Cannot defend the Trinity

En Hakkore

Well-known member
No worries... I am still working on the third point (on which I should warn you we are not in agreement). I should be able to post it at some point within the next couple of days... sorry for the delay.
This took a bit longer than originally anticipated, but here it is...

3. Is John 8:58 a citation of or allusion to Exod 3:14?
The pertinent saying of Jesus reads in the Greek:
αμην αμην λεγω υμιν πριν Αβρααμ γενεσθαι εγω ειμι
Known for its "remarkable variation from what is usually taken to be the normal New Testament" with its "free addition (and occasional omission) of words, sentences, and even incidents" (Metzger and Ehrman 71), Codex Bezae (D) omits the word γενεσθαι here --- the codex's generally aberrant quality and support only in related Old Latin manuscripts is sufficient to dismiss this variant as having any claim to the earliest-recoverable reading. Following are the English translations of the secure text found in a number of major translations:

"Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am." (NRSV)
"In all truth I tell you, before Abraham ever was, I am." (NJB)
"In very truth I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am." (NEB)
"Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM." (NAB)
"Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM." (NASB)
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." (KJV)
"Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." (NKJV)

Evaluation:
Translations that capitalize AM add an unacceptable layer of interpretation. That said, I am in agreement with those exegetes who see here theophanic significance (Anderson 78). The Greek εγω ειμι occurs two dozen times in the gospel of John, ten times without the predicate nominative and the remaining twelve times in connection with the seven metaphorical 'I am' sayings (Powell 190). Of importance to the present task of how best to understand the phrase in 8:58 is the contextual saying "I am the light of the world" (8:12). This recalls the gospel prologue where John introduced Jesus not only as "the light [that] shines in the darkness" (1:5; cf. 1:4, 8-9), but also "the word" who was both God and with God (1:1-2). As s/he moves through chapter 8, the reader encounters a progressive argument about Jesus' divine identity against this backdrop. The words εγω ειμι can be understood as a simple declaration of "It is I" or "I am he" (ex. 9:9), and while an argument could be made for a similar understanding in 8:24 and 8:28 with references back to Jesus' self-disclosures (8:12, 28), the referents themselves hint at more (Powell 191); indeed, John's gospel contains numerous double entendres and riddles that Jesus' dialogue partners often misunderstand (Thatcher; esp. 241-46). The second stand-alone εγω ειμι occurs in connection with the Son of Man being "lifted up", which is a reference to the crucifixion; this is alluded to in the penultimate cryptic claim that Abraham saw Jesus' day and was glad (8:56) --- stopped from sacrificing Isaac, Abraham looked up and saw the substitutionary ram caught in the thicket and named the place on account that "the Lord was seen" (LXX: κυριος ωφθη) there (Gen 22:13-14; see Moessner). Jesus' interlocutors still don't get it and in response to their retort about his age, he declares the words around which this post revolves; there is no clear referent for a translation of "It is I" or "I am he" and they finally get it. Realizing he has made, from their perspective, a blasphemous claim to divine equality/identity, they pick up stones to kill him (8:59; cf. 5:18; 10:31-33). As to the question of whether εγω ειμι is a citation/allusion to Exod 3:14 based on the two points addressed last week here, remember from discussion a little over a year ago here that John sometimes makes subtle revisions to his citations of LXX in closer conformity to the Hebrew (or relies on an existing such revision) --- that he (or his source) recognized the unsuitability of ο ων in the second half of the pertinent clause and adopted εγω ειμι in both halves, thus drawing this into parallel with the divine name, is certainly possible.

Kind regards,
Jonathan


Works cited:
Aland, Barbara and Kurt et al. (eds). Novum Testamentum Graece. (28th Revised Edition; Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012)
Anderson, Paul N. "The Fulfilled Word in the Gospel of John: A Polyvalent Analysis" in Biblical Interpretation in Early Christian Gospels: Volume 4: The Gospel of John, edited by Thomas R. Hatina (Library of New Testament Studies 613; T&T Clark, 2020)
Metzger, Bruce M. and Bart D. Ehrman. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th ed.; Oxford University Press, 2005)
Moessner, David P. "'Abraham Saw My Day': Making Greater Sense of John 8:48-59 from the LXX Version than the MT Genesis 22" in Die Septuaginta und das frühe Christentum : The Septuagint and Christian Origins, edited by Thomas Scott Caully and Hermann Lichtenberger (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 277; Mohr Siebeck, 2011)
Powell, Mark Allan. Fortress Introduction to the Gospels (2nd ed.; Fortress Press, 2019)
Thatcher, Tom. The Riddles of Jesus in John: A Study in Tradition and Folklore (SBL Monograph Series 53; SBL, 2000)
Wevers, John William (ed.) Exodus (Septuaginta: Vetus Testamentum Graecum: Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum 2.1; Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1991)
________. Genesis (Septuaginta: Vetus Testamentum Graecum: Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum 1; Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1974)
 
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American Gothic

Active member
"You have divided your name for his inheritance, so that he may establish
Your name there. She (the Holy City) is the glory of your earthly kingdom.
You will eternally watch over her, and Your glory will manifest there.
She will be an eternal passion throughout all generations to his seed.
By you righteous judgement, you will purify him to be an eternal light.
You have made him a firstborn son to You. He will be a prince and ruler
of your earthly kingdom. You have placed the crown of the heavens and
the glory of the clouds upon him. You have placed the angel of your
peace
in the congregation and given him the laws of righteousness
as a father does for his son. He loves You and your spirit.
Through them you establish your glory."
- testament of Enos Dead Sea Scroll 4Q369

"Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." Luke 22
"And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt." Mark 14
"But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing gifts to each one individually as He wills” 1 Corinthians 12 kjv

Father, Son, and Spirit each have intellect, emotion and will of individual personalities
 
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TrevorL

Active member
Greetings again Jonathan (En Hakkore),
3. Is John 8:58 a citation of or allusion to Exod 3:14?
I appreciate your comprehensive scholarly explanation, but to some extent what you have stated raises more questions in my mind than you answer.
Translations that capitalize AM add an unacceptable layer of interpretation. That said, I am in agreement with those exegetes who see here theophanic significance
I agree that the translators that render this as "AM" have added a layer of interpretation. If those exegetes (Dictionary: an expert in exegesis; a person skilled in exegesis) base their understanding of John 8:58 on the translation "I AM" in Exodus 3:14 then in my estimation their view needs to be dismissed (despite your final comment which I will comment upon). Most who want to claim theophanic significance here usually do not even look at the immediate context of Abraham seeing Jesus' day, let alone the gradual build up of tension in John 8 and even John 7.
Jesus' interlocutors still don't get it and in response to their retort about his age, he declares the words around which this post revolves; there is no clear referent for a translation of "It is I" or "I am he" and they finally get it. Realizing he has made, from their perspective, a blasphemous claim to divine equality/identity, they pick up stones to kill him (8:59; cf. 5:18; 10:31-33).
I appreciate this assessment, but there is a clear referent as "I am he" occurs in John 8:24 and John 8:28 and is part of the theme of whether or not Jesus is the Christ.
As to the question of whether εγω ειμι is a citation/allusion to Exod 3:14 based on the two points addressed last week here, remember from discussion a little over a year ago here that John sometimes makes subtle revisions to his citations of LXX in closer conformity to the Hebrew (or relies on an existing such revision) --- that he (or his source) recognized the unsuitability of ο ων in the second half of the pertinent clause and adopted εγω ειμι in both halves, thus drawing this into parallel with the divine name, is certainly possible.
I disagree with your conclusion here as it seems to be an unnecessary shift from what the LXX actually says, and what I believe John 8:58 actually says, and the meaning based upon the context of John 8:58.

Kind regards
Trevor
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
what you have stated raises more questions in my mind than you answer.
Perhaps that's a good thing...

Most who want to claim theophanic significance here usually do not even look at the immediate context of Abraham seeing Jesus' day, let alone the gradual build up of tension in John 8 and even John 7.
My analysis cannot be faulted for such an oversight so it's unclear why this was raised as an issue.

I appreciate this assessment, but there is a clear referent as "I am he" occurs in John 8:24 and John 8:28 and is part of the theme of whether or not Jesus is the Christ.
I have no strong objection to you reaching back into the Christological debate of chapter 7 to establish referents for John 8:24 and 8:28 rather than the self-disclosures in chapter 8 (the pericope in 7:53-8:11 is, after all, not original to the gospel and thus the chapters reflect an extended discourse in the temple), but this does not obviate double entendre in the first two occurrences, nor does it necessitate the same referent in the third (8:58)... your approach reflects a slavish approach to translation rather than one that is context-sensitive. You have also not established what sense "I am he [the messiah]" makes of the clause as a whole (ie. "Before Abraham was...") nor the reaction of Jesus' interlocutors to pick up stones with the inferred intent to kill for blasphemy --- claiming to be the promised messiah was hardly blasphemous in and of itself. Your proposal needs to address these matters rather than stop at the level of translation.

I disagree with your conclusion here as it seems to be an unnecessary shift from what the LXX actually says, and what I believe John 8:58 actually says, and the meaning based upon the context of John 8:58.
What difference does the LXX of Exod 3:14 make? You reject it as a bad translation anyway so the issue is whether or not the Johannine passage alludes to the Exodus passage properly understood/translated. As I pointed out, the author -- whether through his own interaction with the earlier text or through a revised translation -- moves closer to formal equivalence than LXX and thus it comes down to splitting hairs over whether ειμι or εσομαι best captures the sense of the imperfect Hebrew verb אהיה. While I happen to think the latter does, the former is not so deviant as to justify denying the aforementioned allusion... however imprecise you might consider it, ειμι was the Greek tradition that John inherited and invoked to support his understanding of Jesus as divine.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

Dizerner

Well-known member
What do you think of the theory that they actually misunderstood Jesus... I, personally, don't see any other way to even interpret the phrase other than preexistence.
 

TrevorL

Active member
Greetings again Jonathan (En Hakkore),
the pericope in 7:53-8:11 is, after all, not original to the gospel
I thought I would comment on this first, even though off-topic. I believe that John 7:53-8:11 is correct and in the correct place. I decided to read through all the Posts again and made a list of some of the relevant Posts. I was consistently met with the argument that because I did not know Greek, or rather Koine Greek, then I could not comment or make a decision on John 8:58. I also claimed that John 8:58 was not quoting Exodus 3:14 or the LXX of Exodus 3:14 and again I was reprimanded because I was not proficient with Hebrew.

A major question that was raised in my mind was whether John 8:58 can be translated "I am he", or does the actual Greek demand that it is translated "I am"? (or with the bias "I AM")? In Post #83 you have given 7 translations, and all of these have either "I am" or "I AM". When discussing with another member, he says on one occasion (Post #21) that he is at liberty to accept "I am he" or "I am" for John 8:24, and if he chooses the second then this would be another reference to Jesus claiming to be the "I AM". He does not seem to allow me this liberty of choice for John 8:58 (Post #41), but that Koine Greek demands that John 8:58 is translated "I am" and not "I am he". To me the answer is not in Koine Greek, but how we understand the context. Nevertheless nearly all translations render this as "I am" and although I cannot decipher or understand the accents on the Greek text, I notice that the accents on John 8:58 is different to those on John 8:24 and 28.
nor does it necessitate the same referent in the third (8:58)... your approach reflects a slavish approach to translation rather than one that is context-sensitive.
Your proposal needs to address these matters rather than stop at the level of translation.
The immediate context is Abraham, and they had been discussing who is the true seed of Abraham, and if they had understood him correctly then they would have accepted that Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham whose burnt offering would be acceptable to God and would be the basis for the resurrection and eternal blessing of Abraham and the faithful. Jesus is not referring to or directly quoting the Hebrew of Exodus 3:14 or the erroneous LXX translation of Exodus 3:14.
What difference does the LXX of Exod 3:14 make? You reject it as a bad translation anyway so the issue is whether or not the Johannine passage alludes to the Exodus passage properly understood/translated.
. however imprecise you might consider it, ειμι was the Greek tradition that John inherited and invoked to support his understanding of Jesus as divine.
You seem to want to bring the LXX of Exodus 3:14 back into John 8:58 no matter how much you have to adjust to gain a Trinity allusion (or Jesus as divine). Again I do not accept that John is using "I am" to support the view that Jesus is God. I believe that John and Jesus and the inspired selection by John is establishing the theme of whether or not Jesus is the Christ (and as such also The Son of God) John 20:30-31.

Kind regards
Trevor
 
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En Hakkore

Well-known member
I thought I would comment on this first, even though off-topic. I believe that John 7:53-8:11 is correct and in the correct place.
You're welcome to that belief, but it is not supported by either internal or external evidence... suggesting it is original to the gospel and in this particular place disturbs the flow of discourse between chapters 7 and 8, thereby weakening your claim about the referents for 8:24,28,58.

I decided to read through all the Posts again and made a list of some of the relevant Posts. I was consistently met with the argument that because I did not know Greek, or rather Koine Greek, then I could not comment or make a decision on John 8:58. I also claimed that John 8:58 was not quoting Exodus 3:14 or the LXX of Exodus 3:14 and again I was reprimanded because I was not proficient with Hebrew.
You cannot comment authoritatively though you could certainly make a sound decision and comment properly based on the expertise of others, which unfortunately you do not with respect to John 8:58.

A major question that was raised in my mind was whether John 8:58 can be translated "I am he", or does the actual Greek demand that it is translated "I am"? (or with the bias "I AM")? In Post #83 you have given 7 translations, and all of these have either "I am" or "I AM". When discussing with another member, he says on one occasion (Post #21) that he is at liberty to accept "I am he" or "I am" for John 8:24, and if he chooses the second then this would be another reference to Jesus claiming to be the "I AM". He does not seem to allow me this liberty of choice for John 8:58 (Post #41), but that Koine Greek demands that John 8:58 is translated "I am" and not "I am he".
Characterizing it as a matter of liberty extended to oneself in 8:28 but withheld to another in 8:58 is not an accurate assessment of the situation... your other interlocutor drew your attention to the lack of a completed predicate in the first verse and stated it could be another divine self-disclosure, ending this assertion with a wink. Indeed, the author is similarly tantalizing with the possibility as I pointed out using different words, drawing your attention to John's use of double entendre and misunderstood riddles elsewhere in the gospel. You have yet to address any of this...

To me the answer is not in Koine Greek, but how we understand the context.
Of course the Greek is involved since you are disputing the translation "I am" in 8:58... understanding, however, that context plays a role in proper translation is part of the difficulty you're having in seeing why the same phrase should be translated one way in verses 24 and 28 but a different way in verse 58.

Nevertheless nearly all translations render this as "I am" and although I cannot decipher or understand the accents on the Greek text, I notice that the accents on John 8:58 is different to those on John 8:24 and 28.
The accents are not original and have nothing to do with proper translation, only with correct pronunciation... the / and \ indicate the syllable(s) stressed with a raise or decline in voice pitch respectively.

The immediate context is Abraham, and they had been discussing who is the true seed of Abraham, and if they had understood him correctly then they would have accepted that Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham whose burnt offering would be acceptable to God and would be the basis for the resurrection and eternal blessing of Abraham and the faithful. Jesus is not referring to or directly quoting the Hebrew of Exodus 3:14 or the erroneous LXX translation of Exodus 3:14.
There is nothing in your summary about Jesus' superiority to Abraham, at least not explicitly, which is important to and part of the chapter's progression... his interlocutors ask rhetorically whether he is greater than the deceased ancestor, followed up by the direct question "Who do you claim to be?" It is shortly thereafter that the exchange culminates in Jesus' answer: "before Abraham was, I am." This shifts the focus away from Jesus as following in Abraham's ancestral line (ie. being his seed) to preceding him as the ultimate progenitor (cf. John 1:1-3).

You seem to want to bring the LXX of Exodus 3:14 back into John 8:58 no matter how much you have to adjust to gain a Trinity allusion (or Jesus as divine).
The problem with your accusation is that I have nothing to gain from championing the position of a divine Jesus in John's gospel... as you well know, I am neither a Trinitarian nor a believer in a divine Jesus. I could change my understanding of the Johannine depiction of Jesus without any change to my praxis-based Christianity... I've yet to see, however, any solid arguments on your end to prompt such a revision of my position.

Again I do not accept that John is using "I am" to support the view that Jesus is God. I believe that John and Jesus and the inspired selection by John is establishing the theme of whether or not Jesus is the Christ (and as such also The Son of God) John 20:30-31.
Your opinion is duly noted, but as I've indicated above, your rebuttals to points in my analysis are either insufficient or lacking entirely...

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

TrevorL

Active member
Greetings again Jonathan (En Hakkore),
You're welcome to that belief, but it is not supported by either internal or external evidence... suggesting it is original to the gospel and in this particular place disturbs the flow of discourse between chapters 7 and 8, thereby weakening your claim about the referents for 8:24,28,58.
My opinion is based upon John 7:53 being the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, where the Sanhedrin had not been keeping the Feast, but had gathered to plot the death of Christ. They failed and went home. Jesus who kept the Feast also fulfilled the concept of dwelling in temporary dwelling and trust in God, and he went to sleep in the Garden of Gethsemane. Also it fits in with the Sanhedrin trying to arrest him before this incident, and trying to discredit him after the incident. Also I suggest that we have a unique and commendable record of Jesus handling successfully a very difficult situation, and thwarting the Pharisees. The next verses about Jesus being the Light of the World is very relevant to this incident.

My first real encounter with a Trinitarian was a Plymouth Brother when I was about 22 years old. I can only remember three things about my contact with him. He raised the subject of the Trinity and John 1:1. I had been brought up believing that there is One God, Yahweh, God the Father and that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I was completely out of my depth and I considered John 1:1 a difficult and obscure passage, so I copied out a few paragraphs from one of our expositions on John's Gospel. One of the passages mentioned in this is Isaiah 55:8-11. I mentioned these verses in Post #40. Another similar passage in this article is Psalm 33:6,9 and both of these passages give some indication that the Word is a Personification, similar to the Wise Woman, Wisdom in Proverbs 8. He criticised my dependence on this commentary, and my own lack of understanding on the subject. After 55 more years I consider that I have a significant grasp on the full range of this subject, starting with The Yahweh Name.

A second encounter with him was on the subject of John 7:53-8:11. He was Greek scholar and studied the manuscripts. He stated that he considered that John 7:53-8:11 should NOT be in the Bible. He also used to like to go to the Bible Society Shop and tell them that they should remove some of the simplified Bibles, as he considered that they were altering the Word of God.
You cannot comment authoritatively though you could certainly make a sound decision and comment properly based on the expertise of others, which unfortunately you do not with respect to John 8:58.
I feel that I can have a reasonably good understanding based upon the context, despite your claim.
Characterizing it as a matter of liberty extended to oneself in 8:28 but withheld to another in 8:58 is not an accurate assessment of the situation... your other interlocutor drew your attention to the lack of a completed predicate in the first verse and stated it could be another divine self-disclosure, ending this assertion with a wink.
I still do not agree that "I am he" in John 8:24 and John 8:28 is speaking about two different titles or positions, and that John 8:58 uses the same Greek words in a completely different sense "I AM". I believe that this is part of the theme of whether or not Jesus is the Christ.
Indeed, the author is similarly tantalizing with the possibility as I pointed out using different words, drawing your attention to John's use of double entendre and misunderstood riddles elsewhere in the gospel. You have yet to address any of this...
You would need to be more specific for me to discuss this. We have different views on John 1:1 for example.
Of course the Greek is involved since you are disputing the translation "I am" in 8:58... understanding, however, that context plays a role in proper translation is part of the difficulty you're having in seeing why the same phrase should be translated one way in verses 24 and 28 but a different way in verse 58.
Yes, the context is relevant and I have a different view of the context.
There is nothing in your summary about Jesus' superiority to Abraham, at least not explicitly, which is important to and part of the chapter's progression... his interlocutors ask rhetorically whether he is greater than the deceased ancestor, followed up by the direct question "Who do you claim to be?" It is shortly thereafter that the exchange culminates in Jesus' answer: "before Abraham was, I am." This shifts the focus away from Jesus as following in Abraham's ancestral line (ie. being his seed) to preceding him as the ultimate progenitor (cf. John 1:1-3).
Another factor is that I do not accept that Jesus would claim to be Yahweh. Jesus is the development of the Yahweh name "I will be", not the "I AM". John 1:1,14 must be understood by how the Word was made flesh, and this is clearly taught in Matthew 1:20-21 and Luke 1:34-35, where God the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit was the father of Jesus, the Son of God and Mary was his mother. The Trinitarian view that somehow God the Son was shrunk into the womb of Mary is not in the Bible. The Trinitarian view of this reminds me of the many gods of LDS.
The problem with your accusation is that I have nothing to gain from championing the position of a divine Jesus in John's gospel... as you well know, I am neither a Trinitarian nor a believer in a divine Jesus. I could change my understanding of the Johannine depiction of Jesus without any change to my praxis-based Christianity... I've yet to see, however, any solid arguments on your end to prompt such a revision of my position.
I believe that John's Gospel is teaching the divine aspect of Jesus, but he is the Christ, the Son of God, not God the Son, the second person of a supposed Trinity.
Your opinion is duly noted, but as I've indicated above, your rebuttals to points in my analysis are either insufficient or lacking entirely...
Again, I suggest that you are using other passages which are incorrectly used by Trinitarians. As far as John 8:58 Jesus was in the plan and purpose of God before Abraham came on the scene Genesis 3:15.

Kind regards
Trevor
 
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En Hakkore

Well-known member
My opinion is based upon John 7:53 being the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, where the Sanhedrin had not been keeping the Feast, but had gathered to plot the death of Christ. They failed and went home. Jesus who kept the Feast also fulfilled the concept of dwelling in temporary dwelling and trust in God, and he went to sleep in the Garden of Gethsemane. Also it fits in with the Sanhedrin trying to arrest him before this incident, and trying to discredit him after the incident. Also I suggest that we have a unique and commendable record of Jesus handling successfully a very difficult situation, and thwarting the Pharisees. The next verses about Jesus being the Light of the World is very relevant to this incident.
You're certainly reading a lot into the pericope in your attempt to defend its particular placement and authenticity. This is not how text-critical scholars go about adjudicating such matters... they evaluate, rather, the external and internal evidence, which in this case is overwhelmingly against the passage's authenticity. It is lacking in the early papyri (P66 and P75) and many of the important majuscules including Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. While the section is non-extant in Alexandrinus, spacing considerations demonstrate it was not included. The earliest codex containing it is Bezae, which as noted previously, is the most aberrant of New Testament manuscripts. It is absent from the Old Syriac and Coptic versions, as well as from some Old Latin manuscripts. Where it is included, it is inserted into various places, including after Luke 21:38 in the Ferrar Group manuscripts! Interestingly enough, the pericope contains some vocabulary found elsewhere only in Luke-Acts and terms found frequently in the Synoptics but nowhere else in John or used differently therein. It also comprises a densely-concentrated group of clauses using a verbal construction that John elsewhere deploys sparingly but is common in Matthew and Luke. Following is the conclusion of text-critical scholarship:

The pericope is obviously a piece of floating tradition that circulated in certain part of the Western Church. It was subsequently inserted into various manuscripts at various places. (Metzger and Ehrman 320)

You would need to be more specific for me to discuss this.
The discussion between Jesus and Nicodemus in chapter 3 is a good example... specifically the word ανωθεν in verses 3 and 7, which can mean either "again" or "from above" (BDAG 92).

Another factor is that I do not accept that Jesus would claim to be Yahweh.
This is an assumption you bring to the text rather than allowing the text to speak for itself on the matter.

John 1:1,14 must be understood by how the Word was made flesh, and this is clearly taught in Matthew 1:20-21 and Luke 1:34-35, where God the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit was the father of Jesus, the Son of God and Mary was his mother.
No, the proper context for understanding John is John... and he is quite clear about Jesus' divinity.

The Trinitarian view that somehow God the Son was shrunk into the womb of Mary is not in the Bible. The Trinitarian view of this reminds me of the many gods of LDS.
Please take up these matters with Trinitarians here or in the designated forum... as I stated from the onset, I'm not interested in that discussion and there's no reason to bring up the concept in your interactions with me.

I believe that John's Gospel is teaching the divine aspect of Jesus...
Now you're playing semantic games... John presents Jesus as divine not as an aspect of the divine, whatever that's supposed to mean.

As far as John 8:58 Jesus was in the plan and purpose of God before Abraham came on the scene Genesis 3:15.
What has that passage got to do with anything we're discussing? It is part of an aetiological foundation myth explaining the enmity between humans and snakes...

Kind regards,
Jonathan


Works cited:
Danker, Frederick William (ed.) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature (3rd ed., [BDAG]; University of Chicago Press, 2000)
Metzger, Bruce M. and Bart D. Ehrman The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th ed.; Oxford University Press, 2005)
 
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TrevorL

Active member
Greetings again Jonathan (En Hakkore),
You're certainly reading a lot into the pericope in your attempt to defend its particular placement and authenticity. This is not how text-critical scholars go about adjudicating such matters... they evaluate, rather, the external and internal evidence, which in this case is overwhelmingly against the passage's authenticity.
It appears that most modern commentators agree with your conclusion, but I am reticent to endorse their conclusion. There is some textual evidence to support this passage and its location. Although an old list, Ethelbert Bullinger mentions some in the Companion Bible.
The pericope is obviously a piece of floating tradition that circulated in certain part of the Western Church. It was subsequently inserted into various manuscripts at various places. (Metzger and Ehrman 320)
I consider its present position and the character of Jesus and his dealing with the difficult situation a clear evidence of its veracity. One of our speakers who often gives a succinct statement such as "every word in the Bible is important" when expounding a particular word, says when considering Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5-7 and his character in general, he states that some believe that Jesus is a fictional character. His answer to this is "I would like to meet the author of this fictional character. He must have been a marvelous man to invent such a character and teaching".
The discussion between Jesus and Nicodemus in chapter 3 is a good example... specifically the word ανωθεν in verses 3 and 7, which can mean either "again" or "from above" (BDAG 92).
Yes this is interesting. I agree with both.
This is an assumption you bring to the text rather than allowing the text to speak for itself on the matter.
An understanding of any statement by Jesus must be consistent with what he says elsewhere and also the whole teaching of the Scriptures. My belief and my fellowship's belief of the Yahweh Name precludes that Jesus would claim to be Yahweh. He acknowledges God the Father as Yahweh. The Yahweh Name teaches that Jesus is the development of the Yahweh Name, He is what God the Father has developed, has become, has achieved, the means whereby He has been revealed.
No, the proper context for understanding John is John... and he is quite clear about Jesus' divinity.
I equate the use of the phrase "The Word" in John 1:1 to be a personification, partially introduced by Psalm 33:6,9 and Isaiah 55:8-11 and the usage of the Wise Woman "Wisdom" in Proverbs 8. A parallel concept to John 1:1 and John 1:14 is "God the Father" and "The Son of God" and the development of the Yahweh Name.
Please take up these matters with Trinitarians here or in the designated forum... as I stated from the onset, I'm not interested in that discussion and there's no reason to bring up the concept in your interactions with me.
Ok, but you seem to support the divinity of Jesus in John 1:1 when it is not there. To take a passage in isolation John 1:1 and substitute "In the beginning was God the Son" or "In the beginning was Jesus" is not what the passage states. Also we need to properly read John 1:14 "the Word was made flesh" and "the only begotten of the Father" and harmonise this with Matthew 1:20-21 and Luke 1:34-35.
Now you're playing semantic games... John presents Jesus as divine not as an aspect of the divine, whatever that's supposed to mean.
Jesus is the fulfilment of the Shekinah glory in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle / Temple John 1:14. That glory comes from God the Father, but revealed in Jesus, and John beheld this glory.
What has that passage got to do with anything we're discussing? It is part of an aetiological foundation myth explaining the enmity between humans and snakes...
Perhaps you have not followed the theme of the promised Saviour in and through Jesus in the promises concerning the descendant or seed of Eve, the seed of Abraham and the seed of David and the New Creation Psalm 8. Possibly I need to discuss these with others who accept the Bible as God's revelation, possibly on another designated forum.

Kind regards
Trevor
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
It appears that most modern commentators agree with your conclusion, but I am reticent to endorse their conclusion.
My comments reflect scholarship not commentary. Why are you so reluctant to accept the conclusions of experts?

There is some textual evidence to support this passage and its location. Although an old list, Ethelbert Bullinger mentions some in the Companion Bible.
No one is denying that there is some textual evidence in support of this section following John 7:52, if by that you mean manuscripts that contain the story... the problem is that this evidence is comparatively late and compromised by fluidity of placement. As noted, the earliest majuscule to contain it is Bezae (5th century) and it is the most textually aberrant one we have. Better and earlier manuscripts lack the pericope plus there is all the aforementioned internal evidence (ie. syntax and vocabulary) that supports the external evidence against the authenticity of these verses in John.

Yes this is interesting. I agree with both.
So take this principle of double entendre and apply it to the verses under consideration (8:24,28).

An understanding of any statement by Jesus must be consistent with what he says elsewhere and also the whole teaching of the Scriptures.
As you (should) well know given our previous conversations, I reject both canonical readings and the conflation of the literary and historical levels of this or any other biblical text. I am not discussing what the historical Jesus said, I am discussing what the author of the gospel called John thinks he said... and the proper context for understanding this gospel is the gospel itself, not Matthew or Luke or anything else.

I equate the use of the phrase "The Word" in John 1:1 to be a personification...
I would suggest you look up what 'personification' means and rethink the suitability of such a concept to John 1:1. Wisdom, for example, is personified as a woman in Proverbs. If you think 'the word' is involved in some sort of personification, ok, fill in the blank: "The (divine) word is personified as (a) ______ in John".

Ok, but you seem to support the divinity of Jesus in John 1:1 when it is not there. To take a passage in isolation John 1:1 and substitute "In the beginning was God the Son" or "In the beginning was Jesus" is not what the passage states.
The passage states the word was God and later that the word became flesh and dwelt among us... the word is thus one of several metaphors applied by the author to Jesus, here in third person narrative, elsewhere primarily as the protagonist's own self-disclosures. As such, it is not inappropriate to draw the equations you note... while that may not be your theology, it is certainly the theology of the author of the Johannine gospel.

Also we need to properly read John 1:14 "the Word was made flesh" and "the only begotten of the Father" and harmonise this with Matthew 1:20-21 and Luke 1:34-35.
No, there is no need to attempt such a harmonization... one must first understand John on his own terms before attempting any comparison with the claims of other authors. If they line up, ok, if not, harmonization cannot be forced... to do so will involve distorting one or both of the two texts under examination.

Perhaps you have not followed the theme of the promised Saviour in and through Jesus in the promises concerning the descendant or seed of Eve, the seed of Abraham and the seed of David and the New Creation Psalm 8. Possibly I need to discuss these with others who accept the Bible as God's revelation, possibly on another designated forum.
Yes, please take those matters up with others with whom you share more hermeneutical ground... I came here to comment on three texts and provide any follow up necessary on their proper interpretation --- I am not here to play connect the dots with whatever passages you think are relevant to them in building a systematic theology.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

TrevorL

Active member
Greetings again Jonathan (En Hakkore),
My comments reflect scholarship not commentary. Why are you so reluctant to accept the conclusions of experts?
My level of understanding relies on what I have available as reference works, also what I attempt to understand by reading the Bible text, in itself, and in its context, and according to my appreciation of similar ideas and themes from the Scriptures as a whole. My most detailed commentaries on John are Word Biblical Commentary Volume 36 John (Second Edition) George R Beasley Murray (Electronic version) and The Expositor's Bible Commentary Volume 9 John: Merrill C Tierney (Print copy). I use these, not as final authorities, but to give some indication of what is generally accepted by "scholars", either what the writer himself states or what the writer quotes from other "scholars" or "experts". I read the articles in both of these commentaries and also the articles in two other less detailed commentaries John RVG Tasker Tyndale and The Message of John Bruce Milne BST. I also read a commentary by a respected member in our fellowship, The Gospel of John John Carter, and in his article as well as quoting various "authorities" in support of the passage and location, he also referenced the notes in The Companion Bible which I read. Now you may be an expert or quote various experts, but I do not think I am sufficiently qualified to endorse or deny these "experts", but I have not arrived at the position to change my present view, that John 7:53-8:11 is valid and important and in the correct position. I have not read from those four commentaries any mention of John 7:53 fitting in with the meeting of the Sanhedrin, and in contrast Jesus going to spend the night at the Mount of Olives. Nor do these commentaries speak concerning the relevance of John 8:12 where Jesus says "I am the light of the world" in the context of the events in John 8:1-11. In other words, I have an inbuilt reservation of accepting everything that these "scholars" or other "experts" advocate.
No one is denying that there is some textual evidence in support of this section following John 7:52, if by that you mean manuscripts that contain the story... the problem is that this evidence is comparatively late and compromised by fluidity of placement. As noted, the earliest majuscule to contain it is Bezae (5th century) and it is the most textually aberrant one we have. Better and earlier manuscripts lack the pericope plus there is all the aforementioned internal evidence (ie. syntax and vocabulary) that supports the external evidence against the authenticity of these verses in John.
I accept that this is your conclusion, but I am encouraged that there is some ground for the text to be placed after John 8:52, that is it represents John 7:53-8:11. I am extremely skeptical of the claimed "internal evidence (ie. syntax and vocabulary) that supports the external evidence against the authenticity of these verses in John."
So take this principle of double entendre and apply it to the verses under consideration (8:24,28).
I would not apply such a principle the way a Trinitarian may apply this. I am very happy to read "I am he" for John 8:24,28 and John 8:58 as part of the theme of whether or not Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is certainly not claiming to be the "I AM" or Yahweh in these three quotations as Exodus 3:14 should be translated as "I will be". Neither is there any allusion to the LXX "I am THE BEING". I am not sure what "double entendre" I should apply in these three verses. Is there a double entendre in John 4:26 and was the Samaritan woman expected to understand this?
As you (should) well know given our previous conversations, I reject both canonical readings and the conflation of the literary and historical levels of this or any other biblical text. I am not discussing what the historical Jesus said, I am discussing what the author of the gospel called John thinks he said... and the proper context for understanding this gospel is the gospel itself, not Matthew or Luke or anything else.
I endorse all the records concerning the conception and birth of Jesus, and I claim that John is consistent with Matthew and Luke.
I would suggest you look up what 'personification' means and rethink the suitability of such a concept to John 1:1. Wisdom, for example, is personified as a woman in Proverbs. If you think 'the word' is involved in some sort of personification, ok, fill in the blank: "The (divine) word is personified as (a) ______ in John".
Perhaps personification may not be the best explanation, but Psalm 33:6,9, Isaiah 55:8-11 and the personification of Wisdom all helps to understand John 1:1.
The passage states the word was God and later that the word became flesh and dwelt among us... the word is thus one of several metaphors applied by the author to Jesus, here in third person narrative, elsewhere primarily as the protagonist's own self-disclosures. As such, it is not inappropriate to draw the equations you note... while that may not be your theology, it is certainly the theology of the author of the Johannine gospel.No, there is no need to attempt such a harmonization... one must first understand John on his own terms before attempting any comparison with the claims of other authors. If they line up, ok, if not, harmonization cannot be forced... to do so will involve distorting one or both of the two texts under examination.
John 1:1 does not say God the Son, or Jesus, but the "Word" and this is "Logos" which is different to some extent to the spoken word. My understanding is that John is attempting to show how the character, thought, plans, purpose of God the Father came to be revealed in the Son of God, Jesus, who when revealed to John at the age of 30 he saw his glory, a glory derived from His Father, as he was the only begotten of the Father (Matthew 1:20-21, Luke 1:34-35), and this glory was not a physical glory, he did not see "God the Son", but he saw a moral glory, Jesus was "full of grace and truth". Even though you are not a Trinitarian, why not ask them whether this is what John is teaching? Why do you claim that John is teaching the Trinitarian view?
Yes, please take those matters up with others with whom you share more hermeneutical ground... I came here to comment on three texts and provide any follow up necessary on their proper interpretation --- I am not here to play connect the dots with whatever passages you think are relevant to them in building a systematic theology.
Yes, I was only partly copying your suggestion that I should take up Matthew 1:20-21 and Luke 1:34-35 with Trinitarians. Nevertheless my position that the Bible is God's revelation of his purpose centred in Jesus does have a bearing on many decisions concerning individual verses.

Kind regards
Trevor
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
My level of understanding relies on what I have available as reference works, also what I attempt to understand by reading the Bible text, in itself, and in its context, and according to my appreciation of similar ideas and themes from the Scriptures as a whole. My most detailed commentaries on John are Word Biblical Commentary Volume 36 John (Second Edition) George R Beasley Murray (Electronic version) and The Expositor's Bible Commentary Volume 9 John: Merrill C Tierney (Print copy). I use these, not as final authorities, but to give some indication of what is generally accepted by "scholars", either what the writer himself states or what the writer quotes from other "scholars" or "experts". I read the articles in both of these commentaries and also the articles in two other less detailed commentaries John RVG Tasker Tyndale and The Message of John Bruce Milne BST. I also read a commentary by a respected member in our fellowship, The Gospel of John John Carter, and in his article as well as quoting various "authorities" in support of the passage and location, he also referenced the notes in The Companion Bible which I read. Now you may be an expert or quote various experts, but I do not think I am sufficiently qualified to endorse or deny these "experts", but I have not arrived at the position to change my present view, that John 7:53-8:11 is valid and important and in the correct position. I have not read from those four commentaries any mention of John 7:53 fitting in with the meeting of the Sanhedrin, and in contrast Jesus going to spend the night at the Mount of Olives. Nor do these commentaries speak concerning the relevance of John 8:12 where Jesus says "I am the light of the world" in the context of the events in John 8:1-11. In other words, I have an inbuilt reservation of accepting everything that these "scholars" or other "experts" advocate.
Your use of scare quotes in reference to biblical scholarship is telling... in any case, your resources are numerically limited, theologically restrictive and somewhat stale. No one is suggesting you embrace everything that scholars propose, if for no other reason than they sometimes disagree with each other so you would find yourself holding contradictory positions... what I am suggesting is thoughtful engagement with this material and critical evaluation of the evidence. Unfortunately, you just knee-jerk reject anything that doesn't comport with what you already believe... this is called confirmation bias.

I accept that this is your conclusion, but I am encouraged that there is some ground for the text to be placed after John 8:52, that is it represents John 7:53-8:11. I am extremely skeptical of the claimed "internal evidence (ie. syntax and vocabulary) that supports the external evidence against the authenticity of these verses in John."
By your own admission you have no working knowledge of Koine Greek so how could you express meaningful skepticism about syntactical arguments you can't even understand? Reading through John's gospel in Greek, the author establishes a recognizable style, which disappears from the disputed section and then picks up again afterward. Matters of vocabulary would be easier for you to confirm... scribes and elders are recognizable characters in the other gospels, but found nowhere else but in this disputed section of John. The Mount of Olives is a setting in the other gospels, never elsewhere in John. The other gospels regularly use the word λαος in reference to crowds; outside of this disputed section in John, it is only used in reference to the entire nation of Israel.

I would not apply such a principle the way a Trinitarian may apply this.
My arguments have nothing to do with trinitarianism per se... they are equally applicable within a oneness theological framework or with binitarianism or even ditheism --- your continued insistence to turn statements I make about Jesus' divinity in John to a particular model of how that fits within a monotheistic framework is annoying. Please stop it.

I am not sure what "double entendre" I should apply in these three verses.
The double entendre concerns only verses 24 and 28... a theophoric "I am" is hinted at in these verses, but becomes explicit in verse 58 where no double entendre can be read since there is no syntactical referent for an inferred 'he'.

Is there a double entendre in John 4:26 and was the Samaritan woman expected to understand this?
The author may be dropping an early hint, but the focus of the section is on revealing Jesus' identity as the messiah to the Samaritan community, not his divine identity, which reaches a climax in the Jerusalem section (chs 7-10).

Perhaps personification may not be the best explanation...
It is no explanation because we are here dealing with metaphor, not personification, as I previously pointed out.

John 1:1 does not say God the Son, or Jesus, but the "Word" and this is "Logos" which is different to some extent to the spoken word. My understanding is that John is attempting to show how the character, thought, plans, purpose of God the Father came to be revealed in the Son of God, Jesus, who when revealed to John at the age of 30 he saw his glory, a glory derived from His Father, as he was the only begotten of the Father (Matthew 1:20-21, Luke 1:34-35), and this glory was not a physical glory, he did not see "God the Son", but he saw a moral glory, Jesus was "full of grace and truth". Even though you are not a Trinitarian, why not ask them whether this is what John is teaching? Why do you claim that John is teaching the Trinitarian view?
I've claimed no such thing and I stated from the outset I have no interest in the Trinity debate. Take what you've learned here and discuss the matter with Trinitarians here or on the designated forum.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 
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