John 8:58

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Scott Lawson
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Scott Lawson »

To be as clear as I can, Stephen, I’m not claiming that εγω ειμι is not syntactically connected to the adverbial dependent clause but you are by viewing εγω ειμι as a personal name.

I’m saying that the adverbial dependent clause has to be modifying a verb and the most likely candidate is ειμι. This means that the present tense meaning of ειμι is not being signaled but rather some sort of past tense.
Scott Lawson
Scott Lawson
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Scott Lawson »

Here’s where Robertson speaks of εγω ειμι as Jesus using “the absolute phrase used of God.

So it looks like he isn’t using absolute as a technical term for no syntactic connection between the temporal clause and εγω ειμι.


Before Abraham was (πριν Αβρααμ γενεσθα). Usual idiom with πριν in positive sen- tence with infinitive (second aorist middle of γινομα) and the accusative of general reference, "before coming as to Abraham," "before Abraham came into existence or was born."
I am (εγω ειμ). Undoubtedly here Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase used of God. The contrast between γενεσθα (entrance into existence of Abraham) and ειμ (timeless being) is complete. See the same contrast between εν in 1:1 and εγενετο in 1:14. See the contrast also in Ps 90:2 between God (ε, art) and the mountains (γενηθηνα). See the same use of ειμ in Joh 6:20; 9:9; 8:24,28; 18:6 . - pg 661


https://stnoufer.files.wordpress.com/20 ... tament.pdf
Scott Lawson
Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen »

Scott Lawson wrote: August 3rd, 2021, 7:25 pm Stephen I absolutely admit I only have partial knowledge of Greek in comparison to you. But that goes for many others on B-Greek.
Scott, it's not only knowledge of Greek. I myself can't say I would be very competent in Greek. But I think I have relatively good grasp on how human language works, and I believe I can understand why grammarians say what they say. From your posts I get a feeling that you read grammars but don't quite grasp what is said there, you make connections and assume things which aren't there.

An example would be the "controlling verb". That was a term taken from Wallace. It's still a bit unclear to me how you understood that, but I suspect that you think that because of the word "controlling" it somehow controls the other verb. It was said in a couple of posts it seems to mean only the main verb of the main clause. Then you still say to Stephen: "So even though every other infinitive has a controlling verb γενησθαι at J8:58 doesn’t. So rather than the getting it’s relatve time from the controlling verb this infinitive gets it from the reader’s encyclopedic knowledge." To me it looks like you never understood how the normal constructions with temporal clauses work. Nobody has actually said that the infinitive in a similar temporal clause would get its relative time from a controlling verb. You haven't understood what Wallace says.

Honestly, it looks to me that you are looking at the Greek text through the formal grammar only, not instinctively understanding how the text works. It's possible to read grammar works beneficially but it requires reflecting back and forth between the actual language and what grammarians say. You need to interpret grammarians correctly and get a grasp on why they put things in a certain way. Now you just let the words and labels in grammar works to mislead you.

The usefulness of this thread for understanding John 8:58 diminishes when you add post after post quoting grammar texts which you seemingly haven't understood and which don't prove your points. As Stephen said several times, they aren't always relevant. This thread has been very useful but we seem to get bogged down to totally irrelevant details.

I recommend reading Greek in a quick pace so much that you don't need to think about grammatical details of these kind of basic constructions. For theory I recommend general linguistics, especially semantics, instead of grammars. There exist a couple of very good, easy to read introductions to semantics. They don't use Ancient Greek but they may let you understand better how human language works. It can be much more beneficial for understanding any language than trying to understand grammatical details of one language.
Sean Kasabuske
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Sean Kasabuske »

Ok, I've seen a lot of back and forth without much support for the view that John 8:58 is an example of a PPA. (I think that the text is so clearly an example of the PPA idiom that it should itself serve as an indisputable example and thereby neutralize the part of Wallace's counter argument based on a lack of supporting examples.)

I want to ask a question from a new direction. Let's say that Jesus wanted to say, or the Evangelist wanted to present Jesus has having said, what we could accurately render in English this way:

I have been in existence since before Abraham was born (or came into being)

In other words, Jesus or the Evangelist didn't intend to speak of the Son's beginning, or his coming into being, but merely intended to state that the Son had been in existence since some unspecified time before Abraham, and that said existence was uninterrupted from that unspecified time before Abraham until the moment Jesus uttered the words in question.

What are the possible ways of saying that in Koine?

BTW, no need to oil up and flex by pointing out that my knowledge of Greek grammar is incomplete. I readily admit as much.

~Sean
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen »

Sean Kasabuske wrote: August 4th, 2021, 7:02 am I have been in existence since before Abraham was born

What are the possible ways of saying that in Koine?
That's in interesting and important question, but...
BTW, no need to oil up and flex by pointing out that my knowledge of Greek grammar is incomplete. I readily admit as much, as would many people, I trust, if speaking honestly.
I would have anwered your question even before you asked it because it's so important - if I would have had enough knowledge about Greek. Undoubtedly there are ways to communicate that.

I have actually written a longish treatise about PPA with special reference to John 8:58 many years ago. But because I'm painfully aware of its shortcomings and my lack of skills I haven't wanted to publish it in any way. This thread have encouraged me a bit, but not yet enough to do it.
Barry Hofstetter
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Sean Kasabuske wrote: August 4th, 2021, 7:02 am Ok, I've seen a lot of back and forth without much support for the view that John 8:58 is an example of a PPA. (I think that the text is so clearly an example of the PPA idiom that it should itself serve as an indisputable example and thereby neutralize the part of Wallace's counter argument based on a lack of supporting examples.)

I want to ask a question from a new direction. Let's say that Jesus wanted to say, or the Evangelist wanted to present Jesus has having said, what we could accurately render in English this way:

I have been in existence since before Abraham was born (or came into being)

In other words, Jesus or the Evangelist didn't intend to speak of the Son's beginning, or his coming into being, but merely intended to state that the Son had been in existence since some unspecified time before Abraham, and that said existence was uninterrupted from that unspecified time before Abraham until the moment Jesus uttered the words in question.

What are the possible ways of saying that in Koine?

BTW, no need to oil up and flex by pointing out that my knowledge of Greek grammar is incomplete. I readily admit as much.

~Sean
These kind of things can be helpful as an exercise in helping us to limit the range of possibilities on the actual text under consideration, but are not determinative in arriving at an ultimate solution. I would write something like ἐγώ γε ὑπηρξάμην πρὸ τοῦ Αβραὰμ γενέσθαι.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter, M.A., Th.M.
Ph.D. Student U of FL
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
Stephen Carlson
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Stephen Carlson »

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 4th, 2021, 4:47 am The usefulness of this thread for understanding John 8:58 diminishes when you add post after post quoting grammar texts which you seemingly haven't understood and which don't prove your points. As Stephen said several times, they aren't always relevant. This thread has been very useful but we seem to get bogged down to totally irrelevant details.

I recommend reading Greek in a quick pace so much that you don't need to think about grammatical details of these kind of basic constructions. For theory I recommend general linguistics, especially semantics, instead of grammars. There exist a couple of very good, easy to read introductions to semantics. They don't use Ancient Greek but they may let you understand better how human language works. It can be much more beneficial for understanding any language than trying to understand grammatical details of one language.
I agree with this, and will bow out.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen »

Barry Hofstetter wrote: August 4th, 2021, 9:00 am These kind of things can be helpful as an exercise in helping us to limit the range of possibilities on the actual text under consideration, but are not determinative in arriving at an ultimate solution.
Yes, it would show how the intended meaning would have been expressed and that tools to do that would have been readily available instead of using a construction which doesn't feel normal. But it doesn't tell how to find out the meaning of the text as it stands.

As I see it, finding expressions which would easily convey the meaning comparable to normal PPA partially prove that choosing the actual construction found here has some special purpose. After all, if there's not an easy way to express something in one way, another way is found, and if there are no alternatives here, it would explain why this not so natural construction was chosen. Then the conclusion would be that the construction is a more rare case of PPA - provided that continuing existence instead of just existing already before Abraham was the intent of the communication.
Daniel Semler
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Daniel Semler »

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 4th, 2021, 4:47 am For theory I recommend general linguistics, especially semantics, instead of grammars. There exist a couple of very good, easy to read introductions to semantics. They don't use Ancient Greek but they may let you understand better how human language works. It can be much more beneficial for understanding any language than trying to understand grammatical details of one language.
On the semantics texts Eeli, could you recommend a title or two ?

Thx
D
Sean Kasabuske
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Sean Kasabuske »

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 4th, 2021, 7:39 am
Sean Kasabuske wrote: August 4th, 2021, 7:02 am I have been in existence since before Abraham was born

What are the possible ways of saying that in Koine?
That's in interesting and important question, but...
BTW, no need to oil up and flex by pointing out that my knowledge of Greek grammar is incomplete. I readily admit as much, as would many people, I trust, if speaking honestly.
I would have anwered your question even before you asked it because it's so important - if I would have had enough knowledge about Greek. Undoubtedly there are ways to communicate that.

I have actually written a longish treatise about PPA with special reference to John 8:58 many years ago. But because I'm painfully aware of its shortcomings and my lack of skills I haven't wanted to publish it in any way. This thread have encouraged me a bit, but not yet enough to do it.
Well, if you publish it, let me know.

Wallace's argument against the PPA is that the adverbial modifier always appears in the same clause in the undisputed examples. However, unless one can demonstrate that the modifier must be in the same clause, I would categorize that is an indeterminate statistic.

It seems pretty clear to me that πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι is functioning as an adverbial phrase modifying εἰμί. If not, then I'm at a loss about how to make sense of the text. If I'm right then I don't see any reason why the adverbial must be part of the same clause. If it's an adverbial phrase modifying εἰμί then it's an adverbial phrase modifying εἰμί, whether part of the same clause or not, and this naturally suggests that εἰμί is functioning as a PPA. It seems pretty clear that folks like G.B. Winer, Nigel Turner, Blass & Debrunner, Kenneth McKay, etc., would agree, and I would assume that they were aware of the sorts of objections that have been raised here.

Interestingly, in the other two noteworthy examples in GJohn in which a claim of Jesus is used as a basis for an attempted stoning, Jesus provides very clear answers to the charges (John 5 and John 10). I would therefore expect a clear answer here as well, especially since the question asked was a legitimate one. Jesus made a statement in verse 56 that can be legitimately understood to imply preexistence; Jesus' adversaries inferred what Jesus' words can legitimately imply; they therefore asked a legitimate question; Jesus replied using words that some highly qualified grammarians see or have seen as forming a known idiom that we refer to today as a PPA; an English translation that captures the sense of that idiom provides a direct affirmative answer to the question asked.

When the pieces fit that well, I just don't see a compelling reason to seek another answer.

~Sean

P.S. About the lack of comparable examples, I'll repeat what I've offered on other forums: How many examples can we expect to find that are grammatically parallel to a text in which a man claims to have been in existence since before some ancient ancestor was born?
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