Gospel of John Verses 1-5 essay

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" (Kysar 27) Scholars at times forget that the bible is not only a work of theology but also a work of literature.

Barnes also believes in this interpretation and its New Testament expression of the Trinity, "I am thinking, in particular, of the pivotal appeal to John 1:1-3 at de Trinitate 2.2.9, which resembles Tertullian's (and Hippolytus's) use of the Johannine prologue as the paradigmatic expression of the economy of the Trinity." (Barnes 239) Omerod also feels that the Augustinian explication of this passage, as well as the rest of the Gospel is fundamental to understanding it.

I do not think it is stretching things too far to suggest that Augustine is making connections between his exploration in the interior realm with fundamental Christian religious experience, mediated through Scriptures. We are to "seek his face evermore" (Ormerod 777)

One of the earliest supporters of this prologue was Pope Leo the Great (440-461 CE), whose own personal prose style has been called rhythmic and poetic in itself had great respect for the prologue:

Leo stated his belief in the unchanging divine nature in Jesus after the Incarnation a number of times… In one instance, quite explicitly, he offered an explanation of the Johannine prologue to support this. What the passage means is that the Son, with divine nature unchanged and intact, takes on something else: Corporeal birth did not take anything away from the majesty of God's Son, nor add anything to it, for the unchangeable substance can neither be diminished nor increased. "The Word became flesh" does not mean that the nature of God was changed into flesh, but that flesh was taken up by the Word into the unity of this Person.(Dunn 71)

Pitkin also points out that the doctrine of Calvin is highly influenced by this particular passage and gospel as well, "Rather, the epistle and the Gospel focus on knowledge of Christ and of God through Christ's mediation, presenting this as saving knowledge that overcomes the world." (Pitkin 84)

In fact, Calvin's own commentary on this Gospel continues to discuss the issue of true faith as certain knowledge and thereby creates the connection between knowledge and certainty. "The Gospel's frequent references to knowing and the occasional linking of knowledge and belief in the same verse provide Calvin with opportunities to speak of faith as knowledge." (Pitkin 90)

Taking the Gospel of John as a whole and the prologue in particular one must remember that it is primarily a tale of revelation and not necessarily cosmological or even theological speculation and argument. In some sense the entire Gospel itself is akin to a liturgical hymn so it is no mystery that many feel that it begins that way. The images in the prologue reveal the experience, as John sees it, of encountering and understanding the nature of God within and without. "It arises then not out of philosophical or even theological reflection but out of the self-understanding of the worshipping community." (Kysar 12) Pitkin echoes this sentiment and the idea of the revelatory experience for the community:

The Gospel of John… shares with the Pauline writings a thoroughly reflective explication of Christological faith. While clearly concerned with the question of the origin of faith, the Gospel's main interest is to establish the firm ground of faith in Christ precisely to foster the community's endurance. (Pitkin 96)

Recent research dominated as it is by the aspects and irregularities of the oral tradition concept and the vast influence of various languages, translations and liturgies (Brodie 133) the concept is still intact that the prologue is from some yet undiscovered hymn. As evidenced above there are certainly good reasons to support this view, the changes in text from poetry to prose and then the switch in flow to the narrative of John that certainly appears out of place initially. This has resulted in a long a belabored discussion of the structure of the prologue and the effort to find the "hypothetical hymn" (Brodie 134) and less involved in its content and meaning in today's world for Christians. Presently there is an egocentric tendency when attempting to understand ourselves in relation to the world through art, music, science and even economics and politics. "Increasingly, we define ourselves in nontheological, nonbiblical terms. We cast ourselves in our own image, and our goals are self-determined and self-referential." ("Adveniat Regnum Tuum" 7)

There is quite another aspect to the prologue as it also, for some, addresses the nature of being itself. There has been a plentitude of ontological interpretations and many Eastern Religions find their own philosophical views nestled in these lines as well, giving it a more universal appeal perhaps.

In the phenomenological approach, the divine Word appears as an ultimate horizon of the meaning of Jesus. Still later it come s into view as the subject acting in Jesus, in the Johannine prologue. But this needs to be interpreted. God is the ultimate subject acting in and through the human actions of Jesus. God may be seen as speaking his Word in and through these actions. (O'Leary 168)

This phenomenological approach opens up a different understanding of Jesus from the and create a more intimate and personal relationship with God that will later take form in Christ's redemptive approach to the salvation of mankind. "It grasps Jesus first as the event of the manifestation of God. Only as such is he Word made flesh." (O'Leary 169)

Paradoxical and often cryptic this prologue has sparked great debate and in itself has created tremendous dialogue in the search for the truth and understanding of the nature of what it means to be divine as well as what it means to be human. In a sense this passage espouses that there is less difference between the two as earlier biblical references may indicate. "what has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people;" (John 1: 4) This divine light therefore is present in us all and our very nature is by that inference divine.

Works Cited

"Adveniat Regnum Tuum." Commonweal 17 Dec. 2004: 5-7.

Augustine. Tractates on the Gospel of John. Trans. John W. Rettig. Vol. 5. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1988. '

Barnes, Michel Rene. "Augustine in Contemporary Trinitarian Theology." Theological Studies 56.2 (1995): 237-250.

Brodie, Thomas L. The Gospel According to John: A Literary and Theological Commentary. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997

Celsor, Scott A. "God's Grace Effects What He Declares": Scriptural Support for the Agreement on Justification in the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification and Salvation and the Church." Journal of Ecumenical Studies 39.3-4 (2002): 289-299.

"Conflict and Christology in the Fourth Gospel." Irish Biblical Studies 19 (1997): 98-120. Geocites 4 May 2009

Dunn, Geoffrey D. "Divine Impassibility and Christology in the Christmas Homilies of Leo the Great." Theological Studies 62.1 (2001): 71.

Kuehn, Evan F. "The Johannine of Augustine's Trinity: A Dogmatic Sketch." Theological Studies 68.3 (2007): 572-581.

Kysar, Robert. Voyages with John: Charting the Fourth Gospel. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2005.

O'Leary, Joseph S. "Emptiness and Dogma." Buddhist-Christian Studies (2002): 163-177.

Ormerod, Neil. "Augustine's De Trinitate and Lonergan's…[continue]

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