ABSTRACT

This article will examine the representation of divine aseity in the Fourth Gospel, particularly as this is developed through a “divine name” Christology that is intertwined with the I Am sayings. While these are generally understood with reference to the statements of Isa 41:4 and 43:10, rather than Exod 3:14, the ἐγώ εἰμι form has an affinity with reflections on the temporal significance of the divine name disclosed to Moses that are elsewhere attested in Jewish tradition. This recognition opens the possibility that the I Am sayings, even as they identify Jesus with the God of Israel, are intended as reflections on the properly theological “problem” of the incarnation, on what it means for a God who transcends time to be enfleshed and particularized within it. The sayings render the identity of Jesus, as a human being located within time and place and whose substance is affected by these, as participating fully in the transcendent reality of God’s own being. By taking temporal form, the God who transcends time, and whose existence is entirely self-subsistent, unites it to his own being. The author plays upon the apparent paradox in ways that are visible in the text and that are linked to his conceptions of salvation. It is precisely the capacity to unite death to the divine life without the terminal conditions of human contingency that ensures that Jesus can be the source of life for all who receive him.

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