3

John 10:33 in the Greek reads (NA28):


ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι· περὶ καλοῦ ἔργου οὐ λιθάζομέν σε ἀλλὰ περὶ βλασφημίας, καὶ ὅτι σὺ ἄνθρωπος ὢν ποιεῖς σεαυτὸν θεόν.

There is nothing special or difficult about the Greek here. A literal rendering is:

The Jews answered him: We are not stoning you for a good work, but for blasphemy; because you, being a man,1 make yourself God.


[This is a purely linguistic question: it has nothing to do with theology whatsoever.]

As I understand the use of the accusative here, it would seem the Jews are accusing Jesus (no pun intended) of identifying Himself as 'God [Himself]' (θεον) as opposed to 'a god,' (θεος);2 that is, 'as to his nature, θεος.'3

A simpler way of putting it would be that the syntax of σὺ ἄνθρωπος ὢν ποιεῖς σεαυτὸν θεόν should mean the Jews are saying 'You are claiming to be God [Himself] whereas you are a man [as to your nature],' and not 'You are claiming to be [as to your nature a] god, whereas you are a man [as to your nature].'

Or simpler: they are not saying 'you imply your nature is god, but you are only human,' but rather 'you imply your are God [Himself], who are a [mere] man!'

Question

How grammatically accurate is the above assessment?


Footnotes

1 Or 'who are a man' or '—a man—'

2 Obviously not in a polytheistic sense, but insofar as God is 'θεος' in the essential sense, qualitatively speaking.

3 Cf. Jn 1:1c

5
  • If I'm understanding point #393 then it "may" indicate either identity or role: dcc.dickinson.edu/grammar/latin/double-accusatives I'm not sure so I'm just posting this as a comment.
    – Ruminator
    Apr 10 '18 at 19:48
  • Forgive my ignorance of Greek, but how could the change of an accusative to nominative change "God himself" to "a god"? The words seem ambiguous, but how does the case have any bearing on the question?
    – b a
    Apr 10 '18 at 20:32
  • @Ruminator Interesting link. You could be right. Then again, Latin doesn't have articles :/ In this predicate usage, though, it would seem the definite article is 'implied' in a sense. I can't say either way, hence the question. However, the "σὺ ἄνθρωπος..." etc. accusation seemingly being synonymous with ’’σὺ οὐκ εἶ θεόν, ἀλλά ἄνθρωπος!’’ seems to indicate to me the conclusion I've made in the question. @ b a nominative would suggest juxtaposition of 'natures,' divine and human, whereas acc. would here suggest to me two 'identities,' Jesus and 'the [one] God.' Apr 10 '18 at 20:46
  • Ah, I googled "koine double accusatives identity vs quality" and that was the first that came up. I didn't notice it was Latin! Again, I'm no expert by any stretch and hope a Greek heavy might comment. I have a similar question regarding 2 Thess 2:4 which, as I read it, seems to have the idea that the antichrist does not claim identity as God but rather "equality".
    – Ruminator
    Apr 10 '18 at 21:11
  • I think the verse you want is John 1:18. However, there is a textual dispute there.
    – Perry Webb
    Apr 11 '18 at 7:31
3

As I understand the use of the accusative here, it would seem the Jews are accusing Jesus...of identifying Himself as 'God [Himself]' (θεον) as opposed to 'a god,' (θεος); that is, 'as to his nature, θεος.'

Whether they were claiming he was θεός in nature or θεός in person (i.e., God the Father), the verb ποιέω as used in either context would have required the lemma θεός to be declined in the accusative case (i.e., θεόν).

Wilke (translated by Thayer) on the verb ποιέω:1

ποιεῖν τινα [“to make something”] with an accusative of the predicate,

γ. to (make, i. e.) declare one anything: John 5:18; John 8:53; John 10:33; John 19:7, 12; 1 John 1:10; 1 John 5:10; τί with an accusative of the predicate Matthew 12:33 (on which see Meyer).

(As an aside, they were accusing him of being θεός in nature. Jesus said that his father was God, and a father and his begotten son share the same nature.)


Footnotes

1 p. 525, ποιέω

References

Wilke, Christian Gottlob. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry.Ed. Grimm, Carl Ludwig Wilibald. Rev. ed. New York: American Book, 1889.

1
  • 1
    Nice and succint. I'm marking yours as the answer : ] Oct 29 '18 at 1:32
6

I do not believe this is an accurate assessment. If I understand the proposition correctly, OP is suggesting that the accusative case of θεόν indicates identity with a definite individual rather than a "merely" qualitative assertion. The syntactical role of θεόν here is that of a complement in object-complement construction. In New Testament Greek, the complement in such a construction tends to be qualitative or indefinite rather than definite, particularly when the complement follows the object. In Dan Wallace's Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, he states:

On a continuum from definite to qualitative to indefinite, the object will normally fall in the definite range, while the complement will tend toward the qualitative-indefinite range.

Wallace goes on to point out that in Acts 28:6, Paul is reckoned by the locals to be "a god" using the same construction.1

ἔλεγον αὐτὸν εἶναι θεόν.

For a much more detailed discussion of the semantics of the object-complement, and for specific mention of this verse, see Wallace's paper The Semantics and Exegetical Significance of the Object-Complement Construction in the New Testament.2 The word θεόν in John 10:33 is said to be:

apparently qualitative, stressing the nature or essence of Jesus.

Notes
1. I do not mean to suggest that "a god" would be more appropriate in John 10:33. Given John's theology, he very likely intended this as God, but it is a claim of quality rather than identity. The fact that this same construction leans toward the indefinite in certain contexts underscores this fact.

2. I have not interacted with the hypothetical nominative that the OP poses, since it is not in the text and I honestly don't see how this would be grammatically viable. However, if the intention is that of a predicate nominative in relationship with the subject "σὺ", it is worth noting that Wallace's thesis in this paper is that the object-complement is "semantically equivalent to the subject-predicate nominative construction".

References
Daniel B. Wallace (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), p. 185

Daniel B. Wallace, Grace Theological Journal 6.1 (1985), p. 108.

3
  • Please do let me know if I've completely misunderstood the question....
    – Susan
    Apr 11 '18 at 4:15
  • It seems to me though that Wallace is hedging his bets a bit by saying that it, the construction, leans toward or tends toward being less definite and more about quality. He doesn't seem to rule out the possibility. However, to my mind the absence of a definite article makes it much more likely that he has quality in mind. But again, I'm no expert
    – Ruminator
    Apr 11 '18 at 4:47
  • Also the juxtaposition of "being [a] man" lends itself to "make yourself [a] god", no? In fact, the following verses seem to demand the idea that he is claiming to be "a god" (though he actually claims to be the son of [the] God): Joh 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? Joh 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Joh 10:36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
    – Ruminator
    Apr 11 '18 at 5:53
0

The juxtaposition of "being [a] man" lends itself to "make yourself [a] god", no? In fact, the following verses seem to demand the idea that he is claiming to be "a god" (though he actually claims to be the son of [the] God):

Joh 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? Joh 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Joh 10:36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.