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John’s View About Jesus & τον θεον

Updated: Dec 29, 2022


The much-debated “ΕΝ ΑΡΧΗ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος” can be discussed to a tedium, and has been for centuries. Few if any passages have been so persuasive on subsequent theology. [1] Despite the fact we have his Gospel as copies of copies in Greek, and the usage of Greek lingo, the apostle John's reflection of the world was nevertheless Hebraic, especially his prologue. It makes little difference if John penned his Gospel in Greek or oversaw a Greek scribe in the transliteration of his Hebraic thought world into Greek. The Torah, Prophets, and Writings were the cradle from which the gospel [good news] of God was brought into the world. In this paper, I suggest that in John 1 the apostle John legally and figuratively places Jesus Christ in the beginning, much in the same way that John in Rev. 13:8 legally and figuratively places the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. In God's salvific history Jesus Christ the “Lamb of God” was slain for the sins of the world at the founding of the world. This was in the plan of God from the beginning. This is typical Jewish Midrash commentary, using figurative or allegorical language, pointing toward a fact, a reality. The Fourth Evangelist and His Gospel reveals the extent to which recent criticism of the Gospel of John has been dominated by historical, sociological, and theological concerns. In the majority of studies the gospel has been used as a source for evidence of the process by which it was composed, the theology of the evangelist, or the character and circumstances of the Johannine community.[2] My aim is to contribute to understanding the prologue of the gospel as a poetic narrative text, what it is, where it comes from and how it works. The emphasis will be upon internal textual analysis, grammatico-historical exegisis and interpretation, in conjunction with the construction of hypotheses and critique of methods. The gospel as it stands rather than strictly its sources, historical background, or post biblical themes is the subject of this paper.


Although context is the final arbiter, it is almost always the case in the New Testament that when “God” refers to the Father, the definite article appears (this article is never translated into English). The difference between θεὸς with and without the article occurs in John 1:1: “and the Word (λόγος) was with “τὸν θεόν” and the λόγος was “θεὸς.” Since the definite article is missing from the second occurrence of “θεὸς” (“god”) the usual meaning would be “god” or “divine.”

The letter 2 Peter chapter 3 gives us much-needed commentary on the fine details concerning the creation account in Genesis. Verse 5 tells us that τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγῳ the earth was formed. His silence of a pre-incarnate being is alarming. In conjunction with his admission on a promise (vs 9,13) points directly to God the Father as the lone participant.

The λόγος prologue of the fourth Gospel is considerably indebted to pre-Christian Wisdom speculation. A few second century apologists (Theophilus, ad Autol. 2.15; Irenaeus, adv. kaer. IV.20.) mentions God's Word and Wisdom synonymously.

Logos in the beginning:

The Greek word "logos/λόγος" was utilized by Greek philosophers, Hellenistic Jews and rabbinic Sadducees before St. John's Gospel was written. However, John was well aware of proto-Gnostic doctrine and here in his prologue begins to refute them. John’s concept of the logos is certainly a topic of debate. In this presentation I will be making a feasible case for a likely parallel to biblical Jewish Wisdom Theology. Which in my opinion can be used synonymously with the evangels λόγος theology. [3]

Philo and his λόγος Theory picked up by the apostle?: Philo of Alexandria was a Hellenized Jewish theologian, also a rough contemporary of Jesus (ca. 20 BCE–ca. 50 CE). He was a direct product of Stoic facets & Middle Platonism, coined by Timaeus of Plato. Philo calls the Logos the " Son of God," "the eldest son," "the first-begotten," and his representation of his agency in creation is very similar to that which Paul here attributes to "the Son of God's love " (ver. 13). He describes the Logos as "the intake of God, through whom the whole world was framed," εικων θεος, δι ού ?.. [4] "the instrument, through which \or whom] the world was built," [5], where note Philo's distinction between σκιᾷ λατρεύουσιν\ TO rSi' oh, and σκιᾷ (θεού) ; “the shadow of God, using whom as an instrument he made the world”[6]. In two or three places he exceptionally applies the term θεος to the Logos, professedly using it in a lower sense (εν Κατα'/χρησει), and making a distinction between θεος without the article, “a divine being”, and ο θεος, “the Divine Being”.[7]

Philo saw the concept of the ὁ λόγος or דְּבַר as an agent of creation reflecting the firstborn Son of God. Not a pre-existing being. This admittedly sounds extremely familiar to what St. John may have been expressing in his introduction about Jesus in his prologue. However, this view can be misleading, to an fundamental Christian. For it is important to note that Philo makes it clear that the anarthrous θεος is a δευτερο θεος and not properly God. He describes the Logos as a lesser distinct (second god)- Qu. Gen. 11.62 and describes the use and non-use of the article with theos as a categorization. The fact that Philo who was influenced by pagan theology was doing the exact opposite of Trinitarians claim.[8] He specifically says - Nothing mortal can be made in the likeness of the most high One and Father of the universe, but only in that of the second God, who is his Logos.

In conclusion, Philo is undoubtedly explaining Judaism by way of Middle Platonism. Interestingly, my own reading of Philo regarding logos leads me to the exact opposite conclusions that John and Philo's Logos theories are parallel. John's "logos" is about as far away from Philo as one can get while still being thoroughly Jewish. That's because John and the author of Hebrews I believe wrote within the mainstream Jewish wisdom tradition, not from the Alexandrian school of thought. Any "mystical* elements in their writings are due to the particular "Enochian apocalyptic" stream they belonged to, not to any connection with Philo's tradition. It seems quite obvious to me that the only people who look for similarities between Philo and John/Hebrews are those who assume apriori a "deity of Christ" conclusion and then try to prove that this idea was a mainstream *Jewish* concept. The claim that John 1:1 follows Philo’s path by a) picking up on the LOGOS theory and b) employing the use and non-use of the article with THEOS to denote a separation in categories between the two is an uneven position to take. And It is certainly in opposition to Trinitarianism.

More on the Logos:

Logos is a masculine noun, so translators supply 'he', but grammatical gender is not personal gender. ὁδός - way or road is feminine, not female. Logos is saying, message, reason, account, etc. It is not used to mean a person in the NT. The use of logos in John1:1 is a one off, there is no evidence that it is used any differently to the other occurrences. Here is an interesting quote found in a Classical usage of logos around the 3rd century B.C.E

“1128. The article is very often omitted in phrases containing a preposition: “ἐν ἀρχῇ τοῦ λόγου” at the beginning of the speech” [9] Demosthenes. 37.23”

In this classical example, the λόγου was a “speech in the beginning”. Even in secular writings the meaning of the word remains consistent with the OT’s (Old Testament) usage as we will see more of later.

I imagine another reasonable place to get understanding is looking at John's use of "logos" in his entire gospel. Logos occurs 40 times in his gospel - it is never used as a person (unless John 1 is an exception). Also, I do not suggest that the Hebrew equivalent דָּבָר (dabar) is a person in the OT.

Did you know, even in Isaiah 55:11, Yahweh says that “His דְבָרִי֙ -`word comes out from His mouth and “it” succeeds in the plan for which “it” sends and does all that Father likes”? There could not have been a person like an angel, or as a spiritual invisible son coming out from mouth of god. But only the word in which the thinking was planned by God, then by His word God sends His Spirit from Himself and the plan becomes reality. The word of God is the unfailing agent of the will of God himself. The outline indicates what word is meant in this context; the whole chapter pivots on the call to repent. On the one hand, repentance is the way to enter the great, free feast; on the other hand, the call to repent is a word of God bringing with it its own power of accomplishment. As the rain furnishes both seed and bread, so the word of God plants the seed of repentance in the heart and feeds the returning sinner with the blessed consequences repentance produces. Likewise, Ps. 107:20 says “He sent forth (ἀπέστειλεν) his word, and healed them, and delivered them from destruction.” How can we take the Psalmists words there as a pre-incarnate typological expression of Jesus?

Also, if we read Psalm 104: 29-30, where it is written that God withdraws its spirit, and then living beings die, also He sends His spirit, then He creates beings.

D. J. W. Wenham initially teaches his readers that: `There is no indefinite article in Greek. When, therefore, a word like λόγος­ stands alone, it usually means 'a word'. But it can mean simply 'word'. `The right translation is nearly always obvious from the context.'[10]

Interestingly, in John 1:1 the Greek is undoubtedly familiar: Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος … The Vulgate has in Latin: “In principio erat verbum” … Ironically Erasmus translated: “In principio erat sermo”. Like the Greek λόγος, the Latin sermo is not an individual word like a single lexeme. It implies “message, or discourse.” Erasmus actually changed his translation from verbum to sermo in the second edition of his Greek-Latin NT (1519). This caused acrimony among conservative Orthodox theologians. Erasmus even wrote a defense of his translation, Apologia de ‘In principio erat sermo' in 1520. There He also appealed to Jerome himself that the Greek λόγος has a variety of meanings like verbum, oratio, and sermo. Nothing, however, could get the wolves off his back. Much like the present day, any alternative dangerous ideas that weaken the Orthodox view, attack dogs will be waiting in the dark.

A close look at the grammar:

λόγος in gender form is grammatically a masculine noun, so translators non-theologically motivated would supply 'he' to its rendering. It is a common rule in linguistics that grammatical gender is never to be confused with personal gender. I contend in this thesis, λόγος is asserting an utterance, message, reason, account, etc. This is predicated on the par excellence usage of the word and its cognates in the OT. Moreover, an argument is brought about that the λόγος can only represent a (male) person because the grammar requires that only a person can be described from “pros” with the accusative after a stative verb. I hereby challenge any proponent of this view to point us to any Greek grammar that states it. Then the argument will have [some] validity. Nevertheless, there are several instances where pros with the accusative is used of things that are not persons. Likewise, the verb 'to be' + pros in the LXX of Exod 4:16 is linguistically similar to John 1:1-2 where Moses would become things to God.

The preposition πρὸς {Pros}:

Indeed if John wanted to emphasize emphatically the close proximity of one person to another the Greek preposition περί or παρά (+ accusative) or σύν + dative would have been more satisfactory. πρὸς (Pros) is more flexible as it allows for abstract ideas and impersonal things to be “with” God or in close association with someone. In Galatians 2:5 Paul hopes that the “truth of the Gospel” be with (πρὸς + accusative) you. I contend the stative nature of the verb “to be” overrides the basic meaning of προς, causing it to have a metaphorical meaning, with.

The stative verb ἦν (εἰμί):

For the sake of the argument concerning the "state verb” and its presence, a direct parallel can be found in 1 John 1:2 where “ἦν πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα” furnishes us with all the grammatical features shared in John 1:1b. Here it uses a stative verb ἦν with the preposition combo πρὸς + accusative to describe an abstract idea, ‘eternal life’ (ζωὴν αἰώνιον), that was with God. We know it's abstract because of the string of relative pronouns ὃ (what/which/that) in vs 1-3. The only modification is the articular Θεὸς in 1:1b is substituted for Father (Πατέρα). It changes little because they are the same case, mood, and part of speech, a masculine noun in the accusative case. The referents are convertible.

Ironically, the state verb ἦν as seen in John 1 cancels out any force of motion concerning the λόγος being face to face or towards [πρὸς] God. The stative verb does not necessarily impose a relationship connotation, it usually implies a static position, a state, or a condition relating to emotions, thoughts, or senses. This does not sound like John was describing a person with God, rather an idea or concept sprung out of God. Hence his spoken λόγος.

Some may inquire, does the imperfect ἦν (was) in the Greek construction Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος in John 1:1 (not the aorist Ἐγένετο), rule out the Unitarian notion of Jn 1:1 as referring to the beginning of Jesus' ministry (i.e., Jesus is a created human being) and only could denote eternity?

Murray J. Harris in his classic work “Jesus as God”,seems to be making this very point when he says: "The imperfect tense ἦν (Latin erat), which here denotes continuous tense (this is debatable), is to be carefully distinguished from...ἐγένετο, which would have implied either that he was a *created* human being ("he came into existence") or that by the time of writing he had ceased to exist (Latin fuit)."[11]

Jo-Ann A. Brant, John, also points out in her commentary on John 1:6, p 31:

“There once WAS a man” [the verb Ἐγένετο places John in the category of creation]. [12]

However, I contend that the assertion being made is that ην implies eternal existence, which it doesn’t, is unjustifiable. In fact it was recognized that when speaking of a dynamic being one shouldn’t use the imperfect because it can imply a change of state. (See the caveat by Parmenides)

Parmenides 8, 5: of the Eternal we cannot say ἦν οὐδ̓ ἔσται, only ἔστιν; Ammonius Hermiae [Comm. in Aristotl. IV 5 ed. ABusse 1897] 6 p. 172: in Timaeus we read that we must not say of the gods τὸ ἦν η τὸ ἔσται μεταβολῆς τινος ὄντα σημαντικά, μόνον δὲ τὸ ἔστι=‘was’ or ‘will be’, suggesting change, but only ‘is’; ‬

Above, Parmenides warned: W‪e cannot say ἦν οὐδ̓ ἔσται, only ἔστιν.

Note that In full English translation it is: We can neither say was (ην) or will be (εσται) only is (εστιν).

How the Apostle likely sees it

The Neofiti Targum has: “From the beginning with Wisdom, The LORD created and finished the heaven and the earth”. I believe John 1:1 reflects the Wisdom tradition recorded in the Babylonian Targum’s interpretation of Gen 1:1 where “reshit” (aka Wisdom) is seen as a metaphorical hypostatic being. Thus the text is read to mean ‘From the beginning with Wisdom’. This of course connects with Proverbs 8 wherein Wisdom describes herself as a created being, as well as a female master-worker next to God. John in his take he depicts a transition from an impersonal personification to a substantial person. The second-century-BCE Jewish philosopher Aristobulus notes Solomon's observation (Prov. 8:22-31) that "wisdom existed before heaven and earth".

In many ways, the impression is primarily of Jesus as the eschatological embodiment of the Wisdom of God, as the one through whom the creator God the Father in all his fullness had revealed himself.

The memra propaganda

Cathcart and Gordon says regarding the theology of Memra:

"For the Tgs. belief in the uniqueness and transcendence of the god of Israel is paramount. There is no other god apart from him (Mic 7:18; Zech 14:9). He controls history and human destinies; but constantly and in a variety of ways the Targumists strive to establish the immiscibility of the human and the divine. Several terms of a general theological complexion are regularly deployed to this end. The Memra, or "Word", of God sometimes functions as God's agent or intermediary between himself and the world, so that when he speaks or acts this is accomplished "by his Memra." On one occasion the Memra is apparently envisaged as a separate entity created by God for the purpose of administering judgement on his behalf (Hab. 1:12; cf. Amos 4:11) . More often, however, the concept of Memra is invoked where human attitudes or activities impinge upon the divine. While, for example, it is impermissible to say of humans that they wait for God, it is possible to enjoin them to wait for the Memra of God (Zeph. 3:8). And whereas the Hebrew text may decry the pre-exilic community's failure to heed God, Tg. speaks of their failure to heed the Memra of God (Zach 1:4). The Memra concept has attracted attention of modern Targumic studies partly because of its potential contribution to the understanding of the function of the Logos in Philonic and New Testament thinking., but scarcely less important from the Targumic operational point of view are the terms puljana' ("service", "worship") and dahlta ("fear"), whos surrogate role could be illustrated from a host of passages Hos 14:2 ("Return, O Israel, to the fear of the Lord your God") and Hos 14:3 ("Return to the worship of the Lord") are especially useful in that the show the high degree of compatibility between the two terms."[13]

The likely perception: According to the Targuimn traditions the utterance of God is the Memra, that is, the personification of His power to utter—a hypostasis, like wisdom. interestingly, note that the phrase "I Am" (אהיה) is an inflected form of the same verb that functioned to create—"Let there be" (יהי). This verb and first ever recorded word of God is closely related to the Tetragrammaton as well as the I AM appellation in certain instances. Further, Midrash has for a long time identified the "Reshiyth" ("first") with lady Wisdom per Proverbs 8. Thus we see early Targums rendered as "in the beginning with Wisdom, God created the heavens and the earth." Wisdom, the Memra and the Logos end up becoming synonymous in some streams of proto-Judaism during Christ's time. So it’s also feasible that he is using this as somewhat of a springboard to identify this action of uttering = יאמר (through which creation occurs) as a glimpse or etiology for the מאמרא as well as tying it to the I AM statement by the close association of the two verbs there as well (sort of as a proof text).

God Became Flesh...?

I would argue, ο λογος is the creative expression of God - and that "creative expression" is now made flesh…This is a similar concept to what we see in the pastorals - and really 1Jn - with the "grace" and "salvation" being manifested....

Micah 1:1 " and the word of the Lord came to Micah"-καὶ ἐγένετο λόγος κυρίου πρὸς Μιχαιαν (LXX)

Ezekiel 1:3 "and the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel"-καὶ ἐγένετο λόγος κυρίου πρὸς Ιεζεκιηλ (LXX)

Zachariah 7:8 " and the word of the Lord came to Zechariah"-καὶ ἐγένετο λόγος κυρίου πρὸς Ζαχαριαν (LXX)

Note the words "Λόγος/word" and "ἐγένετο/came" The word of the Lord came". Consider John 10:35a "if he called them god's to whom the λόγος of God came". We now can consider John 1:14 " and the λόγος became flesh and dwelt among us". In my view, the Logos did not literally become flesh but rather God's Logos came to his people in the form of flesh. This would accommodate Hebrews 1:1-2 where ὁ θεός in the past spoke (his Logos) in the prophets has in these last days spoken (his Logos) in a Son.

Supposing that the Word in John's Prologue is the pre-existent Christ, what exactly do we do with the fact that John 1:14 says that the Word became flesh? Let me illustrate what I mean further.

When we look at the usage of γινομαι in scripture, and this case the aorist indicative εγενετο, it's used pretty consistently to mean "was done, was made, became, happened", etc. When it refers to something "becoming" or "being made" something, it's usage is also consistent, it refers to something or someone going from one state to another, here are some examples to illustrate:

Mat 4:3 And coming near to Him, the Tempter said, If You are the Son of God, speak that these stones may become loaves.

The Tempter was telling Jesus to turn stones into loaves of bread, this means the stones would have gone from being one thing (i.e stones), to being another thing (i.e loaves of bread)

Mat 17:2 And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothing became white as the light.

Christ's clothing "became" white as snow, meaning it was one color and appearance, and then it was another, i.e white

Luk 18:23 But hearing these things, he became very much grieved, for he was an extremely rich one.

The rich man went from being in one state, to a grieved state.

Joh 2:9 But when the master of the feast tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know from where it was (but the servants drawing the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom,

The water had _turned into_ wine

I hope you get the idea here, all of these verses use either εγενετο or some other conugation of γινομαι, the point being that when scripture uses this word to mean "became" or "was made" etc. it's referring to something going from one state to another. And these are just a few examples, there are many more througout the four gospels alone.

So, in the case of John 1:14, you've got the pre-existent Word, being God, or a god, or some kind of "spirit being", whatever you want to say for the sake of argument, and then it BECAME flesh, i.e it BECAME a mortal, a human being. How exaclty does this comport with the view that the Word in fact RETAINED it's previous nature while simultaneously taking on an additional nature? How is that view defensible in any way from the text of John 1:14? It seems to me, that if we suppose John 1:1-14 to be describing a pre-existent being, then verse 14 is telling us that the Word went from being not human (i.e flesh), to being human, he didn't "hypostatize" and "add" a nature to his previously existing one, he actually transitioned from one nature to another.

Poetry in motion with literal elements:

The prologue of John has a blend of abstract and poetic elements along with literal expressions of creation. This is why things like the λόγος are personified in the same way σοφία (Wisdom), in the poetic Proverbs was personified as a hypothetical female describing fine details in a literal Creation. This is very similar to Jewish Midrash which contains a mixture of (1) literal, (2) allegorical, and (3) figurative language, and even pockets of esoteric mysteries.

The parallels to Wisdom are striking. We have in Proverbs 8 opening up with wisdom and understanding as an attribute crying out (vs1). Then it proceeds to give details about creation and God, with phrases such as “Before his works of old”(v22), “Before the earth was(vs23)” and “When he established the heavens (vs27)” which is all very literal. Yet σοφία (Wisdom) simultaneously is being personified as a female spectator that was brought forth (ḥōwlālətî/חֹולָ֑לְתִּי)[vs24], the Greek has (pro-e'r-kho-mi/προέρχομαι) which literally means to set out in advance of another. This wisdom then which produces words then manifests in actual time-based events. These events themselves are not the wisdom, nor the words that sprung from the wisdom - but are manifestations of the creative words of God. The same idea is in John 1. The Λόγος was present before creation but is not active (hence the stative verb ἦν) until it was provoked or uttered by God himself. That is to say, not set out until advanced by another. To reject John’s poetic language in his seemingly literal interpretation of creation is unwarranted and naive. Interestingly enough, scripture suggests that Wisdom can serve on occasions as a proxy for the Logos. This is not to say they are linguistically and theoretically the same, however, in some cases are interchangeable.

James Dunn adds that John's intent substantiates the Unitarian claim in the prologue and concludes that John was likely using poetic language.

He says; ”The conclusion which seems to emerge from our analysis [of John 1:1-14] thus far is that it is only with verse 14 ["the word became flesh"] that we can begin to speak of the personal Logos. The poem uses rather impersonal language (became flesh), but no Christian would fail to recognize here a reference to Jesus - the word became not flesh in general but Jesus Christ. Prior to verse 14 we are in the same realm as pre-Christian talk of Wisdom and Logos, the same language and ideas that we find in Philo, where as we have seen, we are dealing with personifications rather than persons, personified actions of God rather than an individual divine being as such. The point is obscured by the fact that we have to translate the masculine Logos as "he" throughout the poem. But if we translated Logos as "God's utterance" instead, it would become clearer that the poem did not necessarily intend the Logos o f vv. 1- 13 to be thought ofas a personal divine being. In other words, the revolutionary significance of v. 14 may well be that it marks not only the transition in the thought of the poem from preexistence to incarnation, but also the transition from impersonal personification to actual person.”[14]

Shaul Magid notes concerning a parallel with Wisdom and Logos as pre-existing commodities: 'More striking we read a beraita cited in BT Pesahim 54b and Nedarim 39b that seven things came into being before creation, two being Torah (Λόγος) and the name of the messiah. This rabbinic sentiment could easily have been born from earlier notions of the pre-existence in Wisdom Literature where Wisdom (חָכְמָה/σοφία) is said to exist before creation.'[12] Most Johannine scholarship has moved to a primarily Jewish / OT background for logos, and away from a Stoic background. I think they are right. This approach asserts that logos built on the concept of God’s word and perhaps also God’s wisdom in the OT and in other existing Jewish literature. So God’s word creates (Gen 1) and reveals (“the word of the Lord came to...”). Highly significant is Isa 55, which describes God’s word entering the world, accomplishing his purposes and returning to him.[15]

Cowell’s rule/ Harner’s suggestion:

Greek grammarian Cowell states directly concerning John 1:1

"The opening verse of John’s Gospel contains one of the many passages where this rule suggests the translation of a predicate as a definite noun. [The Text] looks much more like “And the Word was God” than “And the Word was divine” when viewed with reference to this rule. The absence of the article does not make the predicate indefinite or qualitative when it precedes the verb, it is indefinite in this position only when the context demands it. The context makes no such demand in the Gospel of John, for this statement cannot be regarded as strange in the prologue of the gospel which reaches its climax in the confession of Thomas."[16]

Its important to note that “The Word was God” indicates by the capitalization of the noun god (God) its definiteness. If taken that way, then the translation then could be a convertible proposition. Which means the Word is the same person as God. Now, in Greek the absence of the definite article can be for the purpose of making known which noun the subject is while not changing the definiteness of the predicate noun. So, if the anarthrous predicate nominative θεος is to be so viewed, then the proposition is convertible just as it is in English. That reading of course lends itself to modalism. This is important, as there seems to be a lot of misinformation surrounding this issue of how Colwell's rule can be appropriately applied. So if Colwell's rule has any application, it's primarily for textual criticism.

I would urge readers to browse Paul Dixon's thesis which also addresses Colwell. In the beginning on page 11, the section entitled, "Colwell's Blunder" should be of special interest. He states on page 14, "Obviously, this rule has very little exegetical value."[17]

If we accept Harner’s conclusion that preverbal anarthrous predicates tend to be qualitative and we accept that this is the case at John 1:1c then reading the text to mean “The Word was divine.” is no problem. Of course, a Jehovah’s Witnesse can take that to mean that just as God is spirit (John 4:24) so too was the Word. We recognize that It is said I'm the literature that even angels are spirits.

However, just to reiterate, If the anarthrous predicate noun is taken to be definite then the meaning that they are the same being obtains. The article doesn’t need to be present for θεος to be definite. That the possibility the Messiah might be a preexistent person who is not τον θεον, but rather a δευτερο θεος (a second lesser god that which is not properly God) was a possibility and can be extracted from 1 Enoch. Admittedly, this idea wouldn’t have been too shocking to Second Temple Jews.

Robert Funk who pioneered the SV (Scholars Version of the Gospels seems to adhere to the Proto-Jewish wisdom theology as well. He interpret λογος (logos) as God’s “word and wisdom” rather than a separate person distinct from God himself. [18]

A prominent Protestant Bible translation in French by Hugues Oltramare first rendered John 1:1 back in 1872, as “Dieu” with a small “d,” he received quite a bit of opposition for it. The publication noted: “His rendering of John i:1, La Parole était Dieu [The Word was god], was very sharply criticized by the orthodox on account of the small d. [19]


One common grammatical feature that can be detected in almost all languages concerning ‘nouns’, including Attic and koine Greek is if you have a noun applied to a subject, that noun is grammatically either definite or indefinite. It is now a count noun (a noun that’s countable). It’s describing that subject as a predication. However, Some Trinitarian NT grammarians try to make some sort of comparison regarding the anarthrous θεὸς in one text, and compare and contrast that with how the NWT translates the anarthrous θεὸς in Jn 1:1. C. Colwell, a Greek bible scholar in the early 1900’s regarded it as probable that the predicate noun in John 1:1 should be interpreted as definite. That is θεὸς in 1:1c should have the force of ὁ or ‘the’. But no Trinitarian that I'm aware of has tried to argue that θεὸς in John 1:1c is definite since. They argue instead that because it's in the pre-copulative position, "nature" is what's being emphasized. But beyond that, NT grammarians like Dan Wallace will further argue that it lacks a definite - that is, an identification - or indefinite - that is, a categorization semantic.[20]

Speaking from a strictly general grammatical point, that's not how singular count nouns function. It's a completely clever artificial category invention by Wallace and others. If a Greek author wanted to convey such a thing, they have adjectives like θεῖος (thi'-os) which its entire purpose is to express a quality apart from further signaling a person, place, or thing.

The validity of indefiniteness

I personally don’t reject the indefinite semantic of the anarthrous θεὸς in 1:1c. However, I don’t think it is entirely necessary. On the basis of grammar alone, it is acceptable, but to reject it completely is a theological resolution (though not necessarily John’s), not a grammatical one. As have been argued to the point of tedium, there are close parallels in the NT that highlights an anarthrous predicate Nominative preceding the verb that negates "qualitative only".

Taking a qualitative/ indefinite approach seems to be more inline with the context as well as the grammar. When I say an indefinite and qualitative reading I read it like “what God was, the word was," or “the word was a divine thing”.[21] Similar to how the [Das Evangelium nach Johnnes, by Siegfried Schulz] renders it. Assuming a qualitative only conflict with how St. John uses “a prophet” in 4:19 or "a king” in 8:48. They are all pre-copulative predicate nouns without the articles that imply an indefinite semantic.

The Trinitarian position ultimately robs The Father of his voice. His literal spoken word has no power to put it mildly. I'm reminded of Jer. 23.29 - ' "Is not my word like fire," says Yahweh, "and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces?"

For me, the intertextual linkage would be from Hebrews back through John 1 through *Wisdom of Solomon* and *Sirach* (or the same wisdom tradition that gave us those works), through the Enochean apocalyptic tradition through Proverbs 8 and Genesis 1. John's "logos" just is God's wisdom (the Torah even), not hardly some "second power" or "emanated being". That seems to be the incorrect mystical tradition - an anachronistic reading of kabbalistic, esoteric thinking back into the NT.

Consider Wisd. 9.1-2, 17: where it says ‘O God of my fathers and Lord of mercy, who has made all things by your word, and by your wisdom has formed man’ Who has learned your counsel unless you have given wisdom and sent your holy Spirit from on high?’ Notice the connected idea of wisdom and the word as a participant of creation. Dr. Craig Evans agrees with the Wisdom motif in the prologue. He notes “One thinks of the opening words of the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... all things through him became, and apart from him not one thing became ...” (1:1, 3). These words allude to the creation narrative of Gen 1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” as interpreted in the light of wisdom and targumic traditions.” [22]

To sum up, all three expressions are clearly alternative ways of enunciating about the significant power of God in his active relationship with his creation. This would in the grand scheme of things include Jesus our lord. The camps who hold to a pedantic literalism (a hypostasis) unreasonably abandon the poetry and spiritually inclined imagination of the ancients metaphors in the literature. We must by all means avoid that.



[1] See David A. Reed. "How Semitic Was John? Rethinking the Hellenistic Background to John 1:1." Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2003, Vol. 85 Issue 4, p709, see also C. H. Dodd, he comments: "If a translation were a matter of substituting words, a possible translation of [QEOS EN hO LOGOS]; would be, "The Word was a god". As a word-for-word translation it cannot be faulted."

[2] “Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation” by James D.G. Dunn

[3] See e.g. Cullmann, Christology, pp. 251-8:James Dunn, Christology in the Making, pp. 215

[4] De Monarch, ii. 5, 0pp. ii. 225 ed. Mangey

[5] De Cherub, c. 35, Opp. i. 162

[6] Legg. Alleg. iii. 31, Opp. i. 106

[7] See De Somn. i. 38, Opp. i. 655, and comp. Legg. Alleg. iii. 73, Opp. i. 128, 1. 43.

[8] Philo Works; Dillon 1996, 139–83; Morgan 1853.

[9] “1128-Demosthenes. 37.23”

[10] The Elements of New Testament Greek (page 30, 1965) by D. J. W. Wenham

[11] “Jesus as God” by Murray J. Harris, pg.54

[12] Jo-Ann A. Brant, Commentary on John pg.31

[13] Cathcart and Gordon

[14] “Christology in the Making” by James Dunn, pg. 243.

[15] Excerpt from: "Piety and Rebellion: Essays in Hasidism" by Shaul Magid.


[17] Link to Decker's paper on Colwell:

[18] John 1

1 In the beginning there was the divine word and wisdom. The divine word and wisdom was there with God, and it was what God was. 2 It was there with God from the beginning. 3 Everything came to be by means of it; and without it not one thing that exists came to be. 4 In it was life, and this life was the light of humanity. 5 Light was shining in darkness, and darkness did not master it.-AV: Notice the AV translates the Demonstrative Pronoun (Οὗτος) as an “it”. Also see the Revised English Version.

[19] NewSchaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Jackson, Sherman, Gilmore.Edited by Philip Schaff. Page16; London: Funk & Wagnals, 1910, Vol. 8, 239 (See, “Oltramare, Marc Jean Hugues”).

[20] Stanley Porter notes in his Porter, Idioms, pg. 109, in a footnote concerning the fully qualitative position, "this still begs the question of what a definite noun is."

[21] Ronald D. Peters in his doctrinal dissertation "The Greek Article: A Functional Grammar of Ho-items in the Greek New Testament with special emphasis on the Greek Article." pg 282 suggest: 'In addition, the choice of characterization moves the anarthrous θεός into the background of the discourse. θεός is no longer a figure but is now part of the ground. The interpretation of abstract characterization and backgrounding reinforce one another and so reveal the function of the distinct yet complementary articular and anarthrous constructions.’ Peters continues to say in nearby context "To capitalize God is essentially to use it as a proper name, while lower-case god better captures the notion of deity in the more abstract sense. While John's purpose is likely both/and rather than either/or, the limitations of English expression do not allow the translator to render this in a manner that fully corresponds to the author's characterization. To illustrate further this emphasis on abstract quality, we observe that crap/; does not have the article in John 1:14, καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο. Just as θεός earlier, σὰρξ is characterized as abstract, rather than concrete. This is not to argue that the Word did not take on literal flesh, that he did is another of the author's theses. Rather, he has simply chosen to characterize σὰρξ as an abstract quality just as he chose to characterize θεός as an abstraction in 1:1”

[22] See Craig A.Evans, Word and Glory: On the Exegetical and Theological Back- ground of John’s Prologue (JSNT Sup 89; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993…): Also see The Book of Genesis Composition, Reception, and Interpretatio, Supplements to Vetus Testamentum, edited by Craig A. Evans Joel N. Lohr David L. Petersen.

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