Obser­va­tion of Answer­ing Islam’s Response to I AM WHATAM : A Bible Commentary”

Tera Tak Adamar & Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi

The mis­sion­ary Sam Shamoun under the ban­ner of the infa­mous mis­sion­ary web­site, Answer­ing Islam, have claimed in his series of arti­cles [1][2][3][4] that he has refut­ed” our analy­sis of John 8:28 regard­ing the usage of the Greek ego eimi’ (egw eimi). Unfor­tu­nate­ly, to achieve that ambi­tion, he had to resort to writ­ing tons of text which is not only full of ad hominem attacks against us, but is also whol­ly unre­lat­ed to the issue of the Greek, thus com­mit­ting the log­i­cal fal­lac­i­es of straw­man and red her­ring. We sur­mise that only 10% from his above pre­sen­ta­tion actu­al­ly deals with the Greek and it is this por­tion that we shall seek to address exten­sive­ly in our obser­va­tion. Any oth­er unre­lat­ed parts of his arti­cle shall either be ignored or addressed only in brief.

Eval­u­at­ing The Mis­sion­ary’s Writings

The mis­sion­ary has made the fol­low­ing claim in the first part of his paper :

The main claim of the authors is, that since Exo­dus 3:14 refers to God and since the Greek trans­la­tion there is Ho On, then John 8:58 does­n’t prove that Jesus is Yah­weh because of the slight­ly dif­fer­ent word­ing in that verse.

It is not hard to see why it is so. Through­out the var­i­ous Eng­lish trans­la­tions of the Bible, the trans­la­tors have trans­lat­ed ego eimi’ in sev­er­al ways and has not stuck to mere­ly trans­lat­ing it to I am”, as the mis­sion­ary would like us to believe. This we have already shown in our orig­i­nal arti­cle. But our mis­sion­ary seems to have a prob­lem with the fact that ego eimi’ does not nec­ces­sar­i­ly trans­late into I am” and so he says that

First, the rea­son why dif­fer­ent trans­la­tions of John 8:58 have dif­fer­ent ren­der­ings has noth­ing to do with the Sep­tu­ag­in­t’s ren­der­ing of Exo­dus 3:14. Rather, it has to do with the con­text of John 8:58. Schol­ars have not­ed that the use of ego eimi in the con­text of John 8:58 is to high­light past exis­tence that con­tin­ues to the present moment. This is known as PPA, or present of past action still in progress, or sim­ply as EP, exten­sion of past idiom. 

The mis­sion­ary then pro­ceeds to cite a num­ber of quotes from a cou­ple of mis­sion­ar­ies, not Greek schol­ars. He obvi­ous­ly wants to try to impress us with his knowl­edge of Greek gram­mar, but the truth is that he and his schol­ars” have no idea of the Greek usage of ego eimi’ in the above passage.

The action expressed in John 8:58 start­ed before Abra­ham came into exis­tence” and is still in progress. In such a sit­u­a­tion, eimi’ (eimi) which is the first-per­son sin­gu­lar present indica­tive, is prop­er­ly trans­lat­ed by the per­fect indica­tive. Exam­ples of the same syn­tax can be found in Luke 2:28 ; 13:7 ; 15:29 ; John 5:6 ; 14:9 ; 15:27 ; Acts 15:21 ; 2 Corinthi­ans 12:19 ; John 3:8.

Con­cern­ing the con­struc­tion, A Gram­mar of the Idiom of the New Tes­ta­ment by G.B. Win­er, 7th ed., Andover, 1897, p. 267 says :

Some­times the Present includes also a past tense (Mdv. 108), viz. when the verb express­es a state which com­menced at an ear­li­er peri­od but still con­tin­ues — a state in its dura­tion ; as Jno. xv 27 ap archrV met emou este (ap’ ar-khes met e‑mou e‑ste), vii. 58 prin Abraam gene­sai egw eimi [prin A‑bra-am ge-nesthai ego eimi]

Like­wise, A Gram­mar of New Tes­ta­ment Greek by J.H. Moul­ton, Vol III by Nigel Turn­er, Edin­burgh, 1963, p. 62 says

The present which indi­cates the con­tin­u­ance of an action dur­ing the past and up to the moment of speak­ing is viru­al­ly the same as Per­fec­tive, the only dif­fer­ence being that the action is con­ceived as still in progress…It is fre­quent in the N[ew]T[estament]: Luke 2:48 ; 13:715:29.…John 5:6 ; 8:58

In short, one can eas­i­ly get the impres­sion that the usage of ego eimi’ is cer­tain­ly not uncom­mon through­out the Greek New Tes­ta­ment, and thus can­not be used as evi­dence for the claim that Jesus is God.

Oth­er Side Issues 

Though this is not relat­ed whol­ly to the top­ic, we would still like to com­ment on this obvi­ous ten­den­cy of the mis­sion­ary. In his response to our arti­cle, the mis­sion­ary had often cit­ed the ear­ly Trini­tar­i­an Church fathers such as Ori­gen, Hip­poly­tus and Justin Mar­tyr and had even cit­ed a part of Justin Mar­tyr’s Dia­logue of Justin Philoso­pher and Maryr, With Trypho the Jew, in order to sup­port his orig­i­nal argu­ment that the Holy Spir­it is the same with Jesus. What the mis­sion­ary did not inform us, how­ev­er, is that both these Church fathers have very dif­fer­ent con­cep­tions of not only what the Holy Spir­it real­ly is, they also had a very dif­fer­ent idea with what the Trin­i­ty real­ly is when com­pared with the def­i­n­i­tion in the mind­set of the mis­sion­ary ! On Ori­gen’s con­cep­tion of the Trin­i­ty and the Holy Spir­it, we read that :

Ori­gen (died c250 CE) insist­ed that Father and Son were two sep­a­rate essences, and that the son was infe­ri­or to the father…Origen became head of the Alexan­dria Col­lege, and was ordained priest in 230 CE, in Pales­tine. Bish­op Demetrius deposed and exiled him, so he start­ed a new school in Cae­sarea. He was con­demned in 250 CE by the Coun­cil of Alexan­dria for reject­ing the doc­trine of Trin­i­ty. (The Mys­ter­ies of Jesus, p. 195)

In oth­er words, Ori­gen clear­ly believed that Jesus was a much less­er god”. On Hip­poly­tus, we read that

Hip­poly­tus (died c235CE) said God is One God, the first and Only One, the Mak­er and Lord of all […] who had noth­ing of equal age with Him ; Who, will­ing it, called into being that which had no being before.’ (ibid, p. 195)

In oth­er words, Hip­poly­tus believed that Jesus was non-exis­tent pri­or to the exis­tence of God the Father. That cer­tain­ly does not bode well for the beliefs of the mis­sion­ary regard­ing the Trinity !

And final­ly, we read the fol­low­ing infor­ma­tion on Justin Martyr :

Justin, who plead­ed the Chris­t­ian case appar­ent­ly accept­ed the Ebion­ite doc­trine of Adop­tion­ism, that the Divine Grace could fall upon a per­son at any moment of God’s choos­ing, thus ele­vat­ing that per­son to the posi­tion of being an adopt­ed’ son of God. In Jesus’ case, he believed that this hap­pened at his bap­tism. The notion of God impreg­nat­ing a vir­gin was pagan and abhor­rent to him, and quite unnec­ces­sary to his scheme…Justim main­tained that John real­ly had been Eli­jah, and that Jesus became the Christ at the moment of his bap­tism, when the God­head’ came upon him. (ibid, p. 118

All this reveals that Justin Mar­tyr was cer­tain­ly not a Trini­tar­i­an in the def­i­n­i­tion known to us today, and there­fore we find it hillar­i­ous to see the mis­sion­ary appeal­ing to some­one who would be con­sid­ered a heretic’ today.

This con­cludes our obser­va­tion of this mis­sion­ary ten­den­cy. Any fur­ther treat­ment of how the ear­ly Church fathers had var­i­ous (con­flict­ing) views of the Trin­i­ty with the mod­ern-day Trini­tar­i­ans would be excel­lent mate­r­i­al which would be more suit­ably addressed in a future paper, insha’allah.


It is clear that the mis­sion­ary argu­ments are not only most­ly out of top­ic con­cern­ing the Greek usage ego eimi’ in John 8:58, he has also failed to con­vince us that this phrase can indeed be used, with­out a shad­ow of doubt, as evi­dence for the deity of Jesus. This is not sur­pris­ing, as we can eas­i­ly see in the gospels how Jesus actu­al­ly denied that he is God, much to the cha­grin of the pseu­do-monothe­ists. More­over, the mis­sion­ary has appealed to ear­ly Trini­tar­i­an fathers who had very dif­fer­ent con­cep­tions of the Trin­i­ty from what the mis­sion­ary him­self believes about it !

And cer­tain­ly, only God knows best ! Observation of Answering Islam's Response to "I AM WHAT I AM: A Bible Commentary" 1Endmark







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *