John 8:58

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 5th, 2021, 6:32 am
Daniel Semler wrote: August 1st, 2021, 7:21 pm I stumbled across this example from Jeremiah, by way of Athanasius , Arians 1:13, which is worth reading on ἐγώ εἰμί I think, though I've not done it myself yet.
This is indeed worth reading.

https://archive.org/details/orationsofs ... 4/mode/2up (Greek, scanned)
https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/28161.htm (English)

I seems to have another example, but it creates even more difficulties for me. See to original Proverbs 8:23-25 which Athanasius uses. We have a telic verb in the present tense there.
before the mountains were established
and before all the hills, he begets me. (http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/ ... s-nets.pdf)
First of all, we have again the same construction talking about God.

Second, if PPA would be applied here, it would be something like "since before the mountains were established ... he has been begetting me". This sounds implausible (unless we assume that the Septuagint translator thought about eternal or timeless begetting which seems impossible in several ways).

It looks pretty clear to me that it can't be PPA. But what it is then?
I can't answer that question, but the verb γεννᾷ translates, חוֹלָלְתִּי, is a polal perfective (talk about rare). Why that would trigger a present tense to the Greek translator I'm not sure. Jerome use parturiebar, the imperfect tense, so to render. My goodness, what a mess!
N.E. Barry Hofstetter, M.A., Th.M.
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καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen »

Barry Hofstetter wrote: August 5th, 2021, 7:15 am My goodness, what a mess!
Soon help from this forum isn't enough, I'll need psychiatric and medical help.
Sean Kasabuske
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Sean Kasabuske »

Scott Lawson wrote: August 4th, 2021, 5:44 pm Eeli,

I wasn’t trying to resolve the issue by having Stephen translate it I was trying to understand his view of the syntax by making him translate it. He didn’t do so but pointed me to the 'standard' translations which opened him up to being misunderstood.
That suggests an important criterion for assessing plausibility. Since the standard "translation" (I use that word loosely) is thoroughly ambiguous, which is easily demonstrated by reference to the myriad interpretations on offer, it becomes quite likely that it lacked the capacity to elicit an attempted stoning. Rather than picking up stones, Jesus' adversaries would have simply said: Huh? No one stones people for uttering unintelligible sentences. Well, an English professor on the verge of a nervous breakdown might, but there were no English professors in Jesus' day ;)

On the other hand, if Jesus' adversaries understood the reply in a manner consistent with what we today call a PPA, then the attempted stoning makes perfect sense. The Jesus of GJohn is God's living, breathing power-of-attorney in word and deed. A claim to have been in existence since before Abraham would have been seen as a preposterous lie by Jesus' adversaries, and when someone who acts as God's fully authorized representative tells a lie, he makes God a liar. The "agent is as the principal he represents", and so the agent's words are God's words, legally speaking.

For those who might object on the basis that this isn't blasphemy, technically speaking, I would recommend that you read Darrell Bock's excellent study, "Blasphemy and Exaltation in Judaism: The Charge against Jesus in Mark 14:53-65". He shows that in ancient Jewish practice, the concept of "blasphemy" was applied somewhat broadly.

BTW, Bock's book has been reprinted by Wipf & Stock and is now much more affordable than when it was published by Mohr Siebeck.

~Sean
Jonathan Robie
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Jonathan Robie »

Sean Kasabuske wrote: August 4th, 2021, 4:46 pm The very first step in translation would be to put the clause in standard English word order, which would give the following:

I am before Abraham came to be

Suddenly the implied echo from Ex. 3:14 is no longer audible (so to speak). I suspect that that's exactly why the text is left at the interlinear stage by some translators.
I want to focus on the meaning of the Greek text, but one remark here - the English you propose also creates a time clash, just as the Greek does. And I don't see anything wrong with the word order, I can say "Before I drive to work, I get coffee". In Greek or in English, there is a time clash between the two clauses. That's the whole point.

But could we please focus on the Greek text? As for Exodus 3:14, Abraham is in view in this text, not Moses, and Abraham came before Moses. And I don't see a lot of similarity between the two sentences.

John 8:58 εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἰησοῦς, Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγὼ εἰμί.
Exodus 3:14 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεὸς πρὸς Μωυσῆν Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν· καὶ εἶπεν Οὕτως ἐρεῖς τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ Ὁ ὢν ἀπέσταλκέν με πρὸς ὑμᾶς.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Jonathan Robie »

Barry Hofstetter wrote: August 4th, 2021, 9:19 pm
Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 4th, 2021, 4:44 pm Now Barry can comment on that himself, but actually he doesn't say that the infinitive would get its time from the main verb. Only that it would show prior action. That's different than getting time from the main verb. A logical companion to "would show prior action" would be that "the main verb would show subsequent action", and that wouldn't mean that the main verb would get its time from the temporal clause, either.

So, if I now understand Barry correctly, this means that there's a grammatical clash because in this passage the infinitive shows subsequent action.
I'm glad somebody gets it, at any rate.
This is also what I have been trying to say.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen »

Sean Kasabuske wrote: August 5th, 2021, 7:32 am That suggests an important criterion for assessing plausibility. Since the standard "translation" (I use that word loosely) is thoroughly ambiguous, which is easily demonstrated by reference to the myriad interpretations on offer, it becomes quite likely that it lacked the capacity to elicit an attempted stoning. Rather than picking up stones, Jesus' adversaries would have simply said: Huh? No one stones people for uttering unintelligible sentences.
It's important to understand that nobody has said this sentence is unintelligible. It's just grammatically strange. It doesn't exclude referring to the existence of Jesus before Abraham. On the contrary, it states at least that much. But it makes it in a nonstandard way and raises the question: is there something else behind this?

John is famous for his double entendres (actually they are quoting Jesus). That is something which can be, maybe easily, understood in one way, but also in another way, and there may be ambiguity.

How would you understand the example from Proverbs, quoted above? It can't be a PPA by definition. Yet it is a similar construction than in John. It's even more unexpected than this one because it has a telic verb and it's difficult to see how the imperfective aspect could be used at all. So it's against expectation with both aspect and tense! But do way say Huh? No, because we can easily understand what it means. What we wonder is why it is said that way.
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Jonathan Robie »

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 5th, 2021, 7:07 am The Greek Septuagint of Prov. 8...
22 Κύριος ἔκτισέ με ἀρχὴν ὁδῶν αὐτοῦ εἰς ἔργα αὐτοῦ, 23 πρὸ τοῦ αἰῶνος ἐθεμελίωσέ με ἐν ἀρχῇ, πρὸ τοῦ τὴν γῆν ποιῆσαι 24 καὶ πρὸ τοῦ τὰς ἀβύσους ποιῆσαι, πρὸ τοῦ προελθεῖν τὰς πηγὰς τῶν ὑδάτων, 25 πρὸ τοῦ ὄρη ἑδρασθῆναι, πρὸ δὲ πάντων βουνῶν γεννᾷ με.
Nice example.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Jonathan Robie »

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 5th, 2021, 8:39 am How would you understand the example from Proverbs, quoted above? It can't be a PPA by definition. Yet it is a similar construction than in John. It's even more unexpected than this one because it has a telic verb and it's difficult to see how the imperfective aspect could be used at all. So it's against expectation with both aspect and tense! But do way say Huh? No, because we can easily understand what it means. What we wonder is why it is said that way.
Poetry and prophetic speech do this kind of thing. We need to avoid forcing it into something else.

In John 8:58, it raises questions without answering them precisely. We can't force it to. But we can see the main thrust in the next verse.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Scott Lawson
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Scott Lawson »

Jonathan Robie wrote: August 5th, 2021, 8:03 am
Barry Hofstetter wrote: August 4th, 2021, 9:19 pm
Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 4th, 2021, 4:44 pm Now Barry can comment on that himself, but actually he doesn't say that the infinitive would get its time from the main verb. Only that it would show prior action. That's different than getting time from the main verb. A logical companion to "would show prior action" would be that "the main verb would show subsequent action", and that wouldn't mean that the main verb would get its time from the temporal clause, either.

So, if I now understand Barry correctly, this means that there's a grammatical clash because in this passage the infinitive shows subsequent action.
I'm glad somebody gets it, at any rate.
This is also what I have been trying to say.


And that’s why I use the term “relative time”.
Scott Lawson
Scott Lawson
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Scott Lawson »

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 5th, 2021, 8:39 am
It's important to understand that nobody has said this sentence is unintelligible. It's just grammatically strange. It doesn't exclude referring to the existence of Jesus before Abraham. On the contrary, it states at least that much. But it makes it in a nonstandard way and raises the question: is there something else behind this?
I’m the nobody that has been saying that without viewing ειμι as past referring the sentence is unintelligible. The thought in the dependent adverbial clause cannot be made sense of without an independent clause to complete it.

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 5th, 2021, 8:39 am How would you understand the example from Proverbs, quoted above? It can't be a PPA by definition. Yet it is a similar construction than in John. It's even more unexpected than this one because it has a telic verb and it's difficult to see how the imperfective aspect could be used at all. So it's against expectation with both aspect and tense! But do way say Huh? No, because we can easily understand what it means. What we wonder is why it is said that way.

The wisdom figure, understood to be a hypostatic being, is one of the verses that I believe the encyclopedic knowledge of Jesus’ interlocutors would have had brought to their minds. As well as the hot topic at that time of who the Second Power in Heaven was. Some candidates were Enoch whom God took and had his archangels give him a tour of the different levels of heaven. So a preexisting character. Or Melchizedek who didn’t die and whom the Qumran community was awaiting to bring judgment on the Romans in fulfillment of Dan 7:13, 14 and Ps 110:1. Melchizedek of course had seen Abraham. Some Jewish sages understood him to be Shem…so he would have been in existence before Abraham. But there is another candidate that is more likely and that is the lesser Yhwh, the visible Yhwh who appeared to men and was the representative of the transcendent and invisible Yhwh in heaven whom the Jews came to call the Bat Qol because he made his presence known not by an appearance but by means of an unembodied voice.

But please elaborate on the telic verb you mentioned.
Scott Lawson
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