John 6:70 - DIABOLOS and Colwell/ Harner/ Dixon
Tue, 31 Dec 96 13:11:20 MST

I just read in one Grammar in my possession that states that the modern
renderings of John 6:70b are incorrect because they translate the pre-EIMI
anarthrous predicate nominative DIABOLOS as "a devil" rather than "the
Devil". To quote: "But in John 6:70 modern translations have fallen into
the error of the King James translators." At which I marvel how some make
money selling these books. I further marvel that I spent my own money
buying it.

My objection is not that DIABOLOS *could* be definite, it *could* be
grammatically speaking. However, I disagree that the anarthrous/
qualitative preference should be criticized given the application to Judas.


KJV and one of you is a devil?
NKJ and one of you is a devil?"
ASV and one of you is a devil?
RSV and one of you is a devil?"
NRS Yet one of you is a devil."
NIV Yet one of you is a devil!"
NAS and yet one of you is a devil?"
NAB and yet one of you is a devil?"
NWT yet one of you is a slanderer.
BBE and one of you is a son of the Evil One?
YLT and of you--one is a devil.

The grammar cites two reasons:
1) There is only one devil. (presupposition?)
2) Colwell's "rule"

First, I am under the impression that there are many devils. 2 Tim 3:3
states that men would be DIABOLOI. [Although there is only one definite
DIABOLOS]. The word DIABOLOS in itself does not suggest a spirit or man.

Second, Colwell stated in connection with his observations (in "A Definite
Rule," p.20): "if the *context suggests* that the predicate is definite, it
should be translated as a definite noun." [emphasis mine]. Hardly an
inviolable "rule."

Harner's (in JBL, 1973) and Paul Dixon's analysis of pre-copulative
anarthrous predicate nominatives suggests a qualitative emphasis rather
than definite. In application to John 6:70b, this would make Judas 'one who
reflects the nature or character or qualitites of the devil,' but this
would not make DIABOLOS definite. Even Harner stated that in English one
might need to insert the "a" even if qualitative (e.g. John 9:24 hOUTOS hO
ANQRWPOS hAMARTWLOS ESTIN "this man is *a* sinner")

I agree that *grammatically* one can translate the John 6:70 to be
definite. However, I see no objection to what I consider to be more
plausible, that DIABOLOS describes Judas' character and that he is also one
of the class of all those who can be called DIABOLOI.

Is this how others see it as well?

Wes Williams