Friday, April 11, 2008

Ramblings and Ruminations on John (2)

02.Ramblings and Ruminations on John

John 1:1-5 (cont’d)

“Word” (logos) –is a key word in John’s theological vocabulary as well as the wider religio-philosophical world of the time. It resonances are varied and allowed John to converse with these varied religions, spiritualities, and philosophies. I suggest it continues this function in our world and I believe the best of its translational possibilities for our time is “meaning.” “In the beginning was Meaning.”

Meaning seems to be the primary quest of our postmodern world. Great skepticism attends many of these quests. Some have given it up, embracing or bracing themselves for life without meaning. Most, however, continue to the search and to them John makes his claim that “Meaning” is indeed a reality, a reality writ into the fabric of the world and life in this world. But I get ahead of John here.

This “Meaning” or logos, John asserts, is both intimate with and identical to God. “Meaning” is “face-to-face” with God according to the Greek John uses (pros ton theon). God and “Meaning” are in close relation to each other (see Proverbs 8 on “Wisdom”). God and “Meaning” converse and commune throughout eternity (recall earlier questions raised about this).

Then John takes the daring step of internalizing this conversation and community within the very being of God! “’Meaning’ was God.” “Meaning” is thus a self-expression of who God is.

In our context, then, John affirms the existence of meaning and the legitimacy of the quest for meaning. Later in this prologue to his gospel (1:1-18), John will identify “Meaning” with the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth, whose embodiment and reflection of “Meaning” is the decisive and clearest picture of God we have (or will have).

Part of what this means, I think, is that the most direct and provocative claim the Christian faith makes is not about how “god-like” Jesus is (as if we already knew who and what “god” is), but rather about how Jesus-like the Bible’s God is! The word “god” is, of course, the most ambiguous and diversely-used (not to mention dangerous!) word in the world. We must always be clear about which God we mean when we speak with others about God and inquire of them what God they are speaking of when they use the word. “God” is not a univocal word!!

And for us, we spell “God,” JESUS CHRIST!


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