[B-Greek] John 8:58 PPA???
George F Somsel
gfsomsel at juno.com
Wed Feb 2 13:39:35 EST 2005
On Wed, 02 Feb 2005 17:54:19 +0100 Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no> writes:
> Dear George,
> There are no problems with the grammatical and syntactical
> of JOHN 8:58 but the text is very simple. The problems are
> with the claim of Jesus to have existed for more than 2,000 years
> the theological implications of this. I am only concerned with
> linguistic matters here, and therefore I bring an example which has
> grammar and syntax quite similar to John 8:58.
> The example is Jeremiah 1:5 PRO TOU ME PLASAI SE EN KOILIAi
> The similarities between this passage and John 8:58 are that a state
> (EPISTAMAI - to know) is said to hold before a certain point in the
> (PLASAI SE EN KOILIAi - formed you in the womb), and the verb is a
> present. Obviously, God still knew Jeremiah at speech time. Thus,
> passage mentions a state which held before a particular point in the
> past and which still holds at speech time. The differences are that
> rather than PRIN is used and that the state is "to know" rather than
> The Greek grammar is simple, and a translator can use simple past
> ("Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.") something which
> stress God's knowledge before Jeremiah was born and just imply that
> knowledge held at speech time as well. The translator can also use
> perfect ("I have known you before I formed you in the womb.")
> which would emphasize both the past and present knowledge. But the
> translator can not render the text with English present: "Before I
> formed you in the womb, I know you."
> In the Hebrew text of Jer 1:5 the perfect of YD( (to know) is used,
> this verb form can be translated by English past or perfect in this
> context. Jesus probably spoke the words rendered in John 8:58 in
> (possibly Aramaic), and he could have said 1) BETEREM HEYOT ABRAHAM
> ANI, 2) BETEREM HEYOT ABRAHAM ANI HAYITI, or 3) BETEREM HEYOT
> ANI HU. The most likely choice is 1), which is a nominal clause.
> grammar and syntax are simple in all three examples as they are in
> Greek text.
> There is no way to be certain that the words of Rev 1:8 can throw
> on John 8:58, as you suggest.
> Best regards
> Rolf Furuli
> University of Oslo
When you cite the LXX of Jer 1.5 we are dealing with translation Greek,
not with a composition which was originally written in Greek as was the
NT. It is interesting that the perfect of EPISTAMAI is used but once in
the LXX and the imperfect is used four times whereas the aorist does not
appear. What this might connote regarding the usage of this particular
verb is uncertain.
In certain cases we find a usage of the present in a past sense. In Jn
1.29 we read
THi EPAURION BLEPEI TON IHSOUN . . .
On the next day he ** saw ** Jesus . . .
This is comparable to an English construction in which a story is being
told regarding a past event and then a reversion is made to the present
tense "He walked up to the man and he says . . . " Such is done to give
a sense of being present at the occurance. I would suggest that such was
not the case in Jn 8.58. It is well known that the Gospel of John uses
many "I am" sayings. These are patterned on a similar construction in
Isaiah where it is unambiguous that it is used in a customary sense.
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