1:1-4, 14:"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made. In him was life,
and that life was the light of men. [. . .] The Word became flesh and made his dwelling
among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth."
term translated as "Word" in this passage is the Greek word logos. When
John (under the Holy Spirit's inspiration) applied this concept to Christ, he was making a
radical claim. Logos in Greek philosophy is an impersonal rational order that
directs and controls the universe. Thus, John can claim that through the Word "all
things were made." But he can also state that "The Word became flesh." That
impersonal force, he tells us, is actually a personal Being who entered history. Jesus
came to show us what God is like. John is also invoking the ancient Hebrew notion of
wisdom. To be "full of grace and truth" is to express all that Jewish
tradition claimed for sophia.
of a logos suggests that reality is inherently linguistic in structure, that we
need words to relate to, understand, and exist with the world. It equally implies that an
order and harmony exists in creation that is uncoverable, and for this too, we need words.
Wisdom is found in abiding by this structure and harmony, and in Christ alone is
this experienced. Furthermore, it is Christ the Logos who shows us
the pattern by which we relate to the cosmos and more importantly to the cosmos' Creator.
Language only has meaning in the end because God has
ordered the creation. Literature can only offer us wisdom because God has designed
it as part of the order of the universe.
Christians also believe that humans are partially out of phase with our world. Sin has
clouded our ability to name correctly what is there. We often use words in a fragmented,
halting, cursory way. We misunderstand, misname, and miss the point. Sometimes, our names
are even out-flat lies. Literature, which depends on words, is often part of this
wonder that the Supreme Word needed to become one of us. We needed true language to come
dwell among us with a human accent.
* * * * *
Central Insight: Literature
shares in the linguistic structure of God's creation and is an important medium for the
pursuit of wisdom.
Suggestions for Application:
Reflect on the wisdom present in a particular passage of the text. Make a connection
between it and Christ's example. Or look at how certain words are essentially to the
meaning of a text. Place this in the context of the linguistic structure of