In a prior Q&A, we discussed the Semitic background of Jesus' statements recorded in the Gospels as ἐγώ εἰμι (= I am [he]). My understanding based on the answer there and a follow-up Q&A was that these statements echo LXX Deuteronomy and Isaiah in a refrain that "asserts the exclusiveness of Yahweh".1
The present question starts from Matt 24:5:2
πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες· ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ χριστός...
For many will come in my name, saying, "I am the Christ..."
This occurs in an eschatological scenario described by Jesus involving people claiming to be the messiah (v. 24: ψευδόχριστοι = pseudo-christs). However, the parallel passages in Luke and Mark both contain the "uncomplemented" ἐγώ εἰμι.
πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες· ἐγώ εἰμι, καί· ὁ καιρὸς ἤγγικεν.
For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he!' and, 'The time is at hand!'
πολλοὶ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι
Many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he!'
It's difficult to imagine that this is a different discourse given the very close verbal parallels. If it's true that the uncomplemented ἐγώ εἰμι is "a meaningless expression" in Greek outside of its representation of this Semitic phrase, then Mark and Luke need to invoke the divine claim.3 However, the Matthew parallel indicates that he understood it instead as a (latent?) claim to messiahship, suggesting that he wasn't bothered by the uncomplemented ἐγώ εἰμι .4
Should Mark 13:6 and Luke 21:8 be understood as including a latent complement that is made explicit in Matthew, "the Christ"?
- If so, does this entail that no reference to Deut/Isa is present in Mark/Luke?
- If not, how do we understand the relationship between the Synoptics in this quote?
1. From the monograph by Catrin Williams cited (initially) in David's answer to the John 8:58 question.
2. All quotes are Greek NA-28 and English ESV.
3. I can only see every other page in Catrin Williams's chapter on Mark 13:6. From what I gather, she does see it as invoking the same refrain from Deut/Isa. This works well enough in the context of Mark, but I can't put together how she fits that in with the other Synoptics. This may be explained in the missing pages.
4. "Bothered by" in the sense of being struck by a special claim of divinity. I presume here (and this is open for discussion) that Matthew thought that he was merely explaining Mark's text and did not understand his words to mean something different. The extent to which one holds to Markan priority seems to me not really to affect this problem. As I framed that sentence, Markan priority is assumed with the implication that "ὁ χριστός" was Matthew's elaboration, either from Mark's text or from the mouth of Jesus. If instead Matthew is assumed to be primary, we have the same basic problem: Mark and Luke introduced the uncomplemented clause without perceiving a change to this "special" meaning (or they intentionally changed it -- OK). If we want to say that all three (er...Matthew and Mark) were independently translated from the words spoken by Jesus, then the problem indeed shifts.