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John 8:52-59


8:52 Then 1  the Judeans 2  responded, 3  “Now we know you’re possessed by a demon! 4  Both Abraham and the prophets died, and yet 5  you say, ‘If anyone obeys 6  my teaching, 7  he will never experience 8  death.’ 9  8:53 You aren’t greater than our father Abraham who died, are you? 10  And the prophets died too! Who do you claim to be?” 8:54 Jesus replied, 11  “If I glorify myself, my glory is worthless. 12  The one who glorifies me is my Father, about whom you people 13  say, ‘He is our God.’ 8:55 Yet 14  you do not know him, but I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, 15  I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I obey 16  his teaching. 17  8:56 Your father Abraham was overjoyed 18  to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” 19 

8:57 Then the Judeans 20  replied, 21  “You are not yet fifty years old! 22  Have 23  you seen Abraham?” 8:58 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, 24  before Abraham came into existence, 25  I am!” 26  8:59 Then they picked up 27  stones to throw at him, 28  but Jesus hid himself and went out from the temple area. 29 

1 tc ‡ Important and early witnesses (Ì66 א B C W Θ 579 it) lack the conjunction here, while other witnesses read οὖν (oun, “therefore”; Ì75 D L Ψ 070 Ë1,13 33 Ï lat). This conjunction occurs in John some 200 times, far more than in any other NT book. Even though the most important Johannine papyrus (Ì75) has the conjunction, the combination of Ì66 א B for the omission is even stronger. Further, the reading seems to be a predictable scribal emendation. In particular, οὖν is frequently used with the plural of εἶπον (eipon, “they said”) in John (in this chapter alone, note vv. 13, 39, 48, 57, and possibly 41). On balance, it is probably best to consider the shorter reading as authentic, even though “Then” is virtually required in translation for English stylistic reasons. NA27 has the conjunction in brackets, indicating some doubt as to its authenticity.

2 tn Grk “the Jews.” See the note on this term in v. 31. Here, as in vv. 31 and 48, the phrase refers to the Jewish people in Jerusalem (“Judeans”; cf. BDAG 479 s.v. ᾿Ιουδαῖος 2.e) who had been listening to Jesus’ teaching in the temple courts (8:20) and had initially believed his claim to be the Messiah (cf. 8:31).

3 tn Grk “said to him.”

4 tn Grk “you have a demon.”

5 tn “Yet” has been supplied to show the contrastive element present in the context.

6 tn Grk “If anyone keeps.”

7 tn Grk “my word.”

8 tn Grk “will never taste.” Here the Greek verb does not mean “sample a small amount” (as a typical English reader might infer from the word “taste”), but “experience something cognitively or emotionally; come to know something” (cf. BDAG 195 s.v. γεύομαι 2).

9 tn Grk “he will never taste of death forever.” The Greek negative here is emphatic.

10 tn Questions prefaced with μή (mh) in Greek anticipate a negative answer. This can sometimes be indicated by using a “tag” at the end in English (here the tag is “are you?”).

11 tn Grk “Jesus answered.”

12 tn Grk “is nothing.”

13 tn The word “people” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied in English to clarify the plural Greek pronoun and verb.

14 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “Yet” to indicate the contrast present in the context.

15 tn Grk “If I say, ‘I do not know him.’”

16 tn Grk “I keep.”

17 tn Grk “his word.”

18 tn Or “rejoiced greatly.”

19 tn What is the meaning of Jesus’ statement that the patriarch Abraham “saw” his day and rejoiced? The use of past tenses would seem to refer to something that occurred during the patriarch’s lifetime. Genesis Rabbah 44:25ff, (cf. 59:6) states that Rabbi Akiba, in a debate with Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai, held that Abraham had been shown not this world only but the world to come (this would include the days of the Messiah). More realistically, it is likely that Gen 22:13-15 lies behind Jesus’ words. This passage, known to rabbis as the Akedah (“Binding”), tells of Abraham finding the ram which will replace his son Isaac on the altar of sacrifice – an occasion of certain rejoicing.

20 tn Grk “Then the Jews.” See the note on this term in v. 31. Here, as in vv. 31, 48, and 52, the phrase refers to the Jewish people in Jerusalem (“Judeans”; cf. BDAG 479 s.v. ᾿Ιουδαῖος 2.e) who had been listening to Jesus’ teaching in the temple courts (8:20) and had initially believed his claim to be the Messiah (cf. 8:31). They have now become completely hostile, as John 8:59 clearly shows.

21 tn Grk “said to him.”

22 tn Grk ‘You do not yet have fifty years” (an idiom).

23 tn Grk “And have.”

24 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”

25 tn Grk “before Abraham was.”

26 sn I am! is an explicit claim to deity. Although each occurrence of the phrase “I am” in the Fourth Gospel needs to be examined individually in context to see if an association with Exod 3:14 is present, it seems clear that this is the case here (as the response of the Jewish authorities in the following verse shows).

27 tn Grk “they took up.”

28 sn Jesus’ Jewish listeners understood his claim to deity, rejected it, and picked up stones to throw at him for what they considered blasphemy.

29 tc Most later witnesses (A Θc Ë1,13 Ï) have at the end of the verse “passing through their midst, he went away in this manner” (διελθὼν διὰ μέσου καὶ παρῆγεν οὕτως, dielqwn dia mesou kai parhgen {outw"), while many others have similar permutations (so א1,2 C L N Ψ 070 33 579 892 1241 al). The wording is similar to two other texts: Luke 4:30 (διελθὼν διὰ μέσου; in several mss αὐτῶν ἐπορεύετο καί [autwn eporeueto kai] is found between this phrase and παρῆγεν, strengthening the parallel with Luke 4:30) and John 9:1 (παρῆγεν; cf. παράγων [paragwn] there). The effect is to signal Jesus’ departure as a miraculous cloaking. As such, the additional statement has all the earmarks of scribal amplification. Further, the best and earliest witnesses (Ì66,75 א* B D W Θ* lat sa) lack these words, rendering the shorter text virtually certain.

tn Grk “from the temple.”

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