Trinitarians claim that Christ was declaring Himself to be God in John 8:58, but this sentence is not translated accurately. The New Jerusalem Bible has translated the phrase in Exodus 3:14 “I am that I am” from “Ehe’ye asher ehe’ye” (Hebrew) as “I am He who is: Ego eimi, Ho on” (Greek). The Divine attribute is the phrase “Ho on” (He who is), yet Jesus in John 8:58 simply says, “Before Abraham was, ego emi.”   Further, Jesus probably meant: God made him Christ before the creation of Abraham in the spiritual world. Same as in Jer. 1:5.  Moreover, why would Sanhedrin accuse Jesus for saying blasphemy (calling himself Son of God) when the Hebrew Bible has the same expressions for other people e.g. Pss. 82:6; 89:26. It means this story is dubious.  What’s your reply?


Whether I am a “trinitarian” is perhaps a bit debatable, but I will have to admit that I am among those who believe that John 8:58 is strong evidence that Jesus Christ declared himself be God.   You say that this passage is mistranslated.  In the Greek, as you note, the words are ego eimi.  Ego means “I” and eimi is the verb to be, so it is, naturally, translated as “I am.” In fact, another possible translation is “I, I am.”  You say that this is not translated accurately.  What, then, do you propose the translation ought to be?  I looked at several Bible translations, and all of them have the words I am as the translation of the Greek.  So, what is the inaccuracy in the translations you are talking about? Honestly, I do not see a problem of mistranslation here.
From what you write, I think that perhaps you do not precisely mean that the problem is mistranslation.  I think what you mean is that those who assume that Jesus is purposefully saying in Greek (actually, in Aramaic!) a thing parallel to what God said to Moses in Exodus 3:14 are incorrect.  In other words, I believe your point is that those who say Jesus is saying in John 8:58 what God said to Moses in Exodus 3:14 are misunderstanding what Jesus said in John 8:58.  Your thought here is not unreasonable, I will have to say!  When Jesus said, “Before Abraham was born, I Am” he did not literally say “I Am that I Am”.  Basically, in John 8:38, Jesus said I, I Am, whereas in Exodus 3:14 God said something very similar, which is I am that I am.  The two are very close, but not identical.
So, who is right?  Are the majority of scholars who say John 8:58 is a purposeful acquisition of Exodus 3:14 right, or is your contention correct that Jesus is saying in John 8:58 that he was created by the Father before Abraham was born?  In order to decide, or at least to reach the most reasonable conclusion, I will point you to the crowd to whom Jesus spoke on that day.  When Jesus said, before Abraham was born, I, I am, the crowd picked up stones to stone him.  I believe we can assume that they believed at the time that he had committed blasphemy.  Jesus could have explained that they misunderstood him, but he did not.  It is similar to John 10:30 in which Jesus said that he and the Father were one.  Like John 8:58, as you point out, this statement could have been a statement that Jesus was God or possibly Jesus did not claim to be God.  We can see in John 10:33 that the people attempted to stone Jesus for claiming to be God. As in John 8, here in John 10, Jesus did not deny that he was claiming to be God.  Why?  Because he was claiming to be God.
I believe you raise a reasonable question about the meaning of what Jesus said in John 8:58, but I also believe that the response of the crowd in this case, and also in John 10:30-33, tell us that the most reasonable conclusion is that Jesus was, in fact, claiming to be God.
You reference Psalm 82:6 and 89:26.  As for Psalm 82:6, to be honest, I do not see how that has implications for the interpretation of John 8:58.  It is true that, in at least one case, God calls humans “gods” (with a small g) because we are sons of the one God, but I see no relevance of this passage to the interpretation of John 8:58.  As for Psalm 89:26, this is a messianic passage in which the Messiah calls out to God, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.”  Jesus clearly called the Father by the name “Father” many times. He also called the Father God at times.  This is an interesting passage, but I am not sure how it helps us to understand or to translate John 8:58. As for the charge of blasphemy, we have in Matthew 26:64-65 the reason Jesus was charged with blasphemy. It is because he claimed that he would be sitting at the right hand of God on judgment day, which is equivalent to claiming to be God.  The bottom line is this: Was Jesus claiming deity in John 8:58?  The crowd clearly felt that he did and Jesus did not deny doing so, which he surely would have if he had been misunderstood. My conclusion, as I mentioned at the beginning of this answer to your question, is that Jesus claimed deity in John 8:58.
I hope this helps.
John Oakes

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