God said to Moses, "I am who I am," and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I am has sent me to you.'"
The Trinitarian Claim
Trinitarians have claimed that the divine name God gave to Moses is "I AM" and Jesus was therefore referring to himself with this divine name at John 8:58.
Let the reader understand that the Trinitarian claim that Jesus used the divine name for himself at John 8:58 is a different claim than their claim that Jesus pre-existed before Abraham. Whether Jesus claimed to exist before Abraham by saying "I am" is a different question than whether Jesus was intentionally using the divine name by saying "I am." Trinitarians tend to confuse themselves here because they are trying to claim Jesus said "I am" at John 8:58 for two different reasons. We are here in this article addressing the question of ego eimi as this term relates to the divine name, or not.
The Problem with the Claim
The Septuagint Translation
The words used by Jesus at John 8:58 are the Greek words ego eimi. However, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, renders the divine name as, "ego eimi ho ōn. These words essentially mean "I am the being" or "I am the [self] existence," or "I am the existent one," or "I am He who is," or something similar.
Moreover, the Greek text of Exodus 3:14 does not say, "Ego eimi has sent me to you." Rather, it says, "Ho ōn has sent me to you."
Analysis of the Facts
1. Ego Eimi
The words ego eimi were not unusually unique words in the Greek language. These words were everyday language used by everyday people. While ego eimi is very much like our English words "I am," it was also used to identify one's self much like we say, "It is me," in English. In other words, the expression ego eimi was used in ways by the Greeks which we do not use "I am" in English.
Some said, "It is he"; others said, "No, but he is like him." [The blind man] said, "I AM."
Some said, "It is he"; others said, "No, but he is like him." [The blind man] said, "ego eimi."
The above passage should make it obvious to Bible readers that ego eimi was not an expression which made people automatically suppose God's name was being used. However, this is what Trinitarians expect people to suppose when John 8:58 is in view.
2. The Hebrew Text and the Divine Name
The original Hebrew text reads, " Ehyeh asher ehyeh .... you shall say, 'Ehyeh has sent me to you.'" Ehyeh is usually translated in Scripture as "I will be."
However, God's divine name in Scripture is not Ehyeh asher ehyeh or Ehyeh. The divine name is YHWH (or YHVH). And since the Hebrew text was not originally written with vowels, no one knows for certain how this name was pronounced.
The words ego eimi were typical everyday words for every Greek speaker just as the words "I am" are typical everyday language in English. There was no reason to suppose God's name is necesarily being uttered when the words "I am" were used. However, we must be aware that the Greeks used "I am" in ways which we do not in English. For example, they would use the expression "I am" in the same way we say, "It's me" or "It is I" to express the same idea.
Created: August 1, 2014
Last Revision/Update: February 13, 2016