Monday, May 09, 2011

Did you know? (the word in John 1)

I was thinking about a new kind of post to do.  One of my roles in the church is surely informant...  If my education is worth anything, why not share some tidbits from time to time.  So here's a first shot.

Did you know...
That the "word" in John 1 has a rich background in both Jewish and secular literature at the time of Christ.

1. It certainly does not refer to Scripture in its original sense.  You will only think this if you are defining the words on the basis of your dictionary rather than the dictionary of John's time.

2. It eventually refers to Jesus in John 1.  In the immediate literary context, the word becomes flesh in 1:14 and turns out to be none other than Jesus among the people of that time.

3. Jewish literature like the book of Wisdom and the writings of a Jew from Egypt named Philo use the word logos, "word," sometimes as a metaphor, sometimes as an almost personal entity that puts God's will into action.  Here are a couple quotes:

"Through the logos God made the world, using it as an instrument..." (Philo, Allegorical Laws 3.96)

"Some regard the image of God, his messenger the logos, as God's very self" (Philo, On Dreams 1.239)

"God... you made all things through your logos..." (Wisdom 9:1).

So, in my opinion, when John 1 says, "In the beginning was the logos," it is drawing on this rich tradition.  In the beginning was God's will for the world in action... and that will for the world became flesh, and tabernacled among us, just like the tabernacle where Moses met God in the wilderness...

Did you know?

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