Re: John 6:70 - DIABOLOS and Colwell/ Harner/ Dixon

From: Paul Dixon - Ladd Hill Bible Church (
Date: Thu Jan 02 1997 - 00:41:28 EST


It was my Th.M. thesis, "The Significance of the Anarthrous Predicate
Nominative in John" (referenced several times in Wallace's grammar) to
which you refer.

I wrote the thesis for two reasons: 1) to show that Colwell's Rule was
being abused both by himself and others who attempted to apply his rule to
determine definiteness (the rule assumes definiteness and affirms the
probability of articularity, not vice versa which is the converse); thus,
Colwell's rule cannot be used to affirm definiteness, nor the probability
of definiteness, 2) to do what Colwell should have done in order to
determine the probability of definiteness, i.e., consider all anarthrous
predicate nominative constructions in John's Gospel and determine the
statistical probabilities of definiteness, indefiniteness and

This I did and found the following: the anarthrous predicate nominative in
John is qualitative in 65 of 74 occurrences, or 88% probability. When the
anarthrous predicate nominative precedes the verb it is qualitative in 50
of 53 occurrences, or 94% probability. When it follows the verb the
anarthrous predicate nominative is qualitative 13 of 19 occurrences, or
68%. In his grammar Wallace agrees with my conclusions, though he thinks
the probabilities may not be as high.

I did find 6:70b to be qualitative, as did F.F. Bruce and Hendriksen (see
commentaries). It does seem the Lord was not identifying Judas with the
personal devil any more than he was with Peter in Mk 8:33 (Bruce).
Rather, "His devilish character appears especially from this fact that
others ever so many of them, had deserted the Lord when they felt that
they could not agree with him and when they rebelled against the spiritual
character of his teaching, this one individual remained with him"

Paul S. Dixon, pastor
Ladd Hill Bible Church
Wilsonville, Oregon

On Tue, 31 Dec 1996 wrote:

> 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?
> Sincerely,
> Wes Williams

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