K Neill Foster

Demonization Defined

by C. Fred Dickason,
Demon Possession and the Christian,
(Chicago: Moody Press, 1987) p. 37.

Now retired, the author, with a Th.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary was a professor of theology and chairman of the theological department at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. His comments follow.

“Etymology deals with the meaning of a word by analyzing its elements, considering its root and derivation. When we look at the word for demonization, improperly translated ‘demon possession,’ it is highly instructive to notice its root and structure. The verb daimonizomai means ‘to be possessed by a demon.’1

“The participle from the same root, daimonizomenos, is used twelve times in the Greek New Testament. It is used only in the present tense, indicating the continued state of one inhabited by a demon, or demonized. This participle has components to its structure. First, there is the root, daimon, which indicates the involvement of demons. Second is the causative stem, iz, which shows there is an active cause in this verb.2 Third is the passive ending, omenos. This conveys the passivity of the person described as demonized.

“Putting it all together, the participle in its root form means ‘a demon caused passivity.’ This indicates a control other than that of the person who is demonized; he is regarded as a recipient of the demon’s action. In other words, demonization pictures a demon controlling a somewhat passive human.”

1. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago: U. of Chicago, 1952), p. 168.

2. William Douglas Chamberlain, An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek New Testament (New York: Macmillan, 1957), p. 15.