Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Different View Of An Old Classic

There exists a passage that has been interpreted to imply that Jesus was there in the beginning with God when he created all that was created.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God (John 1:1-2).

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same (the Word) was in the beginning with God.  These two verses have created more controversy than any other verses in the Bible.  While it is true that there are many misinterpreted passages from the Bible, many have their foundations based on the interpretation of these two verses.  At the center of the controversy is the phrase, the Word, translated from the Greek word logos.  This word has been analyzed, examined, investigated, scrutinized, evaluated, questioned, explored, considered, and reconsidered resulting in no concrete determination as to the true interpretation or meaning of the phrase.  Below is an insert taken directly from the Strong’s Complete Greek and Hebrew Lexicon.  Examine the many different definitions and see if you can determine the true interpretation or meaning of the phrase.

Logos (log'-os); Word Origin: Greek,  Noun Masculine, Strong #: 3056
  1. of speech
    1. a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea
    2. what someone has said
      1. a word
      2. the sayings of God
      3. decree, mandate or order
      4. of the moral precepts given by God
      5. Old Testament prophecy given by the prophets
      6. what is declared, a thought, declaration, aphorism, a weighty saying, a dictum, a maxim
    3. discourse
      1. the act of speaking, speech
      2. the faculty of speech, skill and practice in speaking
      3. a kind or style of speaking
      4. a continuous speaking discourse - instruction
    4. doctrine, teaching
    5. anything reported in speech; a narration, narrative
    6. matter under discussion, thing spoken of, affair, a matter in dispute, case, suit at law
    7. the thing spoken of or talked about; event, deed
  2. its use as respect to the MIND alone
    1. reason, the mental faculty of thinking, meditating, reasoning, calculating
    2. account, i.e. regard, consideration
    3. account, i.e. reckoning, score
    4. account, i.e. answer or explanation in reference to judgment
    5. relation, i.e. with whom as judge we stand in relation
      1. reason would
    6. reason, cause, ground
  3. In John, denotes the essential Word of God, Jesus Christ, the personal wisdom and power in union with God, his minister in creation and government of the universe, the cause of all the world's life both physical and ethical, which for the procurement of man’s salvation put on human nature in the person of Jesus the Messiah, the second person in the Godhead, and shone forth conspicuously from His words and deeds.
A Greek philosopher named Heraclitus first used the term Logos around 600 B.C. to designate the divine reason or plan, which coordinates a changing universe.  This word was well suited to John’s purpose in John 1.
Source:  Strong’s Complete Greek and Hebrew Lexicon; The Bible Collection Suite (Copyright © 2005

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.  Most of the time the native language does not have one word that is equivalent in its meaning as the one word being translated.  Many times, it may take a few sentences to get a better picture of what the word is trying to convey, if the translator understands the meaning of the word at all.  Sometimes, the best that can be done is a close or loose translation of the word, which will alter the intended meaning of what the original writer is trying to convey.  Sometimes, the best that you can may still miss the intended mark.  Now that you have seen the possible definitions of the Word, which English definition did you find most suitable for the translation of the Greek word logos?  Did you quickly scan through all them until you found one that you were most familiar with?  Is that the one you chose?  Did you allow traditionalism to blind you to all other possibilities until you found the one that you were most comfortable with?  Again, is that the one you chose?  Did you examine all of the possibilities and entertain the thought that the one that has traditionally been given may not be the best fit when the word was translated?  Did you choose outside of the box of traditionalism?  Did you have on your traditional thinking cap at the time?  Or were you thinking outside of the box?  Again what we have been taught is so embedded into who we are that we are unable to accept anything that is contrary to it.  What we have been taught is so ingrained in our culture that we are unable to think outside of tradition.  What we have been taught is so deeply rooted into our psyche that it is impossible for us to accept new revelation about that which we claim to know so well.  We have been taught well.  Again, we ask, by whom have we been taught?

According to Strong’s Complete Greek and Hebrew Lexicon, the Greek word logos is used in the Bible three hundred and thirty (330) times.  Of those more than three hundred times the word logos is used in the Bible, Strong’s claims the word logos was translated two hundred eighteen times to mean word.  Strong’s claims the word was translated fifty times to mean saying.  He claims the word was translated eight times to mean account.  He claims the word was translated eight times to mean speech.  He claims thirty two times the word was used miscellaneously.  There were two times the word was not translated at all.  The most interesting of all of the statistical uses was the claim that logos was translated only seven times to mean the Word.  In this translation, he placed the word Christ in parentheses.  With all of these translations available for the one-word logos, how does one determine which one of the many is to be used to convey the original meaning of the word?  How does one determine which translation is the right one?

We see that a Greek philosopher name Heraclitus was the first person to use the term logos.  He believed there was no permanent reality except the reality of change.  He also believed the world was animated and kept in order by fire.  He believed fire, what he defined as logos, to be the underlying substance of the universe, the power of the order in the world, and the order itself.  All other elements were just transformation of fire itself.  This became the unifying feature of the Heraclitean system.  He believed that all things carried with them their opposites.  For example, death was potential life and that being and not being was part of existence as a whole, leading to the conclusion that the only possible real state of being was a transitional one of becoming.  His system identified life and reason with fire.  He believed that no man had a soul of his own, but each shared in a universal soul-fire.  Famous for his doctrine of change being central to the universe, which is summarized in his famous quote, “You cannot step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.” he believed permanence was an illusion of the senses.  He believed in the unity of opposites with existing things being characterized by pairs of contrary properties.  His statement “all things come to be in accordance with this Logos (literally word, reason or account),” has been the subject of many interpretation.  This is puzzling while being most intriguing at the same time.

Now that we know the origin of the word, how did we get from the Greek philosopher’s determination of what the Greek word logos meant to the determination that we have today?  When did his interpretation of the word change?  Who changed it?  Can we be sure that his interpretation was correct?  Can we be sure that the one we use today is the correct interpretation?  Can we be sure if any of this is correct?  The answer is yes we can, with the wisdom that comes from above, but only you can decide what be the facts and what be the fiction.

Enjoy your blessings - KW

No comments:

Post a Comment