I AM THAT I AM and John 8:58 - Greg
ronning at ilink.nis.za
Fri Jan 1 03:57:17 EST 1999
GregStffrd at aol.com wrote:
> In a message dated 12/29/98 11:48:01 PM Pacific Standard Time,
> ronning at ilink.nis.za writes:
> << Dear Greg,
> The reason I did not respond to every jot and tittle of your argument that
> "son of
> man/messiah" is the predicate of "I am he" in John 8:58 is because (as I
> said), such a predicate is logically problematic. >>
> Well, that is the question at hand, and to avoid it is to avoid the issue. My
> argument and the points I made show that it is not all problematic, but quite
> at home in this context.
> <<Also, your insistence that because the predicate of "I am he" is "son of
> man/messiah" therefore the predicate is not the
> same as the "I am he" statements in Isaiah (i.e. Yhwh) begs the question, Who
> is the messiah (not "who by name?" but "what is his nature?"). Is he just a
> special man, a unique descendant of David? >>
> Please demonstrate from the context of the Isaianic 'ani hu sayings how "Messiah/Son
> of man" could possibly be the understood predicate. I gave a couple examples, using
> your examples, of where the predicate is God, or YHWH.
I did not say that "Messiah/Son of man" is the predicate of the Isaianic
sayings. My point is that Yhwh who later became the Son of Man (like
describes) is the predicate of the sayings in both Isaiah and John.
> For the identity of the Messiah, in relation to YHWH, one might carefully
> consider Isaiah 11:1-11.
If we had only this passage to consider, yes I would agree that readers
conclude that the Messiah is rightly called YHWH. But I try to avoid
hguman tendency to just pick verses I think prove my point and ignore
don't. So we also have to deal with the fact that, for example, the
Messiah is also
called 'El Gibbor (Isa 9:5/6), which is a title of Yhwh in the next
> << So John 8:58 adds something to what Jesus said previously - he existed
> Abraham. He is now the son of man, but he could not exist AS the son of man
> before he became the son of man/messiah/son of David (which requires human
> nature). >>
> There is no need for me to address your rejection of a point that I documented
> with several sources, until you choose to interact with those sources, and
> explain why such a view "could not" be so. Your have ignored the sense in
> which the Bible and other Jewish literature presents Jesus as the Messiah
> prior to his sojourn in the flesh.
I have no idea what you are talking about. Are you saying that the NT
agrees with the
Targum rendering of Micah 5:1/2 which you quoted which gets rid of the
idea of the
actual pre-existence of the Messiah? Have you read the prologue to
> << What was he, then, before he became the son of man? What was he before
> Abraham existed? A god, an angel, a mere name, or yet-to-be-realized decree?
> It is at this point that I think the parallel construction of "before Abraham
> was, I am he" to Isa 43:13 "from the day [i.e. in the past], I am he" is
> relevant. >>
> Again, you assume a past for Isaiah 43:13 that is not necessary.
But you agreed that Isa 43:13 was past - are you backtracking now?
> Also, it
> really does not matter, at this point, who Jesus was prior to the flesh, but
> who is was prophesied to be! Go back to my last post, block off each point
> made, like I am doing with your post, and respond. Then we might get
It obviously does matter, if for no other reason than that John begins
his gospel with
a discussion of who Jesus was before he became the Messiah. John 1:14 -
(representing YHWH in the targums) became flesh and dwelt among us" -
of your reasoning (however much you are persuaded by it).
> Ignoring points that I have already made and then making assertions
> about things that are covered by those points is a waste of my time, and
I feel exactly the same way, Greg!
> <<Let me mention a couple more parallels to the "I am he" (Yhwh) passages in
> John 4:26 ego eimi ho lalwn soi is almost verbatim from Isa 52:6 My people
> shall know my name; therefore in that day, 'ani hu' hammedabber hinneni.>>
> Ron, you are missing the point. The point is the understood predicate. That
> Jesus and Jehovah, in contexts where their identity is under discussion or
> being made known, should use similar language is not at all surprising. The
> real question is, Are they revealed as the same Being in the contexts in which
> they are made known to their respective audiences? There is nothing in the
> context of Isaiah 52:6 that would suggest that the one speaking is the
> Messiah, and conversely there is nothing in the context of John 4:26 to
> suggest that the speaker is Jehovah.
Again, you assume what you are trying to prove (that the Messiah is not
> In the context of Isaiah 52:6 Jehovah reminds the Israelites that it is He,
> "the Sovereign Lord Jehovah" (verse 4), that is speaking. This He does so they
> are mindful of the seriousness of His words and the need to respond to them.
> In John 4:26 Jesus' words are simply an affirmation of his identity, as the
> one in whom the woman expressed faith, the Messiah. The Samaritan woman could
> hardly have detected an identification between Jesus and Jehovah based on
> Jesus' use of "I am he," for Samaritans did not accept Isaiah, or any other
> writings except the Pentateuch, as canonical. Their Messianism was centered on
> the prophet greater than Moses referred to in Deuteronomy 18; this figure was
> not identified as Jehovah, but Jehovah would command him what to speak.-De
> 18:18; compare Joh 12:49-50.
The Samaritan woman would also not be aware that Jesus began his
conversation with her
the same way Abraham's servant began his conversation with Rebekah, or
that she was
involved in a re-enactment of one of three OT courtship scenes where a
man meets a
woman at a well - the woman being the prospective bride (Rebekah for
Isaac in Genesis
24, Rachel for Jacob in Genesis 29, Zipporah for Moses in Exodus 2).
Jesus says "Give
me a drink" as Abraham's servant said to Rebekah (Gen 24:17/John 4:7),
invited to stay (4:28-30), as Abraham's servant was (24:28-32), he
refused to eat
(4:31-34), as Abraham's servant did (24:33), he stayed two days (4:40,
43), again like
Abraham's servant (24:54). The Samaritan woman would not know that she
figuratively represents the bride of Christ, and as such is a contrast
to the "model"
bride (from a human point of view), Rebekah - unlike Rebekah who was
from a "good"
family (i.e. non-Canaanite), the woman at the well was from a "bad"
race, as far as
the Jews were concerned (John 4:9) - likewise we all come from a bad
race, Adam's, in
which there is nothing good in the sight of God; unlike Rebekah who was
24:16), the Samaritan woman had had five husbands and was living with a
man to whom
she was not married (which speaks to the natural human tendency to
idolatry, which is
called spiritual immorality in the Law and Prophets), thus again
Christians, who before redemption all have had one god after another.
She did not know that the one to whom she was speaking would die to make
her holy (Eph
5:25-27), or that such an action on behalf of such an unworthy bride is
contrasted to Isaac's behavior (which he learned from Abraham) toward
the model bride;
Jesus gave up his life for his bride, to make her holy, whereas Isaac
gave up his
bride to defilement, in order to save his own life (especially note Gen
26:9 I did it
because I thought, "Lest I die on account of her"). She would not know
that she would
thus serve in Scripture as a picture of the undesireable sinner who is
sought out to
be the bride of Christ, a picture that should aid us in humility (a
virtue which all
should seek, don't you agree?).
She also did not know that the role of the bridegroom of his people is
according to the prophets, and that thus the one to whom she was
speaking, is rightly
called Yhwh, and thus speaks as Yhwh, "I am he, the one who is speaking
to you" as
predicted in Isa 52:6. She was not aware of any of these things, but
that does not
mean you have to remain in her ignorance.
> In John 4:26 there is no reason to read into the
> rather common participle hO LALWN ("the one speaking") any identification
> with Yahweh, as some suggests.
If you think that "I am he, the one who is speaking to you" is a
perfectly natural way
of speaking, perhaps you can give us five or ten other examples of such
from non-semitic Koine Greek, so that we can conclude that the agreement
with Isa 52:6
is just coincidence.
> John uses ego eimi in the same way the LXX of Isaiah uses it: self-
> identification. The use of hO LALWON is quite at home in both contexts, where
> two different identities are being highlighted or revealed. Again, the fact
> that Jesus and his Father should use the same language in similar contexts
> (particularly where their identity is in question) should not surprise us.
> (Joh 14:10; 12:49-50) But the identity revealed by their words, in these two
> texts, is not the same.
Again, assuming your point, that the Messiah is not rightly called
Yhwh. It doesn't
help your argument to assume the point you are trying to prove.
> << John 13:19 "I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does
> occur, you may believe that I am he" is a nice prose summary of Yhwh's
> statements that his ability to predict the future (especially the deliverance
> brought by Cyrus) should
> cause Israel to acknowledge that "I am he" (Isa 41:2-4; 43:10-13; 44:26-45:6;
> 48:12-14) >>
> Ron, In verse 18 Jesus quotes a messianic prophecy from Psalm 41:9, which
> reads, "Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has
> lifted up his heel against me." (NIV) Then in verse 19 he tells the disciples
> that once this scripture has been fulfilled, they will know that it is he
> about whom the scripture speaks, the Messiah! The disciples would naturally
> have associated Jesus' statement in verse 20 ("he that receives me, receives
> him that sent me") with an identification of who he claimed to be: the one
> `sent by' the Father.-Joh 5:37; 8:18.
This argument, too, depends on assuming that the one who sends and the
one who is sent
are not both called Yhwh.
> Brown (The Gospel According to John [xxiii-xxi], 555) acknowledges that "some
> would supply an implicit predicate, `the Messiah,' based on the rabbinical
> understanding of Ps xli."
> In the context of Isaiah 43:10 Jehovah is bringing to the Israelites attention
> facts that should remind them that He is the true God, as opposed to the gods
> of the "national groups." (verse 9) But the context of John 13:19 in no way
> supports a similar conclusion in relation to Jesus. In fact, it clearly
> mitigates against it. (Joh 12:49-50; 13:3; 20) Also, in John 14:29 we see
> roughly the same language as that used by Jesus in John 13:19. In John 14:29
> Jesus tells those around him the things that would soon occur, and that they
> should believe on account of the fact that he told them beforehand:
> Jn 13:19:
> ajp * a[rti | levgw uJmi'n proV tou' genevsqai, | i at na pisteuvshte o at tan
> o at ti ejgwv eijmi.
> Jn 14:29:
> kaiV nu'n | ei[rhka uJmi'n priVn genevsqai, | i at na o at tan gevnhtai
> Jn 13:19 (RSV)
> I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you
> may believe that I am he.
> Jn 14:29 (RSV)
> And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take
> place, you may believe.
> Yet, John 14:29 is uttered in a context where Jesus clearly denies being
> Jehovah, for he asserts that he is going to One who is greater than he. (Joh
> 14:28) Can we imagine the God of Isaiah ever uttering such words? Also, Jesus'
> words in 14:28 are not limited to his human nature. There is nothing in the
> context of John 13:19 to support a connection between it and Isaiah 43:10.
Your argument that by saying the Father is greater than he, Jesus must
be denying that
he is Jehovah is not valid if the Father is also called Jehovah. Since
John has begun
his gospel by saying that Jesus is Jehovah, I interpret "the Father is
greater than I"
in light of that fact (this is also why theologians speak of economic
as opposed to ontological subordination). Yes, in fact, "the God of
speaks this way in Isa 48:16c-d "From the time it took place, I was
there, and now
'Adonay Yhwh has sent me, and his Spirit" (the one who sends is greater
than the one
who is sent).
> << For what it's worth, I quote the following concerning studies of the EGW
> statements in John that do not have a predicate: >>
> It really is not worth much, though both men do make some fine points, which I
> think you have ignored.
As you know, I can't respond to that without specifics. Are you able to
Brown and Harner were unable to find, i.e. any significant non-Jewish
Jesus' "I am he" statements, or are you able to refute their view that
influence upon their formulation is the "I am he" passages from Isaiah,
or do you
simply dismiss this conclusion as irrelevant (in which case I think you
uninterested in the question)?
> Again, you need to revisit my last post, and this one, also, and consider each
> argument I present. Otherwise it gives the impression that you are really not
> listening to what I am saying, but instead simply trying to support a
> doctrinal presupposition.
I, too, have "the impression that you are really not listening to what I
but instead simply trying to support a doctrinal presupposition." At
least I got your
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