Re: John 8:58 - Ex. 3:14

From: Jeffrey Gibson (
Date: Tue Mar 11 1997 - 22:04:44 EST

I have not read the archives on this topic, so I might be repeating
information given there, but it seems to me that the meaning of EGW
EIMI in John 8:58 cannot be settled on grammatical grounds alone or even
from a comparison of LXX texts. One must take into account the fact -
indicated by Mark in chp 13 - that the phrase was used during
the Jewish War also by those whom Mark calls "false christs" and "false
prophets" (Zealots and "sign" prophets mentioned by Josephus> who were not
claimimng to be god but employed the phrase to validate
their claims to be divinely appointed deliveres of Israel. This theme,
and the connotations that EGW EIMI had in NT times has been nicely explored in
David Daube's essay "the 'I Am' of the Messianic Presence" which
appears now in his -The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism-
(Hendrickson>. No discussion of John 8:38 can be complete without taking
into account the data gathered there.

Jeffrey Gibson

   Wong wrote:

> wrote:
> >
> > Dear Ronald,
> >
> > I would recommend you research the archives for the very extended
> > discussion the list had on John 8:58 last summer. It hit all the
> > angles and was quite confrontational. Current scholarly concensus is
> > that the EGW EIMI of John 8:58 does not refer to Ex. 3:14. This belief
> > was widely held in the past but more scholars, even those of the
> > strong "Jesus is Jehovah" persuasion, are abandoning it due to lack of
> > linguistic support. Of course, there are still some who hold to the
> > link, but they are fewer.
> >
> > The principal problems are that John 8:58 is a verb of existence and
> > Ex. 3:14 is a title refelecting purpose. Ex. 3:14 in the context is
> > talking about a future time and the verb HAYAH naturally refers to the
> > future (cf. v.12 which clearly uses HAYAH as referring to the future).
> > In fact, Theodotion's LXX translates HAYAH as EGW ESOMAI "I will be"
> > and not "I am." But regardless of how one translates the subject and
> > verb of Ex. 3:14, it is the predicate that matters. The predicate of
> > Ex. 3:14 in LXX is hO WN, not EGW EIMI. Linguistically the link falls
> > apart. John 8:58 is referring to a past time up thru the present.
> >
> > Sincerely,
> > Wes
> >
> >
> > From: Ronald Wong <>
> > Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 09:07:02 -0500
> > Subject: Re: Pronoun Emphasis
> >
> > I certain agree that the construction is strange...yet, I believe that
> > there is a historical purpose that Jesus and the way John recorded it to
> > mean "I, I am." There is an OT pararallel. When Moses was sent back to
> > the hebrews in Egypt, he asked the question: "If they ask who sent me,
> > whom should I say?" and it says that God answered "I am."
> > I think it would be possible to say that John and Jesus are emphasizing
> > (if I can be allowed to use the word :) ) Jesus' claim of being God,
> > which is a major theme in the fourth Gospel.
> Wes...
> I don't believe I was trying to make that point that it refers to the
> passage much as I believe that the John is using it to
> identify whom Jesus is.
> as much as modern scholarship may abandon it because of lack of
> linguistic support...this doesn't sway me to believe that John doesn't
> think of Jesus as deity. Not from my own theo. posit. but because over
> and over again, John points to that... :)
> not knowing hebrew I will not argue that point. but why would God say
> "I will be"? is he not yet God? is not yet??? what? who he is? what
> kind of predicate does God need to be who he is? The link,
> linguistically may fall apart, again I'm not a linguist. who
>'ve tried to convince an ignorant man of with something he
> knows absolutely nothing he knows about. :)
> Ronald Wong
> O'Brien, FL.

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