assumptions on John 8:58

From: KULIKOVSKY, Andrew (
Date: Fri Aug 16 1996 - 17:40:38 EDT


>I note two recurring assumptions made by several participants regarding
>(1) That Jesus' response somehow directly answers his interlocuter's
> I hold that this assumption is invalidated given the tendency of Jesus
>to answer a question with a question (and to rarely answer any question
>directly, particularly when addressed to him by an interlocuter, and
never in a
>spiral of ad hominim violence).
>(2) That both parties (Jesus and "the Jews") understood the statement of
>other(s) unequivocably.

I can't agree with your propositions above. Concerning Jesus's response
to questions - I think you should read the gospels more carefully - Jesus
is constantly answering questions in a direct manner. The only exceptions
I can think of off hand, is when the Sadduccees and Pharisees asked him
loaded questions. Jesus saw through their questions and instead of
answering them, completely destroyed them (cf. paying taxes to Caesar,
the woman who married 7 brothers (or however many?!?!) and the woman
caught in adultery).

As far as knowing whether both parties understood each other - well we
can't read people's minds - especially when they lived 2000 years ago.
All we have to go on is what they said, what prompted them to say it,
and how the hearer reacted ie. by analysing the context.

In John 8, the pharisees are asking him who he is ie. his identity
v. 19 where is your father?
v.25 who are you?
v. 53 who do you think you are?

and Jesus goes to great lengths to elaborate on who he is and where
he is from and why people should listen to him and believe in him.
v. 23 i am from above
v. 24 i am (the one I claim to be)
v. 28 i am (the one i claim to be)
v. 42 i came from God
v. 58 i am

The whole context is about identity - not pre-existence and certainly not
illegitimacy (else where, people remark about Jesus, "Isn't this the
son of Joseph the carpenter, whose brothers and sisters are among us?").
Jesus legitimacy was never in question. The question of pre-existence
only came up because the pharisees didn't quite understand what Jesus
was getting at (v. 43). But eventally Jesus says, "before Abraham was,
I am." - the Jews finally got the message - they were horrified and
up stones to stone him.

But what message did they hear? Was Jesus saying I am older than
Abraham? why stone him for this? seems more like a lunar bin
candidate than a stoning candidate (as someone else pointed out
previously). Judging by their response, I believe they heard him say
"I am" - the name of God.

Now, Jesus would (probably) have spoke Aramaic as his first language (the
gospels record several of his Aramaic sayings (eg. Eli Eli Lama
so it is possible he said "I am" in Aramaic and John translated it into
when he wrote his gospel - if it is not a quotation from Ex 3:24 of the
LXX it is
certainly an allusion to it.

Now Come on scholars - you know that you can't do a gramatical analysis
a phrase or clause in isolation. Context comes into play both in
analysis and interpretation.

I can't see how the context of John 8 can be seen as Jesus communicating
pre-existence or legitimacy - but I am ready to hear you explanations.

The above is based on the analysis of the text in its gramatical and
historical context on the assumption that John accurately recorded this
event. If you don't accept this assumption then the responsibility is on
you to present clear evidence that this account is not accurate or has
been editted or distorted.



| Andrew S. Kulikovsky B.App.Sc(Hons) MACS
| Software Engineer
| British Aerospace Australia
| Technology Park, Adelaide
| ph: +618 343 8211
| email:
| What's the point of gaining everything this world has
| to offer, when you lose your own life in the end?
| ...Look to Jesus Christ

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