What does "before Abraham" mean?

Lord Jesus said: “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58)

What does “before Abraham” mean?

For one thing, Abraham is viewed by the Jews as their Father in Faith and the founder of the Jewish religion. It is Abraham who first builds an altar, makes sacrifice to YHWH, and forges an everlasting covenant with Him.

So, to a Jew (and Christians as well) saying “Before Abraham was born” would be to refer to the primordial times of Adam and his descendants, before the formation of the Jewish faith.

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From Greek text.

Before Abraham was is aorist 2 infinitive “to become”, translated to “was made” in Douay-Rheims-Challoner.

I am is in the first person singular and the present form of the verb.

Give a evidence for this, please.

So you think “before Abraham” has no point to his etenity?

Saint Augustine comments:

17. The angry Jews replied, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? And the Lord: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was made, I am. Weigh the words, and get a knowledge of the mystery. Before Abraham was made. Understand, that was made refers to human formation; but am to the Divine essence. He was made, because Abraham was a creature. He did not say, Before Abraham was, I was; but, Before Abraham was made, who was not made save by me, I am. Nor did He say this, Before Abraham was made I was made; for In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; Genesis 1:1 and in the beginning was the Word. Before Abraham was made, I am. Recognize the Creator — distinguish the creature. He who spoke was made the seed of Abraham; and that Abraham might be made, He Himself was before Abraham.

https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701043.htm

Saint John Chrysostom comments:

But wherefore said He not, Before Abraham was, I was, instead of I Am? As the Father uses this expression, I Am, so also does Christ; for it signifies continuous Being, irrespective of all time. On which account the expression seemed to them to be blasphemous. Now if they could not bear the comparison with Abraham, although this was but a trifling one, had He continually made Himself equal to the Father, would they ever have ceased casting stones at Him?

https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/240155.htm

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It is not about eternity. Saint Augustine does point to “made” and gives a good argument to him.

I can’t understand this. Is this another argument from Jews’ reaction?

Yes it is about eternity.

(Augustine) Before Abraham was, I was; but, Before Abraham was made, who was not made save by me, I am. … Nor did He say this, Before Abraham was made I was made; for In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth

(Chrysostom) Need a modern English paraphrase?

For what reason did he did not say “Before Abraham was, I was” instead of “Before Abraham was, I Am”? As the Father uses this expression “I Am”, so also does Christ; for it signifies continuous Being, regardless of all time. For this reason, what he said to them, seemed to be blasphemous. Now if they could not bear the comparison with Abraham, even though it was a minor issue, then if He had made Himself equal to the Father many times, would they have ever stopped stoning Him?

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this is what is taught by the Church which has her authority from Christ.

please don’t beat this dead horse again…

What you mean?

Is there a source from the Magisterium that says, about this passage or many others, «Here is the correct interpretation!»?

Or are there various questionable exegeses - provided of course that interpretation does not entail a heresy?

If there is some kind of Denzinger on the Bible, what is it?

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you addressed this point in a previous thread. It was asked and answered.

I don’t think so. We did not talk about “before Abraham”

You want evidence for Abraham being the first patriarch of (what became) the Israelite people? The first person in historical times to whom God spoke, to the extent that we call God “the God of Abraham” and the three religions that descend from that interaction the “Abrahamic” religions?

The evidence is kind of voluminous. Start with the book of Genesis, I suppose.

It certainly points to Jesus being more than just the thirty-something man standing before them. Technically one could be “before Abraham” and not be eternal, but coupled with the “I am” it comes across as a claim of divinity (and seems to have been taken as such by the listeners).

No thanks :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Genealogy leading to Abram (Abraham) is: Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jarad, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Salah, Eber, Peug, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah.

Why can’t we delete a post?

I did think, “I am” in this verse points to YHWH

if “I AM” points to YHWH then “before Abraham” is easily understood and requires no lengthy explanation.

It means that Jesus pre-existed even before Abraham whom the Jews were appealing to as their source of authority.

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Yes, the Holy Trinity is YHWH, so applies the all three persons.

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