Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Words was God. He was in the beginning with God," or so the prologue to GoJohn begins. All sorts of theological phrases mull in the silence after it, and all sorts of technical theo-philosophical burst through the phrases' seems, trying to hold in coherent meaning.

Take, for example, this excerpt about the same prologue beginning from an older, more devotional examination of GoJohn:
Here [John Ev] claims of Jesus Christ that he was the divien Logos; even that he was eternal, and was self-existent eternally, and was also co-eternal in personal communion with the Father, and was also Deity; or the co-eternity, the co-equality, and the co-divinity of Jesus Christ with the Father. (Pratt 18)
But what's with all the terms? In just a few pages of reading commentaries about GoJohn and related topics (Wisdom, logos, etc...), there is much made about technical terms like hypostasis. It often seems that in an attempt to create distinctions, scholars (especially invested ones, theologians) lose themselves or their audiences, and end up confusing the distinctions. The trickle from explication to general adherent understanding distills the effect of the scholarship. That is to say, the average Sunday school lesson retains the notion that the Bible is one book-- despite its centuries-wide authorship -- and that its translated terms may be read with consistent meaning.

This is unfortunate.

I know that many in that situation wish to preserve a sense of grasping an ultimate truth, historical and cosmological. They would wish to know that Jesus lived, that first-hand witnesses saw him and wrote truthfully about him, that they saw him perform miracles, that they saw him die, and shortly later they saw him alive, and thus that Jesus is indeed a part of a triune God, whatever that means. To draw a distinction in development of the notion that Jesus was a distinct person, or to suggest that one of the gospels may not be an exact first-hand historical account, threatens their security.

While understandable, it is still unfortunate that this is the case. It seems to me that a more nuanced understanding of all scripture, especially GoJohn, would enrich one's knowledge and appreciation for one's own faith. Wouldn't it?

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