[B-Greek] John 8:58 as translation Greek
furuli at online.no
Fri Feb 4 04:10:14 EST 2005
The Mishna was written in the third century C.E. and its tradition has
no direct bearing on the OT or the NT. Cassuto discusses this
tradition, but he does not rule out a future meaning of EHYEH. To try
to concentrate on matters related to Greek (and Hebrew) grammar, the
question is whether Jesus' use of Greek present in John 8:58 is strange
or unusual. My answer is No, because he hardly had any other choice
when he should describe a state which held before a point in the past
and still held.
In order to understand the subtleties of a Greek or Hebrew text we must
consider lexical meaning, Aktionsart, verb form, and context.
The Hebrew verb HYH does not normally signal mere existence (it can
signify "to be with someone" though), but it has the sense "to become;
happen; occur". Thus, the combination of the lexical meaning of HYH,
the Aktionsart and 1st person singular signals that something *will
happen* in the future (an action or an entrance into a state). This is
also seen in Ex 3:12 where EHYEH occurs and where LXX translates it by
Greek future. That is the reason I would expext a nominal clause with
ANI rather than EHYEH in John 8:58.
The LXX rendering of Ex 3:14 is strange, both because the translators
make a present static setting (which was foreign to the Hebrew mind) and
because they translate the two occurrences of EHYEH differently. (I
neither see any original ANI HU) in this verse nor in John 8:58). While
translators naturally look for parallels in the OT, viewpoints regarding
possible parallels should not dictate their translation choices,
particularly not passages with unusual renderings such as Ex 3:14.
Translators of the Greek NT should render the Greek text into good
grammatical English, and let the readers decide the theology!
University of Oslo
Michael Abernathy wrote:
> I appreciate your comments. I agree that EGO EIMI is often used to
> translate a nominal clause. That makes ani hu a likely translation.
> However, I cannot concede that EGO EIMI would be an unlikely
> translation of eyeh when it is translated in precisely that way in
> Exodus 3:14 to identify the name of God.
> Do I understand from your comments that you would assume that the
> original was "ani hu"? If so, are you aware if this would have been
> considered blasphemy or do you believe that the Mishnaic tradition is
> not relevant to this passage?
> Michael Abernathy
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