Date: Thu Sep 03 1998 - 00:34:50 EDT

In a message dated 9/2/98 3:20:35 PM Pacific Daylight Time,

<< I found this a useful summary, and I agree with most of what is said here.
 There are a few points I'd like to comment on.
 At 04:07 PM 9/2/98 EDT, wrote:
>But when we come to John 8:58, the situation is not so simple, or is it?
>refers to Abraham and says that Abraham rejoiced at the prospect of "seeing
>his day." This does not sit well with the Jews, who object, PENTHKONTA ETH
>OUPW hECHEIS KAI ABRAAM hEWRAKAS; Jesus responds emphatically, PRIN ABRAAM
>GENESQAI EGW EIMI. There are two ways to understand this verse, that also
>relate to the question Jesus is answering: 1) Jesus is claiming to have
>existed before Abraham was born; or 2) he is claiming a title belonging to
>which would ipso facto identify him as God, and therefore explain how he has
>seen Abraham.
<< The two are not mutually exclusive - perhaps he was claiming both. I think
 that all parties agree that at least (1) is the case. >>

Of course. That was my point. Option 1 merely speaks of preexistence, and
option 2 implies preexistence if the use of EGW EIMI identifies Jesus as God.
But there is also a tradition in Jewish literature authored during this time
that viewed the name of the Messiah as preexistent, and therefore the past
reference with an implied predicate "Christ" would also have been quite
significant. See my book for details.

>The best English translation might well be that given by McKay: "I have been
>in existence since before Abraham was born."

 <<That's a good translation if only (1) is intended. >>

Since all of us agree that 1 is definitely true, the absence of any conclusive
evidence for 2 makes this the best translation. That is why I then evaluated
the evidence for 2, in part (see below for more on 2).

>Jonathan Robie asked about the doubling of EGW EIMI in the LXX of Isaiah,
>I believe Ben Crick pointed out that this has to do with emphasis. I agree.
>This is a translation of the archaic ANOKI. The reason this doubling of
>should not be viewed as an equivalent to the divine name is because the
>name would then have to be duplicated, not the verb. But ANOKI is
>not by KURIOS (or THEOS), but by EGW EIMI. However, the tetragrammaton is
>translated in the LXX by KURIOS, not EGW EIMI. That is why the citation I
>from Davies is significant, because it points out that Brown's observation
>really begs the question, unless he can provide specific evidence supporting
>his position.

<< 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. >>

Well, I have studied Hebrew. ANOKI simply means "I"; the copula in Hebrew is
implied. In this context, the purpose served by ANOKI is correctly served by

 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.>>

Or something like "I am, I am" with a substitute for the divine name
following. But I would translate "I, I am [God, Lord or the one who . . .]"

<< I think this could plausibly be translated in two ways, but neither is
 quite equivalent to the Masoretic ANOKI ANOKI. The two options seem to be:
 1. It is I, it is I, the one who wipes away your sins...
 2. It is I, Yahweh, who wipes away your sins...>>

The divine name does not occur in this text, so your #2 is not legit based on
the evidence presented thus far. Some Hebrew mss. read HU after the second
ANOKI, and some LXX mss. read AUTOS after the second EIMI. HU and AUTOS likely
stand in place of YHWH/KURIOS hO QEOS in verse 15, hO EXALEIPHWN TAS ANOMIAS
SOU. See Rahlfs' or Ziegler's apparatus for the LXX, and Goshen-Gottstein's
The Book of Isaiah (Hebrew University Bible) for the Hebrew.

<< If I understand what has been said about ANOKI ANOKI, I would think that it
 says something more like "I myself, the one who wipes away your sins...".>>

That would be a fine way of putting it. Or "I, I am the one who . . ."

<< Is there a divine referent in EGW EIMI EGW EIMI? I'm not sure. But there
 are some factors that make me think it very well might be:
 1. This construction only occurs three times in the entire Bible, and each
 time it is God talking about himself. It is a very unusual, marked
 construction. >>

Because something is said twice (in the same sentence) by God does make it a
divine name/referent. The divine name/referent follows the expression, and the
repetition of the expression is something that we might expect of God, to
emphasize the importance of what he says.
<<2. One time that it is used, in Isaiah 45:19, the Masoretic Hebrew text
 says ANiY YeWaH, which I think means "I, the Lord" or "I, Yahweh". (Will
someone who knows Hebrew better than I do please confirm this, since I'm not
 positive this is true, and all these funny looking letters make me
 nervous?) If so, it is interesting that the same text says "I, Yahweh" in
 Hebrew and EGW EIMI EGW EIMI in Greek. >>

No, as I said before, KURIOS follows the second EGW EIMI in this text. KURIOS
must stand for something, and it usually stands for YHWH in the LXX. Unless
you are going to posit that KURIOS does not translate anything in the Hebrew
text, but that EGW EIMI in the first instance translates ANI and the second
EGW EIMI translates YHWH. I think it much more likely that the LXX chose to
emphasize YHWH's words, just like in 43:25 when it translated the double
ANOKI, and rendered the divine name by KURIOS.

<< Of course, there are other passages where EGW EIMI may be a divine
 referent, even when not doubled. It's not clear to me that it *is* a divine
 referent, but it is clear to me that it very well could be. >>

Could you provide the examples to which you here refer? I am not aware of any
passage where EGW EIMI serves as a divine referent. In the LXX it always seems
to be associated with a divine predicate, though.

<< And I guess I feel that same way about EGW EIMI in John 8:58. It's not
 clear to me that it *is* a divine referent, but I think it very well could
 be. There seems to be enough evidence for Raymond Brown's position that
 dismissing it as "fanciful" is probably unwarranted. However, I wouldn't
 regard what I say above as conclusive proof of either view. >>

Again, I am not sure what evidence you are referring to. To this point,
Davies' suggestions seems quite in line with the evidence. But if you have
something for us to consider, I am more than willing to listen.

Greg Stafford

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