Re: John 8:58 (longish)

Mike Phillips (
Thu, 8 Aug 1996 13:32:42 -0700

> From: Alan Repurk <>, on 8/8/96 9:24 AM:
> But I have a real problem with John 8:58 :
> Joh 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you,
> Before Abraham was, 'Fred'.
> If 'I AM' is a proper name, should not this make sense. It seems to
> me that what does not make good English also does not make good
> Greek.
> Respectfully and inquisitively,
> -lars

Not necessarily a valid assumption. Greek does not depend upon the
English imagination and syntax to communicate it's own sense and style to it's
audiences. It is a poor substitute, in fact (which many of us are stuck with)
to "understand" Greek "in English" just as it is a poor substitute to
"understand" French or German "in English." These languages are derived from
peoples and places who have made sense of themselves and their places by a
variety of means (to include borrowing and lending).
As for John 8:58, I can say I disagree with most of what I have read
here about it, but can't comment and remain "in bounds" as most of the
"exegesis" happening surrounding this verse (here) is decidedly theological and
decidedly "agenda driven." Then again, so was John (or whoever) in the telling
of this (ideal) tale. At any rate, I can only comment on your decision to
subject the Greek to the English (which is an unfortunate practice, though
sometimes we have no ready alternative given our training -- I include my own
lack of training in this generalization as well).
I hope someone can wade into the Greek to help us without necessarily
wading through the waters of baptism <g>.


Mike Phillips

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanging;
it is the skin of living thought and changes from day
to day as does the air around us. - Oliver Wendell Holmes