Why didn't Thomas use the Vocative Case?

Some Muslim writers have taken to using the writings of the Jehovah's Witnesses (or JWs for short), a deviant sect of Christianity. Unlike Christians, JWs do not believe in the Trinity.

One curious JW argument is based on the fact that Thomas' exclamation to Jesus ("My Lord and My God!") uses not the Vocative case of the nouns, but the Nominative.

So one Muslim wrote the following feedback:

Also, the comment in John's Gospel where Thomas says "My lord and my God" is not directed to Jesus. I think the Gospel is written in Greek (and then ambiguously translated into English). The rules of Greek grammar mean that a statement like "My lord and my God" must be in the vocative-case if they are directed to someone present, but these words are in the nominitive-case. This means the comment is directed to someone else who is not present, ie. God in heaven.

Put simply, this argument relies on ignorance. There is no rule in Greek (or any other human language, to my knowledge) which distinguishes whether or not the person being addressed is present.

Furthermore, when used with the definite article (the word "the" in English), the nominative CAN act as a vocative. And although it is not obvious in most English translations, John 20:28 does use the definite article. (It literally says, "The Lord of me and the God of me!"

Finally, let me offer a counter-example. If there is indeed a rule of Greek grammar that states that someone not physically present (for instance, God) may not be addressed in the vocative case, then God should never be addressed in the vocative case in the New Testament. But there ARE counter-examples of God being addressed using the vocative case. For instance, Acts 1:24: When God is addressed here as "Lord", the word "Lord" in Greek is "kurie", which is in the vocative case.

Sorry to go into such detail. But when an incorrect argument relies on technicalities, we must use technicalities to answer it.

So the bottom line is this: whether Thomas was addressing Jesus (as Christians say) or God the Father (as JWs and some Muslims say), the grammar would be exactly the same. Just who is being addressed must be determined from context. And since Jesus is being spoken to, obviously the exclamation "my Lord and my God" is addressed to Jesus.

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