In my last post, I began to look at the original Greek at the beginning of the gospel of John. What I found was that we translate a certain term as “word” but the original term, “logos”, is far more complex that that. Further, John has a much easier term right at his fingertips. If he had wanted to express the idea that Jesus was an ordinary word, a mere utterance, he would not have used the word “logos” at all.
A second portion of the more robust definition of “logos” is that it implies a principle. This makes some sense, the idea that God was creating through Jesus at the very beginning of time if part of Jesus’ very nature is as a redemptive principle.
I initially wrote, in that paragraph above, that Jesus is a creative, not redemptive principle. But the word “redemptive” actually fits the “orginal” creation, way back in Genesis, too. Check it out:
People way smarter than me say that the opening lines of the bible have been oversimplified. Most of the time, it gets rendered as “In the beginning, God…” Hebrew-fluent people tell me that the NRSV is more accurate in this regard. It says “When God began creating, The Earth was with out form and void.”
The implication is that the Earth was more-or-less sitting around, a lifeless husk, until God came around and started making the Garden and Adam. I don’t believe that this necessarily entails that God had no part in the creation of the original lifeless husk. The bible doesn’t give us a play-by-play of the creation of the angels, either. I believe that God created (or set into motion the forces that would eventually create) tghe lifeless husk, and then, essentially, set it aside. A bit like how a TV cookie might make a glaze first, then put the bowl aside until all the other ingredients are cruising along.
One thing compelling about this vision of things is the idea that it squares nicely with the accounts scientists give us about the history of the Earth. I don’t believe that we ought to shape our theology in order to make it consistent with scientific ideas. But I do think it’s a nice bonus when science and faith paint us similiar pictures.
Anyway, if it was Jesus who was active in bringing life to that previously lifeless hunk, there’s a sense– consistent with the meaning of “logos” that he is bringer order and life to a previously chaotic place.
Perhaps even more compelling, this ties nicely together Jesus’ missions with regards to the Earth. Both before Adam, and 2000 years ago, Jesus brought order and life into darkness and chaos. A further interesting connection is the idea that God speaks numerous times in Genesis. Usually it’s a commentary on the state of things: This is good, this is very good, it is not good for man to be alone,
In addition to the fact that Jesus is what prevented man (kind) from being alone, I find it evocative, the brute fact that God was speaking at all. Since no humans were yet created to hear him, this certainly suggest there was someone else around (i.e. Jesus) to hear him. But moreover, the idea that both Genesis’ writer (Moses?) and John tell us that words were around at the very beginning of time, that’s a pretty interesting thing.
In the name of intellectual integrity I should probably express up fron that this post is highly speculative in nature. I am out of my element, and basing some of my assumptions on others’ area of expertise.