Re: Present tence copulative verbs

Date: Sun Aug 30 1998 - 23:05:04 EDT

Dear James:

You wrote:

<< Dear Mr. Stafford,
     Sorry it took so long for my responce. The day after I sent my post, my
computer had to be worked on. I just received it back today. You said, "Of
course Jesus did not say, 'Since Abraham came into existence, I have been."
Maybe I should have said "Since before Abraham came into existence, I have
been." An adverbial expression denoting duration and referring to past time
implies a starting point. >>

It may, but I do not agree that it *necessarily* implies a starting point. The
context, immediate and larger, must be considered before assigning a definite
beginning to the past period.


You cannot argue for or against "eternal" from any of these verses *alone*.
However, when you consider the context you can see that the time referred to,
in all of these texts, is limited, i.e., it had a starting point. But the
verses themselves do not tell us that. The same is true in John 8:58.

<<You said, "...that the implied predicate is 'Messiah' or 'Christ." In Jn
4:26, the predicate is in the immediate context (verse 25). In Jn 8:24, 28,
and 58, there is no predicate immplied in the context. I do plan on reading
your book and then I would like to discuss it off list. >>

There is indeed an implied predicate in 8:24 and 28. The context is steeped in
messianism, and the messianic predicate "Son of man" is very much implied, in
my view. See my book for details.

Whether or not "Christ" is implied in John 8:58 is debatable, but I think a
strong case can be made for it. Again, see my book. Still, regardless of
whether or not a predicate is implied in John 8:58, the grammar is quite in
line with the PPA idiom, which itself fits perfectly with the context and the
reason for Jesus' reply, namely, to explain how it is that he had seen

<<It would be interesting to know If Charles Thompson meant just simple
preexistence by his translation of SU EI as "Thou existed" or if he meant
"Thou hast always existed." >>

Well, one thing is for sure, he wrote "Thou existed," not "Thou hast always
existed." But I am not counting on Thompson for my conclusion; I merely cited
him as an example of what I was talking about. I believe the other details I
mentioned respecting this verse (Ps. 90:2), in relation to John 8:58, are
still valid.

<<The NASB gave '"I have been" as an alternate translation to I Am in Jn 8:58.
When the translators were questioned about it, they said that I have been = I
have always been. >>

Then they are using cryptic language. Also, if that is what they meant, and if
they felt there was no ambiguity about their translation, why did they change

"I have been" can be viewed any way one wishes to view it, but on the face of
it does not imply "always." The "always" would have to be gathered from the
context, or brought to the text in light of one's presuppositions.

<<You said, "...I will simply say that John 8:58 does not tell us anything but
that Jesus existed before Abraham." Since we can not discuss hermeneutics or
theology, I think we have reached an impasse on what we can discuss on b-
greek. Thank you for the exchange. I have learned much. I look forward to
futher dialogue with you.>>

Anytime. And thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject!

One final note: my statement, "I will simply say that John 8:58 does not tell
us anything but that Jesus existed before Abraham," is based purely on the
grammar of the text. The grammar itself simply tells us that Jesus existed
before Abraham. Anything else, a beginning or eternal existence, must be
gathered from the immediate or larger context, or read into the text based on
one's presuppositions.

Greg Stafford

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