Re: Jhn. 1:1 discussion

On Thu, 1 Dec 1994 Dvdmoore@aol.com wrote:

>      Greeks who were familiar with the Jewish Scriptures in Greek ought to
> have been able to catch on to what Jesus was saying.  Exodus 3:14 in the LXX

The God of the Burning Bush in the Septuagint calls himself _ho On_, as in 
_ho On apestalken me pros humas_ (Ex. 3:14), not _egO eimi_, which is 
used in its ordinary sense: _egO eimi ho On_.  This implies that John was 
not using the Septuagint: either a different Greek version, an Aramaic or 
Hebrew version he was translating himself.  I don't have a Targum on my 
shelf to check whether or not it's a pun in Aramaic, but this is beside 
my point.  "Catching on to what Jesus was saying" is not automatically 
made clearer by reference to the Exodus passage.  The burning bush is in 
fact _aggelos kuriou_ (Ex. 3:2), a messenger of YHWH, through whom YHWH 
speaks (Ex, 3:4).  Is the _malakh YHWH_ God?  Moses must take off his 
sandals, but so did Joshua before an "angel" of the LORD.

"  The context following
> Jn. 8:58 (i.e. His hearers' wanting to stone Him) also points to Jesus'
> statement as a strong offense to the religious sensibilities of his enemies.
>  This latter would certainly pique the interest of anyone who had not
> understood Jesus' idiom to find out just what he had meant.

In this passage, the Jews started out mocking Jesus as a demon-possessed 
Samaritan (John 8:48).  Jesus asserts his ability to give immortality 
(8:31), and of course, immortality was a mark of _theos_ godhood/divinity 
(but not God per se) in pagan Greek discourse.  But Jewish discourse was 
more accomodating: what of Enoch, Elijah, the resurrected righteous?  All 
would live forever and yet not be God.
      Jesus clearly equates his father with the God (_theos_) of Israel 
and the God who glorifies him (Jesus) (8:54).  Jesus then claims to have 
seen Abraham, which is most likely the "theophany" of the Messiah/angels 
in Genesis 18: pious tradition forbade that any human could have actually 
seen God and lived, even if one of the visitors is called YHWH in 
Hebrew.  Jesus's assertion, _prin Abraam genesthai egO eimi_ was not only 
a reference to the theophany of the Burning Bush, it was also asserting 
his priority over Abraham, which more than anything may have infuriated 
his listeners: _mE su meizOn ei tou patros hEmOn Abraam?_ "Are you 
greater than our father Abraham? (8:53).  Here John has made his case: 
Jesus was the son of God, but his enemies claimed to be sons of Abraham 
(8:39), although they were actually sons of the Devil (8:44) and 
worshippers of the Devil (8:54-55) because of their murderous hatred of 
Jesus (8:44).  The purpose of the passage is not to assert Jesus's 
divinity: God glorifies Jesus (8:54); it is more to show how diabolical 
and depraved Jesus's enemies are.  The passage ends with them trying to 
kill him, just as he said they would.  The people who said _he_ was 
a demon-possessed non-Jew were the real demon-possessed non-Jews.

Greg Jordan

Follow-Ups: References: