Saturday, November 14, 2015

And the Word was God

I'm going to respond to some comments that anti-Trinitarian apostate Dale Tuggy left on my post. I also listened to his Podcast (#71):

The case seems so strong, doesn't it, when you only hear one side! Some things being left out: the precedents in early writings…

1. The only precedent we need for the Prologue to John is the Pentateuch. We don't need to postulate any other source to explicate the text. In John 1, the specific literary allusions are to the creation account in Gen 1 and the Shekinah/tabernacle in Exodus. 

The wording of Jn 1 echoes Gen 1 in several respects, viz.

i) The timemarker: "in the beginning"

ii) A divine Creator

iii) Creation by divine speech

iv) The opposition of light and darkness

v) Creation of life

2. However, that backdrop supplies a point of contrast as well as comparison:

i) It goes back a step from Gen 1 by describing what lies behind creation: the preexistent Father with the preexistent Son. 

ii) In Jn 1, the Genesis terminology has acquires a double entendre. In Gen 1, light and life refer to the origins of physical light and physical life. That's included in Jn 1, but in the Prologue they acquire the additional significance of new life or eternal life. Spiritual illumination and spiritual renewal. Likewise, "darkness," and the contrast between light and darkness, take on metaphorical connotations. 

…in the deuterocanonical books of parallel ideas to John 1:14, wherein something divine comes down from heaven to dwell in this physical realm - but it's not a self.

To the extent that there's a parallel in prior literature, that would be to the Shekinah coming down to fill the tabernacle, or the pillar of fire leading the Israelites at night. Just as Jn 1:1-3 is a deliberate allusion to Gen 1, Jn 1:14 is a studied allusion to the wilderness accounts. 

You also leave out the allusion to Prov 8 ("with God"), which helps us to understand the significance of "god/divine was the logos" at the end of v1. He's saying that this wisdom/reason through which God made all is just him, or his. It's not someone else. 

i) I can't leave out a nonexistent allusion. There is no allusion to Prov 8 in Jn 1. There are many problems with that alleged comparison:

ii) Jn 1 is a historical narrative, Prov 8 is a poetic allegory.

iii) Lady Wisdom in Prov 8 is a fictional character who parallels Lady Folly in Prov 9. 

iv) As Bruce Waltke explains in his commentary, Lady Wisdom is a metaphor for Solomon's proverbial wisdom. 

v) Lady Wisdom is an observer, not a creator–unlike the Logos in Jn 1.

vi) Lady Wisdom is God's first creature, whereas the Logos is the Creator. Lady Wisdom is on the creaturely side of the categorical divide whereas the Logos is on the divine side of the categorical divide. 

vii) Jn 1 doesn't use wisdom terminology. It calls the filial Creator logos rather than sophia

As the OT says in a few places, Yahweh (aka the Father) created the cosmos alone. You leave that out…

Since the OT never says Yahweh is the Father (in contrast to the Son, Spirit, or Trinity), I can't very well leave out that nonexistent identification. In fact, the NT often identifies Jesus as Yahweh.

...and also the fact that Jesus never takes credit for being the (direct) creator - which is quite surprising if it's true that he was. 

i) Jesus doesn't have to take credit for that because the Prologue credits Jesus as the Creator. 

ii) Moreover, John's Gospel is primarily about the history of the incarnate Son, and not the prehistory of the discarnate Son. It introduces Jesus as the Genesis Creator in an establishing shot. But it doesn't linger because, having made that point, it moves on to the redemptive work of the Son. The Creator is the Savior and Judge. 

For him, the Father is the creator. 

Not according to the Prologue. 

I think that's true for Paul too, but this isn't the place to argue the matter. 

Especially since you lost that argument in the past.

Also, that the pronouns in 2-3 can be translated as impersonal, although personal makes sense, if the author is personifying God's word. 

That's inept. Needless to say, the gender of the pronouns depends on the gender of the nous. When the Prologue uses theological metaphors like "word," "light," and "life" for Jesus, the gender of the pronoun will match the gender of the titles. 

For instance, "light" is literally an inanimate substance, but figuratively, it can characterize a personal agent–just as Scripture refers to God as "fire."

Another relevant fact: when the Philonic Logos theology was first propounded (c. 150-200) it was very controversial, and constantly drew the objection that it was positing two creators. Now why on earth would this be so widespread, if everyone was reading John in the way which seems so obvious to you? The answer is that it was not so obvious to them. It was the Logos theology winning out which really cemented the catholic reading. It seems that some of the "monarchians" and others read it more in the way I'm suggesting. 

That's because the church fathers were gentiles rather than Jews, so they were more attuned to Hellenistic philosophy and less attuned to the Pentateuchal background for Jn 1.

On the face of it, one would not expect "the Word of God" to be a person. 

Only if you artificially isolate Jn 1 from Gen 1. But 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. He makes the world by commanding the world into existence. Divine speech is the method of creation. 

A God who speaks stands in contrast to the dumb idols of heathen. The say-nothing, do-nothing, know-nothing gods of Israel's pagan neighbors. In comparison, Yahweh is a God who speaks. And his words have creative power. 

Of course, a person in whom God's word is uniquely and best expressed can thereby by called "the Word of God" as we see in Revelation. 

That's not what the Prologue says. Rather, the Prologue says the preexistent Word who made the world long ago later came into the world (in John's time) he made. He properly exists outside the world.  

Same point with "Life", "Light." Those wouldn't normally be terms for a self, but they can be, when God's word (which is life and light) is best expressed in that self, in the man Jesus. 

i) They are personal terms when they function as theological metaphors. 

ii) In John's Gospel, moreover, Jesus is the source of light and life–just as Yahweh is the source of light and life in Gen 1. 

iii) Furthermore, the light motif  trades on the Shekinah in the wilderness. The glorious radiance of God's visible presence. 

iv) Finally, notice Dale's false dichotomy. If God becomes incarnate and dwells with his people, then God's light, life, and word will be embodied in the person of the Messiah. That's an implication of the hypostatic union. 
About John 1, I don't see how that helps the catholic reading. John saw and touched God's eternal life and message as manifest in the real man Jesus, in his life, deeds, teaching.

Once again, the same false dichotomy. Eternal life is manifested in the person of God Incarnate.  

In Jn 1:1, the "Word" is a title for Jesus, while "God" in the second clause is a designation for the Father, and "God" in the third clause functions adjectivally to denote the deity of the Son. 

To paraphrase Jn 1:1: "In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with the divine Father, and the Son was divine." 

i) John uses the noun "God" (rather than the adjective "divine") in both clauses to strengthen the comparison. 

ii) At this preliminary stage in the exposition, John withholds the identity of the two principals because his first order of business is to give the backstory for Incarnation. At the time of writing, the Son had returned to the Father. But before narrating the public ministry of Christ, John wants to take the reader back in time to the prehistory of the Son. He identifies the Son as the Creator in Gen 1. The God who spoke the world into existence. And in due time, that's the world which the Son comes into, to redeem the lost.

All in all, not super-obvious either way. I don't think, though, that your arguments do anything to refute the multiply well motivated reading I've outlined. Also relevant will be whether we think a real man can have always existed, independently of Adam or any other previous humans, only lately becoming a human. 

That reference is very obscure. I take it that this is Dale's fallback when dealing with the preexistence passages. He will say that even if they do refer to a preexistent Son, this is a preexistent man. Although it's decidedly unclear how a "real man" who "always existed" "only lately become a human."

And, no, I don't think a real man can have always existed. For one thing, humans are social creatures. They require human companionship to maintain their sanity. A solitary man with an infinite past would be inhuman. 

What does Dale even have in mind? A human in a stasis chamber until God injects him into the world? How would he be socialized? Moreover, he'd begin his entrance into the 1C as preformed adult. But unitarians must resort to desperate measures to salvage their position.  

And: whether we're impressed at all with the idea that the synoptics assume or hint at the personal pre-existence of Jesus. 

As expounded by scholars like Simon Gathercole and Sigurd Grindheim. 

And whether we put any stock in the "two Yahweh" and other Jesus-in-the-OT arguments drawn from Philo and others, which made their way into catholic teaching in the latter 100s. 

No, that isn't germane to my case for the deity of Christ. I don't need esoteric sources. OT prophecy and NT Christology are more than sufficient.  


  1. Robert M. Bowman gave 5 reasons why a connection between John 1 and Genesis 1 makes sense.

    1. The words en arche occur at the beginning of each book;
    2. The name God (ho theos) occurs in the opening sentence in each book, and frequently thereafter as well;
    3. Both passages speak about the creation of all things;
    4. The name given to the preexistent Christ, "the Word," reminds us of the frequent statement in Genesis, "And God said, 'Let there be...'"—that is, in Genesis God creates by speaking the word, in John he creates through the person of the Word;
    5. Both passages in Greek use the words egeneto ("came into existence"), phos ("light") and skotos or skotia ("darkness"), and both contrast light and darkness.

    These point of similarity taken together constitute a powerful cumulative case for understanding en arche to be referring to the same beginning in John 1:1 as that of Genesis 1:1—the beginning of time itself.

    -Robert M. Bowman, Jr., Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ & the Gospel of John, pp. 21-22 [The Greek transliterations are not exactly reproduced here]

  2. Steve, you have a way of multiplying words without getting to the heart of the matter.

    Yes, of course, the chapter alludes to Gen 1. And this "Word" is not wholly unfamiliar to his readers either. No smart reader, in its original context, is going to think that God's "word" there is a self, or is literally the creator. 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? 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.

    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.

    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 could have, formerly, been a divine Word. 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.

  3. "The only precedent we need for the Prologue to John is the Pentateuch."

    Thus saith Steve. 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:

    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.

    This Wisdom, God's Word by which he created, is the light of all men - v. 33-34.

    So is Jesus. That is, that same divine wisdom shines out pre-eminently in him, more brightly even that through the Law. (John 1: 4, 8-10, 17)

    All in all, it makes the allusion to Proverbs 8 seem pretty obvious. But even the allusions to these later writings is enough to help us understand John 1.

    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.

    It's a central theme of John that God is working through Jesus, performing the miracles and providing Jesus's teaching, and guiding him. 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.

    I think John is probably trying to one-up some sort of proto-gnostics, who have Jesus (or the spirit in him) being an aeon or something - but that's just a personal speculation.

  4. " no, I don't think a real man can have always existed"

    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.

    Given how we think about humans, this raises problems. But this isn't the place to discuss them.

  5. Just because the extra-canonical Jewish literature prior to the NT sometimes presents the Word as impersonal, doesn't deny the fact that it also sometimes present the Word as seemingly (or actually) personal. If the Word were really only impersonal, then there would be no evidence for it being personal. But if it were personal, then it's understandable how there would be data that portrays the Word as both personal and impersonal. Like I said in previous comments, these are non-inspired Jewish writers who were speculating into deeper theological truths. There also seems to be progression and development of the concept of the Memra in Jewish thought from impersonal to virtually or actually personal. If all the data were for only an impersonal Word, then Dale would have a point. But that's not the case. It's disingenuous to mention only the evidence for an impersonal Word, when there's also evidence for a virtually (or actually) personal Word. Even then, some of the evidence Dale present might better be interpreted as virtually personal, than clearly impersonal. Also, even were we to assume all the data should be interpreted as impersonal, that doesn't deny the possibility that John is tacitly saying in his Gospel "What was only personified in previous speculative literature, is actually more than a mere personification, but is in fact the real person of the Son."

    See The Gospel of the Memra: Jewish Binitarianism and the Prologue to John by Daniel Boyarin [University of California, Berkeley]


    1. Also, I'm going to quote from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia on MEMRA (= "Ma'amar" or "Dibbur," "Logos"):. I recommend people read the entire article not just the parts that I quote (and so obviously favor my views).

      Quote:—In the Targum:

      In the Targum the Memra figures constantly as the manifestation of the divinepower, or as God's messenger in place of God Himself, wherever the predicate is not in conformity with the dignity or the spirituality of the Deity.

      Instead of the Scriptural "You have not believed in the Lord," Targ. Deut. i. 32 has "You have not believed in the word of the Lord"; instead of "I shall require it [vengeance] from him," Targ. Deut. xviii. 19 has "My word shall require it." "The Memra," instead of "the Lord," is "the consuming fire" (Targ. Deut. ix. 3; comp. Targ. Isa. xxx. 27). The Memra "plagued the people" (Targ. Yer. to Ex. xxxii. 35). "The Memra smote him" (II Sam. vi. 7; comp. Targ. I Kings xviii. 24; Hos. xiii. 14; et al.). Not "God," but "the Memra," is met with in Targ. Ex. xix. 17 (Targ. Yer. "the Shekinah"; comp. Targ. Ex. xxv. 22: "I will order My Memra to be there"). "I will cover thee with My Memra," instead of "My hand" (Targ. Ex. xxxiii. 22). Instead of "My soul," "My Memra shall reject you" (Targ. Lev. xxvi. 30; comp. Isa. i. 14, xlii. 1; Jer. vi. 8; Ezek. xxiii. 18). "The voice of the Memra," instead of "God," is heard (Gen. iii. 8; Deut. iv. 33, 36; v. 21; Isa. vi. 8; et al.). Where Moses says, "I stood between the Lord and you" (Deut. v. 5), the Targum has, "between the Memra of the Lord and you"; and the "sign between Me and you" becomes a "sign between My Memra and you" (Ex. xxxi. 13, 17; comp. Lev. xxvi. 46; Gen. ix. 12; xvii. 2, 7, 10; Ezek. xx. 12). Instead of God, the Memra comes to Abimelek (Gen. xx. 3), and to Balaam (Num. xxiii. 4). His Memra aids and accompanies Israel, performing wonders for them (Targ. Num. xxiii. 21; Deut. i. 30, xxxiii. 3; Targ. Isa. lxiii. 14; Jer. xxxi. 1; Hos. ix. 10 [comp. xi. 3, "the messenger-angel"]). The Memra goes before Cyrus (Isa. xlv. 12). The Lord swears by His Memra (Gen. xxi. 23, xxii. 16, xxiv. 3; Ex. xxxii. 13; Num. xiv. 30; Isa. xlv. 23; Ezek. xx. 5; et al.). It is His Memra that repents (Targ. Gen. vi. 6, viii. 21; I Sam. xv. 11, 35). Not His "hand," but His "Memra has laid the foundation of the earth" (Targ. Isa. xlviii. 13); for His Memra's or Name's sake does He act (l.c. xlviii. 11; II Kings xix. 34). Through the Memra God turns to His people (Targ. Lev. xxvi. 90; II Kings xiii. 23), becomes the shield of Abraham (Gen. xv. 1), and is with Moses (Ex. iii. 12; iv. 12, 15) and with Israel (Targ. Yer. to Num. x. 35, 36; Isa. lxiii. 14). It is the Memra, not God Himself, against whom man offends (Ex. xvi. 8; Num. xiv. 5; I Kings viii. 50; II Kings xix. 28; Isa. i. 2, 16; xlv. 3, 20; Hos. v. 7, vi. 7; Targ. Yer. to Lev. v. 21, vi. 2; Deut. v. 11); through His Memra Israel shall be justified (Targ. Isa. xlv. 25); with the Memra Israel stands in communion (Targ. Josh. xxii. 24, 27); in the Memra man puts his trust (Targ. Gen. xv. 6; Targ. Yer. to Ex. xiv. 31; Jer. xxxix. 18, xlix. 11). End Quote

  6. Dr. Benjamin Sommer is a Jewish (non-Christian) scholar. He's a professor in Bible and ancient Near Eastern languages at the Jewish Theological Seminary [sic, JEWISH Theologial Seminary]. He wrote in his book, The Bodies of God:

    “Some Jews regard Christianity’s claim to be a monotheistic religion with grave suspicion, both because of the doctrine of the trinity (how can three equal one?) and because of Christianity’s core belief that God took bodily form. . . . No Jew sensitive to Judaism’s own classical sources, however, can fault the theological model Christianity employs when it avows belief in a God who has an earthly body as well as a Holy Spirit and a heavenly manifestation, for that model, we have seen, is a perfectly Jewish one. A religion whose scripture contains the fluidity traditions [referring to God appearing in bodily form in the Tanakh], whose teachings emphasize the multiplicity of the shekhinah, and whose thinkers speak of the sephirot does not differ in its theological essentials from a religion that adores the triune God.”


    1. In one of Dr Sommer's lectures [HERE] he said:

      “When the New Testament talks about Jesus as being some sort of small scale human manifestation of God, it sounds to Jews so utterly pagan, but what I’m suggesting is perhaps the radical idea for us Jews that in fact, it’s not so pagan. That in fact, there was a monotheistic version of this that existed already in the Tanakh. And that the Christian idea, that Jesus, or ‘The Logos’, The Word, as the Gospel of John describes it in it’s opening verses, that the presence of The Word or Jesus in fleshly form – in a human body on the planet earth – is actually God making God self accessible to humanity in a kind of avatar. This is what we were seeing in the ‘J’ and ‘E’ texts [differing Hebrew manuscripts]. This is much less radical than it sounds. Or when the Gospel of John describes God’s Self as coming down and overlapping with Jesus – which is a famous passage early in the Gospel of John – that is actually a fairly old ancient near eastern idea of the reality, or self, of one deity overlapping with some other being. So, this is not just Greek paganism sort of just smoothed on to a Jewish mold, which is a way that a lot of Jews tend to view Christianity. This is actually an old ancient near eastern idea, that is an old semitic idea, that is popping up again among those Jews who were the founders of Christianity. We Jews have always tended to sort of make fun of the trinity. ‘Oh how can there be three that is one? If they’ve got this three part God, even if they call it a triune God, a God that is three yet one, really, really, they are pagans. They are not really monotheists like we Jews are or like the Muslims are. Those Christians are really pagan.’ But I think what we are seeing in the idea of the trinity that there is this one God who manifests Itself in three different ways, that’s actually an old ancient near eastern idea that could function in a polytheistic context as it did for the Babylonians and Canaanites, but it can also function in a monotheistic context as it does I think in the ‘J’ and ‘E’ texts. In fact, to say that three is one, heck, Kabbala [Jewish mysticism] is going to go further than that. They say ten is one. The Zohar says ten is one. Actually certain parts of Kabbala say that within each of the ten spherote has ten spherote within them so that there is a hundred spherote, we are taking this much further than the Christians did. One of the conclusions that I came to, to my shock, when I finished this book [The Bodies of God and The World of Ancient Israel], is that we Jews have no theological objection to the trinity. We Jews for centuries have objected to the trinity, have labeled it pagan, have said: ‘Well, that’s clear. There you can see that the core of Christianity doesn’t come out of the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, what they call the Old Testament. Really, they are being disloyal to the monotheism of the Old Testament.’ Actually, I think that’s not true. To my surprise, I came to the conclusion, somewhat to my dismay, I came to the conclusion that we Jews have no theological right to object to the trinity. Theologically, I think that the model of the trinity is an old ancient near eastern idea that shows up in the Tanakh and in a different way shows up in Jewish mysticism as well.”

    2. I would also recommend Jewish scholar (the late) Alan F. Segal's book Two Powers in Heaven. Even though he regarded it as Jewish heresy, he was a scholar who was honest enough to acknowledge the fact that there were times in Jewish theological thought of a kind of Jewish Binitarianism.

    3. I've only browsed through Segal's book. It's clear that the two powers view was popular sometime after the beginning of Christian era. How widespread it was before the Christan era, I'm not yet sure. Nevertheless, the Targumim, which ante-date Christianity often does present the Memra/Word of Yahweh as virtually personal.

  7. Hi Annoyed,

    "Just because the extra-canonical Jewish literature prior to the NT sometimes presents the Word as impersonal, doesn't deny the fact that it also sometimes present the Word as seemingly (or actually) personal."

    Of course there is no logical implication. But historical context and background assumption are of primary importance here. Logical consistency with your reading is small comfort. And you seem to not realize that of the quotes you've cut and pasted favor my reading of John 1.

    E.g. "In the Targum the Memra figures constantly as the manifestation of the divinepower"

    "this one God who manifests Itself in three different ways"

    Perhaps this reflects your own unique views, but most trinitarians would disavow this sort of talk, of the "Persons" as manifestations of God.

    Anyway, a major problem is the crucial ambiguity we see in this Hellenistic Judaism - is the Logos (etc.) personifications of divine powers (or of effects of those) or are they additional agents, lesser deities? Philo is maddeningly unclear here; he's just a sloppy thinker. There's a great chapter on this in Andrews Norton's excellent book on trinitarianism.

    Another complication is that it's widely accepted that trinitarian theology influenced Kabbalistic thought during the middle ages. We ought to be super-careful mixing together material from 1300 with that from 200 BC or 30 AD.

    Another complication is that we know that much of the impetus for this sort of speculation is Platonic. So then, how Hellenized were Palestinian Jews like John and his audience c. 90 AD? I'm inclined to think (based on the NT) that they were significantly less so than Alexandrian Jews, and certainly someone like Philo, who's as much a Platonist as he is a Jew. If this is right, Philo's speculations will be less relevant to John 1 than the material I cited from the OT and deuterocanonical books.

    It is interesting that some present-day Jewish scholars want to sort of make nice with the Trinity, or at least, disavow traditional, knee-jerk rejections of it. I wonder how clear they are on just what the 4th c. trinitarian tradition says, and how they'd react to their baffling arguments that the Trinity is somehow a happy medium between monotheism and polytheism.

    I've read some Boyarin and don't really feel like I "get" him yet. I am a bit wary though, as another scholar who seems to be a very careful thinker and a leader expert in these areas has been very critical of his work. Note also Hurtado's endorsement:

  8. And you seem to not realize that of the quotes you've cut and pasted favor my reading of John 1.

    No, I did realize it, but to omit it would be disingenuous of me. It goes on to say, "or as God's messenger in place of God Himself." I had already previously acknowledged that the Logos or Word in Jewish thought was sometimes impersonal, sometimes personification, and likely sometimes personal. I quoted that large section from the Jewish Encyclopedia because when one reads the actions attributed to the Memra, it clearly presents a personification that could, in later theological reflection and hindsight, support the personality of the Logos/Memra. John's teaching, while supported by earlier Jewish writings/traditions, can stand on its own and make clear through inspired revelation what was only a shadow or hinted at previously. Anyone who reads that entire section I quoted will understand why I did so.

    "this one God who manifests Itself in three different ways"

    Perhaps this reflects your own unique views, but most trinitarians would disavow this sort of talk, of the "Persons" as manifestations of God.

    I'm quoting a non-Christian. So, obviously I wouldn't agree with everything he says. But honesty in scholarship requires me to quote people fairly. I specifically reject the idea that the three persons are merely three manifestations of God.

    Anyway, a major problem is the crucial ambiguity we see in this Hellenistic Judaism - is the Logos (etc.) personifications of divine powers (or of effects of those) or are they additional agents, lesser deities?

    My position has always been that John was inspired (with God's authority and infallibility) to reveal to us who or what this Logos/Word is/was. I've already shown why I believe (rightly or wrongly) the NT clearly implies a personal preexistence of Jesus as the Logos.

    Another complication is that it's widely accepted that trinitarian theology influenced Kabbalistic thought during the middle ages. We ought to be super-careful mixing together material from 1300 with that from 200 BC or 30 AD.

    Avoiding anachronism should be something that's understood by everyone. Again, I'm quoting non-Christians. So, I'm not advocating everything they say. When have I ever appealed to post-Christian kabbalah to support the doctrine of the Trinity? At most, in my blogposts I have linked to Messianic Jewish articles that try to show their fellow Jews that plurality in God and God's manifestations isn't completely foreign to Judaism (whether pre-Christian, or with post-Christian cross-pollination).

    If this is right, Philo's speculations will be less relevant to John 1 than the material I cited from the OT and deuterocanonical books.

    I'm all for the citation of apocryphal passages personifying Wisdom. What I'm against is the omitting of other passages that support or lean toward an actual person behind that personification. The inspired NT apostles/authors settle the issue. My point in quoting non-inspired passages is to show that the Apostles' teaching of a personal preexistence of the Logos/Memra didn't come out of nowhere ("out of left field"). There was previous Jewish theological precedent.

    The entire NT supports the fair inference [I'm being conservative here] that Jesus had a personal preexistence as the Logos. My quotations support that contention. The burden of proof is on those who deny that personal preexistence of the Logos. One way to shoulder that burden is to show that all pre-Christian references to the Logos/Memra was mere personification and always clearly denied an actual person of the Logos. My quotations and cited resources seriously call that into question.

    1. Citing/quoting someone or appealing to their collected data doesn't entail one accepts their entire thesis on a particular topic. For example, I can quote atheistic scholars that critique Islam (from a historical, textual, logical, archaeological etc. point of view) without also agreeing with their atheism or their atheistic beliefs regarding the natural evolution of all religions.