Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Did Jesus Claim to be God?

A Dawagandist Indirectly and Tacitly Answers Yes! Pt. 3b

Sam Shamoun

In this brief section we are going to tackle Ally’s attempt of using the Greek translation of Exodus 3:14 to call into question the assertion that Jesus in John 8:58 was claiming to be the very same God who had spoken to Moses from within the burning bush.

He writes:

Furthermore, a distinction which is present in the Greek version of the Bible is lost from the English versions. In the Septuagint Greek version of the Old Testament, the phrase translated "I am" is "ho on "in the Greek. If the author of the fourth Gospel wanted to show his readers that Jesus repeated the phrase, he would no doubt have quoted Jesus as saying, "Before Abraham was, ho on." But he did not. Instead, he quoted Jesus as saying, "Before Abraham was, ego eimi." Readers of his Greek manuscript, then, would have seen that Jesus' statement in John 8:58 is different from God's statement in Exodus 3: 15 [sic]. And this, of course, is what the author of the fourth Gospel intended. (Ibid., pp. 59-60)

It is rather unfortunate that Ally doesn’t see how his appeal to the Septuagint ends up backfiring against him, since it affirms our point that in Exodus 3:14, Yahweh was emphasizing his uncreated, timeless existence. Note how the Greek version renders the Hebrew text of Exodus 3:14:

“And God spoke to Moses, saying, I Am He Who Exists/the Being/Existing One (ego eimi ho on); and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, He Who Exists/the Being/Existing One (ho on) has sent me to you.”

The fact that Jewish scribes rendered the Hebrew ehyeh asher ehyeh (“I AM that I AM”) as ego eimi ho on (“I Am He Who Exists/the Being/Existing One”) shows that pre-Christian Jews understood from the context that Yahweh was proclaiming to Moses that he is an eternal Being who is not bound to the constraints of time.

As such, the Greek phrase ho on here and Jesus’ ego eimi saying in John 8:58 are actually synonymous in meaning, since both terms are being employed to lay stress on the timeless nature of Yahweh/Christ.

This brings me to my next point. It seems that Ally is ignorant of the fact that on is nothing more than the present participle of eimi. Note the definition given by the following lexical source:

Strong's G5607




Present participle of eimi (G1510) (Blue Letter Bible)

This merely reinforces our point that the phrase ho on has the same precise meaning that Jesus’ ego eimi does in John 8:58, and are simply two different ways of saying the same exact thing. Both phrases are being used to highlight the fact that Yahweh/Christ are eternal by nature, and are therefore not bound to the limitations of time, space and matter.

As such, Ally is making a mountain out of a molehill since he fails to take into account that just because the Greek of Exodus 3:14 and John 8:58 happen to employ different forms of the same word, this doesn’t prove that they are not synonymous. The fact is that they merely happen to be two ways of expressing the same divinely revealed truth about Yahweh/Christ.

It is time now to turn to the final part of our rebuttal.