Saturday, October 09, 2010

Ben Witherington on Exodus 3:14 and HAYAH

Hi all,

This is taken from the book The Shadow of the
Almighty: Father, Son and Spirit in Biblical
(pp. 10-11):

"Notice that we do not have in v. 14 ANI ASHER ANI but
a paranomastic use of the verb HAYAH. This suggests on
the one hand that we ought not to translate the phrase
'I am that I am' as if it were an ontological
statement, a statement about God's being, but rather
we seem to be being told something about God's
activity or self-revelation in his activity. The focus
then is not on God's being a self-contained,
self-existent being . . . God then is not speaking
about what God is in the divine essence, but rather
what Yahweh is or will be in relationship to his
people--in his self-revelation."

Best wishes,


KentAZ said...

An interesting and--surprisingly--insightful quote (given the source).

I've always felt that "I Am" as a response to Moses' query would have been redundant--if Moses is speaking with God there would be no need for the Almighty to merely affirm his existence. The context and etymology of Ex. 3:14 strongly militate against a static, ontological interpretation of HAYAH.


Memra said...

I have said the same thing in the past, but it is always good to get confirmation from other sources. To me, the context of Exodus 3:14 is set squarely in the story of what God does and will do, not merely in the context of who He is.

Besides, a knowledge of Hebrew rules out the simplistic "I Am" for EHYEH, and even Exodus 3:12 in the King James Version has "I will be (with you)," in a perspective of purpose, not ontology.