(Disclaimer: My posts in this thread are drowning under the explicitly-stated assumptions that the story related in John 8 is accurate and that the person who compiled/wrote the fourth gospel was named "John". In the rest of this thread, unless otherwise stated, I will base everything on these assumptions being true.)
ChristianHeretic wrote:Sorry for the delay, I was out of the country.
Not a problem. We don't expect people to organise their lives around this forum.
Where did you go, by the way? Business or pleasure?
ChristianHeretic wrote:I'm not saying that this is how he should have translated Jn 8:58. I agree with his translation here, except for the possibility of "I have been" as shown below. How this verse was translated is not significant to me, the claim that it was a quote of Ex 3:14 however is.
Here's part of our disagreement. I think that the translation is crucial.
You seem to agree that, Jesus said something in Aramaic. What Jesus said was primary, and how the Greek translator understood it and how John understood it is important, but secondary. Once we've determined what would an eyewitness to Jesus' argument with the Jewish authorities have understood, then we can decide what John thought.
I think that we can both agree that assuming the story is accurate, its transmission was roughly like this:
- Jesus said it in Aramaic. Some eyewitness remembered it.
- There was possibly some oral transmission in Aramaic.
- Someone translated the story into Greek.
- There was possibly some oral transmission in Greek.
- John compiled the story into his gospel.
It's possible, though unlikely, that all of this was done by the same person (i.e. the person who translated the story into Greek and wrote it into the gospel was himself an eyewitness). This doesn't change the main story: Jesus said something in Aramaic, it was translated into Greek and then compiled into the fourth gospel.
What I believe you've shown is that if a) the story was originally written in Greek (i.e. doesn't come from Aramaic), and b) was intended to be a quote of Exodus 3:14, then whoever wrote it did a poor job of it. With this, I completely agree. The evidence is that this theory is incorrect.
But it doesn't follow automatically that b) is false, because you haven't dealt with the possibility that a) is false.
If the story originally came from Aramaic (and it would have were it an accurate quote from Jesus), then the evidence in Jn 8:58 is completely consistent with it being a quote from Ex 3:14, and completely inconsistent
with the theory that any Greek speaker through whom the story passed, including John, believed that Jesus said "before Abraham was, I existed".
Pseudonym wrote:Ok, just so I'm clear, you're argument is that John knew Yahweh's claim in the LXX of "I am the Being," then heard Jesus say "I am" and said, "Hey, this was a quote of just the first part of Ex 3:14!?
No. On the contrary, my argument is that Jesus was not speaking to the Jewish authorities in Greek at all
ChristianHeretic wrote:You're going to have to expound on this statement a bit. What do you mean the deity of Jesus is not "relevant." Obviously, all of Christiandom disagrees with you. (I obviously don't, but I'm surprised to hear someone else say it?)
I'm saying that it's not relevant what you or I believe about the deity of Jesus. The question entirely about what John believed.
For what it's worth, I personally disagree with NH Baritone:
NH Baritone wrote:But neither are you, as currently established, acceptable as a Christian.
I'm sure that a lot of Christians disagree, but I believe that Unitarian Christians are Christian. Even though you're not a Unitarian, I have no reason to doubt that you are a Christian, either. That's why I've been trying to ignore what you or I believe and concentrate on what John believed.
I'm liberal enough that I'm open to all sorts of exotic possibilities should there be good evidence for it, such as the possibility that John misunderstood, or that he understood the "deity of Jesus" to mean something different from post-Nicene trinitarian theology. (Indeed, given that the doctrine of the trinity developed over the space of 300 or so years, I think that's extremely likely; even the most orthodox theologians would have to concede that at the very least, John didn't have a perfectly-formed understanding of the nature of Jesus.)
But that's not the conversation that we're having right now.
ChristianHeretic wrote:When you say it's a "central theme" of the book, are you talking about the combination of the Prologue including the probable corruption of Jn 1:18, and Thomas' proclamation which John documents in 20:28 as the "central theme?"
I don't have a definitive list, but no, these are obviously not the only pieces. I include places where Jesus is called kurios
(e.g. Jn 13:13), places where Jesus is worshipped (e.g. Jn 9:38) and remarks like Jn 10:30 as pieces of a theme.
ChristianHeretic wrote:What about Jn 5:44, 17:3, 20:17 and the other 75+ times that John uses the title of 'theos' almost exclusively for the Father?
I think that's very interesting. I don't want to go into a complete discussion of orthodox trinitarian doctrine here, but I see it as a perfectly reasonable attempt to incorporate all
of the evidence. Ignoring the Holy Spirit for a moment: There is one God. Jesus is God. The Father is God. Jesus and the Father are somehow distinguished. You are not expected to understand this.
I believe that most of the great historic heresies on the nature of God came from an understandable desire to explain the nature of God in terms of human reason and rationality, and that is why they fundamentally failed. The nature of God is something that you're not meant to understand, it's something that you're meant to meditate upon.