More on John 8:58 with Barry Hofstetter

Posted by David Barron April - 11 - 2010 - Sunday

Barry Hofstetter has taken the opportunity to respond to my previous blog post concerning his comments on the “have been” reading of John 8:58. The response can be found at

Consider the key portions of this:

This was, of course, part of a continuing discussion, so that taking it out of the context of that discussion eliminates the points and counterpoints that were being made.

Hofstetter is correct in that his comments were part of a larger discussion, but this hardly excuses his error.  Any who care to review the discussion will find the person with whom he was having it even corrected him, so it is most surprising (or, perhaps not) that he continues to maintain it.  Hofstetter has simply misrepresented the position he was arguing against by providing a rendering that unambiguously failed to articulate what was argued for.

I have been involved with these discussions for a long time, and I would ask David what evidence I was ignoring? He seems to conflate disagreement with “not listening,” unaware of the fact that a person may know and understand, but still not agree. I staunchly disagree that ἐγὼ εἰμί is a “present of past action,” and I believe that if John had wanted to express what the JW’s claim, the Greek constructions that I suggested would be a good way of doing so.

The evidence Hofstetter has ignored is the interpretive, which is to say the meaning argued for by those who maintain the “have been” translation.  He is free to disagree with the translation, he is not free to suggest those who maintain it mean something contrary to what they articulate the meaning to be.

With this consider what he wrote for which the original response was made:

… he could have written… PRIN ABRAHAM GENESQAI, EGW HMHN, (Before Abraham was born, I was) which would express much more precisely what the way the JW wants to read the text…

The above does not come close to how JWs and those of us who maintain the “have been” rendering ‘want to read the text.’  This relates simple existence prior to Abraham, while we maintain eimi is durative, finding the action of existing, beginning in the past,  expressed as ongoing from commencement until Jesus spoke the words recorded at John 8:58.

I invite Hofstetter to explain how any alternate rendering he has provided expresses this notion.  In fact, duration is not expressed by any alternative rendering I have found Hofstetter suggest as ‘more precise’ to those holding the “have been” rendering with the notion of durative existence in view.

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