Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Personhood that is "the word of God"

By Dustin Smith.
Having spent some time recently reading Aramaic Targums, I have found what seems to be a breakthrough in ways which we can effectively teach others about what John 1 means in regards to the Word (logos).

A targum is an Aramaic translation of a particular passage or book of the Hebrew Bible. Yet these translations served as ketib (oral) commentaries as early as the first century BCE (such as those found in the Dead Sea Scrolls). Therefore, I suggest that the evidence below is necessary background and context which served as the matrix of thought out of which the author of the fourth Gospel produced his prologue.

I’ll post the translation from the NASB as well as the Aramaic Targum below it. The Aramaic memra and dibbera are the original phrases translated as “word” (cf. the Greek logos).

• Gen. 1:3 – “Let there be light, and there was light”
“...there was light according to the decree of the Word” Targum Neofiti

• Gen. 1:7, 9, 11, 15, 24, 30 – “...and it was so.”
“...and it was so according to his Word.” Targum Neofiti

• Gen 3:1 – “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.”
“....which the Word of the LORD had made.” Targum Neofiti margin

• Gen. 3:8 – “They heard the sound of the LORD God...”
“....sound of the Word of the LORD” Palestinian Targum

• Gen. 3:10 – “He said, I heard the sound of You....”
“...the sound of the Word” Targum Neofiti

• Gen. 14:19 – “...Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.”
“...who by his Word created the heaven and earth.” Targum Neofiti

• Gen 15:6 – “Then he believed in the LORD and it was reckoned...”
“He believed in the Word of the LORD” Targum Onqelos

“He had faith in the Word of the LORD” Tagrum Pseudo Jonathan
“Abram believed in the name of the Word of the LORD” Targum Neofiti

• Exo. 6:7 – “Then I will take you for My people and I will be your God...”
“...I will be to them my Word, a redeemer God...” Targum Neofiti

• Exo. 19:17 – “And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God...”
“...to meet the Word of God.” Targum Onqelos

• Exo. 20:11 – “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth...”
“the Word of the LORD perfected” Targum Neofiti marginal gloss, similar comment found in Exo. 31:17

• Exo. 25:22 – “There I will meet with you...”
“There I will appoint my Word...” Targum Neofiti, Pseudo Jonathan, and Onqelos

• Exo. 29:45 – “I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God.”
“...and I will be to them, in my Word, a redeemer God.” Targum Neofiti

• Exo. 33:22 – “...and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.”
“...I will shield you with my Word...” Targum Onqelos

• Lev. 1:1 – “Then the LORD called to Moses and spoke to him...”
“The Word of the LORD called to Moses and the Word of the LORD spoke to him...” Targum Pseudo Jonathan

• Lev. 11:45 – “...from the land of Egypt to be your God...”
“to be, in my Word, your redeemer God.” Targum Neofiti margin

• Lev. 22:33 – “...from the land of Egypt to be your God...”
“to be, in my Word, your redeemer God.” Targum Neofiti

• Lev. 25:38 – “I am the LORD your God...”
“I am, in my Word, the LORD your God” Targum Neofiti

• Lev. 26:12 - “I will also walk among you and be your God...”
“...and be, in my Word, your God.” Targum Neofiti

• Lev. 26:45 – “...in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God.”
“I might be, in my Word, their God.” Targum Neofiti

• Num. 6:27 – “So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel...”
“So they shall put my name, my Word, upon the sons of Israel.” Targum Neofiti

• Num. 7:89 – “...between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him.”
“...the Word spoke to him.” Targum Neofiti and Pseudo Jonathan

• Num. 14:22 – “...and have not listened to My voice,”
“and have not received my Word.” Targum Onqelos and Pseudo Jonathan

• Num. 15:41 – “I am the LORD your God...”
“I am, in my Word, the LORD your God.” Targum Neofiti margin

• Num. 17:4 – “...in front of the testimony, where I meet with you.”
“The Word meets you.” Targum Neofiti, Pseudo Jonathan, and Onqelos

• Deut. 4:24 – “the LORD your God is a consuming fire...”
“the LORD your God, his Word, is a consuming fire.” Targum Onqelos

• Deut. 26:17 – “You have today declared the LORD to be your God...”
“...declared the LORD to be, in my Word, your God.” Targum Neofiti

• Deut. 32:15 – “But Jeshrun grew fat and kicked, You are grown fat, thick and sleek, Then he forsook God who made him...”
“...forsook the Word of God who/which made him” Targum Neofiti

• Deut. 32:18 – “...and forgot the God who gave you birth.”
“and forgot the Word of God who/which made them.” Targum Neofiti

• Psalm 106:25 – “...they did not listen to the voice of the LORD.”
“they did not receive the Word of the LORD.” Targum on the Psalms

• Isa. 44:24 – “...I, the LORD, am maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself...”
“I stretched out the heavens through my Word” Targum on Isaiah

• Isa. 45:12 – “It is I who made the earth...”
“I, by my Word, made the earth” Targum on Isaiah

• Isa. 48:13 – “Surely My hand founded the earth...”
“By my Word I founded the earth.” Targum on Isaiah

• Isa. 63:5 – “...So My own arm brought salvation to Me, and My wrath upheld Me.”
“...by the Word of my pleasure I helped them.” Targum on Isaiah

• Jer. 27:5 – “I have made the earth...”
“I, by my Word, made the earth” Targum on Jeremiah

Hopefully this helps explain how John 1:1 can say, “...and the Word was God.” It seems rather apparent that Jews freely spoke of God and his Word in interchangeable ways.

2 comments:

Lloyd said...

I really enjoyed reading the posts on your blog. I would like to invite you to come on over to my blog and check it out. God's blessings to you. Lloyd

Xavier said...

Thank you Lloyd, your very kind.