Tuesday, 17 April 2012

"I am" and "I have been" in 1969

In this post I was going to deal with both copies of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation I had, but it got too long, so this post is just about the 1969 Kingdom Interlinear Translation of John 8:58

I had always wanted an interlinear Bible, and when I found a downloadable copy of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation, I though I was in business, but unfortunately not here is another reason why: the Greek on the left of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation correctly translates εἰμί as "I am", but it changes it say "I have been" on the right, have a look (click to enlarge):
page 467 of the 1969 Kingdom Interlinear Translation
page 451 of the 1985 Kingdom Interlinear Translation
The 1969 footnote it says:
I have been = ἐγὼ εἰμί (e.go' ei.mi') after the a'orist infinitive clause πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι and hence properly rendered in the perfect tense. Is is not the same as ὁ ὤν (ho ohn', meaning "The Being" or "The I Am") at Exodus 3:14, LXX.
The footnote states that because of the aorist infinitive clause: πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι (before Abraham was [born/existed]), then ἐγὼ εἰμί (I am) should be translated in the perfect tense. The phrase πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι may well be in the aorist infinitive but that doesn't mean the next clause needs to change from a present tense to a perfect tense.

In Greek, the perfect tense deals with something in the present that has been completed with a focus on the result, so something "has" happened with an ongoing result. The present tense deals with something that is happening or ongoing with a focus on the present time, so something "is" going on or happening. Just looking in the same chapter (John 8) the exact same present tense phrase (ἐγὼ εἰμί) is consistently rendered (correctly) in the present tense four times as "I am" in John 8:12, 18, 24, 28 (click to enlarge):
page 460 of the 1969 Kingdom Interlinear Translation
page 463 of the 1969 Kingdom Interlinear Translation
page 462 of the 1969 Kingdom Interlinear Translation
Exodus 3:14 does mention ἐγὼ εἰμί three times in the LXX
The footnote in the 1969 version also states that John 8:58 is not the same as Exodus 3:14 in the LXX as it points to ὁ ὤν in that verse. What this fails to note is that ἐγὼ εἰμί is also mentioned in Exodus 3:14 in the LXX and that ὁ ὤν is ἐγὼ εἰμί but as a  present tense (masculine) participle (you can even look up some paradigms of εἰμί if you want to check). Have a look at what the Exodus 3:14 looks like in the LXX (there are many online versions of you can look up):
καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεὸς πρὸς μωυσῆν ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν καὶ εἶπεν οὕτως ἐρεῖς τοῖς υἱοῖς ισραηλ ὁ ὢν ἀπέσταλκέν με πρὸς ὑμᾶς 
Most translations would have the above verse to say something like the following:
and God said to Moses "I AM WHO I AM" and he said "say this to the sons of Israel: 'I AM has sent me to you'"
(This is my crude/basic translation that might get a pass (if the marker is kind).

I have put in bold where ἐγὼ εἰμί is translated. You will notice that there are two other I AM's that are not in bold, they are from ὁ ὤν (which comes from εἰμί). The 1969 footnote says ὁ ὤν means "The Being" or "The I Am", but it could also mean "who I AM" as  could mean "who" (and is translated as that over 40 times in the New Testament), or it could mean "I AM" if you drop the article ().

I am really not sure why the footnote wants to point out that ἐγὼ εἰμί in John 8:58 has no connection with Exodus 3:14 when ἐγὼ εἰμί appears in that verse in the same tense as the start of God's very name(!), and it appears two more times inflected as a participle(!!).

"I have been" doesn't make sense in the context of John
Within the context of John it doesn't make sense why the Jews would want to stone Jesus just after he said "Before Abraham came into existence, I have been". It is one thing to say that you are really, really old; it is another thing to say that you are God. Later in John 10:30-31 when Jesus says that He and God are one the Jews again want to stone Him. This seems to be a bit of a repeat of John 8:58-59. If there was any doubt about the tense of Jesus' phrase (which there isn't) couldn't the context of the book of John helped a little? In both cases Jesus claimed to be God and the Jews then wanted to stone him.

Again, like The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of  Colossians 1:16-20, no major English translation of John 8:58 renders ἐγὼ εἰμί as "I have been".

The 1985 version has a whole appendix item on this verse, but that is for another post...


Post a Comment