Dale Tuggy

Dale Tuggy is Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches courses in analytic theology, philosophy of religion, religious studies, and the history of philosophy.

185 Comments

  1. Roman
    May 19, 2015 @ 8:55 am

  2. Rose Brown
    March 19, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

    Dale Tuggy

    The English word ‘god’ functions as a ‘proper noun’ in John 1:1c because it is in the ‘nominative case’ as it is in the Greek.This very grammatical function shows how indispensable it is to translate John 1:1c’s QEOS into English as ‘God.’

    The Word = God (as to its essence).

    In other words, the title ‘God’ (Greek: QEOS not QEIOS) tells us something about the Word. It specifically tells us what the Word is.That’s what ‘qualitative sense’ means.It defines the subject in terms of its nature.

    What we mean is that the Word , by being in very nature, God, cannot be called ‘a god.’

    Premise 1: The true God is only one being.
    Premise 2: The Word is God in his very being.
    Conclusion: The Word can’t be a ‘god’ in any sense but rather, he must have been fully and truly ‘God’ in the strictest sense of the word.

    There are no gods by nature, as the Apostle Paul puts it:

    “However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.” Galatians 4:8 (NASB)

    The Greek word translated as ‘Word’ in John 1:1 (ESV) is ‘?????.’

    It is essentially denotes expression from the inside out.

    Consider what is inside our minds. It is called “knowledge.”

    Now this knowledge we have can be made known by either writing it out or by saying it.

    To write or to speak out what’s in our minds does only mean that we are revealing what’s already there, that is, in our minds.

    This analogy of our relationship with our knowledge within and knowledge expressed out is the only closest means of understanding the relationship of the only begotten Son with his own Father..

    Christ existed within the Father just as a word existed within a person. One who is born already existed priorly in the womb.

    Psalm 110:3 (LXX) …From my womb before the morning star I did give birth to you.
    John 1:18 …the only begotten, God, who is in the bosom of the Father…

    Christ did not come into existence just as an expressed word did not come into existence.A word is already in existence within the mind.

    Psalm 45:1 (LXX) …My heart emitted my most excellent Word…

  3. Roman
    January 30, 2015 @ 4:09 am

    I have a question, if someone (who is more qualified than I to answer, which should be most People here :P) could help me With. In Philo’s discussion of the logos, is it Clear that this logos is a personal being? I know Philo can get quite complicated, and he’s not always Clear, but I would think that how the “logos” was concieved of by Philo would be definately relevant to whether or not John thought of the logos as personal or not, of coarse in Proverbs, the wisdom of Solomon and Sirach it might be harder because these are poetic Works and thus one could argue that it’s personification, but Philo I would think would be more philosophical and define what he means, I wouldn’t even know where to start to try and figure that out myself, so maybe someone here can help.

    Here’s my 2 cents on the John 1:1-18, I don’t think from the greek (I can read greek, but I’m no expert) you can distinguish 100% whether or not the logos, is personal or an idea/plan, I think the Language is compatible With both, so I think we have to start With the rest of John (and I suppose the Johannine epistles) to find out how Jesus is presented (as having a pre-existant self or not) and then read that back into the prologue. So take for example John 3:13,
    “No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. (who is in the heaven)”
    I don’t think you could say the son of man descended from heaven, if the son of man didn’t exist, prior to his birth.
    The argument Jesus is making is he has authority to speak these Things because he descended from heaven, I don’t think the argument Works if he’s just talking about the “huios ho antrhopou” being just an idea, or a plan, a plan does not descend, it becomse actualized, and it seems the argument also depends on the same being ascending into heaven who has already descended.
    I think the same goes With John 17:5, glorify me With the glory that Eichon, that I had, he seams to be identifying himself With the being that existed With glory With God, this doesn’t really work unless he existed as a person With God.
    Excuse the vulgar example, but I couldn’t say, for example, when I was in my fathers balls, and have it make sense, I didn’t exist back then, so the Language doesn’t work. So With those scriptures (and perhaps some others) pointing to some sort of personal pre-existance, we can read the prologue as the logos being the person of Jesus as a Heavenly being prior to his birth on Earth.

    • Miguel de Servet
      January 30, 2015 @ 5:14 am

      There is no doubt that, heavily influenced by Platonism, Philo considered The God (ho theos) thoroughly transcendent and inaccessible. On the other hand, Philo considered the logos, however inferior, a true and proper “second god”.

      Commenting on Genesis 9:6 Philo states:

      Why is it that he speaks as if of some other god, saying that he made man after the image of God, and not that he made him after His own image? Very appropriately and without any falsehood was this oracular sentence uttered by God, for no mortal thing could have been formed on the similitude of the supreme Father of the universe but only after the pattern of the second deity [deuteros theos], who is the Logos of the supreme Being; since it is fitting that the rational soul of man should bear it the type of the Divine Logos; since in His first Word God is superior to the most rational possible nature. But He who is superior to the Logos holds His rank in a better and most singular pre-eminence, and how could the creature possibly exhibit a likeness of Him in himself?” (QG 2.62)

      • Roman
        January 30, 2015 @ 7:51 am

        Ok, so it seams that Philo does think of the logos as a personla being, a second deity, so, assuming John knew Philo and his logos theology, wouldn’t it be reasonable that he would expect his Readers to understand his use of “logos” be be identifying a personal being, which is identified as a pre-incarnate Jesus?

        I think that would make more sense, in the wisdom of Solomon and sirach, it seams that wisdom (sophia) is being personified, and I’m not sure if it’s Clear whether or not the writer actually thought there was a actual being that could be identified as wisdom, the same goes With Proverbs 8. Although I think there are Clues that it might be considered an actual person, wisdom was created in Sirach and proverbs, it would seam strange that an idea, or a personified attribute would be “created.” or could be called a “master worker.”
        Eitherway, I think knowing this about Philo would push the argument forward that the logos is a personal being in the prologue of John.

        • Rivers
          January 30, 2015 @ 12:06 pm

          Roman,

          Even though I would agree with you that Jesus Christ himself was being called O LOGOS in John 1:1-3, 14 (as in 1 John 1:2 and Revelation 19:13), I don’t think the Philo argument is of much value since there is no evidence of any corroboration between the writer of the 4th Gospel and Philo.

          Just because the two men both used the term LOGOS, it doesn’t logically follow that there was any interdependence. The only way we can determine the meaning intended by the Johannine writer is to look at the 40+ times that he used LOGOS himself.

          This evidence shows that the writer of the 4th Gospel always used the noun LOGOS either to refer to Jesus Christ himself, or to refer to a spoken saying or message (usually from Jesus during his public ministry). Thus, it seems unlikely that the author would almost always use LOGOS to refer to what Jesus was speaking during his own lifetime if the LOGOS was intended to be something from a previous era.

          • Roman
            February 1, 2015 @ 11:35 am

            I don’t think it’s just that they both used the term logos, but it’s that they both used the term in a very specific theological way, I.e. A way that matches up some what with the use of “wisdom” or in proverbs 8 Sirach and wisdom of Solomon.

            So we have 3 options, 1 it’s just a coincidence that the 2 authors use logos in the exact same theological way. 2 John took the idea from philo and applied it to his christology assuming his readers would get the idea since they would have been familiar with the concept from philo. Or 3 the both had a common oral or unknown written source or tradition that had that same logos theology and John assumed his readers understood the logos concept.

            I think the first option is unlikely given the uniqueness of the logos theology and how it doesn’t seam to be something that one would come up with naturally from the hebrew bible or other Jewish texts (why would one arbitrarily just change Sophia into logos for no reason?)

            I don’t think logos used in what Jesus did in earth I.e. His “word” that people heard or whatever (which seams to mean simply spoken word literally) necessarily needs to have any connection to the theological use of logos in the prologue, right? I mean it seams pretty obvious that the word is being used Ina completely different sense in the prologue than in the literaL sense used in the rest of the gospel.

            • Rivers
              February 1, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

              Hi Roman,

              Thanks for the reply. Here are my thoughts on your comments:

              1. From a forensic standpoint, I think your first option (coincidence) is actually the most likely because because there is no explicit indication of any corroboration between Philo and the writer of the 4th Gospel. The fact that two men appear to use a common word like LOGOS in the same way doesn’t mean that they had the same theological perspective. Options 2 and 3 would require more than just speculating that the John writer knew Philo’s definition or they had another common source.

              From a logical standpoint, we always have to consider that a particular writer is able to make use of a term on his own merit. When we have over 40 occurrences of the noun LOGOS in the John books, there is plenty of evidence to determine how this writer was using the term. Moreover, there is nothing about his consistent way of using LOGOS that requires any knowledge of Philo or other sources. Most translations simply render it as “word” because that is how the writer himself always used it.

              2. I’m not sure what you meant in the second half of the paragraph where you mention “the LOGOS theology” and “arbitrarily changing LOGOS into SOPHIA for no reason.” Could you please clarify what you were trying to say here. 🙂

              3. I don’t think the different sense in which LOGOS was used in the Prologue and the rest of the 4th Gospel would make much difference (considering we know that LOGOS was a “name” by which Jesus was “called”, Revelation 19:13). The use of O LOGOS in 1 John 1:2 also seems to be referring to the audible and tangible person that the writer had lived with.

              Thus, it could be that O LOGOS was being used as a name for Jesus Christ himself in John 1:1-3, 14 and then used in every other occurrence simply to mean a spoken “saying” or “message.” It also seems reasonable to think that, since almost every subsequent use of LOGOS in the John books explicitly referred to something that was actually spoken by Jesus himself, the literal meaning of LOGOS is probably why the risen Jesus became known as O LOGOS.

              So, I think suggesting that O LOGOS was used “in a completely different sense” between the Prologue and the rest of the 4th Gospel and letters is a bit too strong. Even in the context of the Prologue, one could argue that John 1:18 was explicitly identifying Jesus Christ himself as the LOGOS (John 1:1-3) since it says “the begotten [one] … who is in the bosom of the Father [resurrected] … he has explained [spoken about] the Him”

              • Roman
                February 2, 2015 @ 4:26 am

                1. I don’t think it requires more speculation, all it requires is that John either knew about Philo and this theology, or they both knew a second Source, that isn’t speculation, it’s just Reading the evidence.
                I don’t think it’s fair to think that the way he uses “logos” in the prologue is just the exact same way he uses it throughout the gospel when he uses it literally, I think it’s pretty Clear that it’s used in a special theological sense in the prologue.

                I mean in the prologue all Things came into being through the Word, and in the Word was life, I this Word was With god and Divine, I mean it’s pretty Clear that the use of Word in the prologue is different to the use for example when Jesus says “those who listen to my Word have life” isn’t it?

                So given the obvious unique use of “logos” in the prologue, which is used the exact same way Philo uses it, why is it not reasonable to say John knew about Philo’s theology, and in the proloque used the same concepts, then in the rest of the gospel, used the term “logos” more literally?

                2. What I mean by that is if someone argues that John didn’t know anything about Philo and his logos theology, but rather was taking concepts from proverbs 8, sirach and/or wisdom of Solomon, and using those concepts in the prologue, I would argue back to that argument (which no one here has made yet, but I’ve heard it before), that it doesn’t really work, because there is no reason for John to use “logos” instead of “sophia” which is the Word used in all those Sources, since you’re not arguing this maybe you don’t need to really respond, it wasn’t a response to one of Your arguments really, just a side point.

                3. Ok here’s the meat (like all you’re posts, I should probably read the Whole thing first, rather than responding point by point, as often you say Things relevant near the end, that I kick myself for not Reading first).

                I think it does make a difference, if the logos in the prologue is talking about a person, a being, and that being has a special relationship to creation and to God,, that sounds a lot like Philo, and that being becomes flesh and then his Word “his literal Words” he gives to People, leads to life.

                I mean of coarse I think the usage is Connected, in a metaphorical way, so like Jesus is the “Word” of God, the being through which the world was created (just like what Philo says), but then he comes to Earth and his Word is what needs to be believed for life.

                I don’t think John 1:18, necessarily is talking about the ressurected Christ, since in John 6:46 Jesus talks about the one who has “Eowraken” the father, seen, past tense, and I think it’s fair to say that the one who has seen the father is Jesus, now you could argue that John is putting those Words in Jesus’ mouth, but it’s really talking about the ressurected Christ, but wouldn’t it make more sense to say that Jesus was talking about himself when he was the Logos With God?

                I mean it just sounds very Philo like, and if you want to interperate it differently, like it’s not talking about Jesus as a personal being who existed With the father and then came Down, then you have a lot of problems in the rest of John I would think, but if you just say that John is taking philo’s concepts and applying them to Jesus, then it all fits together right?

    • Sean Garrigan
      January 30, 2015 @ 1:17 pm

      Roman,

      In addition to the verses you mention, which most interpret as evidence that Jesus existed in heaven as a real person (as opposed to a plan or idea), you can add John 8:58. We’ve been over this verse extensively here, but none of the “biblical Unitarian” answers seem satisfactory.

      John 8:58 is clearly a verse in which the idiom called either EP (Extension from Past) or PPA (Preset of Past Action still in Progress) is at work. We know that EIMI is part of a PPA because only a translation based on that idiom yields an exquisitely fitting reply, in context.

      There have been many attempts to capture the sense of the PPA at John 8:58, which can be found in a number of translations published by individuals rather than committees. (Note: Committees often feel pressured to satisfy the bodies form whom the translations are meant, and they are often loath to break from tradition.)

      Though many have attempted to capture the sense of the PPA at Jn 8:58, only Kenneth McKay truly does the verse justice with this English translation:

      “I have been in existence since before Abraham was born” (A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek, New York: Peter Lang, 1994), pp. 41-42

      Notice how exquisitely this fits in context:

      56 [Jesus] “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

      57 [Opponents] “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”

      58 [Jesus] “Most assuredly, I say to you, I have been in existence since before Abraham was born!

      What has happened here is that Jesus made a statement in verse 56 in which he was focused on how Abraham saw his day and rejoiced, but his opponents immediately reasoned, and quite rightfully, “How could Jesus know that Abraham rejoiced to see his day unless he personally saw Abraham rejoice. So in amazement they asked the question found in verse 57. And by his answer Jesus showed that they inferred correctly!

      The Unitarians on this forum don’t like this understanding of the account, because they’d then have to give up their denial of the real personal preexistence of the one who became the man Jesus, but it really does seem to be the best interpretation possible, as it flows naturally from both context and grammar.

      ~Sean

      • Roman
        February 1, 2015 @ 11:44 am

        Fair enough but then why didn’t jesus say ego ein? Which would mean I was? Or ego own? Which would be like I am existing?

        I, no expert on Greek grammar but wouldn’t those ways of writing it make the point of “I existed before Abraham” better? Why would John write it so awkwardly?

        • Sean Garrigan
          February 1, 2015 @ 5:25 pm

          It appears that my follow-up post is missing from the discussion (vanished?), which would have answered your question. Here’s the relevant part, however, which clarifies that the PPA:

          “…expresses a state which commenced at an earlier period but still continues…”, as George Benedict Winer put it [1], or “…which indicates the
          continuance of an action during the past and up to the moment of speaking…[which action is]…conceived as still in progress…” as Nigel Turner put it [2].

          [1] A Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament, Seventh Edition,
          p. 267

          [2] A Grammar of New Testament Greek, Vol. III, Syntax, p. 62

          So Jesus, according to the Evangelist, wasn’t merely saying that he existed before Abraham came to be; rather, he was saying he had been in existence since before Abraham came to be and continued to exist right up to the point of speaking. In other words, the PPA covers a broader period.

          • Sean Garrigan
            February 1, 2015 @ 5:32 pm

            Repost of the post that vanished:

            Roman,

            In light of the potential for River’s post to mislead or confuse, I should point out that McKay’s understanding of the Greek isn’t new. As I noted previously, sometimes when translators break away from committees and the unavoidable pressures such bodies sometimes exert out of allegiance to Church tradition, they’ve offered renderings that attempt to capture the idiom. Note a few examples:

            Edgar J. Goodspeed rendered vs 58, “I tell you, I existed before Abraham was born.”

            James Moffatt similarly offered, “I have existed before Abraham was born.”

            Catholic James A. Kleist, S.J. offered, “I am here — and I was before Abraham!” (In the footnote he claims that the utterance intimates eternity, but that’s not a necessary implication of the Greek).

            Charles B. Williams, whose translation was called “…the best translation of the New Testament in English”, in part because it surpassed “…all other translators of the New Testament in bringing out the tense significance of the Greek verbs” (J. R. Mantey, comments on dust jacket), offered this rendering, “I most solemnly say to you, I existed before Abraham was born.”

            In their Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, Louw and Nida offer, “before Abraham came into existence, I existed.”

            All of these are fine attempts to capture the sense of the Greek, yet only McKay’s rendering truly does it justice, as only his rendering “…expresses a state which commenced at an earlier period but still continues…”, as George Benedict Winer put it [1], or “…which indicates the continuance of an action during the past and up to the moment of speaking…[which action
            is]…conceived as still in progress…” as Nigel Turner put it [2].

            River’s preferred “interpretation” ends up with Jesus not only offering a non sequitur, but with Jesus making a statement that is truly odd and logically tortured in context. I don’t think that any one else in the history of NT interpretation has ever suggested that John 8:58 should be understood to mean “Before Abraham is resurrected, I Am [the Messiah],” or something like that, which is River’s strange view.

            [1] A Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament, Seventh Edition,
            p. 267

            [2] A Grammar of New Testament Greek, Vol. III, Syntax, p. 62

            • Roman
              February 2, 2015 @ 3:19 am

              Thanks for that Sean, I appreciate it.
              So tell me if I have this straight, he can’t use Ego Ein, because that would mean “I was” and he’s not saying “I did exist” but “I did and continue to exist” or “ego own” for the same reason, but can’t ego ein be also used as a PPA? Or Ego own?
              Also what about the use of Genesthai? (to become), not “became” or “was becoming” or aynthing like that, but before Abraham “to become” that’s a strange way of putting it isn’t it?

          • Rivers
            February 1, 2015 @ 8:57 pm

            Repost of a response to McKay’s fallacious mistranslation of John 8:58.

            It doesn’t matter if McKay’s interpretation of John 8:58 is new or not. It represents some of the worst exegesis ever offered as an explanation of that text.

            As I noted earlier, McKays “translation” isn’t consistent with any of the evidence of how the writer of the 4th Gospel used the words and the grammatical forms. It’s a classic example of someone forcing a dubious grammatical pretext (PPA or EP) onto a prooftext without any comprehension or regard for the semantics or manner of speaking of the biblical writer.

            The “sometimes translators breakaway from committees” argument in his defense is meaningless and lends no credibility whatsoever to an interpretation that is critically flawed at numerous points. McKay probably wouldn’t be invited to participate on any translation committee anyway.

            Since you believe in McKay’s translation, please try to address the objections I raised, and explain where there is any precedent for accepting the assumptions his is making about PPA and his total departure from the way that the writer of the 4th Gospel always used the vocabulary and the grammar elsewhere.

    • Rivers
      January 30, 2015 @ 4:50 pm

      Roman,

      I strongly disagree with Sean’s appeal to Ken McKay’s misleading translation PPA or EP reading of John 8:58 for the following reasons:

      1. PPA or EP is only a speculative interpretation of grammar. McKay has not established that PPA or EP is required by the grammar in John 8:58 (or that it is the most plausible way of interpreting the grammar). There are also no other definitive examples of PPA or EP that can be put forward to show that the writer of the 4th Gospel ever used such an idiom.

      2. Kenneth McKay’s translation is based upon the commonly mistaken notion that the verb GINOMAI is referring to the “birth” of Abraham. It can easily be shown that the writer of the 4th Gospel never explicitly used GINOMAI to refer to anyone’s “birth” and always used GENNAW (a different word) to speak of someone’s “birth” (e.g. John 3:36, John 9:20-21). Thus, there is no basis for translating

      3. McKay also unnecessarily renders EGW EIMI as a Progressive Perfect tense (“I have been in existence”) based upon his presuppositions about a PPA or EP without any regard for the fact that the writer of the 4th Gospel never used either EGW EIMI (“I am”) or any other verb as a Progressive Perfect in any other passage. Since there are numerous other uses of EGW EIMI in the 4th Gospel that are simply translated “I am” ( since it’s naturally a Present Active Indicative), it is unlikely that McKay’s translation is even plausible.

      4. McKay also overlooks the fact that the Aorist Middle form is never used when referring someone’s “birth.” The writer always uses the Passive form (e.g. John 3:4; John 8:41). Thus, the use of the Middle form in John 8:58 also makes the “before Abraham was born” translation implausible.

      5. Although McKay’s translation can be construed to make sense of Jesus’ reply, so can several other more likely translations of John 8:58 (and that is why most translators don’t follow McKay’s PPA or EP approach). It ultimately depends upon the context and how one interprets the question posed by the Jews in the context of the discussion they were having throughout John 8:12-57.

      • Roman
        February 1, 2015 @ 11:23 am

        2. Ok let’s say it doesn’t mean “was born” then it would have to mean something like “came into being” or “became”, which would convey the same idea wouldn’t it? Before Abraham “came into being” or “was born” or whatever would mean more or less the same thing wouldn’t it? Btw has anyone ever argued that for some sections of John a separate source is being used? (To explain strange wording)

        3. It’s a weird wording, I agree, but given the context and the argument being had, it would seam to me that the easiest reading would be that Jesus is talking about existence, rather than identifying himself, I personally don’t like to hang any argument on John 8:58 since it’s such a weird verse, at least no one here is trying to connect it to exodus 3:14, which is such a dishonest move in my opinion, (all you gotta do is look it up in the LXX to realize there is no such connection)

        5. How do you read it then?

        • Rivers
          February 1, 2015 @ 3:32 pm

          Hi Roman,

          My comments here are numbered 2-5 to correspond to the numbering you used in the previous reply to me.

          2. One could argue in John 8:58 that “was born” essentially means the same thing as “comes into being” if there was anything evidence that the biblical writer connected those ideas linguistically. However, there no evidence that the writer of the 4th Gospel used GINOMAI (be, make, happen) the same way that he used GENNAW (bear, begat).

          The other issue with GENESQAI (becomes, comes to be) in John 8:58 is that it’s an Aorist Middle Infinitive verb form. This is a form that the writer of the 4th Gospel used to speak of something that had not happened yet (e.g. John 3:4; John 14:29). Thus, it would make no sense for GENESQAI to be construed as a reference to Abraham’s birth because it has already happened.

          3. I agree with your point about EGW EIMI (and the dubious attempts to make it refer to Exodus 3:14. It doesn’t have to grammatically indicate anything other than that Jesus was acknowledging his own personal existence at the very time he was having the conversation with those Jews.

          However, since there no indication that the Jews were questing the existence of Jesus in the context, it seems likely that EGW EIMI should be taken to infer something more about the meaning of his existence at that particular time.

          5. Here is what I think is the most plausible reading of John 8:58:

          “Truly, truly, I [Jesus] am saying to you [Jews], before Abraham becomes [alive again], I am [the one who’s day Abraham rejoiced to see]”

          • Roman
            February 2, 2015 @ 3:04 am

            I just used 2-5 because in Your first post 1 I agreed With and 4 and 5 kind of went together :).
            2. Ok, then what could it mean? I mean before Abraham (be, make, happen), and from my understanding ginomai being used as a verb would have to have an Object wouldn’t it? unless it was talking about Abraham himself who was being made or coming into being or anything like that.
            I looked at John 3:4 and John 14:29 in the greek, and it seams like it’s used more grammatically correct in those verses, because as you said literally it would be “before Abraham to become” … given it’s verb form, and it just doesn’t make sense.
            I might be tempted to say John is just using bad grammer, or is quoting a Source using bad grammer … I don’t know.
            3. I agree in 8:24, in 8:24 i’ts pretty Clear he’s saying “I am he … the messiah,” given the obvious context. 8:58 is a little more difficult, becuase the argument was’nt about, the “Jews” say you’re not greater than Abraham are you? Jeseus responds by saying the father glorifies him, then he says “Abraham saw my day and rejoiced” and saw is past tense, and so is rejoiced …. then the jews say “you’re not even 50, then comes the bizzare “before Abraham ‘to become I am (he).’
            So it doesn’t seam to be talking about him being the messiah, the point seams to be that somehow Abraham saw his day and rejoiced, and then the strange part …
            Plausably, he could be talking about prophesy, that he was prophesied, but then why does that elicit the throwing stones reaction?
            5. I should have probable started responding here :P, instead of doing 2 and 3 individually, this one helps a lot.
            You have to clarify a little bit more, so you’re saying before Abraham is ressurected …. I am here? What sense does that make given the context? And what does “I am here” mean? I am here … so what?
            I understand that no matter what exegesis one gives it, it’s going to be a little tortured, there’s no way around it, since the text is weird, but how do we know the “life” he’s talking about is ressurection?
            I myself would not use John 8 (anything in it) to argue pre-existance, even though I do believe in it, (And I am a Unitarian, a subordinationist), but that being said, 8:58, the more I think about it, the more it Puzzles me, you’re explination does make some sense, but you have to flesh it out a bit more (if you be so kind).

            • Rivers
              February 2, 2015 @ 11:58 am

              Hi John,

              Here is my response to your latest comments. Thank you for continuing the discussion:

              2. I think the Middle voice of GINOMAI that the writer used in John 8:58 would suggest that Abraham was the one who “becomes” or “comes to be.” The “before Abraham becomes” also makes sense if Jesus himself (EGW EIMI) is the one presently existing before Abraham comes again at the resurrection on “the last day” (John 11:24-26). I don’t see any reason to extend EGW EIMI all the way back to the time before Abraham was born.

              3. Yes, I agree that the “I am” (EGW EIMI) is more difficult to predicate or paraphrase in John 8:58 than when it is used elsewhere. This is why we can’t fault the translators too much for simply leaving it “I am” (whether they entertain presuppositions about preexistence or not). With that said, I don’t think trying to force the simple EGW EIMI to mean “I have been” or

              However, I think it’s most likely that Jesus was identifying himself with something in the immediate context of the statement by the Jews that he was responding to at that point in the conversation (John 8:57). It seems to me that the Jews were offended by the implications of what he was saying about the resurrection (John 8:52-53) and how it would make him greater than Abraham or any of the prophets who “died.”

              5. I think there is sufficient grammatical and contextual justification for the resurrection interpretation of John 8:58 because the Aorist Middle Infinitive from of the verb GINOMAI (becomes, comes to be) must point to something that hadn’t happened to Abraham yet. In the context, Abraham had already “died” (John 8:52-53), so it’s unlikely that GINOMAI would be used to refer to his birth (especially when GINOMAI is not the word for birth).

              From a contextual standpoint, Jesus alluded to the resurrection numerous times throughout the discussion with the Jews in John 8 and they were perturbed that Jesus was claiming that whoever believed in him would have everlasting life (John 8:51-52) which they took as a claim that Jesus would have to be greater than Abraham (John 8:53).

              Thus, I think the gist of John 8:58 is that Jesus was saying “I am the one here who has the authority to bring Abraham back to life.” That is when Jesus and Abraham would actually “see” each other in the Kingdom (Matthew 8:11). Considering that Jesus was teaching that the kingdom was already “at hand” (Mark 1:15) and that “the hour” of the resurrection had already come (John 5:25-28), it would even make sense if he were actually telling those Jews that he was actually going to “see” Abraham in their own day.

              • Roman
                February 3, 2015 @ 4:35 am

                2. Ok, but that wasn’t the question that was posited to him, wasn’t the issue, the issue was that Abraham saw his day, and then they said how is that possible you’re not even 50, then you claim he’s saying “I am here before Abraham get’s ressurected? That doesn’t really fit With the argument Jesus is having, the issue is whether or not Abraham saw his day and rejoiced, saying I’m here before he’s ressurected doens’t seam Connected, that’s why I’m asking you to flush it out a bit more.
                3. But how do we know he was talking about the ressurection? He doesn’t actually mention it explicitly, but the immediate context was Abraham seeing his day, not about Abraham being ressurected, then he says before Abraham to become (which doesn’t really sound like ressurection Language) I am or I am he, and if he’s just saying before Abraham gets ressurected I’m here … I don’t see the significance of that statement, I mean they were also there, so were the aposltes, and so on, previously he was talking about those who observe his Word not tasting Death (which may or may not be talking about the ressurection), then the discussion changes to Abraham seeing his day, what day is that?
                What was the implication? Why would him being there before Abraham’s ressurection mean anything significant? Also what does that have to do With Abraham seeing his “day”?
                5. In the context Abraham died, but he also say Jesus’ day, the point was that Abraham was dead, and Jesus was not yet fifty, so how could he have seen Abraham or Abraham seen his day.
                Ginomai can be the Word for birth can’t it? I mean it is used as the Word for birth in the NT, but as far as I know it’s never used as a term for ressurection.
                Also he already told them that listening to him would get them life, so there is no New information in the “ego eimi” statement …
                Reading the passage, I can see how that exegesis is possible, But it just seams tortured, you have to assume so many Things, one is that Jesus was talking about the ressurection the Whole time, you have to assume that he is talking about his ability to ressurect, and that the Jews didn’t understand any of it, and Jesus wasn’t really answering their questions. Also he could have said it much more Clearly couldn’t he? I mean to posit that Ginomai means ressurection, and ego eimi, just means I am the one can is before him … existing now before his ressurection, and somehow that means that he has the Power to ressurect, even though it’s not Clear that that is what he was talking about, (it’s certainly not what the jews were talking about), just seams very tortured.
                Most of the back and forth was about who was God’s children, or Abrahams children, who’s righteous and who’s not, then it goes into the strange Territory of never tasting Death and Abraham seeing his day.
                I myself however, would never hang any theological doctrine on this scripture, as it’s too vague honestly.

                • Rivers
                  February 3, 2015 @ 10:35 am

                  Hi Roman,

                  Good points. I’m glad you are pressing me to clarify the details of the exchange between Jesus and the Jews in John 8:51-58. Let me add a few more points and I appreciate your feedback. I renumbered them to help make the comments more specific.

                  1. I think when Jesus said “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56) it was referring to the faith of Abraham who understood that the birth of Isaac was a resurrection promise (Romans 4:17). We also know that Abraham was “looking” for an heavenly fulfillment of the promise he was given that went beyond his own earthly life (Hebrews 11:8-10; Hebrews 12:22-28).

                  2. There is evidence in the context that the Jews couldn’t understand what Jesus was talking about when he spoke of the resurrection throughout their conversation (John 8:21-22; John 8:24-25; John 8:33-36; John 8:41-43; John 8:51-52). Thus, I think the question they asked in John 8:57 was misinformed and that is why the answer that Jesus gave doesn’t appear to follow directly from it. I think those unbelieving Jews had the same misunderstanding about spiritual birth (i.e. resurrection life) as did Nicodemus (John 3:3-5).

                  3. It seems significant that Jesus was present (EGW EIMI) in the “day” is because he was “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25-26). Since Abraham had already “died” (John 8:52), the reason that he “rejoiced” to see the day of Jesus Christ was because he understood that God could raise the dead (Romans 4:17). Thus, the Jews misunderstood that Abraham “saw” the day of Jesus Christ because he believed in the resurrection (and not because Jesus was as old as Abraham).

                  4. As far as the writer of the 4th Gospel is concerned, he used GINOMAI over 40 times, but never explicitly to refer to birth. On the other hand, he used the word GENNAW about 15 times to refer to birth (e.g. John 3:3-6; John 9:20-21). Thus, there is no reason to think that the writer intended GINOMAI to refer to the time of birth. However, Jesus did use the same Aorist Middle Infinitive of GINOMAI to refer to the happening of his own imprending resurrection (John 14:29) that he used in John 8:58 to refer to what was going to happen to Abraham.

                  5. Please elaborate on why you think the resurrection reading of John 8:51-58 is “full of assumptions.” I’m trying to do the best I can to cite the grammatical and contextual evidence to show why it is the most plausible interpretation. As you suggested in a previous comment, John 8:58 is an unusual expression that requires some paraphrasing by anyone who attempts to explain its implications. If I haven’t substantiated something, please point it out.

                  6. Why do you think the “never taste death” (i.e. resurrection) language is “torturous” in that context? There are almost a dozen times that Jesus alludes to the resurrection in the context of John 8:12-58 and even in the immediate context (John 8:51-52). The fact that Jesus Christ himself was “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25-26) is also a central theme throughout the 4th Gospel (and comes up in almost every conversation he had with the Jews).

                  • Roman
                    February 5, 2015 @ 3:58 am

                    1. Ok, here’s a fundamental problem With exegesis, when it comes to theology, I think it’s fair to read the scripture en toto, but if we are trying to get to what John himself was thinking, I don’t know if we can appeal to the Pauline letters or Hebrews, as I don’t think John was really influenced by them, or if he was I’d have to understand why. Abraham was looking forward not explicitly to the ressurection anywhere in genesis, but to the messianic age, wouldn’t that explination make more sense? That Abraham saw the messianic age?
                    2. That’s true, but the pattern in John 8, is Jesus responding to what they asked, so for exmaple, Jesus talks about “being set free” they respond by saying they arn’t slaves, Jesus responds to that, they go on about Abraham, Jesus responds to that, So then wouldn’t it make sense that in John 8:58 Jesus would be responding to “you are not yet 50 years old and you have seen Abraham?” What Your positing as an exegesis, totally ignores the question the Jews are positing.
                    Again, it is possible, it just requires one to assume that the answer has almost no Connection to the question.
                    3 & 4. I get that Ginomai isn’t used as birth, but it certainly isn’t used as ressurection anywhere is it? As I said in #2, the problem seams to be With the disconnect to the Jews questions, it would be as if Jesus was having a monologue almost unrelated to the Jews objections. Wouldn’t it be easier to exegete it this way.
                    If you believe in me you’ll live forever.
                    Abraham died and you’re not better than him right?
                    Its not me it’s God, I obay God and do his Word, if you did you’d follow his Word, Abraham was promised a messianic age, I’m the messiah, so he saw me. (maybe when God showed him the stars? Maybe metaphorically when he gave him a ram to sacrifice rather than his son? Or maybe when God appeared and made a covenant With him?
                    The jews not recognizing him as the messiah, said “how could he have seen you, you’re not yet 50”
                    Then Jesus replies, “before Abraham to become I am he,”
                    Which I would read as, before Abraham was anything, I was the promised messiah, i.e. I am the Whole Jewish story fulfilled, I am the messiah, and I’ve been the messian since the begining of the age, and all those prophesies that Abraham was told, were me.
                    That exegesis takes into account the Jews Questions, and doesn’t seam to change the subject in the discussion doesn’t it?
                    5. Because you have to assume “ginomai” means ressurected, and you also have to assume that the day Abraham saw was the ressurection, you also have to assume that Jesus was talking about ressurection, rather than what it looks like on the surface, i.e. who is “from God”
                    6. You’re right, I spoke to quickly, I should have thought more about that statement, it does seam that “never taste Death” is a Reference to the ressurection, but that wasn’t the topic perse, wasn’t the ressurection just in Reference to what one must do “listen to the Word of God, through Jesus” to gain ressurection?
                    I’m being confrontational about it, but I do like Your exegesis, it’s very well thought through (obviously), and when you explain it, it does seam to answer a lot of questions. But At the same time, I do think the “I am the massiah and I always was” explination fits better.
                    But that being said, I don’t think this verse can really be used to argue for or against pre-existance, as it’s compatible With both in my opinion.
                    Thanks for being patient and spelling out Your position for an amature like myself :).

                    • Rivers
                      February 5, 2015 @ 8:34 am

                      Hi Roman,
                      1. I’d have to disagree on this point because it seem that Abraham understood the regeneration of Sarah’s womb as resurrection promise (Romans 4:18-19). That was back in Genesis 17.

                      2. I don’t think the resurrection answer in John 8:58 ignores the question in John 8:57. The Jews did not believe that Jesus could raised the dead (John 8:51-53). Thus, they didn’t understand how Abraham could “see [Jesus’] day.” It was the same misunderstanding about spiritual life that Nicodemus had earlier (John 3:3-6). Moreover, Jesus had just made a statement about Abraham “rejoicing to see my [Jesus’] day” (John 8:56) and not about anyone seeing Abraham in the past.

                      3-4. You can see GINOMAI used in the same Aorist Middle Infinitive form (GENESQAI) in both John 8:58 and John 14:29. The latter text is talking about the resurrection of Jesus himself (that had not happed yet either).

                      5. I don’t think any “assumptions” about resurrection in John 8 are the issue at all. Jesus spoke about resurrection life about a dozen times in John 8:12-58 and even in the immediate context at John 8:51-52. Thus, there is plenty of evidence showing that resurrection is a major part of the conversation he was having with those Jews.

                      6. Yes, “never taste death” (John 8:51-52) and “free” (John 8:32-33, 36) are both resurrection terms. The believing part is connected to resurrection life (John 8:24) because the apostles understood that Jesus “spoke the words of everlasting life” (John 6:63, 68).

                      7. Thank you for your encouraging concluding remarks. I have thought a lot about this text, but it’s always necessary to have good critical feedback from someone like you who seems genuinely interested in considering different ways of looking at the evidence in order to try to figure out what is the most reasonable interpretation. I really appreciate it. 🙂

                    • Roman
                      February 6, 2015 @ 7:28 am

                      1. Well. that’s paul who is doing isogesis, we don’t know if John was Pauline in his thinking, nor do we know if he understood the regeneration as ressurection as Paul did … I mean that might work in a theological system, but not in exegeting John, if you want to use Paul to interperate John you need a basis for doing so wouldn’t you?
                      2. From what I understand, they didn’t understand that Jesus was refering to ressurection … they figured he was talking about never dying. But then the question was how could you have seen Abraham, since you’re not older than 50, saying before Abraham is ressurected, I am the one through the ressurection will happen… or something like that has no Connection to the question, does it?
                      3-4. JOhn 14:29 was talking about his asscencion back to heaven, and he used Genesqai not as a Word for ressurection, but in it’s litteral sense, when this happens …. when (what I had just talked about, i.e. me going back to the father) happens. I don’t think you can take that as being a Reference to the ressurection at all, nor do I think you can use it to exegete John 8:58, since it’s being used there in a completely different way, in John 14:29 it’s literal.
                      5. I get that, it’s just the questions leading up to John 5:58, at least from the Jewish standpoint, seam to not be about the ressurection, but rather the authority of Jesus.
                      6. Yeah but after that after 8:51,52, the conversation changes to “who do you claim to be” … then Jesus responds that he gets all his glory and so on from the father. Right? I mean isn’t that the right context to exegete the John 8:58 statement?
                      7. Thanks, I hope you get that I’m not being Critical just to be Critical, I’m not 100% sure about this verse either, and even though I dissagree With you theologically (I’m a JW), it’s Nice to get different ways of Reading verses.

                    • Rivers
                      February 6, 2015 @ 8:54 am

                      Hi Roman,

                      1. I understand what you’re saying about possible differences between Paul’s thinking and that of the writer of the 4th Gospel. That’s a valid point. But, I’m assuming that they were being instructed by the same Lord and spirit. Thus, I think it’s helpful sometimes to consider what the other apostles said about the same subjects.

                      2. I like your point about the Jews thinking that Jesus would “never die” because there’s evidence that Jesus was saying that even some of those who were believing him in his own generation would “never die” (John 11:26) because the final judgment was imminent (John 5:25-28). Even the apostles were thinking that Lazarus might not die again before the Parousia (John 21:21-23). I think interpreters fail to take this into consideration. If Jesus was saying that the dead were going to be raised in his own generation, then Abraham would literally be seen in his own day.

                      3. I agree that GENESQAI is not the literal word for “resurrection.” Its meaning depends upon the context. I think both John 8:51-53 and John 14:29 have resurrection life (including ascension, of course) in the context.

                      4. The grammatical point I was making with PRIN … GENESQAI in John 14:29 is that it shows how these forms were used to speak of something that hadn’t happened yet. Thus, even if we took John 8:58 literally as “before Abraham happens”, GINOMAI could still be referring to a future appearing of Abraham in the same sense that GINOMAI was used to speak of the appearing of John the baptizer (John 1:6) and Jesus Christ (John 1:14). The writer did use GINOMAI to mean that someone “appeared.”

                      5. OK, but I don’t think it’s possible to draw a clear distinction between the authority of Jesus Christ and his power to raise the dead (John 7:39). The unbelieving Jews seem to have made that connection too because Jesus was speaking of God as his own Father and having the authority to judge on His behalf (John 8:23-28).

                      6. I don’t think there is such a clean break in the conversation between John 8:51-53 and John 8:58. Jesus had been discussing “never die” and “Father” and “glory” going all the way back to the beginning of the conversation in John 8. The Jews were also still asking him the “who are you?” question because they still didn’t believe him.

                      7. Not at all. Your feedback is tremendously helpful. If I can’t give a reasonable answer to your objections, then I’ve got work to do. If I’m making an obvious error, I would rather know about it. That’s the way these conversations should be. Again, I really appreciate your interest in discussing the options. 🙂

                    • Roman
                      February 6, 2015 @ 9:56 am

                      1. Well ok, but then you’re going from the realm of exegesis to theology, for example there’s the question as to what the writers had in mind when writing the text, that’s exegesis (as I understand it), then you have theology which is looking at the bigger Picture Beyond individual context’s and so on, to create a system. If we are exegiting John in the sense of trying to figure out what John meant to say in his writing, I don’t think we can appeal to Paul, UNLESS we can show that John knew Pauls theology and expected his Readers would to. To read the regenerating of Sarahs womb as ressurection, might be true (for Paul, or for a theological system), but it’s not the Natural exegesis of the text, and just because Paul used that metaphor, does not mean you can apply it outside of paul in texts that are not Pauline.
                      2. Fair enough, but it still seams like Jesus was ignoring the question of the Jews? Since it doesn’t seam like they were talking about the ressurection perse right? But that Reading does fix some problems, Reading it in the sense that Jesus thought the end was in his Lifetime.
                      3. I don’t think either of them have it … John 14:29 is about Jesus assending to the father, and when he uses the Word Genesqui, it’s used literally, i.e. when that happens, so for John 8:58, if we were going to use it the same way, we’d have to say “when Abraham, happened, or became or something like that,” John 14:29 and John 8:58 are Apples and Oranges. in John 14:29 it’s very Clear the Genesqai is talking about, and it’s translated literally and it fits together. Not so With John 8:58. I get the ressurection is in John 8, but it doesn’t seam to be the issue the jews are dealing With leading up to John 8:58.
                      4. I understand … than’s for the clerification, I agree, Genesqai is generally used by John as something that will be done, here’s the problem, it’s usually used in Reference to an action or an event, because actions or events are thing that happen, in Reference to a person it’s different, so With Abraham, before Abraham happens … you can’t intereperate that based on the grammer, becuase it’s so obscure, you’d have to look at the context right?
                      As far as Genomai and it’s different uses, that’s different, I using Egeneto in John 1 makes sense, he became flesh. Or John 1:6 there became a man “there was a man,” it makes sense literally.
                      5. Ok, perhaps theologically you can’t make that distinction, but the question is what was Jesus responding to, and how was he responding. I mean for example there is no distinction between me being a king and my right to wear a Crown, but if I’m answering my right to be king, I’m not really talking about the Crown … even though that’s implicit in the answer, it’s not really what I would be talking about … does that make sense? (it’s a sloppy illustration, but I hope it Works).
                      6. But they were asking “who are you” that you are greater than the prophets and Abraham who died, his answer had nothing to do With the ressurection, rather it had to do With him following and listening to Gods Word, then comes the Abraham saw my day, which could I suppose to a ressurection Reference, but then they come back With the age of Jesus argument, then comes Jesus’ reply.
                      7. Heres’ another question I have, and maybe there is no answer to this, why couldn’t Jesus have used a simple Word like “anastesetai” like he will be ressurected (I think I got the grammer right, correct me if I’m wrong), or something like that, or say, I am the ressurection.
                      I know there may not be an answer, but I’m just thinking, if John meant to say what you claim, it should have been a Whole lot easier to just say it, thats why I say its tortured, because on face value it seams to be saying something else.

                    • Rivers
                      February 6, 2015 @ 11:41 am

                      Hi Roman,
                      1. That’s a valid point. So we stick to all the evidence about resurrection (“never taste death”, “free”, and “glory”) in the context of the conversation in John 8:12-58. This would support the conclusion that John 8:58 could be a resurrection text (and applicable to Abraham since the Jews acknowledge that he had already “died”, John 8:52).

                      2. Yes, but that goes back to what we noted earlier about the fact that the Jews didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about. When they mention that Abraham “died” (John 8:52), and then assume that Jesus was somehow claiming to have seen Abraham in the past, I think it shows that (like Nicodemus) they didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about. Thus, I don’t think it’s necessary to think that the answer Jesus gave must follow directly from the question.

                      3. I understand what you’re saying about John 14:29. It’s better to translate GENESQAI as “becomes” or “comes to be” in John 8:58 because the subject is a person. In John 14:29, it is better to translate GENESQAI as “it happens” because it is referring to an action or event. However, that is because GINOMAI is a term that the writer could use in biblical Greek under both conditions, whereas we have to use several different English words to translate GINOMAI.

                      The Prologue is a good example of where GINOMAI is translated with a half dozen different English words in a matter of only 18 verses.

                      4. Yes, I always agree that context is the most important factor when doing exegesis. But, I do see a lot about resurrection in the context of John 8:58 as well as John 14. It’s also a prevailing theme throughout the entire 4th Gospel. I would even argue that John 1:1-3 and John 1:15, 27-30 are resurrection texts (and not about preexistence).

                      5. I understand the point of your illustration about king and crown.

                      6. With regard to “who are you” and being “greater than the prophets” … I think the Jews simply didn’t understand that Jesus was claiming that God was how own Father (John 8:27). This claim would make Jesus “equal with God” (John 5:18) in the sense that “all things” that belonged to God would be under his authority (John 3:35; John 13:3).

                      7. That’s a good question about the term “resurrection.” However, there is always “manner of speaking” that allows a writer to refer to something without always using a particular word. For example, sometimes the writer has Jesus speaking of “ascending to the Father” (ANABAINW) and sometimes he has Jesus saying “going to the Father” (POREUW) but there is no doubt that his ascension is intended by the use of both words.

                    • Roman
                      February 7, 2015 @ 5:53 pm

                      1. Fair enough, and I agree, it could be a ressurection text, but I don’t think that’s the easiest reading, it seams like the ressurection talk (even vaguely in the form of “never tasting death,” is only in the text, as part of a larger point, that point being that Jesus is from the father, and the father glorifies him and he has the Gods message and so on. I mean he talks way more about coming from God and being sent by God than anything else, infact he doesn’t mention ressurection at all, he only mentions thing that can (very very plausably) be interperated as ressurection talk in order to make a larger point.

                      2. That is a fair point, and I’m not hanging everything on what the Jews say, since over and over again in John, the Jews are kind of theological idiots that don’t get what Jesus is saying, but that being said, didn’t Jesus usually bounce off the what the Jews said? Especially in John 8, he responds to what they say, even if what they say is misunderstanding what he said earlier. So for example they say “are you greater than our father Abraham” when he talks about never dying, that’s a misunderstaning of Jesus’ point.

                      3. Yeah but if you read the prologue, the genoskai usage is more or less literal, came to be, except in english we have other ways of saying it, but “came to be” works as well, but monogenous (only begotten), so in a sense one could argue that you could apply that to John 5:58, before abraham was begotten don’t think it’s a good argument perse, but at least a form of that geneskai being used in that way, it’s never used (as far as I know) to refer to ressurection, or “being raised” or anything like that. So the prologue, although it translates Genoskai different ways, doesn’t really help, becuase all the ways they are translated fit more or less with the literal meaning of the word, strangely, the only not so literal use of the word is in the only begotten, at least that I can see, tell me if I miss something.

                      4. Ok, I agree, that it’s arguable that the ressurection is being talked about in John 8, but I would argue it’s not the main thrust of the chapter, it isn’t the point, it’s a supporting point, as far as John 14 that’s a whole different issue, And John 1 … that’s really pushing it.

                      6. I agree.

                      7. yeah, but again, both of those 2 different words are used in their literal meaning, going to the father and ascending to the father, you don’t really need an argument to say that both those words basically mean the same thing, but thats not really analogous to Prin Abraham genesthai ego eimi after talking about Abraham seeing Jesus’ day, all being about the ressurection, yes greek words can be used differently, yes to words can mean the same thing, but the examples you gave are all clear and basically stick to the literal meaning of the words, not so with your understanding of John 8:58, and the exegesis of the whole passage.

                    • Rivers
                      February 9, 2015 @ 9:38 am

                      Hi Roman,

                      1. I think you’re overlooking that when Jesus spoke of coming from the Father, he also often spoke of “going to the Father” (e.g. John 8:14; John 8:22-23; John 13:1-3; John 16:28). The resurrection was how the Jews would “know” that he was the Messiah (John 8:28) and “the begotten” (John 1:18).

                      2. I agree, and I would say that the Jews didn’t understand Jesus’ point about Abraham seeing “rejoicing to see my day” (John 8:56) and thus they asked a misinformed question in John 8:57. I think those who insist that Jesus had to give an answer in John 8:58 that must follow logically from the question in John 8:57 are not taking into account that the Jews didn’t understand (or believe) what he was talking about throughout the preceding conversation (John 8:27, 43, 45, 52-53).

                      3. I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. GENESQAI isn’t used in the Prologue and MONOGENHS (only begotten, only child) is a different word that does occur in the Prologue. I agree that GINOMAI has a wide semantic range and that is doesn’t mean “resurrection” in John 8:58 without support from the context.

                      4. What do you think was the “main point” of the conversation between Jesus and the Jews in John 8? It seems to me that resurrection is mentioned almost a dozen times throughout the whole conversation and was related to Jesus’ relationship to the Father and his authority to judge (John 8:23-27; John 8:35-36).

                      5. I think you’d see some strong evidence that John 1:1-3 is a resurrection as well, but that’s for another time. 🙂

                      6. OK.

                      7. What I’m asking you to consider in John 8:56-58, is that the only way Abraham (who had already “died”, John 8:53) could actually see Jesus in his own day would be as a result of the resurrection (John 8:58). This is how I think Jesus was answering the misinformed question that the Jews asked him in John 8:57. The presence of Jesus Christ in that day (EGW EIMI) meant that the dead were going to be raised (John 5:25-28; John 11:25-26).

    • Sean Garrigan
      January 30, 2015 @ 6:02 pm

      Roman,

      In light of the potential for River’s post to mislead or confuse, I should point out that McKay’s understanding of the Greek isn’t new. As I noted previously, sometimes when translators break away from committees and the unavoidable pressures such bodies sometimes exert out of allegiance to Church tradition, they’ve offered renderings that attempt to capture the idiom. Note a few examples:

      Edgar J. Goodspeed rendered vs 58, “I tell you, I existed before Abraham was born.”

      James Moffatt similarly offered, “I have existed before Abraham was born.”

      Catholic James A. Kleist, S.J. offered, “I am here — and I was before Abraham!”
      (In the footnote he claims that the utterance intimates eternity, but that’s not a necessary implication of the Greek).

      Charles B. Williams, whose translation was called “…the best translation of the New Testament in English”, in part because it surpassed “…all other translators of the New Testament in bringing out the tense significance of the Greek verbs” (J. R. Mantey, comments on dust jacket), offered this rendering, “I most solemnly say to you, I existed before Abraham was born.”

      In their Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, Louw and Nida offer, “before Abraham came into existence, I existed.”

      All of these are fine attempts to capture the sense of the Greek, yet only McKay’s rendering truly does it justice, as only his rendering “…expresses a state which commenced at an earlier period but still continues…”, as George Benedict Winer put it [1], or “…which indicates the continuance of an action during the past and up to the moment of speaking…[which action is]…conceived as still in progress…” as Nigel Turner put it [2].

      [1] A Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament, Seventh Edition, p. 267
      [2] A Grammar of New Testament Greek, Vol. III, Syntax, p. 62

      River’s preferred “interpretation” ends up with Jesus not only offering a non sequitur, but with Jesus making a statement that is truly odd and logically tortured in context. I don’t think that any one else in the history of NT interpretation has ever suggested that John 8:58 should be understood to mean “Before Abraham is resurrected, I Am [the Messiah],” or something like that, which is River’s strange view.

      • Rivers
        January 30, 2015 @ 8:21 pm

        Sean,

        It doesn’t matter if McKay’s interpretation of John 8:58 is new or not. It represents some of the worst exegesis ever offered as an explanation of that text.

        As I noted earlier, McKays “translation” isn’t consistent with any of the evidence of how the writer of the 4th Gospel used the words and the grammatical forms. It’s a classic example of someone forcing a dubious grammatical pretext (PPA or EP) onto a prooftext without any comprehension or regard for the semantics or manner of speaking of the biblical writer.

        The “sometimes translators breakaway from committees” argument in his defense is meaningless and lends no credibility whatsoever to an interpretation that is critically flawed at numerous points. McKay probably wouldn’t be invited to participate on any translation committee anyway.

        Since you believe in McKay’s translation, please try to address the objections I raised, and explain where there is any precedent for accepting the assumptions his is making about PPA and his total departure from the way that the writer of the 4th Gospel always used the vocabulary and the grammar elsewhere.

    • Elisha Rodriguez
      January 31, 2015 @ 9:30 am

      You see it clearly…

  4. Dale Tuggy
    January 25, 2015 @ 11:11 am

    Gents, lets try to keep things non-personal. I know this can be frustrating, but let us try to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

  5. Sean Garrigan
    January 25, 2015 @ 9:01 am

    Dale,

    Can you please clarify whether we can post on your site using Google but WITHOUT Disqus? Your site wouldn’t let me post unless I let Disqus have control, and I hate Disqus.

    • Dale Tuggy
      January 25, 2015 @ 10:53 am

      Hate Disqus? :-/ I guess there’s no pleasing everyone. I believe that you can post as a guest?

      • Sean Garrigan
        January 25, 2015 @ 11:16 am

        Hi Dale,

        Well, I don’t mean to be difficult, but, yes, I do hate any system that doesn’t give you the option to opt out. I clicked on the g for Google so that I could login and post using my Google account, and the Discus request page opened with no option to say “no” without loosing the opportunity to post a message. That’s really obnoxious, IMO. Post using Disqus or you don’t post at all!

        Unfortunately, I was not given the opportunity to post as a guest, and I don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account.

        BTW, for some of the reasons I hate Discus, see the post by macromanjr, here:

        http://www.ign.com/boards/threads/why-do-people-hate-disqus.453197597/

        • John
          January 28, 2015 @ 2:28 pm

          Hi Rivers
          I feel really inadequate to debate these issues. since I do not accept that the Bible should be taken literally.-so whatever I write should be viewed from this perspective.
          I agree with you that one cannot ‘draw a line’ between philosophers like Philo and the doctrine of the trinity, but I am convinced that ideas like ‘Word-Wisdom’ and ‘Triads’ were widely circulating at the time. Some say that John made creative use of these in his ‘word play’ (excuse the pun)
          I agree entirely with you that ‘in the beginning’ refers to the beginning of the gospels – but many would disagree and put forward persuasive arguments to support alternative positions.
          You refer to Christ’s designation in Revelation as ‘The Word of God’ but that is just a name . ..it is not WHAT he is.
          In my country the local language incorporates many ‘aspects ‘ of God in common given names.
          Verses 1-3 in the first chapter of John is a ‘prologue’ designed to set the scene for what follows .. a bit like the opening verses of Hebrews
          I interpret the word ‘logos’ as something like ‘Gods creative will’ since I believe that the context suggests that the predicate nominative may be translated as indefinite. You have seen all the arguments both ways – by clever people. I find the footnotes to Johns Gospel in the NAB Bible very helpful.
          We really get into the ‘meat’ of the subject when John the Baptist is introduced as the voice proclaimning the arrival of the ultimate ‘word bearer’

          I expect that we will never have consensus on this matter -at least not in this world!

          • Rivers
            January 28, 2015 @ 5:03 pm

            Hi John,

            Thanks for the reply. Yes, we would differ on our approach to the text since I’m deriving my reading from a grammatical-historical method (which assumes that a face value interpretation of the language is the most plausible way to understand the intended meaning). However, I do think that a “literal” interpretation should certainly account for figurative language (if that’s what you are specifically concerned about).

            I agree that there is non-canonical evidence that Philo and other Israelites had different beliefs. We even find some of those explicitly documented in the conversations that Jesus had with Samaritans (John 4:20-21), Pharisees, and Sadduccess that are recorded in scripture.

            I’m glad you are also inclined to think that “the beginning” in John 1:1-3 was referring to the beginning of preaching of the word. I think most interpreters have gone in the wrong direction over the centuries because they have misunderstood how the writer of the 4th Gospel were merely applying the Creation language to what was actually happening during the time when John and Jesus began preaching the gospel.

            • John
              January 29, 2015 @ 1:12 am

              Hi Rivers
              Your approach is what I would expect from a rational person.
              My problem is that my take on the scriptures is as follows
              (i) The OT was written with a view to ‘nation building’ and ‘faith building’
              and should be viewed from this perspective. Even modern Jews do not
              their scriptures as being ‘accurate’
              (ii)The Septuagint contains demonstrable errors.
              (iii) ‘Canon has its well known problems
              (iii) Erasmus (my hero) found literally thousands of differences (some major) between the Latin Vulgate and the Septuagint -so the Bible which had been in use for over a thousand years was unreliable
              (iv) The KJV (1616) was based on Textus Receptus which is somewhat discredited – demonstrable errors always in favour of Trinitarian thinking
              (v) The Revised Standard Edition tried to remedy this situation The preface contains words such as .”KJV contained errors so serious as to merit rewriting”
              (vi) The NAB Bible has made a serious effort to remedy the situation in that the OT looks very like the Tanakh and the NT looks very like the RSV
              -but the footnotes are most interesting.

              So for most of the time since Christs crucifixion mankind has been relying on ‘dubious’ material – and executing and torturing people based on their views.
              We still have fundamentalists who welcome one to their ‘gilded cage’ which is based on their ‘take’ on the scriptures.. However as Erasmus has said, certainty is illusory!
              God Bless
              John

              • Rivers
                January 29, 2015 @ 8:36 am

                Hi John,

                Even though I consider the scriptures to be historically reliable (and textually sound, or the most part), I do you think you make valid points. I’ll just give a brief comment on each one:

                (i) … I agree that the Hebrew scriptures are all about the “holy nation” of the Israelites (Exodus 19:6) and that they understood themselves to the only genealogy of people that YHWH loved (Deuteronomy 7:6; Psalms 147:19-20). Even Jesus and the apostles were aware of this (Matthew 15:24; Acts 3:13; Romans 9:3-5).

                (ii) … Agreed. All texts and translations contain errors. There are errors n many things that are reported and published today. That shouldn’t be of too much concern.

                (iii) … not only Erasmus, but many scholars have discovered hundreds of discrepancies in the ancient manuscripts. All we can do is try to sort them out and rely upon the best reconstruction of the text that is possible.

                (iv) … I don’t mind the KJV, but I think the translation is obviously archaic. I prefer the NASB or CLT. But, I think most modern translations are extremely accurate and disputes over the different readings they offer can usually be settled by context (or understood by some ambiguity in the Hebrew or Greek).

                (v) … Agreed. I don’t have any issue with RSV or NRSV.

                (vi) … I haven’t used NAB very much, but I’ve heard that many people like having the notes. It seems that the NET is also becoming popular for the fact that the effort has been made to include notes about the thought process behind translating many of the verses.

                Even though I maintain a high view of scripture, I do think that what is called “Judaism” and “Christianity” today is mostly fabricated religion based upon a reinterpretation of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. I think the Jewish Wars (c. AD 67-73) put an end to any possibility of observing the Law of Moses (as Jesus and the apostles understood it) and caused the kerygma of the original apostolic churches to be lost (until the canonical scriptures were established a few hundred years later).

                Thus, I think the people who call themselves “Jews” today certainly have no genealogically relationship to the ancient Hebrews and most people who consider themselves “Christians” today are following the form of religion devised by the Church Fathers (hundreds of years after Jesus and the apostles were gone).

              • Rivers
                January 29, 2015 @ 8:57 am

                John,

                …. continued from previous comment to you:

                Even though I maintain a high view of scripture, I do think that what is called “Judaism” and “Christianity” today is mostly fabricated religion based upon a reinterpretation of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. I think the Jewish Wars (c. AD 67-73) put an end to any possibility of observing the Law of Moses (as Jesus and the apostles understood it) and also caused the kerygma of the original apostolic churches to be lost (until the canonical scriptures were established a few hundred years later).

                Thus, I think the people who call themselves “Jews” today probably have no genealogically relationship to the ancient Hebrews of the Bible, and most people who consider themselves “Christians” today are merely following a form of religion established by the Church Fathers. Modern Judaism and Christianity are only loosely based upon what is found in the scriptures.

                Even with an accurate reconstruction of the biblical manuscripts, it is very difficult to recover the original meaning on account of the vast influence that later rabbinical Judaism and the creeds and confessions of Christendom have had on both our perception of biblical theology AND even our used of the modern English language.

          • Sean Garrigan
            January 30, 2015 @ 6:31 am

            Rivers,

            For the record, this comment by you was directed to me in error. I don’t find the view that the “beginning” at John 1 is a reference to the beginning of the Gospel to be plausible, and I consider the view that PROS TON QEON is a reference to resurrection to be simply impossible in context. There’s a good reason it’s only occurred to one person in the whole history of Christianity.

            ~Sean

            • Rivers
              January 30, 2015 @ 11:56 am

              Sean,

              That doesn’t sound like a comment “by” me. Who is the one who misdirected the comment to you?

              Thank you 🙂

  6. John B
    January 25, 2015 @ 6:23 am

    Hi all. I want to respond about this statement from Mario:

    I have adopted the ESV translation, but other translations, like the NET, are equally good. Except that they ALL, by referring to the Word as “he” (or even “He”), misleadingly and surreptitiously suggest that the Word is a personal entity.

    I have recently blogged about the “he”, in ENGLISH, here: http://faithandscripture.blogspot.fr/2015/01/the-over-importance-of-he-in-john-12.html

    I stress the word “English”, in the same way Mario attempts with his “ALL”, but he is mistaken. In my post I take the fact that the French translations consistently use “elle”, because, conveniently for us, the French word for Logos is actually feminine. The French translators are required to do this because of the way the Greek word ????? functions, and thus have to remain faithful to the gender of the previously mentioned noun, namely, parole. So, nope, they do not ALL say “he”, even if that might feel that way from an English perspective.

    • Rivers
      January 25, 2015 @ 8:22 am

      John,

      I think Mario fails to comprehend that the translation of biblical Greek gender depends upon the nature of the subject and the context. Thus, if the context suggests that a neuter or feminine noun is being used to identify or describe a human being, it is appropriate to use “he” when rendering the text into English.

      Mario’s attempt to force the text to conform to strict grammatical rules merely demonstrates his superficial comprehension of the language and the weakness of his argumentation.

      If Mario’s “the LOGOS is an eternal divine attribute that became a human being” idea had any merit, he would be able to support his interpretation by appealing to the context instead of relying on grammatical rules. Unfortunately, he can’t even prove that the term LOGOS meant an “attribute” at all.

      • John B
        January 25, 2015 @ 3:01 pm

        Rivers, are there any examples you have in Greek (NT or otherwise) of a male person being referred to as she or vice versa, or other helpful example, thus demonstrating your point about the dependence on the nature of the subject and the context?

        Mario, if you want to be really strict on the use of articular nouns you are headed for trouble. For example, you did not mention that the Greek word for “beginning” is anarthrous. There are also 7 other (if my memory serves me correctly, if anyone is interested I can dig them out) examples in the NT of Theos mentioned twice in the same sentence, one with and one without the article.

        Dale, can you please consider doing a follow-up and separate post to this, I am starting to lose clarity rather than gaining any!

        • Rivers
          January 25, 2015 @ 4:10 pm

          John B,

          My point was that some feminine nouns are used of Jesus Christ, even though he was a man. I didn’t meant that he was referred to as “she.”

          For example, Jesus called himself “the resurrection” (H ANASTASIS) and “the life” (H ZWH) when Mary was speaking to “him” (AUTW). See John 11:24-25.

    • Miguel de Servet
      January 25, 2015 @ 9:10 am

      John,

      I agree with you that English translations are much more misleading than the French ones, in suggesting the personal pre-existence of the logos. While LSG, NEG and SG21 are OK, I think the BDS, though, is even worse than the English translations.

    • Dale Tuggy
      January 25, 2015 @ 11:09 am

      “Except that they ALL, by referring to the Word as “he” (or even “He”), misleadingly and surreptitiously suggest that the Word is a personal entity.”

      Interesting point, John. We can translate “it” in many places here. But as Dustin Smith has pointed out to me, the Word here is being personified – being with God, coming to his own, etc. So then, the “he” and “his” etc. translations make sense – despite how later traditions will use those to create confusions.

      • Rivers
        January 27, 2015 @ 9:21 am

        Dale,

        I agree. Using “it” or “he” in the Prologue is going to depend upon one’s understanding of the context. It is not simply a matter of grammar.

        If “the word” (John 1:1-3, 14) is taken to refer to an “impersonal plan or purpose” (like Anthony Buzzard would argue), then he can use “it” to interpret the pronouns. On the other hand, if “the word” (John 1:1-3, 14) is understood to be referring to Jesus Christ himself (like others would argue), then they can use “he”.

        This is why it is so important to focus on context. I think too much emphasis has been placed upon wrangling about fine points of grammar in the Prologue that really don’t matter when weightier contextual considerations must be taken into account.

        • Roman
          February 9, 2015 @ 7:14 am

          I think this is absolutely right, a lot of these issues, cannot be solved on pure grammatical arguments alone, they must be exegetical.

      • John
        January 31, 2015 @ 12:26 am

        Dale
        ‘WE can translate ‘it’ in many places.
        Yes
        You may have noted that it was translated this way in most bibles before the Douay Rheims Bible (1582). See
        Tyndale Bible 1534
        Great Bible 1539
        Geneva Bible 1560
        Bishops Bible 1568
        Blessings
        John

        • Rivers
          January 31, 2015 @ 9:07 am

          John,

          I think the suggestion that it is “misleading” to translate “he” in the Prologue is a little too strong. There are translations that use both “it” and “he” because it can go either way depending upon how one understands the context of the Prologue.

          For example, those who think the “the word” is an impersonal “it” in John 1:1-3 usually assume that some kind of “incarnation” of the “it” is described in John 1:14. Others who think “the word” is a person in John 1:1-3 also believe that some kind of transformation of the “he” took place in John 1:14.

          There are also some who don’t think any kind of transformation or incarnation is the meaning of “became flesh” in John 1:14 and thus John 1:1-3 and John 1:14 are speaking of the same human person as “the word” in 1 John 1:2 and Revelation 19:13.

          Thus, translating “he” or “it” in the context of John 1:1-14 really isn’t the determining factor. It’s the context that must determine whether or not O LOGOS is the name of a person or something impersonal.

          • John
            January 31, 2015 @ 12:53 pm

            Rivers
            You are absolutely correct -context is all important.
            It is most interesting to note that the most important of the early bibles thought it fit to use the word ‘it’ – i.e. presumably after considering all things including context!
            Blessings
            John

            • Rivers
              February 1, 2015 @ 12:03 am

              John,

              Yes, but the “early Bibles” were translated by men who had to make decisions about the context just like modern translators do. There isn’t any reason to think that an earlier Bible is a necessarily a better one.

      • Miguel de Servet
        January 31, 2015 @ 9:27 am

        Dale,

        you must have thought that you were quoting from John B, but, in fact you were quoting from my guest post.

        That “the Word here is being personified” is your interpretation, NOT obviously in the text. If you insisted, I would reply that you clearly confuse personification (a rhetoric figure) and person (that we certainly have, starting at v.14), and I would remind you of what you have written as your first comment:

        I would suggest that it may still be the Word of God (attribute, not Jesus) that is in view in v. 11-13, just as in v. 10. (Dale, #comment-1814713412)

      • John
        January 31, 2015 @ 12:57 pm

        Dale
        As Rivers has pointed out, context is all important in determining the final meaning of a scripture.
        I am intrigued that the most important bibles of the sixteenth century (except Douay Rhiems) used the word ‘it’ -presumably after considering all things including context.
        Blessings
        John

        • Rivers
          February 1, 2015 @ 12:05 am

          John,

          Why would you suggest that any of the Bibles of the 16th Century would be any better than the Bibles we have from the 20th Century?

          • John
            February 1, 2015 @ 1:05 am

            Rivers
            Sorry if I gave that impression!
            I am told that there was an ‘explosion’ of new knowledge about the scriptures between the time that Erasmus wrote his Bible(s) and the writing of the Douay Rheims Bible.
            The KJV was based on Textus Receptus which even at the time of its writing was known to be biased.
            The Douay-Rheims reflected Catholic doctrine and dogma..
            Since the Second World was we have an interesting divergence
            (I) The emergence of what I call ‘scholarly bibles’
            where a real attempt has been made to get into
            the original material and into the
            authors mind.(RSV, NAV) and
            (ii) Bibles which are for the ‘common man’ but which
            (in my opinion) are ‘dumbed down’
            There is a reluctance by Evangelical book stores
            to stock the ‘scholarly’ bibles -or any material
            that might cause the reader to question
            doctrine. In my country ‘scholarly’ bibles are not
            sold and in South Africa (south of where I live)
            such bibles are only sold by specialist book
            sellers and then usually to order.
            Educated Catholics are in an interesting position that they do not hide the fact that the scriptures are not to be taken literally.
            Protestants are stock in ‘sola scriptura’ mode and are really in a desperate position. That’s why the evangelical exhibit such fear when doctrine is questioned!
            Blessings
            John

            • Rivers
              February 1, 2015 @ 3:04 pm

              Hi John,

              Those are all good points.

              It’s hard to find fault with modern translations that are designed to be more “readable” since that is the only purpose for which most people buy them (and the publishers need to justify the investment value of sponsoring new translations and selling them for a profit to a substantial market base).

              It’s also understandable the even some more literal versions like the NIV would be careful to clearly favor a particular reading of some of the controversial texts because they are targeted at an Evangelical audience that wants to be sure that a particular theological perspective comes across clearly in the most important places. It’s not different that a JW translation that is understandably going to make sure that John 1:1 or Colossians 1:16-18 is read “properly” from their theological perspective.

              With that said, you really can’t fault people for taking advantages of certain ambiguities in the original text and translating something to their own theological advantage. Any one of us is probably going to prefer a particular reading of a text depending upon our own presuppositions about how it best fits with the way that we are trying to piece the rest of the evidence together in favor of our own belief (at any particular point in our learning).

              I typically use the more literal translations like NASB or CLT because I’m trying to work with something that seems closer to a literal rending of the original languages and tends to translate the Hebrew and Greek words consistently with the same English words. But, that is just my preference.

              Ultimately, the correct interpretation is going to boil down to contextual considerations (which always trump grammatical rules) and thus even a very literal translation can be accurate, but not necessarily helpful.

              What particularly bothers me in many of the debates I’ve heard over the years is that someone favoring a particular translation will accuse another translation of being deceptive or biased. The fact is, there are just as many theological motivated translations in the NIV and NASB (Evangelical) as there are in the NWT (Jehovah’s Witnesses).

              • John B
                February 2, 2015 @ 9:22 am

                Hi guys, again. Just to be clear, I am the “John B”, as opposed to the “John”, above.

                I have just surveyed a very large bunch of languages regarding the question of the gender of wisdom. If anyone wants, I can try out “word” as well, i.e. the commonly used translation for “word” in the scriptures in that language, and see what we find. Anyway, regarding wisdom, for languages that categorise into genders, 100% feminine. Sooo, regarding Tuggy’s preference for a gender to echo the probably-intended personification, why would we prefer a “he”? Is it because of the climax in the male Jesus would be weird switching genders? Do you think that the KJV translations here may be better in this trade-off? Let’s look at what is at stake from the author’s and translator’s perspective (correct me if I’m wrong)

                1. I am John’s prologue writer
                – I want to convey the personification of Lady Wisdom in Proverbs 8
                – I achieve this through clear association with this lady in the language chosen in this poetic prologue.
                – I avoid confusing genders between her (wisdom) and him (Jesus) because the Greek gives me a neutral word.
                – Wonderful!

                2. I am a KJV translator
                – I want to translate accurately, woodenly is more important than nuance.
                – I stick safely with “the one”, and rely on content to convey the personification.
                – Bonus, I obviously also have no gender conflict
                – Wonderful!

                3. We are a modern French translation committee, almost certainly 100% profesing Nicenes
                – We must stick to French grammatical rules unless for some mega-obvious reason I need to break them, “parole” = feminine.
                – That mega-obvious reason is absent,
                – conveniently, both parole and sagesse are feminine
                – Absolutely no trouble for us and our culture/language to switch genders on arriving at Jesus.
                – Wonderful!

                4. We are a modern English translation committee
                – We have risks of understating the personification via an “it”
                – We have risks of overstating the doctrine of (Dale’s terminology) the pre-human Jesus
                – We have risks of sounding downright WEIRD if we align with rock-solid contemporary translation tendency and do the “she”-thing, especially as we are headed to the male Jesus.
                – We are almost certainly 100% professing Nicenes
                – Definitely go with the “he”.

                5. Little ol’ me
                – erm, don’t know yet!

                I like it when we don’t really know, or have enough info to really state the case, to keep it neutral. There’s a fantastic example of that with the debate around harpagmon in Philippians 2. Is it GRASPING ONTO or GRASPING AFTER? Wait, wait – what about just good ol’ plain GRASPING? I think that is what the NET translation chose, and for me that is a good choice. The personification thing is important, but like the KJV guys, and the French guys, there is also the content to carry this. If gender must be used, then my preference is feminine, because I do not think that would or should trouble the pre-human guys (it doesn’t in most languages of the world!)

              • John
                February 2, 2015 @ 10:47 am

                Rivers
                Yes I totally agree!
                Context -especially in the widest sense, probably takes care of textual and translation problems that one can think of.
                I’m off for a months leave and will not be contactable. If you fail to get a response from me it’s not because I’m being rude!
                Blessings
                John

                • Rivers
                  February 2, 2015 @ 12:17 pm

                  Hi John,
                  Thanks. I hope you enjoy your month off.

  7. Rivers
    January 24, 2015 @ 3:20 pm

    Mario,

    Thank you for posting another article and trying to elucidate your particular understanding of John 1:1-18.

    • Miguel de Servet
      January 24, 2015 @ 4:39 pm

      Rivers,

      none of your objections is new, I have already commented on ALL the objections that you’re raising here, to no avail. So, I am certainly not going to waste my time again now. Just one point. Nothing of what I’m saying about the “change of scenary” and about the anticipative character of the verses about John the Baptist is original. If you want, you may read about it (and, perhaps, many other useful things) in Raymond E. Brown’s The Gospel According to John, 1966, 1970.

      • Rivers
        January 24, 2015 @ 5:16 pm

        Mario,

        There’s a difference between scoffing at objections to your view and actually responding to them with evidence to counter them. As far as I can tell, you’ve done nothing but the scoffing part.

        I’m quite familiar’s with Brown’s work. I know that nothing you come up with is original. I think you just parrot what you read in Bible commentaries.

        You don’t even seem to know how to ask basic critical questions when you approach the interpretation of a text. It’s no wonder that a lot of the critical feedback you receive doesn’t resonate.

        • Miguel de Servet
          January 24, 2015 @ 5:28 pm

          Rivers,

          what you call “scoffing” are simply rebuttals that you
          don’t understand. Your “logos as name of Jesus”
          (after the resurrection) is so laughable that it is not even worth discussing. You obviously don’t have a clue of the difference between reading from an exegete and filching from him.

          No point in insulting me. Anyway, ride on, Rivers, you obviously have time and energy to waste. 🙁

          • Rivers
            January 24, 2015 @ 10:17 pm

            Mario,

            What you call “laughable” is what the apostles explicitly said about “calling” Jesus by the “name” of ‘O LOGOS (Revelation 19:13). It’s regrettable that you have such high opinion of yourself, and yet no respect for the inspired scriptures.

            • Miguel de Servet
              January 25, 2015 @ 3:35 am

              As already amply and repeatedly argued and explained for everybody who has ears to hear, neither “the Lamb” (Rev 19:7) nor “the Word of God” (Rev 19:13) are names, BUT appellatives (or epithets= descriptive substitute for the name or title of a person), and ALWAYS suggest something relevant about the person.

              • Rivers
                January 25, 2015 @ 8:09 am

                Mario,

                What you’re missing is that it doesn’t matter if you call ‘O LOGOS an “appellative” or a “name” because neither one means attribute. It shows that ‘O LOGOS in John 1:1-3 and John 1:14 could be taken as an appellative or name as well.

                Thus, basing your objection on a superficial semantic distinction between name and “appellative” really amounts to nothing and further shows the weakness of your reading of John 1:1-18.

                Every translation has “called by the name the the word (LOGOS) of God” in Revelation 19:13.

                • John
                  January 27, 2015 @ 5:22 am

                  Hi All,
                  Without equivocation or qualifiers, is the ‘logos’ not Gods Holy Spirit – God in action. The power from on high that came upon Mary ?
                  Blessings
                  John

                  • Miguel de Servet
                    January 27, 2015 @ 5:38 am

                    John,

                    God’s Word (logos) is God’s “command”, by which He gives form to His creation. God’s Spirit,as you rightly say, is His power (dynamis), by which He gives motion to His creation.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 27, 2015 @ 6:49 am

                      Ah, so that’s your definition of LOGOS. Very good, as we can now say with absolute confidence that it is impossible for a person to be the literal incarnation of God’s “command”. Dale is correct that such an expression would have to be understood metaphorically.

                    • Rivers
                      January 27, 2015 @ 10:30 am

                      Sean,

                      Good point. I agree with you and Dale in this case.

                    • Rivers
                      January 27, 2015 @ 10:26 am

                      Mario,

                      The terms LOGOS (word) and DUNAMIS (power) were not used interchangeably in biblical Greek. For example, Paul made a clear distinction between them (1 Thessalonians 1:5), as did John (Revelation 3:8).

                      Also, the Hebrew word translated “spoke” in Genesis 1:3 does not mean “command.” It is the term AMR which simply means to “speak.” The word TsVA is the Hebrew term that is translated “command” (and doesn’t appear in Genesis 1).

                      In the Hebrew text, when a “command” is reported, the word TsVA (command) is always used along with AMR (speak) because “command” refers to the intent of what is spoken, and not to the action of speaking.

                      For example, see Genesis 2:16 where the texts says “God commanded (TsVA) the man, saying (AMR) …”

                  • Rivers
                    January 27, 2015 @ 10:04 am

                    John,

                    The terms LOGOS (word) and PNEUMA (spirit) are certainly not the same things (even when associated with God). Luke didn’t use LOGOS when he reported the miracle of the virgin birth (Luke 1:32-35). But, he did associate “spirit” with “power” again in Luke 4:14.

                    In other texts where Jesus associated “spirit” and “words” he didn’t use LOGOS either (e.g. John 6:63).

                    • John
                      January 27, 2015 @ 8:56 pm

                      Hi Rivers
                      The thinking that appeals to me is laid out in the footnotes to John 1 in the NAB Bible.
                      There is the suggestion that John made creative use of the double meaning of the word ‘logos’ to communicate with both Jews (who were familiar with Word Wisdom), and Hellenistic polytheism.
                      Thus we have
                      (i) The Word as the ‘spoken’ word by which God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1 vs 3,6,9,11,14 20 and 24)
                      (ii) Personified Wisdom as the instrument of Gods creative activity
                      see Proverbs 2 v 19
                      I have noticed in other scriptures that the concept of ‘word bearer’ was important.
                      I would interpret John 1 as-
                      (a) How the word-bearer John the Baptist was sent to testify to the light
                      (b) Christ is now seen as the contemporary word-bearer as is described in Chapters 5-7 of Johns Gospel.
                      This is all difficult stuff!!

                      Blessings
                      John

                    • Rivers
                      January 28, 2015 @ 8:45 am

                      Hi John,

                      Thank you for the reply.

                      I’m not comfortable with the suggestion that “Hellenistic polytheism” underlies the biblical writer’s use of LOGOS in John 1:1-14 because there isn’t any evidence that the writer depended upon it. I understand that some scholars speculate about it, but they can’t substantiate it. Incidentally, the 4th Gospel is the only one that doesn’t even mention the “gentiles”. Even the “Samaritans” and the “Greeks” mentioned in the 4th Gospel are descendants of Jacob just like Jesus and the Jews.

                      The “spoken word” idea is consistent with the evidence for sure. However, I’m not as inclined to think the “wisdom” of Proverbs 8 is relevant since Proverbs 8 doesn’t use LOGOS and LOGOS doesn’t mean “wisdom” in biblical Greek. I think many scholars feel compelled to force a connection between the two passages because they mistake “the beginning” (John 1:1-3) for the time of Creation (Genesis 1:1) instead of “the beginning of the gospel” (Mark 1:1; 1 John 1:1-2).

                      I like what you say about “word bearing” because it’s evident that LOGOS means a “spoken” saying or message and all of the writers of the Gospel concur that John the baptizer was “a voice” in the wilderness and was “preaching” the Gospel (e.g. Mark 1:1-4). For many years, I thought that might be what LOGOS was referring to in John 1:1-3, but now I’m more inclined to think the writer was referring to a “name” that they “called” Jesus Christ after he ascended to the Father (Revelation 19:13; 1 John 1:1-2).

                      With regard to your interpretation, could you please elaborate on how you would read (or paraphrase) John 1:1-3 in light of the “word-bearer” idea?

              • Rivers
                January 27, 2015 @ 8:11 pm

                Mario,

                It doesn’t make any difference if you argue that O LOGOS is an appellative or a name because the fact that it is used that way in Revelation 19:13 and 1 John 1:2 makes it plausible that it is being used that way in John 1:1-14.

                The problem with your view is that the apostles never used O LOGOS to mean “attribute.” Thus, you’d be wiser to take the appellative interpretation in John 1:1-14 anyway. Your appellative concession benefits the understanding that O LOGOS is referring to Jesus Christ himself throughout the Prologue.

  8. Miguel de Servet
    January 24, 2015 @ 2:11 pm

    Dale,

    thank you for posting my guest post. You looked at it carefully, because you have spotted the two points that I also consider debatable.

    I would suggest that it may still be the Word of God (attribute, not Jesus) that is in view in v. 11-13, just as in v. 10.

    Yes, the transition is not as clear and sharp as I try to make it appear. All we can say is that, up to v. 10 included, the author is still certainly speaking about the pre-incarnated, eternal logos, the attribute of God, whereas with v .14, the author is certainly speaking of the incarnation of the logos of God (ho logos sarx egeneto), and therefore of Jesus.

    You say “the Incarnation of God’s Word (Logos) in/as the “man called Jesus”” – well, there’s a big difference between “as” and “in”. The former does, but the latter does not, seem to imply that the eternal Word and Jesus are one on the same – that the incarnation is a change in that Word, a change of condition.

    The reason why I used both is because v. 14, unfortunately, does not explicitly have a phrase including “Jesus” or “Christ” (or both – although the verse is certainly about him). So, I tried to imagine how the author would have formulated the extended phrase in Greek.

    1. Perhaps this: ho logos sarx egeneto en Iesou Christô

    2. Perhaps this: ho logos sarx egeneto ôs Iesous Christos

    Difficult to say. Personally I tend to opt for the former. We do NOT really know how God’s eternal Word was (and is) related to Jesus Christ, through the incarnation (and now, after the resurrection, everlastingly). It’s a mystery. For my part, I like to think that, even if it doesn’t resolve the mystery, the miracle announced at Luke 1:35 (and Matthew 1:20) has deliberately been provided by God, the Father Almighty, as the “outer” manifestation of the mystery. As the clearest possible guide for believers. Otherwise, the virgin conception would only remain a “supernatural signature”.

    • Dale Tuggy
      January 25, 2015 @ 11:01 am

      I think the author’s idea is easy enough to understand. The flesh, the man, is *a physical, visible expression of* this Word. Compare: Jefferson’s idea of Monticello became brick, wood, and mortar, and stood proudly on a hill in Virginia. It would be a confusion to think that Jefferson’s idea or plan literally became a house – one should not call that a mystery. Rather, the house expresses the plan. And Jesus expresses the eternal Word.

      • Miguel de Servet
        January 25, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

        Dale, the author’s idea cannot be so easy to understand, if it has caused so many different interpretations over the centuries and if just a small sample like Dale, Rivers, MdS and Sean come up with such divergent and ultimately incompatible views.

        Jefferson’s idea of Monticello is a classical (deceptively easy) example. What you brush over is HOW you get from Jefferson’s blueprint to the villa. How do you get from God’s logos to Jesus of Nazareth? Is it just a metaphor? Are you and I (and Sean and Rivers etc. etc.) an “incarnation” of God’s logos in the same way as Jesus of Nazareth (according to the GoJ) is? What, then, does it mean that Jesus is monogenês, as the author of the GoJ repeatedly says? If one believes (as I do) that the 4 Gospels are not simply different, but compatible and complementary, is there any relation between the miracle of the virgin conception AND the Incarnation?

        Just few hints to show that “the author’s idea”, perhaps, is NOT so “easy enough to understand”, after all. 🙂

        • Rivers
          January 25, 2015 @ 12:55 pm

          Mario,

          You’re presuming that “became flesh” (John 1:14a) means “incarnation” and was referring to the time of Jesus’ birth. These ideas are contrary to the way the writer of the 4th gospel used these terms, as well as the immediate context of the Prologue.

          I agree with you that the 4 Gospels are compatible and complementary but see no relationship between the virgin birth (Luke 1:32-35) and the unnecessary post-apostolic “incarnation” doctrine.

          The term MONOGENIS was referring to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 1:18). Jesus was “declared to be the son of God with power” (Romans 1:3-4) when be became “the firstborn from among the dead” (Colossians 1:18).

          This is why the apostles spoke of Jesus as MONOGENESIS (God the Father’s “only child”) during the time after the resurrection when he became “the heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:3-6). The identity of the rest of the children of God was yet to be revealed (Romans 8:18-19).

          • Miguel de Servet
            January 26, 2015 @ 1:02 am

            It seems more than likely that you are crassly confusing monogenês and aparchê

            • Rivers
              January 26, 2015 @ 10:19 am

              Mario,
              The term MONOGENIS simply meant an “only child” in scripture. It is used several times for people other than Jesus Christ (e.g. Luke 7:12; Hebrews 11:17).

              In what sense do you think Jesus was an “only child” when there were “many other sons” who were going to be glorified with him (Hebrews 2:10). The Jews also understood that God was their “father” too (John 8:41; John 20:17).

              The term APARXH meant “first fruits” and was usually used figuratively by the apostles. I agree with Paul that Jesus Christ was the APARXH of the resurrection harvest (1 Corinthians 15:24).

              • Miguel de Servet
                January 26, 2015 @ 10:37 am

                Thank you for confirming my point.

                • Rivers
                  January 26, 2015 @ 11:22 am

                  Mario,
                  What was your point?

                  • Miguel de Servet
                    January 26, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

                    It is now certain that, not only you are crassly confusing monogenês with aparchê, but even with prôtotokos.

                    I doubt that it will be of any help to you, but …

                    It is simply ludicrous to affirm, FIRST that “[t]he term MONOGENIS [sic] was referring to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 1:18)”, and even that “the apostles spoke of Jesus as MONOGENESIS [sic!] (God the Father’s “only child”) during the time after the resurrection when he became “the heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:3-6)”, and THEN that “The term MONOGENIS simply meant an “only child” in scripture”.

                    There are some verses where the term monogenês is used with explicit and exclusive reference to the unique relation between God, the Father Almighty, and Jesus (John 1:14,18; 3:16,18; 1 John 4:9), and without any reference whatsoever to the resurrection.

                    As for aparchê, while it is certainly used in 1
                    Cor 15:20,23 with reference to Jesus being the “firstfruits” of the resurrection, in no verse whatsoever it is used as equivalent to monogenês.

                    • Rivers
                      January 26, 2015 @ 3:13 pm

                      Mario,
                      There isn’t anything “ludicrous” about the evidence of word usage in scripture. It’s easy to verify everything I wrote in the previous comment about the usage of MONOGENIS.

                      What you’re missing is that the passages you cited from the 4th Gospel that use MONOGENIS were written after the resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 20:17) and before the resurrection of everyone else (John 5:25-29; John 11:24-26). Thus, Jesus Christ was the only one who had been “declared to be the son of God BY THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD” (Romans 1:3-4).

                      The fact that APARXH was also used of Jesus Christ being the “first fruits” of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-24) is making the same point. Jesus was MONOGENIS (the “only child”) of the Father as a result of the resurrection because there was no one else in a position to be “the heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:3-4).

                      This is why the writer of the 4th Gospel referred to him as “the only begotten … in the bosom of the Father” after he was raised (John 1:18). The evidence shows that that apostles did not consider Jesus to be “the begotten” until they associated the day of his resurrection with the prophecy in Psalms 2:7. See Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5-6; Hebrews 5:5.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      January 26, 2015 @ 3:56 pm

                      Rivers,

                      let’s make a deal, shall we? You don’t comments on my comments any more, and I will never comments on any of your comments any more.

                    • Rivers
                      January 26, 2015 @ 4:03 pm

                      Mario,
                      If you have an exegetical response or rebuttal for what I’ve commented on, please offer it. I’m just trying to understand your viewpoint. It doesn’t make much sense, so that is why I keep asking you for clarification. 🙂

                    • Roman
                      February 9, 2015 @ 7:29 am

                      I don’t think that’s true at all, Jesus in the gospel of John Calls himself the Monogenis, and is called the MonoGenis before he is killed.
                      John 3:16 and 1 John 4:9 don’t make sense, God sent Jesus before he was killed …. Jesus talks about being sent to Earth, all the time before he was killed and ressurected, that’s when he returned, he was monogeneis in that he weas sent by God into the world, he was “monogenei” at the time he was “sent” and Jesus talks all the time about being “sent” “Apesteilas” or pempsas “sent” … both past tense, both Things Jesus is recorded saying when alive.
                      So you can argue that in the prologue, but you have to take the Whole context of John into account.
                      Of coarse if you want to argue that John is a purely theological text without any historical information, and that the Words put in Jesus’ mouth are not ment to convay the idea that this is what Jesus actually said or meant at the time, but is rather a creative “looking back” at events and interpreting them, then that’s a Whole different issue. But I don’t think that’s what John was doing.

                    • Rivers
                      February 9, 2015 @ 10:57 am

                      Hi Roman,

                      1. I don’t think Jesus called himself MONOGENHS at all. John 3:16-18 can be taken as an editorial comment by the writer who came to know him as the MONOGENHS after the resurrection. I would interpret 1 John 4:9 as another editorial remark written after the resurrection.

                      2. I don’t think there’s any evidence that the apostles understood that Jesus was the MONOGENHS until after the resurrection. They applied the “begotten” in Psalms 2:7 to the resurrection day of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5-6; Hebrews 5:5). I think they understood that this was referring to the time when Jesus was “born of the spirit” (John 3:5-6) and “declared to be the son of God with power” (Romans 1:3-4).

                      3. I do think the whole context of the 4th Gospel supports the understanding that MONOGENHS was referring to Jesus Christ after his resurrection. In John 1:18, the writer says “the only begotten … who is in the bosom of the Father.” Jesus didn’t go to be “with the Father” until he was raised and able to ascend into heaven (John 20:17).

                      4. I certainly don’t think that the 4th Gospel is “a purely theological text”. It is an historical account. However, the writer does make a number of editorial comments throughout the book (and I think all of the “begotten” statements were probably intended that way). Even if Jesus was the speaker in John 3:16-18, he could have been speaking of his own status at a later time (per the prophecy in Psalms 2:7).

                    • Roman
                      February 10, 2015 @ 7:14 am

                      I have a question for you, you seam quite different from typical “socinian” unitarians, as far as I know Anthony buzzard believes the prologue is about prior to Jesus being born, and believes the monogeneis has to do With Jesus being born also. Are you own Your own here? Or are you getting this from some other Unitarian scholars? Or some other Unitarian Church? I thought it would be interesting to have a dialogue between a JW (such as myself) and a “socinian” unitarian on Christology and it’s implications, but the problem is it seams like you don’t exegete many passages like a typical socinian would, or am I nor right here?
                      1. I don’t know if that’s the case, John 3:16-18 doesn’t show any break from John 3:11-15 … Now, this might be a editorial comment, but the editor is putting the Words in the mouth of Jesus … Not only that, but following John 16-18 it talks about God SENDING Jesus into the world, implying that the monogeneis is prior to Jesus being killed, because that’s when he was sent.
                      1 John 4:9 is oviously not Jesus talking, that wasn’t the point the poing was the Mongeneis huios was SENT … Jesus wasn’t “sent” after his ressurection.
                      2 & 3. Acts is not John …. That being said, the passage in actst, doesn’t necessarily mean that Jesus was begotten at the point of ressurection, it could be that the ressurection is a confirmation of him being begotten by God. Also John is not Paul (declared to be son of god, doesn’t mean he wasn’t son of god before)
                      One could also argue that Pslams 2:7 is being quoted in the synoptics when Jesus is baptised, which would support the idea that Mark thought Jesus was “begotten” by God during his baptism …
                      But the question is what did John think. The scriptures in Hebrews also don’t say that he became the son after his ressurection.
                      But what you’d have to say if you are claiming this, is that Jesus was NOT God’s Son until he was ressurected, in which case you basically have to throw out all of John …. It’s just not a tenable position.
                      Yes Jesus didn’t og to be With the father until he was raised … but he CAME FROM the father, and was sent by the father, and came from above … He came Down from heaven … I could list the References in John but they are to many … hell all of John 6:22-71 …. and I could go on.
                      You’d basically have to throw out all of the rest of John in order to intereperate some scriptures certain ways, which can be easily interperated in a way that fits With the rest of John perfectly.
                      4. He could be speaking of his own status later, but there is no indication that he was, and him speaking of himself at the moment would fit With everything else in the passage and in the gospel of John.

                    • Rivers
                      February 10, 2015 @ 10:16 am

                      Hi Roman,

                      1. I wouldn’t consider myself a Socinian because the term properly applies to a group of Reformed people who lived in Poland during the late 16th Century. I haven’t read any of their material. All I’ve heard about them is that they didn’t believe in the Trinity doctrine.

                      2. Yes, I do have a significantly different understanding of the Prologue than Anthony Buzzard and his followers. Although I appreciate the work that Sir Anthony has done over the years, I think his research has fallen short at a few critical points. The biggest difference is that I don’t think Jesus and the apostles were teaching any kind of preexistence or incarnation doctrine, but Sir Anthony attempts to preserve those concepts by dehumanizing O LOGOS in the Prologue.

                      3. I agree that John 3:16-18 could go either way. But, I think it’s important to look at the context in which “the begotten” was introduced by the writer in John 1:14 where he associated it with the “glory” that Jesus was going to receive at his resurrection and ascension (John 17:5, 22, 24) and his place “in the bosom of the Father’ (John 1:18). This seems consistent with what the other apostles understood about Jesus have been “begotten” on the day of his resurrection (Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5-6; Hebrews 5:5) in fulfillment of Psalms 2:7.

                      4. I would argue that the references to Jesus “coming into the world” and being “sent by God” and being “from above” throughout the 4th Gospel were speaking about the time when Jesus began his public ministry (John 1:6-10) and received holy spirit (John 1:30-34). I would also argue that “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) was speaking of the same time (and has nothing to do with preexistence or incarnation).

                      5. I don’t have a problem with your suggestion that Psalms 2:7 could be related to the baptism of Jesus because that is when he received holy spirit (which was necessary for resurrection life). However, even the apostles didn’t understand that Jesus was going to ascend to the Father until the very end (John 16:17; Luke 18:31-34).

                      6. For clarification, I’m not suggesting that Jesus was not “the son of God” until his resurrection day. There are numerous times that Jesus is known as “the son of God” throughout the Gospels (e.g. John 1:34). But, I think MONOGENHS (“only child”) was specifically referring to his status after the resurrection when he became “the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead” (Colossians 1:18). This is alluded to by John the baptizer in John 1:15, 27-30).

                      7. With regard to what Jesus said about “I came from the Father and have come into the world” (John 16:27-28), I don’t think this was referring to his birth because the writer of the 4th Gospel has Jesus “coming AFTER” John the baptizer (John 1:15, 27, 30) and “coming into the world” when he is introduced by the testimony of John the baptizer (John 1:6-10). This is where I think many interpreters have completely missed the context of this language.

                    • Roman
                      February 11, 2015 @ 7:28 am

                      1. I use Socinian just because I don’t know how else to distinguish Our differing views, I mean I don’t know Arian, but I get why People would use it, since unitarian or subordinationist describes both of us. Socinians were unitarians that didn’t believe in pre-existance.
                      2. Yeah.
                      3. I don’t think you can even use those scriptures from other parts of the NT in exegeting John, unless of coarse you have a reason for doing so, even so I don’t think those scriptures are necessarily saying that he was begotten at that time, I think the event’s are conformations that Jesus is God’s son. Also we don’t know that the glory talked about in John 1:14, is the same glory talked about in John 17 … different context’s, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us …. Jesus was among the apostles when he was on Earth, they saw his glory in that they saw him. John 17 is making a different point, as Dale said earlier, you can’t just look at 2 Words being used and assume they must mean the same thing or refer to the same event. John 17 is Jesus being glorified in God’s presence, John 1 is:14 is the glory the apostles saw when he was among them … 2 different Things.
                      4. If it was supposed to mean that why didn’t John say it? But that exegesis doesn’t work, because he talks about being sent and returning to his father … meaning he is being sent, and he is returning, if he’s refering to holy spirit that’s being poured on him then in what way can he Return?
                      John 6 he talks about coming Down from heaven, liking himself to manna, he says that of himself, not holy spirit.
                      John 17:5, the glory he had WITH the father, is the same one he will have, i.e. being With the father in heaven.
                      Also Jesus talks all the time about being “from God” and Things he “heard from God”
                      The question is what Idea was John trying to convey, had he not been trying to convey pre-existance he certainly had a strange way of doing it.
                      5 &6. Yeah, but we’re talking about what it means to be “begotten” by god, or only “begotten,” or “gods son” which I’d argue in some cases is related to Jesus being bettoten. My point is different writers may have had different interpretations, the question is what was Johns interpretation. Jesus was called God’s son before he was ressurected, he declared himself to be God’s son, he is called the only begotten before he is ressurected (I think in some cases by himself, although you argue for an interpolation). The “only begotten son” made God known, he made God known before the ressurection didn’t he? Also in 1 John 4 God SENT his only begotten son, if he was sent when he recieved holy spirit … then he was only begotten before that or at the same time, logically right?
                      I don’t think begotten can mean ressurected, Jesus has a Word for ressurected an it’s not begotten. InFact there is no change of Jesus’ sonship after his ressurection in John, or at least it isn’t implicit.
                      Can you explain what you mean With John 1:15, I don’t quite get it.
                      I think it’s Clear in John that Jesus was God’s son, his only begotten son, before his ressurection at least. I think it was when he was made flesh which refers to his being made from a Heavenly creature to a human one. In the gospel of John, “Son of God” is used as a title, and has a Connection of being sent by God, and being from above.
                      7. JEsus comes after John, but he was before John, I think the meaning is Clear, Jesus as a figure of history came after John, but he was before him because Jesus was from heaven. That would fit John 16 where his coming into the world is contrasted With his going to the father, I think the best way to exegete this is to assume he’s talking litearlly.
                      8. There arn’t many JW biblical scholars, at least in the Public eye. I’m far from a scholar, but I do my best to learn what I can. I don’t know if one can send private Messages on Disquss, but this is something that I think would need to be flushed out somewhere else where we (or at least I) can spend more time and Research to go deeper, it’s such a big question, and it just branches out into more questions.
                      Almost all of my discussions on Christology has been With trinitarians and modalists, and most of those have been more than strict exegesis (meaning we do it With the assumption that all the scriptures are inspired and don’t contradict each other, so we can argue what John means by looking at Matthew or Paul or whatever, but when doing strict exegesis I don’t think ou can do that without defending it historically or on a literary basis, appealing to inspiration is kind of a deux ex machina in my opinion). Anyway, it would be Nice to go deeper into this.

                    • Rivers
                      February 11, 2015 @ 1:12 pm

                      Hi Roman,
                      1. I understand why people use labels like Socinian or Arian and that it helps to distinguish the different theological viewpoints. I try to avoid them simply because most people who have interpretation that seem similar to those historical figures probably didn’t learn them from those particular people. I like the biblical unitarian label because it is more general and categorical.

                      2. I think it would be helpful to have a dialogue with someone like Anthony Buzzard because the analysis of the exegetical evidence that I’m putting forward is significantly different than his (even though we both draw conclusions that are consistent with the biblical unitarian perspective). I think it’s always good to keep the conversation alive so that every one can consider the evidence for himself and make up his own mind.

                      3. Even if you insist that “only begotten” must be interpreted in light of only what the writer of the 4th Gospel said about it, there is no reason to think it had anything to do with anything prior to the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. Let me show you why:

                      JOHN 1:14 … the “only begotten” here is used in the context of when the disciples “saw” him while he lived among them. This didn’t happen until they began living with Jesus at the time of John’s baptism (John 1:34-49).

                      JOHN 1:18 … the “only begotten” here is used in the context of when Jesus was already “in the bosom of the Father.” This didn’t happen until Jesus went “to the Father” at his ascension (John 20:17).

                      JOHN 3:16 … the “only begotten” here is used in the context of God “giving” Jesus Christ up for crucifixion (John 3:14). This didn’t take place until Jesus was killed (John 19:18).

                      JOHN 3:18 … the “only begotten” here is used in the context of when Jesus became “the light of the world” during his public ministry (John 3:19-21) and the people were able to “believe” in him. This didn’t take place until the beginning of his public ministry when his identity was revealed by John the baptizer (John 1:6-10; John 1:30-31).

                      1 JOHN 4:9 … the “only begotten” here is used in the same historical context as John 3:18.

                      4. I’m not sure where you are getting the idea that Jesus was “returning” to the Father. The writer of the 4th Gospel didn’t use the word “return” to speak of anything Jesus was doing. Some translations use “return” or “go back” in John 3:13, but that is an interpretation. The text says only that Jesus was “going toward God” (PROS TON QEON UPAGEI).

                      It still depends upon how we interpret “came from God” in the first part of the verse. If “came from God” refers to his manifestation to Israel (John 1:10; John 1:30-31), then there’s no implication that he was “returning” anywhere. It would make perfectly good sense that Jesus was “coming into the world” at the beginning of his public ministry (John 1:10) while on his way to “going to the Father” after the resurrection (John 20:17).

                      5. As far as defining “only begotten” I think we have to realize that MONOGENHS simply meant “only child.” Jesus was not “the only child” of God prior to his resurrection. For example, Adam was also “the son of God” (Luke 3:38). It seems that the writer of the 4th Gospel understood that Jesus was “born from above” because he was the first to have holy spirit remaining upon him from the beginning (John 1:30-34; John 3:3-6).
                      The rest of the disciples were not to receive holy spirit until later (John 7:39).

                      6. I think the sense in which John the baptizer understood that Jesus was “a man coming after me, who existed before me” (John 1:15) is that he understood that Jesus Christ had everlasting life because he saw “the spirit remaining upon him” after his baptism (John 1:30-32). This is how John recognized that Jesus Christ was “the son of God” (John 1:33-34).

                      7. The language in John 16:27-28 could be taken to refer to Jesus having some kind of personal existence in heaven before his birth, but I think it’s more likely (based upon the writer’s own use of the language) that “came forth from God” simply mean that Jesus was commissioned for ministry.

                      8. I think it’s good to continue the discussion here because there are probably a few others who are “lurking” and considering the evidence that simply don’t comment.

                      9. I agree with your comment that “all scripture is inspired and doesn’t contradict itself.” That is why I don’t think there should be a problem with comparing the way that the other apostles applied “the begotten” to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:34; Hebrews 1:5-6; Hebrews 5:5). However, I’m trying to focus only on the evidence in the 4th Gospel since you indicated that it was necessary to do so in this conversation.

                    • Roman
                      March 10, 2015 @ 9:13 am

                      I’m sorry the response is taking so long, it gets busy sometimes :),
                      3.
                      John 1:14 – That’s true, but the scriptures says they saw his glory as the only begotten, one, this is talking about the Word which became flesh, a Natural Reading would assume that this Word was “only begotten” before it became flesh, as well as when it did become flesh.
                      If I said, “that police man was a funny person and you saw him tell jokes,” it would seem natural to assume that he was “funny” and a police man prior to to you seing him tell jokes.
                      You wanting the more difficult exegesis would have the burden of proof on Your side.
                      John 1:18 – Sure, I agree.
                      John 3:16 – Yeah, that’s one interpretation, or it could be when God “gave” his son in the sense of his incarnation, since the very next verse is about God sending his Son into the world, he did that when “the Word became flesh,” If you want to argue otherwise you have the burdon of proof on Your side since the Natural Reading is the sending is talking about the Word becoming flesh.
                      Same With 1 John 4:9 …
                      I mean the very notion of what it means to be “begotten” does not point to an act of sanctification, but the Source of being.
                      If you want to argue that “sent into the world” is NOT reffering to the Word made flesh, but rather the baptism or Jesus being killed, you’ll need more of an argument than simply the fact that the Death of Jesus is mentioned near by.
                      4. I’m not arguing from the vocabulary, I’m arguing from the sentance structure itself. “no one has ascended into the heaven, if not the one who descended, the son of man.” … Now what does this tell you … it tells you that Jesus’ ascencion TO heaven is related to his descencion …. the 2 are related, it says the “son of man” decended, “son of man” is a personal title.
                      We don’t need to Guess what it refers to in John 6, it’s Clear, he compares himself to manna, It’s obvious, it fits With the descending Language.
                      Not only that but we still have a ton of other evidence, glory he “had” With God, in John 17, and Things he “heard” from God …
                      5. Except he sent his only begotten son in the world, I would’nt say that if he wasn’t the only begotten son at the time he was sent into the world, if you want to argue otherwise you need to actually have some evidence for it. Jesus Calls himself “Gods Son” while he was alive …. I don’t think the writer of John was so nitpicky that he wanted us to make a distinction between Jesus the sod of God and Jesus the only begotten son of God.
                      If you think there IS a distinction to be made you need to make an argument for it. Jesus receiving holy spirit was never Connected With his becoming “only begotten.”
                      6. That makes no sense, none at all, if someone means to say “He has everlasting life” he would not say “he existed before me,” that’s not even isogesis, it’s just a missuse of Language.
                      “Existed before me,” means exactly that, it doesn’t mean he will live forever after me.
                      7. It can’t be that, because his coming FROM the father is contrasted and compared to his going TO the father … when he goes to the father he isn’t “un comissioned” he actually goes to the father, joins the father in heaven, that is compared to him coming from the father, which would naturally mean coming from heaven to Earth.
                      9. Yes, but you exegete a gospel in its own Language, and THEN you compare the Readings of the different text’s, not every gospel writer used the same Language in the same way, not every gospel writer had the same assumptions. You’re confusing exegesis With theology.

                    • Rivers
                      March 13, 2015 @ 2:52 pm

                      Hi Roman,

                      Thank you for getting back into the discussion. I’ll reply according to your numbering (and try to be brief):

                      3. I think our difference with regard to “begotten” is that I understand it to be a resurrection term (Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5-6; Hebrews 5:5). Thus, since the writer of the 4th Gospel is speaking of Jesus Christ after the resurrection, it would also be “natural” for him to call him “the begotten” (John 1:14, 18) even if we speaking about something that happened before the resurrection.

                      4. I agree that the language in John 3:13 is difficult.

                      5. I agree that there isn’t any distinction between “the only begotten son” and “the son of God.” As I noted in #3 (above), I think it’s reasonable that the writer would have used “the begotten” or “the son of God” to refer to Jesus when he is editorializing because he was writing after the resurrection when both of those things had been established (Acts 13:33; Romans 1:3-4).

                      6. I agree that John 1:15, 27-30 is difficult as well. Another possibility is that John the baptizer understood that, if Jesus is “the son of God”, he would have exited before him (John) by virtue of having a Father who was greater than Abraham (John 8:39-42).

                      7. I don’t think we have to go that far with the implications of “from the Father” because the writer speak of things like John the baptizer being “a man sent from God” and there is no implication of preexistence (John 1:6). Sometime the word “from” simply refers to the authority behind something and not the location where they originated from (e.g. Matthew 21:25).

                      9. Yes, I do prefer to look at the way a particular biblical writer uses his own terminology as part of the “context” of what he is writing. I tend to do that more with the writer of the 4th Gospel because his Greek is very simple and he repeats a lot of words so it gives us a lot to work with in terms of establishing the particular meaning that he is giving them. I don’t think anything I’ve suggested contradicts the usage of any other writer.

        • Dale Tuggy
          January 26, 2015 @ 7:08 pm

          “Easy” in that we can comprehend what the author is doing, I suggest. No not “easy” in that texts don’t argue back, so many interpretations have arisen.

          When you demand to know “how”… I’m not sure what you’re asking. In the Jefferson example, there is a correspondence between his plan and the house. In the case of John 1, as I’m suggesting it, there’s a correspondence between God’s Word – what he self-revelation or message to humanity is, and the life and teachings of Jesus. As Jesus says in John, if you’ve seen him, you’ve seen the Father. Not because he is the Father, but because he’s the greatest revelation of the Father.

          Is this metaphor? I think so. The house “is” Jefferson’s dream (made brick). Jesus “is” God’s eternal Word (made human).

          • Miguel de Servet
            January 27, 2015 @ 3:30 am

            Notice how, for a start, you have to weasel your original ‘easy’ into “easy”. My “how” is perfectly clear. It is NOT by magic that there is a correspondence (to be fancy, isomorphism) between Monticello’s villa and Jefferson’s blueprint. Once again, HOW is there correspondence (or, more fancily, isomorphism) between Jesus and God’s Word? A metaphor, you say? Surely that’s NOT the case with Monticello.

            And, of course, you have carefully avoided ALL my questions … 🙁

            • Sean Garrigan
              January 27, 2015 @ 6:45 am

              “And, of course, you have carefully avoided ALL my questions … :(”

              Something about a black pot and a kettle comes to mind.

          • Roman
            February 9, 2015 @ 7:18 am

            Of coarse that view is consistant With the grammer of the prologue and internally consistant, the question is whether or not it is consistant With the background of John and the rest of John itself, does an impersonal creator atribute have a history in Judaism? A second being certainly does in Philo, also the rest of John does it point to Jesus being a Heavenly being prior to becoming flesh on Earth? It would seam so. The question is which theory is more plausable given what we know.

            • Rivers
              February 9, 2015 @ 10:05 am

              Roman,
              I think there are too critical problems with the preexistence and incarnation ideas that are forced upon the language in the Prologue.

              First, it is overlooked that the implication of the writer’s use of PROS TON THEON (John 1:1b) is that “the word” moved toward (PROS) God the Father from a different location. It’s OK to translate it “the word was with God”, but the use of PROS suggests that “the word” came to be “with” God from somewhere else.

              Second, it is not necessary to think that “became flesh” (John 1:14a) was intended to refer to the birth of Jesus Christ, or to infer anything about a transformation of his nature or being. Rather, “the word became flesh AND dwelt among us” can be taken as one statement indicating that the disciples began to know Jesus Christ after he was manifested to them by John the baptizer (John 1:15; John 1:34-49; 1 John 1:1-2).

  9. Dale Tuggy
    January 24, 2015 @ 10:11 am

    Interesting post, Mario. I would suggest that it may still be the Word of God (attribute, not Jesus) that is in view in v. 11-13, just as in v. 10.

    One other picky point. You say “the Incarnation of God’s Word (Logos) in/as the “man called Jesus”” – well, there’s a big difference between “as” and “in”. The former does, but the latter does not, seem to imply that the eternal Word and Jesus are one on the same – that the incarnation is a change in that Word, a change of condition.

    • Sean Garrigan
      January 24, 2015 @ 2:09 pm

      Aside from reiterating his objection to preexistence (yawn), and offering the unsupported claim that QEOS is a “substantive-adjective” (see my recent blog posts on this), he still hasn’t made sense of the assertion that Jesus was the *literal* incarnation of an attribute of
      God. Isn’t it time that he make an effort to do so?

      As I’ve pointed out before, someone who has the attribute strength is a “strong person”. Someone who has the attribute of wisdom is a “wise person”. This is intelligible, but what does it even mean to say that Jesus has the attribute of LOGOS (i.e he’s a “LOGOS man”)?

      I remember once hearing a cheerleader utter the following as part of her cheer:

      ip skiddlee ooten dooten bo bope skadeetten dotten hachow wachow,
      …rah-rah!

      To me, that cheer has more logical content than Mario’s ‘attribute’ view, because at least I knew why the cheerleader uttered those sounds. I have no idea — and I wonder if either you or Mario have any idea — what it means to say that Jesus is the literal incarnation of LOGOS.

      • Miguel de Servet
        January 24, 2015 @ 2:17 pm

        Yawn …

        • Sean Garrigan
          January 24, 2015 @ 2:29 pm

          I take it that you can’t make your view intelligible. No surprise.

        • Rivers
          January 24, 2015 @ 2:37 pm

          Sean,

          I agree. I don’t see any exegetical or logical substance to Mario’s argument that LOGOS is “an eternal attribute of God” that “became incarnated.”

          Mario hasn’t given any reason to think that LOGOS meant an “eternal divine attribute.” Thus, everything he says that follows from that unwarranted conclusion is inconsequential at best.

          I think we can do much better by paying attention to how the writer of the 4th Gospel actually used the term LOGOS and developing an interpretation of the Prologue that is consistent with the evidence.

          • Sean Garrigan
            January 24, 2015 @ 2:49 pm

            There’s an ironic quality to Mario’s view in that he favors it over against the idea that God is a triune being, yet his view, being unintelligible (at least so far), can’t even be analyzed or argued against logically.

            How does one counter a proposition that actually makes less sense than “ip skiddlee ooten dooten bo bope skadeetten dotten hachow wachow, …rah-rah!”? 😉

            Or, to borrower words Thomas Jefferson offered against the the Trinity, Mario’s view is:

            “…so incomprehensible to the human mind, that no candid man can say he has any idea of it, and how can he believe what presents no idea? He who thinks he does, only deceives himself. He proves, also, that man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without a rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck.” (Letter to James Smith discussing Jefferson’s hate of the doctrine of the Christian trinity, December 8 1822)

            • Rivers
              January 24, 2015 @ 3:48 pm

              Sean,

              I’ve been going over these things with Mario for a couple of months here, and I get the impression that he’s trying to sound like an academic person, but really can’t elucidate any real exegetical evidence to substantiate his views.

              I think he read about this “eternal attribute of God became incarnated as a man” idea somewhere and thought it sounded intelligent and mysterious so he started running with it.

              With due respect to him, I just don’t see any grammatical or contextual evidence that warrants his bizarre definition of LOGOS as an “eternal attribute.” Without substantiating that, his reading of the text doesn’t even seem plausible.

              • Sean Garrigan
                January 24, 2015 @ 4:03 pm

                Rivers,

                Yeah, ironically, the idea that LOGOS is an attribute of the Jewish God seems to come from Philo, and Mario was none too happy when I favored the view that John’s LOGOS is Philo’s LOGOS, newly conceived.

                • Rivers
                  January 24, 2015 @ 10:41 pm

                  Sean,

                  I don’t speculate about any connection between Philo and the writer of the 4th Gospel because there isn’t any internal evidence of corroboration between the two of them at any level.

                  When I look at the internal evidence, it seems that the 40+ times that the writer of the John books used the noun, LOGOS, it always referred to a “saying” or “message” spoken by a living person (usually, Jesus Christ himself).

                  The only other use is as a “name” for Jesus Christ (1 John 1:2; Revelation 19:13). Even Mario concedes that these two references are part of the Johannine corpus, despite the fact that he blatantly dismisses the evidence of how the term is used in these two texts.

                  There’s certainly no evidence that LOGOS was ever used by Jesus or the apostles to mean an “attribute.” Thus, it doesn’t really matter if Philo or anyone else may have given the term such a meaning or inference.

                  • Sean Garrigan
                    January 25, 2015 @ 8:54 am

                    “I don’t speculate about any connection between Philo and the writer of
                    the 4th Gospel because there isn’t any internal evidence of
                    corroboration between the two of them at any level.”

                    That’s probably because you don’t accept the notion that the Evangelist intended John 1:1 to be speaking of the same creation as Genesis 1. If you did, then it would be rather natural for you to assume that John had the same LOGOS traditions in mind that Philo developed, even if the Evangelist applied them in a new way in light of Christ.

                    • Rivers
                      January 25, 2015 @ 11:46 am

                      Hi Sean,

                      Yes, the main reason I don’t think John 1:1 could be referring to the time of Genesis 1:1 is because of the context.

                      Simply put, the writer uses “the light” (John 1:4-5, 7) and “the darkness” (John 1:5) and “the world” (John 1:9-10) as part of his allusion to the Creation language but applies those things to describe the public ministry of Jesus (which didn’t happen until he was “about 30 years old”, Luke 3:23).

                      Thus, it doesn’t seem likely to me that the writer intended “the beginning” (John 1:1) to refer back to the historcal time of Genesis (and thus there would be a drastic disconnect in his use of the metaphorical language). It seems more reasonable that “the beginning” would also refer to the time of the public ministry of Jesus.

                      There are also numerous other passages where Jesus and the apostles use “the beginning” to refer to the time when John and Jesus started proclaiming the gospel (e.g Mark 1:1; Luke 1:2-3; Acts 1:21-22; John 15:27; John 16:4; 1 John 1:1-2).

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 25, 2015 @ 11:54 am

                      And so, if you DID accept that John 1 and Gen 1 are speaking of the same event, then you’d be more inclined to infer that the Evangelist had the same LOGOS traditions in mind that Philo developed, correct? It may not be a necessary conclusion under the stated presupposition, but it certainly seems to be a rather natural one to make — again, under the stated presupposition.

                    • Rivers
                      January 25, 2015 @ 2:01 pm

                      Sean,

                      The notion that John 1:1 is referring to Genesis 1:1 is solely based upon the fact that the words “in the beginning” (EN ARXH) appears in the Greek versions of both Genesis 1:1 (LXX) and John 1:1.

                      However, it doesn’t logically follow that the same language is referring to the same time period. This is why it is more important to consider the context.

                      Although there is no doubt that “in the beginning” (John 1:1-3) is at least alluduing to Genesis 1:1 in the Prologue (as are “light” and “darkness” and “world”), the context suggests that the writer was applying the Creation language to what actually transpired during the time of the public ministry of Jesus.

                      That is why I don’t think it’s reasonable to conclude that “the beginning” (John 1:1-3) should be taken to refer to the historical context of Genesis 1:1 (c. 4000 BC) when the “light” and “darkness” and “world” are being applied to the historical context of the ministries of John the baptizer and Jesus Christ (c. AD 30).

                      This kind of a disconnect in the literary development of the writer’s allusion to, and application of, the Creation language is highly improbable. If scripture is intelligible, then we should presume that the writer would be have been consistent when he applied the language.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 25, 2015 @ 2:23 pm

                      Rivers,

                      You’ve answered a question I didn’t ask;-)

                      You’ve made it very clear that you don’t accept the presupposition that John 1 is speaking of the same ‘creation’ as Genesis 1. That’s fine, but here’s my question:

                      IF you were to grant — purely for the sake of argument — that John 1 and Genesis 1 DO speak of the same creative event, THEN would that not increase the likelihood that the Evangelist was developing his presentation using the same LOGOS traditions that Philo used?

                    • Rivers
                      January 25, 2015 @ 3:49 pm

                      Sean,

                      No, because it doesn’t logically follow that any relationship between Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 would have to depend upon Philo’s influence.

                      Jesus claimed to receive “all things” from his own Father (John 5:20) and to disclose “all” of what he heard to his own disciples (John 14:26). Why would it even be reasonable to think that the apostles would associate his LOGOS with anything Philo thought?

                      I think it’s more important that we determine the meaning of “in the beginning” (John 1:1) that was intended by the writer of the 4th Gospel himself. If he was referring to the historical time of Genesis 1:1, then why wouldn’t his use of “light” and “darkness” and “world” (in the same context) be referring to the same time?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 25, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

                      I find that rather incredible, frankly. Clearly, if the Evangelist has Genesis 1 in mind, then it is quite possible that he was utilizing the same LOGOS concepts that Philo utilized. I think that this is simply impossible to deny, credibly.

                    • Rivers
                      January 25, 2015 @ 11:32 pm

                      Sean,

                      Since there is no evidence that the Johannine writer had any dependence upon Philo, it’s an exegetical fallacy to base any conclusions about the meaning of the Prologue on speculation. The “possibility” of something is not evidence of anything. 🙂

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 26, 2015 @ 6:52 am

                      It’s a fallacy to assume that John didn’t have philonic LOGOS traditions in mind just because he didn’t use the word LOGOS that way elsewhere. Your approach makes it impossible for a writer to ever say anything new, yet we know that writers say new things all the time.

                      I only use the word egregious about once a year, and your approach is such that if you only heard or read what I have to say for 364 days, you’d determine that egregious is not part of my working vocabulary. That’s an egregious mistake!

                    • Rivers
                      January 26, 2015 @ 9:12 am

                      Sean,

                      It’s not a fallacy to disregard Philo when there is no evidence that the apostles knew anything about him. When you claim that Philo is behind the meaning of LOGOS in John 1:1-3, it is your burden of proof. Why don’t you think it was Zeno’s or Aristotle’s definition of LOGOS that influenced the Prologue?

                      I’m just suggesting that sound exegesis should be based upon grammatical and contextual evidence and not speculation about external sources that cannot be corroborated. The writer of the 4th Gospel used LOGOS about 40 times (which is plenty of evidence to determine the meaning that he intended).

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 26, 2015 @ 12:38 pm

                      We’ll have to agree to disagree.

                    • Rivers
                      January 26, 2015 @ 9:21 am

                      Sean,

                      Your “egregious” analogy doesn’t fit because the writer of the 4th Gospel used the noun LOGOS over 40 times. Thus, there is plenty of internal evidence to determine the meaning that he intended.

                      Do you think the writer of the 4th Gospel was capable of using the term LOGOS on his own? Have you ever looked at the 40 times he used it in order to try to understand what he was saying?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 26, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

                      We’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m not into these arguments without end.

                    • Rivers
                      January 26, 2015 @ 2:58 pm

                      Sean,
                      No problem. However, I think these are basic questions that undermine the credibility of your viewpoint. It would really help if you figured out a way to respond to them.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 26, 2015 @ 3:44 pm

                      Ah, so you’re taking your lead from Mario’s playbook now. Too bad.

                      I’m not a fish, Rivers, i.e. I don’t take bate. What I do is make judgements about whether a given dialogue is proving to be fruitful, or whether it’s going nowhere fast. I’m not interested in arguments without out end, i.e. arguing on and on and on and on and on and on in an attempt to get the other person to see things my way. You don’t and that’s fine by me. It would be nice if you were willing to return the courtesy in a gracious manner, but apparently you’re not.

                    • Rivers
                      January 26, 2015 @ 4:13 pm

                      Sean,
                      I’ve been very patient and gracious with respect to asking you questions about your views. I’m getting the impression that you are becoming defensive because you don’t have the answers. The purpose of this blog is for discussion of different ideas and concepts.

                      If I couldn’t give a thoughtful response to simple questions and objections about something that I believe, I’d be doing more research and looking for the answers (or I’d be looking for a different view altogether). 🙂

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 26, 2015 @ 7:13 pm

                      Actually, no, you haven’t been patient and gracious with your questions. What you’ve been is a control freak. You ask for my understanding of John 8:58, I pointed it out, and you continued to insist that I provide what I already provided, and charged that by refusing to do so I was loosing credibility. And I think you made other comments to try and bate me, such as your childish ending sentence above.

                      Once again in this thread, you ask questions, I answer, you assert that I’m mistaken and ask more questions, and because I disagree with you and don’t see a point in going on ad nauseum, especially in light of rather severe constraints on my free time, you once again charge that my credibility is at stake. What, your professor wouldn’t listen to your odd interpretation to John 1 and so now you’re obsessed with trying to get the rest of us to entertain it?

                      You have the final word. In light of your attitude, I have nothing further to say to you after this. Commenting on these forums isn’t my ministry, it’s a hobby, and I’m not going to waste the little free time I have for enjoyment by dialoguing with folks like you and Mario.

                      Take care,
                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      January 26, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

                      Hi Sean,

                      I’m disappointed that you are offended by our critique of your opinions. Maybe you should consider a different “hobby.” 🙂

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 26, 2015 @ 7:33 pm

                      No, I just need dialogue partners who know how to be gracious and patient.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 26, 2015 @ 7:42 pm

                      BTW, I’m not “offended by [your] critique of [my] opinions,” and your decision to try and slant what has happened in this way is exactly why I won’t dialogue with you after today. I’ve spent way too much of my time over the years getting into these sorts of tortured exchanges, and I’m done with them.

                    • Rivers
                      January 26, 2015 @ 9:25 pm

                      Sean,

                      Unfortunately, “over the years” you haven’t considered the evidence that I’m showing you from the scriptures. I think you need to consider it. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 27, 2015 @ 7:06 am

                      I’m not afraid of it, I just don’t think that spending my free time interacting with every oddball idea that’s floated by folks is a productive use of my time. If you want to argue that PROS TON QEON is referring to resurrection — an idea that probably hasn’t occurred to anyone else in the history of interpretation — then go back to college, write your thesis, and let’s see if the scholarly community finds it compelling.

                    • Rivers
                      January 27, 2015 @ 8:49 am

                      Sean,
                      Instead of hastily dismissing what I’ve said about the meaning of PROS TON QEON in John 1:1, why not give it some consideration? There is substantial grammatical and contextual evidence to support the interpretation that it is referring to the resurrection.

                      Just because you may not have done enough research to know the other options, it doesn’t follow that they are not plausible. I’m not trying to take any credit for making up anything new. I’m just doing the best I can to sort out the exegetical evidence and to determine the most likely interpretation that was intended by the writer.

                    • Rivers
                      January 27, 2015 @ 9:01 am

                      Sean,

                      Instead of hastily dismissing the thought that PROS TON QEON could be referring to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, why not give it some consideration? There is substantial grammatical and contextual evidence that can be offered in favor of understanding it that way.

                      Just because you may not have done enough research to discover other ways of interpreting the Prologue, it doesn’t follow that they are “oddball ideas.” If you were part of the scholarly community you would understand why only certain interpretations are put forward in professional academic circles.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 27, 2015 @ 10:28 am

                      The problem is this game that you want to play, which I refuse to be a part of. If people want to entertain your view, fine, let them do so, and interact with those who are willing. But in your game, you try and bate people to interact with your odd views by asserting that they loose credibility if they don’t. That is very discourteous and really rather obnoxious, which doesn’t speak well for *your* credibility. If you have a good idea, the idea will win the day without the need for bullying tactics.

                      BTW, the preexisting spirit person idea is embraced by lots of folks. How many people embrace the idea that PROS TON QEON is referring to resurrection? Can you direct me to the published literature where this novel idea is developed?

                    • Rivers
                      January 27, 2015 @ 11:01 am

                      Sean,
                      The purpose of this blog is to discuss different views of the relationship between Father, son, and holy spirit. That necessarily involves some dialogue between opposing opinions.

                      You aren’t a victim of anyone’s “bullying tactics.” Rather, you seem defensive because you are unable to answer some of the questions and objectives that have come in response to your ideas (regardless of how popular you image it is).

                      For myself, I only care about what Jesus and the apostles were teaching. There testimony is all that has “credibility” (Hebrews 2:3-4). If you haven’t noticed, their testimony wasn’t never embraced by most of the people (Luke 13:23-24).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      January 27, 2015 @ 2:07 pm

                      Guest?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 27, 2015 @ 2:46 pm

                      That’s one of the irritating things about Disqus that I referred to in my dialogue with Dale. If you delete a comment Disqus will apparently sometimes only delete your name, but leave the comment.

                    • Rivers
                      January 27, 2015 @ 3:48 pm

                      Sean,
                      I think that’s what happened. My computer at the office “froze” while I was writing the comment and then the partial comment reappeared as “guest” after I wrote it again and submitted the new version.

                    • Rivers
                      January 27, 2015 @ 11:13 am

                      Sean,

                      The purpose of this blog is to discuss different perspectives on the relationship of Father, son, and holy spirit. This must necessarily involve some dialogue between opposing perspectives.

                      You are not a victim of anyone’s “bully tactics.” Rather, you seem defensive because you aren’t able to offer answers to some of the simple questions and objections that have been offered in response to your own comments. It’s not my responsibility to make you comfortable with your own opinions.

                      For me, the only “credible” testimony about what Jesus and the apostles were teaching is preserved in the canonical scriptures (Hebrews 2:3-4). I’m just trying to do sound exegesis so that I can better understand what they were communicating. This is why I ask people for exegesis to support their different interpretations.

                      Before you make the mistake of polling for the popularity of your own view you might think about the fact that God never intended the truth to be embraced by the majority (Luke 13:22-23), and it was the “scholar” and the “scribe” who were least likely to understand it (Matthew 11:25; 1 Corinthians 1:20).

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 27, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

                      So I won’t be conversing with you about your view, but if you provide the peer-reviewed journal articles, theses, books, and chapters of respected commentaries that argue for taking PROS TON QEON to be a reference to resurrection, then I’ll check them out as I have time.

                      Remember, you claimed that the reason I don’t accept your view is because of a lack of exposure to the published information that supports it. So let’s see that published information, but be sure to omit any self-published works, as I only read self-published works when I have reason to believe that person has the competence to speak on the subject(s) in question.

                    • Rivers
                      January 27, 2015 @ 3:44 pm

                      Sean,
                      I think you need to do the scholarly research on your own time.

                      Ultimately, if you can’t see it for yourself in the text you’ll never understand it. I’d rather discuss it with you at a later time when you can distantiate yourself enough to make an objective consideration of the evidence.

                    • Rivers
                      January 27, 2015 @ 3:46 pm

                      Sean,
                      I think you should do the scholarly research on your own time.

                      Ultimately, if you can’t see it in the text for yourself, you aren’t going to understand it. I’d rather continue our discussion at a later time when you are able to distantiate yourself enough to give a more objective consideration of the evidence.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 27, 2015 @ 8:08 pm

                      “I think you should do the scholarly research on your own time.”

                      What a bizarre response to a request for scholarly references supporting your view. I’m not asking to do research on anyone’s time but my own. What I’m asking you to do is provide evidence to support your assertion that the reason I won’t engage your interpretation of PROS TON QEON is because of some lack of familiarity with a body of research in your favor.

                      Because of your obsession with convincing people of the correctness of your pet theory, you made the decision to try and embarrass me, on a public forum, for the “sin” of not being interested in perusing a dialogue about it. Let me remind you of your assertions:

                      “Just because you may not have done enough research to discover other
                      ways of interpreting the Prologue, it doesn’t follow that they are “oddball ideas.”

                      “Just because you may not have done enough research to know the other options, it doesn’t follow that they are not plausible.”

                      Ok, so let’s see this body of research that supports taking PROS TON QEON as a reference to resurrection that I would have encountered had I “done enough research to know” your option.

                      If you can’t provide the references, then we will all know whose credibility has been shattered in this exchange: Yours.

                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      January 28, 2015 @ 10:16 am

                      Sean,

                      I could cherry pick comments from published material to substantiate the points I’m making about the interpretation of PROS TON QEON in John 1:1, but making selective appeals to scholarly material to substantiate any particular view is a bad approach.

                      If you can’t see the evidence in the text for yourself, then no scholar’s opinion is going to persuade you. That’s why I kindly suggested that you take some time to do the grammatical research for yourself. I’ve given you enough information to point you in the right direction.

                      It’s not my responsibility to convince you of anything. In the interests of stimulating discussion here, I’m presenting the evidence for a different interpretation of the Prologue than what Dale or any of his guest contributors have presented.

                      I respect the fact that we all have different perspectives to offer. I’m always open to sound critical and logical evaluation of my opinions. It would be much more helpful to me if you could present a substantial exegetical critique rather than complain about having your feelings hurt.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 28, 2015 @ 11:22 am

                      When people ask me for references for a point of view, I always provide them, if I have any. In fact, I’ve offered many on this forum.

                      So, just provide two peer-reviewed journal articles, theses, books, or chapters of commentaries. Your pick. If you can’t provide them, then your credibility is shattered, because you were the one who asserted that my lack of interest in your view stems from lack of familiarity with relevant research material.

                      Let’s see that research material.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 29, 2015 @ 7:34 am

                      Let me remind you that YOU made the decision to make this about me, about my “credibility,” and about my supposed lack of familiarity with important published material supporting your view. It wasn’t a very smart choice on your part, and was really rather obnoxious, but your obsession with promoting your view caused you to make it, and now you should have a sense of obligation to provide the body of published research that supports taking PROS TON QEON as a reference to resurrection.

                      Let’s see the references.

                    • Rivers
                      January 29, 2015 @ 9:26 am

                      Sean,

                      I have no obligation to do anything. The commentary I’ve provided on the meaning of PROS TON QEON in John 1:1 is plausible and can stand on its own. I think I’ve pointed you in the right direction.

                      “and the word [Jesus] was with God [PROS TON QEON]” (John 1:1)

                      “he [Jesus] knowing that … he would depart out of this world to the Father [PROS TON PATERA] … and was going to God [PROS TON QEON]” (John 13:1-3).

                      If you’re not interested in looking any further, then you probably should go on believing in the “preexistent spirit being” idea. As you said, there are a lot of people who believe in something like that.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 29, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

                      Of course you now have an obligation to provide the requested references. You attempted to publically embarrasse me and suggested that the reason I haven’t encountered your view is because I supposedly “…have not done enough research to discover other ways of interpreting the Prologue.”

                      Put the references where your mouth has been. Let’s have them.

                      The reason you won’t provide the requested references is almost certainly because there aren’t any. There are no peer-reviewed journal articles promoting understanding PROS TON QEON at John 1 as a reference to resurrection. There are no published theses promoting understanding PROS TON QEON at John 1 as a reference to resurrection. There are no chapters in peer-reviewed commentaries wherein an author promotes understanding PROS TON QEON at John 1 as a reference to resurrection. There are no books published by a respectable publisher — and probably no self published books, either, for that matter — that promote taking PROS TON QEON at John 1 as a reference to resurrection.

                      The only “published” arguments supporting your view are ones you post on blogs and message forums.

                      If I’m wrong, then let’s see the references.

                    • Rivers
                      January 27, 2015 @ 8:21 pm

                      Sean,

                      If you have some time, please look at the way the pronouns PROS (toward) and META (together with) are used in the the 4th Gospel. Each is used a couple of dozens times.

                      You will find that PROS always means “to” or “toward” and META always means “together with.” This is critical to understanding why EN PROS TON QEON wa
                      EN PROS is used in John 1:1 because the writer understood that Jesus Christ

                    • Rivers
                      January 25, 2015 @ 11:35 pm

                      Sean,

                      Tell me why you think appealing to Philo is so critical to understanding John 1:1-3?

                      Do you think that Philo also believed that Jesus was “the light of the world” (John 1:4-10; John 8:12) and that he and his fellow Jews were “the darkness” (John 1:5; John 12:46)?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 26, 2015 @ 6:47 am

                      I didn’t say that Philo is critical to understanding John. hO LOGOS is a title for the heavenly spirit person who became Jesus, and inferring what’s behind the title can help nuance our understanding this way or that, but one can still glean most of the Evangelist’s understanding of Christ without having certainty vis a vis the origin of the title.

                      What I did say is that the inference that John was using the same LOGOS traditions that Philo developed is quite plausibly a correct inference if one understands that John 1 is speaking of the same creative events as those discussed in Genesis 1, as traditionally understood (not quite sure how you understand it),

                    • Rivers
                      January 26, 2015 @ 8:43 am

                      Sean,

                      OK, but why do you think that John 1:1-3 could be speaking of the creative events that took place during the time of Genesis when there was no “light” (Jesus) or “darkness” (unbelievers) or “world” (people) back then? For example, how could John the baptizer be “sent to testify about the light” (John 1:6-7) when he didn’t exist in Genesis 1 either?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 26, 2015 @ 12:36 pm

                      The flow of he narrative.

                    • Rivers
                      January 26, 2015 @ 2:52 pm

                      Sean,
                      What about “the flow of the narrative” do you think would suggest that there is a 4,000 year gap between the writer’s allusion to “in the beginning” (John 1:1; Genesis 1:1) and the writer’s application of light, darkness, and world to the people of his own generation (John 1:4-10)?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 25, 2015 @ 2:35 pm

                      “The notion that John 1:1 is referring to Genesis 1:1 is solely based
                      upon the fact that the words “in the beginning” (EN ARXH) appears in the
                      Greek versions of both Genesis 1:1 (LXX) and John 1:1.”

                      That’s not quite correct. The reason folks infer that John 1 is speaking of the same creative events spoken about in Genesis 1 is at least three-fold:

                      1. The presence of EN ARXH, which has the potential of reminding folks of Genesis 1;

                      2. the verse speak of one who is QEOS being PROS TON QEON, which suggests a shared heavenly proximity;

                      3. the words we find in vers 3, i.e. PANTA DI AUTOU EGENETO KAI XWRIV AUTOU EGENETO OUDE EN O GEGONEN, naturally point to original creation, as it would be very strange to say only the things of Jesus’ ministry are here encompassed.

                    • Rivers
                      January 25, 2015 @ 3:35 pm

                      Sean,

                      1. Yes, I agree that EN ARXH alludes to Genesis 1:1. We have no disagreement there.

                      2. With regard to PROS TON QEON (John 1:1b), it would only convey a “heavenly proximity” after the resurrection had taken place (John 1:18). The preposition PROS usually means “toward”, and that is how the writer of the 4th Gospel always used it elsewhere.

                      Thus, PROS TON QEON implies that the LOGOS came toward God from a different location. This is why Jesus often used this preposition to speak of his ascension “to [PROS] the Father” (e.g. John 13:1; John 16:10; John 20:17).

                      3. It isn’t “strange” at all to think of the “all things” in John 1:3 to be referring to what happened during the public ministry of Jesus. For example, the people understood that Messiah would tell them “all things” when he appeared (John 4:25; John 14:26).

                      The writer also reported that Jesus received “all things” from the Father (John 5:20; John 13:3; John 16:15) and accomplished “all things” during his ministry (John 17:10; John 19:28).

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 25, 2015 @ 7:32 pm

                      All I can say is that your interpretation seems to be extremely problematic. So John 1:1 *was* alluding to Genesis 1, but not speaking of original creation? That’s oddity number 1.

                      Then, PROS TON QEON means that Jesus was ultimately headed for death and resurrection? That’s really out of place, contextually.

                      Yes, it actually is quite strange to interpret verse 3 to things Jesus did during his ministry. Oh, well…

                    • Rivers
                      January 26, 2015 @ 9:22 pm

                      Sean,

                      There’s nothing “odd” about using the Genesis creation language in an analogous way. When John the baptizer referred to Jesus as “the lamb of God” (John 1:29) he was alluding to the sacrificial requirements of the Law of Moses and speaking of Jesus Christ. Likewise, the Prologue alludes to the Creation language to refer the beginning of the gospel.

                      Your theory that PROS TON QEON means “a spirit being who was present with God” before the Genesis creation doesn’t fit the grammar or the context. The writer of the 4th Gospel never used PROS to mean that someone was “together with” someone else in the past. The Prologue was written after the resurrection (John 1:18).

                      It also isn’t “strange” to interpret “all things” (John 1:3) to be referring to what happened during the public ministry of Jesus … I cited the many verses that refer to it throughout the 4th Gospel. There’s nothing that requires “all things” to be referring the Genesis creation in the Prologue.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      January 26, 2015 @ 9:30 pm

                      A theory about an account that is at odds with what 99.9999999999999% of mankind has understood since the NT was written is “odd” by definition. It doesn’t necessarily make it wrong, but it certainly makes it odd.

                      So go back to college, write your thesis on John 1, and let’s see whether the scholarly community finds it compelling.

                    • Rivers
                      January 25, 2015 @ 12:04 pm

                      Sean,

                      What do you see in the context of John 1:1-14 that would require or substantiate “the assumption” (your words) that the writer of the 4th Gospel was dependent upon Philo’s understanding of LOGOS?

                      Since there are other reasonable explanations of the Prologue than don’t require any dependence upon Philo’s definition of LOGOS, why do you think making that “assumption” would help your argument?

            • Rivers
              January 24, 2015 @ 3:52 pm

              For the record, I’m considered a biblical unitarian but do not think that texts like John 1:1-18 or John 8:58 were intended to convey any kind of preexistence or incarnation of anything. I think these were resurrection texts, and not preexistence texts.

              Thus, I know that I may have a little bit more trouble buying into Mario’s scheme than someone who might think that there is some kind of “preexistent LOGOS” idea or “incarnation” intended by the writer (e.g. Dale Tuggy).

              • Sean Garrigan
                January 24, 2015 @ 9:16 pm

                “Thus, I know that I may have a little bit more trouble buying into
                Mario’s scheme than someone who might think that there is some kind of
                “preexistent LOGOS” idea or “incarnation” intended by the writer (e.g.
                Dale Tuggy).”

                I don’t think so, Rivers. I believe that the person who became incarnate as Jesus Christ did exist in heaven as a real person prior to his earthly life, yet I consider Mario’s “attribute” view to be unintelligible. And it seems that he has no interest in addressing this shortcoming. Until he does so, he’s just saying something even less intelligible than “ip skiddlee ooten dooten bo bope skadeetten dotten hachow wachow,…rah-rah!”

                Mario doesn’t care for me — I get that — but if he has any interest in a Pauline attempt at winning converts, then he’s going to have to address the shortcoming I’ve pointed out. Maybe he will, and maybe he won’t, but until he does, there’s simply no reason to consider his view as anything more than a curiosity, it seems to me, and I’m not that curious;-)

                • Rivers
                  January 24, 2015 @ 10:33 pm

                  Sean,

                  I don’t think that Mario cares about anyone but himself. The arrogant and pseudo-intellectual way that he presents himself in these comments is tedious, but I’m trying to be patient and understand his viewpoint.

                  It’s difficult for me to see any merit to his interpretations when he doesn’t make any effort to answer the critical questions that I think any average interpreter would put forward.

                  As you’ve noted, Mario’s “attribute” idea is unintelligible. It doesn’t make any sense because it isn’t derived from any exegesis. I get the impression that it has become little more than an excuse to dismiss what everyone else believes.

                  • Sean Garrigan
                    January 25, 2015 @ 8:42 am

                    “I don’t think that Mario cares about anyone but himself. The arrogant
                    and pseudo-intellectual way that he presents himself in these comments
                    is tedious, but I’m trying to be patient and give his bizarre viewpoint a
                    fair hearing.”

                    Why bother? He’s made an assertion, and we’ve offered a reasonable objection and asked him to make his view intelligible. Now the ball is in his court. Until he satisfies his burden by either making his view intelligible or simply acknowledging that it’s not intelligible but that he chooses to believe it anyway, I’d say the conversation is over, as there’s nothing intelligible with which to converse.

                • Rivers
                  January 24, 2015 @ 10:52 pm

                  Sean,

                  Thanks for clarifying your perspective.

                  I simply take ‘O LOGOS throughout John 1:1-18 to be referring to the man, Jesus Christ, that the apostles “heard, saw, observed, and handled” during the time of his public ministry (1 John 1:1-2).

                  Perhaps we can have a friendly discussion of our different perspectives some time. 🙂

                • Dale Tuggy
                  January 25, 2015 @ 11:05 am

                  Sean, I agree that it is manifestly impossible (I wouldn’t say meaningless – we understand “an attribute became a man” – we just have an intuition that it couldn’t possibly be true) that an attribute of something should become a self. e.g. My sense of humor becoming a boy. But all Mario needs to do is to agree that the logos isn’t identical to the man Jesus, but rather, the first is expressed in the second.

                  • Sean Garrigan
                    January 25, 2015 @ 11:27 am

                    “But all Mario needs to do is to agree that the logos isn’t identical to
                    the man Jesus, but rather, the first is expressed in the second.”

                    Sure, but two points about that: (1) That’s not what Mario argues (obviously); and (2) if you soften the argument to that degree, then the same could be said of any agent of God who is used to express LOGOS, whatever that means to a given individual.

                    I think we need to start with some precise delineation of exactly what the “attribute” LOGOS is in Mario’s curious scheme. He may have mentioned it, but I stopped reading his posts, for the most part, when I came to realize that he likes to be difficult, even rather obnoxious, frankly, for the “fun” of it.

                    • Rivers
                      January 25, 2015 @ 1:28 pm

                      Sean,

                      Good points.

                      My impression of Mario’s theory is that he essentially miscontrues the noun LOGOS for the “attribute” of speech (verb, LEGW). This is how he attempts to make LOGOS some kind of impersonal “mystery” at the beginning of the Prologue.

                      The biblical writers always used the noun LOGOS to refer to a “saying” or “message” that was spoken by someone (or as a “name” for Jesus Christ, 1 John 1:1-2; Revelation 19:13).

                      The LOGOS is the result of the attribute of speaking (Hebrews 1:1-2), but is not referring to the attribute itself. Thus, it makes much more sense to think that LOGOS in John 1:1-3 was referring to a person who was speaking a message from God.

                  • Rivers
                    January 25, 2015 @ 1:17 pm

                    Dale,

                    The problem I see with your idea that LOGOS (John 1:1-3) was merely referring to something “expressed” later (John 1:14) is that God always “expressed” Himself through the mediation of angels or human beings (Hebrews 1:1-2; Hebrews 2:2). There’s no evidence in scripture that God ever “expressed” Himself apart from something observable or audible.

                    It really makes no biblical sense to speak of an “expression” (word?) of God that existed apart from creation. As a matter of fact, the writer of the 4th Gospel always used the noun LOGOS to refer to something spoken by a person (and usually by Jesus Christ himself) or as a name of Jesus (Revelation 19:13).

                    Like Mario’s idea, your view has the critical problem of necessitating that LOGOS be redefined (as an intangible “plan, wisdom, or purpose”) without any evidence to substantiate or suggest that the writer of the 4th Gospel ever used LOGOS that way.

                    Thus, on one hand, if LOGOS is an “expression”, then it cannot exist without Jesus Christ (or someone else) to speak the message (hence, John 1:1-2; Revalation 19:13).

                    On the other hand, the word usage in the Johannine corpus doesn’t suggest that LOGOS meant “plan, purpose, or wisdom.” Morever, biblical Greek had different words for plan, purpose, and wisdom. There’s no exegetical reason to force LOGOS to have one of those unattested meanings in John 1:1-3, 14.

                    • Dale Tuggy
                      January 26, 2015 @ 7:14 pm

                      “It really makes no biblical sense to speak of an “expression” (word?) of God that existed apart from creation”

                      I know that in Stoicism and I think other ancient philosophies “logos” could be the words (speech), or the content (message, meaning) OR the thought expressed in Words. So I believe they could coherently say that God had within him eternally his logos, and then he creates by his logos (command, word). They imagine it is sort of letting the thought out.

                    • Rivers
                      January 26, 2015 @ 8:08 pm

                      Dale,

                      If you take a look at the 40 or so uses of the noun LOGOS in the Johannine books, it always means a spoken “saying” or “message” (except when it is used as a “name” for Jesus himself, 1 John 1:2; Revelation 19:13).

                      I don’t think the meaning of LOGOS in the Prologue should be mistaken for anything that Philo or Stoic philosophers may have thought about it.

                    • Dale Tuggy
                      January 28, 2015 @ 11:05 am

                      Rivers,
                      Statistical word-use arguments are only a starting point. Until I met you, I had only ever used the word “Rivers” at the start of a sentence, to refer to those larger stream-like things. So, the first time I wrote to you, someone could have argued:

                      Tuggy has used “Rivers” 563 times, and every time, he means a flowing body of water. So here, clearly he is addressing certain bodies of water.

                      Well, the statistics are right here, we can suppose. But when you look at my 564th usage, it only makes sense to interpret “Rivers” as a proper name. So, that’s how we will all read it.

                      Here, we need a meaning of “logos” that best explains what is and isn’t said, in the whole historical context. Pointing out the author’s other uses of this fairly common Greek word is not going to be decisive. We will all gladly, and reasonably, go against precedent, as it were, if that is the best way to understand the paragraph before us.

                    • Rivers
                      January 28, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

                      Dale,

                      Thank you for the reply. I agree … and that is why I always try to emphasize context along with word usage. I recognize that some words have different meanings in different contexts.

                      The main reason I emphasize the statistical information about LOGOS is because some interpretations of John 1:1-14 are based upon redefining LOGOS to mean things like plan, purpose, wisdom, attribute, command, and power which are neither substantiated by any statistical evidence, nor required by the context. That approach leads to all kinds of fallacies.

                      I’m also uncomfortable with arguments like “what isn’t said” because, if it isn’t said, or it isn’t there, then it isn’t evidence. This approach seems no different than an evolutionist claiming that there must be a “missing link” between apes and human beings (without any scientific observation of such a creature). Likewise, physicists can conveniently define new entities like “black holes” and “dark matter” (which just happen to be invisible) in order to make it appear that their mathematical equations provide the right answers.

                      The “historical” approach can also be tricky because the only historical evidence we have of what Jesus and the apostles were actually teaching their own disciples is found in the canonical scriptures. We can only speculate about other influences like Philo or Gnosticism when there is nothing substantial to corroborate any influence from those sources.

            • Miguel de Servet
              January 25, 2015 @ 4:10 am

              Some ignorant people pretend that Jefferson was part of the “pre-existence” camp. LOL!

              • Sean Garrigan
                January 25, 2015 @ 8:33 am

                I’m not one of them.

              • Sean Garrigan
                January 25, 2015 @ 7:47 pm

                Since I don’t pretend that Jefferson believed in the real heavenly preexistence of the one who became Jesus, perhaps you could clarify exactly whom you’re criticizing? I’ve read quite a bit of Unitarian literature, and I don’t personally recall a single person who asserted that Jefferson accepted the truth of Christ’s preexistence.

                Or should we assume that the LOL is on you? I think so.

          • Keefa
            February 10, 2015 @ 3:38 pm

            Rivers nice comment. Stay in touch.

    • Rivers
      January 24, 2015 @ 3:01 pm

      Dale,

      Properly speaking, the verb LEGW (speak) would be describing an “attribute” and not the noun, LOGOS. The noun properly refers to the content (i.e. saying, or message) of what is spoken by a person. Throughout the rest of the 4th Gospel, the writer always uses the noun LOGOS to refer to something that was spoken, and not the attribute of speaking.

      Thus, Mario needs to demonstrate why there would be any possibility that the noun LOGOS would be referring to an “attribute” and why the writer was making an exception in the context of the Prologue. He also describes the LOGOS as “eternal” with nothing from the text to support that qualification either.

      I agree with Sean’s suggestion that it makes more sense that someone speaking God’s “word” might be called LOGOS rather than someone’s attribute. We see this in Revelation 19:13 where the writer said that Jesus Christ was “called by the name” of ‘O LOGOS (“the word”).