The Eternality and Deity of the Word: John 1:1-2 -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 160:637 (Jan 2003)
Article: The Eternality and Deity of the Word: John 1:1-2
Author: David J. MacLeod


The Eternality and Deity of the Word: John 1:1-2a

David J. MacLeod

In the first eighteen verses of the Gospel of John, traditionally called the prologue,1 the apostle John set forth major themes—the principal one being the Incarnation—that he developed later in the Gospel.2 This portion of Scripture has immense apologetic value.3 Dodd has written, “We may regard the Prologue as giving, in the barest skeleton outline, a philosophy of life, or Weltanschauung, which is to be filled in with concrete detail out of the gospel as a whole.”4

The history of philosophy and theology is the history of worldviews, in which people take some aspect of reality as they see it and deify it (the religious approach) or make it the cardinal point of an interpretive principle (the philosophical approach). John wrote

his Gospel when many such worldviews were prevalent.5 Today, as well, a wide variety of worldviews exist, and John’s prologue is an antidote to all of them. The Gospel of John presents a true understanding of who Jesus Christ is, so that readers may have the proper framework with which to interpret life and reality—that they may know God and walk in the light of His truth.

Many scholars have argued that John’s majestic prologue employs an early Christian hymn.6 A number of questions relate to

the hymn thesis,7 on which students of the Gospel differ.8 What is the literary genre of the passage, that is, is it poetry or prose? What kind of literary structure is employed?9 Is it an original composition by John,10 or did he integrate the work of another into his

Gospel?11 If the prologue employs a hymn,12 which verses are the hymn, and which are John’s own composition?13

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