[b-hebrew] "I Am" vs. "I Will Be"

JAMES CHRISTIAN READ JCR128 at student.apu.ac.uk
Thu Jun 29 19:29:51 EDT 2006


Peter's evidence as to the meaning 'I was, I am and I 
always will be' is rather convincing and I tend to agree 
with him.

Where I disagree with Peter is that based on this meaning 
'I am' is the best translation. The reason I disagree is 
that while it is true that the present simple is used 
in English to convery *actions* that happen both in the 
past, present and future (e.g. I work as a...) this is 
*not* the primary usage of the present simple of the 
verb 'to be' which usually refers to temporary states 
(e.g. 'I'm over here', 'I'm back') but can also refer 
to permanent states which are implied to be permanent 
by the cultural context (e.g. 'I'm a boy', 'I'm black' 
etc). It is completely clear that neither 'I am' nor 
'I will be' will ever capture the fulness of what we 
have come to understand by this phrase and an 
insistence on performing the outdated grammatical 
translation from one verb form to another verb form is 
never going to suffice. While something like 'I am 
[eternal]' seems to capture the essence while some 
feel it an offensive translation as it requires the 
'addition' of a word but not the 'addition' of a 
concept.

It is exactly for examples like these that it is that I 
insist that concept translation is of far more value 
than any form of grammatical translation. In order to 
translate such a concept in English it is necessary to 
do an empirical analysis of the English language in its 
entirety and ask the question 'What would be the normal 
thing to say be for a person who wishes to express his 
belief that he has always existed and always will 
exist?'

As for the apparent contradiction in context translation 
it is quite clear that yah was not only telling Moshe 
that would be with him but that he was also with him 
in that moment. Again, English lacks a suitable verb 
form to verb form translation for such a concept and 
neither 'I am with you' nor 'I will be with you' are 
ever going to capture the fullness of the original 
hebrew while 'because I am with and I will stay with 
you' starts to get a little closer to the mark. Yes! 
This breaks the principle of translating verb form for 
verb form. But how important is it to stick to such an 
unjustifiably rigourous rule? Is it worth losing the 
meaning of the original text?mpirical analysis of the English language in its 
entirety and ask the question 'What would be the normal 
thing to say be for a person who wishes to express his 
belief that he has always existed and always will 
exist?'

As for the apparent contradiction in context translation 
it is quite clear that yah was not only telling Moshe 
that would be with him but that he was also w




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