Emerson said that conversation is not permitted without tropes. I shall
hypothesise that a conversation did take place between Moses and Good.
Let's revise Exodus 3:13 and 3:14.
3:15 is mainly Moses's counter-move in
the conversation, "Yet they won't believe me."
But in 3:13 we have
"Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of
Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and
they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”"
clear as can be.
It's not as if Moses himself is interested to know the
name. It's just in case the people of Israel _wonder_.
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”[a] And he said, “Say
this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
there is a use-mention distinction:
i. "I am" has sent me to
Note that that differs from
ii. "I am who I am" has sent me
God is advising Moses what his conversational move in reply to a
possible question by the people of Israel to Moses as to what the name of
'the God of your fathers'.
This possibly struck Kripke in "Names and
descriptions". For consider:
iii. If I come to the people of Israel and
say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me,
‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?
In the above, Moses is
distinguishing between what Donnellan has as a definite
(D) "The God of your fathers".
Note that it does not occur to Moses to have as a ready answer,
"And why is THAT relevant. I'm saying HE is the God of your fathers. What
does a name add to HIM?"
Exodus 3:15 continues with what God thinks
is the best reply for Moses to give, in case they ask for the name of the
God of the fathers of the people of Israel.
"15 God also said to
Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your
fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has
sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered
throughout all generations."
So, it does seem as, to echo Emerson, God is
using a trope when he utters:
v. Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am
has sent me to you.’”
vb. Say this to the people of Israel: "I am" has
sent me to you.
Moses was careful about this, since
when he faced the people of Israel and they asked for the NAME of the God
of their fathers, "he must have been emphatic in the quotation
Postulating, as some have, that it's Egyptian which is the source of the so-called tetragrammaton does not
seem to fit that it's FOUR letters, and four letters only, which are
involved here -- unless in Egyptian only four letters are involved,
In any case, God's implicature can hardly be _disimplicated_, which perhaps would have pose a problem to Grice.
Warner, M. M. (BPhil, Oxon) -- work on conversational implicature and religious language.
-- The Bible, "I am that I am" as a tautology.
-- Keyword: The tetragrammaton.