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Still on a "god" - brief follow-up

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  • toioutous_zatei@yahoo.com
    I am sure many of you have read all possible material on this very issue and I must beg your pardon for my persistence. I find something unsettling about the
    Message 1 of 6 , Apr 2, 2001
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      I am sure many of you have read all possible material on this very
      issue and I must beg your pardon for my persistence. I find something
      unsettling about the whole discussion and have been unable to put my
      finger on it.

      This issue of the first century's understanding of "god" among the
      philosophers and theologians of that day seems to me to have a clear
      distinction between that which the Scriptures presented and that
      which man presented. By man, I'm including both unorthodox Jews and
      Gentiles (orthodox Jews holding to the view presented in Scripture).

      The OT Scriptures uses "gods" but never in the sense as attributing
      to the referents the same eternal and infinite nature of YHWH. That
      is, in the Scriptures, all "gods" came into being at some point "in
      time." For example, "gods" might refer to judges. But no orthodox Jew
      would have scratched his head asking why these judges are put on the
      same level as YHWH.

      By crude illustration, perhaps I could present a Creation Line. Any
      Being above the line is eternal... or more simply, is YHWH. Any being
      below the line is not eternal. Hence:


      YHWH (+ John's LOGOS??)

      C----------------------------------

      gods + logos + angels + man

      All this to ask my question. What are the indicators in John that
      eliminate John presenting "this" LOGOS as "a YHWH" ?? I am trying to
      distinguish John's LOGOS from Philo's and others' use of LOGOS (or at
      least at this time I am not assuming both to be the same).

      I am also taking into consideration that the historic Jesus mentions
      his being "one" with YHWH (John 10). Hence, at least in his attempted
      presentation, not promoting some polytheism. Granted, what kind of
      monotheism allows for Jesus to say he is "one" with YHWH does not
      readily come to mind, but that is the sense I get from his words.

      Many thanks,

      Susan Moore
      Sugar Land, TX
    • Peter Hofrichter
      Concerning the Logos as God let me add some remarks summarizing a long way of research: The Logos of the so-called Prologue of John is indeed the Logos of
      Message 2 of 6 , Apr 2, 2001
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        Concerning the Logos as God let me add some remarks summarizing a
        long way of research:

        The Logos of the so-called Prologue of John is indeed the Logos of
        Philo that is applied to Jesus. We have to distinguish between the
        so-called Prologue which is a very early confessional text of the
        Hellenistic Jewish-Christian community familiar with the new and
        exciting theology of Philo - and the later interpretation of this
        text through the so-called Gospel of John. As for the "Prologue"
        there did not yet exist any other pattern than Philo. This pattern is
        taken up again as late as by Justin Martyr who calls the Logos a
        "second God" and repeats all his activities mentioned already by
        Philo - now seen as before his incarnation. Justin quotes frequently
        the Prologue but does appreciate the Gospel, which he does not count
        among the memories of the Apostles (Mk, Mt, Lk). But in the meantime
        the concept of Philonic Logos had already been given up as being
        insufficient. Therefore the "Gospel of John" tried to give the Logos
        of the Prologue a new interpretation, namely as the spoken word of
        Jesus, who is the one God himself existing in the divine unity of the
        Son with the Father (cf. "My Lord and my God"). According to the
        intention of the Gospel of John we shall now understand the sentence
        "In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was by God" in the
        sense of: In the beginning of the of the salvation was the word of
        revelation and this word was the preached word of God himself, namely
        Jesus. The problem of the Logos is not to be solved on the synchronic
        level but in the diachronic differentiation.

        Thank you! Peter Hofrichter




















        >I am sure many of you have read all possible material on this very
        >issue and I must beg your pardon for my persistence. I find something
        >unsettling about the whole discussion and have been unable to put my
        >finger on it.
        >
        >This issue of the first century's understanding of "god" among the
        >philosophers and theologians of that day seems to me to have a clear
        >distinction between that which the Scriptures presented and that
        >which man presented. By man, I'm including both unorthodox Jews and
        >Gentiles (orthodox Jews holding to the view presented in Scripture).
        >
        >The OT Scriptures uses "gods" but never in the sense as attributing
        >to the referents the same eternal and infinite nature of YHWH. That
        >is, in the Scriptures, all "gods" came into being at some point "in
        >time." For example, "gods" might refer to judges. But no orthodox Jew
        >would have scratched his head asking why these judges are put on the
        >same level as YHWH.
        >
        >By crude illustration, perhaps I could present a Creation Line. Any
        >Being above the line is eternal... or more simply, is YHWH. Any being
        >below the line is not eternal. Hence:
        >
        >
        > YHWH (+ John's LOGOS??)
        >
        >C----------------------------------
        >
        > gods + logos + angels + man
        >
        >All this to ask my question. What are the indicators in John that
        >eliminate John presenting "this" LOGOS as "a YHWH" ?? I am trying to
        >distinguish John's LOGOS from Philo's and others' use of LOGOS (or at
        >least at this time I am not assuming both to be the same).
        >
        >I am also taking into consideration that the historic Jesus mentions
        >his being "one" with YHWH (John 10). Hence, at least in his attempted
        >presentation, not promoting some polytheism. Granted, what kind of
        >monotheism allows for Jesus to say he is "one" with YHWH does not
        >readily come to mind, but that is the sense I get from his words.
        >
        >Many thanks,
        >
        >Susan Moore
        >Sugar Land, TX
        >
        >
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      • Peter Hofrichter
        Excuse my mistake: of course: Justin does NOT appreciate the Gospel of John... Peter Hofrichter
        Message 3 of 6 , Apr 2, 2001
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          Excuse my mistake: of course: Justin does NOT appreciate the Gospel of John...

          Peter Hofrichter
        • Bob Wilson
          ... mentions ... attempted ... In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos... was ___ God The exclusion of the definite article to the Greeks did not infer
          Message 4 of 6 , Apr 3, 2001
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            Susan Moore Wrote:
            > I am also taking into consideration that the historic Jesus
            mentions
            > his being "one" with YHWH (John 10). Hence, at least in his
            attempted
            > presentation, not promoting some polytheism. Granted, what kind of
            > monotheism allows for Jesus to say he is "one" with YHWH does not
            > readily come to mind, but that is the sense I get from his words.
            >

            "In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos... was ___ God"
            The exclusion of the definite article to the Greeks did not
            infer ">>any<< out of a group", but rather pointed to the essence of
            what made the noun uniquely that noun (as opposed to a "the" in front
            of the noun which indicated the uniqueness in number or specific
            nature of that noun (as in "the Word"). For example, Nicodemus
            was ">>the<< teacher of Israel" - a specific one above many). We use
            the phrase "she is a beauty" to describe someone who is
            quintessentially beautiful - i.e., the embodiment of beauty. This is
            the meaning used in John where the Word, is not "the God", but "is
            [of the essence of or the embodiment of] God". This meaning is
            confirmed just a few verses later when John says "the Word was made
            flesh."

            How can Christ be God and God the Father be God at the same time?
            This mystery, clearly taught in the scriptures, has defied human
            explanation from the beginning of time. It is a wonderful paradox,
            nevertheless it is true. A Jewish believer gave me an illustrative
            attempt as expressing his understanding of this truth over three
            decades ago and it has stuck with me ever since. He held up his
            Bible and said, "You can see this book because it is three-in-one: it
            has height, breadth, and depth. If you take away any one of the
            dimensions you will reduce the book to a shadow. If any two, to a
            line. Each dimension is distinct, recognizably separate, and
            measurable, but each is also essential for the existence of the
            whole." Any human words are limited by the finiteness of our ability
            to conceive and express the infinite: however, that can never be seen
            as proof that the Infinite cannot exist in ways we cannot understand.

            Because of HIM,
            Bob Wilson
          • James McGrath
            Susan Moore s question is an important one. I think the whole problem of interpreting John, Philo, Justin etc. is the fact that since the 3rd century and the
            Message 5 of 6 , Apr 3, 2001
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              Susan Moore's question is an important one. I think
              the whole problem of interpreting John, Philo, Justin
              etc. is the fact that since the 3rd century and the
              development of a clear doctrine of creatio ex nihilo,
              we presume the existence of the dividing line in this
              form. However, all the evidence seems to suggest that
              in the period in which Philo, John and Justin wrote
              the Logos WAS the dividing line, merging into both
              sides and yet keeping them 'clearly' distinct. And so
              it is that Philo can describe the Logos as 'neither
              uncreated as God, nor created as you, but between the
              two extremes', while John puts it in terms of the Word
              being both 'God' and 'with God'. It is only once a
              clearer dividing line is drawn that the Logos must be
              firmly placed on one side or the other, and thus it
              was that the 'Arians' and the 'Nicenes' had so many
              debates, each convinced that they were being faithful
              to tradition. In a sense, they both were, and in a
              sense, neither was.

              First-century Jewish monotheism had room for this
              ambiguity. Present-day monotheism for the most part
              does not. I suppose the theological question boils
              down to how we answer questions that arose only after
              John came up with his portrait.

              [I think I've written enough. I will, however, direct
              anyone interested to my forthcoming book which looks
              at this topic: James F. McGrath, John's Apologetic
              Christology, SNTS Monograph Series, 111; Cambridge
              University Press, 2001. It should be out in September]

              Best wishes,

              James



              Dr. James F. McGrath
              jamesfrankmcgrath@...
              http://www.geocities.com/jamesfrankmcgrath/









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            • toioutous_zatei@yahoo.com
              James: You wrote ... Yes! I quite agree with your observation here. And the reason I wanted to asked if John presented Jesus as a YHWH (not a god) was based
              Message 6 of 6 , Apr 3, 2001
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                James:

                You wrote

                > However, all the evidence seems to suggest that
                > in the period in which Philo, John and Justin wrote
                > the Logos WAS the dividing line, merging into both
                > sides and yet keeping them 'clearly' distinct. And so
                > it is that Philo can describe the Logos as 'neither
                > uncreated as God, nor created as you, but between the
                > two extremes', while John puts it in terms of the Word
                > being both 'God' and 'with God'.

                Yes! I quite agree with your observation here. And the reason
                I wanted to asked if John presented Jesus as "a YHWH" (not a god)
                was based on this dividing line that John traverses. A god would
                have clearly been (on or) "below" the Line, while YHWH was "above"
                it. And
                the only reason many have placed Jesus "below" this line it seems
                is because John is approached with a Philonic limitation to the
                LOGOS, one John essentially denies.

                The reason the LOGOS (not Philo's logos, but John's LOGOS) was
                PROS TON QEON (YHWH) is because John's LOGOS was "above" this line
                (EN ARCHi), a radical concept in comparison to Philo. And to
                distinguish himself from current thought on the logos, John
                has "this" LOGOS bringing into existence PANTA, which would include,
                at least possibly, Philo's subordinate logos.

                The rigid Jewish Monotheism of that day, and today, could not
                understand Jesus' claim to be "one" with YHWH (John 10). How John's
                LOGOS was "above" this dividing line IN THE BEGINNING may seem
                contradictory, unless we can understand in what sense Jesus says he
                was "one" with God. On the LOGOS, John's departure from Philo seems
                to me at least manifestly there, but more questions are raised than
                answers!

                Susan Moore
                Sugar Land, TX
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