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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"I AM" - Part 1

Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research and conclusions to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian 'proof' being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the following information, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian "proofs," may be in disagreement with current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah's Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. - RDB.

(From the RDB Files)

"I AM" (Jn 8:58) - Part 1

Death Penalty/Stoning - - - - - - - - - 1-4

Purpose of this paper - - - - - - - - - - 2-3

Capitalization - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 4 (and f.n. #3)

Cross References in Trinitarian Bibles - -5

Differing Translations of Jn 8:58 - - - - 5

                  "I Existed Before Abraham Was Born" - - - 6

"I AM" - Part 2

"I Came Into Existence" - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 7

"Absolute" I AM - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 7-8

Perfect Indefinite Tense - - - - - - - - 9-12, (and f.n. #10)

Present Tense NT Greek Verb ("I am") May be Properly Understood as Perfect Tense in English ("I have been") - - - - - 10-12

"I AM" - Part 3

          Ex. 3:14 ("I AM THAT I AM") - - - - - 13-16

Ex. 3:14 (Septuagint) - - - - - - - - - - - 16-17

Is. 43:10 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 16, (and f.n. #14)

The Intended Meaning of Ex. 3:14-15 - 13-17

The Intended Meaning of ehyeh - - - - 13-16

Paul's Use of 'I Am' - - - - - - - - - - - - - 17

David's Use of 'I Am' - - - - - - - - - - - - 8, 17

Isaiah's Use of 'I Am' - - - - - - - - - - - 8, 17

Ex-Blind Man's Use of 'I Am' - - - - - - 2, 8, 18

St. Augustine's Use of 'I Am' - - - - - - 9

Conclusion - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 18

"I AM" - Part 4 (End Notes)

Notes - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 18-27


A certain group of Judean Jews had decided to kill Jesus. They said to Jesus,

(8:53) " 'Surely you are not greater than our father Abraham, who died?' ... (:54) Jesus answered, 'If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, "He is our God"; (:55) and you have not come to know him, but I know him; and if I say that I do not know him I shall be a liar like you, but I do know him, and keep his word. (:56) Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it and was glad.' (:57) The Jews therefore said to him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?' (:58) Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.' (:59) Therefore they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple." - John 8:53-59 New American Standard Bible (NASB).

Some trinitarians claim that Jesus was declaring himself to be Jehovah God because he said "I AM" (ego eimi [eyw eimi] in the original NT Greek) at John 8:58.

Their reasoning goes like this: Exodus 3:14 in some English Bible translations has Jehovah God revealing himself as "I AM WHO I AM" and "I AM." So, they say, Jesus' statement at John 8:58 shows him revealing himself by the same exclusive title (name? description?) as Jehovah ("I AM" at Exodus 3:14) and, therefore, he is Jehovah God!

Furthermore, some of these trinitarians say, the Jews understood perfectly that Jesus was claiming to be Jehovah when he used those two words because they immediately took up stones to kill him. [1]
But these Jews of Judea had already decided beforehand to kill Jesus! (John 7:1, 25) They needed no further incentives. Nothing that Jesus said or did at this point would have made any difference to them.

If the Jews had really understood the phrase "I AM" (ego eimi) to mean the speaker was claiming to be Jehovah and that they should therefore kill him, they would have immediately stoned Jesus at John 8:24 or :28. (The actual Greek in the ancient Bible manuscripts is identical to John 8:58, ego eimi, but many English Bible translations properly add "he" so that it can be understood as "I am he" in English.)

We know that even his disciples didn't believe Jesus was God simply because he said ego eimi, for he identified himself to them with these same words at John 6:20 (usually rendered into English as "It is I"), and their reaction was certainly not that of those who had come into the presence of God! - Cf. the parallel Matt. 14:27.

Before we examine this "proof" in detail, we should understand that the name "Jehovah" in English (or "Yahweh" in one suggested Hebrew form) is the only personal name of God (see Ex. 3:15 and Ps. 83:18). This name is declared by God to be his very own name thousands of times in the Bible (see #3068 in Strong's Concordance or the New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance, or Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, or many others). Being a personal name (like "Jesus," "John," "Mary," etc.) this name belongs to a single individual. This single person who is God is not the Holy Spirit. He is not the Son of God. He is the Father alone! (Is. 63:16; Is. 64:8, ASV; Deut. 32:6, ASV; Ps. 89:26, 27 [cf. Heb. 1:5 and Ps. 2:7, ASV].)

He is never called "the Son," "the Firstborn," "Only-begotten," "High Priest of God," the "Messiah" or "Christ" as Jesus is.

It is obvious that the one person with the personal name of Jehovah cannot be the Messiah (who has the personal name "Jesus"). Merely study the following scriptures (preferably in a Bible that honestly translates God's personal name as "Jehovah" [ASV, NWT, KJIIV, Young's Literal Translation of the Holy Bible, and Byington's The Bible in Living English] or "Yahweh" [Jerusalem Bible, NJB, and Rotherham's The Emphasized Bible] in all the 6900 places it's found in the original manuscripts instead of the mistranslated "LORD" found in nearly 7000 places in many translations).

These are some of the scriptures which show the relationship of Jehovah to the Messiah: Psalm 110:1 (compare Acts 2:33-36 and Eph. 1:17, 20); Micah 5:4; Psalm 2:1, 2 (compare Acts 4:25-27); Psalm 2:7 (compare Acts 13:33; Heb. 5:5); Is. 53:10 (all Christian organizations recognize that all of Is. 53 refers to the Messiah). These all clearly show that Jesus is not Jehovah.

Let's examine, then, the "I AM" (ego eimi) "evidence" which trinitarians say somehow disproves this often-repeated, clearly-taught scriptural knowledge of the only true God and of Jesus Christ (John 17:3).

The words ego eimi formed a phrase that was in very common use by first century Christians and Jews and in New Testament scriptures. It was certainly not understood (by Jews or Christians) as declaring one's Godhood! If it could have been understood that way, we can be sure the Jews would have never applied it to themselves (as they did so frequently)!

Notice, for example, how the former blind man (John 9:9) actually identifies himself by saying "ego eimi," but none of the other Jews present, even for a moment, understood him to be claiming to be Jehovah!

And Jesus earlier ( in John 6:20 mentioned above) clearly identified himself by saying to his frightened disciples: ego eimi. None of his disciples considered that to mean that Jesus was claiming to be God. In fact, most trinitarian-translated Bibles render Jesus’ words identifying himself here as “It is I.” E.g., ASV; AMP; CJB; DARBY; DRA; ESV; GNT; GNV; HCSB; ISV; JB; KJV; KJ21; TLB; MEV; MLB; MOUNCE; NAB; NASB; NCV; NEB; NET; NIV; NKJV; NLV; NRSV; REB; RSV; WEB; and WE.

It is simply impossible that the Jews would say Jesus was claiming to be the Almighty God. It is virtually certain, instead, that one of three things was meant by the phrase "before Abraham came into being ego eimi" spoken by Jesus at John 8:58:

(1) "Even before Abraham was born, I was (the Christ)."

(2) "I existed before Abraham was born."("I was"; "I existed"; "I have been")

(3) "I came into existence before Abraham was even born."

This paper will examine why Jn 8:58 cannot mean "I am God" or its equivalent and why one of the three other interpretations listed above must be what was originally intended.

Why Stones?

As for the charge that the Jews were going to stone him because he claimed to be God, we should be aware that the Jews stoned people for many offenses. For example, a person pretending to be a "wizard" was to be stoned to death according to the Law (Lev. 20:27 - KJV, RSV, ASV, LB). Today's Dictionary of the Bible, 1982 ed., tells us:

"Wizard, a pretender to supernatural knowledge and power .... such a one was forbidden on pain of death to practice his deceptions ... Lev. 20:26, 27." - p. 654.

We also know that some of the Jews wanted Jesus killed for blasphemy because he admitted to being the Messiah (Christ) - see Matt 26:59-68 and footnotes for Matt 26:65 and Luke 22:71 in The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publ., 1985.

"But powerful forces in the Jewish congregation, jealous of his popularity, incensed by his denunciation of some of them, and bitterly critical of his disregard for formalism, his willingness to violate some of the minor laws of the Jews, and his heretical claim that he was the Son of God, repudiated him, conspired to kill him, saw him crucified, and after his death, persecuted his followers." - The Portable World Bible, Viking Press, p. 230.

It was even forbidden for others to say that Jesus was the Messiah - John 9:22. And, in fact, that was obviously why Stephen was stoned to death.

At Acts 7:55-58, Stephen looked up into heaven "and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man [synonymous with the Messiah, not God] standing at the right hand of God.' But they [the Jews] ... cast him out of the city, and stoned him." - RSV.

Stephen was stoned, not because he claimed to be God, nor because he claimed Jesus was God (quite the contrary, in fact, as his quoted statement clearly shows: Jesus "standing at the right hand of God") but because he was proclaiming Jesus to be the Messiah (Christ)! See The NIV Study Bible footnotes for Acts 7:56 and Mk 8:31.

The New American Bible, St. Joseph edition, tells us in a footnote for Acts 7:55 -

"Stephen affirms to the Sanhedrin that the prophecy Jesus made before them has been fulfilled (Mk 14:62)."

And Mk 14:61-64 shows Jesus declaring he is the Christ and that the Jews will see him (the son of man) at the right hand of God. This "blasphemy" of claiming to be the Messiah (whom the Jews never considered to be God) caused the Jews to condemn Jesus to death - see footnotes for Mk 14:61, 63 in The NIV Study Bible.[2]
The trinitarian The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible also tells us about the Messiah expected by the Jews at this time:

"The figure of the 'Son of Man' ... was, moreover, in accord with ... that of a pre-existent, heavenly angelic being who, at the end time, will appear at the side of God as judge of the world." - p. 364, Vol. 3, Abingdon Press, 1962.

Therefore, when Jesus claimed, at John 8:58, to have lived long before his first century human existence, the Jews could have perceived him as a false prophet, or a self-proclaimed "wizard," or, more likely, as one claiming to be the Christ or Messiah (the Son of Man) and tried to stone him because of that.

"I Was the Christ"

The Gospel writers have clearly shown Jesus applying the term ego eimi to himself and meaning "I am the Christ." Mark 13:6 shows Jesus saying, "I am he [literally just ego eimi alone, 'I AM']" - NEB. The parallel account at Luke 21:8 agrees. But the other parallel account by Matthew shows what Jesus actually meant by the "absolute" ego eimi in those parallel accounts of Mark and Luke: "I am the Messiah" - Matt. 24:5 - NEB.

So we see Jesus using the "absolute" ego eimi at Mark 13:6 and Luke 21:8 (see any interlinear). And Matthew explains that Jesus means "I am the Messiah"! Also see John 8:24, Living Bible - "I am the Messiah," C. B. Williams - "I am the Christ," and see Jn 4:26; 13:19 (esp. Living Bible, and translations by C. B. Williams and Phillips.) Notice how Jesus admitted to being the Messiah when the Jews decided to kill him: "'Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?' 'I AM [ego eimi],' said Jesus." - Mark 14:61-62. Again the 'absolute' ego eimi ("I am") as used by Jesus means "I am the Christ" and spurs the Jews to condemn him to die!
In fact, even some trinitarian scholars have admitted that they believe that Jesus' statements at John 8:56 and 8:58 are statements proclaiming himself to be the Messiah. Trinitarian scholar William Barclay admits in his popular Daily Study Bible Series:

"So when Jesus said that Abraham had seen his day, he was making a deliberate claim that he was the Messiah. He was really saying 'I am the Messiah Abraham saw in his vision.' " - p. 35, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 1975, The Westminster Press. (Cf. footnote for Jn 8:56 in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 1973 ed., Oxford University Press.)

The footnote for John 8:58 in the very trinitarian Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version says:

" can also mean 'I am he (the Christ).' " - World Bible Translation Center, 1992.

And famous trinitarian scholar Robert Young (Young's Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible) in explaining John 8:58 tells us that Jesus was proclaiming himself by these words (ego eimi) to be "the promised Messiah." - Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary, p. 61, 1977 ed., Baker Book House.

When we really analyze the "parallel" (according to some trinitarians) uses of ego eimi by Jesus found in the Gospel of John "which culminate in the 'I Am' of John 8:58," we find they all (and we should start with the very first such instance at Jn 4:26) show Jesus' identity (as "Jesus" or "the Christ")! If these are really "parallel" uses of ego eimi by Jesus, as many trinitarians insist, then 8:58 should be understood as "I am [or 'have been'] the Christ"!

[The phrase "I, I am" {ego eimi} occurs many other times in the New Testament, and; is often translated as "I am he" or some equivalent ("I am he" in Mark 13:6; Luke 21:8; John 13:19; 18:5, 6, 8; "it is I" in Matt 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20 and; "I am the one I claim to be" in John 8:24, 28.).

It is obvious that these translations are quite correct, but it is interesting that the phrase is translated as "I am," ONLY once i.e. in John 8:58. If the phrase in John 8:58 were translated "I am he" or "I am the one" (like all the others), it would be easier to see that Christ was speaking of himself as the Messiah of God (as indeed he was), spoken of throughout the Old Testament. - From a post by alanwcorrie on 'TrinityQuestion'.]
Surely if even the highly trinitarian scholars who translated the Living Bible and CBW can interpret the "absolute" ego eimi at John 8:24 as "I am the Messiah (Christ)" - cf. 8:28, LB, CBW, then it would not only be proper but maybe even probable that it should be so translated again at John 8:58: "Even before Abraham was born, I am the Messiah. Therefore [since he claimed to be the Messiah] they picked up stones to throw at him."

Even most trinitarian Bible translations deny any connection between God's statement at Exodus 3:14 and Jesus' reply to the Jews at John 8:58. They do this through the modern English usage of capitalizing personal names and exclusive titles. For example, "Word" at Jn 1:14; "Lamb" at Jn 1:36 and Rev 5:8; and "Son" at Jn 8:36.

Nearly all the trinitarian Bible translations (24) that I have checked have capitalized the words in question at Ex. 3:14 ("I AM;" or "I Will Be;" or "I Will Become;" etc.) to show their interpretation that this is a title or name of God. However, most of those same translations do not capitalize the words in question at John 8:58 ("I am;" "I was;" or "I have existed;" etc.): KJV; Douay Version; RSV; NRSV; ASV; NIV; NEB; REB; MLB; LB; NLV; The New Testament in the Language of the People (CBW); Young's Literal Translation of the Holy Bible; Rotherham; Beck; and Byington.

Therefore, the vast majority of trinitarian-translated Bibles obviously show Ex. 3:14 as giving a title or name for God (as properly indicated by the use of capitalization in English), but they do not show the same understanding for John 8:58 (nor Isaiah's uses of "I am" by God [3])! All those trinitarian scholars above, therefore, are saying (by not capitalizing "am") at Jn 8:58 that Jesus did not claim the same name or exclusive title that God used at Ex. 3:14.

Even though Bible text compilers add the punctuation and capitalization that they personally prefer, the basic Greek texts as compiled by trinitarians Westcott and Hort, and the trinitarian United Bible Societies, the Nestle text, and even the Received Text by the Trinitarian Bible Society (1976) do not capitalize ego eimi at John 8:58 ! (As compared to the capitalized "Alpha and Omega" title at Rev. 1:8, for example.)

Cross-References in Trinitarian Reference Bibles

Some trinitarian editors and publishers of trinitarian Bibles have added cross-references to the original translations. That is, they have superscripts and notes which refer one scripture to one or more other scriptures. The reference may indicate an actual quote from the OT found in the NT. Or it can indicate a similar meaning, event, or even just similar wording found in other scriptures. For example, in the New American Standard Bible (NASB), Reference Edition, Foundation Press, 1975, the trinitarian NT editors chose John 1:1; 17:5, 24 as all the references for John 8:58. Not one reference to Ex. 3:14 or Isaiah or any other OT scripture where God says "I am"! Obviously these trinitarian scholars did not accept the extremely poor "I AM" evidence! (The trinitarian OT editors, however, did choose this approach at Ex. 3:14.) And the very trinitarian Revised Standard Version, American Bible Society, 1971 ed. also has only Jn 1:1; 17:5, 24 as references for John 8:58! (In this case the trinitarian OT editors also did not refer Ex. 3:14 or verses in Isaiah, etc. to Jn 8:58!) These trinitarian scholars, therefore, did not accept the "I AM" argument as valid!

Other Translations
Some of those trinitarian translators go even further than merely not capitalizing at John 8:58 and further clarify the probable meaning in English and thereby refute the deceptive "I AM" interpretation of a few trinitarians.

These translations (most by trinitarians) render ego eimi at John 8:58 as:

(1) “I HAVE BEEN”[4] - alternate reading in 1960 thru 1973 reference editions of NASB
(2) “I HAVE BEEN” - The New Testament, G. R. Noyes
(3) “I HAVE BEEN” - “The Four Gospels” According to the Sinaitic Palimpsest, A. S. Lewis
- The Unvarnished New Testament
(5) “I HAVE EXISTED” - The Bible, A New Translation, Dr. James Moffatt
(6) “I EXISTED” - The New Testament in the Language of Today, 1964 ed., Beck
(7) “I EXISTED” - An American Translation, Goodspeed
(8) “I EXISTED” - The New Testament in the Language of the People, Williams

(9) “I EXISTED” - New Simplified Bible
(10) “I WAS IN EXISTENCE” - Living Bible
(11) “I WAS ALIVE” - The Simple English Bible
(12)“I WAS” - Holy Bible - From the Ancient Eastern Text, Lamsa
(13)“I WAS” - Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible, 1st ed. (Also see Young’s Concise Critical Commentary, p. 61 of “The New Covenant.”).
(14) “I WAS” - The Syriac New Testament, Jas. Murdock
(15) “I WAS” - H. T. Anderson
(16) “I WAS” - Twentieth Century New Testament
(17) "I EXISTED" - New Living Translation (NLT)

 Additional (found in an on-line post):
The Living New Testament:

"The absolute truth is that I was in existence before Abraham was ever born."

The 20th Century New Testament:
"before Abraham existed I was."

Parker, P.G. Clarified N.T.:
Jesus answered, before Abraham existed, I existed.

Cotton Patch Version (1970):
To this Jesus replied, I existed before Abraham was born.

Good News for the World (1969)
Jesus answer, I tell you the truth. I already was before Abraham was born.

New Believers Bible, New Living Translation:
"I existed before Abraham was even born."

The New Testament, Kleist and Lilly:
"I am here-and I was before Abraham."

Wakefield, G. N.T. (1795)
Jesus said unto them: Verily verily I say unto you, before Abraham was born, I am He.

The Curetonian Version of the Four Gospels, Burkitt & The Old Georgian Version of the Gospel of John, Blake & Briere:
"Before Abraham came to be, I was."

The New Testament Or Rather the New Covenant, Sharpe:
"I was before Abraham was born."

The New Testament, Stage:
"Before Abraham came to be, I was."

The Documents of the New Testament, Wade:
"Before Abraham came into being, I have existed."

Noli, M.F.S. N.T. (1961)
Jesus answered them: Well, well, I tell you, I existed before Abraham was born.

The Concise Gospel and The Acts, Christianson:
"I existed even before Abraham was born."

The Original New Testament, Schonfield: "I tell you for a positive fact, I existed before Abraham was born."

The Complete Gospels Annotated Scholars Version,
Miller: "I existed before there was an Abraham."

Swann, G. N.T. (1947)
Jesus said to them, verily, verily I say unto you, I existed before Abraham was born

International English Version (2001)
"I was alive before Abraham was born"

It's interesting to see that even the paraphrase Bible, the Living Bible (also published as The Word and The Book), which often takes great liberties with the literal text in order to better bring out trinitarian interpretations, denies an " 'I' AM' = God" interpretation for John 8:58. It brings out, instead, the obvious intended meaning of John 8:58 as: "the absolute truth is that I was in existence before Abraham was ever born!" ' not "I was God before Abraham...."

The point is that numerous trinitarian scholars would not ignore a popular 'Jesus is God' proof if it were not in doubt.

Even the oldest English translations do not render this as "I am":

Joh 8:58 Se hælend cwæð to him. ic was [was] ærþam þe abraham was [was] - Anglo-Saxon Gospels, Manuscript 140, Corpus Christi College circa 1000 by Aelfric.

Joh 8:58 Se hælend cwæð; to heom. Ic wæs ær þonne þe abraham wære. - Anglo-Saxon Gospels, Hatton Manuscript 38, Bodleian Library circa 1200 by unknown author.

Old English for “I am” - “Ic (or ‘Ich’) eom.” See John 8:18, 28 for example.


It's a basic part of every Jehovah's Witness' faith that Jesus (who is their King and Savior) was the very first creation by God (Col. 1:15 ASV; Rev. 3:14 ASV; and Prov. 8:22 NIV, JB) and that he then acted as God's workman (Prov. 8:30 ASV, JB, NIV) and made everything else that has come into existence - so God created everything through Jesus (1 Cor. 8:6 and Hebrews 1:2).

Therefore, since God spoke to Jesus in the beginning and said, "Let us make man in our own image" - Gen. 1:26, JB, it's certainly no surprise to find Jesus telling the Jews that he existed before Abraham existed!

Why have these respected trinitarian scholars so translated ego eimi at John 8:58 whereas most of the time they have translated ego eimi as "I am" in other verses? Certainly they know how important this verse (as interpreted by a few trinitarians, at least) is in the catalog of "proofs" of the trinity! Why have they not, therefore, rendered it in a "trinitarian" way?

One reason for this refusal of so many trinitarian scholars to join the ranks of the "I AM" tradition is that the context of John 8:58 simply does not allow for the "Name of God" interpretation.

"I Existed Before Abraham Was Born."
Those Jews had asked how Jesus could have possibly known Abraham who had died nearly 2000 years before. Jesus¡¯ reply was obviously an explanation that he had been in existence even before Abraham had been born and was not merely an explanation of identity.

It is ludicrous to interpret this verse with the understanding that Jesus is using the personal name ("Jehovah") or an exclusive title (such as "Most High" - Luke 6:35; Luke 1:32; Ps. 83:18 ASV, KJV) to identify himself: "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, Jehovah." Or, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, the Most High." So, the immediate context simply does not allow a "title of God" interpretation for the use of ego eimi in this verse![5]

The Jews had angrily implied that Jesus was a liar for claiming to be older than his apparent years. "You're not even 50 years old and yet [you say] you have seen Abraham!" Jesus' most likely response, then, would have been about his age --- his actual existence 1900 years before being born in Bethlehem (so that he actually could have "seen Abraham"). Therefore he would have said: "Before Abraham was even born, I existed."

It would be more appropriate (although still clearly false), in light of the context, to show that the person whom the crowd is trying to identify at John 9:9 is claiming this "title" (ego eimi), for that is his reply to those who were questioning his identity (not his earlier existence) - see John 9:9 in any Interlinear New Testament.

Some other uses of ego eimi which may be found in any interlinear Greek-English New Testament are Matt. 26:22, 25; Acts 22:3; Acts 26:29; Acts 27:23. Also, if you have the Greek Septuagint Bible you might examine these uses of ego eimi: 2 Kings (2 Samuel in Hebrew scriptures) 2:20; 15:26; Is. 6:8.

Another reason for the different renderings of John 8:58 by these trinitarian scholars is based on NT Greek grammar. There are a number of reasons why a present tense verb in NT Greek (such as ego eimi) may be rendered properly in a different tense in English (see Introduction to the Gospel of John in The NIV Study Bible, 1985 ed.). It is difficult to say exactly which reason was used by the various translators of the trinitarian Bibles quoted above. However, it appears that the highly respected trinitarian scholar Dr. James Moffatt may have translated in accordance with the reason cited by the Watchtower Society in its footnote to John 8:58 in the 1969 edition of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures: "(ego eimi) [is] after the a'orist infinitive clause ['before Abraham to become'] and hence properly rendered in the perfect tense ['I have been']." - Also see subheading "Perfect Indefinite Tense" below. Moffatt also renders ego eimi at John 8:58 in the perfect tense: "I have existed."

(Click here for Part 2)



Anonymous said...

Very good. Keep up the good work

Anonymous said...

Nice read.

Anonymous said...

Great help for showing people that think of Jesus as God the truth, that he was "the son of god" and not "God the son".....

ForJah said...

Hey Elijah...I have a friend who is both trying to use the reaction of the temple guards at John 18:6 as a means of showing that Jesus was claiming deity as well as I think he just invented a semantic rule where he said that predicates can only be allowed in light of a question that comes before. He says because there is no question asked of Jesus before John 8:24, therefore he was claiming divinity when he used the I am statement. Could you perhaps help me with how to respond to him. I accused him of special pleading but we will see what happens.

Elijah Daniels said...

Hi, ForJah,

40 out of 43 of the Bible translations available on the site show a predicate for “I am” at John 18:6 (the vast majority are ‘I am he’). Since these are mostly (if not all) translated by trinitarians who would naturally prefer a trinitarian understanding here, we can be assured that the majority of trinitarian scholars consider ‘I am he (or ‘Jesus,’ ‘the man,’ etc.) to be the proper understanding. There is no ‘question equals predicate’ rule. -

This very scripture was also examined in my ‘I AM (part 3)’ at the very end. Please read it.

Elijah Daniels said...

As for John 8:24, out of the same 43 TRINITARIAN Bibles only 6 make a clear “I Am” connection. 27 of them use the expression “I am HE.” And the rest use other predicates (‘The Christ,’ ‘the one,’ ‘who I claim to be,’ etc.).

Furthermore context does not indicate that Jesus has finally claimed to be God: “24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am HE.” 25 They said to him, “WHO ARE YOU?” Jesus said to them, “Even WHAT I HAVE TOLD YOU FROM THE BEGINNING.” - RSV. [Emphasis added.]

Notice that the Jews did not think he was claiming to be God by saying ‘ego eimi.’ They even asked him “who are you? And Jesus said in effect that they already knew who he was (and this was never anything more than the Christ, the son of God). If the Jews had understood ‘ego eimi’ here to mean Jesus was claiming to be God, they would have stoned him to death on the spot!

Instead, “28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he [‘ego eimi’], and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” 30 As he spoke thus, MANY BELIEVED IN HIM.” - RSV. [Emphasis added]

Jesus certainly never told them from the BEGINNING that he was God! In fact, he never told them that he was God at all!

Timitrius said...

Hey all, check out the renderring in the 1175 and 990 West Saxon translations:

WestSaxon990 - "Se hælend cwæð to him. ic wæs ærþam þe abraham wæs;"

WestSaxon1175 - "Se hælend cwæð; to heom. Ic wæs ær þonne þe abraham wære."

ic wæs means "I was".

Timitrius said...

I thought I read somewhere that "eimi" in itself literally means "I am", so "ego eimi" means "I, I am", which is why it is sometimes translated as "I am he" or "it is I". Do you know if this is correct?

If it is correct, it would negate the Trinitarian argument that Jesus is saying "I am" i.e. that Jesus is eternal, but rather he would be stressing his identity as the Messiah.

tigger2 said...

It is not entirely correct. 'Ego' by itself means 'I' in English and can be used with many verbs: John 7:29; 8:14, 15, 16; 21, 22, 29, 38, 42, 45, 49, 50, 54, 55.
'Eimi' by itself means 'I am': John 1:21; 7:28, 29, 33; 8:16; 9:5. So 'ego' is not needed unless the writer wishes it.
'Ego eimi' also means 'I am': John: 1:20; 9:9.

Notice how many other different verbs in John 8:55 (for one of many examples) have the word 'ego' understood to be with them.