The linguistic subject of John 20:28

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
Levinsohn’s “Discourse Features, page 136” presents 5 rules for determining the the default marked encoding for subjects.

  1. If the subject is the same as the previous clause no overt reference is made to the subject. (Luke 15:13b)
  2. If the subject was the addressee of an immediately preceding speech, an articular pronoun or no overt reference is used. (Luke 15:12b)
  3. If a non subject in one clause becomes the subject of the next and a major participant is interacting with a minor participant or is alone, no reference is made to the subject. (Luke 15:15-16a)
  4. In all other occasions that involve a change of subject, a full noun phrase is used to refer to the subject. (Luke 15:12a)
  5. If the subject of a genitive absolute …. (Luke 14:24a)

Here is my application. Thomas is the activated subject in John 20:24, the addressee of 25a and the subject of 25b. In 26 the subject starts with Thomas and switches to Jesus with a subject noun phrase. Jesus continues as the subject in 27 with Thomas as a major participant.

In 28a, the subject changes to Thomas and there is no subject noun phrase to change it for 28b.

Therefore the grammatical subject of the exclamation would naturally be Thomas based on these linguistics rules.

Jesus and God or Jesus as God would be the complement to the grammatical subject, not the grammatical subject. The addressee is Jesus.

Comments?

@John Milton
@The Real John Milton
@Gryllus Maior
 

The Real John Milton

Well-known member
Levinsohn’s “Discourse Features, page 136” presents 5 rules for determining the the default marked encoding for subjects.

  1. If the subject is the same as the previous clause no overt reference is made to the subject. (Luke 15:13b)
  2. If the subject was the addressee of an immediately preceding speech, an articular pronoun or no overt reference is used. (Luke 15:12b)
  3. If a non subject in one clause becomes the subject of the next and a major participant is interacting with a minor participant or is alone, no reference is made to the subject. (Luke 15:15-16a)
  4. In all other occasions that involve a change of subject, a full noun phrase is used to refer to the subject. (Luke 15:12a)
  5. If the subject of a genitive absolute …. (Luke 14:24a)

Here is my application. Thomas is the activated subject in John 20:24, the addressee of 25a and the subject of 25b. In 26 the subject starts with Thomas and switches to Jesus with a subject noun phrase. Jesus continues as the subject in 27 with Thomas as a major participant.

In 28a, the subject changes to Thomas and there is no subject noun phrase to change it for 28b.

Therefore the grammatical subject of the exclamation would naturally be Thomas based on these linguistics rules.

Jesus and God or Jesus as God would be the complement to the grammatical subject, not the grammatical subject. The addressee is Jesus.

Comments?

@John Milton
@The Real John Milton
@Gryllus Maior

I agree that the words are directed towards Jesus (εἶπεν αὐτῷ), but that Jesus is not being directly addressed here because of the nominative ὁ κύριός. Important to remember that the exclamation is for the benefit of the reading (and/or listening) audience. There are two parts to the exclamation -- the first part of the exclamation calls Jesus ὁ κύριός μου, and the second part of the exclamation (separated by καὶ) calls the Father in Jesus (see John 14:9) ὁ Θεός μου. When a writer wishes to distinguish individuals in a statement a TSKTS construction is invariably used. If both parts of the exclamation applied to Jesus, then the apostle would have used a TSKS construction at John 20:28 . Here is Daniel Wallace, Sharp Redivivus? A Reexamination of the Granville Sharp Rule :

The papyri were seen, then, to be very much in step with the classical authors and the NT. Further, when a writer wanted to distinguish individuals—and there were scores of instances in which distinct individuals were in view—he or she invariably used a second article (TSKTS)—except, of course, when a proper name was involved. In fact, one might be a bit surprised to find in this vulgar Greek even convoluted constructions where the writer still remembered the second article. For example, in P. Oxy. 494.22-23 we read of “my wife . . . and my son” (hJ gunhv mou kaiV . . . oJ uiJov" mou), where three words intervene; similarly, P. Giess. 80.3-4: “her papa and . . . the mother” (oJ pavpa" aujth'" kaiV . . . hJ mhvthr); BGU 1680.4-8 reads “my sister and . . . his wife . . . and her husband and . . .the son” (thVn ajdelfhvn mou kaiV . . . thVn gunai'ka aujtou' . . . kaiV toVn a[ndra aujth'" kaiV . . . toVn uiJovn), all clear references to different people. P. Columb. Inventory 480.2-3 mentions “the farmer of the tax on slaves and the controller” (oJ pragmateuovmeno" thVn wjdhVn ajndrapovdwn kaiV oJ ajntigrafeuv").120

So if I exclaimed , "My wife and my son" (using a TSKTS construction, i.e. ἡ γυνή μου καὶ ὁ υἱὸς μου ) I'm not directing the words that come after the καὶ to my wife but to someone else, namely my son.

Compare the two statements, the grammatical structure is identical -- ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου versus ἡ γυνή μου καὶ ὁ υἱὸς μου.

Now if I wanted to address the entire statement and apply it to Jesus alone, I would have penned the statement rather slightly differently. For starters I would have used the vocative of κύριός and removed the second article from my expression, like so: κύριε μου καὶ θεός μου. Essentially there would be no articles left in the expression. Even better would have been κύριε μου καὶ θεέ μου. Even had the apostle penned the following, ὁ κύριός μου καὶ θεός μου a case could have been made that both parts of the exclamation applied to Jesus.
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
I agree that the words are directed towards Jesus (εἶπεν αὐτῷ), but that Jesus is not being directly addressed here because of the nominative ὁ κύριός. Important to remember that the exclamation is for the benefit of the reading (and/or listening) audience. There are two parts to the exclamation -- the first part of the exclamation calls Jesus ὁ κύριός μου, and the second part of the exclamation (separated by καὶ) calls the Father in Jesus (see John 14:9) ὁ Θεός μου. When a writer wishes to distinguish individuals in a statement a TSKTS construction is invariably used. If both parts of the exclamation applied to Jesus, then the apostle would have used a TSKS construction at John 20:28 . Here is Daniel Wallace, Sharp Redivivus? A Reexamination of the Granville Sharp Rule :



So if I exclaimed , "My wife and my son" (using a TSKTS construction, i.e. ἡ γυνή μου καὶ ὁ υἱὸς μου ) I'm not directing the words that come after the καὶ to my wife but to someone else, namely my son.

Compare the two statements, the grammatical structure is identical -- ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου versus ἡ γυνή μου καὶ ὁ υἱὸς μου.

Now if I wanted to address the entire statement and apply it to Jesus alone, I would have penned the statement rather slightly differently. For starters I would have used the vocative of κύριός and removed the second article from my expression, like so: κύριε μου καὶ θεός μου. Essentially there would be no articles left in the expression. Even better would have been κύριε μου καὶ θεέ μου. Even had the apostle penned the following, ὁ κύριός μου καὶ θεός μου a case could have been made that both parts of the exclamation applied to Jesus.

If that is really what "addressee" unequivocally means, that a title "My Lord and my God" being addressed to Jesus identifies him as "My Lord and my God" then I agree with you. I did not take it that way.

The only way that could be proven would be something like "You are my Lord and my God."

Perhaps some first appeal to a nominative for vocative and then equate that as being addressed?
 

The Real John Milton

Well-known member
If that is really what "addressee" unequivocally means, that a title "My Lord and my God" being addressed to Jesus identifies him as "My Lord and my God" then I agree with you. I did not take it that way.

The only way that could be proven would be something like "You are my Lord and my God."

Perhaps some first appeal to a nominative for vocative and then equate that as being addressed?

Don't know what you're saying exactly. Had apostle John written the following, Σὺ εἶ ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου, for starters, this could no longer be a nominative of exclamation.

This is what Wallace writes in his GGBB p. 60-61 under the sub-heading VI Nominative of Exclamation:

"A Definition

The nominative substantive is used in an exclamation without any grammatical connection to the rest of the sentence.

B clarification and Significance

The use of the nominative is actually a sub category of the nominative for vocative. However, we will treat it separately and make this (somewhat) arbitrary distinction. Nominative of exclamation will not be used in direct address. It is a primitive use of the language where emotion overrides syntax: The emotional topic is exclaimed without any verb stated.

Had apostle John written Σὺ εἶ... the Trinitarian argument could have held some water. Even so the TSKTS construction would have made for a very strange syntax with the verb. But as is, the Trinitarian position is rendered practically impossible here, grammatically speaking.
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
Don't know what you're saying exactly. Had apostle John written the following, Σὺ εἶ ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου, for starters, this could no longer be a nominative of exclamation.

This is what Wallace writes in his GGBB p. 60-61 under the sub-heading VI Nominative of Exclamation:



Had apostle John written Σὺ εἶ... the Trinitarian argument could have held some water. Even so the TSKTS construction would have made for a very strange syntax with the verb. But as is, the Trinitarian position is rendered practically impossible here, grammatically speaking.

In the paper I just co-authored that is what Harris says it means and he calls it exclamatory address.

The quotes from Harris are all there. It's not exactly like Wallace.
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
Don't know what you're saying exactly. Had apostle John written the following, Σὺ εἶ ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου, for starters, this could no longer be a nominative of exclamation.

This is what Wallace writes in his GGBB p. 60-61 under the sub-heading VI Nominative of Exclamation:



Had apostle John written Σὺ εἶ... the Trinitarian argument could have held some water. Even so the TSKTS construction would have made for a very strange syntax with the verb. But as is, the Trinitarian position is rendered practically impossible here, grammatically speaking.

To just categorize it as nominative for vocative is not an argument. I don't see where Wallace makes an argument.
 

John Milton

Active member
Levinsohn’s “Discourse Features, page 136” presents 5 rules for determining the the default marked encoding for subjects.

  1. If the subject is the same as the previous clause no overt reference is made to the subject. (Luke 15:13b)
  2. If the subject was the addressee of an immediately preceding speech, an articular pronoun or no overt reference is used. (Luke 15:12b)
  3. If a non subject in one clause becomes the subject of the next and a major participant is interacting with a minor participant or is alone, no reference is made to the subject. (Luke 15:15-16a)
  4. In all other occasions that involve a change of subject, a full noun phrase is used to refer to the subject. (Luke 15:12a)
  5. If the subject of a genitive absolute …. (Luke 14:24a)

Here is my application. Thomas is the activated subject in John 20:24, the addressee of 25a and the subject of 25b. In 26 the subject starts with Thomas and switches to Jesus with a subject noun phrase. Jesus continues as the subject in 27 with Thomas as a major participant.

In 28a, the subject changes to Thomas and there is no subject noun phrase to change it for 28b.

Therefore the grammatical subject of the exclamation would naturally be Thomas based on these linguistics rules.

Jesus and God or Jesus as God would be the complement to the grammatical subject, not the grammatical subject. The addressee is Jesus.

Comments?

@John Milton
@The Real John Milton
@Gryllus Maior
My comment: I think you are confused about what a grammatical subject is.
 

John Milton

Active member
I agree that the words are directed towards Jesus (εἶπεν αὐτῷ), but that Jesus is not being directly addressed here because of the nominative ὁ κύριός. Important to remember that the exclamation is for the benefit of the reading (and/or listening) audience. There are two parts to the exclamation -- the first part of the exclamation calls Jesus ὁ κύριός μου, and the second part of the exclamation (separated by καὶ) calls the Father in Jesus (see John 14:9) ὁ Θεός μου. When a writer wishes to distinguish individuals in a statement a TSKTS construction is invariably used. If both parts of the exclamation applied to Jesus, then the apostle would have used a TSKS construction at John 20:28 . Here is Daniel Wallace, Sharp Redivivus? A Reexamination of the Granville Sharp Rule :



So if I exclaimed , "My wife and my son" (using a TSKTS construction, i.e. ἡ γυνή μου καὶ ὁ υἱὸς μου ) I'm not directing the words that come after the καὶ to my wife but to someone else, namely my son.

Compare the two statements, the grammatical structure is identical -- ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου versus ἡ γυνή μου καὶ ὁ υἱὸς μου.

Now if I wanted to address the entire statement and apply it to Jesus alone, I would have penned the statement rather slightly differently. For starters I would have used the vocative of κύριός and removed the second article from my expression, like so: κύριε μου καὶ θεός μου. Essentially there would be no articles left in the expression. Even better would have been κύριε μου καὶ θεέ μου. Even had the apostle penned the following, ὁ κύριός μου καὶ θεός μου a case could have been made that both parts of the exclamation applied to Jesus.
I think too much of the discussion involving TSKS and TSKTS constructions revolves around the number of "persons" involved, the ultimate aim being to argue for or against the divinity of Jesus. How many people are in view here: εἰ οὖν ἐγὼ ἔνιψα ὑμῶν τοὺς πόδας ὁ κύριος καὶ ὁ διδάσκαλος, καὶ ὑμεῖς ὀφείλετε ἀλλήλων νίπτειν τοὺς πόδας? Why must John 20:28 be any different?
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
I think too much of the discussion involving TSKS and TSKTS constructions revolves around the number of "persons" involved, the ultimate aim being to argue for or against the divinity of Jesus. How many people are in view here: εἰ οὖν ἐγὼ ἔνιψα ὑμῶν τοὺς πόδας ὁ κύριος καὶ ὁ διδάσκαλος, καὶ ὑμεῖς ὀφείλετε ἀλλήλων νίπτειν τοὺς πόδας? Why must John 20:28 be any different?

Your comment about the obsession about these constructions only being about the number of persons certainly holds true with texts like Titus 2:13.

One reason is that it ignores whether or not και is copulatlve or adjunctive.

Another is that και may be "adding" something entirely different than a personal referent in a text.
 

John Milton

Active member
I am listening.

In the Harris view, Σὺ εἶ ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου, Jesus (σύ) is the grammatical subject.

What do you say it is?
I've already answered you on this matter. There is no need to understand a finite verb here. The utterance can stand on its own and be understood as a direct address/appellative or an exclamation. The entire utterance is compound grammatical subject (κύριός and θεός with modifiers), and the logical subject is Jesus.
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
I've already answered you on this matter. There is no need to understand a finite verb here. The utterance can stand on its own and be understood as a direct address/appellative or an exclamation. The entire utterance is compound grammatical subject (κύριός and θεός with modifiers), and the logical subject is Jesus.

That is not what AT Robertson says.

A mental idea requires subject and predicate. You may try to ignore the verb but the verb is central to Greek.

After all, the whole point of making the phrase vocative for Trinitarians is to say Jesus is God.

Harris admits this.

In your view the only reason that Jesus is the logical subject is because you force the phrase to be vocative and assert that Thomas meant to address Jesus as God.

To say Jesus is the subject runs counter to Linguistic grammar.

So if we assume linguistics is correct, Thomas is the subject, my Lord and my God is the complement and the verb is what Jesus just commanded Thomas to do immediately before the exclamation.
 

John Milton

Active member
Your comment about the obsession about these constructions only being about the number of persons certainly holds true with texts like Titus 2:13.
It holds true with most, if not, all of the Christological texts where it could be applied. I'm not sure why you feel otherwise.
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
It holds true with most, if not, all of the Christological texts where it could be applied. I'm not sure why you feel otherwise.

For one, it is circular reasoning. Even Sharp said his rule required the copulative και. Middleton just said it requires the copulatlve. But Sharp's revisionists have dropped that requirement and say any old και will do. Not so.
 

John Milton

Active member
That is not what AT Robertson says.

A mental idea requires subject and predicate. You may try to ignore the verb but the verb is central to Greek.

After all, the whole point of making the phrase vocative for Trinitarians is to say Jesus is God.

Harris admits this.

In your view the only reason that Jesus is the logical subject is because you force the phrase to be vocative and assert that Thomas meant to address Jesus as God.

To say Jesus is the subject runs counter to Linguistic grammar.

So if we assume linguistics is correct, Thomas is the subject, my Lord and my God is the complement and the verb is what Jesus just commanded Thomas to do immediately before the exclamation.
I must make this comment first because the assertion is so absurd: Thomas is in no way the subject of this verse! It is laughable that you would even suggest it. This is greater error than I've seen even from RJM; and that is truly saying something!

A mental idea, does not require a subject and a predicate. In many instances, sure. In all instances, no. A child doesn't run up to his father shouting, "Daddy!" with a particular verbal construction in mind, nor does the father wonder what verb the child intended. The expression stands on its own, and pragmatic features make the utterance understandable. To illustrate the point, the same phrase uttered by the same child to the same parent in front of friends at school may mean something entirely different...
 

John Milton

Active member
For one, it is circular reasoning. Even Sharp said his rule required the copulative και. Middleton just said it requires the copulatlve. But Sharp's revisionists have dropped that requirement and say any old και will do. Not so.
I'm not sure you understood my point, but it doesn't matter.
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
I must make this comment first because the assertion is so absurd: Thomas is in no way the subject of this verse! It is laughable that you would even suggest it. This is greater error than I've seen even from RJM; and that is truly saying something!

A mental idea, does not require a subject and a predicate. In many instances, sure. In all instances, no. A child doesn't run up to his father shouting, "Daddy!" with a particular verbal construction in mind, nor does the father wonder what verb the child intended. The expression stands on its own, and pragmatic features make the utterance understandable. To illustrate the point, the same phrase uttered by the same child to the same parent in front of friends at school may mean something entirely different...

Levinsohn is speaking about Greek linguistics. You cannot contrive an English example.

Thomas is the grammatical subject of John 20:28a already.

According to Levinsohn's rules it does not change at 20:28b.
 

John Milton

Active member
Levinsohn is speaking about Greek linguistics. You cannot contrive an English example.

Thomas is the grammatical subject of John 20:28a already.

According to Levinsohn's rules it does not change at 20:28b.
It is clear that you don't know Greek, so I gave you an example you would understand. That the expression may stand alone in Greek without a verb is evident in this passage and the countless others where no verb is given.

You clearly misunderstand Levinsohn.
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
It is clear that you don't know Greek, so I gave you an example you would understand. That the expression may stand alone in Greek without a verb is evident in this passage and the countless others where no verb is given.

You clearly misunderstand Levinsohn.

Without an expressed verb, yes. Without a mental one, no. And without a verb absolutely nobody is called God at John 20:28. Harris admits it in a footnote.
 
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