Jehovah`s Witness/2. ego eimi

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Question
QUESTION: Hi Brenton

Regarding your last response in respect to the phrase “ego eimi” at John 8:58; Wallace does go into things in great detail, and his work is very critical of the Watchtowers handling  of the term “ego eimi”.

But I need to ask here first of all; isn’t true that at different junctures the Watchtower, at various places, has changed what they have said about “ego eimi”?

For example, you mentioned the 1950 edition of NWT where they claimed that the phrase “ego eimi” when rendered in English was “perfect indefinite tense”, that is,  a tense to the English rendering and not a Greek tense at all, isn’t that so?

But later in 1957 Watchtower page 126 in the Questions from Readers, they claim the Greek verb “eimi” must be view as a “historical present”, isn’t that so?

Even though “historical presents” have nothing to do with perfect tenses!

But then later in NWT 1963 edition they changed again and said that “ego eimi” is “perfect tense indicative” dropping the term “perfect indefinite” of the 1950 edition, using instead similar sounding terms but with very different actual meanings, isn’t that so?

Then again later they would go on to claim:
1969 “perfect tense” Kingdom Interlinear
1984 “present of past action still in progress” 1984 NWT reference edition appendix
1985 “perfect indicative” Kingdom Interlinear

When looked at closely these explanations are contradictive of each other. Why would they give a reason for the rendering which then contradicts another reason for the same rendering?

It seems from the evidence that they had really no concern what the translation of those words really are.

Can I ask, which one of these above explanations would you like to try and defend?

Let me just say here briefly that when I look up “eimi” in The New Analyical Greek Lexicon it explains that “eimi” can be translated in the perfect tense only when it is used in conjunction with other verbs. The problem for the Watchtower here is that “eimi” is not being used in conjunction with another verb in John 8:58, therefore it must be translated in the present indicative tense. Can you explain otherwise for me?

You go on to mention “Present of Past Action  Still in Progress” and how Wallace, in part, explains this. In short, “Present of Past Action  Still in Progress” is a idiom that uses the present tense to speak of a state or action which was occurring in the past and has continued to occur up to the time of the speaker, duration up to the present.

Jesus certainly did exist in the past before Abraham, no argument there, and He was existing at the time He uttered the words recorded in John 8:58. And the only way to convey that is in the present indicative tense “I am”.

I agree that Jesus is speaking of His existence, and that His mode of existence transcends time, an absolute existence,  and that the Jews understood this as a claim to equality with God; thus their reaction.

You claim that I said this sentence:
“It is possible from the context that they were upset at him for elevating himself above Abraham”

I believe that you are mistaken, I did not say this at all. Please do not put words into my mouth.

I did say;
“Capital punishment was only for serious sins, such as blasphemy, adultery, etc. From what I can see in the Scriptures, to say you had a preexistence isn’t blasphemy (see John 8:18, 23, etc). Claiming to have a temporal existence does not constitute blasphemy.”

You then say;
“IF the Scribes and Pharisees were REALLY upset by Jesus using the words ”ego eimi” and, IF they actually did think that he was calling himself by the divine name that the KJV rendered as “I AM” at Exodus 3:14 , and IF they honestly believed that was blasphemy and deserving of capital punishment, then they would have acted earlier.”

You then list where Jesus used the phrase “ego eimi” in proceeding verses.

The Greek, in the preceding verses where Jesus uses “ego eimi” is accompanied with a subjective.

‘I am (ego eimi)  the light of the world’ (John 8:12)

‘I am from above’ (John 8:23)

Etc.

At these verses “ego eimi” is used in a particular construction with a predicate nominative. In Koine Greek a predicate nominative is a noun (or adjective) in the nominative case that is joined to the subject by an equative verb.

And when we look at such verses as John 8:24, 28 the predicate is implied that is why some translation will have the word “he”. To try to use these verses and say that they are the same as in John 8:58 is ludicrous and you are clutching at straws to try and explain away the obvious.  

You then following your own faulty line of reasoning say;
“…the point here is the Scribes and Pharisees had opportunity before verse 58 to assert that Jesus was blaspheming, but they did not…”  

Not so, it is your premises that the “ego eimi” in the preceding verses is the same as that in John 8:58, it’s not, and if you want we can look at those verses more closely. The evidence of grammar does not support you claim.

Lets also remember that the Jews considered Jesus to be a liar and mad (John 8:48, 52 that’s what “being a Samaritan and have a demon” signifies)  before He said those defining words in John 8:58, and being a liar and mad still is not grounds for stoning.

No, the reason for why the Jews picked up stones to stone Jesus was the result of what was said from verse 53 to verse 58, not before as you try to make out. So from the context we have narrowed it down to the last few verses of John 8. And we can narrow this down further by the simple fact that the Jews asked Jesus their final question, and His answer is the result for wanting to stone Him.

You then go and list some translation that you consider justify the rendering of “I have been”; this does not prove that it is a valid rendering. Note please that the versions that render “ego eimi” as  “I was” or “I existed” is in the imperfect tense and way off from your own rendering.

There is more that could be added but time is escaping me. Looking forward to your response.

ANSWER: Hi Cos

First I apologise for the miss quote.  In the original reply I had not edited it properly and the words “It is possible from the context that they were upset at him for elevating himself above Abraham “  should have came two lines up –  before  I said

“You mentioned a very important point when you said”

QUOTE


Now, for the benefit of any readers

John 8:58 “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am .” KJV
John 8:58 “Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to YOU, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been .” NWT


I will give a brief over view.  Modern scholars are in disagreement as to if, at John 8:58, where Jesus says in Greek “ego eimi” or on English “I am” that he was identifying himself with what Exodus records in Chapter 3:14 where, according to the KJV  and any others it reads  “ And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM : and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”   

It is generally thought  (but not always) that Jesus was referring to the the second singular  I AM .  JWs  (and other modern scholars) however say that there is absolutely no connection between John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14

My line of reasoning in both this and the last post, is, that, when  individuals claim that “John 8:58”  is related to “Exodus 3:14”, they have that opinion  because of  a preconceived theological ideas, and, not good translation principles. As the web site   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_am_(biblical_term)   says “Thus explanations of John 8:58 generally depend on theology and not Greek grammar.”  [NOTE : The above link includes -(biblical_term) You need to add that to the area underlined in blue]



Trinitarians claim that the NWT is biased when it it renders John 8:58 as  “I have been”.  It is said that bias is due to the fact that we do not hold to the trinity idea.  I will assert that the New King James Version and a few others are  very biased when they render John 8:58 in all capitals as “I AM”  This is a biased idea because there is nothing in the text to suggest that Jesus was calling himself by a  name.  Most  Bibles will say “I am”  which does not invoke a name. Even the  old KJV does not put it in capitals to designate a name.

Now JWs agree that   “I am” is a very literal translation of the Greek text suitable for an interlinear reading but not suitable for an proper English equivalent translation of the thought.  The question  under discussion here is how should it be rendered into the English language.  That is what this discussion is about.  Bellow is a lot of discussion about the Greek Grammar.

So back to the questions from Cos

Also please note that I have no training in Biblical Languages,  I am trying to teach my self from a variety of resources.

Now you ask

But I need to ask here first of all; isn’t true that at different junctures the Watchtower, at various places, has changed what they have said about “ego eimi”?

From what I have read, No they have not changed what they have said about the tense of  “ego eimi” in the GREEK grammar.   The Biblical Greek tense is not the same as the English tense.  It is the CONTEXT which has a bearing on how the Greek tense is to be rendered into English .

Go to   http://ntresources.com/blog/documents/MounceCh15rev.pdf   It is a document that is locked so can not be cut and pasted from. On Page 2 it tells us that TENSE in Greek Gramma is easy to confuse as it it quite different from the English tense .  The Greek verb only carries the idea of aspect it does not express time This is relevant to the discussion bellow.

Next you  say

For example, you mentioned the 1950 edition of NWT where they claimed that the phrase “ego eimi” when rendered in English was “perfect indefinite tense”, that is,   a tense to the English rendering and not a Greek tense at all, isn’t that so?
But later in 1957 Watchtower page 126 in the Questions from Readers, they claim the Greek verb “eimi” must be view as a “historical present”, isn’t that so?
Even though “historical presents” have nothing to do with perfect tenses!


I am making assumptions here, am I correct in thinking that you have made a  connection between the English  “perfect indefinite tense” with the Greek “historical present”?

Now my reading of the 1957 Watchtower article is not saying that  “ the Greek verb eimi′ must be viewed as a historical present” in ENGLISH Grammar but is referring to the Greek grammar.

The quote form the  1950 NWT was referencing to the ENGLISH Grammar.  The  “perfect indefinite tense” mentioned in the 1950 NWT  is an English grammatical expression, not Biblical Greek.  They should not be confused  see   http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/archives/96-08/0244.html  for an English example of this grammar see  http://books.google.com.au/books?id=5GhGAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&dq=English+%E2


Full quote from Watchtower 1957  (bold and underline mine, italics and ALL CAPITALS original)

Quote
The Greek verb there used, eimi′ , is literally in the present tense, but in view of its being preceded by the aorist infinitive clause which refers to Abraham’s past, the Greek verb eimi′ must be viewed as a historical present . Regarding the historical present Hadley and Allen’s Greek Grammar says, in section 828: HISTORICAL PRESENT.—In vivid narration, a past event is often thought of and expressed as present: .  .  . The present in this use is freely interchanged with the past tenses .  .  . ”
Says A. T. Robertson’s A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research , under “The Historical Present,” pages 866-869: “This vivid idiom is popular in all languages, particularly in the vernacular. .  .  . it is much more frequent in Greek than in English and is a survival of ‘the original stock of our languages.’ ‘It antedates the differentiation into imperfect and aorist.’ .  .  . It is common enough in the LXX  [Septuagint], .  .  . Hawkins finds the historical present in the LXX 337 times. Josephus uses it also. The New Testament examples are thus ‘dramatic.’ The historical present is not always aoristic. It may be durative like the imperfect. .  .  . Hawkins .  .  . finds 93 historic presents in Matthew (15 of them in Parables), but 162 in John and 151 in Mark. It is rare in the rest of the New Testament. It is most frequent in Mark, John, Matthew and in this order. .  .  .”

If you will examine the New World Translation you will find that except for the final book of The Revelation the historical present is not rendered as such in the translation, but if the context calls for it the historical present is rendered in the past. For examples of where the Greek mixes the historical present with past tenses, we refer you to John 1:29-42, also John chapter 20, as shown in the King James Version . Note also Mark 1:12, 13. Even the King James Version renders some historical Greek presents as English past tenses; for instance, Matthew 3:1.

That a historical present in the Greek in the midst of a context of the past tense is properly rendered in English as a past tense is recognized by the best of modern Bible translators. Dr.  James Moffatt was on the Revised Standard Version Bible Committee, and note how he translates John 8:58 in his own version: “‘Truly, truly I tell you,’ said Jesus, ‘I have existed before Abraham was born.’”  [see the list of other Bibles in my previous post  http://en.allexperts.com/q/Jehovah-s-Witness-1617/2014/3/1-ego-eimi.htm ]

End quote


Further in regard to the “historical present and the perfect tense, please note what the  A MANUAL GRAMMAR of the GREEK NEW TESTAMENT BY  H. E . D A N A , T H . D .  P says  (italics original, bold  and underline mine)
QUOTE
[on page 185]  
The Historical Present The present tense is thus employed when a past event is viewed with the vividness of a present occurrence.”

[On page  200  under the heading “perfect tense]

The perfect is the tense of complete action . Its basal significance is the progress of an act or state to a point of culmination and the existence of its finished results. That is, it views action as a finished product.  Gildersleeve significantly remarks that it "looks at both ends of the action" (op. tit, p. 99). It implies a process, but views that process as having reached its consummation and existing in a finished state. The point of completion is always antecedent to the time implied or stated in connection with the use of the perfect. It might be graphically represented thus: -------- • -----------

In the indicative the perfect signifies action as complete from the point of view of present time. Its exact meaning is often difficult to render, because of a blending of the sense with the English simple past. This makes the impression upon the English student that the line of distinction between aorist and perfect in Greek is not clearly marked , but the confusion arises from the effort to explain the Greek in the terms of our own idiom. It is best to assume that there is a reason for the perfect wherever it occurs.

[On Page  201]
The significance of the perfect tense in presenting action as having reached its termination and existing in its finished results lies at the basis of its uses. Emphasis, as indicated by the context or the meaning of the verb root , may be on either the completion of the action or on its finished results. This possible difference in emphasis lies at the basis of the variation in the uses of the perfect tense?

[On  page 204 ]
“It is a rhetorical application of the perfect tense. Since the perfect represents an existing state, it may be used for the purpose of describing a fact in an unusually vivid and realistic way. The historical present and dramatic aorist are also used in a sense similar to this , but for this purpose the perfect is the most forcible of the three.”
End quote

In John 8:58 the eimi is verb  indicative which is “being preceded by the aorist infinitive clause which refers to Abraham’s past” (WT 1957 p 126) The grammar and the the context of John 8:58  does not support the simple reading into English of   “I am”, but instead supports  the idea of “I have Been” or “I was”  as per the list I mentioned in the last post which shows that the NWT committee are not alone or the only scholars to not render “ego eimi” as “I am” in that verse   

Now here is some information from  Kenneth L. McKay, who graduated with honors in Classics from the Universities of Sydney and Cambridge, taught Greek in universities and theological colleges in Nigeria, New Zealand, and England, who taught at the Australian National University for 26 years, has written numerous articles on ancient Greek syntax, as well as authored a book on Classical Attic, Greek Grammar for Students, and A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek: an aspectual approach, provides the following in relation to the alleged "true parallel between Exodus 3:14 (LXX) and John 8:58"

Quote

'I am' in John's Gospel The Expository Times, 1996, page 302
BY K. L. MCKAY, MA,


"It has become fashionable among some preachers and writers to relate Jesus's use of the words 'I am' in the Gospel according to John, in all, or most, of their contexts, to God's declaration to Moses in Exodus 3:14, and to expound the passages concerned as if the words themselves have some kind of magic in them. Some who have no more than a smattering of Greek attribute the 'magic' to the Greek words   egw eimi.       I wish briefly to draw attention to the normality of the Greek in all such passages, and the unlikelihood of the words   egw eimi   being intended to suggest any special significance of this kind.            
"….
"Although the natural English translations differ, there are two contexts of this kind in which Jesus uses the words   egw eimi   alone to identify himself: in 6:20, where the disciples are afraid of the apparition they see walking on the water, and Jesus reassures them by identifying himself, quite naturally, with these words, which translate into English as 'It is I'; and in 18:5, while Jesus acknowledges that he is Jesus of Nazareth by speaking the same words, which are naturally translated into English as 'I am he'. The syntactic difference between them is that in the former   egwis the complement, the unexpressed subject being something equivalent to 'what you see', and in the latter   egw   is the subject, the unexpressed complement being 'Jesus of Nazareth'. In both these passages   egw   eimi   is the natural Greek response   in the circumstances, as may be seen in 9:9, where the man cured of blindness uses exactly the same words to acknowledge his identity. The dramatic reaction of the arresting party in 18:6 is readily explained if we note that the confident authority of Jesus's presence was such that he defeated the merchants in the temple (2:15), and he simply walked away when the crowd was intent on throwing him over the brow of the hill near Nazareth (Luke 4:28-30).      

"The verb 'to be' is used differently, in what is presumably its basic meaning of 'be in existence', in John 8:58: prin Abraam genesthai   egw   eimi,      which would be most naturally translated 'I have been in existence   since before Abraham was born',      if it were not for the obsession with the simple words 'I am'.    If we take the Greek words in their natural meaning, as we surely should, the claim to have been in existence for so long    is in itself a staggering one, quite enough to provoke the crowd's violent reaction."

End Quote


I am not going to go into other aspects of the Greek gramma that you talked about at this time, But I do want to go into if the “ego eimi”  of John 8:58 is the same as the “I AM of Exodus 3:14.  I assert that it is not not that the Scribes and Pharisees would not have made that connection.   

Most Bibles will render Exodus 3:24 as  “I AM THAT I AM:” .  (“And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM ." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’"  JKV)  Exodus 3:14 in  the Greek Septuagint Version  reads, e·go′ ei·mi′ ho Ohn′, “I am the Being.”  

The Greek Septuagint =  “και ειπεν ο θεος προς μωυσην εγω ειμι ο ων και ειπεν ουτως ερεις τοις υιοις ισραηλ <b<ο ων </b> απεσταλκεν με προς υμας”

The wording  “I AM THAT I AM:”  is not the correct rendering into English.  It is because of this incorrect rendering that so many people get  mistaken believe that Jesus was using the same expression, The  older NWT renders this as ““I SHALL PROVE TO BE WHAT I SHALL PROVE TO BE”   The New revised NWT says “ I Will Become What I Chose to Become”

The 1901 American Standard Version I have on my computer gives this alternative reading  ( Or I AM, BECAUSE I AM; Or I AM WHO AM; Or I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE )

The 2001 English Standard Version gives this alternative (Or I AM WHAT I AM, or I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE )

1976 Good News Bible has this foot note (I am who I am  …  I AM; or I will be who I will be  …  I WILL BE. )
203 Holman Chrstian Standard Bible (Or I AM BECAUSE I AM, or I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE )

Why do these Bibles give these alternative renderings?  It is because the  basic meaning of the Hebrew “hayah” means “to be”   or “to exist”.  However in this verse it is in the causative form in the imperfect state. So it carries the thought of “causing to be”  or causing to exist”


In discussing the meaning of the Divine name  Gérard Gertoux  in his work
“THE NAME OF GOD YeHoWaH. ITS STORY “  says   “the expression  čhyčh ashčr čhyčh, that one can translate into "I shall be who I shall be", is above all a spiritual teaching. Because the Tetragram had no (linguistic) etymology, this link with the verb "to be (haya)" expressed above all a religious "etymology", that is a teaching on God, who can be defined as "the Being who is the being" or "the necessary Being".

[Note: The literal English Equivalent of čhyčh is HWH  ]  

http://www.lifespurpose.net/divinename/NameofGod1.htm#start

Now it is assumed that the words of Jesus of simply “I am” is a reference to the second “I AM” in Exodus 3:14.  Now the Septuagint in the second instance does not use “ego eime” but instead uses  “ ho Ohn ” = the being.

Now none of those expressions are the name of the God of the Hebrews.  The name of God is mentioned in verse 15 “And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.”  JKV

From the NWT
“Then God said once more to Moses:“This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, ‘Jehovah the God of YOUR forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me to YOU.’ This is my name to time indefinite, and this is the memorial of me to generation after generation.”

The Hebrew word for the Name  Jehovah (or The LORD in the KJV)  in Verse 15  is YHWH as opposed to just  HWH  in Verse 14

A quick  Summary

The “ego eimi”  “I am” of John 8:58  is not referring to identity but to the fact that Jesus was alive before Abraham.  It does not mean absolute existence.  It is not the same expression as the  Hebrew “ čhyčh ashčr čhyčh” at Exodus 3:14.and, čhyčh ashčr čhyčh  is not the Divine name of God.  Therefore the words of Jesus “ego eimi” do not identify with the Gad









---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Brenton,

Please understand that I don’t say this to offend but you should re-read what you write and correct or edit yourself, I know that my questions can touch some raw nerve with regard to your Christology about Jesus, and that in your rush to justify your form of Christology you blurt out statements or arguments to appeal within the concept of what you have been taught, but if you are writing with the premise and intent of others reading this, then you’ll need to make sure that what you write is not whacked together haphazardly.

Let me clear the air, I believe it was you who mentioned the 1950 edition of NWT where they claimed that the phrase “ego eimi” when rendered in English was “perfect indefinite tense”, that is,   a tense to the English rendering and not a Greek tense at all.

I then pointed out to you that over the years the Society had change their explanation for rendering the Greek phrase “ego eimi” as “I have been” and that these explanations are contradictive. A factor you totally missed.

Brenton, I applaud your desire to learn biblical languages, but for those who read your response and don’t share that desire will find some of the technical jargon a bit off setting, this sadly cannot be avoided. So for now let’s just concentrate on the phrase “ego eimi” in John 8:58 before we delve into whether it is connected with an Old Testament parallel.

And in order to do this we need to analyse the reason for why the Jews wanted to stone Jesus, remember we narrowed this down.

Jesus did not say, “Before Abraham came to be, I am” in a vacuum.  He made that statement within a certain historical and literary context in response to those He was talking to as we will later see.  We must ask ourselves what prompted Jesus to make such a climactic statement and what does that statement mean?

Jesus says that He existed before Abraham. We both accept that Jesus was claiming pre-existence to Abraham.  But what kind of pre-existence was Jesus speaking of.  Angels pre-existed Abraham.  Even God pre-existed Abraham.  So what does the text teach about the kind of existence Jesus was speaking of?  

Abraham was a created being and “came into existence.”  Jesus applied the Greek word “genesthai” to Abraham but not to Himself.  The Greek word “genesthai” is derived from “ginomai” and primarily means, according to The Complete Word Study Dictionary, “To begin to be, to come into existence as implying origin”. Although some translations like to translate “genesthai’ as “was born,” this is simply inexact since the Greek word “gennao” more specifically speaks of birth.

Had Jesus wanted us to have the understanding, as you guys advocate,  that His pre-existence involved being created like Abraham, He could have been very clear by saying “Before Abraham came into existence, I came into existence,” thus applying “genesthai” to both Abraham and Himself.  However, we know that this is not the case.

Instead of saying that He “came into existence” before Abraham, which would have taught a created pre-existence, Jesus simply claims to have existed before Abraham without being created hence “I am”.

To the Jews, only God can claim to have never been created.  Thus we read that “then” those who heard Him picked up stones to cast at Him in vs. 59.  Why? Because even they recognized the kind of existence that Jesus was claiming with the Greek word contrast that He used in the text.

Let’s remember, to simply claim you had a pre-existence isn’t blasphemy (see John 8:18, 23, etc). Claiming to have a temporal existence does not constitute blasphemy. This brings me again to my original question to you;

What phrase from Jesus did the Jews react to and what misunderstanding did they have about what it was Jesus said that led them to want to kill Him?

Search for truth, hold the truth, speak the truth.

ANSWER: Greetings Cos

First I am sorry that what I said was not explained clearly. I have evidently written things in a manner that  was not real clear, and confused you.

It is good to know that we both agree “Jesus says that He existed before Abraham. We both accept that Jesus was claiming pre-existence to Abraham.  

No I was not offended by anything you said, and, No, you did not “... touch some raw nerve with regard to .. Christology about Jesus ”.  There is nothing raw about this to me.  However, I have been doing  a lot of reading over the last week or so, it  seems to me, that some scholars have been so preoccupied with their theology, that they start to ignore the Greek grammar and assign meanings to texts (or words) that are not there.  In doing so they  unduly influence other people.  

The NWT rendering of John 8:58 had been done on more accurate Grammar than the KJV, and not theology.  Even the KJV is not presented the base of  theology.  It renderers “ego eimi” as “I am”.  If they thought it had a connection with the name of the God of the Hebrews they no doubt would have rendered it as “I AM”.  So, I will assert, that theological scholars that say that “ego eimi” has an absolute meaning (that is, had always excited ) “ blurt out statements or arguments to appeal within the concept of what you have been taught ” and not according to to translation concepts.

Yes I was the first to mention the 1950 first edition of the NWT New Testament where the foot note to John 8:58 uses the expression “perfect indefinite tense” that is because so many learned men  accused the NWT committee of inventing a Greek “tense” when that was not the case.  I was just making sure that you and other readers were aware of the mistake that those learned men had made

In the first post above, you made the following comment ….
"Even though “historical presents” have nothing to do with perfect tenses!…. "
I may have been of base here,  but,  that seemed to indicate to me, that you were confusing the different statements that were made. The 1950 statement is about rendering the Greek into English .  The 1969 wording of “perfect tense “ is NOT referring to English but the Greek tense.

You went on in the first post to say

Then again later they would go on to claim:
1969 “perfect tense” Kingdom Interlinear
1984 “present of past action still in progress” 1984 NWT reference edition appendix
1985 “perfect indicative” Kingdom Interlinear


When looked at closely these explanations are contradictive of each other. Why would they give a reason for the rendering which then contradicts another reason for the same rendering?  

My simple answer to that was  “ From what I have read, No they have not changed what they have said about the tense of “ego eimi” in the GREEK grammar.  The Biblical Greek tense is not the same as the English tense. It is the CONTEXT which has a bearing on how the Greek tense is to be rendered into English .

I then went on, in the majority of my reply, to show from various Greek Grammars that there was no contradiction.  Unfortunately, that was not made clear by me, to you,  so, in the above post you say...

I then pointed out to you that over the years the Society had change their explanation for rendering the Greek phrase “ego eimi” as “I have been” and that these explanations are contradictive. A factor you totally missed.

I did not miss that fact.  The writers of the various “Watchtower” material made no contradictory statements about the tense,  there explanations had not changed.  The terminology changed, not because they were confused or contradictory, but,  to use terms that were more widely used in relation to the context of John 8:58.  They used different terminology that complement and fit together.  (SEE end notes for information on the English HISTORICAL PRESENTS and the The English PERFECT TENSES )

Going back to your questions you ask  “ what kind of pre-existence was Jesus speaking of. Angels pre-existed Abraham. Even God pre-existed Abraham. So what does the text teach about the kind of existence Jesus was speaking of?

From what I understand of your comments , your argument  went on to say,  that, Jesus would have applied ““genesthai”  to himself if he meant that he was teach that he had  “came into existence” before Abraham.

Jesus, at that time, was not teaching that he had  “ 'came into existence' before Abraham” , That is not implied in those words (ego eimi) , and,  neither is the  English wording “I have been” teaching anything about how long he had existed.   The context shows that he was just saying he was older that Abraham.  Nothing else. No hint as to age at all, just that he "had been”   or “was around” or “had existed”  before Abraham was born.  The contex bears that out    “  57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58  Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”   The Jews were talking about is age and Jesus responds about his age without saying what his age was, just that he had seen the days of Abraham.

Now your original question was “What phrase from Jesus did the Jews react to and what misunderstanding did they have about what it was Jesus said that led them to want to kill Him?”

The context does not specify which exact phrase set the Jews of.  I discussed some aspects of that in the first question.  There is nothing in the text that indicates that it was Jesus final use of “ego eimi” that cause the Jews to pick up stones and wanted to stone him.  It is pure conjecture an anyone’s part to give a definitive answer to that.  The Jewish religious leaders were angry with him.  There are a variety of reasons why they picked up stones according to the context  

Here is part of what I said before

Quote
We just have the conjunction “then”.    In English grammar, a conjunction can be “the action or an instance of two or more events or things occurring at the same point in time or space. “  

The Greek word here is “οὖν “ (Strogs Greek word number 3767)  Now according to the following web site  (which is taken from the works of Wallace) 
http://www.academia.edu/1841209/Functions_of_the_Conjunctions_of_the_Greek_New_T “ can be “emphatic, inferential or transitional” 

The same site gives this definition for inferential “ [therefore] gives a deduction, conclusion, orsummary to the preceding discussion ”  (underlining mine) Now that is important as we want to determine what was the preceding discussion. Whas it the word “ego eimi”, or,  was it the whole of the discussion started back in verse 3 just after Jesus went to the temple that morning?. The context tell us that it refers to the whole discussion that the Scribes and Pharisees had with Jesus that caused them to want to stone him and not the last “ego eimi”

end quote

There is another aspect to that as well This instance of Jesus saying   ego eimi   could well have been what convinced some of the Jews that he was claiming to be the Messiah  or Christ (so they attempted to stone him to death on the spot).  Later, Jesus was taken before the high priest and all the chief priests and questioned by them (Matt. 26:59-66; Mk 14:53-64; Luke 22:66-71).

Now, if Jesus had really previously claimed to be  God  by saying  ego eimi   (or if the Jews had even thought he might have been making such a claim by saying those words),  what questions would they have asked him now that they had him up before the highest Jewish court?  Would they have asked "Are you the Christ ?"? Wouldn't they have concentrated on "Do you claim to be God ?"?

But what did they actually ask Jesus at this most important Jewish trial where the Jews were actually seeking to find a reason, no matter how false, to kill him?   Even though they searched for any and all accusers, even  false  accusers (Matt. 26 59-60), to give them a reason to kill Jesus, no one accused him of claiming to be  God !   
"Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order that they might put him to death; .... And the high priest said to him, `I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us whether you are the Christ , the Son of God.'" - Matt. 26:59, 63,  NASB.

The context of John 8 plus the witness of of what happened at his trial shows that the Religious leaders did not view the words  “ego eimi” in verse 58 by Jesus to be Jesus making himself equal to God,

So a quick answer to your question “What phrase from Jesus did the Jews react to and what misunderstanding did they have about what it was Jesus said that led them to want to kill Him?” , is,  there is no way of putting a definite answer to that, except, they did not believe Jesus was calling himself God.  





END NOTE
Now just for interest here is some ENGLISH tense definitions relating to this subject.

The English HISTORICAL PRESENTS  http://grammar.about.com/od/fh/g/histpreterm.htm  says
The use of a verb phrase in the present tense to refer to an event that took place in the past. 

The English PERFECT TENSES http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000361.htm

The three perfect tenses  in English are the three verb tenses which show action already completed. (The word perfect literally means "made complete" or "completely done.")
They are formed by the appropriate tense of the verb to have plus the past participle of the verb.

Present Perfect: I have seen it. 
(Present tense of to have plus participle. Action is completed with respect to the present.)

Past Perfect: I had seen it. 
(Past tense of to have plus participle. Action is completed with respect to the past.)

Future Perfect: I will have seen it. 
(Future tense of to have plus participle. Action is completed with respect to the future.)

For more examples see the charts at
http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/tenses/present_perfect.htm

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Brenton,

Let me say the only thing that is confusing is the way you put statements together. Not what you have written. For example you place the phrase “Quote” and then “End Quote” but in-between these two phrases you will insert things from yourself which is misleading to say the least. And the simple reason is because you don’t re-read and edit.

You say that over the “last week” you have done a lot of reading and that it seems to you “that scholars have been so preoccupied with their theology, that they start to ignore the Greek grammar and assign meanings to texts (or words) that are not there.  In doing so they unduly influence other people.”

I’m not saying that you are mistaken but can you give some examples of this claim?

You then make this statement;
“The NWT rendering of John 8:58 had been done on more accurate Grammar than the KJV, and not theology.  Even the KJV is not presented the base of  theology.  It renderers “ego eimi” as “I am”.  If they thought it had a connection with the name of the God of the Hebrews they no doubt would have rendered it as “I AM”.  So, I will assert, that theological scholars that say that “ego eimi” has an absolute meaning (that is, had always excited) “ blurt out statements or arguments to appeal within the concept of what you have been taught” and not according to to translation concepts.”

Let’s get this point straightened out, like the translators of the KJV I do not argue that “ego eimi” in John 8:58 has a direct connection with Exodus 3:14 (even though some other Bible translation try to make this connection). Even the writers of the early church in the first few centuries did not appeal to Exodus 3 to explain John 8:58 but instead emphasized the contrast between “genesthai” and “eimi” and argued for the absolute meaning of the term “ego eimi” in John 8:58 as I do.

You say;
“Jesus, at that time, was not teaching that he had  “ 'came into existence' before Abraham”, That is not implied in those words (ego eimi) , and,  neither is the  English wording “I have been” teaching anything about how long he had existed.   The context shows that he was just saying he was older that Abraham.  Nothing else. No hint as to age at all, just that he "had been”   or “was around” or “had existed”  before Abraham was born.  The contex bears that out”

By itself “eimi” does not signify eternal pre-existence, however placed alongside “genesthai” while referring to a period anterior to that indicated by “genesthai” and because the word “eimi” is in the durative form “to be” stands in sharp contrast to the aorist “genesthai”, and it is this sharp contrast which makes it clear that in John 8:58 “eimi” denotes more than a temporal pre-existence.

If you believe that the historical present tense is the same, as say, the present of past action still in progress or the perfect tense then all I can do is try and explain to you how this is not the case and even though they may seem similar, they are far from it.

A historical present tense occurs primarily in narrative literature and only in third person. You even reference a web site that indicates this fact.
http://grammar.about.com/od/fh/g/histpreterm.htm

But as Wallace says, referring to John 8:58;

“If this is a historical present, it is apparently the only historical present in the NT that uses the equative verb eimi. The burden of proof, therefore, lies with the one who sees eimi as ever being used as a historical present. . . If this is a historical present, it is apparently the only historical present in the NT that is in other than third person”

You then revert to your old argument that the Jews did not want to stone Jesus on what He just said at John 8:58, trying to make out that it’s because of the whole of chapter 8 not just the last verses. Yet one can simply see that the Jews at John 8: 48, 52 dismiss what Jesus said in the proceeding verses as the ravings of a madman and liar. They certainly were not “angry” at this point. And as I said before, being a liar and mad still are not grounds for stoning.

Thayer’s Lexicon has for the conjunction “oun” says “a conjunction indicating that something follows from another necessarily...Hence it is used in drawing a conclusion and in connecting sentences together logically”

Therefore there is no conjecture here; the reason for the Jews wanting to stone Jesus was the result of what He said at John 8:58! Only those who refuse to take note of the obvious are left wide open to speculation and they try and find some alternate reason, just as you seek to do by saying that the Jews thought Jesus was claiming “to be the Messiah”, and then later still saying that there is “no way of putting a definite answer to” the reason the Jews wanted to kill Him.

Aren’t you now guilty of your own accusation in as much that you are “preoccupied” by your own Christology that you “ignore the Greek grammar and assign meanings to the text (or words) that are not there?

Search for truth, hold the truth, speak the truth, defend the truth.

Answer
I apologise for the time taken to get back to you.

Next I apologise for  where I mistakenly put the “end quote”.   That is a sloppy mistake on my part.   One of the aspects of this site is that “experts” are required to try to have answered back with in three days. In the past when I have had answers go past that time period my profile has dropped of the  board,  so as par as anyone looking at the board is concerned they get the impression I have gone.  I work hard to try to answer questions in as short a time as I can.  It is not unusual for me to spend upward of 20 hours trying to research and put an answer together.  I have spent more that 12 hours on each of my replies to you so far. When My family starts to complain that I spend to much time I then rush, and mistakes are made.    So I apologise for the confusion  that sometimes causes.


I have gathered more evidence from different sources (not relying on just one), that the NWT rendering of “I have been” fits the grammar of the text and that the WT has not contradicted itself.  Before I continue and post my response, (I  have already spent about 10 hours researching this reply) Can you clarify EXAXTLY what your positions is.

You have said

“Let’s get this point straightened out, like the translators of the KJV I do not argue that “ego eimi” in John 8:58 has a direct connection with Exodus 3:14”   

So if you do not connect what Jesus said as being a reference to Exodus and the Name of God that is supposed to be represented by “I AM”   Why do you see the “ego eimi”.....  “Undoubtedly here Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase used of God.” ….   when that is not implied by the context or the grammar . ?

Also if you do not see a coloration between John and Exodus  why do yuou say “ego eimi”  becomes …  “ the absolute phrase used of God” ?

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Brenton Hepburn

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I AM one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am always learning. I am NOT an expert in the full sense of the word but I can answer questions on the reliability of the NWT - the so called mind control problems-so called prophecies - how being a JW affects the individual and relatives and general practices and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. >>WARNING<< Please be aware that there are people here who ARE NOT practicing JWs. By all means ask these ones questions. Depending on the question you will get an honest answer, but, generally the answer you get, will mislead you as to what we believe, often because, they do not give ALL the relevant details. These ones will, have an agenda against JWs., and will at times give answers that are not correct in regard to JW teachings and practices. If you are after a answer from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, please read some of the answers that the various experts have published before choosing someone. If you want to ask one of the NON JWs a question, that is fine, BUT if you want a balancing view after asking one of the NON JWs, ask a JW the same question. PLEASE ALSO NOTE: There(have been)and are, some "experts" here who are NOT always the most courteous and polite, at times are actually quite rude, that applies to both JW's and non JW's and their answers may offend, especially when they get personal and attack the character of the person and not the message. Unfortunately some here that have done that. So it IS IMPORTANT to chose an "expert" that YOU feel will best suit YOU by reading some of their past answers . . . . .

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I have been a publisher since 1964. When I first went on the internet I found a lot of negative information dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses covering prophecy, mind control and what many said was a very bad translation of the Bible known as the NWT. It shook my faith. After may hours researching these topics I could see why some felt that way, but, I was also able to explain why there were these misleading views. I can now set matters straight for anyone that has negative information about Jehovah’s Witness to show them that such information is at best misleading and at worst dangerous lies.

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I have been a student of the Bible for many years, am trying to teach myself Biblical Greek. Was a public tax accountant for many years untill SEP 2009 when I gave it up due to health problems.

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