This post is the second of two that examines the John 20:28 in the light of the Shema. The focus of this post will be on whether the Jews pronounced the divine name Yahweh, what substitutes they may have used for it and also what was the importance placed on the Shema in the Jewish culture.
The purpose of this short post will be to look at one possible interpretation that the Jews had of psalm 89:27. This verse is referenced by Jesus in John 10:35 when defending his claim to be equal to God and speaks of beings other than God as being called gods. Reference has been made to this verse to prove that being Jesus is not necessarily seen as God almighty in John 20:28 but is merely a god in the same sense as those referenced in psalm 89:27.
The recent delivery of the book “Who is this Son of Man” edited by Larry W. Hurtado and Paul L. Owen has given me cause to further expand my studies in John 20:28. What got me thinking here was an instructive essay by Lukaszewski which examined the value of Aramaic reconstructions of the “son of man” phrase found in the Gospels.
This post will provide a few thoughts as to the applicability of Lukaszewski’s study when considering John 20:28.
John 20:28 and the Testimony of Luke/Acts – Part 1
I have been thinking recently about the aftermath of Thomas’ confession of Christ as Lord and God in John 20:28. This was truly a momentous moment in the development of Christian theology; despite this its impact seems to have grown slowly. We do not see the same clear statements of Jesus as God in Acts as we find in Thomas’ confession of Jesus. For some, this relative silence casts doubt on whether Thomas can have thought of Jesus as God in the traditional Christian sense of this term.
The problem outlined above may be termed in the following way: due to the incredible nature of the understanding that Jesus is God incarnate, surely the early Christians would not have been silent about this when preaching to the world. Furthermore, given this doctrine’s place in Christian theology as a fundamental tenet necessary for salvation how could it not have been loudly and clearly proclaimed.
This post will form the first of a multi-part series, the purpose of which will be to argue that the claimed silence of Acts does not impact the view that there is a high Christology in John 20:28. In the course of these posts I will also summarise an argument that Lord and God in John 20:28 were not intended as ontological statements, but as titles pointing to Jesus’s true identity. This focus on Jesus’ identity and not his ontology fits in well within the context of Acts.
“[The] origins [of Thomas’ words] are most likely to be found in the political arena and the address “Our Lord and God” may reflect the edict of Domitian, who insisted that he be called Dominus et Deus Noster (“Our Lord and God”).”
“The Roman emperor Domitian (a.d. 81–96) in particular, during whose tenure the Fourth Gospel most likely was written, wished to be addressed as dominus et deus noster, “our Lord and God” (Suetonius, Domitian 13.2). Hence, the present reference may on a secondary level be designed to counter Roman emperor worship”
The purpose of this post will be to merely start raising a few questions around the relevance of references to Domitian when assessing Thomas’ words “My Lord and my God”. My focus in this post will be only on the Jewish background, and not on how they were interpreted at the time of Domitian.
Broadly speaking, two approaches that must be considered when referencing Domitian in discussions of John 20:28:
1. Thomas’ words as recorded in the Bible were spoken by him. The primary interpretive focus ought therefore to be on what they meant to Thomas and his immediate audience. The reason for recording them in the Gospel of John is also important, as is the way they were understood by John’s audience but these are secondary considerations.
2. Thomas’ words as recorded in the Bible were attributed to Thomas by a later author whether John or a Johannine community/redactor. This was in an attempt to counter references to Domitian with similar words.
The purpose of this post is to briefly examine the impact that the previous appearances and disappearance of Jesus would have had on Thomas’ understanding as to who he was. It will be shown that supernatural disappearance of Jesus in Luke 24:31 and the supernatural appearance in Luke 24:36/John 19:19 would have contributed to Thomas’ confession of Jesus as God. The appearance of Jesus in the latter two passages will also be demonstrated to have been despite locked doors – something that helps explain Thomas’ request for physical proof.
Just because Thomas spoke directly to Jesus when stating “my Lord and My God”, this may not mean he was calling Jesus Lord and God. This is the claim raised by some authors who use 1 Samuel 20:12 as a proof text of this contention. Does the grammar and the context of this passage show a valid counter-example to the trinitarian understanding of John 20:28?
This post will conclude that the grammar of the passage shows clear indications of an oath being given to David that invoked God’s name as confirmation. Ancient translations and some of the textual variant issues will be briefly touched on here also.