John 8:58

Stevens, Charles C Charles.Stevens at
Wed Dec 22 18:47:58 EST 1999

On 22 December 1999 at 2:41PM, Edgar Foster wrote:  

<<The article I was quoting from is "Ego Eimi in John 1:20 and 4:25." Edwin
D. Freed. CBQ 41, 1979.>>

Don't have access to the article.  

<<And yes, when I speak of an implied predicate, I am saying that the
predicate has to be supplied from the context. E.g., I am [the Messiah].>>

I agree that the predicate has to be supplied from context, but the
*immediate* context is the question asked in John 8:57 and the reaction to
the response to that question as described in John 8:59, and I would contend
that there is no *explicit* predicate to be found in that immediate context.
In particular, I don't see evidence specifically for a *messianic* claim
here, certainly as it would have been understood in Judaism at the time.    

Absent such an obvious predicative reference, I have to give considerable
weight to the extreme reaction to the answer to the question asked.  The
inquisitors found it *really* offensive, based on their actions as described
in 8:59.   

It thus seems to me extremely likely that the implied predicate is supplied
by "common knowledge" between Jesus and the inquisitors, in particular to
the likes of LXX Exodus 3:14 "EGW EIMI hO WN" (IMHO echoed several times in
LXX Isaiah, for example  43:25, 45:18, 45:19, 46:4, 48:12). The implied
predicate in this case would be "hO WN", and the audience knowing that
reference would *reasonably* respond in the manner described.   

In other words, ISTM the most probable explanation for the reaction of the
scribes and pharisees to Jesus' ambiguous statement is that *they* took the
implied predicate as "hO WN", and were outraged at the implications (a claim
to identity with the speaker in Exodus 3:14), whether Jesus could be
demonstrated to have meant it that way or not!   

	-Chuck Stevens

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