Thursday, September 28, 2017

Did Jesus make the "I am" statements?


  1. Great comments by Lydia McGrew.

    This is so true, what Jonathan McLatchie said:

    Apologist Jonathan McLatchie shared this video in a public forum on Facebook with the comment that the field of New Testament studies needs to be reformed.

    The whole Academy of NT studies needs to be disciplined by elders of their local churches for those that claim inerrancy.

  2. I also noticed that Dr. Licona used Craig Keener to back up his claims. (in the facebook thread)

    I was considering buying some of his commentaries, but not now. (unless I can first see what they are about without spending the money) I may seek them out at a library. A liberal PCUSA seminary in my area ( about 1 hour away, unfortunately) has a great library and I enjoy going there when I have time. Have not been there in a few years though.

    I was very disappointed in spending lots of money on Darrell Bock's commentaries on Acts and Luke (2 volumes of Luke); did not have the "juice" I was looking for, for certain passages.

  3. I don't know that Craig Keener has ever commented on the "I am" statements, but he has written such a volume of work that perhaps he has. He was almost certainly originally trained to believe that John is dubious. I believe Keener's *background* in NT studies was relatively liberal. He has gradually moved in a more conservative direction on some NT scholarship questions as time has gone on--e.g., lots of historical evidence for Acts, Matthew may have had something to do with Matthew (!)

    At this point, without knowing what he has said in print on the subject, I think it's illicit for Licona to assume that he would agree with Evans and Licona on the "I am" statements. Perhaps Licona has some particular passage in mind that I simply don't know of. That's entirely possible. But he doesn't allude to one and instead alludes to a far more general comment about John's "adapting" things from the synoptics. I do know that Keener has said that John moved the cleansing of the Temple. I would be interested to know what Keener thinks about this particular question but am keeping my hopes low. It would be pretty epic if he thought Licona and Evans have gone too far. On the other hand, if Keener were to agree with them, quite frankly, I would put that down to his "guild" background, not to the scholarship he has developed due to simply his own abilities and powers in the decades since his original training.

    What I do find *quite* illicit is Licona's allusion in his comments to Keener's personal holiness and goodness as a Christian as if this were in any way directly relevant to the scholarly question. Licona comes nigh to suggesting that to disagree with Evans = to disagree with Keener = to "diss" the wonderful person Keener is universally acknowledged to be = to be a meanie.

    I would hope that Craig Keener would be the first person to deplore such a weird version of ad hominem.

    1. I just had a quick look at John 8:58 in Keeners Commentary on John.
      He is in no way denying the historicity of the "I am" statement in this instance. I will provide more details the next days ...

    2. Craig Keener ONLY affirms that many doubt that the claim stems from Jesus in these words. (Footnote 674 on page 771)

      He does NOT say that he himself thinks that this is the case. (page 771)

      He says that the Isaianic “I am” is distinctly Johannine. (page 771)

      He says that explicit high Christology in Mark and the Synoptics is rare. (page 772)

      He gives reasons for Mark not including these statements. (page 772)

      He points also to the high Christology in Q (Matt 3:11-12/Luke 3:16-17 and Matt 11:27/Luke 10:22) which is not far away from John 8:58. (page 772)

      Finally he also mentions Mark 6:48-50 which has also an “I am” statement in vers 50 (in Mark 6:48-50 Mark is even more explicit than in the parallel passage in John 6:20). This shows that the “I am” is not unique to John though it is far more common there. (page 772)

  4. This sounds like it is really, really speculative and could go wrong very easily with untestable assumptions. We have the apostolic testimony and we should go with it.

  5. Lydia appended a nice update to this article at the bottom, responding to Licona's response on Facebook.

  6. I think most semi-educated readers understand that the gospels present us with paraphrased speech embedded in the narratives, translated probably from Aramaic to Koine Greek. But to relegate Jesus' "I Am" sayings to embellishment by the author makes nonsense of the pericopes they are found in.