From: George Athas (
Date: Wed Sep 02 1998 - 19:08:09 EDT

Jonathan Robie wrote:

> [...] I would really like the opinions of some people who know Hebrew a lot
> better than I do here, but it seems to me that ANOKI ANOKI is not exactly
> equivalent to EGW EIMI EGW EIMI, regardless of how it is interpreted. ANOKI
> ANOKI seems to mean "I, I", which is basically an emphatic way of saying
> "I", if I understand what has been said so far. EGW EIMI EGW EIMI, if it
> does not entail a divine referent, would have to mean something like "it is
> I, it is I", e.g.

Yes, Jonathan, you're right. The fact is that in Hebrew, there is no specific
predicative word "is" (hence, no actual word for "am"). It is simply implied in the
text. Greek and English, though, do have specific words for "is" (and hence "am"),
so these words are supplied in those languages. Indeed, without them, there is no
idiomatic flow.

In Isa 43:25, the Greek has supplied the predicative marker EIMI because it must
for syntactical and idiomatic flow. But, the Hebrew, remember, has no predicative
word. The predicative relationship is simply implied in the text.

Now, EGW EIMI, as a complete expression on its own, cannot possibly be a Greek
translation of Hebrew ANOKI ANOKI ("I, I..."), unless we have a predicative noun or
adjective to follow (eg, Gk: EGW EIMI ANQRWPOS = Hb: ANOKI ISH). The double use of
ANOKI in the Hebrew is simply emphatic, the equivalent of saying "I myself...".
Thus, ANOKI ANOKI ISH = "I myself am a man".

So, since the expression EGW EIMI has no predicate noun or adjective in the Greek,
then it must represent another Hebrew construction. The only other possible way to
view it is to see EIMI acting as an actual verb, not as just a predicative marker.
The corresponding verb in Hebrew is the root HYH (he-yodh-he), meaning "to

If we look at Exodus 3, we will better see all this. Exo 3:6 has God saying in

EGW EIMI hO QEOS TOU PATROS SOU ("I am the God of your father")

The Hebrew has:

ANOKI ELOHEY ABIYKA ("I (am) the God of your father", literally "I - God of -
father yours").

In the translation of this verse, we can see that Greek often uses the word EIMI as
a marker of a predicative relationship. Hebrew, however, has no explicit
predicative marker.

Now, let's go down to Exo 3:14. There, we find the same Greek expression, EGW EIMI,
but used very differently:

Gk: EGW EIMI hO WN ("I am who I am")

Hb: EHYEH AÉER EHYWH ("I am who I am" - lit "I will be - who - I will be")

Here, we see that Greek EIMI is not being used as a predicative marker, but as a
verb. The Hebrew uses a verbal form, EHYEH (1st person common singular Imperfect of
root HYH).

Now, in Hebrew, a verb can be used as a complete expression. Thus, EGW EIMI, as a
complete expression in itself, in Greek, cannot reflect Hebrew ANOKI ANOKI in John
8:58. Rather, it must reflect a verbal form because verbal forms can stand in
isolation. Thus, as John uses it, EGW EIMI must reflect the Hebrew verbal
construction EHYEH ("I am" or "I exist").

Hope this helps in some way!
George Athas
-University of Sydney & Moore Theological College
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