Wednesday, November 07, 2018

And the Word was God

Here's a brief exchange I had on Facebook regarding Jn 1:1. 

Samuel Watkinson A Unitarian reading of John's prologue, I would argue, makes far much more sense and is more faithful to the original Jewish context than the simple, and indeed illogical and impossible in context, "Jesus is YHWH" equation. Even Colin Brown, who is a Trinitarian (although he exposes its flaws honestly in many places), in "Trinity and Incarnation: In search of Contemporary Orthodoxy", Ex Auditu (7), 1991, has said this: "It is a common but patent misreading of the opening of John's Gospel to read it as if it said: 'In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with God and the Son was God' (John 1:1). What has happened here is the substitution of Son for Word (Greek logos), and thereby the Son is made a member of the Godhead which existed from the beginning. But if we follow carefully the thought of John's prologue, it is the Word [the divine utterance of God, not necessarily a personal being] that pre-existed eternally with God and is God. The same Word that made all things and is the light that enlightens human kind 'became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father' (John 1:14; cf. vv. 3 and 8)." 

Many NT scholars are now convinced that John's prologue is heavily influenced by Jewish wisdom traditions (biblical, e.g. Proverbs 8:22-36, and also in texts a century or so before the NT such as Ben Sira and Wisdom of Solomon), rather than any later pagan influence of a redeemer myth or something. 

Steve Hays Several problems:

i) One shouldn't adduce more background material than is necessary to explain the text. The Prologue clearly alludes to Gen 1, and that's sufficient to explain Jn 1:1-4. The motifs of God at the beginning, making the world by divine speech, creating light and life, in contrast to darkness. The later wisdom stuff is unnecessary to explicate the text.

ii) The Logos stands for the creative speaker in Gen 1. The divine Creator is the speaker. So John is saying the Logos is the God of Gen 1. The Logos is the divine creative speaker.

iii) The Logos is an alternative designation for the Son. John introduces the reader to Jesus by giving the backstory for the Son. The Son is the divine creator/divine speaker in Gen 1. So, contextually, the Logos and the Son *are* intersubstitutable (pace Brown).

iv) That identification is reinforced in vv14,18. 

v) That identification receives additional reinforcement in 17:5, where the Son resumes his original role. The same divine individual.

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