John 1:1 in NT Greek:
Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος
En arche ēn ho logos and ho logos ēn pros ton theon and theos ēn ho logos
There are three clauses separated by καὶ (or “and” in English). The first (John 1:1a) is literally translated: “In beginning was the word.” The second (John 1:1b) is translated “the word was with the god.” And the final one (John 1:1c) is literally translated “god was the word.”
I hope to examine John 1:1c to show that the very grammar used by John himself shows the actual meaning (whether ‘the Word was God,” or the “Word was a god.”). Since different NT writers varied somewhat in their grammar and usage of the Greek, we need to stick to John’s usage if we wish to analyze John 1:1c properly.
First, the word in question is θεος (theos in English letters) a noun known to NT Greek scholars as a noun in the nominative case. Notice that this form of the word ends in ‘s.’ Theos can be used to mean ‘God’ or ‘god.’ Also notice that, as used in John 1:1c, theos stands alone. That is, it has no “prepositional” modifiers (usually genitive or dative case nouns) such as “theos of Israel, or “theos to me,” etc.
Not only do such modifiers cause the use of the definite article (‘the’ in English) to be used irregularly, but the verse in question does not use them either. Therefore, the very few “preposition-modified” nouns in John’s writings are not proper examples in this study which relies on the use of the definite article.*
The next point is that when John (and Matthew, Mark, and Luke also) clearly meant “God” when writing theos (the form of the Greek word which ends in ς), he always used the definite article (‘the’ in English - ho in Greek): ho theos. (You can tell that o in NT Greek is ‘ho’ if it has a tiny c-shaped mark above it - ὁ.)
You can test this ho theos use means ‘God’ in John’s writings yourself with a good interlinear NT and concordance.
For my listing of all uses of the nominative theos in John's writings and whether they have the definite article or not, see:
Or, more specifically, see this end note to that study:
We also need to be aware that a definite plural noun when translated into English uses the definite article (“the men”), but the indefinite plural noun does not take an indefinite English article (“men”).
And more confusing yet are nouns which are not “countable” (that is, they are things that are found in indeterminate amounts: “soup,” “flesh,” “blood,” “wine,” “honey,” etc. rather than things we can count: “three cows,” “two peas,” “ten prophets,” etc.) but may also be treated as plurals. Since the use of plural examples can be so confusing concerning the definite and indefinite articles in English translations (and since plurals were not used at Jn 1:1c anyway), I try to avoid using them as proper examples. And I avoid even more strongly the ambiguous, confusing “amount” nouns as proper examples. [[More recently, I have discovered that others have included these “amount” nouns (and abstract nouns) among “non-count” nouns. Examples of non-count nouns include "flesh," "wheat," "soup," “fat,” -- "insanity," "beauty," "loyalty," etc. Most confusing are words which have more than one meaning: one as a count noun and one as a non-count noun. For example, "stone" may be considerd as a mass: "the house was made of stone." In that example "stone" would be a non-count noun. But when used in a different sense ("a stone was in his hand"), it is a count noun! We find these examples in English: "spirit," "hair," "marble," "light," etc.]] https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/grammar/count_and_noncount_nouns/count_noncount_nouns_with_articles_adjectives.html
We must also remember the problem with “possessive” (or prepositional) constructions. They, like personal names, should not be included in our listing of all the proper examples of John’s use of predicate nouns coming before the verb. Colwell used such improper “prepositional” examples almost exclusively to “prove” his rule.
We should also know that some scholars, like trinitarian P. B. Harner, exclude predicate nouns that are with numerals (“three angels”) as also having irregular article usage - see p. 76 f.n., JBL, vol. 92, 1973 [or HARNJBL]. Included among numerals we find that words translated as negative adjectives ('no' - John 7:46, NKJV; HCSB; ISV; NLV; RSV; WEB; Luke 4:24, most bibles; Luke 16:13; etc.) are, like numerals, considered indefinite or irregular. (Some writers apparently even found irregular article usage with nouns modified by other adjectives - A. T. Robertson, 795; D. B. Wallace, 253; 734 [pronominal].) I have also noticed that trinitarian scholars Wallace (1981), Harner, and even Colwell himself (and perhaps all Bible language scholars) do not include the 5 “TIME/SEASON” predicate nouns (John 5:10; 10:22 [10:23 in some Bibles]; 19:31; and 1 John 2:18 [2 occurrences]). Appositives, too, exhibit article irregularity. Therefore, I have excluded these from my lists of article-dependent constructions.
You will find that when John uses an unmodified predicate noun (without a definite article) before the verb (as in Jn 1:1c), most Bible translators (trinitarian and non-trinitarian alike) translate it as an indefinite noun (often even in spite of ambiguous contexts) just as the New World Translation has done at John 1:1c. For example: John 4:19 “...you are a prophet” (compare all Bible translations). Also see John 6:70; John 8:44 (a); John 9:24; John 10:1; etc.
To Be Continued
John 1:1 in NT Greek (cont.):
The next step in finding John’s intended meaning of John 1:1c is to look up the meanings of theos in a good NT lexicon. Numerous Trinitarian scholars [see footnote] admit that this word was also used for angels, kings, and God-appointed men such as judges in Israel. In such cases it is usually rendered into English as ‘gods’ or ‘a god.’ And it was used that way in the Greek in the writings of Christians up to the time of Augustine at least.
So, why wouldn’t John 1:1c be rendered ‘the Word was god’ rather than ‘the Word was a god’?
For this part of the analysis, we need to remember that there are exceptions where the article (‘the’) may or may not be used at random as seen in part A. above. So we are trying to find how John intends the lack of an article with a noun (like god, man, rock, etc.). Such nouns must be “count nouns.” That means, using the example of ‘man,’ it must be capable of being made plural: one man, two men, three men, etc. It also must be capable of using both the English indefinite article (‘a,’ ‘an’) and definite article (‘the’): ‘a man,’ ‘the man.’
It is basic knowledge for NT Greek beginners that there is no indefinite article in the Greek. So a count noun without the article (anarthrous) in the Greek is properly translated into English with an indefinite article (‘a,’ ‘an’).
So, again, with a good interlinear and concordance try finding uses of ‘man’ in John’s writing. I know you will find some that do not have the article (ho) used with them. So look up in all the translations you can find to see how those have been rendered into English. I found anthropos or ἄνθρωπος (‘man’) at John 1:6; 3:4; 3:27 (and many more) did not have the article (ho) used with them, so they were rendered as “a man” in all the Bibles I checked.
For example, look at John 10:33. The predicate noun "man" (anthropos) comes before its verb ὢν ("being") in the NT Greek text (ἄνθρωπος ὢν), and yet we do not find it consistently translated, even by trinitarian scholars and translators, as: "you, being human" (qualitative) or "you being the man" (Colwell's Rule").
If they truly believed the "qualitative" rule or "Colwell's Rule," they certainly would not have rendered it "you, being a man," (indefinite) as they so often do:
See KJV; Douay-Rheims; ASV; ESV; ERV; NKJV; MKJV; NASB; RSV; NIV; NEB; REB; JB; NJB; AT; LB; GNT; NLT; ISV; KJIIV; NAB (’70); NAB (’91); CEV; BBE; LEB; NLV; WYC; ABC; ACV; Third Millennium Bible; 21st Century KJV; GOD’S WORD Translation; Updated Bible Version 1.9; World English Bible; C.B. Williams; Darby; Holman; Lamsa; Lattimore; Moffatt; Mounce; Phillips; Rotherham; Webster; Wesley’s; William Barclay; William Beck; Weymouth; Young’s.
So by now we should be able to see that in John 1:1c (‘theos was the Word’) the word theos does not have the article (ὁ or ‘ho’) and, according to John’s usage of such nouns, it would normally be translated as ‘a god.’
Some of these trinitarian sources which admit that the Bible actually describes men who represent God (judges, Israelite kings, etc.) and God's angels as gods include:
1. Young's Analytical Concordance of the Bible, "Hints and Helps...," Eerdmans, 1978 reprint;
2. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #430, Hebrew and Chaldee Dict., Abingdon, 1974;
3. New Bible Dictionary, p. 1133, Tyndale House Publ., 1984;
4. Today's Dictionary of the Bible, p. 208, Bethany House Publ., 1982;
5. Hastings' A Dictionary of the Bible, p. 217, Vol. 2;
6. The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, p. 43, Hendrickson publ.,1979;
7. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, #2316 (4.), Thayer, Baker Book House, 1984 printing;
8. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, p. 132, Vol. 1; & p. 1265, Vol. 2, Eerdmans, 1984;
9. The NIV Study Bible, footnotes for Ps. 45:6; Ps. 82:1, 6; & Jn 10:34; Zondervan, 1985;
10. New American Bible, St. Joseph ed., footnote for Ps. 45:7, 1970 ed.;
11. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures, Vol. 5, pp. 188-189;
12. William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 1, pp. 317, 324, Nelson Publ., 1980 printing;
13. Murray J. Harris, Jesus As God, p. 202, Baker Book House, 1992;
14. William Barclay, The Gospel of John, V. 2, Daily Study Bible Series, pp. 77, 78, Westminster Press,1975;
15. The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible (John 10:34 and Ps. 82:6);
16. The Fourfold Gospel (Note for John 10:35);
17. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Jamieson, Fausset, Brown (John 10:34-36);
18. Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible (Ps. 82:6-8 and John 10:35);
19. John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible (Ps. 82:1).
20. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament ('Little Kittel'), - p. 328, Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1985.
21. The Expositor’s Greek Testament, pp. 794-795, Vol. 1, Eerdmans Publishing Co.
22. The Amplified Bible, Ps. 82:1, 6 and John 10:34, 35, Zondervan Publ., 1965.
23. Barnes' Notes on the New Testament, John 10:34, 35.
24. B. W. Johnson's People's New Testament, John 10:34-36.
25. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Zondervan, 1986, Vol. 3, p. 187.
26. Fairbairn’s Imperial Standard Bible Encyclopedia, p. 24, vol. III, Zondervan, 1957 reprint.
27. Theological Dictionary, Rahner and Vorgrimler, p. 20, Herder and Herder, 1965.
(also John 10:34, 35 - CEV: TEV; GodsWord; The Message; NLT; NIRV; David Guzik (John 10:34).
And, of course the highly respected and highly popular Jewish writer, Philo, had the same understanding for "God"/"a god" about the same time the NT was written. - See the LOGOS study.
And the earliest Christians like the highly respected NT scholar Origen and others - - including Tertullian; Justin Martyr; Hippolytus; Clement of Alexandria; Theophilus; the writer of "The Epistle to Diognetus"; and even super-Trinitarians St. Athanasius and St. Augustine - - also had this understanding for "a god." And, as we saw above, many respected NT scholars of this century agree. (For example, Ernst Haenchen tells us in his commentary on the Gospel of John:
"It was quite possible in Jewish and Christian monotheism to speak of divine beings that existed alongside and under God but were not identical with him. Phil 2:6-10 proves that. In that passage Paul depicts just such a divine being, who later became man in Jesus Christ". - John 1, translated by R. W. Funk, 1984, pp. 109, 110, Fortress Press.)
To Be Continued
John 1:1 in NT Greek (cont.):
But, you may ask, Isn’t there a significance to the reversed word order in the Greek (‘god was the word’) which is, in English, ‘the word was god.’?
If you will examine a good NT interlinear, you will find that word order is basically meaningless.
NT Greek authorities, Dr. Alfred Marshall and Prof. J. Gresham Machen tell us in their NT Greek primers that, unlike English, NT Greek does not use word order to convey meanings but instead uses the individual endings on each word (inflections).
“The English translation must be determined by observing the [Greek word] endings, not by observing the [word] order.” - New Testament Greek for Beginners, Machen, p. 27. (cf. New Testament Greek Primer, Marshall, pp. 7, 22 and A. T. Robertson, Grammar, p. 417.)
And in a later example illustrating predicate nouns Prof. Machen gave this example: “ho apostolos anthropos estin [word for word translation: ‘the apostle man is’],” and he translated that sentence (which has an anarthrous predicate count noun preceding the verb as in John 1:1c) as “the apostle is a man.” - p. 50, New Testament Greek For Beginners, The Macmillan Company, 1951. Notice the addition of the English indefinite article (‘a’).
And In Exercise 8 (p.44) of the Rev. Dr. Alfred Marshall’s New Testament Greek Primer, the noted trinitarian scholar asks us to translate phoneus esti into English. (Notice that the predicate noun [phoneus, ‘murderer’] precedes the verb [esti, ‘he is’].) The answer is given on p. 153 where Dr. Marshall translates it as “He is a murderer.” – Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.
And Prof. N. Clayton Croy on p. 35 of his A Primer of Biblical Greek translates prophetes estin ho anthropos (literally, “prophet is the man”) as “The man is a prophet.” - Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1999. (Emphasis, as usual, is mine.)
In Learn New Testament Greek by John H. Dobson we find on p. 64 two interesting Greek clauses and their translations by Dobson: the clauses are: (1) prophetes estin and (2) prophetes ēn. In both of these the predicate noun (prophetes) comes before the verb (‘he is’ and ‘he was’).
Here is how Dobson has translated these two clauses: “He is a prophet.” And “He was a prophet.” – Baker Book House, 1989.
Also see p. 148, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, where trinitarians Dana and Mantey translate an example they admit is parallel to John 1:1c as “And the place was a market,” The Macmillan Company.
And noted trinitarian NT scholar, A.T. Robertson, when analyzing John 18:37b where the predicate noun “king” comes before the verb [“you say that king am I”], prefers this translation: “Yes, because I am a king.” - p. 294, Vol. 5, Word Pictures in the New Testament.
But, since the actual grammar of John (and all the other Gospel writers) shows John 1:1c to be properly translated as “and the Word was a god,” some Trinitarians attempted to make this perfectly ordinary NT Greek word order into something else. In 1933, Colwell proposed that the word order could make the definite article understood! This way the understood ho (‘the’) could 'cause' Jn 1:1c to say “and the word was [the] god.” And, as we have already found, ho theos (‘the god’) always indicates “God” in English translation for John’s writing.
This necessity by some trinitarians for a new ‘rule’ is a further admission that theos by itself doesn’t mean “God” in the Gospel of John.
Another new ‘rule’ concerning the word order of John 1:1c has been proposed to make the Word of the same essence as God. These ‘Qualitative’ rules are like Colwell’s rule above except they don’t allow for an understood article (ho) before theos. They say that the word order makes theos ‘qualitative.’
The same method of examining all proper examples that are parallel to John 1:1c in John proves both relatively modern inventions to be wrong.
To Be Continued
John 1:1 in NT Greek (cont.):
It’s been many years since I looked up all the clauses in John’s writing which had predicate nouns (also called predicate nominatives). Then I made a list of all of them which are parallel to John 1:1c (predicate noun coming before the verb). I didn’t have a computer then and had to use a concordance and an interlinear NT Bible. Then I typed it all up into 50-page study. Now it’s on my computer and even on some internet sites.
In addition to examining in detail the steps we’ve looked at already, there is a comprehensive listing of the parallel constructions. When the exceptions (non-count nouns, abstracts, personal and proper names, prepositional modifiers, etc.) are sorted out, we find the following passages to be the only proper examples which are truly parallel to John 1:1c.
Here, then, are all the proper examples (truly comparable to Jn 1:1c) from the writings of John (Westcott and Hort text) for an honest examination of “Colwell’s Rule” (or any related rules, including Harner’s “qualitative” rule, concerning the simple, unmodified anarthrous (without the definite article) predicate count noun coming before the verb):
H,W 1. John 4:19 - (“a prophet”) - all Bible translations
H,W 2. John 8:48 - (“a Samaritan”) - all translations
H,W 3. John 18:37 (a) - (“a king”) - all
[H,W 4. John 18:37 (b) - (“a king”) - in Received Text and in 1991 Byzantine Text]
H: Also found in Harner’s list of “Colwell Constructions”
W: Also found in Wallace’s list of “Colwell Constructions”
These are all indefinite nouns. All modern trinitarian Bible translations I have examined render them as indefinite!
If we wish to supply more examples, we must include some which are less perfect than these three (or four). The best we can do is to include all those constructions (W and H text) which comply with the other qualifications above but which, unlike Jn 1:1c, have both the subject and the predicate noun before the verb also. Since trinitarian scholars themselves include such examples, they should not object if we also include all such examples.
When we add those constructions to our list, we have:
H 1. John 4:9 (a) - indefinite (“a Jew”) - all translations
H,W 2. John 4:19 - indefinite (“a prophet”) - all
H,W 3. John 6:70 - indefinite (“a devil”/“a slanderer”) - all
H,W 4. John 8:44 - indefinite (“a murderer”/“a manslayer”) - all
H,W 5. John 8:48 - indefinite (“a Samaritan”) - all
H,W 6. John 9:24 - indefinite (“a sinner”) - all
H,W 7. John 10:1 - indefinite (“a thief and a plunderer”) - all
H,W 8. John 10:33 - indefinite (“a man”) - all
H,W 9. John 18:35 - indefinite (“a Jew”) - all
H,W 10. John 18:37 (a) - indefinite (“a king”) - all
[H,W 11. John 18:37 (b) - indefinite (“a king”) - in Received Text and in 1991 Byzantine Text]
These are all indefinite nouns (not definite, not “qualitative”). All trinitarian Bible translations I have examined render them as indefinite! We should have enough examples to satisfy the most critical (but honest) scholar now. (And I wouldn’t strongly resist the use of the “no subject” examples which clearly intend the subject as being a pronoun included with the verb, e.g., “[he] is,” which would then bring our total of proper examples to around 20.)
These would include:
H,W 12. Jn 8:44 (b) - indefinite (“a liar”) - all
H,W 13. Jn 9:8 (a) - indefinite (“a beggar”) - all
H,W 14. Jn 9:17 - indefinite (“a prophet”) - all
H,W 15. Jn 9:25 - indefinite (“a sinner”) - all
H,W 16. Jn 10:13 - indefinite (“a hireling/hired hand”) - all
H,W 17. Jn 12:6 - indefinite (“a thief”) - all
18. 1 Jn 4:20 - indefinite (“a liar”) - all
To Be Continued
John 1:1 in NT Greek (cont.):
The above lessons show that word order (predicate noun before the verb as found in the NT Greek of John 1:1c) does not change the meaning to an understood article (“the”) as Colwell’s Rule suggests or to some nebulous ‘qualitative’ meaning as some other trinitarian scholars insist.
[However, many of the examples of predicate nouns modified by “prepositions” (which are not proper examples because of uncertain article usage) do have understood definite articles. But this does not apply to proper examples truly parallel to John 1:1c.]
Pay particular attention to two of the verses found in our list in Lesson D. above: John 6:70 and John 10:1.
John 6:70 “Jesus answered them…. and one of you [Judas] is a devil.” - KJV. Greek word order: “out of you one devil is.”
“One who sins belongs to the devil, like Cain (1 Jn 3:8, 12); or he is a devil himself, like Judas, the betrayer (Jn 6:70). .... Jesus’ enemies are called children [and sons] of the devil, i.e. those who share his nature and behaviour (Jn 8:44) [Acts 13:10; 1 Jn 3:10].” - p. 472, vol. 3, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1986, Zondervan.
So a man who is from [literally “out of,” ek] the Devil (1 Jn 3:8), and is a ‘son of the Devil’ (Acts 13:10), and who is “with the Devil (whether physically or figuratively) may also be called “a devil” (Jn 6:70)! So Judas, for example, could be described in NT terms: “Judas was with ho diabolos [the Devil], and diabolos was Judas.” And no matter how anyone wants to interpret it, it would be incredibly wrong to insist (as many trinitarians do about Jn 1:1c) that this meant Judas was literally, equally the Devil himself! Whether you translate it literally (“Judas was with the Devil, and Judas was a devil”) or ‘qualitatively’ (“Judas was with the Devil, and Judas had the ‘nature’ of the Devil”), it would mean essentially the same thing: Judas simply shared to some degree one (or more) of the qualities of the Devil, but he is certainly not equally the Devil with Satan himself! No reasonable person would accept this as evidence for some mysterious ‘Satanity’! Compare this with John 1:1c.
John 10:1 has this word order, “that (one) thief is and robber” [the first predicate noun is before the verb and the second is after the verb!]. This is always translated as, “that one [or ‘he’] is a thief and a robber” (both indefinite!). It is never rendered, “that one is the Thief and a robber” [Colwell]. And it is never “qualitatively” rendered as “that one has the full essence of thiefness and is a robber.”
The word order does not change the meaning. The predicate noun is still indefinite. And so it is in John 1:1c: "And the Word was a god."
To Be Continued
John 1:1 in NT Greek (cont.):
Origen, the great Christian scholar (185 - 254 A.D.), spoke Koine Greek as his native language and knew it so well that he even taught it professionally. He was “probably the most accomplished Biblical scholar produced by the early Church” (Universal Standard Encyclopedia) and “the greatest scholar and most prolific author of the early church. ... not only a profound thinker but also deeply spiritual and a loyal churchman.” (The History of Christianity, p. 107, a Lion Book, 1990). He certainly knew the Greek used by the NT writers better than any other scholar since.
In his Commentary on John, Origen explained that John 1:1c meant that the Word was not equal to the only true God, the Father, the God (ho theos) but was, instead, theos without the article as are many others who are close to God.
“And thus the first-born of all creation, who is the first to be with God, and to attract to Himself divinity, is a being of more exalted rank than the other gods [angels] beside Him, of whom God is the God” - Origen’s Commentary on the Gospel of John Book 2, Chapter 2.
Furthermore, some of the very earliest translations of John were into the Coptic language of Egypt. This was at a time when Koine Greek was still the common language of the Mediterranean area and well-understood by translators of the time.
This language did have the indefinite article (“a” in English), and existing early copies of the Coptic manuscripts use that indefinite article at John 1:1c - “the Word was a god.” - http://nwtandcoptic.blogspot.com/
Professor Jason David BeDuhn tells us, “Grammatically, John 1:1 is not a difficult verse to translate. It follows familiar, ordinary structures of Greek expression. A lexical (‘interlinear’) translation of the controversial clause would read: ‘And a god was the Word.’ A minimal literal (‘formal equivalence’) translation would rearrange the word order to match proper English expression: ‘And the Word was a god.’ The preponderance of evidence, from Greek grammar, from literary context, and from cultural environment, supports this translation….” - p. 132, Truth in Translation, University Press of America, 2003.
Dr. BeDuhn wrote his book because he understands “how to take on the role of a neutral investigator, with a stake not in any predetermined outcome, but only in hearing what a two-thousand-year-old book says [in unbiased truth].” - p. ix.
Even some noted trinitarian scholars are forced to admit that grammatically John 1:1c in NT Greek may be literally translated as “the Word was a god”! These include:
W. E. Vine (p. 490, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1983 printing.);
Dr. C. H. Dodd (director of the New English Bible project, Technical Papers for the Bible Translator, vol. 28, Jan. 1977);
Dr. Murray J. Harris (p. 60, Jesus as God, Baker Book House, 1992);
Dr. Robert Young (p. 54, ‘New Covenant’ section, Young’s Concise Critical Bible Commentary, Baker Book House, 1977 printing).
Dr. William Barclay (p. 205, Ever yours, edited by C. L. Rawlins, Labarum Publ., 1985).
Of course, being trinitarians, they often insist that the correct interpretation of such a literal translation must be, somehow, trinitarian in spite of the actual literal meaning.
To Be Continued
John 1:1 in NT Greek (cont.):
The Word (ho Logos)
A few trinitarians actually attempt to “prove” that John 1:1c should be translated as “and the Word [Logos] was God” rather than “and the Word [Logos] was a god” by appealing to one of the strictly pagan concepts of “The Logos”!
But, as we will see, what it all boils down to (and many of the most authoritative trinitarian sources agree) is this: either the Gospel of John (written around 90 A.D.) truly reflects John’s Jewish background and the teaching of Jesus and the first century Christians (the “primitive” Church) or it reflects popular pagan Greek philosophies of the time and is, therefore, “a work of imagination, a theological romance of a type not unparalleled in [pagan Greek] literature.” If it were the latter, of course, it wouldn’t matter what Jn 1:1c says anyway, since it would certainly not be the inspired word of God. If it is the former, all the best evidence (as a number of trinitarian authorities themselves admit) proves John is basing his Logos [‘Word’] concept on that of the Jewish teaching of Philo.
Philo (who lived about 20 B.C. - 50 A.D. in Egypt*), the best-known, most-respected Hellenistic [Greek-speaking] Jewish theologian by those living in the first and second centuries, clearly and repeatedly taught that the Logos is a god (one lesser than God) and frequently showed this in his writing by using theos (θεος) without the definite article (“a god”) to refer to the Logos but used theos with the definite article ho theos ὁ θεος) when referring to God. Since John obviously based most of his Logos statements on Philo’s concept, we would also expect him to use theos without the article (“a god”) to refer to the Logos. And that is exactly what he did at John 1:1c! ....................................................
* Not coincidentally, the two oldest manuscripts (p66 and p75) with John 1:1 were found in Egypt. And the very oldest fragment of the Gospel of John (dated to 100-125 A.D.) was also found in Egypt....................................................
“The outstanding Alexandrian Jew [‘the chief representative of Alexandrian Judaism’ - J. B. Lightfoot’s commentary: Epistle to the Philippians, p. 130] is, of course, Philo Judaeus (20 B.C.-A.D. 50). .... It has been said rightly that the history of Christian philosophy ‘began not with a Christian but a Jew,’ namely Philo of Alexandria.” - p. 35, The Rise of Christianity, W. H. C. Frend (trinitarian), 1985, Fortress Press.
“Philo, the famous Jewish philosopher, .... is the most important example of the Hellenized Jews outside Palestine... he believed wholly in the Mosaic scriptures and in one God whose chief mediator with the world is the Logos” - Philo, vol. 5, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1988.
Philo also (unlike the pagan Greek Stoic philosophers) “gives the Logos the titles of Son of God [John 1:34], paraclete [‘Comforter,’ ‘Advocate,’ ‘Helper’ - 1 John 2:1], and mediator between God and man [1 Tim. 2:5].” - Americana, 1957, v. 21, pp. 766, 767.
“differentiates the Logos from God as his work or image [2 Cor. 4:4].” Philo’s Logos is also “first-born son [Ro. 8:29]....divine [a god - Jn 1:1] but not God, is with God [Jn 1:1], is light [Jn 1:4],...manna [Jn 6:31-51],...and shepherd [Jn 10:11].” - Encyclopaedia Britannica, p. 251, vol. 14, 1968. (Cf. Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 8, p. 135.)
“Philo describes the Logos in terms which often bear striking resemblance to NT descriptions of Christ .... Philo distinguishes God as the cause by which [and]..., the Logos as that through which (di’ hou),... the cosmos originated” [Jn 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6] and “even as θεος [‘a god’] in a subordinate sense” [Jn 1:1] and one “from which drawing water one may find eternal life instead of death [Jn 4:14].” - A Dictionary of the Bible, p. 135, vol. 3, Hastings, ed., Hendrickson Publ., 1988 printing.
In fact, Philo even said that
“the Logos is the eldest son [first-born or created] of God.” [Ro. 8:29] - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (trinitarian), p. 639, vol. 3 (also vol. 1, p. 178), 1986, Zondervan.
“Philo of course conceives of the Logos - which he occasionally calls divine (theos) [literally, ‘a god’], but never ‘God’ (ho theos) - as the highest angel and as the highest idea at the same time....” - p. 126, John 1, Haenchen, Fortress Press, 1984.
After discussing all other trinitarian-proposed origins of John’s concept of the Logos (including, of course, those of the Stoics; the OT Wisdom concept; etc.) and rejecting them all, a highly-respected trinitarian work concludes:
“In the question of the origin of the Logos-concept [by John], pre-eminent significance is therefore to be attributed to Hellenistic Judaism [Philo].” - p. 1117, vol. 3, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1986, Zondervan.
Even the famed Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics tells us that John must be referring to Philo’s conception of the Logos:
“It is clear from the tone of the Prologue [John 1:1-18] that Philo’s conception of the Logos, or something akin to it, was already familiar to those for whom the Evangelist [John] wrote. No explanation of the word Logos is given [anywhere in the entire Gospel]; and almost every verse in this Prologue might be paralleled from Philo [and only Philo].” - p. 136, vol. 8.
And if John were writing to a group of the “many ... Hellenistic Jews” who had become a part of the Church (or who were at least interested in Christianity), there would be no need to explain the Logos concept which they were already very familiar with from Philo’s Hellenistic Judaism. (The lack of any explanation of his Logos concept by John has been very troubling to many students of the Prologue of the Gospel of John.) And that concept is that the Logos (although the second highest power in the universe, the Son of God, the Mediator between God and Man, the one through whom God created all things) is an intermediate entity who is not the Most High God but is ‘a god’!
The above are excerpts from my ‘Logos (the Word)’ study -http://examiningthetrinity.blogspot.com/2009/09/logos-word.html
For a deeper study of John 1:1c:
And for more on The 'Qualitative" Rule of Harner see:
The End (a Tigger2 study)