John 8:44 begins:

ὑμεῖς ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστὲ... (NA28)
You are of your father the devil... (ESV)

The phrase is almost always translated as "You are of your father the devil..." [John 8:44] or similar. However, April D. DeConick says:

With the article preceding πατρὸς, the phrase τοῦ διαβόλου is a genitive phrase modifying the nominal phrase ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς. Thus: 'You are from the father of the Devil.' If the statement were to mean, as the standard English translation renders it, 'You are of the father , the Devil', then the article preceding πατρὸς would not be present. In this case the word 'father' would be in the predicate position and could be expanded with an appositional phrase τοῦ διαβόλου, a grammatical decision the author of John makes in 8.56 with reference to 'Abraham, your father' ('Ἀβραὰμ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν'). 1

The Wycliffe and Young's Literal seem to recognize DeConick's position at least in part:

Ye be of the father, the devil... (WYC)
Ye are of a father -- the devil... (YLT)

Which is the correct rendering:

"You are of your father the devil..." or "You are from the father of the devil...?"

1. April D. DeConick, John's Gospel and Intimations of the Apocalyptic, Bloomsbury, 2013. p. 150

  • Generally when someone uses the original languages to make an argument that goes against all other translations, it’s wrong or at least highly suspect. I just checked probably a couple dozen translations and all of them have slight variations of “your father the devil”. None have “the father of the devil”. This shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially since the latter would have theological implications and would completely stand out from the rest of Scripture.
    – bob
    May 20, 2023 at 3:00

1 Answer 1


I think there are two main points to be made: first, that the genitive is often used in apposition, and second, that the definite article can show possession.

Here's an example from Titus of the genitive being used in apposition.

προσδεχόμενοι τὴν μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα καὶ ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, (Titus 2:13)

Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, (Douay-Rheims Titus 2:13)

In the same way that Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ modifies σωτῆρος in Titus 2:13, the phrase τοῦ διαβόλου modifies τοῦ πατρὸς in your example — appositively.

But how to translate τοῦ πατρὸς? The Douay-Rheims translates this phrase as "your father", and for good reason: the definite article can often be used to show possession (Smyth §1121).

These are well-known grammatical features (apposition, the article showing possession) so I think that DeConick might be wrong, or at the very least, misleading.

  • Her argument also looks to 8:56. She says if "your father" was intended in 8:44, the author would have written like that. Since the author rejected the use like the one 8:56 when writing 8:44 the meaning should be considered different from 8:56. If the meaning of 8:44 is "your father..." then how/why does 8:56 differ "...your father"? Jul 19, 2017 at 22:50
  • @RevelationLad I think there is enough context in 8:44 that there is no need for an explicit ὑμῶν in the phrase you ask about. There already is an explicit ὑμῶν at the end of the verse: καὶ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν θέλετε ποιεῖν ("and you wish to do the desires of your father"). This context is lacking in 8:56, the parallel she cites, so it's understandable that the construction is different.
    – ktm5124
    Jul 19, 2017 at 23:19
  • 1
    But more importantly, "father of the devil" just doesn't make sense, since the next verses describe how the devil behaves, and the comparison Jesus makes is between these people and the devil. The translation "father of the devil" would just be so out of place, given the context. The context of the verse itself ("and you wish to do the desires of your father") makes it clear.
    – ktm5124
    Jul 20, 2017 at 21:44
  • DeConick states that translation was used by the Gnostics. In particular the Cainites believed Cain was the father of the devil. Her full translation is :"You are from the father of the devil, and you want to carry out the desires of your father. That one was a murderer from the beginning, and he did not stand by the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks from his characteristics, because he is a liar and so is his father." DeConcik gives several references showing the Gnostics used this verse to support there belief about gods and she states the accepted translation/ Jul 21, 2017 at 0:29
  • is driven by doctrine not by the actual text. Jul 21, 2017 at 0:29

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