Ego Hn?

Richard Ghilardi qodeshlayhvh at juno.com
Sat Aug 18 11:51:44 EDT 2001


Dear b-greekers,

On Fri, 17 Aug 2001 11:42:20 +0200 "Iver Larsen" <iver_larsen at sil.org>
writes:
> The verse in question is
> John 8:58 PRIN ABRAAM GENESQAI EGW EIMI
> 
> From a purely linguistic point of view I would understand this as a 
> present
> tense taking the place of a perfect. The imperfect would not have 
> been
> appropriate, because it is used either as a background description 
> or with a
> past-and-not-present tense notion. The perfect notion of being in 
> the past
> and also being in the present seems to require a present tense form 
> of EIMI,
> because the perfect does not exist.
> 
> If this is correct, the translation might be something like: "I was 
> there
> already before Abraham came into being" or "I have been around since 
> before
> Abraham" or "Before Abraham came into being, I was already 
> existing".

[Ghilardi]

If I understand you rightly, Iver, you are saying that this verse merely
makes a statement about the temporal succession of Jesus and Abraham,
i.e., Jesus exists chronologically prior to Abraham. And I agree that it
does mean at least that! But if the author had wished to express temporal
succession and nothing more he would have written:

PRIN ABRAAM GENESQAI EGW EGENOMHN

or (much less probably):

PRIN ABRAAM GENESQAI EGW EGEGONEIN

or if he merely wished to express, as you put it, << The perfect notion
of being in the past and also being in the present... >>:

PRIN ABRAAM GENESQAI EGW GEGONA

The fact that the author chose EIMI rather than EGENOMHN or GEGONA tells
me that he wanted to express something more than mere temporal
succession. I think he is expressing Jesus' COMPLETE temporal superiority
over Abraham. In other words he is telling us that Jesus is eternally
preexistent, not merely that Jesus is older than Abraham. This
understanding is confirmed in the author's use of EGO EIMI in 8:24, 28.

24) EAN GAR MH PISTEUSHTE hOTI EGW EIMI, APOQANEISQE EN TAIS hAMARTIAIS
hUMWN.

28) hOTAN hUYWSHTE TON hUION TOU ANQRWPOU, TOTE GNWSESQE hOTI EGW EIMI

Does EGW EIMI in these vss express merely << The perfect notion of being
in the past and also being in the present... >>? If Jesus' hearers fail
to believe in << The perfect notion of [Jesus] being in the past and also
being in the present... >>, will they really die in their sins? Or will
they die in their sins if they fail to see in the person of Jesus the
Eternally Preexistent One? Again, when Jesus' hearers lift him up on the
cross, will they then realize << The perfect notion of [Jesus] being in
the past and also being in the present... >>? Or will they then
understand (through subsequent apostolic preaching) that they have
crucified the Eternally Preexistent One?

If this is correct, then the appropriate translation would be:

"Before Abraham came into existence, I AM"

Yours in His grace,

Richard Ghilardi -- qodeshlayhvh at juno.com
New Haven, CT USA
Nibai kaurno hwaiteis gadriusando in airtha gaswiltith,
silbo ainata aflifnith: ith jabai gaswiltith, manag akran bairith.



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