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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Affirmations and Denials in John's Gospel

Everyone who has ever read a commentary on John's Gospel knows about the "I Am" egw eimi sayings of Jesus. What many people do not see in their translation is that Peter's first and second denials of Jesus (John 18:17,25) the wording used to deny Jesus is the complement of the "I Am" formula. When the girl at door puts the question to Peter in Jn 18:17 Peter says "I Am Not" ouk eimi. R.E. Brown in the Anchor Bible mentions this and cites some other works which discuss it.

Jesus and John the Baptist also use the ouk eimi formula for denials. When John the Baptist is being questioned about his identity he uses the expression to deny that he is the Messiah. Jesus uses it to deny that he is "from this world" Jn 17:14, 16. He also uses a similar expression when Pilate asks him if he is a king, Jesus replies my kingdom is ouk estin ek tou kosmou "not from/of this world". More on this later.


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