20

This question arises from this insightful answer to another question about John 8:58. That answer makes an argument that the Greek ἐγώ εἰμι (literally "I am") is the wording used to translate the Hebrew אֲנִי הוּא (literally "I he," but is a verbless clause [or noun clause], so "I [am] he" is implied). As that answer notes and illustrates, this is unquestionably true of how Isa 43:10 is actually translated in the LXX.

However, this makes the Greek replace the verbless Hebrew clause with a verbal Greek clause that instead elides the predicate nominative ("he"). But the other answer summarizes a comment from C. K. Barrett as follows:

The "absolute" use of the Greek egō eimi (without "complement" or predicate) is (in the words of C.K. Barrett) "hardly a Greek expression", "...ἐγώ εἰμι is in itself (as Greek) a meaningless expression". This makes the search for its antecedents in Jewish literature pressing.1

This essentially is saying that the absolute use of ἐγώ εἰμι is bad Greek. This implies that the Greek clause did not have an elliptical usage meaning "I am [he]" in extra-biblical Greek prior to the LXX and New Testament use, but gained such a meaning in the NT by the LXX usage alone. It is earlier usage that is critical to proving this—in early Koine or Classical Greek—as later usage could of course be influenced from the LXX/NT.

However, if such early usage is not testified to, it seems odd then that the LXX translators would have chosen to use a "meaningless" clause to express the Hebrew. Rather the more likely choices would have been either:

  • ἐγώ οὗτος ("I am he," making a verbless clause exactly paralleling the Hebrew, thus leaving the verb elided), or...
  • ἐγώ εἰμι οὗτος ("I am he," adding the missing verb from the Hebrew, but retaining the predicate nominative).

This leads to the primary question here. Is the absolute use of ἐγώ εἰμι testified in extra-biblical Greek as an expression for saying "I am [he]," that would account for why it was chosen as the translation for the Hebrew?

If not (as Barrett seems to imply), then may be likely that the creation of such a "meaningless" expression in Greek by the LXX translators (for such a use as in Isa 43:10) may have been influenced by trying to succinctly communicate the expression of being stated in Exodus 3:14 (אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה—"I AM THAT I AM" [KJV], "I AM WHO I AM" [NASB], or "ἐγὼ εἰμί ὁ ὤν" [LXX]). In other words, if it is a specially created expression, they may have believed the Hebrew אֲנִי הוּא itself was also referencing this idea of God's eternal being, and hence crafted their ἐγώ εἰμι clause to try to reflect that.

So a possible sub-question is if the LXX usage is not based at all in standard Greek usage of the day, does it likely reflect its derivation specifically to communicate some special idea seen in the Hebrew that (1) a literal verbless translation of ἐγώ οὗτος may have been worse for Greek linguistic preferences, and/or (2) ἐγώ εἰμι οὗτος might have made it too common a Greek phrase to keep the special idea evident they wanted to convey (God's eternal being, if that was what they were trying to communicate)?


NOTES

1 The reference given is "C.K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John (SPCK 1978), pp. 341f."

  • ScottS, (A.) What if you are right, and there IS a connection, as in the Hebrew אֲנִי הוּא. (B.) This wouldn't necessarily explain why Jesus employed it--unless he originally said it in Aramaic or Hebrew. (C.) with Extra-Biblical Greek, are you open to considering Aramaic works with Greek counterparts--as this is also a Semitic construction? (D.) As this is a very difficult search, I wanted to clarify first; (F.) Interesting Examples: Dem. or. 3 § 21 “οὐ γὰρ οὕτως ἄφρων οὐδ᾽ ἀτυχής εἰμι ἐγώ.” Hom. Od. 20.45 καὶ οὐ τόσα μήδεα οἶδεν: αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ θεός εἰμι ... etc, etc. – elika kohen May 21 '15 at 19:47
  • 1
    @e.s.kohen: I'm interested in Greek use prior to the LXX, whether that may or may not have had ties to Aramaic is allowable, but showing no ties would be better, since I'm seeking to find out if the Greek itself is really a "meaningless expression." Note, however, that my question is purely about the "absolute" use of ἐγώ εἰμι (which is what Barrett's statement is about), which neither of your examples are: the first has ἄφρων and the second has θεός as predicate nominatives. There are no doubt thousands of examples of the terms in a non-absolute use that are irrelevant to this question. – ScottS May 21 '15 at 20:28
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This is a good question -- or rather, set of questions. I begin by reiterating a comment from the Q&A linked by OP: to engage with this set of issues fully, one really needs to consult Catrin H. Williams, I Am He: The Interpretation of ʾAnî Hûʾ in Jewish and Early Christian Literature (WUNT II/113; Mohr Siebeck, 2000). There is plenty of other relevant scholarship, but engaging Williams's work first-hand is mandatory to grapple with this question. A StackExchange Q&A will only take us so far!

With that proviso in place, this question does move the discussion on from the earlier one. I'll divide this response slightly differently to that suggested by OP, since the material I've gathered is more easily structured with a tweaked set of headings.

1. Extrabiblical Greek?

OP's "primary" question is:

Is the absolute use of ἐγώ εἰμι testified in extra-biblical Greek...?

This is not an easy question to answer, but it's easier than it used to be thanks to the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG).1 I've done my best to look for examples. There are, of course, lots of hits on ἐγώ εἰμι - like this kind of thing. Here's Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 6.2. (Diogenes [VI.60]):

Ἀλεξάνδρου ποτὲ ἐπιστάντος αὐτῷ καὶ εἰπόντος, “ἐγώ εἰμι Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ μέγας βασιλεύς,” “κἀγώ,” φησί, “Διογένης ὁ κύων.”

= English:

Alexander once came and stood opposite him and said, “I am Alexander the great king.” “And I,” said he, “am Diogenes the Cynic.”a

a. Literally “Diogenes the Hound”; cf. ii. § 66.

This, obviously is not what we're looking for: this has a predicate ("Alexander...").

In fact, this search has long been made. Williams (also not the first) did a thorough search also using TLG and reported this:

The absolute use of ἐγώ εἰμι is not attested in non-Jewish Greek texts, and it is also absent from the writings of Josephus and Philo.2

And I believe her. I don't think this is at all controversial, in fact, but one likes to nail things down, and she has. So the very short answer to OP's primary question is: "No."

2. Why, then, the LXX use of absolute ἐγώ εἰμι?

OP's intuition that something needs to explain this apparently odd usage in the Septuagint [=LXX] (see further on this aspect, below) is quite sound. Williams attends to this at several points, but the main treatment comes in pp. 57-62. For our purposes, the main points to take note of are these:

  • The Hebrew Bible's אֲנִי הוּא = ʾănî hûʾ is, in any case, very difficult to translate into Greek.3
  • The wooden ἐγὼ αὐτός (which would be the expected form, not ἐγὼ οὗτος, which was OP's good guess!) is "an impossible formulation in Greek" (Williams, p. 58).
  • Various LXX translators rendered Hebrew הוּא (as predicate) with the Greek copula, using some form of εἶναι.
  • The formulation ἐγώ εἰμι αὐτός is possible (and, in fact, appears in 1 Sam 9:19; Isa 52:6; and Luke 24:39; cf. Acts 10:26), but ungainly, and "in order to preserve a bipartite formula in both languages ... ἐγώ εἰμι was adopted" (ibid.).

Williams goes on to consider this formulation in relationship to the various occurrences in the LXX and their possible interconnections. The main suggestion to note here is that the direction is most explicable from LXX-Deuteronomy (32:39 in particular) to LXX-Isaiah. Here again (as in the previous BH.SE Q&A) it should be noted that there is widespread agreement that LXX Exod 3:14 is not part of this matrix (discussed by Williams on p. 53), given its quite different formulation, and expressly with its all important predicate, ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν.

3. So how weird is this Greek?

As noted by OP, in that previous Q&A I cited C.K. Barrett's opinion that "...ἐγώ εἰμι is in itself (as Greek) a meaningless expression". Wider reading suggests there are other well-informed views to take into account which help considerably here.

  1. The Hebrew construction itself suggests a formulation in which the predicate is latent. This is the implication of Joüon-Muraoka, Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, § 154j (see p. 540, at end of that section; § 154i also informs this view). It is plausible to see the Greek formulation also carrying an "understood" predicate (as suggested by OP), although this does not work in every case. It is nonetheless interesting that the Hexaplaric witnesses do not ever appear to stumble over this construction, or feel compelled to fill it out.4
  2. In the appendix devoted to ἐγώ εἰμι at the end of vol. 1 of his Anchor Bible John commentary,5 Raymond Brown expresses the view that it is unexceptional, "a phrase of common speech" (p. 533, a "spectrum of usage, extending from the banal to the sacral..."). On p. 536 he has a discussion of the Isaiah texts which intersects with the Joüon-Muraoka material, noting also the example of Isaiah 45:18, where MT's אֲנִי יהוה is found as ἐγώ εἰμι in the LXX.

Summary

A perfectly acceptable Hebrew formulation nonetheless required some adjustment to be adequately represented in Greek. Between the linguistic forces and the sensibilities of the LXX translators, the MT's אֲנִי הוּא came into Greek as the distinctive, absolute (no predicate) ἐγώ εἰμι.


Further Reading

This is a small sampling of some of the key earlier studies with which Williams interacts on this question, with such online sources as I have been able to find. The earliest identification of ʾănî hûʾ as the "source" for the NT's absolute uses of ἐγώ εἰμι is credited to F.A. Lampe, Commentarius in Evangelium Joannis (1726). Fundamental developments were contributed in the early 20th C by Ethelbert Stauffer, seen in an early form in the ἐγώ εἰμι section of his larger ἐγώ article in G. Kittel (ed.), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1964; German 1935), vol. 2, pp. 352-354, but further developed in later publications. A yet more full and nuanced set of studies came from Stauffer's student, Johannes Richter, Ani hu und Ego eimi: die Offenbarungsformel 'Ich bin es' im Alten und Neuen Testament (1956). Contemporary, but working independently, Heinrich Zimmermann produced a dissertation in 1953 in Bonn, "Das absolute 'Ich bin' als biblische Offenbarungsformel" with two summary articles following in 1960. According to Williams, Zimmermann develops the LXX material to a greater extent than his predecessors. In English, a key study was contributed by Philip Harner, The "I am" of the Fourth Gospel: A Study in Johannine Usage and Thought (Fortress, 1970).

Research has continued on this theme since Williams's study appeared. The previous Q&A noted Yung Suk Kim, Truth, Testimony, and Transformation: A New Reading of the "I Am" Sayings of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel (Wipf & Stock, 2014). Somewhat tangentially, Jane Heath's article, "‘You Say that I Am a King’ (John 18.37)", Journal for the study of the New Testament 34 (2012): 232-253, shows some of this work being put to use within the context of Johannine theology.


Notes

  1. Those interested should note that a subset of the TLG is available for consultation for those without personal or institutional access to the full database. The survey reported briefly above used the full TLG.
  2. Williams, I Am He, pp. 11-12 and also see footnotes 50, 51 on those pages for full details and any qualifications and "near misses".
  3. Williams quotes Marguerite Harl as claiming that "the MT employs the 'virtually untranslatable' אני הוא (Deut. 32:39a: 'moi, moi, lui') as a divine name...". Williams, p. 58; M. Harl, "Le grand cantique do Moïse en Deuteronome 32...", in La langue de Japhet: Quinze études sur la Septante et le grec de chrétiens (Éditions du Cerf, 1992), p. 131.
  4. See F. Field, Origenis Hexaplorum, 2 vols (1875), on Deut 32:39 or the Isaiah references.
  5. R.E. Brown, The Gospel according to John I-XII (Yale Anchor Bible 29; 1995; first edn, 1966), pp. 533-538.
  • 1
    FYI-Still digesting all this as I have time. Good information, though! +1 – ScottS Nov 29 '14 at 16:42
  • This is outstanding.... +1 – Dan Dec 17 '14 at 3:43
1

It appears from comments that the intent of the question in limiting the search to extra biblical Greek is to infer that the only reason εγώ ειμι appears in the NT is as a reference to ani hu used of God in the Hebrew OT.

From the OP:

This essentially is saying that the absolute use of ἐγώ εἰμι is bad Greek. This implies that the Greek clause did not have an elliptical usage meaning "I am [he]" in extra-biblical Greek prior to the LXX and New Testament use, but gained such a meaning in the NT by the LXX usage alone.

However at John 9:9 we find the blind man answering a question with Εγώ εἰμι, or "I am [he]." Thus we see that this is perfectly good Greek that cannot possibly be related to the LXX, with a context that prohibits a reference to God.

In addition, see John 15:27 below, another example of an absolute usage that was not influenced by the LXX.

--

Paucity of parallels due to narrow scope of inquiry

It is true that it was difficult to find examples that meet the specific requirements of the question. What is needed is something like John 9:9 which is the answer to a question. That reduces the entries in any corpus considerably.

Adding the requirement for the personal pronoun (eg ) ἐγώ to be present also further reduces any possible parallels.

Note that the ἐγώ εἰμι from the Xenophon quote below is accented on the ἐγώ which emphasizes the "I" and indicates a copulative expression.

The question ignores the Greek rules for accenting the enclitic ειμι.

In fact, if one looks for ἐγώ εἰμι with an accent on ἐγώ, one will only find examples of copulative.

This is not what we see at John 8:58, which appears to me the background of the question. There ειμι is existential and has the accent. In this construction the εγώ can have no substantive or adjective as predicate because the verb is the predicate of existence.


A better Question

I think your question could be improved by widening the conditions. You ask for two specific words, “εγω ειμι”, but from a linguistic standpoint there is no reason to limit the comparison to just that specific phrase. That contributes to the difficulty of finding examples and also assumes what the inquiry should seek to discover. The real issue is whether or not the phrase is normal Greek grammar or a specific theological term.

Consider ἐστέ at John 15:27 which is accented like εἰμί at John 8:58. [Note the acute accent on both ] There is no reason to suspect that John 15:27 had an influence from the LXX. It's just an example where the verb is being used existentially. But your question is based merely on the form “εγω ειμι” without also requiring an existential sense for the to-be verb. The copulative form of ειμι and the existential form don't have the same sense.

I have spent some time on the linguistics of the to-be verb, here.

It appears that many languages treat the existential use of the form of the to-be verb in the same way. When they are not copulative and the verb is used existentially the verb is the predicate and it cannot be copulative.

So, in addition to widening the search to look for other tense forms of εἰμί, looking for examples that are existential and not copulative should be considered.

I will also say that none of the ἐγὼ εἰμί examples in the LXX compare to John 8:58. They are all copulative and are accented differently than John 8:58 to reflect that. In Hebrew the LXX examples are from Ani Hu which is literally “I he.” Therefore semantically all the examples in the LXX do have an explicit predicate in the Hebrew and an implied predicate in the Greek.

Therefore if you cannot find an existential form of ἐγὼ εἰμί in the LXX like John 8:58, you have no grammatical basis to claim that the examples in the LXX influenced John 8:58.


One Ambiguous Counter Example

I did find one at in Xenophon Hist. Anabasis 6.6.21.2 with an implied predicate in the translation followed by a comma and no relative clause directly afterwards.

I am the person is simply e)gw/ ei)mi followed by a comma

[21] After this Agasias came forward and said: “I am the person, Cleander, who rescued this man here from Dexippus when he was leading him off, and who gave the order to strike Dexippus.

[21] meta\ tau=ta parelqw\n o( *)agasi/as ei)=pen: EGW EIMI, w)= *kle/andre, o( a)felt/menos *deci/ppou a)/gontos tou=ton to\n a)/ndra kai\ pai/ein keleu/sas *de/cippon.

  • That would not qualify as an example, because it has a predicate (not implied). The "ὁ οὐκ ἀπιὼν ἀλλὰ παραμένων" is the predicate to ἐγώ εἰμι. The example that would need to be found would have nothing following ἐγώ εἰμι to act as predicate (like the John 8:58 use). – ScottS Jan 21 at 20:01
  • Since ἀπιὼν is masculine, and ὁ is the neuter of the relative pronoun, likely the ὁ is the article for the masculine participle phrase answering the predicate aspect of "I am ...." Even so, if a sentence has any given "answer" to what the "I am" refers to, rather than simply "I am" (without further comment on what the person is "being"), then it is not an absolute use of the "I am" (and so not parallel to the Jn 8:58 use). The accepted answer gives more than just Barrett (Williams, Lampe, Stauffer, Richter, etc.) as finding no absolute use prior to the biblical source material. – ScottS Jan 22 at 17:09
  • @ScottS If you now acknowledge that εγώ ειμι has no predicate in my example, it meets the criteria of the absolute form. The fact that the English version rendered it "I am he, who..." proves this as "he"'is the supplied predicate, not the relative clause. The remark regarding clause can be ignored and "I am he" remains. That's the syntax. – Thomas Pearne Jan 22 at 17:21
  • I don't acknowledge that. I'm saying it has a predicate. The English translation proves nothing, as substantive participles are often rendered in English that way (or as "the one," so "I am the one not quitting but remaining"). But in the Greek, the articular participle is still the predicate to the being verb in this example. "He who" comes from the ὁ ... ἀπιὼν (articular participle) relationship, not the εἰμι. – ScottS Jan 22 at 21:01
  • Where we disagree is that I do not see ὁ as the neuter relative pronoun (as you do), but the masculine article ("the") that makes the participle αρχών into a noun (making it a substantive), and so as a noun, it is functioning exactly as your lexicon has noted: a noun finishing the complement to the verb. Substantive participles tend to be translated as "he/she who..." or "the one who..." (whatever the verb is indicating the person is "being" like; so here it is "I am he who is not far away but remaining beside"; more woodenly literal, "I am the not distant but remaining near [person]"). – ScottS Jan 23 at 16:23
-1

Question Restatement:

  1. (Part 1) Is there extra-Biblical precedence to render "ἐγώ εἰμι" as "I am he"?
  2. (Part 2) Are there any indications, in the Hebrew, or Aramaic Texts, or Liturgy, to indicate a formulaic use of "I am he" to justify inventing the "Exceptional Greek Syntax"?
  3. (Part 3) And if neither of the above, why is this Syntax used to translate the Non-Verb clause, "I [am] He" in John 8:58, AND in Isaiah from Hebrew, or Aramaic, (rather than using something like "ἐγώ εἰμι οὗτος." Andoc. 1 126, etc, which notably does not occur in the LXX).

Objections to some assumptions about this question:

  1. The LXX's Deut. 32:39 "ἐγώ εἰμι" is NOT a translation of "אני הוא", but rather the very oddly written, "אני אני הוא".
  2. Jesus' statement associates with Is. 41:4-8, more-so than Is. 43:10, and any association of what Jesus said would probably be there.
  3. Although PORTIONS of the Septuagint are accepted to predate Christ, and authoritative, a large portion is called into question, (including Isaiah), and do not represent the Hebrew text, See Wikipedia, Textual Analysis.
  4. The Gospel of John is/was not a reliable source of anything that Jesus supposedly said--in Greek, and even IF translated from Aramaic, or written side-by-side in Greek, could have certainly been made to conform to the LXX, or vice versa.
  5. It is assumed that Jesus actually wanted to be understood, when it suited his purpose to provoke them, and allow them to remain "blind";
  6. Regardless, even if Jesus spoke in Aramaic, (I [am] he, אנא איתי, Peshitta), this was probably not recognized as "Formulaic", or a specific "Liturgical Chant", as this was a very common expression in Hebrew and Aramaic--certainly not a reference to Exodus'. 3:14, אהיה אשר אהיה, ("I will be who I will be").

No, No Greek Precedent

(Part 1) Answer: I also agree that there is no precedent to translate "I [am] he" from Aramaic/Hebrew to "ἐγώ εἰμι" in Greek, nor to express "I am he" in Greek this way--except from Deut. 32:39--which is itself a very exceptional case, because of the very oddly written Hebrew, "אני אני הוא".

The methodology I used to search about 20 ancient Greek Authors, (using Perseus), was to match broadly, not matching specific conjugations, or diacritics, allowing for all forms. My search is broader, than required, but nevertheless failed.

The search included, but wasn't limited to:

  1. ἐγώ εἰμι
  2. ἐγὼ ἔσομαι
  3. ἐγὼ ἤμην
  4. ἐμοῦ ἐγὼ

Generally, as has been affirmed before, "I am he," doesn't really appear in this great bodice of text, in the form, "ἐγώ εἰμι", but rather like: "ἐγώ εἰμι οὗτος." Andoc. 1 126, etc.

This is an argument from silence, of course, but there doesn't seem to be any precedent in the Greek to indicate how this statement would have made sense, (not that Jesus spoke it originally in the Greek, anyway).

Is there Liturgical or Formulaic Recognition?

(Part 2) Answer: No, there is no obvious attempt to preserve a formulaic construction, from a liturgical or Biblical source.

NOTE: Preservation of a "n Word Formulas" was not necessarily a goal of the LXX translators, as evidenced in Psalms 150, which relies on one word construction, "הַֽ֭לְלוּהוּ", but rather translated in Greek as, "αἰνεῖτε αὐτὸν".

NOTE: Omitted Analysis of Aramaic texts: Cureton, Harklean, etc.

Deut. 32:39 - is unique among "אני הוא" statements, and therefore translated uniquely, "אני אני הוא" , literally, "I, [being] I[me], [am] he." At which point, the Greek's "ἐγώ εἰμι", exceptional phrasing starts to make a whole lot of sense--pointing to the exceptional Hebrew.

Regarding Liturgical Consistency:

"אני הוא", in Hebrew, is consistently used in Is. 41:4, 43:10, 43:13, 45:18, 48:12, and 51:12.

However, the Aramaic is inconsistent:, in the Peshitta, Jesus said, "אנא איתי", which is different even from the Aramaic Targum Yonaton, "אְנָא הוּא"--On top of this, when examining Targum Yonaton--it doesn't appear to be consistent with itself.

So, there is no reason to infer this was somehow "consistent/formulaic--in its Aramaic Expression. Without a specific liturgical reference, this argument is very difficult to make. An ancient, Koine Greek, Jewish Siddur, would be really useful for this question ...

Deu 32:39, LXX - ἴδετε ἴδετε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν θεὸς πλὴν ἐμοῦ ἐγὼ ἀποκτενῶ καὶ ζῆν ποιήσω πατάξω κἀγὼ ἰάσομαι καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ὃς ἐξελεῖται ἐκ τῶν χειρῶν μου

Isaiah 43:10, Peshitta - ܐܢܬܘܢ ܐܢܘܢ ܣ̈ܗܕܝ ܐܡܿܪ ܡܪܝܐ ܘܥܒ̈ܕܝ ܕܓܒܿܝܬ܂ ܘܬܕܥܘܢ/ܕܬܕܥܘܢ#3#/ ܘܬܗܝܡܢܘܢ ܒܝ܂ ܘܬܣܬܟܠܘܢ ܕܐܢܐ ܗܘ܂ ܘܩܕܡܝ ܠܐ ܐܬܒܪܝ ܐܠܗ܂ ܘܒܬܪܝ ܠܐ ܢܗܘܐ܂

Targum Jonathan, Is. 43:10 - אַתוּן סָהְדִין קְֹדָמַי אְמַר יוי וְעַבדִי מְשִיחָא דְאִתרְעִיתִי בֵיה בְדִיל דְתִדְעוּן וֻתהֵימְנוּן קְֹדָמַי וְתִסתַכְלוּן אְרֵי אְנָא הוּא אְנָא הוּא דְמִלְקַדמִין אַף עָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָא דִילִי אִנוּן וֻבָר מִנִי לֵית אְלָה׃

John. 8:58, Peshitta - ܐܡܪ ܠܗܘܢ ܝܫܘܥ ܐܡܝܢ ܐܡܝܢ ܐܡܪ ܐܢܐ ܠܟܘܢ ܕܥܕܠܐ ܢܗܘܐ ܐܒܪܗܡ ܐܢܐ ܐܝܬܝ ܀ אמר להון ישׁוע אמין אמין אמר אנא לכון דעדלא נהוא אברהם אנא איתי .

Deut. 32:39 - ראו ׀ עתה כי אני אני הוא ואין אלהים עמדי אני אמית ואחיה מחצתי ואני ארפא ואין מידי מציל׃

So Why this Invented Greek Syntax?

(Part 3) Answer:

  1. As mentioned before, Deut. 32:39, "אני אני הוא" is itself, exceptional, and the Greek's special syntax, and emphatic nature, makes senses, as it points to the unique nature of the Hebrew phrasing.
  2. Considering the Uniqueness of "אני אני" statements, (Deut. 32:39, Is. 48:15, Hosea 5:14), the poor quality of later LXX translations, (like Isaiah), it is possible that this Greek Syntax could have just been borrowed from Deut. 32:39, after trying to translate "אני אני".
  3. Since the writer was not trying to convey what Jesus said in Aramaic, it is a certainty that at the very least, the writer/translator effectively employed this syntax to lead Christians who knew Greek to associate the passage with the entire context in the LXX, Is. 41+; Perhaps their intent was for them to consider the primacy of Isaiah texts--(which has always been a matter of significant debate, i.e. Jerome, etc).
  4. In the best case scenario, the writer/translator was trying to paraphrase Jesus who may have actually been quoting Isaiah 41:4-8, to provoke such a response, or at worst they tried to be clever and conformed what Jesus said to match the LXX;

Conclusion

Lastly, regarding John 8:58, it is understood that Jesus knew that what he was about to say, about his apparent immortality, would lead his audience to make inferences, which would them to stumble, provoking them to violence.

The fact is, clarity was obviously not Jesus' intention, nor John's, or else Jesus would have explained it, or one of the Disciples would have explained--but this is absent from the text.

So, the glaring absence of clarification--resulting in an "attempted stoning", is more than enough to persuade a fair minded person that Jesus was simply "Provoking" the religious elite to stumble in their own "intellectualism", so that his actual purpose could be fulfilled.

The idea of Jesus wanting to provoke them, to lead themselves to bad inferences, is very consistent with actions to "conceal the mystery". For example, Jesus even concealed that Judas was about to betray him, from the rest of the disciples ...

John 12:40, NASB - “He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.”

Perhaps Jesus's intent to provoke these religious elite, allowing them to blind themselves with their own intellectual capacity, is still having effect today ...

  • I will reevaluate your edit when I have some time later. – ScottS May 22 '15 at 12:05
  • @elikakohen +1 "This is why I speak to them in parables..." Thank you for this answer. – Mike Borden Feb 19 at 14:02
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Question Restatement: What is the linguistic basis for the shortened form of "I am he" in Greek, "ἐγώ εἰμι", in the Septuagint, Isaiah 43:10.

There are quite a few "I am .." statements in Isaiah, and perhaps this is intended to be an "Elliptical Construction", wherein the reader makes all of the necessary inferences.

I wouldn't expect to find elliptical constructions like this in Greek texts, so that line of research is unnecessary. But it would be convincing if "I am" elliptical constructions are found elsewhere.

Proposed Answer: "ἐγώ εἰμι", may be left "hanging", in elliptical form, poetically to express what cannot be expressed, "the eternal, the first and the last," etc.

Isa 41:4 τίς ἐνήργησεν καὶ ἐποίησεν ταῦτα ἐκάλεσεν αὐτὴν ὁ καλῶν αὐτὴν ἀπὸ γενεῶν ἀρχῆς ἐγὼ θεὸς πρῶτος καὶ εἰς τὰ ἐπερχόμενα ἐγώ εἰμι

Isa 45:18 οὕτως λέγει κύριος ὁ ποιήσας τὸν οὐρανόν οὗτος ὁ θεὸς ὁ καταδείξας τὴν γῆν καὶ ποιήσας αὐτήν αὐτὸς διώρισεν αὐτήν οὐκ εἰς κενὸν ἐποίησεν αὐτὴν ἀλλὰ κατοικεῖσθαι ἐγώ εἰμι καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἔτι

Isa 48:12 ἄκουέ μου Ιακωβ καὶ Ισραηλ ὃν ἐγὼ καλῶ ἐγώ εἰμι πρῶτος καὶ ἐγώ εἰμι εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα:

NOTE: Yes, I know this answer contradicts the other I posted. :D I do not believe this question possibly leads to any "Certain" truth, but rather a host of "possibilities", exist.

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