In the Beginning Was the Word


Carborendum
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John 1:1 is quite a meaty verse. John really had a way with words.  And this is evident throughout his Gospel.  Why is Jesus "The Word"?  This verse is a wealth of etymology and semantics. And that was exactly what John was using to communicate so much in so little.

Written in Greek, the word John used was "Logos."  That in and of itself has a wealth of meaning. Logos means:

  • Word, speech, utterance, etc.
  • Reason, logic, cause, motivation (Logos is the root of the English "logic")
  • The controlling principle of the universe (cultural meaning in Ancient Greek)
  • It is also the root of "Legend."  This means both "the legend of Bagger Vance" and the legend on a map that helps you identify symbols used thereon.

I tend to believe that a little bit of all these meanings was part of John's message to us.

Additionally, one cannot make such a cryptic statement in Greek without also evoking the trinity (I use the word purposefully) of arguments: Logos, Pathos, & Ethos.  Does John mean to evoke a meaning distinct from Pathos & Ethos?  Does he mean to include all three?  Thinking in terms of the Trinity, this trinity of words seems appropriate.  But John really wants to focus on just one word -- whether unified with or distinct from the others.

He is the physical manifestation of the Plan of Salvation.  He is what is real.  He is physical.  The Father is Ethos (authority).  The Spirit is Pathos (heart/emotion, etc).  Separating them in this manner really does a disservice.  But this is part of the Trinitarian argument.  And it is also why we believe in the Godhead.  We cannot separate them in our worship.  They must be worshiped as one God.

Jesus was also the word because He was the messenger of the New Gospel that would replace the Law of Moses.  It is HIS message, HIS testimony, HIS gospel, HIS covenant, His Atonement.

The common wisdom is that the word "gospel" means "good news."   I slightly disagree with that definition (consider how we use "news" today).  Rather than "news" I'd say "message" (think about how they used the word "news" only 100 years ago).  But the full translation would be "God's Word."  Earlier English didn't distinguish "good" and "God".  If it was good, it was of God.  And God only did that which was good. 

Now, let's look at the JST:

Quote

In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son.  And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God. and the Son was of God.

My personal belief is that this was not a "correction" to the text. Joseph obviously wanted us to get away from the Trinitarian notion.  But the D&C still reminds us that Jesus IS God (D&C 18:33,47 & 19:18).  He's not "God, The Father", but he's still God.  So, it was perfectly accurate as it was.  So, why bother with the change?

I believe that he was trying to point out a specific meaning because it was more important than all the other meanings in the verse as John intended.  The primary point here is that the gospel is all about Jesus.  It is the Word, Covenant, & Doctrine of Jesus Christ.  What do you think Joseph's response would be if you asked him these three questions:

  • Was Jesus, in the beginning? -- YES
  • Was Jesus with God? -- YES
  • Is Jesus God?  -- YES

So, this was not to "correct" anything.  It was more of a commentary to direct us to a specific concept as written.  Let's face it, most people don't really understand why John wrote this in this manner.  The Christian world already has many different interpretations which all have some validity to them.  But Joseph Smith was the Prophet of the Restoration.  He wanted us to focus on the most important meaning which usually gets lost in the translation.

The most important part of John 1:1 is:   The gospel is all about Jesus Christ, our Lord, our God our Savior & Redeemer.  See the word play?  That's why Jesus is the Word.

Edited by Carborendum
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@CarborendumThanks for the well thought out post.

 

I know that some wrestle with the inspired version of John 1 as it doesn't appear to be consistent within itself by having the word be the gospel in verse 1, but then default back to the Word being made flesh in verse 14 and that it doesn't seem logical to have the gospel be made flesh (i.e. everyone knows that the Lord is the word made flesh) and yet I think your post nails this succinctly that the "good news" or "good message" isn't only a message, but embodied in the Saviour Himself. Without Him there is no good news, and thus He is in very reality the good news made flesh.

As to the point that it's not a correction per se, but a commentary - the fact that in verses 14 and 16 the text returns to stating the Word is the Lord would indicate to me that you are correct or these would surely have been altered to go along with separating the Word and God to further delineation as the word being the gospel.

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