re: John 8:58 - The Issues For B-Greek to Resolve

Mike Phillips (
Thu, 15 Aug 1996 17:19:15 -0700

> From:, on 8/15/96 1:50 PM:
> Points of agreement:
> 1) All parties agree that Jesus implied identification in verses 24,28.
> 2) All parties agree that prehuman existence is implied in v.58.

Only if you selectively cull your parties to arrive at (2). If the
argument is an ad hominim spiral of violence between Jesus and some of his
contemporaries about his legitimacy (i.e., is a bastard a child of Abraham?)
and subsequent discussions about his works stipulating his relationship to YHWH
who is before Abraham, then all of these mental gymnastics become irrelevant
(and your post stands (regardless) inaccurate) since this is a reading that has
been proffered here as a result of exegesis. You have a who's your daddy fight
going on, nothing more and nothing less, most likely, however, all of this has
been stiched into a larger work, and confused by an added prologue and epilogue
(and centuries of theological argumentation). If, however, we allow the
context to speak for itself (rather than requiring the context to agree with
our various theological constructs), then this is a legitimate reading (if not
the only one).
Note, this also accounts for the stoning, since the implications in
this conversation are that children of Abraham, are not (a) necessarily doing
the works of Abraham; and (b) even if they were, the works of God are to be
preferred (which Jesus is stipulating he is doing. When you put this argument
into the context of illegitimacy / legitimacy, you have an explosive situation
(and explode it did). All the hearers had to hear (given the already
escalating circumstances) is that Abraham is being 'set aside' as a role model,
and Jesus was forwarding another model (YHWH) in the context of who's daddy is
better (and who's your daddy anyway).
Occam's razor suggests we don't multiply entities unnecessarily. The
evidence suits the scenario. A desire to multiply entities unnecessarily in
this instance is theologically driven. All of these suppositions about what
"the Jews _obviously_ heard" is simply fictional, and the Greek here can't
resolve the issues because (1) we don't know the original account which may
have an historical seed of truth; (2) we don't have the original author to
cross examine as to intent (why does this account occur here?) in his placing
the story at this juncture; (3) we can't know how the original account was
subsequently edited for the convenience of a given theological position (yeh,
like that never happened in 2000 years of Church history).

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