Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Different View Of An Old Classic (con't)

Recently, we examined two very controversial verses.  At the center of the controversial verses is the interpretation of the phrase, the Word, translated from the Greek word logos.  We have been taught that this Greek word logos, which was translated into English as the Word, was later made flesh (John 1:14) and came to be known as Jesus the Christ.  However as the Strong’s Complete Greek and Hebrew Lexicon pointed out, this Greek word was first used by a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus.  At the end of the 6th century B.C., Heraclitus made the word logos a central concept of his Greek philosophy where he believed the term was the underlying substance of the universe, the power behind the order in the world, and the order itself.  He was the first to believe that this logos or a rational divine intelligence gave life to the world.  He believed this rational divine intelligence, which today is referred to as being the mind of God in some scientific circles, produced the order and pattern in the things we encounter every day.  He believed this divine force was similar to human reasoning where no man had a soul of his own, but each shared in a universal soul-fire.  He even believed his own thoughts partook of this rational divine intelligence.  He became famous for his doctrine of change being central to the universe and the unity of opposites where existing things were characterized by pairs of contrary properties.  He believed that all things existed in accordance with this logos that was the coordinator of the changing universe.

As was mentioned earlier, one of the hardest things to do when translating another language into one’s native language is to translate the meaning of certain words correctly.  The native language usually does not have a one-word equivalent in its meaning to the one being translated.  Most of the time it may take a few sentences to get a clearer picture of what the word is trying to convey, especially when the translator understands the meaning of the word being translated.  As stated earlier, sometimes a close or loose translation of the word is the best that can be done and our best, at times, will miss the mark.  We saw that Strong’s Complete Greek and Hebrew Lexicon stated that the Greek word logos was used three hundred and thirty times in the King James translation, with only seven of them being translated as the Word.  Strong stated that the word was translated two hundred and eighty-four times to means word, saying, or speech.  Although Heraclitus used the word in his philosophy, his definition was not universal to other Greeks.  The word logos comes from the root of the Greek verb lego when translated means to count, to tell, to say, or to speak.  For the common non-philosophical Greek, the word carries two meanings; the primary being something said or an instance of speaking and the secondary being defined as logic or reasoning.  When first used, the word carried a very simplistic meaning but later developed into a wide variety of meanings such as argument, rational principle, reason, proportion, and measure.  As the definition evolved and developed into other meanings such as word, reason, and ratio (Latin for reason), it morphed into the divine reason that acts as the ordering principle of the universe, becoming a main stay in ancient and medieval philosophy and theology.  It later figured prominently in a number of Greek and Christian philosophical doctrines.  Because of its evolution, it became very difficult to interpret the logos doctrines of philosophers making it somewhat problematic to trace the history of many of these doctrines.  Today, it is referred to as a word, a thought, a speech, a spoken phrase, an idea, a principle, or that which conveys something meaningful to the hearer as an accounting or a story, a tale, a narrative or a fable.  It has become an important term used in philosophy, analytical psychology, rhetoric, and religion.  Used by both philosophers and theologians, it is currently marked by two main distinctions; dealing with human reason and dealing with universal intelligence.  In the first distinction, it is the rational thought in the mind of man, which seeks to attain universal understanding and harmony.  In the second, it is the universal ruling force that governs the universe. 

In what we call the New Testament, the interpretation of gospel according to John has given much attention to the word logos.  Some scholars and theologians believe the Greek philosophers and their many philosophies and doctrines influenced John’s perception of Jesus.  This may not necessarily be true.  It may not be the influences of the Greek philosopher of old as much as it may be our misunderstanding, coupled with the English translation and interpretation of what John was trying to convey in these passages.  These same scholars and theologians believe John described the Logos as God, the creative word, which became flesh and dwelt among us in the form of the man Jesus.  According to them the passage should read:

In the beginning was Jesus (the Logos), and Jesus (the Logos) was with God, and Jesus (the Logos) was God.  The same (Jesus) was in the beginning with God. 

This substitution for the word Logos appears to suggest Jesus was in the beginning, in existence before time began with God, in existence before his birth on earth and in existence before being named Jesus.  The passage implies that in the beginning was Jesus, that Jesus was with God, and that Jesus was God.  This is the fundamental basis for several different doctrinal descriptions of who Jesus was.  For example, many Trinitarians used these verses as proof text for the doctrine of the Trinity, which states God exists in three forms or can be seen in three ways as the Father, as the Son, and as the Holy Spirit.  As we substitute in the word Son for Jesus, we get a totally different meaning, which reads:

In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was God.  The same (the Son) was in the beginning with God. 

This substitution does, at first glance, appear to support the Trinitarian’s interpretation of the passage, where in the beginning was the Son, where the Son was with God, and where the Son was God.  At the same time, it presents several other questions that need to be addressed, which we are sure, were probably asked when the Trinity doctrine was first conceived at the First Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.).  One might wonder; Although it is conceivable for Jesus to be with God in the beginning, it is somewhat of a mystery how this same Jesus can be the same God that he was with in the beginning?  The same applies when the Son is substituted in for Jesus.  How can the Son be with God in the beginning and at the same time be God, the one that he was with?  If we are able to substitute Jesus or the Son in place of the word Logos or the phrase the Word, then we should also be able to make one more substitution.  According to the Trinitarian doctrine, God exists in three forms, one of which we have already substituted in, in the form of the Son, therefore it was stand to reason that we would also be able to substitute in the other manifestation of God, the Father.

In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with the Father (God), and the Son was the Father (God).  The same (the Son) was in the beginning with the Father (God). 

This makes for an interesting interpretation, where in the beginning was the Son, where the Son was with the Father, and where the Son was the Father.  Although it is possible for one form of God to be present with another form of God in the beginning, how is it possible for the first form of God to be called by the same form of God that first form of God was supposed to be with?  In other words, although it is conceivable for the Son to be in the presence of the Father in the beginning, how is it possible for the Son to be called the Father if the Son was supposed to be with the Father?  Is this possible?

Enjoy your blessings - KW

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