ego eimi (was more about mark)

From: Mikeal Parsons (
Date: Sat Sep 30 1995 - 07:04:56 EDT

before the discussion about ego eimi in mark 6 dies completely, i wanted to
voice support for hurtado et al who read mark 6 as a theophany and the
reference to ego eimi as an echo of deutero-isaiah. to support the view
further may we not appeal also to mark 13:6 where jesus says in the little
apocalypse "many will come in my name, saying 'i am (he) (ego eimi) and they
will lead many astray." one can read this as a reference not only to false
messianic pretenders (from mark's perspective) but also as a reference to
false pretenders who usurp God, falsely identifying with the ego eimi of
this passage stands, for me at least, in sharp contrast to another potential
ego eimi saying, this one in john (about which there seems to be an emerging
consensus on the list that some ego eimi sayiings, esp. 8:58 are references
to the divine name). contrary to someone's earlier posting, there is ONE
ego eimi saying in john not on the lips of jesus--john 9:9 where the man
born blind responds to the neighbors' question whether or not he was the
one who used to sit and beg, "I am (he). Here we have the absolute use of
ego eimi in the mouth of another character other than jesus. to be sure, on
the surface, it appears to be what r. brown called a "secular use" of the
phrase. but in my re-reading of the passage, i am now led to think the
text suggests a not so faint echo of the uses of the phrase in its absolute
form by jesus. i have developed these arguments in detail in an article
"a neglected ego eimi saying in the fourth gospel? another look at john 9:9"
and won't give them all here. I concluded that the man born blind functions
in john as a kind of model disciple and as such as a representative of
the community who, in the absence of jesus, becomes the manifestation
of god's presence in the world. in the story the man born blind is identified
with jesus, but in those scenes where the two are on stage at the same time
is clearly subordinate to him (as the son is to the father in john).
so taking mark 13 and john 9 together, it seems there were those who
inappropriately claimed the divine name for themselves (usurping God's
authority?) and those who used it to identify with and subordinate themselves
to the purposes of god manifested in jesus.
i apologize for this longish posting, especially if someone else has
already mentioned the mark 13 passage (i havent been following the discussion
that closely), but it's 6 a.m. on saturday morning and i couldn't sleep, so
. . . . !
mikeal parsons
baylor university

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