressed his unwillingness to believe without tangible proof of Jesus' resurrection (John 20:19, 24-26) and his demand to see and touch before believing implied that he would believe after seeing and touching. The term “Twin” (v. 24) does not mean "doubter," symbolizing his character, but is the natural Greek equivalent (just as “Thomas” is a Greek transliteration) of the Aramaic "twin," and may have been the name of Thomas that had cur­rency among Greek-speaking Christians in Asia Minor.

b. The final verse of the pericope underscores the apologetic origin of the whole story. At a time when few eyewitnesses remained alive, it became inevitable that people came to faith apart from a personal encounter with the Jesus of history or his contemporaries. The survival of Christianity depended on "believing without seeing" (Suriano 314-15).
But apologetic value and historical reminiscence are not mutually exclu­sive categories. The apologetic significance and interest of a narrative do not in themselves demonstrate a writer's creativity but rather his judicious selection of an apologetically valuable story that may or may not be rooted in history.[46]

c. Perhaps the most serious objection is the assertion that Thomas's confession is too developed christologically to be possible in A.D. 30 and is anachronistic if the pericope is historical. Time must pass before any Jew could accommodate a divine Christ within the theological framework of monotheism.[47]

Now it is true that John 20:28 is more elevated and comprehensive than other christological confessions addressed to Jesus during his ministry. But one must not arbitrarily restrict the influence of the resurrection on the development of Christology.[48] Just as the title “lord” came to be used of Jesus in a titular sense after and because of the resurrection (Phil. 2:11),[49] so the title “god,” the Septuagintal equivalent of the generic appellative, might well have been recognized as a suitable title by which to address Jesus once his divinity had been confirmed in the eyes of his fol­lowers by his resurrection.[50] Certainly no Jew would have regarded “god” as a less appropriate term of address to the Deity than “lord”. That is, if one admits “lord” as a post resurrection title of Jesus, on what grounds can one deny the possibility that “god” too was employed in addressing Jesus imme­diately after the resurrection?

d. How is it that Thomas's gloomy unbelief could be so quickly trans­formed into ecstatic faith?[51]
Several reasons may be given for this dramatic change in Thomas's atti­tude. (1) Thomas had been psychologically and spiritually prepared for a sudden emergence from the shadows of doubt into the light of faith by his week-long reflection on the reports of Mary Magdalene (v. 18) and the other disciples (v. 25). One reason he had rejected their testimony about the resurrection may have been his recognition (as he recalled Jesus' prophecies of the event) of the far-reaching implications of belief that Jesus had risen from the dead.[52] (2) The appearance of the risen and trans­formed Jesus would have seemed to Thomas a personal and gracious reply to his earlier semi defiant assertion, "Unless I see...I will never believe." (3) The personal invitation of Jesus to Thomas ("put your finger here and examine my hands; put out your hand and place it in my side," v. 27) was couched in terms that implied Jesus' preternatural knowledge of the lan­guage Thomas had used in rejecting the testimony of the other disciples that they had seen the Lord (v. 25).[53] It was this combination of more than human graciousness and knowledge, along with the sheer joy that comes from the relief of tension and uncertainty, that elicited Thomas's sublime confession. (4) Thomas became reassured of his Lord's continuing love through the accommodating manner of Jesus and his gentle yet firm rebuke (v. 27). (5) However, the ultimate stimulus behind Thomas's confession was the work of the Spirit (cf. Matt. 16:15-17; 1 Cor. 12:3). Although not present with the other ten disciples on the evening of the resurrection day, Thomas would hardly have been thereby deprived of the benefit of the "insufflation" (v. 22).

How may we summarize this issue of historicity? I have given reason for believing that the Thomas episode (vv. 24-29) embodies a pre Johannine tradition that the evangelist has blended into the previous pericope (vv. 19-23) by adding the references to time and place necessary for the flow of the narrative. As it stands, the pericope has so many signs, and verisimilitude that its historicity may be confidently assumed, and since the confession in verse 28 is pivotal and climactic in the story it may be reckoned ipsissima verba Thomae [the very words of Thomas]. Certainly the theological sentiments expressed in the confession are in keeping with the post resurrection setting of the narrative.

C. The Theological Issue

1. The Sources of Thomas's Cry
The meaning given to Thomas's devotional cry will be largely determined by one's appraisal of the originating impulse behind the confession and the source behind its particular formulation. At least five different (but not necessarily mutually exclusive) impulses or sources have been proposed.

a. Apologetic or Polemical
The confession arose as a defensive counterblast to the grandiose claims made by the imperial cult on behalf of Domitian (A.11. 81-96) who was called dominus et deus noster (Suetonius, Domit. 13:2; Mastin, "Cult").[54] This view presupposes that the Fourth Gospel was composed and published in the 90s of the first century A.D. and that the Thomas episode is not historical. Both assumptions are at least open to question.[55]

b. Liturgical
This expression of belief in the deity of Christ arose from the veneration of the “lord” in worship (Bousset 317, 322 n. 309, 330-31) or, more generally, this confession of faith may have had a liturgical origin or at least setting.[56] R.E. Brown (Gospel 2:1048) discerns in Thomas’s words a combination of a covenantal confession (“you are my God”, Hos. 2:23 [25, LXX]; conf. John 20:17) and a baptismal profession (“Jesus is Lord”). While the liturgical setting of John 20:19-29 is unmistakable,[57] this does not necessarily imply the liturgical origin or shaping of the confession.

c. Theological
The christological affirmation, like the Thomas scene in general, is the product of Johannine theology and expresses the identity of the Jesus of history (“my Lord”) with the incarnate Logos (“my God”; cf. John 1:1; Dodd, Interpretation 430-31). Questions have already been raised about this radical discounting of the historicity of the Thomas epi­sode. It is true that the theological import of the affirmation remains intact whether or not the incident is historical, but it is of crucial signif­icance whether the theology is that of Thomas or solely that of the evan­gelist and his circle.

d. Septuagintal
The combination "lord and god” used in Christian worship probably arose directly from the common Septuagintal conjunction "the lord God" (Deissmann 361, citing Ps. 85:15 LXX [Engl. 86:15]; 87:2 LXX [Engl. 88:1]). Given the frequency of this OT formula and comparable phrases involving emwv and “my” (see next section), it is likely that OT usage influenced, either consciously or unconsciously, the particular choice of terms found in John 20:28, whether or not Thomas actually uttered these or similar words.

e. Experiential
Personally confronted by the risen Lord after a traumatic week of uncertainty as he wrestled with the implications of the report that Mary Magdalene and his fellow apostles had delivered to him, Thomas suddenly finds his doubt put to flight and sums up his new, liberating conviction, born of experience, in the worshipful cry, "My Lord and my God!"

As noted above, these suggested origins of Thomas's affirmation are not mutually exclusive.[58] The one indisputable influence is the Septuagint. Not only is there the “lord the God” (3 examples)[59] that Deissmann cited, but also (more pertinently) “lord and my God” (20 examples),[60] “lord God” (14),[61] and “your lord God” (1),[62] and also the frequent expressions “my lord God”[63] and “my lord God”[64] and those instances where “you” (3)[65] or “in you” (or “and you”) (10)[66] accompanies a phrase such as “my god” or “my lord God”. The closest LXX parallel to John 20:28 is Psalm 34:23 [Engl. 35:23]: “my Lord and my God”. The inverted order in John 20:28 may be due to the frequency of “my lord God” in the LXX. Another close parallel is Psalm 5:3 (LXX (Engl. 5:2]; cf. 83:3 LXX [Engl. 84:2]), which has the vocatival “my Kingdom and my God”.

My suggestion regarding the genesis of Thomas's confession is this. In his attempt to depict the significance of the risen Jesus for himself personally, Thomas used a liturgical form ultimately drawn from the LXX, which later came to serve admirably as the crowning christological affirmation of the Fourth Gospel, as a confessional formula in the church, and as a rebuttal of the imperial cult.

2. The Meaning and Theological Significance of Thomas's Cry
a. The Implications of an Exclamatory Address and of µou [my]
No one will contest that an exclamatory address differs in form from doctrinal statement, yet it seems arbitrary to say that Thomas addressed Jesus as his Lord and God but did not believe that Jesus was his Lord and God. That is, there is a formal but not a material difference between saying "my Lord and my God!" and "Jesus is (or, you are) my Lord and my God." In addition, one may legitimately extrapolate from Thomas’ words the fact that he believed Jesus to be his Lord and his God because in verse 29a Jesus commends him for "believing," for having confessed his faith in his exclamation addressed to Jesus. From this viewpoint verse 28 is the last of a series of confessions scattered through­out the Gospel.

But does the presence of "my" prevent one's affirming that, for Thomas and John, Jesus was Lord and God in an absolute sense? Probably not. The effect of “my” is to convert perception into faith (cf. Schlatter, Johannes 362) and to personalize Thomas's response, just as Jesus had approached him personally in the presence of the other disciples (v. 27).[67] One could not affirm that Jesus was "Lord and God" only for Thomas or John without calling into question the evangelist's choice and use of this saying as the summation of his Christology and his whole purpose in writing. It was pre­cisely because Jesus was believed to be universally Lord and God that John was motivated to write and carefully placed this significant devotional cry at the end of his Gospel[68] as the point of confession to which he wished to lead his readers. The theological significance of Thomas's response would differ little or not at all had the vocative been “the God” or thee instead of “the God of me”. The repeated “my” does not convert into a functional asser­tion what otherwise would be an affirmation of deity. That is “my Lord and my God” should not be read as "for me [or, in my experience] you are Lord and God". As it is, one might para­phrase the sense, "O Lord and God, I worship you."

b. The Meaning of "lord"
As already noted, it is unnecessary to insist that if the Thomas episode is historical the understanding of Thomas as he uttered the words “my Lord and my God” must correspond to the Johannine perception of the theological import of the confession. On the other hand, it seems invidious to place a priori limitations on the theological insight of one like Thomas who was illumined by the Spirit. What must remain improbable is that John would use Thomas simply as a mouthpiece for a christological affirmation that in fact had not been used in the church before (or much before) time of writing.

Certainly “lord” here means more than "sir" or "master," as the conjunction with “God” conclusively indicates.[69] And if the phrase were merely a synonym for the Jesus of history[70] (as in John 20:13; cf. 20:2), the “my” and the following “and” would become inexplicable. Because it is followed by “my God”) and because it cannot be construed as a nominative ("my Lord [Jesus] is also my God"),[71] the phrase must be accorded a religious signifi­cance.[72]

Given the pre-Christian Jewish custom of reading “lord” for synagogue worship,[73] “my Lord” could conceivably mean, "You represent for me the presence of Yahweh," but scarcely, "To me, you (personally) are Yahweh.”[74] But more is implied than mere representation. Thomas was addressing Jesus as one who shared Yahweh's authority and functions and exercised Yahweh's rights.[75] It was a case of “just as…the Father [sent] me” (cf. John 20:21). Jesus deserved human worship as the one in who was vested the ultimate authority to forgive sins (John 20:23; cf. Mark 2:1-10), the one who dispensed the Holy Spirit to his followers (John 20:22) and commissioned them to divine service (John 20:21), the one who by virtue of his resurrection possessed "the keys that unlock death and Hades" (Rev. 1:18, Moffatt), and the one who was to climax his resurrection by ascension to the Father (John 20:17).[76] Now it is true that Thomas was not present at the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene and the disciples, but it is inconceivable that the report of Mary to all the disciples and of the disciples to Thomas should not have included, along with the central announcement "I (we) have seen the Lord" (John 20:18, 25; cf. v. 20), a rec­itation of all Jesus said and did on each occasion. I am not suggesting that Thomas necessarily realized at the time that the resurrection and ascension of Jesus involved his elevation to cosmic dominion that would be recalled in Christian worship (Eph. 1:20-22a; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Pet. 3:22). But a percep­tive understanding of the theological import of the words and deeds of Jesus after his resurrection, not to speak of those during his ministry, would have led Thomas to recognize (during his week of intense thought) that if Jesus had in fact risen from the dead he was indeed “lord” par excel­lence, Lord of both physical and spiritual life.[77] The meaning of “my Lord” on the lips of Mary Magdalene (John 20:13) differs altogether from its significance for Thomas. For Mary “lord” was a courteous and tender appellative, referring to the deceased Jesus. For Thomas it was an exalted and confessional title of address, referring to the risen Jesus. The radical, new ingredient that explains the difference between the two uses of the same phrase was the resurrection.

c. The Meaning of “god”
Although in customary Johannine and NT usage (the) “God” refers to the Father, it is impossible that Thomas and John would be personally equating Jesus with the Father, for in the immediate historical and literary context Jesus himself has explicitly distinguished himself from God his Father (John 20:17). Clearly, then, “god” is a title, not a proper name.[78] Nor is it fitting to argue that, since John aimed in his Gospel to prove merely the messiahship of Jesus (John 20:31), “my God” of verse 28 cannot mean "my God" but must bear a diluted, descriptive sense such as "my divine one,”[79] as in F. C. Burkitt's paraphrase, "It is Jesus Himself, and now I recognize Him as divine" (48). As elsewhere in John, the title “the Son of God” which is in opposition to “the Christ” in John 20:31, denotes more than sim­ply the Davidic Messiah. The Gospel was written to produce belief that Jesus was the promised Jewish Messiah and that this Messiah was none other than the “one and only” Son of God who had come from the Father (John 11:42; 17:8), who shared his nature (John 1:1, 18; 10:30) and fellowship (John 1:18; 14:11), and who therefore might appropriately be addressed and worshiped as “my God”.[80] Unique sonship implies deity (John 5:18; cf. 19:7).

Following the term “lord” used as a religious title with rich Christology overtones, the title “god” could scarcely bear a less exalted sense. It is inadequate, therefore, to say simply that Thomas (or John) recognized that God was active in and through Jesus, or that, in Jesus the eschatological presence of God was at work. Jesus was more than God's man appointed to become a redeemer, more than some superhuman being who was a legitimate object of worship, more than the "inhistorized" divine Agape. As used by a monotheistic Jew in reference to a person who was demonstrably human, “god” will denote oneness with the Father in being (cf. John 10:30),[81] not merely in purpose and action.[82] In other words, Thomas’ cry expresses the substantial divinity of Jesus.[83] Thomas has penetrated beyond the “signs”—the appearance of the risen Jesus—to its implication, viz., the deity of Christ.[84] While not couched as an ontological affirmation (“you are my God”), the apostle's exclamatory address has inescapable ontological implications. Even as it is expressed, the confession embodies less functional than ontological truth: Jesus was wor­shiped by Thomas as a sharer in the divine nature, not simply as a media­tor of divine blessing.

From this viewpoint, John 20:28 represents an advance on John 1:1. Jesus not only already was “god” at the beginning of creation (John 1:1). At the time when Thomas spoke and John wrote, it could be said (by impli­cation), "Jesus is Lord and God." According to John, the essential deity of Christ was a present fact as well as a past reality. On the other hand, “the word was god” in John 1:1 shows that whereas one may rightly affirm that Jesus became “lord” (in the full sense of the term) through and after the resurrection (Acts 2:36; Phil. 2:9-11),[85] the same cannot be said con­cerning Jesus as “god”. That is, before his resurrection Jesus was “lord” de jure [in principle] but “god” de facto [in fact]; after his resurrection, he was both “god” and “lord” de facto.

That Thomas's cry was not an extravagant acclamation, spoken in a moment of spiritual exaltation when his exuberance exceeded his theo­logical sense, is apparent from two facts. First, the evangelist records no rebuke of Jesus to Thomas for his worship. Jesus' silence is tantamount to consent,[86] for as monotheists Jews considered the human acceptance of worship as blasphemous.[87] Thomas was not guilty of worshiping the creature over the Creator (cf. Rom. 1:25).[88] Indeed, Jesus' word to Tho­mas—“believed” (John 20:29a; cf. “but...”believe” in v. 27)[89] implies the acceptance of his confession,[90] which is then indirectly commended to others (v. 29b).[91] Second, John has endorsed Thomas's confession as his own by making it his final and climactic christological affirmation before his statement of purpose, verse 31. The author found in Thomas's cry a convenient means by which he might bring into sharp focus at the end of his Gospel, as at the beginning (John 1:1, 18), the ultimate implications of his portrait of Jesus.[92]

D. The Literary Issue

It has been argued that John 20:28 forms the climax and pivot in the Tho­mas episode. But what role does this episode play in the whole Gospel? What value did the evangelist place on Thomas's confession as a vehicle for his own christological thought?

Not only the position of the Thomas story as the last of the four resurrection pericopes in John 20 but also its content suggests that it is climactic within the chapter. The reader is expectant. It was the second time that the disciples had met behind locked doors "in the house," the second time that Jesus "came and stood among them" and pronounced the blessing, "Peace be with you." The disciples were meeting a week after the resurrection had occurred presumably to review together their individual appraisal of the Easter events and because their experience a week earlier had led them to expect a special blessing from the Lord on the first day of the week. But if a dominical commissioning (v. 21b) and an insufflation of the Spirit (vv. 22­-23) had marked the first appearance of Jesus, what would mark the second appearance? The author answers: the recognition by Thomas of the deity of Christ (v. 28) and the delivery of the last and greatest beatitude (v. 29).

A second indication of the climactic function of verses 24-29 in John 20 is found in a special use of "Lord". The designation of Jesus as “the Lord” is rare in John 1-19 (only four uses),[93] although “lord” (of Jesus) is common,[94] whereas in John 20 some six examples of “the Lord” occur.[95] Mary Magdalene uses “my Lord” in 20:13 to describe her deceased Master but in 20:28 Thomas uses the same phrase in addressing his risen Lord. This delicate but crucial distinction in the import of the phrase “my Lord” (which occurs nowhere else in the Gospel) illustrates the movement of the chapter towards its climax, the personal acknowledgment of a personal, resurrected Lord.

Standing at the end of John 20 immediately before the author's statement of the purpose of his Gospel (vv. 30-31), the narrative about Thomas might naturally be thought to represent the climax of the whole Gospel as well, were it not for the following chapter that also deals with certain resurrec­tion appearances of Jesus.

Many scholars are convinced, however, that regardless of whoever authored and added chapter 21, chapter 20 originally stood as the conclu­sion of the Gospel,[96] the evangelist envisaging no sequel at the time chap­ters 1-20 were written.[97] There are several compelling reasons for this view[98] (1) Verse 28 forms a christological climax to the whole Gospel, reflecting 1:1. (2) Verse 29 creates a link between the text of the Gospel and the readership that would naturally be found at the close of the Gospel. Would a further recitation of appearances (chap. 21) be expected to follow the recorded blessing on those who believe without seeing (20:29)? (3) Verses 30-31 review the purpose of the recorded signs of "this book," a statement suitable for the conclusion of the Gospel. (4) Chapter 20 as a whole is a self-contained literary unit that needs no supplement.

But whether one adopts this prevailing view or argues that the evangelist himself added chapter 21 as an integral part of the Gospel or as an Epilogue that balances the Prologue (1:1-18),[99] one may justifiably conclude that he regarded the words of Thomas addressed to Jesus as the final pinnacle of his Gospel and the zenith of his Christology.

Such a conclusion is confirmed by the author's strategic placement in his Gospel of those verses in which Christ is designated as “god”. Not only the Prologue, but the Gospel as a whole, is enclosed by these literary "bookends." The Prologue ends (1:18) as it begins (1:1), and the Gospel ends (20:28) as it begins (1:1), with an assertion of the deity of Jesus.[100] We move from “god” (1:1) to “only-begotten god” (1:18) to “my God” (20:28); from Jesus Christ as a participant in the divine essence to his being "the only Son, who fully shares the Divine nature" to his being the God who is worshiped by believers; from the preexistent Logos who eternally enjoyed active communion with the Father (l: la-b) to the incarnate Son who always resides in the Father's heart and on earth revealed him (1:18) to the resurrected Lord who may be rightfully hailed by his devotee as "my God." That is, for John, Jesus is appropriately designated “god” in his preexistent, incarnate, and post resurrection states.[101] Of all the titles used of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel, "god" would therefore seem to represent the culmination.[102]

E. Conclusion
One week after his resurrection, and because of a resurrection appear­ance, Jesus was adoringly addressed by Thomas with the exclamation, "My Lord and my God!”, a confessional invocation that not only marks the cli­max (along with the accompanying beatitude) of the Thomas pericope and John 20, but also forms the culmination of the entire Gospel. Just as Israel had honored Yahweh as “Lord our God” (e.g., Ps. 98:8 LXX [Engl. 99:8]) and Christians honored the Father as “our Lord and our God” (Rev. 4:11), so now people were to "honor the Son, even as they honor the Father" (John 5:23), by addressing him with the words “my Lord and my God”. In uttering this confessional cry Thomas recognized the lordship of Jesus in the physical and spiritual realms as well as over his own life (“my Lord”) and the essential oneness of Jesus with the Father which made his worship of Jesus legitimate (“my God”). As used in this verse, “lord” and “god” are titles, not proper names, the first implying and the second explicitly affirming the substantial deity of the risen Jesus.

[1] Thus Artemonius, as cited by Bengel 2:494.

[2] It is not widely recognized that Abbott later expressed a preference for the traditional view; see below.

[3] Grammar §2050 and n. 2. In a later work Abbott remarks on John 20:28 thus: “The Jewish Shema declared that Jehovah was God and One; this Johannine Shema seems intended to suggest that the Lord Jesus and God are also One.” (Contributions §3578c).

[4] For example, of persons other than Jesus, Mat 21.30; Lu 13.8; John 12.21.

[5] Cf. Gildersleeve and Miller 1. §12; N. Turner, Syntax 34. One may compare the Marcan preference for r`abbi, (9.5; 11.21; 14.45) over kurie (‘lord’, only at 7.28) when disciples are addressing Jesus.

[6] Mat 8.25; 14.30; 15.25; Lu 11.1.

[7] Luke 9:54; 10.40; 12.41.

[8] See Gildersleeve and Miller 1:4-5, who, however, appear to distinguish between an anarthrous nominative (often preceded by w) used as a vocative (§12) and an articular nominative in opposition to an expressed or unexpressed vocative that is identical with the subject of the verb (§13), Abel (§42.(g)) depicts the anarthrous vocatival nominative as typical of Classical Greek, the articular vocatival nominative as more common in Hellenistic Greek, although both are found in the NT.

[9] Cf. BDF §147.(3); W. Foerster, TDNT 3:1086.

[10] Grammar §§2679-82 (this change of viewpoint was anticipated in one of his earlier footnotes, 95 n.3). Citing Origen’s reference (in commenting on John 13:13) ὑμεῖς φωνεῖτε με· ὁ διδάσκαλος,. Abbott (Grammar 521 n. 3) suggests that “it is quite possible that in xx.28 the original was EIPENAYTOTOOKYPIOS and that the second TO has been omitted.” He seeks to justify his proposal by noting the frequent interchange of ὁ and ὼ in the first century and the liability of τὸ scribal corruption when it was used in this or a similar way or when it was prefixed to interrogatives (e.g., Matt. 19:18; Gal 4:25).

[11] Cf. TDNT: “And Thomas exclaimed: ‘My Master, and my God!”

[12] One might supply oti egegermai ek vekpwv (cf. Rom 10:9) or "into my name" (cf. John 3:18).

[13] Winer has the curious comment: “Jn. 20:28, though directed to Jesus (unto him), is rather exclamation than address” (183).

[14] Thayer 366 s.v. “lord”; BAGD 357b; W. Foerster, TDNT 3:1086.

[15] As in John 1:48, where the same phrase occurs.

[16] In only 3 cases (viz., John 9:20, 36; 12:30) out of the 29 instances of “answered and said to him” (or “answered and said”) in the Fourth Gospel (excluding 20:28) is this phrase not followed by a dative of the person(s) addressed. But even in these cases a dative is clearly implied (in John 9:20, 36 a question precedes the reply).

[17] It is not impossible that “he said to him” is equivalent to “told them” ton kurios autou kai ton theon autou (note especially Gen. 21:33: “Abraham…here he called on the name of the LORD God”). But in no way could “them” be construed with what follows; in any case “them” (or “in them”) is regular Johannine diction for “to him” after “said”.

[18] It is possible, although unlikely, that following the address there is a suppressed statement (“I believe”) or even a suppressed request (“forgive [or help] my unbelief”).

[19] Moulton, Prolegomena 70; N. Turner, Syntax 34.

[20] But the parallel passage in Mark 15:34, following Ps. 21:2 (LXX [Engl. 22:1]), has “my

[21] It has been observed above (§A.1.b) that “the Lord of me” was preferred over “my lord” probably because it was more emphatic in tone and elevated in style, “lord” often meaning merely “sir!” in the Synoptic Gospels (reflecting contemporary usage; cf. Matt. 21:30). Behind the words of Thomas could be the Hebrew which might be rendered in Greek in at least four ways: (1) “the lord of me and the God of me” (cf. Rev. 18:20: “heaven and you saints”…, and the comment of Gildersleeve and Miller 1:4 n. 1), (2) “my lord and god” (cf. Matt. 15:22: “lord son” David), (3) “the lord and my god” or (4) “my Lord and my God” but not (5) “my lord and god”.

[22] Dodd, Studies 102-3 (= “Appearances” 143).

[23] Dodd, Tradition 145-46, 148; Studies 115-16.

[24] For this expression as “an element of genuine biblical G[ree]k”, see F. Buchsel, TDNT 3:945.

[25] These statistics are from Braun 3.1:401-2. If, then, there are only two characteristics of Johannine style in these six verses (John 20:24-29), this represents an average of 0.33 characteristics per verse, a statistic which may be compared with Nocol’s proposed range (25-26) for traditional material found within his “semeia source”, viz., 0.30-0.75, with an average of 0.58 characteristics per verse.

[26] Contra Riem, Studien 259-60, who sees John 20:28 with its reference to "god" as an editorial addition by the evangelist, although the Thomas episode as a whole is traditional material.

[27] For a discussion of the problem of historicity in John, see Brown, “Historicity”; Morris, Studies 65-138.

[28] One of the purposes of the Thomas episode is to show that for subsequent generations of Christians apostolic testimony is sufficient ground for faith in Christ. There is no need to repeat Thomas’ demand for sensory confirmation or incontrovertible physical evidence. Two passages in Paul would seem to form his commentary on the Thomas incident and on the dominical logion found in John 20:29: "faith comes by the preaching of Christ" (Rom 10:17) and "by faith…walk by sight" (2Cor. 5:7).

[29] John 4:48; 20:25.

[30] Temple, John 391; similarly H. A. Meyer, John 535; Loisy 511; Bernard, John 2:683.

[31] To render ginou by “become” is certainly not linguistically impossible; in fact, of the 51 uses of gi,nomoa in the Fourth Gospel, 34 may be translated “become” (or an equivalent meaning such as “come into being, be made, take place”). The other 17 (including 20:27) are best rendered by “be” (1:6, 15, 30; 2:1; 3:9; 5:6, 14a; 6:21; 7:43; 8:58; 9:22; 10:16, 19, 22; 12:42; 13:2; 20:27).

[32] Cf. J. N. Sanders 437; Bultmann, John 694 n.1; Moulton, Prolegomena 124-25.

[33] Brown, Gospel 2:1026.

[34] Benoit 269. Significantly D has me isthi. If me linou is rendered, “Do not show yourself [to be unbelieving]” (cf. Zerwick and Grosvenor 346), there is ambiguity as to Thomas’s state of belief.

[35] So, e.g., Lagrange, Jean 518; N. Turner, Syntax 345. Parallelism with John 1:50a, where causal oti [that] introduces a direct question, supports this interpretation. See per contra Beasly-Murray 386.

[36] It is significant that nearly 90% of the NT uses of “you” to express an emphatic denial, a relatively rare construction in Hellenistic Greek (N. Turner, Syntax 96 n.2), are found in Septuagintal quotations and sayings of Jesus (Moulton, Prolegomena 188-92).

[37] “Speak, say” (John 20:25) is probably iterative (“they kept telling”).

[38] On the meaning of me mou aptou (John 20:17), see Brown, Gospel 2:1011-12.

[39] That Thomas did not in fact touch Jesus seems implied by the simple ewpakas in John 20:29 (not ewpakas kai ehelaqwkas; cf. 1 John 1:1), although the invitation of Jesus was genuine, not ironical.

[40] Twv thurwv kekleismenwn is a concessive use of the genitive absolute (cf. 2Cor 2:12).

[41] For a defense of this position, see Morris, Studies 139-292.

[42] See W. Foerster, TDNT 3:1094.

[43] On this point, see further below, §C.2.b.

[44] In Phil 2:10 “Jesus” is a possessive rather than an epexegetic genitive: “lord” is the onoma [rank] given Jesus at his resurrection.

[45] Thus Suriano 309-10, 312; similarly Dodd, Tradition 145-46; Studies 115-16.

[46] Similarly Benoit 285.

[47] “only little by little did they [the disciples] come to a clear formulation of what they had obscurely felt. It needed time to transpose this great mystery into human language. We must therefore distinguish that deep faith, which is very old, preceding even the resurrection and springing into new life very soon after it, from its intellectual formulation, which took longer to come to fruition” (Benoit 286).

[48] See further, chapter XIII $E. While it is true that the confession “Jesus is Lord” (cf. John 20:28) postdates the giving of the Spirit (1Cor. 12.3), it seems arbitrary in the context of John 20 to equate this pouring out of the Spirit with the Lucan Pentecost of Acts 2 when John 20:22 alludes to (at least) an anticipation of that effusion or to the regeneration (note "breathe upon" enegusesen; cf. Gen 2.7; Ezek. 37:9) of the disciples after the resurrection yet before Pentecost. (On the interpretation of John 20:22, see Dunn, Baptism 173-82.) While he holds that “it was the resurrection of Jesus which gave the decisive stimulus to Christological thinking,” especially in regards to the terms “Lord” and “Messiah” (Luke 12.8), Marshall believes that “it took time” for the church to work out the full implications of the title “Son of God” until in the end it was recognized that Jesus might not inappropriately be called “God” (Origins 123).

[49] On the resurrection as the primary influence leading to the application of the title "the Lord" to Jesus, see V. Taylor, Person 49-50.

[50] Pseudo-Athanasius perceptively argued that one may deduce from the resurrection of Christ and his victory over death that he is “very Lord and God” (De Incarnatione 45:4).

[51] An objection of Theodore of Mopsuestia (Commentary on St. John’s Gospel 256:29-35), cited by Wiles, Gospel 30-31.

[52] For a fine discussion on what led to Thomas’ confession, see Milligan and Moulton 229.

[53] It is just possible of course, that the disciples had had an opportunity to inform Jesus of the content of Thomas’s indirect challenge to him.

[54] For a more tentative statement of this view, in light of his further proposal that the evangelist’s threefold use of "god"in reference to Jesus (John 1:1, 18; 20:28) may have arisen as a result of controversy between church and synagogue over Christian claims about the person of Jesus, see Mastin, “Christology” 46.

[55] On the Gospel’s date, see J.A.T. Robinson, Redating 254-311, who dates the formation of the Johannine tradition and the proto-Gospel in Jerusalem between 30 and 50, the first edition 50-55 in Asia Minor, while the final form of the Gospel (with the Prologue and Epilogue added) may be dated around 65; on the historicity of the Thomas pericope, see above, $B.

[56] Barrett, John 573, followed by Wainwright, Trinity 63 (=”Confession” 290).

[57] Liturgical features include the gathering of believers on the first day of the week, the Lord’s day (vv. 19, 26; cf. Acts 20:7; Rev. 1:10), the presence of Christ (vv. 19, 26), the blessing (vv. 19, 21, 26), the coming of the Spirit (v.22), the absolution (v.23), the confession of faith (v.28), and the benediction (v.29).

[58] See, for example, the discussions of Barrett, John 572-73, and Brown, Gospel 2:1047-48.

[59] Ps. 9:33 [10:12]; 85:15 [86:15]; 87.2 [88:1]. In this and the following notes, references are to LXX verse numbers; English verse numbers, where different, are bracketed.

[60] 2 Kgdms. [2Sam.] 15:31; 3 Kgdms. [1Kings] 17:21; Esther 4:17 (A); Tob. 3:11; Ps. 7:2,4,7 [vv.1,3,6]; 9:33 (A N2) [10:12]; 12:4 [13:3]; 29:3, 13 [30:2, 12]; 34:24 [35:24]; 37:16 [38:15]; 39:6 [40:5]; 85:12 [86:12]; 103:1 [104:1]; 108:26 [109:26]; Jonah 2:7 [v. 6]; Hab. 1:12 [A]; Isa. 25:1.

[61] 4 Kgdms. [2Kings] 19:19; 1 Chron. 29:16; 2Chron. 14:10 bis [v. 11]; 20:12; Ps. 98:8 [99:8]; 105:47 [106:47]; Isa. 26:12, 13; Bar. 2:12, 19, 27; Dan. 9:15, 17 [A].

[62] Ps. 80:11 [81:10].

[63] For example, Ps. 143:1 [144:1]; Jer 38:18 [31:18].

[64] For example, 2 Esdras [Ezra] 9:9; Ps. 98:9 [99:9].

[65] Jer. 38:18 [31:18]; Bar. 2:15; 3:6.

[66] 2 Macc. 1:27; Ps. 15:2 [16:2]; 96:9 [97:9]; 117:28 bis [118:28]; 139:7 [140:6]; 142:10 (B N) [143:10]; Hos. 2:25 [Engl. v.23]; Isa. 44:17; Jer. 3:22.

[67] It is remarkable that “my”, not “our” , is found, for other disciples were present. Such a pronoun belongs to the confessional style, not to any polemical interest (cf. Kramer 222, speaking of the significance of “our” with “the Lord Jesus Christ”). On “My God” in the OT, see Essfeldt.

[68] On this point see, $D below.

[69] Cf. Bultmann, John 695 n.1; Strathmann, Johannes 259-60.

[70] So Dodd, Interpretation 430.

[71] See above, $A.1.b.

[72] W. Foerster has observed (TDNT 3:1091 and n.266) that in the world contemporary with primitive Christianity there are no instances of a distinction in rank between “god” and “lord” in which “lord” is an intermediary god.

[73] In postexilic Judaism the practice arose of avoiding the pronunciation of the “proper name” of God. Thus the tretragrammaton [YHWH] was replaced (probably early in the third century B.C.) by “Adonai” whenever Scripture was read, recited, or quoted or by “heaven” in free speech (apart from references to Scripture). Subsequently (probably after the early second century A.D.) the use of “Lord” for YHWH was restricted to liturgical reading in synagogue worship, with “the name” being used in other situations involving Scripture, such as private reading or quotation. Even the use of “heaven” in general speech outside Scripture quotations became taboo and was replaced by “the place”=heaven=God), except in certain stereotyped expressions such as “for God’s sake.” This reverential avoidance of the “ineffable name” may have arisen from a particular understanding of the third commandment (Exod. 20:7; Deu 5.11), from the belief that the simple utterance of the sacred tetragrammaton was a capital offence (Lev. 24.16), or from a fear that to pronounce the divine name would be to reduce God to the status of a pagan deity who was addressed by a personal name. Or perhaps later Judaism was simply fulfilling the rabbinic injunction: “Make a hedge about the law” (Pirke Aboth 1:1). On the other hand, “Adonai, YHWH, name” were freely used in the reading or quoting of Scripture, in religious texts, and in prayers, although probably not in free speech. This information is drawn largely from K.G. Kuhn, TDNT 3:92-94. Cf. also SB 2:308-19; Parke-Taylor 79-96.

[74] Behind “my Lord” may lie “Adonai” but not YHWH (which never takes pronominal suffixes).

[75] A careful distinction should be drawn between the Father “the Lord God” (=Adonai YHWH)—a designation never used of Christ in the NT—and Christ as “my Lord and my God”. While distinct from YHWH, Christ shares his status and his nature.

[76] It is unnecessary to assume that the ascension occurs between John 20:17 and 20:19, so that 20:22 is the Johannine Pentecost (see Dunn, Baptism 174-77).

[77] Although “lord” is the distinctive title and name that the NT uses of the resurrected and ascended Jesus (e.g., 2Cor. 5:6, 8; 1Thess. 4:15-17) as universal sovereign and as head of the church, the concept of his being “Lord” doubtless arose during his earthly life as a consequence of his authoritative teaching and divine power (see Mar 11:3; 12:35-37, citing Ps. 110:1; cf. John 13:13-14). That is, the pre-resurrection historical experience of the lordship of Jesus foreshadowed the post resurrection theological confession of Jesus as Lord. But some believe that the disciples advanced beyond Unitarian monotheism even before the resurrection. For instance, Dreyfus affirms that no Jew on his own initiative could conceive of anything as apparently contrary to monotheism as the adoration of a divine being distinct from God the Father, but he finds the stimulus that surrounded this monotheistic obstacle for the early Christians not in the resurrection of Jesus—“it postulated neither divination nor preexistence”(59)—but in the teaching of Jesus himself regarding his preexistence and divinity, teaching that God confirmed by the resurrection (53-71). For a convincing defense of the thesis that NT Christology is best regarded as the development and articulation of “what was already there from the beginning” (3), rather than as an evolutionary process involving the emergence of new species or the accretion of elements alien to the historical Jesus, see C.F.D. Moule, Origin.

[78] So also B. Weiss, “Gebrauch” 331.

[79] This point is made by Brown, Gospel 2:1060.

[80] Fortna, however, finds a tension between the “high Christology” of v. 28 and the “more primitive Messianism” of v. 31 (197-98).

[81] Given John 1:1 and 1:18, it is quite admissible to discern in “I and the Father are one” (John 10.30; cf. 17.11, 22-23; 1Cor 3.8) more than unity of will or purpose but less than identity of person. Equality of divine power (10.28-29) points to unity of divine essence (10.30: “we are one”). Surjansky finds “we are one” a unity of nature and existence (84-87). On the exegesis of John 10:30 in early trinitarian controversies, see Pollard, “Exegesis”.

[82] The inadequacy of Harvey’s “agent Christology” may be seen in his comment on the implications of “god” in John 20.28: Thomas is there portrayed as addressing Jesus as the fully accredited divine agent “to speak to whom was as if to speak to God himself” (Jesus 172; cf. 166; italics mine).

[83] That Thomas here acknowledges the deity of Jesus is recognized, inter alios [among other], by Winkenhauser 344-45; Lagrange, Jean 518; Godet, John 2:424-25; Westcott, Gospel 297; Milligan and Moulton 229; Schulz 246; Wainwright, Trinity 6 (=”Confession” 289); Schnackenberg, John 3:333; J. Schneider, Johannes 324 (“ein Wesen gottlicher Art”); Pollard, Christology 16. It is interesting that in the Acts of Thomas (26) Jesus Christ is described as “Lord and Father god” (cf. “God and our Lord Jesus Christ” in Eusebius, HE 5:28:11; cited by Neufeld 80 n.9).

[84] For John “signs” are miraculous evidences that point to spiritual truths and may prompt faith (compare John 20:25 and 4:48), doubt, or simply amazement. Once he had been convinced of the reality of the resurrected one, Thomas recognized in the resurrection appearances a token of the godhood of Jesus. The word “other” (“signs”) in John 20:30, occurring immediately after the Thomas episode, seems to imply that the post-resurrection appearances are among the “signs” (so also Brown, Gospel 2:1058-59; Mahoney 268-70; see per cotra K. H. Rengstorf, TDNT 7:254-55.

[85] The name “lord” that Jesus received from the Father at his resurrection-exaltation was not only an appellation but also signified an office or rank (onona) which had not been his previously, except de jure, viz., the exercise of the function of “lordship” in the spiritual sphere, cosmic dominion over all sentient beings. See further, Martin 249-83.

[86] Cf. Godet, John 2:425, who rightly observes that Thomas believes not merely in the fact of the resurrection but in the divinity of Jesus.

[87] Note the comment of Josephus on the failure of Herod Agrippa 1 to repudiate the adulation of sycophants when they reverenced him “as superior to mortal nature”: “The king did not rebuke them nor did he reject their flattery as impious” (Ant. 19:345). With this compare the reproof that Paul and Barnabas gave to the people of Lystra when they attempted to offer sacrifice to them (Acts 14:8-18) and the angelic remonstrance (“worship God!”) delivered to John when he “fell down at his feet to worship him” (Rev. 19.9-10). See further Bauckham, “Worship” 322-31, 335.

[88] Cf. Athanasius Orat. C. Ar. 2:23-24 (=PG 26:196-97).

[89] Verse 28 marks the cessation of Thomas’ disbelief in the testimony of others and in Jesus himself as risen, plus the fulfillment of “but…believe” (v.27).

[90] Warfield therefore finds in John 20:28 “an item of self-testimony on our Lord’s part to His Godhead" (Lord 182).

[91] In John 1.50 there is a similar implicit commendation by Jesus of a confession of faith (John 1.49; and note “believed” in 1.50).

[92] The word of the centurion, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15.39) represents a similar climax within Mark’s Gospel, having the evangelist’s endorsement as a fitting confession.

[93] John 6.23 (but some Western witnesses omit); 11.2; 13.13-14 (4.1 probably should read “Jesus” not “lord”).

[94] Either in the sense of “sir” (John 4:11, 15, 19, 49; 5.7; 9.36; 12.21) or “Lord” (John 6.34, 68; 9.38; 11.3, 12, 21, 27, 32, 34, 39; 13.6, 9, 25, 36, 37; 14.5, 8, 22).

[95] John 20.2, 13, 18, 20, 25, 28; cf. 21.7, 12; “lord” means “sir” in John 20.15 but “Lord” in John 21.15, 16, 17, 20, 21.

[96] But the Gospel probably never circulated without chapter 21, for no extant manuscript omits chapter 21 and P66 (which may be dated c.200) contains 20:25-21:9.

[97] For a contrary view, se Lagrange, Jean 520 (John 20:30-31, originally the concluding verses of the Gospel, at first followed 21:23 but was displaced to its present position through the addition of 21:24-25 by John’s disciples), and, at greater length, Vaganay (who develops Lagranges’ theory but regards John 21:24 as authentic); also Fortna 7 n. 1, 87-88.

[98] These are adapted from Mahoney 15-16.

[99] See the judicious discussion of Carson, John 665-68.

[100] It is these two examples of inclusio that prevent the dismissal of John 1.1 and 20:28 as merely “isolated instances” within Johannine Christology (the view of Granbery 105).

[101] Cf. Mastin “Christology” 42-43; Carson, Responsibility 147.

[102] So also Cullmann, Christology 308. But H. E. W. Turner (28) goes further: “Even the words of Thomas draw out the implications of the language of Phil 2.6; Tit. 2.13 and possibly Rom. 9.5.”

No comments: