Yes, of course, the chapter alludes to Gen 1. And this "Word" is not wholly unfamiliar to his readers either. http://biblehub.com/psalms/33-6.htm No smart reader, in its original context, is going to think that God's "word" there is a self, or is literally the creator.
Actually, that's exactly what a smart reader should think. In its original context, John uses the "Word" to name the Creator in Gen 1.
It is God who is the creator, and he creates by "speaking", i.e. by fiat, by mere intention that it should be so. Why should we discard this when reading John 1?
Poor Dale can't even think straight. Was I discarding that when reading Jn 1? No, just the opposite. John calls the Gen 1 Creator the "Word" owing to his distinctive identity as a verbal Creator. He creates by means of the spoken word. Therefore, John gives him that designation.
That doesn't depend on believing that God literally spoke the world into existence. Rather, it turns on the representation.
And, as I pointed out before, this is a distinguishing feature of the one true God in OT theism. Yahweh is a God who speaks, unlike the speechless idol gods of paganism. He speaks to Abraham and Moses.
Only because the logos theories have made it seem so obvious to people that this must be about the pre-human stage of Jesus's career, who was the direct creator, because God couldn't have done that.
Dale offers no evidence that modern commentators on John think it must be about the prehuman stage of Jesus' career due to the influence of patristic logos theories on their exegesis. Most modern commentators don't take the church fathers as their frame of reference. For one thing, that would be anachronistic. That's after the NT. Rather, commentators typically seek background material that's prior in time or contemporaneous with the NT.
Also, who says this must be about the prehuman state of Jesus' career" because God couldn't have done that?
I note in passing this fallacy in your reasoning:in John's usage, the "Word of God" is a title for the Creator in Gen 1. That's because God in Gen 1 is a speaker.
That's a clear non sequitur.
i) To begin with, John doesn't call the Logos the "Word of God" in Jn 1. I simply repeated Dale's own phrase for convenience. But Dale substituted the "Word of God" for what Jn 1 actually says. The Prologue doesn't describe the Logos as the Word of God, but rather, God as the Word.
ii) Perhaps Dale got Jesus as the "word of God" from Rev 19:13. If so, you can't properly use that to swap out the specific usage in Jn 1.
iii) In addition, that's a title for Jesus in Revelation. However, it is crucial to Dale's enterprise to drive a wedge between Jesus and the eternal Logos. Likewise, Dale denies that the Logos is a personal agent. But that's a title for a personal agent in Rev 19:13: Jesus! And that couples what Dale labors to decouple.
The only real link to the idea of (literal) incarnation here is v. 14, which people think just obviously assumes the personal identity of this divine Word with the man Jesus. But of course, it is by no means obvious that a real [man?] could have, formerly, been a divine Word.
i) V14 states the Incarnation in compact terms. However, the Incarnation is implied throughout John's Gospel. John repeatedly teaches both the divinity and humanity of Jesus, as well as Jesus coming from heaven and returning to heaven.
ii) Dale knows enough about Incarnational theology to realize that's an inaccurate way of putting it. It's not that a real man was formerly the divine Word. Rather, the Word or Son always existed, while the man came into existence in union with the Son at a particular point in history.
iii) Likewise, the question at issue isn't whether that's a priori obvious, but what's the obvious meaning of the text.
And in light of other recent literature which John's audience would be familiar with, it is easy to understand the meaning of v.14 as a non-literal incarnation.
Even if, for the sake of argument, we accept Dale's contention that the text alludes to Wisdom literature, that by no means precludes a literal Incarnation.
The only precedent we need for the Prologue to John is the Pentateuch.
Thus saith Steve.
That is Dale's lame formulaic response. But a philosophy prof. should know the difference between assertions and arguments. I didn't merely make a claim and leave it at that. I proceeded to document the claim.
Here are the parallels, much closer in time to John than the Pentateuch, that you did not take the time to look up. First, Ecclesiasticus 24, with Wisdom speaking: http://www.catholic.org/bible/book.php?id=28&bible_chapter=24
i) To begin with, for the Wisdom literature to be much closer in time than the Pentateuch is irrelevant. There's a reason why the OT apocrypha and pseudepigrapha are not canonical. They never had anything remotely approaching the authority of the Pentateuch in Judaism.
And it's not as if the Pentateuch was forgotten literature by the time of John's Gospel. Indeed, the Prologue refers to the law of Moses, and that crops up in debates between Jesus and his opponents in John's Gospel (as well as the Synoptic Gospels, and Acts). That's the standard of comparison. That's the foundational document in 1C Judaism.
ii) We need to be careful with the notion of "parallels." The Prologue of John is narrating a unique historical event. The Creator coming into the world he made by becoming human is a one-time, unrepeatable event. That is strictly unparalleled. That never happened before or since. Although Jesus will return, that's because the Incarnation is permanent.
iii) In fact, Jn 1:17-18 draws a studied contrast between how God related to his people in OT times, and how he relates to his people now.
iv) Apropos (ii), John uses the Pentateuch to provide a theological interpretation of the event, not to directly parallel the event.
v) John alludes to somewhat similar events in the wilderness wandering to help illustrate the theological significance of what happened on this occasion. And it's an analogy from the lesser to the greater.
But there's intentional dissimilarities as well (iii).
vi) There are lots of "coming down from the sky" parallels in ancient literature. Greek gods coming down from Olympus, then returning to Olympus. That's why responsible OT and NT scholars guard against parallelomania.
Note that she is in the beginning, with God. She is sent down from heaven (v. 8) to tabernacle among God's chosen people. Sound familiar? She has become enbooked (v. 23) - Wisdom made into paper and cover, so to speak. Or enscrolled. A book is not and can't literally be a divine attribute. But it can be a great expression of God's eternal Wisdom.
So can a man. John 1:14.
That's rife with confusions:
i) Ecclesiasticus 24 contains allusions to OT history. But John doesn't need that secondary filter when he can go straight to the OT source which underlies some Intertestamental literature.
ii) Gen 1 concerns divine speech: the spoken word, not the written word. Not a book. Therefore, Dale's alternative is at variance with John's use of Gen 1.
iii) Ecclesiasticus 24:8-9 says God created wisdom. But that's not what Jn 1 says. God didn't create the Word. Rather, the Word was God; the Word was the Creator.
Wisdom is "in the beginning with God" in the derivative sense that wisdom is God's first creature. But that's contrary to what John says about the Word.
This Wisdom, God's Word by which he created, is the light of all men - v. 33-34.
i) Jn 1 doesn't use wisdom terminology. It's the logos, not sophia.
ii) Jn 1 doesn't say the Logos is "God's Word" (see above).
iii) Jn 1 doesn't say God first created the Word, then created the world by the Word. Rather, Jn 1 says the Word was the preexistent Creator God.
Notice Dale's tactics: he makes a case through the cumulative effect of multiplied equivocations and substitutions.
All in all, it makes the allusion to Proverbs 8 seem pretty obvious.
What is alluding to Prov 8? Jn 1 or Ecclesiasticus 24? Dale doesn't say.
But even the allusions to these later writings is enough to help us understand John 1.
The fact that Ecclesiasticus 24 may contain allusions to Prov 8 hardly means Jn 1 contains allusions to Prov 8. Once again, Dale can't think straight.
We also have the Wisdom of Solomon. In 9:1, again, God makes all things by his Word. And 7:22-29 yet more parallels e.g. v. 27 with John 1:12-13. But more importantly, in chapter 18, God's Word leaps down from the heavers like a warrior, to slaughter the first-born of the Egyptians (the Exodus incident). Literally? No. It's just a way of saying that God did it. His wisdom, and specifically his judgement, is reflected on earth by those terrible events.
Dale just doesn't get it. Sure, Jewish Intertestamental literature often alludes to OT events. It doesn't follow that John is alluding to the Intertestamental literature. It doesn't follow that if Jn 1 and OT apocrypha/pseudepigrapha both allude to OT events, then Jn 1 must be (or even probably is) alluding to OT events via this secondary literature, as if John must use that filter. John had direct access to the Pentateuch.
It's a central theme of John that God is working through Jesus, performing the miracles and providing Jesus's teaching, and guiding him.
Notice how Dale prejudicially frames the issue. A central theme of John is the Son acting in the Father's stead, on the Father's behalf.
Dale's constant rhetorical tactic is to set this up as a relationship between "God" and "Jesus," rather than the Father and the Son, the Father and the Son of God, or God and the Lord. He tries to reserve the word "God" for the Father, to weight the scales in the direction of unitarianism. He routinely flattens out the varied usage in the NT. He recasts the relationship in the reductive terminology of "God" in contrast to "Jesus." Dale is a devious tactician who resorts to subliminal messaging to slant the evidence in favor of his heresy.
John is putting it emphatically here to start - the very eternal Wisdom of God by which he made all things became flesh and bone, and walked among us, i.e. was expressed in the life of this unique man.
Notice how Dale substitutes Wisdom terminology for Word terminology, even though John uses Word terminology rather than Wisdom terminology. This is one of Dale's constant tactics. Substitute one thing for another, hoping the reader will forget what the text actually says, then proceed to build on that false premise. If you turn your back on Dale, he will pilfer the cash register.
Let's go back to the OT background of Jn 1:14. There's a combination of interconnected motifs: God's glorious presence, God dwelling with his people via the Shekinah or pillar of fire descending on the tabernacle and filling the tabernacle (or tent of meeting).
And the Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14).No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known (Jn 1:18).
And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst (Exod 25:8).
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Exod 40:34).
9 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. 10 And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door.
But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live” (Exod 33:9-10,20).
That's what Jn 1:14 is designed to evoke.
It's part of catholic orthodoxy that the eternal Logos is personally identical to the man (or "man") Jesus. He can, in their view, and I presume in yours, truly say, "I always existed" - of course, not always as a man. But the idea is that this one who is "man" eternally existed.
This is Dale's trademark double-talk.
It is part of orthodox Christology that the Son or Logos always existed, but the hypostatic union didn't always exist.
Moreover, in the Reformed communication of attributes, what can be said of either nature can be said of the person of Christ.
Nevertheless, Jesus didn't always exist. Jesus came into being on the eve of the 1C. The Son always existed, but the union of the Son with human nature (becoming human and becoming a man) was a historic event. Jesus is the result of the hypostatic union. One element of the composite is eternal, but the composite itself is not eternal. Rather, that had a point of origin in time.
In popular usage, Christians speak of Jesus as preexistent, but in terms of philosophical theology, that's inexact.