22 July, 2008

A Study of John 1 - Part 2

The “orthodox” Trinitarian Creeds (in which we find various references to the “eternally begotten Son of God") stand apart from the witness of Scripture. Their language is peculiar, paradoxical, nonsensical, and above all… unBiblical.

The notion that the Son was begotten by the Father in eternity past, not as an event, but as an inexplicable relationship, has been accepted and carried along in the Christian theology since the fourth century....

We have examined all the instances in which 'begotten' or 'born' or related words are applied to Christ, and we can say with confidence that the Bible has nothing whatsoever to say about 'begetting' as an eternal relationship between the Father and the Son.[2]
We see therefore, that when John speaks of the logos he does not refer to a pre-existent Messiah – he refers to the conception of a Divine plan and purpose, which found its literal expression in the person of Jesus Christ.

As previously noted, James Dunn agrees with this interpretation, but still finds it difficult to reconcile the necessarily impersonal nature of the logos with the text of the KJV.

His chief concern is that:
The point is obscured by the fact that we have to translate the masculine "logos" as "He" throughout the poem.
But Dunn is clearly labouring under a false assumption. There are no grounds on which it might be argued that we have to refer to the “logos” as “He.” It is true that the word “logos” is masculine (at least, in the grammatical sense) but this is irrelevant. Instead of focusing his attention on the word "logos", Dunn would do better to examine the word autos, which the KJV has translated as “Him.”

In fact, right up until the publication of the KJV 1611, most Bibles referred to the logos of John 1 as “it” instead of "he", even though their translators believed the logos to be a pre-existent Christ.

Yes, the logos was “in the beginning… with God.” But it was not God Himself, nor was it another divine being beside Him. So, while the logos (according to John) is divine, the logos is not the pre-existent Christ.

This distinction is crucial.

It is in verse 10 of John 1 that we encounter the next phase of the Trinitarian argument:
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not
Here we seem to have a reiteration of John 1:3 -
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Under the Trinitarian interpretation, both verses are taken as saying that Christ himself was personally responsible for the Genesis creation; and at face value, this seems to be an inescapable conclusion.

We are told that Christ was "in the world"; we are told that he "made the world" and we are told that "the world knew him not." Clearly, the "world" being referred to here is the same "world" in each instance: the material world of verse 1. It seems most unlikely that John is speaking of the spiritual world (or "new creation", as Paul calls it in Colossians 1), since this would make no sense in the context of the statements "he was in the world" and "the world knew him not."

While it is true that John is no longer speaking of the logos at this point (for verse 10 is actually speaking of "the light"), it is nevertheless clear that "the light" is an unequivocal reference to Christ.

However, there is a proviso to this reference, for we must remember that verse 4 has described the light as something that was in the logos - proving that the light is not synonymous with the logos. This is conclusive proof that Jesus cannot be the logos himself.

But how are we to understand verse 10? While we agree that Christ was "in the world" and also that "the world knew him not", in what sense can Christ be said to have "made" the very world in which he lived, and which knew him not?

The answer is found by interpreting Scripture with Scripture.

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Anonymous Josh said...

Hey Jason... any chance of you changing your RSS feed settings to a full feed rather then excerpts?

Haha... would be most useful =)

July 24, 2008 12:32 AM  

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