Re: [John_Lit] Still on a "god" - brief follow-up
- Susan Moore Wrote:
> I am also taking into consideration that the historic Jesusmentions
> his being "one" with YHWH (John 10). Hence, at least in hisattempted
> presentation, not promoting some polytheism. Granted, what kind of"In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos... was ___ God"
> 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.
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
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,
- 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]
Dr. James F. McGrath
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> However, all the evidence seems to suggest thatYes! I quite agree with your observation here. And the reason
> 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'.
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"
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
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