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God and Being in Exodus 3:13–15

Augustine takes an interpretive cue from the fact that there are multiple answers to Moses’ question. These multiple responses impart multiple names: “I Am,” “He Who Is,” “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” What do these names mean, and how is the reader to understand their relationship to the one God? In other words, how is it proper for God to have multiple names?

See Also: Andrea D. Saner, “Too Much to Grasp”: Exodus 3:13–15 and the Reality of God (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2015).

By Andrea Saner
Bible & Religion Dept. and Seminary
Eastern Mennonite University
August 2016

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Comments (1)

I may be about to press Augustine's method to ludicrous extremes - but does that method enable us to see an explanation for the very puzzling fact that Moses, asking for a token of his authority as one who has conversed with the God of the patriarchs, receives a token specifically described as something the patriarchs had never known or taught, the name Yahweh. Since the Israelites back in Egypt will not be able to recognise this token because they have been primed to do so by patriarchal tradition the only way for recognition to occur is for them to work out its appropriateness, which - what else? - would be by philosophy, the realisation that God and Being are linked concepts. This enables us to see that even in their enslaved state they are intellectually advanced compared with the Egyptians and deflects what seems to me to be the very difficult question of what religion - what prayer, sacrifice, ethical practice - the Israelites in Egypt are considered to have pursued.
#1 - Martin Hughes - 08/28/2016 - 13:17

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