Much of Mitchell's argument depends upon the similarity between Jesus'
declarations of EGW EIMI in John 8:24,28,58 and the blind man's declaration
in John 9:9. But he fails to recognize the dissimilarity between the two
passages. The question being asked in John 8 is clearly, "Who are you?"
(John 8:25) The question in John 9 is, "Is not this the one who used to sit
and beg?" (John 9:8). Jesus gives an unqualified answer in an absolute
sense with no referent in John 8:24,28 while in John 9:9, the answer is given
with a qualified emphatic emphasis.
Jesus clarified his answer in John 8:58 when He referred to His existence
before Abraham. Again, as I stated before, historically, the Jews listening
to Jesus would not have understood the Messiah as existing before Abraham. I
have checked this out and have found the writings of the Jews concerning the
doctrine of the Messiah do not hold to his pre-existence, in spite our
understanding of some passages in the Old Testament (e.g., Micah 5:2).
Furthermore, there is no record in the Old Testament that references the
Messiah as particularly existing before the person _Abraham_ that the Jews
would have recognized in Jesus' statement. It is unlikely that the Jews
would have understood the statement EGW EIMI in John 8:58 to refer to Jesus
as Messiah alone.
To the Jews, only One could claim such absolute, unqualified existence--God.
When the Jews heard John 8:58, they clearly understood who He was claiming
to be and that caused their violent reaction in wanting to stone Him in 8:59.
It reminded them clearly of Old Testament passages that used the same exact
absolute phrase hOTI EGW EIMI in reference to their God (Deuteronomy 32:39;
Isaiah 43:10; cf. Exodus 3:14).