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Friday, November 26, 2010

What did Jesus Christ* create? part two

"First, John's Gospel starts with the affirmation that God through the Word created everything that is not divine (1:3)." Miroslav Volf [1]

Well, if that is what John's gospel affirms then the preexisting chaos in Genesis 1:2 must be either "divine" or created by the Word. Let's take another look at the text. 

John 1:
1  Εν αρχῃ ην ο λογος, και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον, και θεος ην ο λογος. 2  ουτος ην εν αρχῃ προς τον θεον. 3  παντα δι αυτου εγενετο, και χωρις αυτου εγενετο ουδε εν. ο γεγονεν 4  εν αυτῳ ζωη ην, και η ζωη ην το φως των ανθρωπων·

John 1:
1  εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος 2  ουτος ην εν αρχη προς τον θεον 3  παντα δι αυτου εγενετο και χωρις αυτου εγενετο ουδε εν ο γεγονεν 4  εν αυτω ζωη ην και η ζωη ην το φως των ανθρωπων

Note the alternate punctuation at the end of verse three. When we remove the full stop after εν before ο γεγονεν we open up another possible reading of the text. The constituent ο γεγονεν could be read as a relative clause limiting the scope of the previous statement. In other words, not one thing came into existence without the Word of those things that came into existence (awkward, yes). If John understood the chaos of Gen. 1:2 as uncreated, then it would not fall into the category of "things that came into existence" since it already existed. This is a little far fetched and M. Volf doesn't read it that way. The punctuation found in UBSGNT3, NA27, SBLGNT,  puts a full stop after EN and makes EN part of the next statement. This somewhat reduces the plausibility of this alternate reading. It does not eliminate it entirely but it makes it less plausible. 

I am inclined at this point to accept M. Volf's statement but the discussion isn't over yet. Tommorrow we will look at Martin Hengel's reading of the text from an article in the same book.

[1] Miroslav Volf, Johannine Dualism and Contemporary Pluralism, page 23 The Gospel of John and Christian theology - Richard Bauckham, Carl Mosser eds.

*I realize that the title of this series might cause problems for some people, ο λογος was the agent in creation. But it was the man Jesus Christ that spoke the words in Jn 8:58: ειπεν ⸀αυτοις Ιησους· Αμην αμην λεγω υμιν, πριν Αβρααμ γενεσθαι εγω ειμι.


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