Continuing discussions on John's Prologue

Dr. Gayle has made another entry into the discussion current among several of us in the biblio-blogosphere, providing us with another compass. (He has also given us his translation on John’s prologue (on his site) using a Socrates’ words found in Plato’s  Gorgias as his starting point for logos.) My post is here – and there has been more discussion, including Peter Kirk and a second look at a post from last year by Elshaddai Edwards:

Peter Kirk as an interesting response to Suzanne as well and Dr. Gayle provides us a post for thought as well. And since I am collecting posts, here is another one from a while ago.

Hagia Sophia

I am convinced that John’s prologue comes directly from the Greek Old Testament, so as a side note (not sure how important this is) I’ll add this:

The question of Scripture presented to Arius which caused the greatest controversy of Christendom revolved around Proverbs 8 (academic speculation, as this has not been proven that it was this passage as in Constantine’s letter, the passage was never mentioned, but Proverbs 8 was always the center point of the Arian controversy) in which Wisdom was seen as created, and by both the (semi-)Arians and the Nicene Party, assigned to Christ.

Alexander, the great bishop of Alexandria, wrote on the Arians that their belief was such:

And the novelties they have invented and put forth contrary to the Scriptures are these following:

Neither is He like in essence to the Father; neither is He the true and natural Word of the Father; neither is He His true created, and is called the Word and Wisdom by an abuse of terms, since He Himself originated by the proper Word of God, and by the Wisdom that is in God, by which God has made not only all other things but Him also.

It is not too far off to believe that even in the 4th century, albeit the early part of that century, Sophia was applied to Christ just as we apply Logos to Him.

When did we loose Wisdom?

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16 Replies to “Continuing discussions on John's Prologue”

  1. Hi Joel: Interesting conversation going on here. While I'm confident that logos has wisdom connotations, it seems to me that those connotations should not be pressed too hard.

    With reference to the translation of the pronouns in the Prologue, I think that the evidence for a neuter or feminine translation, though provocative, is lacking.

    Let me explain. John 1.1c states καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος (and the word/statement/logos was God). Here the anarthrous predicate nominative (not the subject) is θεός. It's placement before the copulative makes it most likely that it carries a qualitative force. Thus, "the word was divine" or some such thing. [Let me know if I need to explain this step further.]

    Now, and this is what's important for the translation of the pronouns, John 1.2 continues οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν (This one existed in the beginning with God). The referent of the demonstrative pronoun, οὗτος, is ὁ λόγος from 1.1c. If the author of the Prologue had intended a neuter or feminine connotation, he or she would have shown it in the choosing of the demonstrative, preferring αὕτη or τοῦτο over the masculine οὗτος. Such a substitution would have been natural, not violating rules of concord. However, the author went with the masculine οὗτος. While the pronouns that follow could be construed as neuter (αὐτοῦ), their antecedent, οὗτος, cannot be.

    Thus, I don't think there is ample grammatical evidence to support the shift from the traditional, masculine, translation.

    I'm sure I'm missing something, or restating something someone else has already said. After all, I am entering a conversation that has been ongoing. If I've done this, please accept my apologies.

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