January 23, 2021

The Council

Proclaiming the truth to the world.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Some take this as proof of eternal generation. The Son is known as the Word. That the reason he is called the Word is that he is spoken by the Father. Thus, the name is a divine title about the derivation of the Son from the Father. I’ve discussed John 1:1 before:

http://spirited-tech.com/Council/index.php/2018/12/21/creator-over-all/

There are several views that discuss why Jesus is called the Word (Logos):

 

But what is meant by ‘Word’? The underlying term, logos, was used so widely and in such different contexts in first-century Greek (cf. LSJ) that many suggestions as to what it might mean here have been put forward.7 The Stoics understood logos to be the rational principle by which everything exists, and which is of the essence of the rational human soul. As far as they were concerned, there is no other god than logos, and all that exists has sprung from seminal logoi, seeds of this logos. Others have suggested a background in Gnosticism, a widespread, ill-defined movement in the Mediterranean world of the first three centuries; but it must be admitted that, so far as our sources go, there is little evidence for the existence of full-blown Gnosticism before John wrote his Gospel (cf. the Introduction, §§ II–III). Still others think John has borrowed from Philo, a first-century Jew who was much influenced by Plato and his successors. Philo makes a distinction between the ideal world, which he calls ‘the logos of God’, and the real or phenomenal world which is but its copy. Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (pp. 114–115). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

This isn’t exhaustive of all the positions. Some like Gordon Clark thought it meant “Logic”. Others think it implies Jesus is a created deity to reveal the Transcendent Father. The Eternal Generation interpretation is merely one of many and must not be assumed. There are a few reasons to doubt that eternal generation is in view here.

We notice that Speakers and Words share a dependence on one another. That without language speech is impossible, but the reverse is true as well. So, it seems one would have to posit a generation of the Father in some sense. This doesn’t leave the asymmetrical relation they were looking for. (HT Jimmy Stephens)

Furthermore, we have alternatives that fit better with the context. Some like Anthony Rodgers takes the understanding that it is polemical against Greek philosophy. That the Logos is a person and that it isn’t an impersonal rational principle. Another interpretation is that it looks to the Old Testament and picks up various authors’ usage of the “Word of the LORD”. This interpretation I think is best and is defended in other places:

http://www.answeringmuslims.com/2018/01/what-does-it-mean-for-jesus-to-be.html

https://www.academia.edu/7847884/The_Targum_of_Isaiah_and_the_Johannine_Literature

Another reason to reject the eternal generation interpretation is that the Son or the Word is taking place of the first cause of the creation. Nothing here seems to suggest an eternal causal relation amongst the persons of the Godhead.