[B-Greek] prin abraam genesthai... John 8:58

George F Somsel gfsomsel at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 4 17:06:22 EDT 2009

First, the text

εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἰησοῦς·ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαιἐγὼ εἰμί.

GINOMAI may be rendered "to be" or "to become" or "to happen" depending upon the context so asking why it would not here be rendered "came to be" isn't beyond the pale.  Note, however, that the gospel has Jesus saying EGW EIMI in parallel with the GINESQAI of Abraham.  One would expect the two to be somewhat synonymous.  There are two other factors which seem to bear upon this:

1) You wish to supply a pred nom for the sentence.  Where do you derive this? 
2) It would appear that Jesus' statement is a reference to Ex 3.14 where God himself says EGW EIMI. 

I would therefore not give too serious a consideration to this possibility.

… search for truth, hear truth, 
learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, 
defend the truth till death.

- Jan Hus

----- Original Message ----
From: Roy Enal <yarwon at hotmail.com>
To: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Sunday, October 4, 2009 11:01:38 AM
Subject: [B-Greek] prin abraam genesthai... John 8:58

I wanted to review this thread and ask why the translation could not be rendered " Before Abraham came to be the one I am the one"
The Genesthai used in this text seems not to be used to mean exist in other texts but to mean that of an evolving event.
We don't say Abraham happened, or Abraham was bought to pass, or occurred but might say Abraham became the one or something similar.The context of Chapter 8 of John should have some bearing of where we go with this text.
Chapter 8 is all about the offspring of Abraham, Abraham's children. If they are Abraham's offspring they would do what Abraham did. Abraham rejoiced to see Jesus' day  and saw it.( seems like  a foreboding or anticipating of Jesus day) That day when the Seed would come... The Jews looked back to Abraham as the source of their heritage and Jesus says That he himself is the one through whom their inheritance would come. That he was the one through whom the promise would come before that promise was made to Abraham. The text does not have to be about existence at all. Just because they do not understand his point does mean we have to let their understanding dictate how we translate this complex sentence.
I realize that this about the Greek text but sometimes the context must dictate how we apply the corresponding translation.
It seems that we over complicate the text especially trying to relate these words to single text of the OT.
Many use the response of the Jews who wanted to stone him as evidence of the translation that he was claiming " I AM " as a divine identity. This too does not have to be.  They would naturally want to stone him for claiming to be more important than Abraham and would be considered blasphemous.
My point is to inquire as to the possibility that the Greek EGW EIMI  could quite simply be rendered " I am the one " or "I am He"
meaning the one to whom or through whom the promise would come.
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