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I Will Be What I Will Be

by on December 2, 2012

Just a reminder, as we head into the month that is less sacred than the High Holy Day, about what God might be.  In a New York Times article (and, if you’ve reached your NYT limit you can find the same article summarized here), we are correctly reminded that even Moses can’t get God’s face.  “At another point, God responds to Moses’ request to know his name (that is, his nature) by telling him ‘ehi’eh asher ehi’eh’ — ‘I will be what I will be.'”  Future tense.

Most English-language Bibles translate this as “‘I am that I am,’ following the Septuagint, which sought to bring the biblical text into line with the Greek tradition (descended from Xenophanes, Parmenides and Plato’s “Timaeus”) of identifying God with perfect being.”  And while the Greek tradition of almost everything – art, drama, democracy, religion – has been hammered into us since elementary school, that doesn’t make everything we’ve been taught true.

Hebrew says the opposite of what the later, Greek, translations said about God.  “The Hebrew ‘I will be what I will be’ is in the imperfect tense, suggesting to us a God who is incomplete and changing.”  God, the Jewish, Hebraic, way, is supposed to change, and is supposed to become more and less ‘perfect’ as we become more and less perfect.

Happy Holidays.

From → Religion

One Comment
  1. jill permalink

    My son the rabbi!

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