Sunday, August 28, 2016

John 8:58 - Past Tense Translations of Ego Eimi

We are presenting here some of the translations that put “ego eimi” of John 8:58 in some kind of past tense form; please note that our quotes from the translations does not mean that we are representing the translators as agreeing that Jesus is not Jehovah. Although the translations presented do recognize that Jesus was using the Greek present tense to represent a past tense situation, we understand that most of these translators probably assume from this that Jesus was still claiming to have been uncreated, although, such a thought is not actually inherent in the words that Jesus used.

A Bible, A New Translation – James Moffatt – “Truly, truly I tell you,” said Jesus, “I have existed before Abraham was born.”

Moffatt was a trinitarian, but he showed the past tense understanding of this verse.
Twentieth Century – “In truth I tell you,” replied Jesus, “before Abraham existed I was.”
Translated by a company of twenty scholars representing the various sections of the Christian Church

The Bible-An American Translation, E. Goodspeed – Jesus said to them, “I tell you, I existed before Abraham was born!”

The New Testament in the Lanugage of the People – Then Jesus said to them, “I most solemnly say to you, I existed before Abraham was born.”
Translated from the Greek by CHARLES B. WILLIAMS

Peshitta, Lamsa Translation – Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was born, I was.

Murdock’s Syriac New Testament Translation – Jesus said to them: Verily, verily I say to you, That before Abraham existed, I was.

The following were given to us by others and we have not been able to verify them; nevertheless, we have no reason to doubt what is presented.

The New Testament Or Rather The New Covenant-S.Sharpe: “I was before Abraham”.
The New Testament in the Language of the Day – W. G. Beck: “I was before Abraham”
The Simple English Bible: “I was alive before Abraham was born”
The New Testament in the Language of the People – C. B. Williams: “I existed before Abraham was born”
The Unvarnished New Testament – A. Gaus: “I have already been”
The Authentic New Testament – H. J. Schonfield: “I existed”
The Complete Gospels – R. J. Miller (Editor): “I existed”
New American Standard Bible 1963-1970 editions: “I have been” – alternative rendering.

We are not sure which translations above were produced by trinitarian believers, but probably most of them were translated by trinitarians. If any know of more translations, or have more information related to this, please let us know in the comments form below.
Some of the above treat the present tense verb (transliterated as "eimi") in John 8:58 as a historical present (using the present tense in a past context), while some others treat it as what some scholars call the progressive past (extending from the past to present). Some scholars contend that the historical present is only used in narrative form, and claim that Jesus' statement in John 8:58 is not a narrative form. This, however, does not do away with the fact that the present tense verb is still used in a past tense context. We do not know of any other scripture in the New Testament wherein a present tense verb is used in a past tense context wherein modern translators have refused to render the present tense verb into English with some kind of past tense expression. It should be apparent that the "triune God" dogma has influenced most (but not all) trinitarian translators to make an exception to John 8:58.

In general, when a present tense verb is used in a past context, it is expressing a condition existing in the past that continues to the present (or, it expresses what some scholars call the "historical present"). We will present some quotes from some online Biblical Greek lessons concerning this:
3. Extending-from-Past Present (Present of Past Action Still in Progress) 
The present tense may be used to describe an action that, begun in the past, continues in the present. The emphasis is on the present time.
Luke 15:29 I have served you for these many years.
Some grammarians call this the progressive present. An action or a state of being which began in the past is described as continuing until the present. The past and the present are gathered up in a single affirmation. An adverb of time is often used with this kind of present, but a verb alone is sometimes sufficient as in the final example given below. This use of the Greek present is usually translated by the English present perfect. Although impractical to bring out in English translation, the full meaning is that something has been and still is.}
a) [Compare Luke 13:7]: 
"Behold, I have been coming for three years seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I have found none."
 "I have been coming" = "erchomai" = lit., "am coming", present, indicative
"I have found none" = "ouch heuriskO" = lit., "am finding", present, indicative 
Note that context establishes that the action portrayed is not absolutely continuous to the extent that when it has begun, it is unceasing; but it is an action which is nevertheless ongoing in a repetitive manner - He comes one time, ends, and then another and another comes, goes and then it comes again.
Then, just to show you why Greek tenses are only secondly concerned with time, we have a thing in Greek called an historical present. We actually have it in English, too. If I were going to tell you about why I had a shoulder operation, I’d say, “Well, it’s a beautiful day, and I am up in the mountains skiing, and the snow is falling, and it is bright and sunny, and I’m skiing through the trees like an idiot…” Could you hear what I did? It happened twenty years ago, but I am using the present. Why do I do that? It makes it vivid, it drives the story home.
Greek does this same thing, such as in this particular passage. You get down to “and he said,” λέγει is present tense. But the whole context is something about the past is being told. So translations almost always translate this kind of present as a past tense.

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