Saturday, August 13, 2011

LXX issues

Do I need to assume that Jesus had the LXX foremost in his mind?

Would he have been familiar with the Hebrew?

I want to argue that John 8:58 is an Exodus 'I AM' reference.

58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

That 'I am' is ego eimi.

Carson is telling me that it's not a reference to Exodus 3 because Ex 3 in the LXX reads 'I am (Ego eime) the existent one (ho on). Tell them the existent one (ho on) has sent you.' If Jesus was referring to the I AM of Exodus 3, he'd have used ho on instead of ego eime

Carson then argues that the John 8:58 'I am' is a reference to Isaiah 40. Ex 3 / Is 40 makes very little difference to the take home message... but Is 40 is much harder to package up in a Sunday School lesson. 

Can I defy Carson and take it as a reference to Exodus 3?

Help me out guys. 


  1. I was under the distinct impression that Jesus spoke Aramaic. I'd think it unlikely that his go-to version of the Scriptures would therefore be in Greek rather than Hebrew.

    That's leaving aside the whole omniscience thing.

    And then, of course, there's the fact that you don't have to cite something word for word to allude to it.

    Just looked in my Pillar copy of Carson on John, and while he makes the link to Isaiah there, he didn't have the LXX argument. Not sure what your source is, but maybe he's decided it wasn't that strong?

    FWIW, I think you should feel free to point out the Exodus link. I rather suspect Isaiah was thinking of it when he penned chapter 40 too.

  2. The "I am" statements are pretty heavy stuff for Sunday School. Carson's argument seems plausible if very technical. Jesus and his disciples are generally agreed to have spoken Aramaic which is more akin to Hebrew than Greek, so there may not be any reason to assume they used the LXX. The Dead Sea Scrolls OT manuscripts, roughly contemporary with Jesus, are in Hebrew. As the NT writers used Greek for wider circulation they naturally referred to the LXX for OT references.

  3. I'm with them. I reckon the Jews who want to stone him aren't quibbling about what reference he's citing.

  4. As 'luck' would have it, I just looked at our second reading for tomorrow - Mk 12, where Jesus doesn't just refer to Ex. 3, he cites it!

    Except that his citation uses ego (no eimi, understood), and the LXX uses ego eimi. He doesn't quote it word for word.

    But, if Carson's right and Jesus is part of the LXX cheer squad, then he'd know the ego eimi reference from Ex 3:6, defeating the argument. QED.

  5. And Jon, the I Am statements aren't that hard to teach kids. There's a cool story attached to most of them - feeding 5000, Lazarus, Healing blind man etc.

  6. I'm with JeffK - the Jews who wanted to stone him would have understood exactly what he was claiming. As for exactly which version of the word he used, think about how you use English - there are many, many synonyms as well as turns of phrase that mean exactly the same thing (half the time the different words are just from different source languages e.g. Latin vs Greek).

  7. That would be why you're a SS teacher and I'm not:). Hope it went well.

  8. It's not till next year! How organised am I?!

  9. Not just organised, but sly...posting an appeal for help on a Saturday night...damsel in distress, please help...


  10. Sorry re. Sat night! Didn't mean to mislead.

    But why were you reading on Saturday night anyway? Didn't you have a sermon to finish or something?

  11. No need to apologise - I was just stirring.

    And of course I had a sermon to write! But such things are best done after all possible stalling techniques are exhausted...

    I have procrastination issues, it's true.

  12. I'd put a smiley here if I believed in them. But I don't.