Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What is logos?

“Some early Christians maintained their monotheism by believing that the one God simply took on a human form and came to earth—in effect, God the Father was born and crucified as Jesus. They are entitled to their belief, but it cannot be derived legitimately from the Gospel according to John. John is not describing something like the Hindu concept of an avatar, such as when the god Vishnu is thought to periodically take a mortal form to accomplish things on earth…What then is the logos?...

John says it was the agent through which God (the Father) made the world…How does God create in Gen 1.1? He speaks words that make things come into existence. So the word is God’s creative power and plan and activity…theos in John 1.1 is used qualitative [“and the word was divine”]…by placing theos first in a be-verb sentence, without the article [ho=the], John is trying to stress that the Word has the character appropriate to a divine being…As Christians chewed on this problem in the decades and centuries after John, some of them developed the idea of the Trinity…But John himself has not formulated a Trinity concept in his gospel…

A failure to grasp the nuance of John’s thought can be seen in how several translations inappropriately introduce the male pronoun ‘he’ into John 1.1-2. In John 1.1 the TEV and LB use the pronoun ‘he’ for ‘the Word’ at some point to reduce the redundancy of John saying ‘the Word’ three times. A similar substitution of ‘he’ can be seen in John 1.2 in the NASB, NIV, NRSV, NAB, AND the AB. In this case ‘he’ replaces houtos, ‘this one’…all this translations suggest that ‘the Word’ is a male of some sort…the Word is not Christ in the Gospel according to John. The Word is a divine being or agency that transcends human qualities.

[What I have just explained is not some novel interpretation of the passage. It is, in fact, part of the orthodox, mainstream understanding within Christianity, what is known as the ‘Two-Nature Christology’. The ‘Two-Nature’ doctrine is not the only possible way to understand what John meant by the Word becoming flesh. But that doctrine is in agreement with John in the idea that Jesus Christ does not pre-exist with God, rather the Word does.]

The preponderance of evidence, from Greek grammar, from literary context, and from cultural environment, supports this translation [“And the Word was a god”], of which “the Word was divine” would be a slightly more polished variant carrying the same basic meaning…Bias has shaped most of these translations much more than has accurate attention to the wording of the Bible…No translation of John 1.1 that I can imagine is going to be perfectly clear and obvious in its meaning. John is subtle, and we do him no service by reducing his subtlety to crude simplicities.” BeDuhn, Truth in Translation, p 113-134.

3 comments:

JohnOneOne said...

On the subject of the translation and meaning of John 1:1, it may interest you (and your readers) to know that there is soon to be published (within the next year or so) a 17+ year study (as of 9/09) of this very verse entitled, "What About John 1:1?"

To learn more of its design and to follow its progress all are invited to visit:

http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com

NEPHESH said...

hey thanx

JW study is it? unfortunately it may be marred by their arianist bias

Jaco said...

Jason BeDuhn is a Professor in Religious Studies at a university which name I don't seem to recall. The purpose of this book is to compare the accuracy of popular Bible translations based on linguistic grounds. He also debated trinitarians on-line, one of whom is a certain Robert Hommel. BeDuhn did a great job. Regarding Arianism, I doubt whether his work will support it conclusively. I think his research is unbiased. It has been abused by JW apologists, though...(in imitation of their organisation's example of journalistic dishonesty)