[quote=adnauseum]Your friend is being disingenuous, and gave you only half the phrase.
From the Septuagint:
ego eimi ho on
We translate this as I AM WHO AM, or I AM BEING.
I must admit that your Muslim acquaintance has made a strong argument. In Ex 3:14, the name of God is properly “ho wn” (the Being or I AM) The first use “egw eimi ho wn” only introduces that name (I am “the I AM”/ I am “the Being”), but in the rest of the verse, the name stands alone as “ho wn” (tell them, “I AM” has sent me." Certainly, “egw eimi” is more properly an ordinary phrase used to introduce the divine name “ho wn.” Your acuantance’s case is strong, and attempts to link John 8:58 directly to that verse are weak.
Your friend is using an argument very common in Muslim apologetics circles. Unfortunately, he knows the “TV dinner reply” and has never actualy engaged the Septuigant Greek Old Testament in a systematic study of the claims to deity in the Septuigant.
In Isaiah 45:8-10, God twice condemns Babylon for claiming “I am, and there is no other.” The phrase is clearly an affront to the singular Dety of God Himself: In Isaiah 45:6, God uses the same phrase when speaking of himself as the only God. The entire context of the passage clearly supports its identification as a blasphemous claim to deity, and one that excludes the deity of God as well. Naturally, the prophet pronounces a sentence of impending destruction upon the city, self-styled “the eternal queen.” (v.7)
In this example, “I am” is also cleary a claim to deity. It is supplemented by the phrase “and there is no other” to exclude the deity of God Himself. Having established that the use of “I am” in this passage is a claim to deity, resonant of Ex 3:14, we can now look at the Greek phrase used: “egw eimi, kai ouk estin etera” (I am, and there is no other.)
…“egw eimi” is cleary a claim to deity in this passage.
Return to John 8:58. Christ claims that “Before Abraham, I am.” The entire statement AT LEAST defines his pre-existence. His highly unusual use of the phrase “I am” is too suspect not to be also recognized as a claim to divinity. John alone includes the phase – a book that centers around Christ’s divinity. (John 1:1) The use of the phrase “egw eimi” may not establish a clear link to Ex 3:14, but it certainly establishes a clear link to Isaah 47:8-10.
In short, such a use “egw eimi” is perfectly acceptable as a claim to full deity in the Septuigant. Christ used it in this manner, and the Jews certainly understood the full implications of his claim. “At that, [that is, at the point when makes that claim] they picked up stones to throw at Him.”
Many Rabbis taught the pre-existence of the Messiah throughot the period, so Christ’s claim to pre-existence might not be sufficient cause for a stoning (many suspected he was the Messiah, if not hoped). The critical point occurs with that one phrase “I am.” At that point, Christ was accused of open blasphemy by the Jews and has continued to be for centuries since. Conversely, we as Christians adore, worship, love, and enthrone Him and faithfulness until this day, as our Savior, and our only God; the Second Member of the exalted Trinity, who is blessed forever, Amen.