What did John Mean?

I recently had to think through the whole issue of John 1:1. It’s one of the most familiar passages in the New Testament. Yet I think some of the subtlety of it has been lost on most readers. I think centuries of Christian commentary have at times been wrong in seeing this as a Greek concept. Some more modern commentators (like D.A. Carson) have more properly seen this as a Jewish concept.

Anyway, John 1:1 raises a few questions. Not least of which:

1. Is John 1:1 referring to certain Greek ideas about the logos (word)? How so in a book that is very Jewish? John is the gospel that shows all the feasts. John is the gospel where Yeshua talks to Jews and Samaritans, where a member of the Sanhedrin comes to Yeshua for instruction. It is a Jewish gospel. So why look for a Greek idea at its beginning?

2. If John’s goal was to find a Jewish image to communicate the relationship between Yeshua and the Father, why choose the image of the Word? John wishes to communicate something complex. Yeshua is God yet he is also separate from God. He is not like the angel of the Lord, who is separate from God. He is God in a way that the angel of the Lord is not. Yet he is also separate from God. He was with God and yet he was God. Both are true. How does the image of the Word of God communicate that?

Anyway, if you’d like to read and think about this issue, I’ve written some notes. I think this is an issue worth a half hour of thought. I welcome comments at derekblogger@gmail.com

You can read about John 1:1 and the Jewish concept of the Word at: http://tikvatdavid.com/Torah%20Study_files/1,1-18PDF-1.pdf

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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