It is grammar or theology that causes translators to typically translate John 10:33 as “declare Yourself to be God” as opposed to “a god”?
The Emphatic Diaglott New Testament (1942) John 10:33
- Answered him the Jews saying: Concerning a good work not we stone thee, but concerning blasphemy, and that thou, a man being, makest
thyself a god.
NWT John 10:33
The Jews answered him: “We are stoning you, not for a fine work, but
for blasphemy;+ for you, although being a man, make yourself a god.
False charge of blasphemy.
Because of Jesus’ references to God as his Father, certain opposing Jews leveled the charge of blasphemy against him, saying, “You, although being a man, make yourself a god.” (Joh 10:33) Most translations here say “God The Emphatic Diaglott says “a god.” Support for the rendering “a god” is found principally in Jesus’ own answer, in which he quoted from Psalm 82:1-7. As can be seen, this text did not refer to persons as being called “God,” but “gods” and “sons of the Most High.”
According to the context, those whom God called “gods” and “sons of the Most High” in this psalm were Israelite judges who had been practicing injustice, requiring that God himself now judge ‘in the middle of such gods.’ (Ps 82:1-6, 8) Since Jehovah applied these terms to those men, Jesus was certainly guilty of no blasphemy in saying, “I am God’s Son.” Whereas the works of those judicial “gods” belied their being “sons of the Most High,” Jesus’ works consistently proved him to be in union, in harmonious accord and relationship, with his Father.
John 10:34-38 (NABRE)
34 [a]Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? 35 If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and scripture cannot be set aside, 36 can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated[b] and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; 38 but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize [and understand] that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
From the Book Truth In Translation by Jason David BeDuhn
Harner says that to an English-speaking reader, if "the" is used with these predicate nouns, the qualitative sense will be lost. . The use of "a" conveys that qualitative sense.
For example, in John 4:19 we must translate "You are a prophet" not " You are the prophet". In john 8:48 it is "You are a Samaritan", not "Your are the Samaritan".In John 9:24 the translation is "This man is a sinner", not "This man is the sinner".In john 1:26 it must be "He was a thief", not he was the thief". Notice that this is not the case of how we say things in English dictating the meaning of the GreeK, but a matter of choosing the English that best communicates what the Greek means. So, for example, in English, we say "You are a disciple of that man", or "you are the disciple of that man", but the Greek of John:28 uses the indefinite, and so should we. "The disciple" would an identification "a disciple" is a characterization, and that's what Harner means by the "qualitative" function of such expression.
Harner states that the anarthrous predicate noun before the verb cannot be definite in John 1:14, 2:9, 3:4, 3:6 (twice), 4:9, 6:63, 7:12, 8:31, 8:44 (twice), 8:48, 9:8, 9:24, 9;24-31,( 5 times) 10:1, 10:8, 10:33-34 (twice) 12:6, 12:36,18:26, 18:35. The very last verse in this long list is a good place for us to start exploring sentences structured like John 1:1c and the meaning they are meant to convey. The setting is Pilate's exchange with Jesus...........
In the Greek text, there are many cases of a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb, such as in Mr 6:49; 11:32; Joh 4:19; 6:70; 8:44; 9:17; 10:1, 13, 33; 12:6. In these places, translators insert the indefinite article “a” before the predicate noun in order to bring out the quality or characteristic of the subject. Since the indefinite article is inserted before the predicate noun in such texts, with equal justification the indefinite article “a” should be inserted before the anarthrous θεός in 10:33-34 (twice)
It is theological bias that causes translators to typically translate John 10:33 as “declare Yourself to be God” as opposed to “a god”. Support for the rendering “a god” is found principally in Jesus’ own answer, in which he quoted from Psalm 82:1-7