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God and Christ: Examining the Evidence for a Biblical Doctrine

 

I AM

By David Barron

 

The expression “I am what I am” undoubtedly calls to mind Jehovah's response to Moses at Exodus 3:14, though here quoted is the apostle Paul in reference to himself (1Cor. 15:10).  Some look for significance in every instance of the words “I am” in reference to God or Christ, nevertheless, that others could freely use these words is revealing.  This is not to suggest that Paul meant the same thing as God when he uttered these words as translated, only that the words are not intrinsically theological.


A survey of popular Bible translations finds the significant words of Exodus 3:14 translated with “I am” in what is by far the majority.  The Hebrew word so translated three times is ehyeh, also appearing in v. 12 but here almost universally rendered “I will be” or similarly.  With nothing to indicate a change in meaning between v. 12 and 14 it is difficult to imagine why this word is so often translated in two entirely different ways within the matter of only two verses. 


While a few identify this as God’s name, more common is the understanding that this is a designation of self-existence.  The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia argues otherwise:
"This [expression “I am”] has been supposed to mean 'self-existence,' and to represent God as the Absolute.  Such an idea, however, would be a metaphysical abstraction, not only impossible to the time at which the name originated, but alien to the Heb[rew] mind at any time.  And the imperfect 'ehyeh is more accurately tr[anslated] 'I will be what I will be,' a Sem[etic] idiom meaning, 'I will be all that is necessary as the occasion will arise... The optional reading in the ARV margin is much to be preferred: ‘I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE,’ indicating His covenant pledge to be with and for Israel in all the ages to follow."1

 

The Hebrew expression translated reflected a meaning much more complex than mere self-existence or identification.  Presented were insights into God’s function and character as Rabbi Jordan Cohen relates:


"Moses perceived that the people would want to know which attribute of God they can expect to encounter; that is, what their experience of God will be, and what is going to happen to them. God's answer, then, leaves things open-ended. Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh is based on the future tense conjugation of the Hebrew verb meaning ‘to be.’ Often translated as ‘I Am Who I Am,’ the phrase is more accurately translated as ‘I Will Be That Which I Will Be.’ The people will come to know God through their unfolding experiences together."2


God’s self-revelation did not restrict him from providing the proper identification Moses requested in v. 13.  Following v. 14 God identified himself as “Jehovah,” saying, “This is My name forever” (v. 15).  While his proper name did much to reveal him, he first expressed here character with ehyeh asher ehyeh,(, translated well by The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, “I shall be who I shall prove to be.”3  He would become all that was necessary for his people. 

 

The LXX does contain the words “I am,” yet differently than in any of the texts we will consider.  Whereas ehyeh in v. 12 was properly rendered with the Greek future e;somai(esomai), in Exodus 3:14 it is translated ego eimi ho on (“I am the being”).  This translation—certainly based upon a later interpretation of the text—reflects self-existence but does not substantiate a significant meaning for “I am,” with eimi serving only as a copula. 


Though the translators of the  LXX did not articulate the intended meaning of Jehovah’s words, other early translations proved successful in this effort.  Both Aquila and Theodotion rendered ehyeh in agreement with their translation of 3:12, providing in v. 14 esomai ho esomai, “I will be who I will be.” 


 

Jehovah and I [am] He

On several occasions Isaiah presents Jehovah uttering the words “I am he.”  Translated from the Hebrew ani hu, these two pronouns mean “I” and “he,” respectively, with the LXX translating them ego eimi, (“I am”).  White has taken an extreme view, suggesting that the “use of ani hu by Isaiah is a euphemism for the very name of God himself,”4 while others may suggest this refers to his self-existence. These ideas prove extremely difficult, for here present is language common even today. 


The anaphoric (referring back to what was already defined, in contrast with an absolute statement of existence) use of ani hh is immediately apparent, hu referring back to what is already defined.  For example, if one were to ask, “Who is the author of this book?” I might respond with a simple “I am” or “I am he.”  Of these responses, the first has the predicate “the author of this book” implied from the question’s predicate, the second relies on the anaphora understood between the pronoun and its antecedent in the question.


Beginning in the 41st chapter of Isaiah are several “I am he” statements.  In v. 2-4 Jehovah asked who had done a series of things, with the implication that he had.  Jehovah affirmed that he was the doer of them, saying, “I Jehovah am the first and the last; I am He.”  The meaning was, “I am the one who has done these things.”


What is perhaps the most well known “I am he” statement is Isaiah 43:10 where Jehovah spoke: “You are My witnesses, says Jehovah; and My servant whom I have elected; that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He.”  Up to this point Jehovah had declared himself to be 'their God, the Holy One of Israel, their Savior' (Isa. 43:3).  He identified himself as the one who had cared for his people in the past, delivering them from trouble and putting others in their place for destruction (v. 3b-4).  He would gather his people back together from all over the earth (v. 5-6) and he was their creator (v. 7).  He commanded for ‘the nations to be assembled,’ asking, “Who among them can declare this and cause us to hear former things?” (v. 9)  Knowing the nations had no one to supply who could, he continued: “Let them give their witnesses, that they may be justified. Or let them hear and say, It is true.” They were to declare, “It is true,” that Jehovah was the one who could do the things he had proclaimed and that their gods were nothing more than worthless idols. 


With verse 10 Jehovah identifies Israel as 'his witnesses.'  They witnessed how he had done everything proclaimed, so they knew with confidence that he would come to fulfill his future promises.  Jehovah says, “I am he,” meaning he is the one he claimed to be, having done all that he said as they had witnessed, and that it was he who could 'declare this and cause them to hear the former things.'  He subsequently identified himself as God and stated clearly that ‘there is no savior besides him’ (v. 11-12). With “I am he” (v. 13), he is this one, the one who ‘declared, saved and proclaimed.’


In Isaiah 45:22 God stated: “I am God, and there is no other.”  Everything he had said would come to pass (v. 23).  All who recognized Jehovah would know that he was the one they would have to turn to, while all opposed to him would feel ashamed (v. 24). The context, continuing into Isaiah 46, defines why those who opposed Jehovah would feel ashamed: “Bell has bowed; Nebo stoops.”  These idols were seen as unable to support even themselves, having to be carried upon animals (Isa. 46:1).  They proved unable to deliver those who served them (v. 2).  Jehovah thus instructs his people to listen to him (v. 2).  Finally he says, “Even to old age I am He” (v. 4). 


Jehovah had affirmed his position as the only God in contrast to the idols of the nations; he proclaimed how their gods had failed, unable to care for their worshippers.  From their birth to old age he is the God of his people and he would care for them, carrying their burden just as the people of the nations would for their idols.


The last “I am he” statement at Isaiah 48:125 discusses God as the deliverer of prophecy.  In the past he warned his people of coming events, and the warnings had proven correct.  With Israel he had done the same but they had not listened.  Even so, he affirmed himself as the one who had done these things, identifying himself by Isaiah as 'the God of Israel, Jehovah of Hosts' (v. 2).  With “I am he” Jehovah spoke of himself as the doer of these things.


As this brief review indicates, there is no reason to find a mystical significance with Jehovah’s use of “I am he.”  These words did not here refer to self-existence or somehow denote the name of God.  They served only to identify God in each immediate context as the one he was there claiming to be or as the doer of the works he proclaimed.

 

Jesus and I am [He]

 

Recorded in John 9 is the account of a man healed by Jesus.  Blind from birth (v. 1) the man was known to beg for money (v. 8).  Having been healed, he found those knowing him to be perplexed at his new found sight, perhaps even doubting who he was.  They asked, “Is this not the one who used to sit and beg?”  In response the formerly blind man said, “I am” (v. 9, literal).


With the words “I am” the man was not claiming to possess the divine name or eternal existence.  The inquiry was into his identity, being asked if he was the blind man who would sit and beg.  Though newly granted sight he was this one, so with the words “I am” the man addressed their inquiry.  For him to say, “I am,” was the same as saying, “I am he who used to sit and beg.”


Jesus made similar use of “I am.”  Speaking of future false messiahs he foretold of ones who would come 'in his name,' saying, “I am” (Mark 13:6).  These would claim to hold Jesus' position or perhaps be Jesus himself.  This use of evgw. eivmi, would undoubtedly correspond to his own even if a mystical connotation were involved, for they would be claiming to be him!  Yet by saying ego eimi, or “I am [he],” the meaning was only “I am the Christ” as Matthew’s parallel account reveals (Mat. 24:5).  Neither the divine name nor eternal existence were contemplated in the expression. 


Mark 13:6 and John 9:9 establish a precedent for the contemporary use of evgw. eivmi by Jesus and others.  Rather than a special theological meaning, the expression was part of common speech.  So BDAG explains:


“To establish identity the formula evgw., eivmi is oft[en] used in the gospels (corresp[onding] to Hebr[ew] ani hu] Dt 32:39; Is 43:10), in such a way that the predicate must be understood fr[om] the context: Mt 14:27; Mk 6:50; 13:6; 14:62; Lk 22:70; J 4:26; 6:20; 8:24, 28; 13:19.”6 


With Trinitarian emphasis on the Johannine passages we will examine a portion of these to demonstrate a consistent pattern of use.  In John 8:24 Jesus provided one of his more significant statements, saying, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."  Demonstrated in what follows is that his listeners understood an implied predicate, with the Jews subsequently asking, “Who are You?”  Examining the context to understand the meaning Marcus Dods remarks: 


“What they were required to believe is not explicitly stated... it is o[ti evgw, eivmi 'that I am,' which Westcott supposes has the pregnant meaning 'that I am, that in me is the spring of life and light and strength'; but this scarcely suits the context.  Meyer supposes that He means 'that I am the Messiah'.  But surely it must refer directly to what He has just declared Himself to be, 'I am not of this world but of the things above... This belief was necessary because only by attaching themselves to His teaching and person could they be delivered from their identification with this world.”7


While Dods' views are legitimate he may have overlooked a prior verse of significance.  In v. 12 Jesus identified himself, saying, “I am the Light of the world.”  Vincent notes how tradition held that “Light was one of the names of the Messiah,”7 making his claim Messianic.  The Jews rejected this, accusing him of having given false testimony in 'bearing witness to himself' (v. 13) while likely failing to understand the full significance of his words.  Jesus refuted their false accusation (v. 14-18), followed by an exchange where they continued in their lack of understanding.  They would 'seek him' and still 'die in their sins' (v. 21) because they would not believe that he was the one whom he claimed to be (v. 24), that one being “the light of the world.”


Jesus continued his exchange, speaking of the Father as the one who sent him, but they continued in their misunderstanding (v. 25-27).  Jesus explained that they would come to understand the things they had not: “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me” (v. 28).  Upon his death they would know he was the one he had claimed to be.


In John 13:19 Jesus made an “I am” statement that should prove no more difficult to understand than any other.  Beginning in verse 13 Jesus confirmed that he was “Teacher and Lord,” as his disciples had identified him.  Setting a pattern in humility for them he took to washing their feet (v. 14-15).  “A slave is not greater than his master,” so if their Lord would wash their feet how much more should they be willing to wash the feet of each other (v. 16-17).  He explained: “From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He” (v. 19).  Jesus was telling what would happen beforehand to confirm their belief in who he was, their “Teacher and Lord.”9  
A physical response has led some Trinitarians into wild speculation on the meaning of Jesus' words at John 18:5-6.  There would undoubtedly be little controversy surrounding Jesus' final use of “I am” recorded in John 18:5-6 were it not for this.  Accompanying men sent by “the chief priests and the Pharisees” (v. 3) Judas approached, prompting Jesus to ask, “Whom do you seek?” (v. 4)  The men responded, “Jesus the Nazarene,” to which Jesus said, “I am [he]” (v. 5, literal).  The apostle records what next took place: “So when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground.”  When the men expressed that they were seeking Jesus, his response only articulated that he was the one they sought.  He outspokenly confessed he was “Jesus the Nazarene.”  There was not an extraordinary significance to his words as 'a euphemism for God's name’ or a connotation of eternal divine being.  The interpretive methods of the Trinitarian looks not to what was said for the meaning, but to an ambiguous physical response.  That those with Judas fell back when Jesus said evgw. eivmi is interpreted to mean that they understood him claiming to be God Almighty.  Examining what is said a number of commentators, even Trinitarian, have understood this response.  John Henry Bernard has so commented:


“[John's] narrative indicates... that Jesus identified Himself voluntarily... And evgw. eivmi in v. 5 may mean simply, 'I am He of whom you are in search'... The words which follow, 'they retired and fell to the ground,' then, imply no more than that the men who came to make the arrest... were so overcome by His moral ascendancy that they recoiled in fear.”10


Barnes offers the same:


"The frank, open, and fearless manner in which Jesus addressed them may have convinced them of his innocence, and deterred them from prosecuting their wicked attempt. His disclosure of himself was sudden and unexpected; and while they perhaps anticipated that he would make an effort to escape, they were amazed at his open and bold profession."11


Jesus' “I am” statements corresponded to the common meaning of ego eimi as used by his contemporaries.  There are undeniable similarities with the use by the blind man in John 9 and Jehovah in Isaiah,12 yet never is the divine name or eternal existence in view.

 

Before Abraham came to be, I am

 

As a man of only 30 years Jesus began his ministry.  His young age undoubtedly left the Jews perplexed when he said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). Understanding Jesus to mean that he had seen Abraham while he was still alive, they also knew he was “not yet fifty years old” (v. 57).  Perhaps feeling they had caught him in a lie they inquired further, to which he responded (v. 58).


The meaning of Jesus' response has been strongly debated with his most well known “I am” statement.  While often paralleled with his other such statements, “I am” is here used differently than in the passages already considered.  George Beasley-Murray is correct in observing the distinction though understating the extent to which it exists:


“This use of ego eimi, is slightly different from that in vv 24 and 28, where 'I am he' is clearly in mind, whereas no predicate is intended here.”13


The phrase is here existential, as eivmi, is no longer a copula with an implied predicate.  Per the context, focus is upon his existence in relation to his human age.  A.T. Robertson has suggested that eivmi, is “really absolute,”14 agreeing with the standard “I am” translation.  His lack of evidence or defense for his interpretation makes it difficult to provide any significant interaction with his position, but heading under which  he provided the reference is telling, for it may imply his recognition that from grammar alone, and not theology, John 8:58 might best be understood differently.


Robertson’s interpretation of John 8:58 was presented at the conclusion of his discussion of what he identified as the Greek progressive present, though confessing the name to be poor.  He, as Ernest De Witt Burton, better identified this construction as a “Present of Past Action Still in Progress” (PPA), with Burton explaining:


"The Present Indicative, accompanied by an adverbial expression denoting duration and referring to past time, is sometimes used in Greek, as in German, to describe an action which, beginning in past time, is still in progress at the time of speaking."15

 

The present indicative in John 8:58 is eivmi,, while the adverbial expression referring to past time with the accompanied action is prin Abraham genesthai. The action of existing began in the past (or, if eternal, was perpetually ongoing) and continued up until the point he spoke.  He did not merely exist in the past so that he would say “I was,” or only at the present, but his existence was from a time before Abraham, through Abraham's life and in duration up until the moment he made this statement.  Kenneth McKay explains:


"The verb 'to be' is used differently, in what is presumably its basic meaning of 'be in existence', in John 8:58: prin Abraham genesthai ego eimi, which would be most naturally translated 'I have been in existence since before Abraham was born', if it were not for the obsession with the simple words 'I am'. If we take the Greek words in their natural meaning, as we surely should, the claim to have been in existence for so long is in itself a staggering one, quite enough to provoke the crowd's violent reaction."16


McKay suggests eimi should be translated “have been” based upon the lacking parallel idiom in English, translating the entire expression as a unit and not the individual words in isolation as an interlinear.  Done appropriately the result of a PPA is “the English perfect”17 as J.N. Sanders further relates:


"To describe a state of continuing up to the present, Greek uses the present tense... where English uses the perfect; cf. [John] viii. 58."18


Suggested, regardless of the translation, is that the contrast between Abraham as one who “came to be” and Jesus as one who 'is' demonstrates eternal preexistence.  Vincent unfortunately falls into this error:


“It is important to observe the distinction between the two verbs. Abraham's life was under the conditions of time, and therefore had a temporal beginning. Hence, Abraham came into being, or was born (genesthai). Jesus' life was from and to eternity. Hence the formula for absolute, timeless existence, I am (ego eimi).“19


Further support for eternal preexistence is presented from the LXX of Psalm 89:2 (90:2 MT).  An exact translation is difficult because of the reference to “ages” without clarifying if the thought was of past ages alone or all ages past and future.  The preceding verse of the Psalm highlights what God “has been” in reference to past “generations” so the former seems probable.  As such, the translation “you have been” is most appropriate.  To the psalmist God had been in existence when the earth was formed and throughout all past generations up to that time.  If, however, the reference is to all ages past and future the most appropriate rendering would be “you exist.”


Jehovah has been “in all generations” (v. 1), “before the earth and the world were formed, even from age to age” (v. 2).  For Jehovah 'a thousand years is as a day' (v. 3).  There is little doubt that God's eternal preexistence is here in view, but these statements extend beyond Jesus' words in John 8:58.  Even so Jesus’ contrast between the present indicative with the aorist infinite could indicate eternal preexistence, but this is not expressly articulated.  In fact there is equally supportive evidence that this construction does not necessitate eternal preexistence.  An early text in the extra-biblical The Testament of Job demonstrates as much:


Testament of Job 2:1 “For I have been [ego gar eimi]] Jobab since before the Lord named me Job.”20 

 

Though eimi is here a copula, the correlation to John 8:58 in that both are a PPA is unaffected.  Those maintaining a grammatical argument insisting that Jesus is eternal as one who 'is' in contrast to Abraham who “came to be” must also insist that Job was eternally Jobab as one who 'is Jobab' in contrast to when he was only “named Job.”  He may not have eternally preexisted but he at least had the name assigned to him from all eternity.  This is an argument that cannot be sustained.


Provided by eimi is a differing point of emphasis, not necessarily an absolute contrast.  Job was already Jobab, but we are not told that he was always Jobab and never so “named.”  Similarly, while John 8:58 does not tell that Jesus “came to be,” this does not indicate that he never did.  Jesus' words likely provided a similar differing point of emphasis, pointing to his existence prior to, during and after Abraham.  In question was not if or when Jesus came to be, only how he had seen Abraham.  To answer how he had been alive from a time before Abraham all the way to the point when he spoke, without interruption, he made use of the PPA.         


Jesus' did not claim that he only “was” before Abraham, something he could have easily articulated without a PPA.  Neither did he claim only to 'come to be' prior to Abraham, for Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel all could have maintained this though they later died.  The PPA shows duration, so while Jesus existed for some time before Abraham, his existence continued through Abraham's life and then up until the time he spoke.  While just over 30 years of age in the flesh he had in fact existed continually for thousands of years prior and beyond.  Only a PPA would have fully articulated this idea with a simple and direct statement. 

 

Perhaps not surprisingly Trinitarians often point to the Jewish response for identifying Jesus’ meaning.  One apologetic work argues:

 

“The reaction of Jesus' critics to his statement—attempting to stone him (John 8:59)—confirms that they thought he was making a divine claim.  Had Jesus stated only that he had been alive longer than Abraham, they might have regarded such a claim as crazy (as they apparently did with regard to his earlier comments, vv. 48-57), but not as an offense meriting stoning.  Of the offenses for which Jews practiced stoning, the only one that seems to fit the context here is blasphemy.  Claiming to be older than Abraham might have been judged crazy, but it would not have been judged as blasphemy.”21

 

Whether Jesus claimed only to be “older than Abraham” or eternal his words could have been interpreted as “crazy.”  Both could have been interpreted as blasphemy.  No human can live for the duration Jesus expressed, whether it was from eternity or only a limited time before Abraham.  To claim such existence would indeed have been a “divine claim,” but not necessarily as the Almighty. 

The Jews could well have interpreted Jesus' words to be of self-deification, assigning to himself deity as emperors commonly did, but here including the notion of preexistence.  It was not necessary for Jesus to be Jehovah, but if he was understood as claiming to be a god in opposition to Jehovah their reaction would have been entirely appropriate.  Otherwise his claim may have been interpreted as “a self-claim that was an affront to God’s presence,”22 claiming for himself a divinely granted position and corresponding existence that they did not believe him to possess.

 


1           The International Standard Bible Encylopaedia, 4 Volumes, Edited by James Orr (Grand Rapids: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1956), 2:1254, 1257. Emphasis added.  Similarly, Waldemar Janzen remarks:  “God’s name given to Moses and Yahweh is interpreted as ‘ehyeh ‘ašer ‘ehyeh, probably best translated as a sentence in the future tense: I will be who/what I will be (3:14 notes).” (Waldemar Janzen, “Exodus,” Believers Church Bible Commentary, ed. by Elmer A Martens, Willard M. Swartley [Waterloo, Ontario and Scottsdale, PN.: Herald Press, 2000], 77.)

2           Jordan D. Cohen, [www  reference, cited Oct. 19, 2005] http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Weekly_Torah_Commentary/shemot_kolel5762.htm

3           Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Revised By Walter Baumgartner, Johann Jakob Stamm, 2 Volumes (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2002), 1:244.   

4           James White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering the Heart of Christian Belief (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1998), 99.

5           One passage in the LXX of Isaiah 47 has Babylon personified, saying “I am.”  She is identified as “the strength of the kingdom,” or according to the Hebrew text, “The queen of kingdoms” (Isa. 47:5 NASB)  Barnes explains that “the idea is, that Babylon sustained by its power and splendor the relation of mistress, and that all other cities were regarded as servants, or as subordinate” (BN, 6:2:177).  In verses 8 and 10 Babylon uses “I am” to refer back to the provided appellation, saying: “I am, and there is no one besides me” (NASB).  The city is not taking for itself the divine name, as many might claim evgw. eivmi, to denote, or eternal existence, for which others would argue for God.  Rather, the city's statement means only that she is the most powerful as “the strength of the kingdom,” with 'all other cites regarded as her servants,' thus attempting to even usurp the position of God's kingdom.  

6           BDAG, 283.

7           Marcus Dods, “The Gospel of St. John,” EGT, 1:775. Emphasis added.

8           Marvin Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, 4 Volumes (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers), 2:167

9           It might be argued that his disciples already believed that he was their “Teacher and Lord” so to make in unnecessary for him to 'tell them before it comes to pass.'  Yet he had already once affirmed to them that he was what they already acknowledged him to be, saying, “for so I am.”  Confirmation through the fulfillment of a prophecy he delivered would only further strengthen their belief and reaffirm that he was these things.  This would be more necessary than ever before because of the coming doubts they would face with his arrest and execution.

10          John Henry Bernard, “A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John,” 2 Volumes, Edited by A.H. McNeile, International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1985) 2:586-7.

11          BN, 9:2:361.

12          Some might point to other parallels between the “I am” statements of Jesus and Jehovah.  To these we would note Jesus words:  “As my Father taught me, these things I speak” (John 8:28 LITV; cf. vs. 26).  Jesus claimed that to have seen him is to have seen his Father (John 14:9), with the basis for this in his character.  He had been taught by Jehovah what and how to speak, and he imitated his Father perfectly.  Depending upon the circumstances Jesus may have called to mind the very language used by his Father and found it applicable to his given situation, bringing him to borrow from it.  Regardless, one must always interpret a text based upon its context, so when Jesus says “I am” we must determine his meaning from the provided context and when doing this there is a consistent difference between the expressions of Jesus and those of Jehovah.    

13          George R. Beasley-Murray, “John,” Second Edition, WBC, 36:139.

14          A.T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville, TN.: Broadman Press, 1943), 880.

15          Ernest De Witt Burton, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek (Eugene, OR.: Wipf & Stock Publishers, repr. 2003.), 10.

16          Citing John 8:58 specifically, Winer: “Sometimes the Present include also a past tense (Mdv. 108), viz. when the verb expresses a state which commenced at an earlier period but still continues, —a state in its duration; as, Jno… viii. 58…” (G.B. Winer, A Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament [Andover: Warren F.Draper, 1897], 267), also Moulton: “The Present which indicates the continuance of an action during the past and up to the moment of speaking is virtually the same as Perfective, the only difference being that the action is conceived as still in progress… Jn… 8:58…” (James Hope Moulton, Wilbert Francis Howard, Nigel Turner, A Grammar of New Testament Greek: Syntax, Volume 3 [London, New York: T & T Clark International, 1960], 62).

17          H.E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey. A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1957.), 183.  Variations of the PPA are so translated in the NASB and others at John 14:9 and 15:27.  In fact the 1970 edition of the NASB suggested the rendering “I have been” for John 8:58 in a footnote.

18          J.N. Sanders, A Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John, Edited and Completed by B.A. Mastin (London: A. & C. Black, 1968), 158.

19          Vincent, 2:181.

20          The translation is my own.  Some may incline to argue that the sense should be that he “was Jobab” and not that he has been such from the time of being named Job, especially due to the concluding words recorded by one who professes to be Job’s brother, stating, “The name of Job was formerly Jobab” (12:17).  I do not find this convincing because even though Jobab had already been named Job, he continued to be identified as Jobab and Job almost interchangeably (7:8, 12, 21, comparing 7:24).  It should further be noted that the post positive gar between evgw and eivmi is there positioned out of grammatical necessity, thereby not impacting the sense of evgw eivmi.

21          Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2007), 97.

22          Darrell L. Bock, Blasphemy and Exaltation in Judaism: The Charge Against Jesus in Mark 14:53-65 (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, repr. 2000), 236.

 

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