I have come across a theological assertion (in conversation with a Biblical Unitarian) that John 10:33 should be understood thus:

The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself a god"

What is the hermeneutical justification for adding or not adding the 'a' or for understanding an 'a' even if it is left out of the translation?

This link below is provided one of the reason why it should be translated as "a god".


Below are some references for the postulated translation.

The context of John 10:33-36 (and of Psalm 82:6 which is quoted there) and NT Greek grammar show "a god" to be the correct rendering. Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary, p. 62, by the respected trinitarian, Dr. Robert Young, confirms this:

It is also admitted that this is the meaning of Jn 10:33 by noted trinitarian NT scholar C. H. Dodd: "making himself a god." - The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, p. 205, Cambridge University Press, 1995 reprint

A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of John by trinitarians Newman and Nida insists that "a god" would not be "in keeping with the theology of John" and the charge of blasphemy by the Jews, but, nevertheless, also admits:

Purely on the basis of the Greek text, therefore, it is possible to translate (John 10:33) "a god", as NEB does, rather than to translate God, as TEV and several translations do. One might argue on the basis of both the Greek and the context, that the Jews were accusing Jesus of claiming to be "a god" rather than "God". -p.344 United Bible Societies, 1980.

The highly respected (and highly trinitarian) W. E. Vine indicates the proper rendering here: "The word [theos] is used of Divinely appointed judges in Israel, as representing God in His authority, John 10:34" - p. 491, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. So, in the NEB it reads:

" 'We are not going to stone you for any good deed, but for your blasphemy. You, a mere man, claim to be a god.' Jesus answered, 'Is it not written in your own Law, "I said: You are gods"? Those are called gods to whom the word of God was delivered - and Scripture cannot be set aside. Then why do you charge me with blasphemy because I, consecrated and sent into the world by the Father, said, "I am God's SON"?' "

The purported associated questions did not provide any studies or research as the basis for the assertion whereas this question provides sources as to why such a translation is considered.

  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Should Philippians 2:6 say "in the form of God" or "in the form of a god"?
    – Nigel J
    Apr 6, 2023 at 23:17
  • 1
    It indeed is a good question, and has one great answer posted on it, but the matter indeed has been addressed elsewhere. If you can supply some reason in the question as to why the text for this question is fundamentally different (not just slightly different) from the other questions that address this matter, I or other mods might be glad to re-open it. But until then, it is a great closed question with links to two others and a wonderful answer.
    – Jesse
    Apr 7, 2023 at 1:41
  • How is this question similar to the hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/83709/…? Apr 7, 2023 at 2:01
  • @Jesse. The purported associated questions did not provide any studies or research as the basis for the assertion whereas this question provides sources as to why such a translation is considered. Apr 7, 2023 at 2:14
  • @AlexBalilo yes, the answers to those questions do, which is where that research and study should be. The matter of why a translation is considered is a question for the actual person who did the translation, which is beyond our scope. If we try to answer that, then it is speculation. If we discuss possible reasons, then it is guesswork at best and conjecture at worst. In truth, the reasons behind what any translation "ought" to be are part of the study and research provided in the answers both sought and posted. But...
    – Jesse
    Apr 7, 2023 at 11:29

1 Answer 1


λέγοντες, περὶ καλοῦ ἔργου οὐ λιθάζομέν σε ἀλλὰ περὶ βλασφημίας καὶ ὅτι σὺ ἄνθρωπος ὢν ποιεῖς σεαυτὸν θεόν (John 10:33, Greek TR)

Not having an article that precedes it, the bolded Greek text could be translated as "God" or as "god" or as "a God" or as "a god."

No case distinctions

There was no such thing as lowercase letters when it was originally written, so cross case distinctions off the list of possibilities. Lowercase Greek letters first began to develop as "miniscule" script in the mid-9th century AD.

Greek articles

Biblical Greek has a definite article, but no indefinite articles. The definite article, however, serves a different purpose in Greek than its nearest English equivalent ("the"). Where no article exists, Greek translations may require, for English grammar, an article. Where the article is not required in English, the translation may be ambiguous, and either "a/an" may be supplied or no article at all added to the translation.

John 10:33

In the specific case of John 10:33, either "a God/god" or "God/god" could be a correct translation. Both are grammatically viable. It is up to the translators' subjective interpretation for how to render the Greek meaning in English.

  • This is great, but the question is about Greek. Albeit, neither the question nor this answer contain any Greek. If you could put some Greek into it, that might make the answer more valuable, even though the question is closed. It's still a helpful answer though.
    – Jesse
    Apr 7, 2023 at 1:43
  • 1
    @Jesse There is plenty of Greek on the pages linked. As there are many forms of the Greek article, varying by noun case, it is better to link a resource that shows them than to reinvent the wheel in creating a table of them here. Even if the links change in the future, this is common information that is available from most any Greek grammar and easily obtained with an online search.
    – Biblasia
    Apr 7, 2023 at 2:25
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    @Jesse the purported similar question does not contain Greek. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/83709/…. Apr 7, 2023 at 3:02
  • @AlexBalilo they all really should anyway, but being duplicate is a separate matter not invalidated by the need for Greek on Greek matters. But, point taken.
    – Jesse
    Apr 7, 2023 at 11:23
  • @Biblasia Thanks for the Greek. Across the SE network, we need to quote at least some of the main-point content from any source linked to, 1. to know the point the source makes for the post and 2. in the event that the linked source becomes unavailable. I just upvoted it on account of the Greek, thanks!
    – Jesse
    Apr 7, 2023 at 11:24

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