1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Logos - Reason and Speech In Greek philosophy the meaning of Logos encompassed two concepts, the concept of reason and the concept of speech. Logos - Reason and Speech - Idea of God/Expression of God Most commentators build a case for Jesus being the fulfillment of the goals of Greek philosophy, in that by reason He was the very idea of God, and that by speech He was the very expression of God. What those who have studied John's passage through the lens of Greek philosophy forget is that John was not a Greek philosopher but a Jewish fisherman. His use of the “Word” is completely consistent with the Jewish concept of the “Memra” (Aramaic for “Word”) that rabbis taught in first century Israel. Their understanding was derived solely from a close study of Scripture, not Greek philosophy. John was not trying to promote Greek Hellenized philosophy, with a conception of creation and creator that was incompatible with scripture. Rather, John was using concepts of God that were being taught by the rabbis of Jesus' day, and adding to these concepts based on God's divine revelation. Let's deal with the languages in which this concept is portrayed. - Davar - Memra - Logos - Word The Hebrew for Word is “Davar.” The Aramaic for Word is “Memra.” The Greek for Word is “Logos.” The Gospel of John was written in Greek, so “Logos” is used. If it had been written in Hebrew it would have been “Davar.” If in Aramiac, “Memra.” Aramaic was the vernacular speech of Israel in Jesus' day. Much of rabbinic writings were also in Aramaic, so we will develop the six things that the rabbis taught about the Word using their word for it, “Memra.” Within John 1:1-18 we can find all SIX of the concepts the rabbis were teaching in 1st century Israel. These six concepts about God are six truths about God that the rabbis could not always explain. Likewise these same concepts about God are embodied in Jesus, as they correlate to John's statements about Jesus. Jesus is the Memra, or the Word. Six Things the Rabbis Taught about the Memra The Memra was Distinct from God, but the Same as God John 1:1-2. This was a paradox that the rabbis recognized, but were unable to explain. John will explain this paradox in the concept of the Tri-unity, or Trinity. Isaiah 45:21-25. Observe the use of “I,” “Me,” “the Lord,” and “Him.” Isaiah 55:10-11, and Hebrews 4:12 are also good examples of this. The Memra was the Agent of Creation John 1:3. God spoke, and creation came into existence. Everything that we see in this world exists because of the Memra, the Word. Psalm 33:4-6, and Hebrews 11:3. The Memra was the Agent of Salvation John 1:12. The Memra, visible to the nation of Israel as He led them through the desert in Exodus, saved them physically. Through the Memra (Jesus) is also spiritual salvation, through faith in His work on the cross. So wether physically in the Old Testament, or spiritually through Jesus' work on the cross, the Memra is the agent of salvation. Psalm 130:4-8. Those who receive the Memra (Jesus), are saved by the Memra. The Memra is the Means by which God Takes on Visible Form. John 1:14. In Christian theology, these visible manifestations are called a theophany. In rabbinic terms this is called the Shechinah (Hebrew). It is the visible manifestation of God's glory, often seen as fire, cloud, or light. In John 1:14 the word “dwelt” in Greek is not the usual Greek word used for “dwelling,” but the Greek word used for “to tabernacle,” skeinei. John is conveying a specific meaning about Jesus here. “Skeinei” is a derivation of the word “Shechinah,” but as there are no “sh” sounds in Greek it became skeinei. The very concept of the word was borrowed from the Hebrew concept. The Memra “tabernacled” among us. In the book of Ezekiel, chapters 8-11, we find the account of the Shechinah of the Lord departing from Israel. In the incarnation of Jesus, the Shechinah of the Lord had returned to earth, not in the form of light, fire or cloud but in the form of a man of flesh who tabernacled among us. Mark:2-8. The physical body of Jesus veiled the brightness of His glory. Hebrews 10:19-20. At the mount of transfiguration, three of Jesus' apostles were allowed to see the Shechinah shine through Jesus' flesh. John says “and we saw His glory” in John 1:14, which refers to this transfiguration which John beheld along with Peter and James. The Memra is the Means by which God Signs His Covenants John 1:17. Throughout human history there have been eight covenants, three with humanity and five specifically with the Jewish people. 1. Edenic Covenant 2. Adamic Covenant 3. Noahic Covenant 4. Abrahamic Covenant 5. Mosaic Covenant - the Law, a conditional covenant with Israel. 6. Land Covenant 7. Davidic Covenant 8. New Covenant - prophesied about in Jeremiah 31:31-37. The Mosaic Covenant of Exodus 24 was signed and sealed by the Shechinah, as was the Abrahamic in Genesis 15:17. The New Covenant was signed and sealed by Jesus' blood being shed on the cross, as described in Hebrews chapters 8-10. Jesus (the Memra, the Word) signed and sealed the New Covenant when He lifted the cup of redemption at the last passover, and said “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood,” in Luke 22:20. 1 Corinthians 11:25. The Memra is the Agent of Revelation. John 1:18 The Word, or Memra, is personified as a revealer. God revealed Himself when He gave His servants a Word from Him. This is the case when a passage begins with “the Word of the Lord came to...” of which there are many examples in the scriptures. If you do a phrase search on “the word of the Lord” you will find that it comes up well over 300 times in the scriptures. Hebrews 1:1-3. Jesus=the Word=the Memra=revealer of the Father. So keeping in mind these SIX things that the rabbinic scholars of first century Israel were teaching about the Memra, or the Word, we can see that the purpose of John's prologue is not to show that Jesus came to fulfill the ideals of Greek philosophy. Instead John is showing the Church at large that Jesus existed before the world was created, that He was part of the Triunity of God, and that He came to fulfill the New Covenant promised in Scripture. 1. The Memra came in visible form, that of a human. 2. The world did not recognize Him. 3. His own Jewish people did not recognize Him. 4. Those who did recognize Him became children of Light.