Jesus is saying there is no God except Him. But He also said that "I and the Father are One". So He isn't contradicting Himself if you understand the trinity is a possibility outside of our earthly dimension.
The reason why you can't relate the trinity to things here on earth is because we don't have any "squared circles" here in this "dimension" on earth. The reason why the doctrine of the trinity is impossible to completely understand is because it is contradictory. For instance, if you think Jesus is claiming to be the "I AM" (Yahweh) then Jesus is claiming that there is no God besides him (Is. 44:6-8). And then the resurrected Jesus says in John 20:17 that He has a God. This is a contradiction.
It's better, in my opinion, to not relate the trinity to things on earth because we don't have contradictions like this in the "real world". It's better to just throw out the "trump" card and say that the Trinity is a mystery.
If Jesus is saying there is no God except Him then why does he say he has a God in John 20:17? By Jesus saying "I and the Father are ONE" is not clearly stating that Jesus is ONE BEING with the one true God. John 17:22 says, "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be ONE, Just as we are ONE; I in them and You in Me that they may be perfected in unity". So with this logic I'm supposed to believe that the disciples are literally ONE BEING just like you think Jesus and his Father are ONE BEING.
Even the titles in the trinity contradict with the definition of the trinity. The title SON implies that he was descended from his FATHER. It would follow then that the Father and Son can't be co-eternal like the definition of the trinity suggests. Another contradiction! If God wanted me to think that the Father and Son were co-eternal with one another, why would he call the second person of the trinity the Son which means "a descendent"? Is God just messing with the minds of people? Or maybe people got the concept of the nature of the Godhead wrong. Or another thought is maybe this God doesn't even exist. My guess is that He is called the Son, because He came to earth from heaven and was forever changed. Before that, He was always with God as it says in John 1. Christian belief is that Jesus has a resurrected body that is capable of living in heaven and manifesting here on earth as He did in the upper room. A body that all believers will have someday.
That's a good guess but I think you are wrong according to the bible. The Son was called Son BEFORE "He came to earth from heaven and was forever changed". Prov. 30:4 states, "Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garmet? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name or His SON'S name"? (c.f. John 17:5).
There is very convincing evidence out there (for an open mind) that Jesus was not claiming the title of "I AM" in John 8:58. There is an excellent book out called, "Truth in Translation" by Jason David BeDuhn. I will type out the two pages of his book for you that makes a convincing counter-argument so you don't have to buy the book. He looks into the Greek text and "textually" makes a great case in my opinion. However, I don't want to take the time if you are not interested in the opposing view. Just let me know. Yes, I'm always interested in the opposing view. Feel free to send it to me or link it somehow. Thanks
Great, here's Jason De BeDuhn's arguments along with some of my own. WARNING: To those Christians who could care less if Jesus claimed the divine name/title ("I AM"/Yahweh) in John 8:58---QUIT READING NOW!!! This is only for those like Patrick Henry who are "always interested in the opposing view". This gets "scholarly" and requires some "homework" to those who are really interested in wanting to know the truth behind the "I AM" statement in John 8:58. This is time consuming!!!
For Christians, the study of the "I AM" (EGO EIMI) is crucial. If you believe that Jesus is the "I AM" in John 8:58 then you have to believe that a person will "die in their sins" if they don't believe that Jesus is "I AM" (John 8:24). If a Christian believes that you have to believe that Jesus is the "I AM" of Exodus 3:14 then they allow the doctrine of the Trinity (or Binity) to overlap into the doctrine of salvation. And you want to get this right as a Christian because the GOSPEL is about salvation. If you have a different gospel than Paul then you are "accursed" in his eyes (Gal. 1:9).
As a former Christian, I always found it curious that Paul never said in any of his writings that one HAD TO BELIEVE that Jesus was Yahweh. I always wondered if Paul would think that John is "accursed" because John said that people would "die in their sins" if they didn't believe Jesus was the "I AM" of the Old Testament. This requirement is absent from all of Paul's writings.
In addition, Jesus says, "...have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Mark 12:26)? The writer of the book of Mark seems to be excluding Jesus from being the God speaking at the burning bush as it seems like Jesus is speaking of someone else besides himself. If Jesus wanted people to believe that He was the entity speaking at the burning bush the verse would say, "In the passage about the burning bush I spoke to Moses saying..."
. So it seemed to me like this passage in Mark contradicted John 8:58. In addition, I thought it was odd that Mark never mentioned anything about Jesus being the one true God in his entire gospel.
I witnessed to many people while I was a Christian and I never mentioned to any of the possible converts that they had to believe that Jesus was Yahweh in order to be saved. Was I leaving out a crucial element to salvation? I only told people they had to believe Jesus was the Christ, the Son OF God. I started researching and I came across Jason David BeDuhn's book and found a lot of his arguments convincing concerning the understanding of John 8:58.
First, let's start our journey by getting two opposing views concerning the understanding of the "I AM" (GREEK - EGO EIMI). First you must understand that different English translators and bibles translate John 8:58 differently.
Verbal tense and aspect"...I am"
It is generally considered, for example by Daniel B. Wallace, that if that the intention of John was to state "I was" then the text should instead contain the corresponding past tense form is ego en "I was", as in English and elsewhere in the New Testament.
KJV (1611) RV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NIV: "Before Abraham was, I am."
ASV, NASB (1995): "before Abraham was born, I am.""...I have been"
However in John 8:58 a few Bibles have renderings of eimi in past tenses
The United Bible Societies Hebrew New Testament has ani hayiti "I was" not ani hu "I am".
George R. Noyes, Unitarian - The New Testament (Boston, 1871). “Before Abraham was born I was already what I am” and (in the 1904 edition) “I was”
The Twentieth Century New Testament (TCNT) supervised by J. Rendel Harris and Richard Francis Weymouth (Britain, 1900). “I have existed before Abraham was born”
James Moffatt, The Bible A New Translation (New York, 1935). “I am here – and I was before Abraham!”
J. M. P. Smith and E. J. Goodspeed An American Translation (1935) "I existed before Abraham was born!"
The New World Translation (1950, 1984) "before Abraham came to be, I have been."“From before Abraham was, I have been”
J. A. Kleist S.J. and J. L. Lilly C.M., Roman Catholic - The New Testament (Milwaukee, 1956). “I was before Abraham”
William F. Beck, Lutheran - The New Testament in the Language of Today (St. Louis, 1963). “I was in existence before Abraham was ever born”
Kenneth N. Taylor, The Living Bible (Wheaton, 1979). “I am from before Abraham was born!”
The poet Richard Lattimore, The Four Gospels and the Revelation (New York, 1979). “I existed before Abraham was born”
ed. Stanley L. Morris, The Simple English Bible (1981) "I was alive before Abraham was born"
So....the people who translate the divine name in past tense are possesed by Satan and want to "twist scripture" and teach demonic doctrines right? All these translations are from Christian Heretics or, better yet, Satan himself right?
Well, let's investigate. In my opinion, Jason De BeDuhn makes some great arguments concerning this issue. I will give you some of his arguments from chapter 10 of his book "Truth in Translation". Sorry wheels, I don't have a scanner. I would love to write the entirety of chapter 10 in this post but will have to just "highlight" his main argument(s). BeDuhn goes into more detail and I will try to answer any questions concerning this issue if I didn't give enough information in my (and BeDuhn's) argument against Jesus claiming to be Yahweh in John 8:58.
BeDuhn starts off saying that John 8:58 is an " awkward, ungrammatical rendering" of the "I AM" claim in all of the Trinitarian translations of the bible.
In John 8:58, "What Jesus says here is fine, idiomatic Greek. It can be rendered straightforwardly into English by doing what translators always do with Greek, namely, rearrange the word order into normal English order, and adjust things like verbal tense complementarity into proper English expression. These steps of translation are necessary because Greek and English are not the same language and do not obey the same rules of grammar. Leaving the translation at the stage of a lexical ("interlinear") rendering, which is one way to describe what most translations do here simply won't work. That is because Greek has more flexibility with word order than English does, and it can mix verbal tenses in a way English cannot. On the matter of word order, normal English follows the structure we all learned in elementary school: subject + verb + object or predicate phrase. The order of the Greek in John 8:58 is: predicate phrase + subject + verb. So it is the most basic step of translation to move the predicate phrase "before Abraham came to be" from the beginning of the sentence to the end, after the subject and verb".
In other words it is not proper English to say, "Patrick Henry I am".
To get a good idea that Greek is in a mangled word order compared to English just view the verse just before 8:57. It sounds like Yoda is talking. Also, click one verse ahead on this link to look at the first part of John 8:58. The word order is mangled.
BeDuhn goes on to say, "When verb tenses or any other part of grammar is used in a way outside of usual expectations, we call it an "idiom". Because Greek idioms are different from English idioms, translators do not translate these expressions word-for-word, but rather convey the meaning of the Greek idiom in proper comprehensible English. At least, thats what translators are supposed to do."
BeDuhn argues, "Why would translators, whose job it is to make the Bible into comprehensible, good quality English, choose an awkward, ungrammatical rendering instead? Why do Bible translations which in thousands of other verses freely change word order relative to the original Greek, suddenly find a reason to follow exactly the Greek, producing an ungrammatical and syntactically strained sentence, in this instance? The answer is theological bias."
"In John 8:58, since Jesus' existence is not completed past action, but ongoing we must use some sort of imperfect verbal form to convey that : 'I have been (since) before Abraham come to be.' That's as close as we can get to what the Greek says in our own language if we pay attention to all parts of the sentence."
"Translating back from English into Greek is one way to see if a translation has been faithful to the original. There is never any indication that Jesus is quoting 'I am'. "
He says that translators are familiar with this idiomatic aspect of Greek verbs, because they usually translate such expressions accurately into correct English and he gives some examples. One example he provides you is John 14:9. Part of the verse reads in Greek "…tosouto chrono meth hymn eimi…" (So long a time with you am I). All major translations change the word order and verb tense to translate this expression accurately into "correct English". The King James says "…Have I been so long time with you…".
Link: John 14:9 (PRESENT TENSE "EIMI" TRANSLATED AS PAST TENSE): http://biblehub.com/interlinear/john/14-9.htm
Another example is John 15:27 (PRESENT TENSE "ESTE" TRANSLATED AS PAST TENSE IN OUR MODERN ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS).
Link: John 15:27: http://biblehub.com/interlinear/john/15-27.htm
"In both of these passages most of the modern translations translate the present tense form of 'to be' ('I am';'you are') as 'HAVE BEEN' because of its relation to an expression of past time. This is exactly the same grammatical construct as found in 8:58."
In addition, BeDuhn says, "One passage usually missing from the discussion of the expression 'I am' in the Gospel according to John is John 9:9. In this expression 'I am' in the gospel according to John is John 9:9. in this verse, the words EGO EIMI are heard from the mouth NOT of Jesus, but of a blind man cured by Jesus. He, too, uses the words to say 'I AM', the man who before was blind, but have been cured. If anyone needs proof that EGO EIMI need not be a quote from the Old Testament, and is not reserved as a title of God, here it is."
"Once again, our attention is drawn to inconsistency in how words are handled by biased translators. If EGO EIMI is not a divine self-proclamation in the mouth of the blind man of John 9, then it cannot be such a proclamation in the mouth of Jesus just a few verses earlier. None of the modern Trinitarian translations , of course, have the blind man saying 'I am,' let alone 'I AM'. According to the reasoning of those who insist that the phrase must be understood as a declaration of divine identity, and so preserved in its 'interlinear' form, the blind man is also GOD. John 9:9 is a clear example of the idiomatic use of the expression EGO EIMI in Greek speech."
"In John 8:58, most all translations break the first-person-pronoun + verb ("I am") clause out of its relation to the syntax of the sentence, and place it artificially, and ungrammatically, at the end of the English sentence."
"These modern translations violate their standard practice of using correct English word order by in this case slavishly following the Greek word order."
In other words, most modern translations (which are Trinitarian), "ignore the true relation between the verbs of the sentence and produce a sentence that makes no sense in English. These changes in the meaning of the Greek and in the normal procedure for translation point to a bias that has interfered with the work of the translators."
"It is natural to assume that the majority of translations are correct and the odd ones at fault. It is only when translations are checked against the original Greek, as they should be, that a fair assessment van be made, and the initial assumption can be seen to be wrong."
BeDuhn concludes, "It is Jesus' claim to be superior to Abraham, and to have a superhuman longevity, not a claim to a divine self-designation, that enrages his audience. Jesus' argument in 8:58 is that he has seniority over Abraham, and so by the standards of Jewish society, he has greater authority than the patriarch."
BeDuhn argues that the Living Bible which is actually a "paraphrase" Bible actually translates John 8:58 from Greek to English most accurate: "I was in existence before Abraham was ever born".
So is Jesus saying in John 8:58 that He just existed before Abraham??? As a skeptic, I wanted to find more evidence as to how John 8:58 is/was supposed to be interpreted. So I turned to the early Church Fathers. Two examples:
1.) Iranaeus (120-202 AD)
(Fragments from the lost writings - LII):
"And as He was from Abraham, so did He also exist before Abraham"
2.) Athanasius (major supporter and proponent of the Trinity at the council of Nicaea 325 AD. I did not expect to find this quote from such a staunch Trinitarian. I could not believe that he did not say that Jesus was claiming the divine title for the one true God. Instead, he seems to agree with BeDuhn's assessment of the correct translation of John 8:58. Out of all the early Church Fathers, I would expect the Trinitarian Athanasius to say that Jesus is claiming to be Yahweh here and make the connection from the "I am" statement in John 8:58 to Exodus 3:14 - the meaning of the tetragrammaton. But he doesn't!)
(Discourse IV "Against the Arians" Chapter 20):
"And they will be compelled to say that through the Man Himself the world came into being, and that the Man was He who came not to judge the world but to save it; and that He it was who was in being before Abraham came to be. For, says Scripture, Jesus said to them, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.’ And is it not absurd to say, as they do, that one who came of the seed of Abraham after two and forty generations, should exist before Abraham came to be?"
All John 8:58 seems to be proving is the pre-existence of Jesus and it is evident to me that early apologists who were reading the text in Greek had no idea of this alleged claim to be YHWH.
It is my opinion based on the evidence that Jesus was not claiming to be the "entity Moses encountered in Ex. 3:14 (Thus dost thou say to the sons of Isreal, I AM hath sent me unto you.)" First, it is a reach to translate the transliterated Hebrew word "HAYAH" to "I AM".
I just went BlueLetterBible.org and found this out for myself. (Hebrew word HAYAH - strongs #1961). THIS WAS SHOCKING TO ME!
This word "hayah" appears in 72 verses and why is it only translated as "I AM" in Exodus 3:14? This seems to me like more theological translational bias. If the word in Ex. 3:14 was the Hebrew word, "ANI" (strongs #589) which is translated as "am" many times in the Old Textament then I would be somewhat convinced that there is a connection to the "I am" in John 8:58.
In studying Ex. 3:14 I found the "meaning" of the tetragrammaton has been variously interpreted. Some meanings or translations to YHWH in Exodus 3:14 can be: "I will be that I will be", "I will be that which I now am", "I will become whatsoever I please", "I shall prove to be what I shall prove to be", "I am the Being", "I am the Existing One", "He brings into existence whatever exists", and of course, "I am who I am". It's definitely a little suspicious to me that our Trinitarian translators of our Bibles would use this last meaning to make a connection, in my opinion, to John 8:58. In my studies, I found that the "meaning" and translation to Yahweh in Ex. 3:14 is ambiguous. Conclusion: It seems to me that bias is interfering with translation!
Furthermore, the Septuagint which was used by some New Testament authors translated this phrase in Ex. 3:14 as "ego eimi HO ON" (I am THE BEING). The Septuagint goes on to read "Thus dost thou say to the sons of Israel, THE BEING (HO ON) hath sent me unto you." So for me to be even somewhat convinced that Jesus is trying to connect Himself to the phrase in Ex. 3:14 then He would have had to say, "Before Abraham was, THE BEING (HO ON)". Instead the Greek words EGO EIMI are used here in John 8:58.
(Link showing Septuagint uses the Greek words HO ON instead of EGO EIMI in Exodus 3:14: "...HO ON (not EGO EIMI) has sent me to you" ---- Translated: "...THE BEING (not I AM) has sent me to you")
Patrick Henry, you said in post #55 of this thread, "I think that 'I AM' is a title with an understanding that it means God has always existed. It would seem important to understand that for a clear belief in God. Jesus thought it was important that He be understood in that way. Since He announced it."
What is obvious to me is that the correct understanding of the "I AM" statement in John 8:58 is not only important for a Christians' understanding of who Jesus is/was but also important for salvation. The correct understanding of the "I AM" statement has an influence on a person's view on salvation. John 8:24 states, "...unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins". Does one have to believe that Jesus is the "I AM" of the Old Testament in order to be saved? Are all the people involved in these Christian groups (below) who are non-Trinitarian and do not believe that Jesus is the "I AM" of the Old Testament going to "die in their sins" for not believing that Jesus is the "I AM" of the Old Testament?
American Unitarian Conference
Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Scientists)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church)
Church of the Blessed Hope (sometimes called "Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith")
Friends of Man
Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ)
Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ
Members Church of God International
Many members of the Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland
The Way International
True Jesus Church
Two by Twos (sometimes called The Truth or Cooneyites)
United Church of God
Well Patrick Henry, I would hate for you to live your whole life thinking you have the right view of salvation as a Christian and then end up being "accursed" because you didn't have the correct understanding of the "I AM" in John 8. Should it be translated as a title for Yahweh or just a verb? I would appreciate your feedback. Was any of this convincing to you? Do you have any arguments against? I think you now know why I, personally, have a problem with people saying "clear" and "scripture" in the same sentence. In this case it is a problem with translating Hebrew and Greek into proper English.
If those darn people wouldn't have built a tall tower in Babel (Gen. 11) we wouldn't have this problem as we would all be speaking the same language right?
What about all the skeptics out there. Did you manage to wade through all these tedious, scholarly arguments? Are these arguments convincing?
Let's say you Wheels. Did Jesus claim the divine self-designation (the Tetragrammaton) in John 8 or not? I know I know, it's probably more plausible that this God that says he is not a God of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33) doesn't exist but let's pretend he's real. Arguments for or against?